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How Not To Be

As promised…more “If you’re ‘not allowed’ to say no to someone, they are not acting like friends” content. I have kept the Letter Writer’s subject line as the post title so that readers too can have the “Wait, where is the part where this person is an actual mom” “Oh wait, phew, this person isn’t anyone’s actual mother, that would be even more horrifying” realization that The Goat Lady (my trusty inbox sorter) and I did.

Dear Captain,

I (she/her) have a friend, “Mary” who is, by her own admission, a “mom” friend. Mary is very kind– but emotionally overreaching. She feels responsible for making sure her friends are well cared for. Mary has even joked that if it weren’t for her, her friends would buy nothing but junk food and toys at the grocery store, instead of groceries. When we get together, Mary will insist on cooking, even when somebody else volunteers to cook instead. If one of us DOES cook, Mary will hover, or “help” by essentially taking over the cooking–adding ingredients and more or less pushing the other cook out of the kitchen. Mary will consistently cite any accident or mistake any of us have made as an excuse to swoop in. Then she will complain that she is always the one stuck with the cooking.

Mary also feels very much–if she thinks her friends are upset or potentially upset, she will become upset for them. (For example, I have been very stressed at work and with personal projects, and Mary started crying because I “am going to burn out” and that I am “such a perfectionist that you are going to hurt yourself!”) If I complain to Mary about anything, be it annoyance over traffic to a problem with a coworker, it becomes a “problem” and Mary is quick to give me unsolicited advice, get defensive for me or otherwise volunteer to help me solve this “problem.”

If she knows I am struggling with something, Mary will constantly bring it up (probably in an attempt to reinforce what she thinks is the “positive” message), or turn even a casual comment (“I wish could sleep for five years,”) into a big referendum or discussion on my mental health. If we have a difficult conversation or discussion, it will end with Mary crying, clutching me like I am some sort of child and even kissing the top of my head while I am just feeling frustrated. If I try to establish boundaries (“This isn’t a topic I am willing to discuss with you, let’s talk about something else”), my boundaries are immediately overridden. In fact, it seems as if my attempts to establish boundaries are interpreted by Mary as a further excuse to involve herself in me and my life!

I know that Mary is coming from a place of love and care. What reads to me as “manipulative” and “immature,” aren’t necessarily that–it’s just that it is to me! (Ed. note: IT’S NOT JUST YOU) I care very much about Mary but I am reaching the end of my rope. I understand this is part of the “mom” friend aspect, but Cap, I HATE being mothered. My own mother doesn’t even “mother” me. It has never worked on me, and will never work on me, no matter how many times Mary tries to become my surrogate mom. I’m trying hard not to become a hallmark-movie-style troubled teen and start yelling “You are not my real mom!” at her.

Sometimes, I just need to vent or talk about my issues without needing a “solution” or it turning into an “argument.” I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around Mary because even a casual joke (the kind that everyone in our generation and friend group makes!) becomes an emotionally exhausting exercise where I am left feeling emotionally infantilized and I start to resent Mary’s lack of maturity.

On top of this, Mary is attending therapy and seems to think herself the authority on all matters now–she declares herself an expert on conflict resolution but her form of “resolution” is to cry until she gets what she wants or can manipulate the narrative to seem like she was correct (in case it wasn’t obvious by now, Mary has an INTENSE martyrdom complex.)

I don’t want to lose Mary as a friend, and I can’t really get away from her for now. I don’t know how to explain to Mary that I don’t need a “mom” or a “mom friend,” and that her “mothering” is making it impossible to just be “friends.” How do you get a “mom friend” to stop “mothering” her friends?

I don’t know how to ask Mary to emotionally detach herself from me and my problems without making it seem like I am asking her to get out of my life. I also don’t know how I could possibly have these difficult conversations with Mary without it turning into an emotional meltdown on Mary’s part that she then projects onto me, as further evidence that I “need” her. Can you help me find a script to deal with Mary?

Thanks,

She’s not my mom (friend)

Optional P.S. Neither of us are parents, apologies if it was confusing!

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I have a great younger brother who realized he was gay and came out a few years ago in his mid-twenties, which was met generally with cheerful support by family and friends. Coming out really kickstarted his interest in social justice issues, which is awesome; we both grew up in a fairly liberal region and attended the same famously liberal university, so these ideas weren’t new to him, but his new identification with a marginalized community seemed to have sparked a desire to engage more deeply. All fantastic!

But for the past year or so his interest specifically in black culture has given me and my husband a little cause for concern (my brother and I are white, and my husband is a POC, though not black). His media diet at this point is dominated by black shows, podcasts, music etc, most of it intended for audiences of other black people — which, again, cool! It’s undeniable that the most important and interesting pop culture right now is largely being produced by women and POC and I share a lot of his fandom. As a result, however, he constantly redirects conversations to show off his new insights into black culture or establish his “cred.” He’s in so many Facebook groups designed for the black community that he now just gets invited to others and shows off screencaps of the invitations as “proof” of how legit he is. He has been known to say things like “I’m basically the blackest person at work” — when there are actual black people who work there! And while he can talk a big game about Black Lives Matter, he doesn’t actually like, volunteer or do anything for the black community where he lives or even read much on the issues beyond what’s hip on Tumblr.

From where I stand, it’s pretty clear that my brother sees his recent addition to the queer community as entitling him to be a part of any and all marginalized communities that interest him, and that it allows him to be “one of the good ones” as a white guy. I am sympathetic to that desire, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how institutionalized racism works. When he brings it up, my general tendency is to respond mildly — maybe ask questions about the show he’s interested in while not giving much attention to his preening about how cool he is, or some gentle teasing and a change of subject.

On top of all this my brother has put an “indefinite moratorium” on dating white guys with a strong preference for black dudes. The very few black friends my brother has seem charmed by him, but I am worried he is on a crash course to do or say something really bizarre that will have serious professional or personal consequences for him and I am having grim visions of Quentin Tarantino’s dashiki phase. On the one hand, he’s an adult and maybe the best thing to do is stand back and let this play out however it’s going to. On the other, it might kind of be my duty as his sister and fellow white person to try and check him before he offends someone? I am struggling to envision a version of that conversation that would go well, because these are issues that cause people to get defensive, and he can be a little (a lot) defensive to criticism from his older sister in general. I’m pretty sure whatever I say would be met with a variation of “You don’t get it, sis, because you’re too white.”

Is this worth addressing or should I mind my own beeswax?

Thanks!

– There’s no “I” in Ally

She/her pronouns

Dear There’s No “I” in Ally:

Hi, it’s Lenée, subbing in for Captain Awkward this week.

As lovely as it is that your brother wants to be a not-awful-gay-white guy, he’s being exactly that. Consumption of Black cultural production — television, movies, and even BLM — does not make him a good person or an ally of any kind. In fact, as you so properly called it, he’s a fetishist. His screenshots and social capital as A Distinguished White Guest means absolutely nothing, as it’s pretty damn clear that Black people are theoretical people to him. He’s trading in Black cultural markers and identifying himself as “the blackest person” at his job because he thinks he can opt into Blackness the same way he chose to be out. I, as a Black queer woman, could not be more exhausted by this behavior. Sadly, it’s pretty standard in my experience with white queers, men especially. Wanting to be a “good white person,” as you so wonderfully observe, doesn’t work like this. Tumblr isn’t political education, though it’s a tool some folks have used to reach people. Facebook groups are not in any way a substitute for working to dismantle white supremacy and/ or using his privilege as a white man to protect and aid Black folks. That entitlement to structurally oppressed people, our culture, et cetera is so damn white.  Seriously. It’s so white, it just demanded to speak to my manager. It’s so white it has on Tevas and wool socks in a snowstorm.

So, here’s my take on it:

Don’t be so polite to him anymore. Push back firmly and tell him flat out that he’s wrong. You’re more than welcome to point him to any number of essays or tweet threads on how anti-racism actually works. Introduce him to misogynoir, performative allyship, or the histories (and labor!) of anti-racism. Your brother is latching onto Black people because of the way America exploits our experiences and makes us consumable, which has its roots in settler colonialism and chattel slavery. He’s following the script lain out for the entire world via antiblackness — Black people are flattened in a specific way when antiblackness is unchecked.

Your brother’s dating moratorium should be a general one until he figures himself out — being fetishized by a “good” white person is traumatic and nobody deserves that, even if they’re confused about the value of white validation. There is no way for this conversation to go smoothly. Not a single way. It is your duty, as a white person and as someone close to him to check him. Even if he isn’t receptive, you are doing something about his bullshit. It’s gross of him to continue in this way. I know you can’t control a grown ass person. I know you want him to be his best possible self. He may only learn once someone checks him — someone who’s Black, or someone who’s a non-black person of color. It’s hard to say how this’ll go. I do want you to know that holding your tongue, even though he’s clearly determined to be that guy, sends a message to him that he’s right/ okay. If he pushes back, that’s fine. Encourage him to do some reading and learning that doesn’t involve his online or IRL accessorized Black friends.

Ultimately, you don’t get him because he’s too white. And that shouldn’t be the burden of any Black person who crosses his path. (And tell him to stop calling you “sis,” as the iteration he uses is AAVE and neither of you is Black.)

About the Author: Lenée is a fat, Black, queer femme who lives in Philadelphia. She’s a lover of Black music, Steven Universe, true crime, and doing the electric slide whenever possible. A new plant mom, Lenée writes on occasion and usually tweets as @dopegirlfresh.

P.S. Quick Note From The Captain: Welcome Lenée and thanks for taking on The Case Of The World’s Wokest Man!

For readers who are thinking “I want to be more informed and learn how to push back on racism without doing more harm than good but I’m extremely afraid of messing up,” may I recommend So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Written by a Black writer and anti-racism educator, this book is the best recent one-stop shop I can think of for giving context to important political and cultural discussions while also getting specific about how to do this necessary, urgent work, how to screw up less, and how to handle it when you inevitably do so (that you don’t make it all about yourself instead of correcting injustice in the word).

Hi Captain!

I live in a largish city and participate in fairly distinct professional and hobbyist circles. Every so often – maybe once a month or so – I meet a new person in one of them, who will swear up and down that they have seen me before, or that they have met me before, or that they know me from somewhere. But I’m pretty sure that they haven’t met me! I have a good memory for faces, and I’m quite sure that I have never met this person in my life. I know I’m not infallible, but I’m really, really sure.

It’s kind of weird and I’ve started using it as a way of knowing when I need a haircut – if I maintain my usual style well, it’s a little more distinctive.

My usual response to this is to politely but firmly insist that I don’t know them, because I don’t want to play that game of ‘where do I know you from’, where the other person lists all kinds of possibilities, knowing that it will never lead to a satisfying answer. I usually say “I think I just have that kind of face”, which is my actual current working theory about this. This seems to be sad and off-putting for the other person though, who is some perfectly reasonable stranger who shares at least some common interest with me, who I probably would like to get to know better, and here I am doing a thing that sort of shuts the social situation down and doesn’t leave the other person a way to get to know me. (I realize that sometimes folks will use this as a pickup line, but this doesn’t seem like that kind of situation.)

How can I politely disabuse someone of the notion that they know me from somewhere, without coming off as totally unfriendly? It’s awkward and I want to take the awkward away without pretending that it is possible that I may have shown up to a stamp-collecting meetup two years ago or something.

Also, if any of my doppelgängers are reading: perhaps this is good advice for you too, and I’m very sorry for any inconvenience I may be causing you.

Thanks,
Generic-looking white lady in her late thirties I guess
pronouns: she / her / hers

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Hi Captain.

Long time lurker, first time questioner.

I need some advice with a future script please.

Several years ago, my mum had a massive falling out with her best friend of decades – A. They have never made up and mum hasn’t talked to her and her husband since.

Mum was distressed and upset over this but eventually time etc helped and she dealt with the grief etc and moved on.

However, due to this decades (30+ years) long friendship, our families were massively intertwined – think monthly get togethers (minimum), called them aunt/uncle/cousins, my aunt is my godmother and my mum is her daughters godmother. So it wasn’t just a friendship, it was family to each other so we all lost a lot when mum and A fractured.

So we dealt with that and then A’s daughter – E, got married. I had not expected an invite and was happy just congratulating her on Facebook but my mum had a total meltdown over not being invited and it was a horrible mess. – I got in trouble for pointing out that she hadn’t spoken to A in years at this point and that while the “adults” didn’t talk anymore, we “cousins” had stayed in occasional touch on FB but none of that meant a invite. Mum was adamant that she should have been invited and how dare A stop her from getting an invite blah blah blah. None of my family were overly supportive of her I must admit as none of us had expected an invite and so we weren’t as supportive as we could have been.

But we moved on (eventually). But then we got the news that E had cancer and pretty aggressive cancer at that. E reached out to mum a few times for medical jargon help and support (mums a nurse) but thats all.Then E beat the cancer! \o/ And so we all celebrated and moved on. But poor E got the news a few months ago that the cancer has come back and that theres a fairly good chance that she won’t beat it this time.

So far E is doing really well and we are crossing fingers for her but that possibility that she won’t make it, is lurking in the back of my mind.

And here is where I need script help.

Mum has stated that if E dies, she will be going to E’s funeral.

What scripts do you have in case she loses the plot at the funeral and I need to stop her from making a scene/steer her away from A and E’s family?
Or to talk about before hand?
Ive already said that I’ll go to but I’ll sit in the back and pay my respects and not go the wake but mum talks about it, like she’s being in E’s life these past few years and that she deserves to be treated as E’s godmother and she plans on going to everything, sitting in the familys seats etc.

Thank you for any help you can give,

Sincerely
No Family Drama please

Further points if you want them
– mum got drunk at a wedding 2 years ago and caused a few minor scenes, then fought with me and my sibling over why we didn’t stop her. – i tried twice and then stopped (based off Cap Awkward advice) and let what happened, happened
– we have had a few major family deaths in the last 12 months so she is still reeling over those deaths
– as far as i know and remember, the fight between mum and A was mostly A’s fault, exacerbated by hostile workplaces
– mum blames A for the fight and considers it a betrayal which A has never apologised for
– not sure what A thinks, as E and I have never discussed it or the fight or the “family” breakup
– I know it is not my pace to monitor mum, but i’ll feel better if I can at least try
– mum doesn’t listen to dad when it comes to these sort of things so dad just sits them out and then tells mum to stop whining she brought it on herself so I’ll probably have his support but not necessarily back up (and that is if he can make it, he lives out of state)
– E and I are the same age (late 20’s), so I’m pretty sure that is playing a part for my mum (picturing me instead of E)
– we have a pretty messed up family so not sure what support i’ll get or who’ll egg my mum on by saying she should be respected as E’s godmother
– I have suggested mum see a psychologist to help deal with the massive up-heaveals she has had in the last few years but she keeps saying she’ll do it when she has time (so far, that time has not come)

Thank you!!!!!!

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Video: Snappy dance music, Polish soccer, what’s not to love?

It’s that time again, when we answer the things people typed into search engines like they are questions.

1. “Dating a Midwestern man”

High probability of at least one of these things going on: beer, cheese, beards, & warm, burly hugs. What’s not to like?

 

2. “My crush doesn’t make a move even though I feel we have chemistry. Why?”

There is literally one person on earth who can answer this question for you. (Hint: It’s your crush) If you like this person and feel like you have good chemistry, why aren’t you making a move?

 

3. “friendsporn???” 

??? If this is porn based on the 1990s TV show “Friends,” HARD PASS.

If this is you trying to make porn with your friends, make sure you have clear consent –  like “signed release-forms!” clear.

4. “How to sabotage someone’s teeth.”

Teeth are useful and important. Please don’t do this.

5. “Girlfriend is over emotional and oversensitive.” 

Better break up with her and find someone with your exact level of cool, logical detachment!

6. “I impregnated a girl whose parents and mine are not in good terms please am confused what do I do?”

Be kind to the ‘girl’ in this situation and ask her what she wants to do about it all. She’s the one carrying the heaviest load here.

7. “How to knock your fucken dad out because he is a fucken asshole.”

You know I’m gonna suggest “no violence” but the phrasing of this made me laugh and reminded me of the fan-generated ad campaign for this brand of liquor that’s popular among my Chicago dirtbag friends:

malort

Image = ad for Jeppson’s Malört with a photo of the bottle and the text: “Tonight’s the night you fight your dad.”

(Don’t drink this, it’s repulsive)


8. “He blocked me and I have no way to contact him.”

Yes, that is the general idea.

9. “My weight loss captain.”

Is piloting another ship, far from here.

10. “How to get rid of my son’s girlfriend before he goes to college.”

You don’t.

Look, I get it on some level. At my teaching job I see a lot of college students who spend more time Skyping and texting with their sweethearts back home than making friends and engaging fully in their classes or campus life. We, who are older, want to say “You have your whole life to be in love and only a limited time to be in college, so seize this opportunity with both hands!” But your son gets to decide who he loves, and any move you make to separate them will probably only drive him away from you. Let them be. If it’s true love, it will shine through no matter what you think or do about it. If it isn’t, The Turkey Drop will take care of it on its own without any help from you.

11. “Very dangerous when girls chews dicks of boys for serious.”

Much dangerous, many serious.

Reminds me of this video I saw once. Video description: Comedienne Ellie Kemper plans to give the worst head ever.

 

12. “I love my boyfriend but my mother doesn’t like him because he is abusive, what do I do?”

As reasons not to like someone go, that’s a super good one. What’s the worst that could happen if you listened to your mother?

13. “Estranged friend’s mother died should I reach out.”

Think about whether a grieving person who doesn’t talk to you anymore would find a card or email or text comforting or intrusive right now. Is your desire to reach out right now about them or about you?

 

14. “If someone texts a message when drunk is this the truth?”

“In vino veritas” the saying goes, but there are so many caveats here! If you’re looking at drunk texts for proof of something that’s important to know, why don’t you try asking the person about it when they are sober?

15a. “How to defend yourself when caught with the wife of a married man you dating.” & 15b. “I fell in love with a married guy and I’m not really into apologizing.”

Sometimes these things just go together like magnetic poetry.

#15a: If you mean how do you defend yourself physically, leaving the situation as soon as possible seems like a good idea?

If you mean how to defend yourself verbally, maybe…don’t? What could you even say? “I’m dating your husband! I have really good reasons that I think you’ll want to hear about right now!”

#15b Is this the new “I’m not here to make friends?”

16. “When she won’t watch the shows you like.”

Watch them by yourself or with friends who do like them?

People can have good love without overlapping pop culture tastes, as long as everyone is respectful.

17. “Is there any point visiting someone in mental hospital?”

If the person is allowed to have visitors and wants them, and you can make the time, visiting can be a great thing. It can be so isolating in the hospital and seeing a familiar face of someone who loves you can be such a lifeline. Keep it light, let the patient guide the conversation.

18. “Neighbor won’t answer doorbell.”

If I’m not expecting someone and I don’t smell smoke or hear screaming, I don’t answer the door. Your neighbors might feel the same. Try calling, texting, emailing, or slipping a note under the door with whatever you wanted to tell them.

 

 

 


 

I started answering this latest example privately and then decided, ahhhhhhhh, fuck it.

I’m going in.

“Dear Jennifer,

I was very disappointed when I saw your reaction to the many emails you received concerning NFP. Your reaction was bitchy and immature. I mean, we’re all adults, so we’d better behave like adults…”

Bitchy, immature, and not behaving like an adult. Noted, Gentle Reader. Noted.

“1. NFP is not hard, if learned properly”

1) NFP is not hard FOR YOU. Great. Rock on with that.

“2. Just because she didn’t use it properly, it gives her no right to bash the method for her mistakes”

2) People who can’t remember to take the birth control pill every day at roughly the same time should probably look into a method that doesn’t depend on strict adherence to a daily routine.

People who don’t do well with hormonal methods should look into other methods (including Naturally Family Planning).

People who don’t trust themselves or their partners to have 100% reliable condom hygiene or who aren’t able to reliably plan for and place a barrier like a sponge or a diaphragm before sexual intercourse should use a backup method.

If you’re allergic to latex, then latex condoms probably aren’t your thing.

Some people don’t tolerate the IUD well. Insertion can be difficult on very young women and women who haven’t had children, and you’ve gotta check the strings hanging out of the cervix every so often to make sure it hasn’t moved. Those people should look into something else.

And people who can’t or don’t want to commit to NFP should find the thing that works for them, even if they were “never taught properly,” even if the issue is or was human error, even if the issue is or was specifically their own error.

Even if the Letter Writer‘s situation was a case of “Welp, I’m clearly not doing this correctly” (which by the way I am not assuming here), she doesn’t owe it to you or anyone to double down on that method before moving on to one that will give her more reliable results with less effort from her and more peace of mind. She can switch methods for any reason, including “I enjoy sex and do not want so much hassle or uncertainty associated with it” or “Dunno, felt like it I guess.

“3. It is not just about her. This is public on the internet. People with similar problems will look for advice there. You should have set the record straight for them. NFP doesn’t deserve such a bad reputation and you should not take part in bashing it.”

3) This is where you are flat fucking wrong. It’s her body, her literal body, of which she gets only one, of which she is the sole boss and driver. It could not possibly be more about her. 

She doesn’t owe allegiance to a method of birth control. She doesn’t owe it a positive spin, or further consideration. She doesn’t owe you or me or anyone ever having tried it in the first place.

Additionally, stating “This method didn’t work for me and I need to be done with it” is not “bashing” the method. Choosing a different method than the one you chose for yourself is not “bashing” your method. Choosing not to let people endlessly promote a birth control method when a Letter Writer has clearly said “I’m not interested in that anymore” is not “bashing” your method. You are projecting so hard it’s visible from space. You are doing the Internet equivalent of:

Letter Writer:“I’m having a problem with my PC, does anybody know how to fix this error?”

You/The League Of Very Concerned Citizens:“Well, you shoulda bought a Mac, there’s your problem right there.” 

I would have blocked you on Facebook by now if you did that in my feed, but let’s say the Letter Writer is a nicer person than me and continues:

Letter Writer: “Ok but my work computer is a PC and I have to figure this out today, so, does anybody know about fixing this problem on a PC?’ 

You:“Well, on a Mac this would never happen. You should convince your company to make the switch to Macs.” 

Actually, THIS is what you sound like:

 

CormacMcCarthy_BloodMeridian

Image description: The cover of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Light red writing on a dark red background with an abstract desert image in the middle.

Letter Writer, on social media outlet of her choice: “Ugh, I have my period, it’s like a Cormac McCarthy novel down there and I bled through a super plus tampon and my pad in an hour.”

You: “You should use the Diva Cup!”

Letter Writer: “Thanks, I tried the Diva Cup for a couple years, it wasn’t a good solution for me.”

You: “But did you try this kind Diva Cup? Or this kind? Or this other kind?”

Letter Writer: “Can’t say I have, but the one I tried, I really didn’t like it.”

You: “Well, it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Maybe you weren’t inserting it correctly!”

Letter Writer: “Cool, you’re probably right, but like I said, it wasn’t my thing.”

You: “Well, it works for me perfectly! I don’t see what your problem could possibly be, unless you’re just not very good at Diva Cups.”

Letter Writer: “I’m glad you found something that works so well for you! I wasn’t asking for advice on period control, I’ve found what (mostly) works for me. I was just venting that it’s like Bryan Fuller directed a Very Special Episode of Hannibal in my vulva.”

You: “HOW DARE YOU BASH THE MOST HOLY AND AMAZING DIVA CUP, WHICH WORKS PERFECTLY FOR ME EACH AND EVERY MOST HOLY DAY OF MY CYCLE?”

Letter Writer: Wut

You: “It’s not just about you, you know! This is on the internet! Anyone could be reading it and you are lying about how great the Diva Cup is.”

Letter Writer: “Ok, that’s clearly enough menstruation chat for today, have a good one!”

You: “Why do you hate the Diva Cup? Why are you trying to stop me and others from using it or finding out about it?”

Letter Writer: “I don’t? I’m not doing that?”

You: “Now the uninitiated will be MISINFORMED about the Diva Cup. All because of you, and your choices. Because this was the sole possible venue where they could find out about the Diva Cup. You have been unfair! I demand an accounting!”

Letter Writer: “Have we even met before? Who even are you?”

You: “Once you try the way of the Diva Cup, you are forever sworn to its service and glory. I demand to be allowed to share a tutorial on proper Diva Cup usage, that all may know.”

Letter Writer: :block:

You: “How immature.”

That is what you sound like. NOT GOOD.

There is good news to be had here, though! You could create your very own website all about NFP and how great it is, and people could read that if they are very interested in finding out more.

“4. The lady from the letter has bigger problems than birth control, namely a pretty messed up marriage, that she and her hubby should fix before talking about future family planning.”

4) I’m glad you brought up problems in the relationship. The Letter Writer has been trying to talk to her husband for 2 years about finding a different family planning method. It hasn’t worked, to the point that she is scared to bring it up again because it might cause a huge rift between them or that he might try to withhold family funds from her. If there are problems in a relationship, where the partners need to work some things out as they figure out family planning (as you so aptly point out), one smart thing to do would be to put a reliable birth control method that does not rely on the participation of the partner who can’t get pregnant into place…so that you don’t accidentally have another kid while you work out any marital problems.

“5. NFP also allows to control one’s own fertility without any health risks, if learned properly.”

5) It allows you to control your own fertility…to a point.

You could do whatever NFP practices are currently working for you 100% faithfully and “properly” for the rest of your fertile life, and if your partner does not respect your “Nope, not today, today is unsafe!” request, or if you’re having what you think is going to be non-penetrative sex but all of a sudden he’s all “C’mon, just the tip, it will feel so good” in the middle of things without warning you, or he pressures you into sex a lot and sometimes it would be easier to just go along than to have another fight about it and you don’t 100% trust him to stop in the middle of things and don’t want to risk finding out for sure that he won’t…and also it just feels soooooooooooooo good…just this once….and shazaam!!!!! Rogue semen. Inside your body. Makin’ a zygote.

That doesn’t even get into reproductive coercion,  or rape, or the connections between unplanned pregnancy and intimate partner violence.

If only there were a way for a person who can get pregnant to be self-aware about their own reproductive needs and to put a failsafe in place during times of unsteadiness and disagreement in a relationship, one that doesn’t rely on the participation and compliance of a partner and isn’t vulnerable to human error or sabotage!

“A mature and informed response would have provided the information that NFP is a safe method, and even if it is not the perfect method for the letter lady, it is still one of the best methods available and by telling that NFP is not safe, she’s basically lying.”

She is not lying, you unmitigated asshole.

“Please stop being a triggered feminist and return to the facts.”

Please enjoy this parting gift on your way to find a website where you’ll be more comfortable.

bagofdicks

Photo by me, of an art piece that hangs up at my hairdresser’s. Image description: There is a bag marked “dicks” and the words “Here’s that bag someone told you to eat.”

“Thank you
A very angry NFP user (with no unplanned pregnancies so far)”

Very angry NFP user, I’m glad you found something that works for you and I hope you have only the babies that you want to have when you want to have them. Your happy anecdata about how NFP works for you remains irrelevant to the choices of the Letter Writer, who is a separate person from you. She owes you precisely jack shit and I think you need to seriously examine why you feel so threatened by her decisions about her own body that you need to send me “bitchy” emails and accuse her of lying.

Women and people who can get pregnant bear enormous risks during pregnancy, including death. They are human beings who have a right to set their own risk tolerance. Everyone who can get pregnant should be free to find the method that works safely and reliably for them without judgment or recrimination from anyone. Everyone who wants to get pregnant should be supported in that choice, too! Birth control should be free for anyone who needs it or wants it, and so should fertility counseling and assistance.

People who have strong religious objections to certain methods of contraception should continue not using those methods on their own bodies, of which they are the bosses. People with strong religious objections to certain contraceptive methods have zero say, zero moral authority, and should have zero political authority over what other people do with their bodies. This should not even be debatable as public policy anymore! This should especially not be debatable by large groups of men. It’s definitely not gonna be debated on this blog.

So, in closing, thank YOU for once again allowing me to say that there is no moral hierarchy of birth control methods. None are 100% perfect or reliable, but fortunately there is enough variety and tested reliability that most of us can find something that works reliably and with few side effects or hiccups. We gotta keep defending our rights to this without apology and without shame.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Women’s Rights are Human Rights Birth Control Is Great And You Should Use Whatever Kind You Like For Any Reason Planned Parenthood is a National Treasure  Abortion is Necessary Healthcare Rodham Nunyabeezwax Big Fat Feminist Jezebel Every Sperm Is Emphatically NOT Sacred Captain Awkward Leigh Peepas.

P.S. Letter Writer #969 I am sincerely sorry if posting these updates brings more pressure and weirdness into your life. I continue to send you love and to think about what a great and loving wife you are, what a great parent you are and are going to continue to be, and imagining how you are going to start to slowly become the wise woman in your community that other girls and women turn to and rely on when they also need to take care of themselves around this. Please don’t let these nosy parkers bring you down.

P.P.S Do not fucking @ me about the Diva Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have a situation that is getting very awkward indeed. In a few months, I will be going on vacation to Tokyo with my best friend. This has been a dream of ours for a long time, so we have a lot of plans. A coworker – with whom I’m friendly, but not very close – heard through the grapevine about my trip and started a conversation about when I was going and what I planned to do.

The week after that, she told me that she was planning a trip on the same dates, and she was so glad to know someone who could ‘show her all the sights’. I was a bit taken aback, but I told her my plans had just included myself and my best friend, and we already have reservations booked for just the two of us for most of the attractions we want to see. She seemed to understand and didn’t mention it again for a while.

However, I later overheard her talking to another coworker about ‘our trip’, and how I had planned everything out for ‘us’ to do. I waited until the other coworker was gone so as not to embarrass her, but this time I told her in no uncertain terms that my plans had not and would not include her. She got upset and said I’d been so enthusiastic about my trip that she’d gotten excited as well, and why was it so difficult for one more person to join us?

Since then, she’s kept talking about ‘our’ trip and what ‘we’ll’ do and all objections I make are completely ignored, even though I’ve stopped being polite and I have told her in front of others that she is in no way involved in my trip. I want to have a great experience with my friend and I absolutely do not want to be stuck playing tour guide to an acquaintance.

Since this is not work-related, I don’t feel like I can bring it up to our managers. I know I can’t stop her from making her vacation plans, even if they coincide with my own, but she already knows the name of my hotel and my rough itinerary from that first conversation, so how can I get it across that my friend and I do not want her with us? I’m concerned that she might have booked at the same hotel or that she’ll show up there, and I don’t want to cause a scene or have to try and avoid her. To my knowledge she’s never done anything like this before, so I’m completely baffled by her behavior. Obviously this problem is a bit different from many of the other letters you get, but I have no idea how to address this situation. Help?

Thank you,
Tokyo Traveller

preferred pronouns she/her

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