Dear Amy: I am a male with a female co-worker, “Danica.” I like Danica. We have a similar sense of humor, and I get the sense that she wants to be better friends.However, she has a strong and unwarranted tendency to see injustice, racism, sexism and homophobia in innocuous interactions.
For example, once outside of work, I innocently inquired as to whether she was happy in her life, and she viewed this as a sexist and patriarchal question that basically reduced her to a damsel in distress.
However, as I explained to her, this is something I ask my friends of all genders.
She sees harassment, condescension and coercion where there isn’t any.
While I’m mostly aligned with her political views, she thinks that by me denying her unwarranted claims of sexism around every corner, I am claiming victimhood because my “privilege” is being questioned.
I feel like we could be really good friends, except I feel she sees innocuous events through the lens of what some people might describe as a “social justice warrior.”
How can I address my issue with her, without her claiming I’m just being sexist? —Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated: While I’m tempted to advise you to say, “Oh, Danica, you’re so cute when you’re angry...” I don’t think I can help you to best this social justice warrior, because no matter how you respond, she can always accuse you of using your “privilege” to dominate her. So query her about her own intolerance.
She needs to be given the opportunity to exercise the kind of tolerance that she would no doubt champion, in a different context.
The next time she shuts you down, you could ask her, “Danica, are you willing to try to be more tolerant toward a viewpoint that doesn’t always align perfectly with yours?”
Dear Amy: I’m a 28-year-old woman living with my younger sister (16) and our mother while I finish my master’s degree. For the past three years, I’ve been seeing “Anthony.” He has been a great boyfriend, as well as a son of sorts to my mother.
Anthony works in management for an international company. He travels overseas about every other week. He usually comes back from exotic locales with a small gift for me.
For the last year or so, he has also been bringing back a similar gift for my sister. For example, if he bought a shawl for me, he also brings one for my sister.
I’m starting to feel envious of no longer being the sole object of his affection.
He says he doesn’t want my sister to feel left out.
I can understand, in a sense, but I honestly start to roll my eyes when my sister excitedly announces to visiting family and friends what he brought back for “her.”
Is my desire to feel special unreasonable? —A (little) Jealous
Dear Jealous: “Anthony” sounds like a nice person. He might avoid some of this nonsense by calibrating his gift giving, so that your gift is always a little nicer, or even slightly more “special” than the one he gives to your sister.
But then, he would just be giving in to this juvenile dynamic.
Your teenage sister is acting like a teenager. What’s your excuse?
You are 28 years old, educated and in a loving family. The truly adult thing would be for you to encourage Anthony to bring something small back for both your mother and your sister, and for you to accept his homecoming as the only gift you want or need. Then, your “specialness” will be impossible to measure, which I think would be a very good thing for you.
Dear Amy: “Elephant in the Room” has a “long-term binge-eating disorder” and is worried that people who haven’t seen her in a long time will be shocked and or rude when they see her weight gain.
She is using her “disorder” as an excuse for eating whatever and whenever she wants.
I think your advice should have been to lay off the pizza, get off the couch and see a nutritionist. —Everyone has an Excuse
Dear Everyone: This reader wasn’t asking me for advice about how to tackle her obesity. So why would I offer it?
One frustration of being overweight is how people often reduce the issue to being basically fat and lazy. But obesity is an affliction that is obvious to everyone, because it is carried on the outside. Being a jerk is an affliction that is more easily hidden, until it reveals itself.