Is there any harm posing naked for my boyfriend? Why didn’t he ask my permission before bringing people over? Should I have to put up with hypocrisy in my work place?
I’m a female college student and I’ve been dating a guy for about a year (with a long gap last summer—we live far from each other when we’re not in school). He is an avid and very talented photographer and he’s been trying to get me to take some “tasteful,” as he says, nude photographs of me. I know he isn’t seeing them as being really sexually explicit, but at the same time, he’s been pretty adamant about the nude part! He is a very sweet, super-nice guy. I trust him completely and I’m not prudish or anything, but I am not crazy about the idea for no particular reason I can pinpoint. He is pressuring me a little in a good-natured way, telling me how he wants to capture how beautiful I am, how I will be glad I have these photographs when I’m older, how this is art, etc., etc. I don’t want to be unsupportive of his photography passion, and sometimes I think, what’s the harm? What do you think?
There are a lot of good reasons for agreeing to do this (I think many of us wouldn’t mind a photographic reminder that we briefly had the upper hand in the battle against time and gravity), and there are a lot of good reasons for your reluctance (yes, you may be happy you have these photos, but you may also be deeply unhappy that he has them, too). But all of these reasons, pro and con, are completely irrelevant. The simple fact is, he asked you if you wanted to do this, you said no, and the only thing left for him to say at that point was, “Okay. Let me know if you change your mind.” There’s no such thing as good-natured pressure over something so personal and which requires you to relinquish so much control. In fact, his nagging you to do this should harden your resolve not to. Despite his subtle implication you’re some kind of philistine for not enthusiastically unzipping the moment his lens cover is off, your reluctance is perfectly reasonable. His pushiness is not—not if he’s as nice as you say, anyway.
I went away recently for a couple of weeks and asked a friend to take care of my cat. My expectation was that he would come over once a day to empty the litter box, give the cat food and water, play with it a bit if they both felt like it, then leave. I made all this known to him. (My cat and he know and like each other so this all should have been very simple.) Well, I have a pretty modest apartment, with one exception: I have spent all my disposable income on a great movie-watching set-up because I really like movies. So my friend thought it was okay to invite a few friends over to my apartment to watch movies the weekend I was gone. And one of them broke something that used to be my grandmother’s and which is irreplaceable. I am so mad at him I can’t even talk to him. But I haven’t let him know why I can’t talk to him. I’ve just avoided him. I just think it was so wrong of him to have people at my house without permission, especially when I would have given him permission if he had just asked. I can’t keep avoiding him. My question is what should I say to him to express how angry I am? I want him to know this was definitely NOT okay.
Should Have Stayed Home
Dear Should Have Stayed Home,
I’m not quite sure what you’re so worked up about. I mean, I understand you’re upset that something with a lot of meaning for you was broken. But it sounds like it was an accident. Hosting a movie party without your permission was definitely out of line, but you said if he had asked, you would have granted him permission, so your keepsake would still have ended up broken (and I suspect you’d be feeling much the same). I think you feel a need to direct your feelings of sadness, disappointment, and anger at someone, and he is the obvious target. I can’t say he deserves it, though. He was doing you a favor; in the course of doing the favor he exercised some bad judgment; and something important to you was destroyed in the process. Unfortunately, those things happen sometimes—if you want to avoid them, put your cat in a kennel while you’re away. What should you say when you talk to him? “I was really disappointed your friend broke my grandmother’s ________, and I was kind of surprised to find out you had people over without talking to me about it. But thanks for taking care of my cat.”
I’m writing to you about what I consider a double standard that I have made my mission to challenge. I work with a gay man who is quite vocal about how wrong it is to refer to something as “gay” or “queer” as a way to disparage it. I’m willing to go along with that if he does—but the double standard is that he trashes his own friends (all gay) when it suits him, usually by referring to their “bitchiness,” as in, “She’s SUCH a bitch!” when talking about another gay man. I’m not willing to change the way I speak if he doesn’t have to follow his own rules. And this is part of a larger pattern of certain groups wanting society at large to virtually ban words they use themselves! I don’t get it, and I don’t buy it. Tell me you agree with me or explain why you don’t. Thanks.
Dear Single Standard,
This is your mission? What, are there no lonely elderly to visit or hospitalized children to read to where you live? Sheesh. “I want to be free to speak as crudely and nastily as they do!” Some mission.
If what you’re saying casually hurts or belittles someone or perpetuates ugly stereotypes, why are you so bent on continuing to do it? If it’s a question of “fairness,” do you really feel it’s unfair to ask you to refrain from criticizing something by saying, “That’s so gay!” That’s not exactly the world’s most insightful observation.
I think one legitimate point you could make to your work acquaintance is that it’s unfortunate he’s not more careful about his own language when he describes his friends as “bitches,” since this strikes me as a gratuitous insult to women. And while one expects victims of thoughtless language to be less likely to be thoughtless themselves, there’s ample evidence human nature often doesn’t work that way.
Special Note from John: The upcoming holidays offer countless opportunities for stressful situations, unpleasant interactions, and possibly-alcohol-fueled lapses in judgment. Do you have a holiday-related problem or question? If so, please write in for a special column I’ll be putting together over the course of the next few weeks. Thanks!
Originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.
—Photo The Hidden Collection/Flickr