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But they’re guests in our home . . . April 13, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, People.
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When we entertain guests, BFF wants me to be on my best behavior . . . no matter what, admonishing me to bite my tongue and avoid biting remarks by saying: 

But they’re guests in our home!

When we visit others, BFF wants me to be on my best behavior . . . no matter what, admonishing me to bite my tongue and avoid biting remarks by saying: 

But we’re guests in their home!

When we are out and about, BFF wants me to be on my best behavior . . . no matter what, admonishing me to stop dancing in the supermarket aisles  whilst singing show tunes, by saying: 

But we’re in public!

While I agree that some degree of decorum makes sense in ALL our interactions with others, I don’t agree that I need to be the one who bites my tongue while allowing others free rein to express their opinions, no matter how ignorant those opinions may be. 

This issue arises most often when Guest A or Host B says something with which I strongly disagree:

Women belong in the bedroom, not the boardroom. 

BFF (being non-confrontational) would prefer that I say nothing in response to such an idiotic statement.  I have found, through trial and error, that Guest A or Host B will take silence as acquiescence and keep marching down the road with great vigor:

* Men are masters of their domain and all decisions should be left in their capable hands.

* Women have insufficient logic and intellect to make life decisions for themselves.

* Men should never have to do “women’s work.” 

* If a wife is sick, she should arrange in advance for someone to take over her housekeeping responsibilities. 

* Women should speak only when spoken to, and should always defer their needs for the good of their mate. 

* A wife’s obligation includes having sex wherever and whenever her husband (i.e., lord and master) requests.  

* If a woman doesn’t consent and submit willingly, her husband should be permitted to force her to comply with his sexual demands.

Since I don’t want conversations to get to the point that Guest A or Host B is trying to persuade me that a husband should be able to rape his wife with impunity, I try to nip such inane arguments in the bud. 

That makes BFF uncomfortable.

Not because he agrees with sexist statements like this.  He doesn’t.  But he feels that I should bite my tongue because they are guests in our home, or because we are guests in theirs.

I disagree. 

People are entitled to their opinions, no matter how ignorant, but I do NOT have to suffer their ignorance in silence just because they’re in our home . . . or we’re in theirs.   

If I have to curb my enthusiasm in their home . . . they should curb their enthusiasm in mine.   And vice versa.  

At least, that’s my view.

No rules.  Just write!

What say you?  

When someone makes a racist or sexist or abusive remark, denigrating an entire class or race of people, do you feel that good manners require you to keep your disagreement to yourself?  Or would you counter the statement with a more “enlightened” view of the world?

Related posts:  Where Have All The Women Gone? (Random Thoughts From Mid-Life) * Joke 19 (The Laughing Housewife) * Hell is Living in the Bible Belt (Woman Wielding Words) * An Idea Comes of Age in my Own Head (Agrigril)    

Comments»

1. Tilly Bud - April 13, 2011

What puzzles me is why you’re friends with these people in the first place? They don’t sound like someone you’d be on good terms with.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I’m not friends with “these people” . . . I wanted to give a clear example of what I meant about an objectionable statement. 😀

2. Lisa - April 13, 2011

I agree with Tilly. But, for me, it depends on the situation. I sometimes censor myself, but more often than not I plunge ahead. It only becomes truly problematic when the person making the awful statements is my father-in-law. 😉

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

It does depend on the situation . . . and on the comment . . . and, even sometimes, on who is doing the talking.

But I don’t think we have to defer to all inane comments uttered by guests and hosts.

We’ll never become more enlightened as a civilization if we don’t discuss our differences of opinion. I expect that Hitler managed to make the amoral decisions he made because people didn’t speak up and stop him early on.

3. Loreen Lee - April 13, 2011

Dear Time Out Box:

When someone makes a racist or sexist or abusive remark, denigrating an entire class or race of people, do you feel that good manners require you to keep your disagreement to yourself? Or would you counter the statement with a more “enlightened” view of the world?

But why then did you object to my call for a more enlightened perspective on the ‘drunken’ Irish, and the inferred whores who ‘kiss because they’re Irish!

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Because I did NOT call the Irish “drunks” or “whores.” That was an unsupported inference on your part.

Loreen Lee - April 13, 2011

Dear Time Out Box: I don’t expect you to publish this, but I would like to quote:

9. Drinking green beer and Irish Whisky in crowded bars surrounded by excited drunks is a wonderful way to spend March 17th.

8. Celebrating with the Irish provides a break from the rigors, discipline, and deprivations of Lent.

3. When we see someone cute, without a single sprig of mistletoe in sight, we can lean over and coyly say, Kiss me, I’m Irish.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I didn’t say the “excited drunks” were Irish. 🙂

And I don’t view people getting kissed under mistletoe, or getting kissed on St. Pat’s day, as “whores.”

Basically, you read WAY MORE into a light-hearted post than any one else who read it.

Loreen Lee - April 13, 2011

Dear Time Out Box: Presumption the same:
You don’t see that it is possible that you ‘said’ more’, within the historical context, and expectations, generally, than you will admit to saying. I’m talking presumptions, here, and I would expect to find Irish in a pub on Saint Paddy’s (like the Paddy wagon) Day. These words all have social connotation.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

No one else who read the post, including several IRISH friends and my IRISH husband had a problem with the post.

You alone saw “evil intent” where none existed.

BTW: I’m done debating this with you. I’ve moved on. I suggest you do the same.

4. oldancestor - April 13, 2011

If it’s my place, I will gladly hammer someone for saying something I strongly disagree with. If I’m in their place, I let them know through my face expression that I’m not going to have that conversation.

My scowl has been commented upon as being somewhat intimidating, and I’m not afraid to put it to use.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Please post a photo of it on your blog so that I can learn to emulate it. 😀

Actually, I have such looks that silence people pronto. They can be quite effective at causing people to change the subject.

oldancestor - April 14, 2011

You have to start with the shaved head. People assume you are more aggressive that way.

nrhatch - April 14, 2011

Wow! I’m not sure if that would be a good look for me. 😀

5. Barbara Gunn - April 13, 2011

In answer to your question:
A couple of weekends ago I was standing in line at Panda Express in Albq.,NM with a female “friend”. Out of the blue she blurted out,”There are Mexicans everywhere!” I kept my remarks silent because I didn’t want to start a fight. If I had to do it again I would express my opinion of her prejudiced remark as loudly as possible!!
BTW I erased this person from my list of friends!

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I would have to have said, “So? What’s your point?” 😉

6. Cindy - April 13, 2011

Oh I laughed reading this … I’m unable to control myself and vent with gusto. “So what?” I tell my husband when he says they’ll never have us again/come back again “I don’t want the silly idiots here again.”

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Yes! Yes! Yes!

That’s exactly what I think. Why should I pretend to go along with boorish people when I NEVER want to see them again anyway.

Thanks, Cin!!!

viewfromtheside - April 13, 2011

well said cindy!

7. Rosa - April 13, 2011

I’m with Tilly, I can’t imagine having someone who says those things over to my house! I am the non-confrontational type that your bff is… I’d probably try to change the subject and then avoid that person in the future!

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Well, no one this bad has ever been invited into my home . . . and I’ve never been to theirs.

But I have been around narrow-minded people who make objectional remarks about: Non-Christians, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Women, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Vegetarians, Tree Huggers, Vegans, Etc.

I am not going to sit silent and pretend to agree with an ignorant remark if I don’t. I’m tired of wearing masks.

I say what I mean and I mean what I say. That way, when someone decides they don’t like me . . . I know it’s the real me they don’t like. And vice versa. 😀

Loreen Lee - April 13, 2011

Dear Time Out Box: Presumption the same:
but not the ‘easy’ Irish lass, who has so often been regarded as though she were as accessible as a whore!!!!! Especially by the ‘upper crust’! The Irish have just as much feeling as your Tree Huggers, and Vegans!

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Once more . . . for the hearing impaired:

I did NOT call the Irish “drunks” or “whores.” That was an unsupported inference on your part.

Loreen Lee - April 13, 2011

DEar Time Out: Presumption again that you will delete:

That’s just the point about ‘prejudice’. Prejudice IS the ‘common denominator’ assumed inference. That’s why ‘consciousness’ about an issue has to be raised. The Irish from the poverty classes know the effect of those presumptions, and know what it feels like to be treated as though they were ‘drunk’s and ‘whores’, even though it is ‘lightly’ made fun of. After all, it used to be ‘kinda’ a joke to call a Black a ‘nigger’. That’s the ‘underside’ of humor, I would remind you.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

You do not need to “remind me” of anything, LL, since I have NEVER treated the Irish “as though they were drunks or whores.”

You read between the lines and added your own skewed interpretation to innocent posts. That is YOUR problem, not mine.

8. suzicate - April 13, 2011

At first I though BFF was implying that you have a behavior problem, LOL! Seriously, You are tactful not rude. You know how to nip things in the bud…I say go for it! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with nipping a narrow minded conversation in the bud…maybe it will make the other person consider the words they are spouting off.

I see this situation in my home as the opposite…my hubby being the one nipping the offensive conversation in the bud while I am listening to the person totally cringing until I can’t stand it any longer. He usually speaks up long before I do…unless they happen to be my family members!

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

LOL. BFF does think I’m too argumentative. He would prefer that I NEVER ruffle feathers or step on toes. He wants me to “just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.” 😀

It’s very context dependent. I don’t enjoy arguing about minutiae. So, if I see that a “debate” has turned into pointless bickering (because we’ve stopped listening to each other), I stop debating.

Likewise, if someone says that I misunderstood them ~ and they didn’t mean to make a sexist or racist remark, I accept their explanation and let it go.

But, if someone with strong prejudice and bias insists on pressing their position, I often see a real benefit in ruffling their feathers ~ if for no other reason than to let them know that not everyone agrees with their view of the world.

9. kateshrewsday - April 13, 2011

Gracious, Nancy, it’s eventful in here today!

Very good questions you pose (sorry, talking like Yoda today) . The moment someone starts to make preposterous comments Phil and I mentally place them inside a fictitious goldfish bowl. We watch and inwardly giggle, and then hold the mirth in for as long as it takes to get to the car. We generally guffaw all the way home.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I love that idea! Fishbowl it is!

Actully, BFF and I do someting similar in situations where biting our tongues makes more sense to us than sharing our divergent opinions.

And once we stop laughing, it’s hard to stop.

10. Greg Camp - April 13, 2011

I’m with Old Ancestor on this one. There’s never any confusion about what I’m thinking about any given statement. Just look at my face. Of course, some people are determinedly oblivious, but I don’t spend time with them, unless I’m being paid to do so.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Good policy, Greg. Life is too short to waste time with “toxic people.” 😎

11. gospelwriter - April 13, 2011

I don’t agree with the reason given for biting the tongue (and I don’t really agree with biting the tongue in general), but I have learned not to respond to the sorts of comments you list, as the people who make them are not likely to change their opinions; in fact, I wonder sometimes if they don’t do it simply to get a bit of drama going. And I will think long and hard before I willingly subject myself to their company in future. Life’s just too short…

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I agree. In fact as you were typing your comment, I had just said to Greg: Life is too short to waste time with “toxic people.”

12. viewfromtheside - April 13, 2011

I am extremely badly behaved sometimes.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I expect that we would get along famously. 😀

viewfromtheside - April 15, 2011

I think so, last winter at a dinner one man kept making denigrating remarks about anyone who wasn’t HIS race. I eventuually asked him if he was proud to be a racist. That shut him up! and I was so glad to do it. Maybe he learned that not everyone thinks as he does or thinks it’s acceptable.

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

Good for you! I think that’s why I do it, Sidey. When I know that people are thinking the same thing as me (“Wow! He’s a racist.”), but are too “fearful” to speak up and defend “morality” . . . I advocate on its behalf.

13. run4joy59 - April 13, 2011

My grandpa was very prejudiced and it always bothered me, but I was expected to never disagree with him (be disrespectful, are you kidding me?)…finally, as a teenager, I just started questioning him and his beliefs and his statements. I never got him to change his mind about anything, but he did seem to enjoy the discussions (arguments)…sometimes I wonder if people say such outrageous things just to start an argument…there really are people who enjoy stirring the pot (I’m not opposed to doing that myself on occasion)

There are times I’ll speak up and other times I simply raise an eyebrow and sarcastically ask,”Really?”…honestly, I don’t care what people like that think about me anyhow…or even what they think in general…pick your battles and don’t let the morons get you down.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Good philosophy. I loved my grandparents and tended to “look the other way” if they said something that seemed “askew” to me. I still do that with people who are old, frail, sick, etc. I figure they have enough problems that they don’t need to get into a debate with me.

But when someone my age or younger says something outrageous, I am apt to challenge them rather than pretend to agree.

viewfromtheside - April 15, 2011

yes, one can just ignore them, but one may have to discuss it afterwards with children who otherwise think parents have double standards

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

Good point, Sidey.

14. Alannah Murphy - April 13, 2011

I have a lot of trouble biting my tongue, and if they’re in MY home, they’re going to get their arses kicked if they don’t behave…hmmm me bad..

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

You rock! 😀

Alannah Murphy - April 15, 2011

Aw thanks Nancy, I don’t like bullies, and to me those people who say things that make one feel bad ARE bullies.

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

The statements above sound like something that a Taliban terrorist would utter . . . and they are definitely BULLIES.

15. Penny - April 13, 2011

Interesting post Nancy. I gotta be “ME” regardless of where I’m at or who I am with. I have to be the whimiscal-whity-with all of my quirks and kinks. 🙂

* Men are masters of their domain and all decisions should be left in their capable hands. “Not in my home”- its a two way street-in making decisions. 🙂

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

I’m with you, Penny. In my younger years, who I was depended upon who I was with. Now, I am who I am.

I have enough confidence in myself to be ME without constantly looking over my shoulder at others to gauge what to think, feel, do and say.

As you say, I gotta be ME . . . what else can I be but what I am? 😀

16. estherlou - April 13, 2011

Some of those statements make you wonder what century they were born in! OMG I’m not confrontational either, but would really be hard pressed NOT to say something to these crazy statements! Also, it would make me wonder if these people were really friends…they seem to be so different from you.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

Thanks, Esther. I have heard people make these kinds of statements, but not in my home. I used these inane comments for illustration purposes only. You’re right . . . I would NEVER be friends with people like this.

17. Carol Ann Hoel - April 13, 2011

I would be on my very best behavior, respecting their right to have an opinion different from mine. I don’t think politeness would preclude me from stating my own feelings on the subject.

Your example list would be hard to listen to without (1) laughing, (2) Spitting, (3) Growling. But of course, I would refrain. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

You made me laugh, Carol Ann ~ love that you would refrain from laughing, spitting, and growling. 😀

And I agree. Expressing a different opinion is not impolite, as long as we disagree without being disagreeable.

18. Debra - April 13, 2011

I would have walked out. And have done it with not even a glance back.

My breathe would be wasted. My time is better spent with more open-minded people. And I have so much more to do than listen to a fool spouting and foaming at the mouth.

nrhatch - April 13, 2011

The situation that arose recently was not this bad, but bad enough.

BFF doesn’t like me to rock the boat, and I don’t like to sit silently when people are “spouting and foaming at the mouth.” 😦

On occasion, I have gotten up and left, or quickly “made our excuses” to leave. Life is too short to put up with “toxic people.”

19. eof737 - April 14, 2011

It’s a tough call and sometimes we do bite our tongue… However even I know my limit… and I will say something if that line is crossed. Guests or not. Hey, you’re in my home so watch it, right? 🙂
Eliz

nrhatch - April 14, 2011

Duly noted. I shall do my best to behave. 😀

20. Tammy McLeod - April 14, 2011

Nancy, I am typically not the silent type. Of course, I have to say that I’m not sure I’ve been confronted with statements as strong as the ones that you’ve listed. There have been times when “something” was said and I was silent and it ate me up later. I’ve had to go back to the person and say, “you know, when we were talking the other day, you made a comment that has bothered me. It bothered me when you said it but more so that I didn’t tell you that I felt it was inappropriate and outside my value system.” That always makes me feel better and I think people know that I’ll always shoot straight with them.

nrhatch - April 14, 2011

Good for you, Tammy. And that, in a nutshell, is why I wrote this post:

We need to give ourselves permission to “shoot straight” ~ people are not as fragile as they sometimes seem. No one will spontaneously combust if we say, “I disagree.”

21. William D'Andrea - April 14, 2011

I see no problem with disagreeing with any guest, as long as nobody gets personally abusive.
As for myself, I live in a single rented room, so I never have visitors. Besides, if people were going to be coming over, it would mean that I’d actually have to clean the place.

nrhatch - April 14, 2011

Thanks, William. I agree. Resorting to ad hominem attacks never advances the ball.

We used to do more entertaining ~ filled with cocktail party chatter. Nothing too controversial. We’ve cut back quite a bit. Now, it’s usually just a few guests at a time. Most are well-behaved. 🙂

22. bandsmoke - April 15, 2011

I really believe you should be able to express your feelings wherever you are or whomever you’re with. If people can’t cope it’s their loss not yours – lively debate is what keeps life interesting, great post Nancy 🙂

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

Thanks, bandsmoke! If something being said is objectionable, I leave the discussion, or add to the discussion, but I rarely sit in silent acquiescence.

23. liannouwen - April 15, 2011

I guess I would tell them I disagree. No matter where I am. Even if it’s gonna end in a fight in the middle of the street! Well, of course I would try to avoid having a fight but you get the point 😉

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

I do. Fortunately, my disagreements with others have never degenerated into fist fights or shoot outs at the OK Corral. 😉

24. Booksphotographsandartwork - April 15, 2011

As you can well imagine there is no tongue bitting here! My husband is also very non-confrontational. Once I was in a heated debate over matter similiar too what you listed with one of his family memembers and he rudely interrupted and put a stop to the conversation. I was furious. There are just some matters where bitting the tongue will not suffice! Sexism, racism, and animal abuse. I will not back down.

nrhatch - April 15, 2011

Good for you, Linda. “To thine own self be true.” 😀


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