Carolyn Hax: Ultimatums over strip clubs; who brings the office-party snacks?

Columnist March 25, 2012

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

On the “I insist you stop going to strip clubs” trope:

I never liked it when my husband went to strip clubs, either. I consider those places, and also pornography, to objectify and demean the people who are being exhibited in this way, and people in desperate situations are all too often exploited.

I know that not everyone shares this point of view, but this is my moral stance. I made it known to my husband. I also let him know that, if he chose to go, I would not make a fuss, but that I would find it a huge turnoff that he was ogling those women and supporting that industry, and that he would want to keep his distance for a few days while I worked through my disappointment in him.

He went a few times, to bachelor parties and such, and I said nothing, but he knew how I felt. In the end, he decided it was more important to be a man his wife can respect than to look at nude girls. When we had a daughter, he even started to see my point: He would not want her treated the way the young women in those places are treated. — C.C.

When an argument against going to strip clubs is sex-reversed — “I don’t like where my girl is going” — then I promise you there won’t be debate; it will be 100 percent in support for this woman to run away. But since it’s about a woman who has a reasonable dislike of strip clubs, there will be debate. There shouldn’t.

That’s how it started for me: “Don’t go to strip clubs anymore.” I really maybe only went three or four times a year, and that was stupid times with friends — I was young — and so I figured: I was with this woman, I loved her, so I stopped going. Then suddenly she had a problem with any restaurant with scantily clad women. I mean, it made sense. I had to spend time with my girl, not ogling other women.

Then the definition of “scantily clad” started to mean pretty much any sports bar with female servers. Tight jeans and shirts were out, and God forbid if one of them poured a drink for me.

My focus was on my girlfriend . . . not these other women.

Of course, it was my bad-influence friends who were making me go, so one by one, I should start giving them up.

By this point, I was told I had to stop talking to my female friends, too. That blonde one whom I had known since eighth grade was always eyeing me up and clearly wanted to tear us apart. (Her boyfriend was just a ruse!) And the friends who were warning me about my newfound hermit tendencies? . . . They were just trying to tear us apart.

Then it came to Christmas: I HAD to spend them with her parents. Why on Earth do I want to go to my own home? Never mind that we had just spent Thanksgiving and the previous Christmas with her family.

It came to a head one Easter, when I asked to spend it with my family. She ensured that we were late for my parents’ dinner and that we did anything but go to my house, and she yelled at me because I hadn’t made Memorial Day plans with her yet. Yes. Memorial Day.

I was lucky. I was saved by my brother, who did a Ghost of Christmas Present on me; he forced me to visit friends I hadn’t talked to in years and made me realize what was going on. (Yes, she was mad that I spent some time with my brother.) Ten years later, I’m still trying to rebuild relationships with my close friends.

I’m with a great woman now. She has no problem with where I hang out with my friends and encourages me to go out to sports bars where I enjoy myself no matter what the waitresses are wearing. And — although she’s not a huge fan of strip clubs — she goes out with her own friends on the rare occasion that my friends and I try to relive our stupid days and go to one.

I’m tired of this narrative that men can’t be abused. I’m tired of the narrative that strip clubs and bars with scantily clad women should be given up immediately because they are somehow tainted or gross, and it’s accepted. — M.

On office parties that favor the marriage-and-babies set:

In my last two workplaces, the person whose birthday or anniversary it was brought the goodies to mark the occasion. No one was under any obligation to do so, but most enjoyed supplying the bagels, coffee cake, etc., that day and got all the well-wishes he or she could want. — Smart Solutions

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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