Dear Aunt Trudy,
My husband is the least sexist man I know. He's polite and sweet and good-humored. Unfortunately, he has a best friend who's one of the most sexist men I've ever met. Frankly, I can't fathom what my husband sees in this guy. Whenever my husband goes out to dinner with this man, they spend the whole evening looking at women's breasts and exchanging comments about them. What kind of a way is this for grown, supposedly sophisticated men to act? I don't want to tell my husband he shouldn't be friends with this person, but I'm afraid he's going to pick up some permanent bad habits.
Disapproving in Mira Mesa
Feminist foremothers, forgive me. I'm going to be a bit heretical here. If your husband's conduct toward you and other sentient beings, female and otherwise, is beyond reproach, and he and his buddy aren't bothering the objects of heir girl watching but are simply ogling them discreetly, then perhaps you should ignore these sexist expeditions. I know that sounds awful. But having lived to be an old lady, I'll say that some things men do in the society of other men passeth all understanding, or at least oft-times elude my meager comprehension. And I'm not sure it's fair to forbid what we don't understand, especially when it takes place outside our presence. In ancient times the men would go out into the forest for a week once a year, build a bonfire, strip naked, smear themselves with mud, beneath themselves with branches, sing and dance, and perform all kings of strange rituals before they came back to the tribe, cleansed and chastened and ready to live indoors again. They don't get to do that kind of thing much these days.
If your hubby's a stellar dude in every other way, then consider letting him blow off excess testosterone verbally once in a while, out of your sight. I assume you know what occurs on these field trips because your husband tells you when he gets home. This is a good sign. He's not skulking around hiding anything. If, however, these two are behaving like this in front of you, acting caddish while you're at the table setting, then that, of course, has to stop. You could express your fears about the possible spread of this behavior to other situations to your husband and see what he has to say. But much as I understand your viewpoint I'd be wary of demanding that even when he's alone with a friend their speech must pass some kind of feminist censor. That might be nice, but perhaps it's not realistic, and if you're very happy with him otherwise, I'd cut him some slack here. If you're uncomfortable with him sharing the details of these ribald evenings with you, ask him nicely to keep them to himself. It's the least he can do.
Dear Aunt Trudy,
About six years ago, a friend of mine told me that my wife was cheating on me. I had not suspected any such thing, so naturally I was shocked. I confronted her, and she admitted that my friend was right. One thing led to another, we got divorced, but I'm still really mad at this "friend" of mine for having told me about my wife's infidelities. I know this is irrational — I'm confusing the messenger with the message — but I can't get past it. Can you help me?
Lemon Grove Grudge Holder
You didn't say if you're still friends with this talebearer or not. You might be angry because there's some part of this betrayal and divorce that you haven't processed yet, and that's understandable. What a painful, awful time that must have been for you! Have you ever confronted this tattler about his/her role in your breakup? Asked why they felt so hell-bent to "enlighten" you? I would recommend working your anger through with a good psychotherapist's help. A crack therapist can help you explore how this happened, your part in it, what this informant was up to, and if you're displacing some of the fury you might feel at your ex-wife, who, after all, is the person who broke her pledge to you, onto the current or ex pal with the big mouth. You are also within your right to stay mad at this gossiper for the rest of your life if you want or need to. you never have to speak to them again if that's the way you feel. They were the agent of grief in your life. You may, in the course of these investigations, stumble across the idea that however complex, clean, or creepy their motivations may have been at the time, this stool pigeon actually did you a big favor.