4 Ways To Respond When Your S.O.'s Friends Are Sexist
For many of us, sexism is a deal breaker in a significant other. But what if your partner is perfectly lovely but their friends act sexist? That's what Effervjo was going through when she told the feminism subreddit, "My boyfriend's friends are sexist," and asked fellow feminists what to do about it.
On the one hand, someone's friends can say a lot about them. If your significant other chooses to spend time around sexist people, you may want to consider whether they may be sexist themselves. However, sometimes we end up friends with people who don't share our values due to history, convenience, or redeeming qualities. What's not acceptable, though, is a partner making you put up with derogatory comments from their friends, especially when they're about a group you belong to.
"My boyfriend's friends are sexist pigs. One just said, in all seriousness, 'women would be of no use if they didn't have boobs and vaginas,'" Effervjo further explained. "My boyfriend said nothing in my defense." Not cool. "I'm absolutely livid and over being treated like a second-class citizen by people I for some reason consider my friends."
She recognizes that the situation needs to be addressed, but she doesn't know how to go about it. Here's some advice that Redditors gave her:
1. Make A Joke
Kungpowchick_9 suggested that the next time this happens, Effervjo should stand up for herself, and one way to do this is by making a joke. A few possibilities they threw out were, "Wow, that's two things more useful than you," and "I wish I could dismiss half the world so easily." This approach could make the group less likely to antagonize you, since it comes off as friendly banter in addition to self-defense.
2. Talk To Your Partner
Hopefully, your partner will gladly be your ally against sexist friends (and if not, that reveals valuable information in of itself). "I think you should talk to your boyfriend to see if he can acknowledge these problems and find a common ground where he too can intervene," wrote demmian. Kungpowchick_9 agreed there's strength in numbers: "You'll be stronger together, because you both have a lot to offer!"
3. Call Out The Behavior, Not The Person
Since accusing a person of being sexist can trigger defensiveness, you're better off addressing a specific thing someone said, according to borgconsulting. "Accusing a person of being awful (even if you're right!) opens up lines of defense and rules-lawyering," they wrote. "Pointing out something hateful that was said really just leaves a couple of defenses that are pretty easy to manage."
4. Rethink The Relationship
A few Redditors pointed out that if somebody is friends with sexists and doesn't stand up to them, that might be a sign that they tolerate sexism. "There is extreme truth to the statement 'you are who your friends are,' and a strong argument could be made that most of who you are is a direct influence of the five people you spend the most time with," said smorbach. "I wouldn't even date someone who wasn't as strong in their feminist beliefs as myself. If I were you, I would have let that asshole have it, and if my boyfriend didn't unwaveringly defend everything I said, I would let him have it too."