America's Smartest Girl

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America's Smartest Girl, Nicole Georges, channels her powers for good as she drums up answers to the world's most complicated questions.

Romance, Career, Health, Pets, Finance. Send questions to Nicole via twitter (@nicolejgeorges) or addressed to her via No suicidal inquiries. Please limit all questions to 150 words or less.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Advice from Mexico, re: Butchinsons Disease

Dear Readers,
I am writing to you from Akumal, Mexico, where I am currently on a writer's retreat with Radar Productions. We are snorkeling and eating avocados and feeding this very tattered Orange Cat (named Orange Cat, hence the capitalization of his name).
I am taking a break from my day of barracuda hunting to answer this very important advice from a woman in need. I got some help on this from Michelle Tea, author of Rose of No Man's Land.
I certainly do appreciate the wisdom of Michelle. You will find her advice right after mine, in italics. It is full of vim and vigor.

Dear Nicole,

My girlfriend’s really social, and we hang out with her friends at least two or three times a week. I get along great with almost all of them, but she's got this one friend I can't stand. I know that this person has good qualities, (for instance, when I asked my girlfriend about them she said she was loyal) but she’s also a chauvinist douchebag.

Sometimes she’s so blatantly stupid and offensive that I can’t stop myself from snapping at her; I think this eggs her on.

I know I’m not alone in finding her incredibly annoying but the general feeling seems to be, “that’s just how she is, she can’t help it”. Short of a mass intervention, nothing’s gonna change.

So she’s an unavoidable fixture in my girlfriend’s circle. Should I skip group gatherings for fear of looking like a bitch? How would you handle it?

lesbro sexism still sucks

I dated the lesbro in question (very very briefly!) and ended it because she's such a jerk (and my g.f. does sometimes tell her friend that she's an idiot.)

Dear LSSS,

There are two tactics here:
1. think of yourself in this situation as a separate human.
not your girlfriend's girlfriend.

i would limit the times i am around this person (make an excuse "i'm tired, i have homework, etc") and when i do have to be around them, treat them just as i would if i were somewhere stag and heard them say something fucked up.
Just don't laugh at their jokes and feel free to embarrass them in public or even in private by intervening on behalf of all women when they say something stupid. even, i dare say,
publicly ask the friends why it's okay when they laugh at something misogynist .

2. your boyfriend needs to stick up for you.

if this person says something that is directed at you or personally offensive and your girlfriend knows it, she needs to pony up. why bother hanging out with people who are so invested in their masculinity if they can't even pull out some chivalry when you need them?

love nicole g.

from Michelle:

Oh, GOD! NOTHING is more tedious and boring than an insecure butch who needs a lot of attention.
Sounds like the douche in question.
There's nothing you can do to give this loser a personality transplant. I'm not impressed by his 'loyalty' — loyalty to what? Is your boyfriend under siege? She seems to have no loyalty to manners, kindness, or common sense.

It's a serious bummer that the rest of the group is being so complacent in the face of this asshole. All you can do is make decisions that prioritize your own comfort, since no one else is going to do it.
Of COURSE you don't have to hang out with hostile people who take a third grader's delight in making you feel bad. Whenever you don't feel up to it, don't join the festivities. If you do partake but find yourself hitting a wall with the bad vibes, split. Give yourself permission to take off the second you feel this jerk getting under your skin.

If people think YOU'RE the bitch, they're shitheads. I know I'm being intense and glib, and that it takes courage to stand up for yourself and feels awful to go against your friend group. But you can do it. You no doubt have your own friend group, hang out with them more. Make friend dates with people in that scene who don't suck. YOU are not the problem here, and if anyone tells you otherwise they need to go to therapy and investigate what bad family dynamics they might be imposing on their friends.

It's good to have standards of what kind of people and what kind of commentary you'll put up with, and I hope the experience of taking this bullshit situation into your own hands feels ultimately empowering, and maybe even wakes the rest of the gang out of their zombie stupor. Good luck, sister!


ritchey said...

great advice from both of you. But is that ol' cat going to be okay? Can you smuggle him back to the states and give him to me for a wedding present? I speak a little spanish, so I think he and I would get along fine.

Ask Nicole said...

ritchey! he has basically the best cat life ever here, though i tell you what- some of us have been very tempted to bring him home after sleeping in a bed with him, flea combing him, and spoiling him on seared tuna.
when we're not around there are other gullible tourists , the ocean, and hermit crabs as far as the eye can see.
thanks for the wedding present idea, though. finally!

andi said...

i think both you and michelle's advices were right on. i have very often been "the bitch" when i refuse to laugh along with people's misogyny or classism. like: VERY OFTEN. like all the time and it's not gonna stop anytime in the foreseeable future.

so. while i appreciated both of your responses, i am left to wonder why BOTH of you referred to this girl's girlfriend as BOYFRIEND, when she only ever identified her as a girlfriend?

recognizing female masculinity or just plain dykiness as not inherently male is one of the tiny steps toward overcoming queer internalized misogyny. lez do it!

Anonymous said...

It's my (LSSS) fault, I was trying to be super anonymous so I first wrote 'boyfriend' and then emailed back the ps which also corrected the gender, in case that made a difference in advice (it didn't!) so michelle and nicole are not fucked up.

Anonymous said...

to respond to what michelle said about an insecure butch...a butch woman is much more likely to feel secure if she is allowed to bond with (ie spend time alone with) her other butch friends. it sounds to me like LSSS is spending too much time worrying about her *girlfriend's* friends and too little time asking her GF why the hell she keeps bringing them around.

Hillary said...

I really wish you would write more!

Anonymous said...

First off I would like to say that this sounds like a pretty damaged 'community' when i hear "I know I’m not alone in finding her incredibly annoying but the general feeling seems to be, “that’s just how she is, she can’t help it”. " Is there a lot of this kind of two faced behavior happening, where someone is tolerated, and the true feelings aren't aired? I would be super paranoid in a group situation like this. This is compounded in Nicoles response "i would limit the times i am around this person (make an excuse "i'm tired, i have homework, etc") this further detracts from having an open and honest discussion.

I certainly agree with Nicoles points on calling this person out on their shit whenever it comes up. Unless you feel threatened, not doing this just sets up a situation for talking shit later which is just the kind of added drama that further degrades trust and friendship in general. Also your GF certainly needs to speak up if she sees you being tormented or disrespected.

Michelle, It sounds like you must know the person in question if you gleaned all that animosity from a relatively vague couple of paragraphs. I hear a lot of pompous desire for 2 dimensional gender rolls , butch ladies should be secure and fulfill a roll, ect. I agree with anonymous about the "insecure butch feel more secure if she can spend time with her other butch friends. ect."