Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“A Man at Church Told Me I Should Be a Geisha”

I’m friends with a man at my church – he’s on the board and we both have served as volunteers there. I fell down one time and he helped me dress my wounds. Some time afterward he told me I had “soft, smooth skin.” A day or two later he made that same comment again. A few weeks later he called me to give me my astrological birth chart. He tells me I might consider becoming a “geisha” and helping men overcome their sexual problems (he himself has sexual dysfunction). He has also described my body as “beautiful” and asked me if I shave my underarms at night.

These comments have made me uncomfortable and I sent him a message telling him so. I know he has seen it, but he hasn’t responded. It has been at least ten days. Also, he is 27 years older than I am and I have never told him I wanted anything other than friendship. It’s hard to avoid him as there are activities we are both involved in at church. What should I do? — Had Enough

Bypass him and go straight to your church board and report this behavior as harassment. What this dude is doing is sexually harassing you, and it has to stop. Your telling him his comments make you uncomfortable is not going to stop him. He gets off on making you uncomfortable. It’s a power play. It’s why he makes the comments he does — he enjoys seeing you squirm. So quit trying to get anywhere with him, and go to the board. Tell them his behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Tell them that this is not a case of misunderstanding or misinterpretation. You understand completely what his intentions are, you will not engage in this inappropriate and unwanted behavior, and until he is removed from his volunteer position, you will cease your volunteer efforts. And if he is not removed from his volunteer position and if he remains in a role in which he can continue harassing other women like he has harassed you and likely countless women before you, I would recommend looking for another church to attend — one that values and respects the voices of women.

My 38-year-old brother-in-law had been living with me and my husband of almost five years for three months and didn’t try looking for a job. He was content collecting unemployment and doing weekend DJ gigs at the clubs. Not once did he ever offer to help financially while he stayed with us. So, I told him he had to move out, and now I am no longer invited to any of my husband’s family’s get-togethers.

My BIL told his mother that I had mistreated him from day one and that I had it out for him. He also told her how I wouldn’t let my husband take the place of man of the house. Prior to his moving in with us, I had no problem with my BIL. Well, after I told him to move out, my MIL told me I was a very mean person and that I had split her family. She asked how I, as a mother, could mistreat someone else’s child. She also told me not to forget that, before I met my husband, they were his family first. She also mentioned that almost everyone in her family hates me for what I did and they want nothing to do with me.

My husband admits that he has talked to his mom and told her that I NEVER mistreated his brother and that he should have been the one to tell him to move out and it was his mistake that he didn’t. Since his brother moved out a month ago, my husband goes to family gatherings without me and he takes our youngest daughter. My oldest daughter is from my first marriage. I told him that she is not allowed to be around his family since they no longer accept me. Blood family is more important to them anyway.

It hurts me that my husband let me become the bad person in this whole thing. He wants to be seen as the good guy to his family, like he can do no wrong. Even though he tells me that the girls and I are HIS family and priority, I don’t believe him. His family of origin will come first and I will be sitting in the backseat. All this has proved to me that my daughter and I come second and he will NEVER defend me. — Undefended

If you truly feel that way, you need to have some serious discussions with your husband about it. Tell him it’s not enough to be told you are a priority in his life — his actions need to reflect that and they don’t right now. Tell him you want him to defend you more to his family.

And… do you want to go to family get-togethers with these people? If not, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that you aren’t invited. You can do your own thing and not mingle with people who aren’t nice to you. If this is about wanting your husband to skip family get-togethers, or to bring your older daughter (whom you said couldn’t go with him), then you need to tell him that. If this is about his spending too much time with his family of origin and not you, be clear about that.

Neither of you is going to change his family’s behavior, but you can change the way you react to it, and he can change the way he reacts to it. If what you want from him is to take more of a stand against their ill treatment of you, tell him that and tell him what that would look like. Right now it sounds like you are really mad at him, but he doesn’t know that and he doesn’t know why you are. So tell him. Give him a chance to modify his behavior. And if he doesn’t, and if you’re still feeling like you aren’t a priority for him and that other people come before you, you should move into discussing the state of your marriage and whether it makes sense for it to continue.


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

69 comments… add one
  • Fyodor March 19, 2018, 10:46 am

    Not sure if it’s intentional but the fonts are all different. Italicized and bold.

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy March 19, 2018, 10:57 am

      Thanks – fixed!

      Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    bagge72 March 19, 2018, 10:59 am

    So for LW 1, It must be hard, because even though what Wendy said to do is 100% what you should do, I bet this guy is going to get the benefit of the doubt, and nothing is going to happen! My guess is the church is going to back him up and possibly drive you out. But guess what, you don’t want to be part of a church that would do that, and you need to feel comfortable in a church that respects you !

    LW2, your husband 100% dropped the ball here, and is afraid to stick up for you. If my family ever just invited me to a family event, I would stop going myself. But also I would never let my family get this far with how they feel about my wife. I would have been over my mother’s house, calling my brother a jobless Dick, who was comfortable living off of me and my wife for free when we have two kids to raise. So what are you going to do for your kids birthday’s now? Throw a party, and then leave when the family comes over? You really need to tell your husband to stop fucking around and fix this, because it’s causing you to drop to their level as well, and things are just going to get much worse.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Cleopatra Jones March 19, 2018, 11:17 am

    What we have here folks, is a missing stair: http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/06/missing-stair.html
    I suspect that this isn’t the first time he’s creep-ed on/harassed the women in the church. He’s probably banking on the fact that LW won’t say anything to the church board.
    LW, please speak up so that the church has a chance to handle this issue. If the fail to handle it in a way that validates your concern, then this isn’t the place for you.

    Reply Link
  • LisforLeslie March 19, 2018, 11:17 am

    LW #1 – WWS – this guy is a complete and total creep. I mean that in the strongest, harshest words. It is an absolute power play and he will hide behind some lame excuse like “I was trying to flatter her.” Telling someone that they should be servicing men is not flattering. It’s creepy and gross. He is creepy and gross. Tell your church elders. Make it clear that he suggested that you sell your body for money. That is what he suggested. And he asked about shaving your armpits. Again, creepy and weird. If your church elders and not as skeeved out as I am, then they will not support you and you should strongly consider finding a more supportive church. Do not ever be alone in that church.

    LW #2 – your husband should have had the balls to stand up to his brother and make it clear that he (your husband) wasn’t going to fund his brothers’ second childhood. And he should have the balls to stand up and put a stop to this shit now. At this point, you have to decide what you want from your husband and if what he’s offering you is good enough. Personally, if my husband had no issue watching other people tear me down, I’d be worried about the state of my marriage. I highly recommend counseling or at a minimum a discussion with your clergy person if you’re religious.

    Reply Link
  • anonymousse March 19, 2018, 11:19 am

    You’re husband stinks. He doesn’t have your back, and clearly needs to change his priorities. Asking your BIL to move out or start contributing was absolutely the right move. If she loves her baby boy so much, she can house and feed him.

    Reply Link
  • Been There March 19, 2018, 11:43 am

    For LW1: Complain to your church board IN WRITING and verbally, if you can. Reading a complaint in black and white is very hard to shrug off. Save a copy of what you write because you might need it later.
    I wrote a complaint to an organization years ago about the behavior of a male employee and they responded appropriately. I believe a verbal message would not have received the same attention.

    Reply Link
    • keyblade March 19, 2018, 10:25 pm

      I think this is great advice! It could be potentially energy-saving to be able to refer leadership back to the letter, too.

      Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Skyblossom March 19, 2018, 11:50 am

    LW2 Along with what everyone has already said I think your youngest daughter shouldn’t be going over to the in-laws because they are probably talking about you and she shouldn’t have to hear that. Your husband needs to have your back and the backs of both kids. If you love your kid you don’t let your family bad mouth their mother. Your husband is failing as both a husband and a father. I would tell him that until his family is gracious to you and both of your daughters none of the three of you will be going over to their house and you are disappointed in him going because they will take his showing up as him supporting their side of this thing.

    In a family that shows displeasure by not speaking to you they show approval by including you. They approve of your husband and he approves of them. He needs to stand up for you.

    Reply Link
  • Northern Star March 19, 2018, 11:50 am

    LW 1, everyone’s already got this covered. This gross pervert is calling you a whore. Don’t let it slide. He’s not your “friend,” and I doubt you’re the only one he’s creeped on. Tell your church board, and if they don’t do anything about it, find a new house of worship where you can focus on praising God and not on keeping some old lech away from you.

    LW 2, I am shocked your husband is attending family events with only “his” daughter. Your nuclear family is fractured right now. Your kids are going to feel less like siblings the longer their family treats them differently. I don’t have much hope for this marriage surviving if your husband doesn’t have a stern talking-to with his mom—along with consequences.

    And yeah. Her argument is stupid and selfish. If caring for the 38-year-old “child” was necessary, SHE should have done it. It’s HER child. Why didn’t she love him enough to take him in?

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    meadowphoenix March 19, 2018, 11:57 am

    #1: Ngl, my experience with church boards is that they’re going to care more about the astrology than the harassment, but I would def talk to the Board (without creepy dude) if possible. When you’re talking to them, keep your descriptions to actions and your feelings about them, like you did in this letter, rather than characterizations of his emotions. “He told me I was beautiful and that I should be a geisha” rather than “he came on to me.” This allows so much less room for plausible denial/dude would have to lie to deny.

    Reply Link
    • csp March 19, 2018, 3:14 pm

      LW – I totally Agree here and also add how you came to know that he has erectile dysfunction. gross.

      Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    meadowphoenix March 19, 2018, 12:01 pm

    #2: Your husband seems spineless with his family, so I get your frustration with him. Be careful with telling him not to go to family events (you can ask, but I don’t think it’s a prudent ask), but if his family is badmouthing you around your daughter and he does nothing, I do think you can ask that he leave immediately, if they won’t stop, or say that he won’t let his daughter be around people who bad mouth her mother. If he can’t do that, unfortunately you’ve got a choice about whether to stay with someone like that. Besides this, how much do they factor into your husband’s decisions about his nuclear family?

    Reply Link
  • brise March 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

    LW2: I am pessimistic about the state of your marriage. He should have asked the brother to get out, not you. Have you asked your husband to act, or discuss the question with him, before that move? That would have been better. Anyway, you have the right not to have a free guest for ever. Now, the problem is worse. He goes to family events with your common daughter without you, and your elder daughter, while they treat you so poorly? Sorry, this is a step before divorce for me. What would be different if you were divorced? I would make an appointment with a couple therapist and address ASAP this serious problem as a couple problem that has to be fixed in a common way. Forget about his family. But your husband’s behavior is key in this situation. If he doesn’t change and fix that matter, I personally would walk away.

    Reply Link
  • Bacon Mistress March 19, 2018, 12:31 pm

    WOW LW2. That is a horrible spot that your BIL, MIL AND YOUR HUSBAND have put you in. Honestly, my husband would NEVER let that fly. He would have put his family in their place. If I wasnt apologized to and welcomed back, then they wouldnt be seeing ANY of us. If he didnt make me his first priority and left me at home to go visit people who have clearly made it their mission to ostracize and berate the love of his life, then I would leave him to hold his bag of drama all alone. In fact, I would dump him out at his parent’s fron yard and blow them a kiss as I drove off into the sunset because life is too too short for sub-par love, bad drama and sack-less men. Good luck!

    Reply Link
  • Irishgal March 19, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Wendy I will never understand your tendency to reward grandparents who mistreat their daughter/son in law with access to grandchildren. If grandparents cannot be respectful to the parent they should not get to have a relationship with the children. Do you really think they aren’t making sly digs about OP around her child?

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy March 19, 2018, 3:06 pm

      Do I have that tendency? Huh.

      Reply Link
    • Hannanas March 19, 2018, 4:13 pm

      I have been reading DW ever since The Frisky and have never noticed this ‘tendency’.

      Reply Link
    • dinoceros March 19, 2018, 6:32 pm

      This is strangely specific. How often do people even write in about grandparents who mistreated their in-law who have access grandchildren?

      Reply Link
    • keyblade March 19, 2018, 10:18 pm

      @Irishgal- I’m having trouble understanding how you interpreted the advice. Frankly, I think your comment advocates for bossing around one’s spouse. How much say will the letter writer get about grandma time if she torpedos her marriage by not even attempting to communicate with her spouse?

      Reply Link
  • Autumnrose March 19, 2018, 2:17 pm

    LW1 -I would bring his actions to the pastor and I would find a new church. Also, if the church has your address on file or,personal information about you then you should ask for that information or watch then delete your information so creepo cannot obtain,that information. LW2- what you should do is get together with your MIL, your BIL, husband, and you and discuss what happened and why it happened. You don’t know what your hsuband is saying and yet you are feeling attacked because he goes and sees family without you (because right now they are being told by BIL that this is all your fault)and likely your husband is trying to defend you but at the same time trying to defuse and keep the peace which puts him in an awkward situation. Sure he should be that knight in shinning armour coming to your rescue and ignoring his family but that’s not reality. Reality is he is trying to appease everyone and he porbably isn’t a confrontational person. You guys allowed the BIL to reside with you for 5 YEARS and someone pointed this out and so will I , you should have let your husband tell him to go. Did your husband really want his brother to go or did you? Was your husband fine with paying his share to live with you guys. Everyone has a different perspective on family and how to care and love for family. Maybe your husband doesnt agree with you, that doesnt make your husband a bad person because he has a right to love his blood family too. That just means you guys might need couples therapy because you have different views on your marriage and family dynamics so what use to work in the beginning is no longer working now.

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      CurlyQue March 19, 2018, 2:33 pm

      Autumnrose, i believe LW2 was saying she’s been married to her husband for 5 years and the BIL lived with them for 3 months. Not that this changes your underlying advise.

      Reply Link
      • Autumnrose March 19, 2018, 8:10 pm

        Yep, I misread that part. But still, I fill like that’s a serious discussion with your significant other when you allow family to move in. Questions should have been asked. I wonder if they say down with him and asked what his plans are and what their expectations would be. I feel something is missing in this.

    • Ron March 19, 2018, 2:55 pm

      Autumnrose —
      That doesn’t necessarily make the husband a bad person, but it does make him a bad husband and father. He leaves his wife and one daughter behind to go to functions of ‘his family’. The purpose of marriage is that his wife and both children are now his primary nuclear family. If he isn’t willing to put them first, then he shouldn’t have married. He seems almost as immature as his brother. His brother was taking extreme advantage, with no end in sight. That’s on him as well as brother. The brother is a lazy leech, but the husband is indeed spineless, where his mother is concerned.

      Counseling and if that doesn’t work, LW is going to be faced with the reality that this marriage may not work. I don’t know how close you are living to his birth family, but distance might help. This is not at all a tenable situation and if it continues like this, things will become much worse.

      Reply Link
      • Autumnrose March 19, 2018, 8:18 pm

        Before I call,her husband a spineless man I would need clarity as to how it came about the brother moving in, what conversations took place, attempts to address BIL behavior, and so on. There had to be some,kind of arrangement before “hey, yea come on live with us!”.

  • csp March 19, 2018, 3:24 pm

    LW2 – I am going to disagree with most of the commenters here and take Wendy’s side. It has been a month and I think the timeline here is very important. I mean, how many family gatherings have there been in the last month?

    Let everything simmer down a little. Focus on what you want. I think drawing a line in the sand right now would be wrong. Here is what I learned in my 13 years with my husband which goes against a lot of conventional wisdom. When we have a conflict, I take some time and think about what I want. I actually write it down then set up a time to speak to my MIL. I go point by point and decide what my goal is in the conversation and I ask her what she wants. I don’t use my husband as a go between because I have found that he tries to make everyone happy and then nothing gets resolved.
    I would just ask questions like “Do you want us to still be a family and come together? What do you need to make that happen? If she brings up the brother, ask “How long we were supposed to support him and how much money would have been enough to make the family happy? But know what you want first. Honestly, sometimes it is great to have time away from in-laws. I think it is never a good idea to figure out a conflict when everyone is mad. Be strategic because these are relationships that go with your husband and they will not go away.

    Reply Link
  • dinoceros March 19, 2018, 4:02 pm

    LW3: Have you actually talked to your husband about him excluding you and whether he plans to do this indefinitely or if this is just a temporary thing? You’re saying a lot of “nevers,” but you didn’t indicate any conversation with your husband about how he plans to handle the future. You didn’t really ask a question either, so I’m a little confused on what you’re asking.

    If your husband says he will never invite you again, then that’s a very different situation than if he says he’s waiting for it to blow over (though even then, I think you need a definitive timeline). Have you discussed his choice to not invite you at all? Does he say “I’m not bringing you” or does he just go without telling you? You don’t mention any conversation about it, but I’m having trouble visualizing how it wouldn’t come up in conversation.

    The part about telling your daughter she isn’t allowed to go gives me pause, though. You say blood is more important to them, but is that your interpretation of how this situation was handled or do they actually treat your other daughter poorly/not want a relationship with her? As angry as you are at them and your husband, it seems like severing your daughter’s relationship with the family (unless you are for sure going to get divorced) seems like it’s going to hurt and alienate her, with the only benefit being you feeling like you are spiting them.

    Reply Link
  • Sarah March 19, 2018, 7:17 pm

    LW1 – Contact the pastor let them know you are no doubt not the only person he has done this too.

    LW2 – This is an issue between you and your husband, leave your oldest daughter out of it. Did you talk to your husband about throwing his brother out? Its his family he needs to be the one to tell him to leave. You have been married for what 5 years now you knew how his family would react. How many times do you make it a priority to point out that your oldest daughter is not apart of his family? That is not right you have been married for 5 years they are her family now too quit stopping her from going you are putting the divider that she is not apart of the family by doing this. If you don’t trust his family to be nice to her then you don’t trust your husband to take care of her and then you need to go and most likely not leave the youngest in his care.

    Reply Link
  • mangomama March 20, 2018, 2:12 am

    I am heavily involved in church work and have been for many many years. The Church staff and Boards I have been involved in are much more aware of sexual harassment than they used to be– and want to be sure churches are a safe place where harassment and abuse do not take place. They hold trainings on the subjects, require people in positions of authority to attend and then sign off that they are aware of the absolute “no tolerance” policy for it. I strongly suggest that you follow Wendy’s advice– report this to the Board and the pastor, using factual statements “he told me I should be a Geisha” etc. I would be very clear on dates, times, etc and make a factual presentation. You may want to take someone who is supportive of you with you. This is not acceptable and reputable churches know it quite clearly– and do not want this happening at any level. You are doing the church a service by making this situation clear to them and they should be very grateful to you for bringing it to their attention– our church would be.

    Reply Link
  • baccalieu March 20, 2018, 1:53 pm

    LW1: I know I am going to get blasted here, and that is nothing new, but this is particularly serious issue and I really would like to work out what the proper behaviour is. I should say that I interpreted LW1 is saying that the last event in the chain was her advising him (I presume by email) that she didn’t like his comments and they were inappropriate and that in the ten days he not only hadn’t explicitly acknowledged her email but he hadn’t had any contact with her (at least none that was not directly related to church business). If I am wrong on this assumption, then I wholly take back everything I say below. I would also say that normalized harassment of women in the past and ongoing is such a serious problem that even if some of the punishments inflicted on those who committed more minor offences are excessive and there are instances of men being wrongly accused, this is a relatively small problem and is something that we have to accept to fix the problem.
    However (deep breath) I can’t help thinking that perhaps LW1’s harasser is not the evil creep that you think and is simply guilty of a (very, very) clumsy and tone deaf attempt to flirt and to date her. He doesn’t have the nerve, or doesn’t feel that they know each other well enough to simply ask her out , so he tries complimenting her and trying to initiate more intimate relationship by discussing more personal things. Of course, he goes too far too quickly and is either not watching to gauge her receptivity before trying again, or simply doesn’t recognize negative signals for what they are. Now that she has directly told him she wants him to stop, he will. In fact, he will probably go overboard and stay completely away from her as much as possible or, if they have to interact on church business, be completely cold and formal. (This behaviour has it’s own problems, of course, in a business where close co-operation among employees is desirable.)
    I say this because I can easily imagine myself doing something like the above. I am not very adept in a social setting and I often miss social signals. I am also shy, and I seldom have the nerve to come up to someone and ask her out or, at least, to do so confidently and not come across as awkward and possibly creepy. If I met a woman that I liked (and was or appeared to be single and not too young for me) in a group I would probably try to start a conversation and if she appeared to be receptive, give her some compliments and try to make the conversation a little more personal. Of course, if she did not appear interested I would not push further and I hope that Hopefully, I would be more adept at reading signs than this guy was, but I could not guarantee it. I would genuinely like to have some advice as to how best to get to know a woman and indicate interest without causing offence (or setting off the creep alarm). So far the only strategy I have been able to come up with is not approaching women at all, and while that works well enough , it is likely to lead to me dying alone, which isn’t ideal.
    I should say that I recognize that my problem is unimportant compared to the importance of stopping sexual harassment and I may just have to accept that I am collateral damage in this very necessary battle. But surely there is some way that we could win the battle without scaring off or terrifying timid souls like me. While this is not something that is required surely it is just good strategy to try co-opt as many men as possible in the battle rather than alienate them.

    I feel the same way about those who argue that it’s wrong and irrational in the fight against terrorism to accept statements like “Islam is a religion of peace” and that it is inappropriate to allow a mosque near ground zero. Even if they were right (and I don’t agree they are) pushing this is bad strategy. We want to win over as many Moslems as possible, not drive them in to the arms of the extremists by alienating them. therefore, we should not just allow them to build a mosque near ground zero, we should build it for them.
    So what do you say ladies? Help a brother out, not because you have any moral obligation to do so , but because it is a good strategy to help you win your battle.

    Reply Link
    • Kate March 20, 2018, 2:42 pm

      Are you serious? You would tell a woman you were friends with but had some flirtatious interest with that she should consider being a geisha? To help men overcome their sexual problems? You can see yourself doing that, and it seems fine to you?

      Reply Link
    • Fyodor March 20, 2018, 3:07 pm

      So this is wackadoo, but I’ll try to break it out so you don’t feel that you are getting “blasted.”

      1. The comments he made are way way out of bounds.
      “he told me I had “soft, smooth skin.”

      “A few weeks later he called me to give me my astrological birth chart. He tells me I might consider becoming a “geisha” and helping men overcome their sexual problems (he himself has sexual dysfunction) ”

      “He has also described my body as “beautiful” and asked me if I shave my underarms at night”

      These are not awkward flirting attempts that are being misinterpreted. These are wildly boundary crossing and explicitly sexual. I was very awkward and bad at social cues when I was younger. I never told a casual acquaintance that she should become a prostitute and have sex with me for money. They would be grossly inappropriate and offensive anywhere but are especially so in a church.

      2. He is on the board and to some extent is a representative of their church. The church, to whom, she also has a duty as a board member, has an interest in knowing that he is sexually propositioning people at the church from a position of authority. If as, you insist, he somehow doesn’t know that it’s wrong to tell women at that they should become geishas who should service him sexually, he can tell that to the church and they can decide what to do. But they have to at least know about this. I would bet she is not the first and will not be the last.

      Also your comparison of your feeling awkward and unsure romantically to people who face actual religious discrimination is enormously offensive

      Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy March 20, 2018, 5:07 pm

      Oh, wow.

      Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      TheLadyE March 20, 2018, 10:23 pm

      How do you do it? You don’t make “flirtatious” comments to women 27 years younger than you. You don’t tell a woman she should be a ‘sexual healer’ for something that, how coincidental, you suffer from yourself. There are about a billion other ways to approach women without being that intensely creepy…and those ways start with not hitting on women who could be your daughter.

      I legit do not understand it. I am on Match right now and have 60 year old men looking at me. My father is in his 60s. It’s just gross. ALL of this is notwithstanding the vastly inappropriate comments this guy made to LW1. Pro tip: anytime you call out a specific body part or hygiene habit, that’s creepy too, no matter what the age difference is.

      How DO you do it? I feel like you’re genuinely asking, Bacc, so I’ll try to help out: #1. Approach women your own age. Plus or minus 8-10 years, max, that’s it. #2. Find a common interest. Build a real friendship first. Alternately, you join a dating site and send her a message based on something that interests you in her profile. #3. Ask if she’d like to get coffee, a drink, or a meal with you, or go to someplace based on said mutual interest. 4. Do NOT do anything that this guy did. NONE OF IT.

      That guy in the first letter was so ridiculously inappropriate and creepy and I am just so done with much older men thinking they can get with women so much younger and using that power imbalance (in this guy’s case) to try to get their way. It’s vile.

      Reply Link
  • Anonymous March 20, 2018, 2:42 pm

    Baccalieu —
    In addition to the inappropriate comments, which might be awkwardness and tin ear, as you say, the thing which also goes against him in a big way is the 27-years older part.

    Reply Link
  • Fyodor March 20, 2018, 3:16 pm

    “I would genuinely like to have some advice as to how best to get to know a woman and indicate interest without causing offence (or setting off the creep alarm). ”

    Don’t tell women they should be prostitutes and should have sex with you.

    ” But surely there is some way that we could win the battle without scaring off or terrifying timid souls like me. While this is not something that is required surely it is just good strategy to try co-opt as many men as possible in the battle rather than alienate them.”

    Other people exist too. They have the right to go to their places of worship without being propositioned sexually by older strangers. You basically seem to be saying that there is no conduct, no matter how bad, that women should not have to endure, because any social censure for any conduct will make you too uncomfortable to approach women. And your desire live an existence with out even the most remote fear of social censure outweighs womens’ interest in living their lives without being subjected to nonexistently veiled demands for sex from people they barely know in professional and religious settings.

    Reply Link
    • Kate March 20, 2018, 3:27 pm

      Everything Fyodor said.

      Also, it’s obviously not that easy to scare you away.

      Reply Link
    • SpaceySteph March 20, 2018, 3:46 pm

      Honestly, I glaze over so hard when someone says “Moslem*” so I had to take a couple passes at this before I could even get to the end. But I think that whole premise is pretty flawed. Baccalieu is basically saying that if the women of the world don’t help protect his poor awkward self he will turn into a misogynist. If someone is so likely to slip into misogyny the second a woman treads wrong around him then, well, they already are a misogynist.

      Women don’t really owe you the benefit of the doubt. They don’t owe you tiptoeing around your feelings. And the LW definitely doesn’t owe a dude who suggested she’d make a good whore anything at all.

      Reply Link
      • keyblade March 20, 2018, 4:13 pm

        Yeah, I definitely read Wendy’s advice to women being harrassed by elderly church members and the first thing I hope is that she will address the socially clumsy, to keep them from becoming so alienated, they are vulnerable to engaging in sexual terrorism.

    • Ron March 20, 2018, 3:56 pm

      This guy’s very objectionable and inappropriate comments (inappropriate in any circumstance short of a visit to a brothel) are magnified by the fact that he is 27 years older than LW. That’s a huge age difference, which just amplifies the creepiness of his actions.

      Reply Link
      • Kate March 20, 2018, 4:07 pm

        That too. You’re what, 55, Baccalieu? And you’re saying you could easily see yourself engaging in some light flirtation with a woman in her late 20s by asking her personal questions like whether she shaves her underarms at night?

      • keyblade March 20, 2018, 4:07 pm

        Yeah. Its just like if he was fully aware his age was a likely barrier to mutual reciprocated physical interest and he is attempting to bypass all common curtosy and social norms to push her into acknowledging what he wants.

    • ktfran March 20, 2018, 4:34 pm

      There are about a bazillion other ways to compliment a woman or strike a conversation with her that doesn’t involve armpit hair, soft, smooth skin (twice) and prostitution. I mean come on. You can’t be that dense.

      Further, most women are intelligent enough to discern creep from socially awkward. Give us a little more credit than that.

      Yes, it might be harder for a socially awkward person of any gender to land a date, but people should not be told to give stomach churning, hair on the back of your arms raising creeps a chance just in case, you know, they’re a NICE GUY TM.

      Reply Link
  • anonymousse March 20, 2018, 4:55 pm

    Jesus, Bacc. This is a new low, even for you.
    Your social issues don’t have to be played out to the detriment of women everywhere.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Dear Wendy March 20, 2018, 6:28 pm

    From LW1:

    “I know him, he is a friend of mine with a good heart. Yes he made me squirm, but he didn’t mean to. I talked to him the other day. He’s fine with the line I’ve drawn with him.

    He probably figured that since I’ve been single a long time that he had a chance with me. The truth is that I’m single because I want to be – I like the freedom.

    I think men say things to us they mean us to take it as a compliment and they don’t realize it bothers us.”

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy March 20, 2018, 6:33 pm

      A nice person would not say the things he said, which were grossly inappropriate, out of line, and completely misogynistic. He knows they are, but thinks he can get away with saying them because you’re so much younger than he is, and because for generations upon generations, men have gotten away with saying these things to women because women are socialized to rationalize this behavior as misunderstandings or, like, the guy is just trying to pay a compliment . Telling you you should be a fucking geisha to help men with sexual dysfunction is not a damn compliment; you know, he knows it, anyone with a kindergarten-level understanding of social cues, know it . And as long as women like you continue letting men like him get away with being disgusting creeps, the cycle continues. I really do urge you to report him to your church board and to stay away from him. He is not a friend. Friends don’t say the things he said to you.

      Reply Link
    • dinoceros March 20, 2018, 6:45 pm

      No. I think you know that it was more than good intentions, or else you wouldn’t have written in. But it’s easier to brush it off than feel like you need to do something about it, I suppose.

      Reply Link
    • keyblade March 21, 2018, 11:39 am

      I take this letter writer’s response as evidence of genders equality. Seems to me like she commands the respect she receives. At least she didn’t make things weird for other people. Her friend still likes her and that is more than worth ignoring the uncomfortable pass even if it means good-meaning compliments for the next gal! Letter writer, carry the agenda you wish to carry and keep on keeping on. Salute.

      Reply Link
      • Avatar photo

        Dear Wendy March 21, 2018, 11:58 am

        Not sure I understand your comment, but I think it’s super shitty and not at all worth “having her ‘friend’ still like her” to not report this disgusting harassment and help put an end to this creep’s predatory behavior. These kinds of comments are NEVER in isolation. If he’s talked to her this way, he’s talked to others that way, and he will continue to do so because there have been zero consequences. He even gets to still be pals with the woman he told should be a geisha and help men with their sexual dysfunction.

      • Kate March 21, 2018, 12:15 pm

        Yeah, that’s the thing. His behavior, given his role, is disgusting and inappropriate and he’s SURE to be making similar overtures to other women. The point is to deal with the behavior and stop it. The time I went through due process at work to deal with sexual harassment, I did it to make sure the guy would not harass other women. The whole thing needed to stop.

      • keyblade March 21, 2018, 12:17 pm

        My observation is that this letter writer is choosing to categorize the harassment as her “friend” taking a chance to advocate for himself. I agree with you, I thought the entire comment was ballsy and disgusting.

        I think women in particular put too much effort into controlling their own reactions when someone crosses a line of comfort. This is because the consequences are higher when a women chooses to assert herself and her opinions of how others behave around her. When a women asserts her discomfort, there may be an effort made( by people noticing the rejecting of another’s behavior) to make sense of the new experience (of female assertion) by categorizing it in the mental model they have the world. A female’s assertion of discomfort requires action and accommodation from others. It often involves a willingness to accept other people’s scrutiny without comprising on the position that the problematic harassment is worth the energy and effort involved to correct it.

        I think this letter writer is taking the path of least resistance with this older man. This means for her accepting his plausible deniability of intention regardless of the consequence. She probably thinks because she is the one who is most effected by his weird comments, she gets to determine how big of a deal it was and if she considers it resolved enough to keep the church board’s focus on it’s current issues.

    • Avatar photo

      bagge72 March 21, 2018, 12:12 pm

      They don’t say things like that to mean them as a compliment, they say things like that to judge your reaction to see if you want to sleep with them. I don’t ever think that because somebody is single that they should dress like geisha and fix my broken dick.

      Reply Link
      • keyblade March 21, 2018, 12:37 pm

        “I don’t ever think that because somebody is single that they should dress like geisha and fix my broken dick.”

        Thank you for not ever thinking that.

      • anonymousse March 21, 2018, 1:07 pm

        OMG. So funny.

  • baccalieu March 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    Okay, so I was working on a long response when the LW’s update came in. Basically, she says that I was right and the guy isn’t a creep, and Wendy writes back and tells her that, even though she doesn’t know this guy at all and the LW has known him for years, that the LW is wrong about him and she is right, and basically accuses her of being a traitor to to the sisterhood if she doesn’t change her opinion. And dinoceros joins in and tells the LW the same thing – she’s wrong. One would at least think that they would at least acknowledge the possibility that she might be right about him. And you guys think that it’s people like me that are disempowering women. Wendy, how is your response to her anything other than massively arrogant, condescending to the LW and insulting and disrespectful to her? Wendy, you have insulted her, I would say, even more severely than her friend did – and you did it deliberately! “Oh, wow.” right back at you.
    Fyodor, thank you for your comments, but I don’t think you understood me. I am not having trouble understanding how the comments could be insulting and sexist, I understand that and that and I agree that they are. I was saying that, despite that, the LW’s friend may not have realized that the statements were insulting and may not have intended to be insulting. Now you can think that that is unbelievable if you want (although the LW now appears to believe it herself) but I would think you would at least understand what i’m saying. More egregiously, you say that I : “basically seem to be saying that there is no conduct, no matter how bad, that women should not have to endure, because any social censure for any conduct will make you too uncomfortable to approach women. And your desire live an existence with out even the most remote fear of social censure outweighs womens’ interest in living their lives without being subjected to nonexistently veiled demands for sex from people they barely know….”
    Well, no, I’m not basically saying that. In fact, I expressly and specifically said the opposite : “I should say that I recognize that my problem is unimportant compared to the importance of stopping sexual harassment and I may just have to accept that I am collateral damage in this very necessary battle. ” and I actually made a couple of other comments intended to show that I was aware that the issue was bigger than me Yet you and a couple of other commenters still said that I believed this without referencing my denial. I am not nearly as upset about that as I am confused. What happened? Did you misunderstand what I said? Did you not read those parts (which I could actually understand since the comment was – like most of my comments, including the one I’m writing now – far too long)? I can see you believing that I am in denial, or simply lying, but if you felt that way I think you would at least reference the fact that I said it and not completely ignore it.
    I think you all completely underestimate how clueless and tone deaf a guy (particularly the guy writing this comment) can be. Sadly, Kate, I could see myself telling a woman she could be a good geisha and not meaning any insult by it, simply that she was beautiful, elegant, poised and accomplished like a geisha and forgetting about the other implications. That would be stupid and tone deaf of me, but I am fully capable of being stupid and tone deaf. Similarly sadly, and pathetically on top of that, I could see myself attempting to flirt with a twenty something too, not believing that something would come of it but you know, just maybe…..
    When I was asking for help, I was genuinely asking for help, not because I think anyone owes it to me, or that I am entitled to it, but because I really need help. I was also suggesting that helping out clueless guys may be an effective strategy to fix that problem, not that anyone has to do it. If I had suggested a protest march or writing congress, no one would think that I was saying that anyone was obliged to attend the march, or required to write their congressman, why should suggesting this strategy be any different.

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy March 21, 2018, 2:36 am

      You have some nerve calling me arrogant and condescending and then in the same comment, going on to say that you could tell a young woman she could be a geisha because of how beautiful she is and mean it as nothing but a compliment. You are Grade A Creep. Get help.

      Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    TheLadyE March 20, 2018, 10:44 pm

    I say this with all sincerity and generosity, Bacc: I think therapy could really help you. I hear a lot of self-hatred and bitterness in your posts, and I mean that in the most genuine, concerned way possible. I’m in therapy right now and it is life-changing to have someone to talk about all of my deep-seated issues with who can help me sort through them. I really, very highly recommend it.

    Also: please don’t flirt with 20somethings. Just, no. I’m 35 and I would never even think of flirting with an 18 year old guy. That’s gross…and that’s only a 17-year age difference, not a 27-year one.

    And yeah, no, the guy’s a creep. Wendy & dinoceros are right. It is so jarring and so awful to realize that someone you trusted and thought was a friend is actually a creep that I believe LW1 has a blind spot in this area. It also comes with age: once you experience this shit over and over, you start to recognize it for what it is.

    Reply Link
  • baccalieu March 20, 2018, 11:51 pm

    Aren’t you prepared to give the LW some credit? And concede that she may actually know her friend better than you guys and your long distance judgment may be faulty? When I was suggesting that he may have not intended to make her uncomfortable, several people suggested that I was dismissing her judgment (which I don’t think I was – I wasn’t disputing her feelings just saying that there was another explanation for what he was doing other than he’s a nasty evil creep- and it didn’t seem to me that she had formed a definite opinion on his motives, in fact she was asking us) now that you know she doesn’t support your view, you are doing the same thing – dismissing her judgment. And are you not being condescending and insulting to her by saying, “Poor thing, you obviously have a blind spot and your judgment is completely off, your opinions must be disregarded.?”
    LW, I really hope that you write back in a couple of months and tell us that since your talk your friend has continued to respect your boundaries and everything is fine. If it isn’t write in anyway, and, I will gladly eat crow for the benefit of the rest of the commenters. But I really hope it works out (and I believe it will). By the way, would you tell us how old you are? We’ve been assuming that you are in your twenties but I wonder if that’s true.
    P.S. LadyE, thanks for your concern. I agree with you that a 55- year old hitting on twenty-somethings is gross. I am not saying that I do it or have done it, simply that I can see myself doing it, i.e. I’m tempted to do it. I haven’t given in to the urge yet and I don’t intend to, but I do feel it and if just having the urge makes me gross and a creep then I have to concede that I am gross and a creep. But I really do want to be a better person and I will keep trying to be so.

    Reply Link
    • Kate March 21, 2018, 4:52 am

      Ew, go away.

      Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Skyblossom March 21, 2018, 9:49 am


      If you really want to be a better person and really don’t understand comments on this page or in the forums you go to the forums and write your own question about something you have seen here on Dear Wendy, or in real life, and let people explain it to you.

      What you need to quit doing is hijacking the questions other people write and turning them into something about you.

      Reply Link
    • SpaceySteph March 21, 2018, 12:51 pm

      Actually I don’t think it makes you a creep to want to hit on a younger woman. Attraction is not creepy, acting on it is.

      If her friend respects her boundaries, that is good, but it doesn’t make you right. It was way out of line to ever tell her she’d make a good whore. There is no way to mean that which isn’t inappropriate.

      Reply Link
  • baccalieu March 21, 2018, 12:31 am

    I haven’t responded yet to LW2 (loud groans all around) I have to wonder how did it come about that you were the one to tell your husband’s brother to get out. You said, “Finally, I told him to get out” I would have expected the phrasing to be, “Finally, we told him to get out.” We are all assuming that you and your husband had a discussion and agreed that the brother had to go, but if you did that I have trouble understanding how you guys came to agree that you should be the one to tell him, because that is such an obviously bad idea. now it may be that he flatly refused to do it. In that case, I have to wonder if he was really agreeing that brother needed to be kicked out, or if he was reluctant to kick out his brother and you just overrode him and/or wore him down. If he really did agree that brother had to go and insisted that you do it, then he was throwing you to the wolves, but why did you agree. Surely, you knew that you throwing him out would cause a shitstorm in his family. (It probably would have caused a shitstorm anyway , but at least it would be somewhat muted if your husband did the throwing out rather than you, and it wouldn’t be directed solely at you.) It’s one thing to be thrown to the wolves, but it’s another to run up to the precipice and leap out into them.
    I think that you ought take some responsibility for the fact that this was handled so badly. I also think the issue is between you and your husband, and if you can’t stomach what you regard as his spinelessness, then you should divorce him and not just sit back and fume.

    Reply Link
  • anonymousse March 21, 2018, 6:20 am

    Good lord, Bacc.
    How do you sleep at night?

    55 year old men know better. They do. Stop trying to make it seem all creeps are just bumbling old assholes who don’t know how to navigate the world. That’s what creeps do.

    Or they out themselves very quickly by telling young women, young enoug to be their children, or even younger, that they should be geishas and help men with their sexual dysfunction. Are you ducking kidding me, that he meant that as a compliment? He didn’t say, “you are so beautiful, you should be a geisha,” he said, “you should be a geisha and help old men like me with our sexual dysfunctions.” A church deacon!

    A man in a place of power said that to a younger woman. And you back it up. You are so so sad, and gross. Yes, we expect men to be better, and it’s sad and gross that you don’t.

    Reply Link
    • anonymousse March 21, 2018, 6:26 am

      I meant fucking, not ducking.

      Reply Link
      • JD March 21, 2018, 10:50 am

        My dog got a new toy duck that he likes to have relations with so we call it Ducking in honor of autocorrect fails. 🙂

    • anonymousse March 21, 2018, 1:05 pm

      Ha ha, I’m honored.

      Reply Link
  • G.C. April 3, 2018, 8:49 pm

    About the woman who asked her Brother-in-law to move out.
    There is a problem here. The woman who wrote in, upon close analysis of what she wrote, portrayed herself in several different ways. First she asked her BIL to move out because it appeared to her he wasn’t trying hard enough to move on with his life which included moving out at some reasonable time. So, him being without a plan, she made one for him, and asked him to leave. Which was the correct thing to do to maintain the integrity of her home, especially since there are two children living in the home she is responsible for.
    Then, her inlaws took this action badly. They criticized her for declining the BIL further accomodations after she and her husband had giving him the gift of a three-month stay in their home. Her inlaws were wrong to criticize her in any why whatsoever as far as the management of her home. Since we assume her husband was agreeable to her telling the BIL to move out, there is no one that should be critical of this couple’s decision regarding the management of their home, especially since they did the right thing.
    But, the woman then says that her husband stood up for her with her inlaws. Which means he did the right thing. But, then the letter writer shows us that she’s made a poor choice too. She has decided that when her husband attends his family’s events without her, and that he takes the child they had together, but not the one that she had before they married, that he is somehow doing wrong. She implies that he knows she is mad at them for their incorrect reaction to the BIL thing but that in him going to see them without them giving her an apology and taking back what they said, that he is somehow not supporting her. She goes on to further say that she has forbidden the child she had before her marrige to her husband to attend any events with her current inlaws. She apparently also refuses to go to any events now at her inlaws. It’s not clear if she’s invited or not, but it seems that she is probably invited though she knows they won’t be nice to her in the way she wants them to.
    This is the wrong choice on her part. To shy away from those who challenge you with strong opinions just for that, is a bad choice. It also sets a bad example for both of her children. Whatever she may feel about her inlaws, and whatever they feel about her, she should be attending events there to which she is permitted to attend and she should bring both her children and encourage them both to have fun and she should keep her bitterness to herself. If the inlaws continue to critisize her for the BIL thing in the presence of her children she should politely tell them not do so in front of her kids and request they keep such comments to her only said to her in private. The inlaws should respect this respect for her children she displays. Then, by the time it would come to critisize her privately for that same old thing, probably they will feel somewhat reticient about replaying that old record and not say any more about it. It will die down as a topic and they can all move on. Neither side will probably ever forget their bitterness about it, nor change their minds, but they can be civil and model good behaviour for the children.
    This is what the letter writer should be concerned about, not her petty grudges. And, as an aside, the subtle damage to her marrige the letter writer’s pettiness does shouldn’t be ignored either. So, letter writer, grow and mature some more. You did the right thing where your own home was concerned with regards to your BIL. Now learn and grow and do the right thing in this situation. You’ll be glad you did in the long rung.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Bittergaymark April 4, 2018, 10:45 am

    If somebody told ME this, I would damn well show up in FULL GEISHA DRESS and MAKE-UP… Telling everybody who asked — and, oh, would they ask! — that so and so kindly suggested I do so and that following the service I would be helping parishioners with their sexual disfunction in the fellowship hall per HIS other kind suggestion.

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment