In a 2008 essay in the journal In Character, history professor Wilfred McClay writes that as a society we have twisted the meaning of forgiveness into a therapeutic act for the victim: “[F]orgiveness is in danger of being debased into a kind of cheap grace, a waiving of standards of justice without which such transactions have no meaning.” Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School writes that, “There is a watered-down but widespread form of ‘forgiveness’ best tagged preemptory or exculpatory forgiveness. That is, without any indication of regret or remorse from perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, we are enjoined by many not to harden our hearts but rather to ‘forgive.’ ”
—  Emily Yoffe, from What Do Grown Children Owe their Terrible, Abusive Parents?, published in Slate
Dear Prudence: Q. Appropriate Behavior With Adult Male Friends

One of my guilty pleasures is reading Emily Yoffe’s Dear Prudence advice column. Today’s column had a question from a woman who feminists had properly trained to view innocence as depravity and men (even good, supportive friends) as rapist monsters …

Q: My daughters are 8 and 11. We are friends with our neighbors, a couple who each have a college-age daughter from previous relationships. They are good people, and I trust them to hang out with my kids when I’m home. The man, “Danny,” helped me teach my younger daughter how to ride her bike last summer. My daughters love doing gymnastics and showing off, as kids do. I feel uncomfortable when they show their cartwheels, splits, stretches, and backbends to “Danny.” I feel like it’s bordering on inappropriate to do around friends and neighbors, especially adult men. I trust Danny, and he maintains safe boundaries (he will give the girls a warm hug in return, but he doesn’t pick them up even if they try to jump on him, etc.), but I still want to avoid these situations. Is this just my issue? Should I talk to my girls about this and tell them to stop? How do I do it without making them feel ashamed or sexualizing nonsexual behavior?

A: Let’s follow your logic. According to your concerns, girls can do gymnastics as long as they perform only for an all-female audience. If your girls can flip and split to the amazement of adults, of course they’re going to want to show off their spritelike skills to all in their orbit. There is nothing sexualized about what they’re doing, or the awestruck appreciation of adults, male and female, at that flexibility. What’s really concerning about your letter is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Danny is anything but a lovely male presence in their lives, a man who himself raised a daughter. Your expression of generalized unease at a man being around girls while they show off is part of an unfortunate trend of thinking of men as potential predators unless proven otherwise. Of course your daughters need to know about privacy and personal boundaries—physical and psychological. But children need adult men in their lives. Please don’t pathologize what sounds like a beneficial relationship to all.

How can feminists deny the paranoia in their movement when children are taught healthy play is automatically sexualized and wrong?

How can feminists deny the misandry in their movement when good men, doing good deeds, are automatically viewed in such an ugly fashion?

Help! I Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Dad, but My Wife Says No.
Q. Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Husband: My wife has an annual income of more than $400,000. My salary is roughly one-tenth of that, with no prospect of going much higher for the rest of my working life. Both of us work equally long hours. Although we could live very comfortably on her current salary, she insists that I continue to work to contribute to family finances. We have two young kids who are cared for by a nanny, and another lady comes in regularly for domestic help. It actually makes better sense financially for me to be a stay-at-home parent, but my wife will have none of this. I don’t understand why she insists that I work when she has a stable and high-earning job, compared with my stressful long hours for low pay. Every week I’m tempted to just quit my job and let her deal with it.

You gotta read Emily Yoffe’s answer to this. She knocks the ball out of the park with the first 7 words.

Spousal Abuse By A Wife

One of my guilty pleasures is Emily Yoffe’s Dear Prudence advice columns because for the most part her recommendations are dead on and she pulls no punches. Today a man wrote in out of concern for his friend:

Q. Friend in Trouble: I’m very worried about my friend “Ted.” He works two full-time jobs at literally all hours—sometimes all day, sometimes all night, but always 12 to 16 hours per day. His wife does not work and stays home with their young son. She is a warm and friendly person when I am with her, but I have been shocked to hear her scream at Ted on the other end of his cellphone. When I saw Ted recently, he was a shadow of the gentle and funny person I have known since we were kids—exhausted, emaciated, and almost silent when his wife is around, which is all the time. He and his wife have fallen out with his family and the other friends he had before his marriage, and I don’t think he has anyone in his life right now other than his wife. Is there anything I can do for him?

A: From your description, Ted is being abused. Both male and female victims of domestic abuse often hide what’s going on, but there is often a special sense of shame and embarrassment among male victims. It sounds as if his wife utterly controls him and verbally (and possibly physically) abuses him. Isolating your victim from friends and family is a classic abuser move. I think you should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline and get some advice about how to help your friend. It likely will not be easy to get him to recognize his situation and extract himself, but once you’ve called the hotline, you need to meet with Ted alone, tell him your concerns, and give him some resources.

Follow up by a reader of the above question:

Q. Re: Friend in Trouble: The abused husband “Ted” whom the letter writer describes was me 15 years ago. My then-wife insisted on staying at home with our children while I worked two jobs, becoming so exhausted I got into a serious car crash, yet she berated me for not earning enough. Eventually she escalated to physical violence, including giving me a black eye once. She isolated me from friends and family, and yet I would not take the first step to leave the marriage until she forced my hand. Bravo on your excellent advice.

A: Thanks for writing, and I’m sorry about what you went through. It is important for friends observing this pattern to try to get the victim to recognize the danger.

Feminists pretend that spousal abuse, both physical and emotional, is a one-gendered-way street, where men are always the monsters and women always the victims. Like all things feminists say, fraud, hypocrisy and intimidation are the reality and fantasy their mantra. 

Spousal abuse goes both ways, where men and women can both play the role of monster. To deny that is to deny reality.

From Dear Prudence:

Q. Etiquette for Sleeping With a Former Teacher: I graduated from high school almost 10 years ago. Since then I have lost 50 pounds and go by my formal name rather than my nickname, as I did in high school. Recently I ran into a former teacher at a bar. He struck up a conversation with me, and I quickly realized he didn’t recognize (or potentially remember) me. We hit it off, he invited me back to his place, and because I felt deeply attracted to him, I spent the night with him. It never seemed like a good time to tell him I was a former student of his, so I took the coward’s way out—and didn’t. He wants to take me on a proper date, now, and I know I have to tell him about my lie by omission. I am still struggling to find the right words. Any advice?

A: Let me begin with an aside. As a general rule, if you find you’re really attracted to and interested in someone, sleeping with him on the first date (and this wasn’t even a first date) is not necessarily the best way to start what you hope might be a promising relationship. Good that Mr. Chips wants to see you again, but be prepared that Mr. Chips expects to end the evening in bed. But since this time, you’re going to go to dinner first, find a clever way to give him the big reveal. “You know, Mr. Chips, I’m still smarting over that B-minus I got for my mid-term.” You’re an adult woman long out of high school, so there is absolutely nothing improper about your getting together with a former teacher a decade after the fact.

What. The. Fuck.

Is there ANYTHING that isn’t fucked up and terrible about this answer??? “Just as an aside, you’re a slut for sleeping with him and he’ll never respect you. Also, you should tell him you were a student in the most horrifying way imaginable. Possibly while wearing a schoolgirl uniform?”

One Christmas evening when I was 9 years old my whole family went to see Goldfinger and I stayed stunned in my seat until the credits rolled because I had to catch the name of the man I now loved. About 25 years later I was rushing through the lobby of an office building lobby in Los Angeles when I literally bumped into Sean Connery. He said, “Excuse me,” softly with that Scottish burr, I looked up and exclaimed, “My God!” and he smiled indulgently when my knees buckled.
—  Emily Yoffe