Introducing Ms. Communicate

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jrose
Introducing Ms. Communicate

 

jrose

This week we introduce a new advice column for activists that we're calling Now What? When the stresses and strains of daily life combine with the realities of an unjust world, sometimes you just need some good advice. Ms. Communicate is here to take your questions, and each week we'll feature her response. Send your perplexing personal and political questions to mscommunicate at rabble.ca.

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/now_what.shtml?x=66496]In her first column, [/url] Ms. C. outlines your options for dealing with that obnoxious right-winger in your extended family...

martin dufresne

An approach I like is "Fascinating. May I quote you on this?" (whipping out a notebook) The fear in their eyes as they backtrack into the canapйs...

[ 23 January 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Hilarious and I found the choice of the word fuckwad to be "telling." So what did you think BCG?

Michelle

I love this column! This is going to be fun. I'm a sucker for advice columns. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

oldgoat

Great column! I have a conservative brother (not the one who sometimes posts here) whom I have actually forbidden to register on babble. I told him I'd ban him instantly.

He's more fiscal conservative libertarian who likes civilization but doesn't want to pay for it. I just shake my head sadly when he starts to carry on, and remind him that while he has very strong skills in many areas, he's a political idiot, and no one wants to hear from him. Fortunately, he doesn't have too many allies.

triciamarie

I'm the only social democrat in my entire extended family that I know of.

My one brother-in-law used to be an arms dealer.

I do need help in this area.

RosaL

I think there are more effective ways to counter the kind of behaviour the questioner describes than those the advisor advocates.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

quote:


Originally posted by RosaL:
[b]I think there are more effective ways to counter the kind of behaviour the questioner describes than those the advisor advocates.[/b]

Then please enlighten us because I know I tend to go to number four and it is not necessarily effective as an education tool.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by oldgoat:
[b]Great column! I have a conservative brother (not the one who sometimes posts here) whom I have actually forbidden to register on babble. I told him I'd ban him instantly.[/b]

Heh. My dad has an account here, but I've threatened him with a fate worse than Lawrence Welk if he gets out of line with any conservative rants or anything. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] (Hi Dad! *waves*)

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by kropotkin1951:
[b]Then please enlighten us because I know I tend to go to number four and it is not necessarily effective as an education tool.[/b]

I advocate the confrontation route but without the insults and with an attempt to engage the person in some kind of discussion. I try to get them to state explicitly what is implicit - that's not really the right word. It's usually blatant, but not clearly formulated - when they tell jokes or make remarks of the kind described. I argue, I point things out - as politely as I can manage. I have had some success, certainly more than I would have if I'd gone for option 4. Option 4 usually makes things worse. Not that option 4 wouldn't be satisfying sometimes ....

oldgoat

quote:


I think there are more effective ways to counter the kind of behaviour the questioner describes than those the advisor advocates.

Cool! The whole idea of this is to stimulate discussion. Are you talking a high road approach or does this involve some sort of mockery?

quote:

I've threatened him with a fate worse than Lawrence Welk

Ooooh, that's harsh Michelle, no wonder he hardly ever posts here.

Stargazer

quote:


I think there are more effective ways to counter the kind of behaviour the questioner describes than those the advisor advocates.

I don't necessarily know about any more effective ways, but I do know that ignoring them is not the answer. Why should we constantly be the ones who have to bite our tongues and play nice? I am one of three lefties in my family, and by far the farthest left, and I am sick of putting up with racist junk and ignorant people. Ignoring them sends the message that it is okay, and it's simply not okay for these people to ruin every family occasion. It is especially not okay to make racist, sexist or stereotype entire groups of people.

What I usually do, 90 percent of the time after someone makes a comment or has an opinion which falls into the cringe category, is talk to them about what they have just said. Trying to keep my voice calm and stick to facts and/or underlying issues they may not have heard before or need reminding of.

Honestly, I think it is time we put out foot down and stop worrying about how we are going to offend them or suffer blow back. Why not take them to task because by that point they have already ruined the family gathering anyways.

My family knows by now what not to say in front of me and they only know because I have been vocal about it.

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]

I don't necessarily know about any more effective ways, but I do know that ignoring them is not the answer. [/b]


We must have been writing at the same time. I'm not advocating saying nothing or tolerating this kind of thing or worrying about causing offense, as you can see above. It looks like our approaches are similar.

edited to shorten the quote

[ 23 January 2008: Message edited by: RosaL ]

Polunatic2

There's also the option of saying that you won't attend these gatherings if comments like that are not only launched, but condoned. If the choice is between you being there and the other person getting to tell their offensive jokes, it's likely you will "win" when other members of the family (or group) feel the heat.

Stargazer

I know RosaL, I was just elaborating on your point. Didn't mean my post to be directed at you. Just a general post.

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]I know RosaL, I was just elaborating on your point. Didn't mean my post to be directed at you. Just a general post.[/b]

Sometimes I can be obtuse. Thanks for clarifying.

oldgoat

Just to clarfy that if my brother was a social conservative, racist or mysoginist, rather than just a semi-libertarian crank who's only harmful when he votes, I probably wouldn't be seeing him at all. Such comments wouldn't go unchallenged.

Pride for Red D...

This is something I always have difficulty with. Within my family I say whatever I please pretty much. But what does do when a client says something horribly sexist or racist ? You can't quite tell them off.

[ 23 January 2008: Message edited by: Pride for Red Dolores ]

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Pride for Red Dolores:
[b]This is something I always have difficulty with. Within my family I say whatever I please pretty much. But what does do when a client says something horribly sexist or racist ? You can't quite tell them off.

[ 23 January 2008: Message edited by: Pride for Red Dolores ][/b]


You can "confront" people without "telling them off": you can ask them questions (try to get them to see what they're saying or doing- and why), you can point things out, you can argue, etc. All those things would be quite appropriate, it seems to me.

jrose

Seems like the blogosphere is taking notice too!

From Shamelessmag.com

quote:

Advice, Media Savvy
Now What?

Rabble.ca has launched a great new “advice column” for activists called Now What?

When the stresses and strains of daily life combine with the realities of an unjust world, sometimes you just need some good advice. Ms. Communicate is here to take your questions, and each week we’ll feature her response.

The first installment? Ms. Communicate outlines your options for dealing with that obnoxious right-winger in your extended family (we all have ‘em.)

…you have my permission to use as much swearing as you deem appropriate. Racism and sexism are much more offensive than profane language, in my view.


jrose

And this week .... [url=http://rabble.ca/now_what.shtml?sh_itm=84bc68fb120fd7f7d4983834da07db9e&... it acceptable to keep letters from an ex?[/url]

I say yes.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I have a collection from only one love affair, and I won't give it up. And no ones asked me to, but then no ones found it.

well right now there's no one looking [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by jrose:
[b]And this week .... [url=http://rabble.ca/now_what.shtml?sh_itm=84bc68fb120fd7f7d4983834da07db9e&... it acceptable to keep letters from an ex?[/url][/b]

Of course. What else do you have to blackmail him with?

.
.
.

Kidding. Honest.

jrose

quote:


Of course. What else do you have to blackmail him with?

When I was in my first year of university, I was living in residence in Ottawa, and my better half had a place in Toronto, though he was struggling to afford rent and food, let alone a phone or Internet connection. So, because of this we relied on the odd letter back and forth, and email, if he could find time between classes. Needless to say, this grew frustrating — fast! (Especially when living in a brand new city, with new friends, and a million things to do.) So, things weren’t working, for either of us, and he broke up with me — in a letter (Which arrived the day AFTER I broke up with him over the phone, so technically I beat him to the punch).

Anyways, long story short, we realized pretty quick that we missed each other terribly, he finally got a phone, and we stopped with the letter writing. Six years (and a few more break ups later) we’re still going strong, but I still pull that old letter out (I mean seriously, who dumps someone in a letter in the 21st century) just to remind him of what an idiot he was.
[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] But he's my idiot!

[ 04 February 2008: Message edited by: jrose ]

martin dufresne

Colour me unethical but... how could it be unacceptable? (Unless you mean not forwarding the person's mail after s/he left...)
Do you mean that a current partner would feel entitled to be jealous, а la "the tatoo goes or I do!"???

oldgoat

A letter like that is definitely a keeper, jrose.

Mrs oldgoat actually still keeps in touch with her ex boyfriend. They were together for quite a number of years, and remain friends, and I've met him many times. He's a pretty good guy. He helped us move. Her relationship with him, as well as his family were important to her. I've met his family a couple of times, and they're all quite nice.

Different strokes for different folks I guess, but it doesn't make sense to assume anyone enters a relationship as a tabula rasa, and there's nothing wrong or disloyal about remembering good things from past relationships.

[ 04 February 2008: Message edited by: oldgoat ]

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by jrose:
[b][url=http://rabble.ca/now_what.shtml?sh_itm=84bc68fb120fd7f7d4983834da07db9e&... it acceptable to keep letters from an ex?[/url][/b]


quote:

I am tempted to continue holding on to the letters but I fear if my current partner were to find out it would hurt him.

He's a big boy. He can take it. And he very likely has his own stash of old letters, that he plans to keep until he's old and grey. Keep them or throw them out as you choose, but don't blame your partner. It's your decision.

[ 04 February 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]