Not blatant shaming in progress? September 26, 2013 9:31 AM   Subscribe

This is the AskMefi post

Several answers outrightly correlated asking blessings from the future bride's father with modern day "chattel," "weirdly backward," "sexist," and other such characterization. Shaming sandwiched within advice. This can affect both the OPs state of mind, and future posters who may double-guess asking related new questions. Would not the forum benefit having such answers deleted quickly, or underscored by a mod warning?

(worth noting the OP was compelled to address these posters in a follow up)
posted by Kruger5 to Etiquette/Policy at 9:31 AM (137 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I find it weird when people decide to get inside people's heads and make comments like that. I see it as an outgrowth of the "Well Actually..." sort of problem with nerds generally.

Would not the forum benefit having such answers deleted quickly, or underscored by a mod warning?

The OP basically left a note at about the point where I would have. Comments that don't answer the question at all get deleted. Questions that answer it but also offer "helpful" advice often don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:40 AM on September 26, 2013 [37 favorites]


jessamyn: " the "Well Actually..." sort of problem "

Ohhhh my god. I'm xeroxing this and interofficing it to a few people surreptitiously.
posted by boo_radley at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


The OP asked:

I know that she would like me to speak to her father beforehand to get his blessing, but I've decided that I'd like to get both of her parents' blessing...Should I just stick with speaking to her father?

The idea of asking only a father's permission comes off to many people as highly paternalistic, and treating the daughter as chattel. People said so, specifically in response to the OP's question. Some people (myself included) added, not specifically in response to the OP's question, that the whole idea of asking permission itself is paternalistic. It would be news to me if that sort of added commentary is banned. Implict assumptions and attitudes are challenged all the time on AskMe, particularly where those assumptions are sexist or dated (or whatever). AskMe would be a much less helpful and interesting place if everything in the question had to be accepted at face value. The fact that the OP's fiancee is the one making implicitly sexist assumptions about the proper way to start an engagement doesn't mean that the nature of the assumptions is not worth pointing out, particularly given that the OP appears to be prepared to significantly complicate the proposal on the basis of arcane, vaguely sexist rituals.

This can affect both the OPs state of mind, and future posters who may double-guess asking related new questions.

Answers are supposed to affect the OP's state of mind. I don't understand this objection at all. I also don't understand what hypothetical we're supposed to worry about here.
posted by Dasein at 10:08 AM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dasein: "on the basis of arcane, vaguely sexist rituals."

This is pedantry, but there is nothing "arcane" about it. Arcane means "mysterious, known only to the initiate." Even if you have never asked permission of a parent to marry someone, I'm pretty sure you know how to ask, it's not like a Mason initiation rite.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:25 AM on September 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


The idea of asking only a father's permission comes off to many people as highly paternalistic, and treating the daughter as chattel. People said so, specifically in response to the OP's question. Some people (myself included) added, not specifically in response to the OP's question, that the whole idea of asking permission itself is paternalistic. It would be news to me if that sort of added commentary is banned.

However, as the OP said - in the very first phrase of the very sentence which you yourself have quoted - his girlfriend wants him to speak to her father about this and do things the old-fashioned way. Empirically it may be a throwback of a thing, but if it is something which the intended bride-to-be has expressly said she wants anyway, it is commentary which doesn't address the actual question. And things that don't answer the question get banned in Askme, and always have done.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on September 26, 2013 [40 favorites]


However, as the OP said - in the very first phrase of the very sentence which you yourself have quoted - his girlfriend wants him to speak to her father about this and do things the old-fashioned way.

Exactly, she requested this and the male OP doesn't sound like dick at all. All couples have their quirks and nuances, which make more sense to them, so we should probably ease up on judging people we don't and can't know for doing things we disagree with, especially when it's what they want.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:35 AM on September 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Usually I'm all about allowing a broader range of answers in AskMe, but I'm with Empress on this one.

What possible utility could come describing the girlfriend's express wishes as paternalistic, weirdly backward, etc.? If the goal is to shame the OP into disregarding her wishes, I guess I don't see how that's a positive outcome?

Also, there is a difference between asking the parents for permission, which the OP did not mention, and asking for their blessing.
posted by lalex at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


Implict assumptions and attitudes are challenged all the time on AskMe, particularly where those assumptions are sexist or dated (or whatever).

Yeah, but MetaFilter doesn't do "culture" very well. Because of its large American membership, there is often little tolerance on MetaFilter for other cultural points of view.

In this case, the OP, his soon-to-be-fiance and presumably her father are okay with the practice of "asking for permission."

If they're okay with the cultural practice, how does that make your cultural attitude relevant to the discussion?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think it's about time to add shaming to the list of accusations that are way overplayed around here. Advice and opinions you don't agree with are not shaming.
posted by COD at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Kruger5, did you flag it? If the flagged comments weren't removed, did you contact the moderators to ask why?

What's your motivation for this MetaTalk? The situation hardly seems to call for it.

As for me, I thought the questions was had annoying elements I can't relate to, so I didn't answer it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:45 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's about time to add shaming to the list of accusations that are way overplayed around here. Advice and opinions you don't agree with are not shaming.

I think in this case "shaming" is MF jargon (like "privilege") and the meaning of the word in a MF context should not be taken at face-value.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:47 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is pedantry, but there is nothing "arcane" about it. Arcane means "mysterious, known only to the initiate." Even if you have never asked permission of a parent to marry someone, I'm pretty sure you know how to ask, it's not like a Mason initiation rite.

Arcane is from the Latin arcanus, hidden, secret. Archaic, which is probably what Dasein was shooting for, is from the Greek ἀρχαϊκός, old-fashioned.

Oh, how I love having access to the OED again. Speaking of which, it gives the etymology of arcane thusly:
Etymology: Latin arcānus, arcēre to shut up
I will now do so.
posted by zamboni at 10:50 AM on September 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


In this case, the OP, his soon-to-be-fiance and presumably her father are okay with the practice of "asking for permission."

If they're okay with the cultural practice, how does that make your cultural attitude relevant to the discussion?


Just my observation -- but I picked up on how the OP reported his gf's desire for him to ask her father, and his intention to ask both parents together instead. To me, that suggested that the OP himself (presuming male) perhaps had some ambivalent feelings about the issue, which may have opened the door for some comments about the custom.

"Shaming" makes no sense to me here, fwiw.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:58 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I retract the use of "shame" from my own comment. "Convince" would have been a better choice.
posted by lalex at 11:06 AM on September 26, 2013


Jesus, that thread.

If our intrepid asker's fiance to be has a relationship with her father such that the ritual of anonymous asking for her father's blessing will be a neat thing for her, who the fuck are y'all to decide for her how she should feel? If it helps your ever so precious ideological purity, you can think of asking for a fathers permission as a throwback to a time when communities requiring that men not just kidnap 'brides' and instead ask for permission from someone who ideally has an interest in the woman in question's welfare and the ability to protect it was maybe kinda a good thing. If for her she contextualizes it as a way for her family to be involved, consulted, and honored in the new life she is choosing as well as the new son they are gaining, what the fuck is it to you?
posted by Blasdelb at 11:06 AM on September 26, 2013 [54 favorites]


The idea of asking only a father's permission comes off to many people as highly paternalistic, and treating the daughter as chattel.

Who cares? What a couple wants to do might be paternalist, sexist, or any other -ist one can imagine. Those are adjectives, not rational arguments. Fiancee wants it and OP is acquiescing to this request, so I am baffled by what is the big deal. I don't comment in "help me and my girlfriend move in together" questions with "shacking up is bad, ok? but, here is how you make a household budget..."

it's not like a Mason initiation rite.

Past master of a Masonic lodge here. I can tell you that some of it can be pretty silly stuff.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:10 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it helps your ever so precious ideological purity

This is not a helpful or useful way to start a good faith contribution to this thread. I appreciate that this and other recent discussions have pushed some buttons with people but MeTa threads have been getting out of hand with people being terrible to each other with snark and sarcasm and it gets in the way of us being able to have discussions on topics that are hard for people to grapple with. Please, everyone, try harder.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:11 AM on September 26, 2013 [29 favorites]


Just my observation -- but I picked up on how the OP reported his gf's desire for him to ask her father, and his intention to ask both parents together instead. To me, that suggested that the OP himself (presuming male) perhaps had some ambivalent feelings about the issue, which may have opened the door for some comments about the custom.

That's possible, but that's also not what AskMe is for. If someone did a FPP on the blue about this custom, you could then maybe link to the AskMe and use it as a springboard to continue the conversation in the FPP, and invite the OP to expound upon it then if he chose.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:11 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, this is bad? I was this close to going into the truck recommendation question and saying actually pick-up trucks guzzle gas and destroy the planet and crush kittens and flowers and perpetuate the patriarchy, so you should get a bicycle instead.
posted by Naberius at 11:17 AM on September 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


(Thank you for that "Well, actually..." link Jessamyn!)
posted by latkes at 11:18 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Naberius: "Wait, this is bad? I was this close to going into the truck recommendation question and saying actually pick-up trucks guzzle gas and destroy the planet and crush kittens and flowers and perpetuate the patriarchy, so you should get a bicycle instead."

jessamyn: " MeTa threads have been getting out of hand with people being terrible to each other with snark and sarcasm and it gets in the way of us being able to have discussions on topics that are hard for people to grapple with."
posted by boo_radley at 11:24 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the question was a little weird in that it was this guy asking about proposing to his girlfriend... almost a year from now. To me, *that* made me question whether he saw her as an equal partner in their relationship (but I didn't include any of that in my answers).

I wonder if other posters were reacting to that, rather than the fact that he planned to talk to her dad (which I think is pretty normal and common).
posted by Asparagus at 11:29 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Love LOVE the fact that Jessamyn posted that "Well, actually..." link and then three comments later someone comes in to correct another poster's word usage.

Metafilter never ceases to amaze and delight.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:30 AM on September 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


"This is not a helpful or useful way to start a good faith contribution to this thread."

I'm sorry Jessamyn and everyone, you are absolutely right, I will do my best to do better.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:32 AM on September 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


I love the "well, actually..." article and it will be shared. I would also like a pony for the reintroduction of the img tag, but only for the "well, actually..." cat.
posted by arcticseal at 11:32 AM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


In my opinion, a solitary response to a question which, while addressing the question, also includes someone's unsolicited advice by itself isn't too bad, and sometimes it can actually be helpful. Of course, the latter assumes the advice is grounded in a concrete fact. (e.g. letting someone know something is illegal/harmful/etc.)

Anything else is either experience or opinion.

An added experience or personal anecdote which directly relates to the question can fall anywhere from "of no real relevance" to "conditionally useful," depending on the nature of the question, how universal said experience may actually be, and its perceived usefulness to the Asker.

An unsolicited opinion, however, is just that. Filler, icing, whatever. It can help flesh out a point in a response, but in of itself offers no useful information for the Asker or anyone reading the thread.

A single, solitary, unsolicited opinion included in the response, especially one that is in conflict with the question posed, is noise. And like noise, if it's relegated to a single comment, it is easily passed over or ignored.

However, especially with 'hot button' topics such as perceived sexism, it can overwhelm the point of the thread with answers like "I disagree/agree with Opinion X! ...oh, and by the way, here's some words formed into sentences that address the question so this doesn't get deleted"

Which is why I believe a mod was about to step in to curtail these types of responses before the OP sent their response.

With regards to the OP second guessing themselves based on what four people typed out of many, I think we are perhaps presuming too much the impact our opinions have on others. Regardless, I think the Mods do a pretty good job of cutting this off as soon as it is indicated it is an issue, and while it sucks when it happens to you, it doesn't make it any less important.
posted by Debaser626 at 11:33 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


...but MeTa threads have been getting out of hand with people being terrible to each other with snark and sarcasm and it gets in the way of us being able to have discussions on topics that are hard for people to grapple with.

Well, actually...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:34 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guess how much of a sense of humor I have about this right now?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:36 AM on September 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Didn't someone kinda cover the rage vs shut pie hole issue in this comment (mainly the "if you aren't shrieking loudly enough ..." sentiment)
posted by k5.user at 11:40 AM on September 26, 2013


The idea of asking only a father's permission comes off to many people as highly paternalistic, and treating the daughter as chattel.

Who cares?


Possibly the OP. He was the one who asked about it.

And things that don't answer the question get banned in Askme, and always have done.

That is manifestly not the case, and never has been. We can disagree about how serious a problem it is that the whole "answer or be deleted" rule is really a context-dependent judgment call that seems to be made on the basis of whether answers not directly on point are disrupting the thread. But let's not pretend that it's a hard-and-fast rule around here. It isn't.

This is pedantry, but there is nothing "arcane" about it.

I am pro-pedantry. I meant archaic, not arcane. Slip of the fingers.
posted by Dasein at 11:41 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am curious about what percentage of people giving the "she's not chattel, yo" advice actually saw the part about the girlfriend wanting her boyfriend to ask her father? In other words, how much of this is a simple reading fail?
posted by *s at 11:42 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


In other words, how much of this is a simple reading fail?

No one is saying that the OP or his fiancee are sexist; it's the logic and assumptions underlying the ritual that people are questioning. It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.
posted by Dasein at 11:45 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The idea of asking only a father's permission comes off to many people as highly paternalistic, and treating the daughter as chattel. People said so, specifically in response to the OP's question. Some people (myself included) added, not specifically in response to the OP's question, that the whole idea of asking permission itself is paternalistic. It would be news to me if that sort of added commentary is banned."

Marriage to many people represents an archaic chattel relationship that unduly excludes single people from social benefits and contributes to the heteronormative repression of queer identity.

But that kind of added commentary is irrelevant to the question, and kinda obnoxiously sanctimonious.
posted by klangklangston at 11:48 AM on September 26, 2013 [31 favorites]


It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

Maybe the OP can add a segue to his proposal where he informs his betrothed that she, too, is part of the problem.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:54 AM on September 26, 2013 [35 favorites]


how much of this is a simple reading fail?

I'm not surprised that this has become a major trigger point for people. I know personally that I experienced exactly what the OP is experiencing IRL. My husband asked my parents for their blessing before proposing - something that I have always been open about wanting a future husband to do - and yet my sisters lost their shit over it. They knew it was what I wanted and they knew we never approached it as a "I am property, ask my parents to give me to you" thing. It was a tip of the hat. A symbol of respect to my parents that all appreciated and understod. Except my sisters.

So I don't think it is a matter of reading fail. I am sure that SOME of the reaction is by people who didn't read the part where it was what she wanted, but I have no question that some of the people saying it is sexist etc. read the part where she wanted and just got too caught up in the "OMG WOMEN AREN'T OBJECTS!" part of it to register it. Same as how my sister gives me guff for having long hair. She thinks it is terrible that I invest so much time and effort in to my appearance just to seem more attractive to people. She totally ignores the fact that I like my long hair and having it flounce about when I walk makes me happy.

God my sisters suck sometimes...

In summary, people get caught up in their own beliefs and forget that what matters to some people doesn't necessarily matter to everyone else. THEY would be upset by it that so his girlfriend would/should be too. My sisters are upset FOR me over something that doesn't upset me in the slightest and is actually something I want. Their heart is kinda sorta in the right place I hope..
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:55 AM on September 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

Maybe the OP can add a segue to his proposal where he informs his betrothed that she, too, is part of the problem.


I'm reminded of the time I tried to convince my wife (then my fiance) that she shouldn't take my last name.
posted by Area Man at 12:02 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I liked the pedant. The heteronormative repression, not so much.

Less likely than patriarchic repression, is the romantic something about the young man facing the parents of the woman he loves, and asking their blessing; we don't differentiate here between customs, whether she goes to live with his family, or he comes to live with hers. See, nowadays, that doesn't count much any more. Nowadays they both go to live in Cleveland and nobody gets to see either of them until it's time to babysit with the grandkids. Either that, or because they both have entry-level jobs, he (or she) needs to know if they can move in with the parents, at least until they get the car paid off.

Lots we don't know about this. My support group is your repressive patriarchy.
posted by mule98J at 12:02 PM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm reminded of the time I tried to convince my wife (then my fiance) that she shouldn't take my last name.

Don't even get me started on my sister's attitudes over the fact that I took my husband's name.....
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Marriage to many people represents an archaic chattel relationship that unduly excludes single people from social benefits and contributes to the heteronormative repression of queer identity.

What's your point? The OP didn't ask about whether he should get married. He asked about whether he should talk only to the father, or to the father and mother. It's entirely reasonable to point out that both options are sort of patriarchal, but one is more patriarchal than the other.
posted by Dasein at 12:17 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Err, unsolicited opinions? It seems to me that OP expressly asked for a discussion on asking the father vs... alternatives.

OP: Should I just stick with speaking to her father? Some ideas on how to broach this with my girlfriend would be great, without being too obvious.

theora55: Traditionally, asking the father for his blessing = permission, and is a throwback to when women were chattel. You could approach it as talking to them together with your gf about joining the family.

How is this not a direct answer to a direct question?
posted by rada at 12:19 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one is saying that the OP or his fiancee are sexist; it's the logic and assumptions underlying the ritual that people are questioning. It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

Speaking from experience, it is possible to have a relationship (a marriage) that is based on "traditional gender roles" that is successful and respectful of both people in the marriage.

The cornerstone of success is mutual consent and shared values.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:24 PM on September 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


> Some people (myself included) added, not specifically in response to the OP's question, that the whole
> idea of asking permission itself is paternalistic.

Is, uh, "parentalism" paternalistic in the general case where the mother and the father are both asked?

This is just me speaking for me but I have never experienced a culture in which "asking permission" was really truly asking permission, unless one or both of the young people is underage.

It's more like "You two, and my own mother and father, are still going to be the closest people in the world to us until we have kids of our own. If we go ahead and marry without your blessing, or at least your grudging acquiescence, is my relationship with my in-laws and hers with her mom and dad going to be a minefield from then on?" That doesn't imply any sort of chattel relationship but still seems to be something worth knowing.
posted by jfuller at 12:27 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rada: when the OP asked "some ideas on how to broach this with my girlfriend", the "this" was referring to "asking just the father vs. asking the mother AND the father".

And for the record - in here I've come out in defense of the OP, even though I personally would not want any future would-be fiance to ask my father's permission first for precisely the "it is sexist" reasons people have mentioned. In fact, it's something my father and I have had a couple of snarky conversations about (Dad does want it that way).

But that is me. The OP's beloved is her. It's what she wants, and ain't none of my business.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's the logic and assumptions underlying the ritual that people are questioning. It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

"My girlfriend would like me to to X, a gesture which will harm literally no person relevant to this question, and which I am happy to do. I have a few questions about the timing and logistics of pulling off this gesture."

Why is it any business of yours or mine what gesture X is? These are consenting adults doing a thing which will make them happy in their relationship. Who the hell cares?

I agree that it's a patriarchial tradition with its roots in women-as-property. But, as a rule, how these or any other people make their relationship work is no business of yours or mine except maybe when there is abuse. I don't think you can make the case that this is abuse.
posted by gauche at 12:30 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Marriage to many people represents an archaic chattel relationship that unduly excludes single people from social benefits and contributes to the heteronormative repression of queer identity.

What's your point? The OP didn't ask about whether he should get married. He asked about whether he should talk only to the father, or to the father and mother. It's entirely reasonable to point out that both options are sort of patriarchal, but one is more patriarchal than the other.


You really seem to have taken that out of context. Klang was responding to a statement that many people find the idea of asking the father's permission paternalistic and treats the daughter like chattel and that this sort of commentary is allowed in answers. He even included that quote in his comment so that it was clear what he was responding to. Then, in his very next sentence, that you did not include in your comment he said,

But that kind of added commentary is irrelevant to the question, and kinda obnoxiously sanctimonious.


Why didn't you include that? It's not a huge wall of text and it seems like it would help to answer your question.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:36 PM on September 26, 2013


I have a few questions about the timing and logistics of pulling off this gesture.

That wasn't the question. The question was, do I talk only to her father? Answer: no, that's really patriarchal. BTW, so is talking to both the father and mother.

If you're willing to misrepresent the question, though, you can make the answers look totally unreasonable.
posted by Dasein at 12:37 PM on September 26, 2013


That thread got soapboxed by a lot of the respondents. *shrug* Regrettable, too, since the original question was very straightforward.

I asked my future FiL, but without having discussed it with my future fiancee. I know she would have agreed, and she was fine with it when she found out. I did it because it would help cement my relationship with them, without causing problems with my relationship with her: an obvious "can't lose" for me.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:43 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Q: "Should I wash chicken breast before I cook it?"

A: "CHICKEN HAS BEADY-EYE EVIL!" (marked as best answer)
posted by Debaser626 at 12:48 PM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


That wasn't the question. The question was, do I talk only to her father? Answer: no, that's really patriarchal. BTW, so is talking to both the father and mother.

That was question number 2. But there was also 1) what's an appropriate timing for having this conversation vis-a-vis the planned engagement date, and 3) what's the etiquette around doing so at another celebration already planned.

I don't feel that I misrepresented anything by describing these three questions, generally, as questions about the timing and logistics of the gesture.
posted by gauche at 12:55 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh I'm sorry, I thought you said chicken beast.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:56 PM on September 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Damn, every day this place gives me the opportunity to be a better person.

/me adds "Well Actually" to her list of annoying things to stop doing...
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:00 PM on September 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The full question was, how do I broach this with GF without being obvious, and, upstream, some logistical difficulties in getting time alone with MIL and FIL but without GF.

Getting everyone in the room and framing the whole thing as joining the family together rather than traditional permission-asking is a valid/interesting/alternative answer.

I mean, I get plenty paranoid/defensive myself but come on. If a tourist asked me for a good burger place, and I knew of a vegetarian restaurant giving out FREE sandwiches around the corner, I would tell them about it and hope to get back a thank you rather than an indignant, I'VE HAD IT WITH YOU MILITANT VEGANS!!! or, YOU'VE VIOLATED THE PRECISE PARAMETERS OF MY QUESTION!
posted by rada at 1:00 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I initially read that as "how do I broach this with GIF" and I want to voice my full throated support for GIF proposals.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:07 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


But... but the tourist wants a burger. The tourist did not ask for a restaurant. The tourist asked for a good burger place. You can mention the free veg, but you should really include the location of a hamburger as well.
posted by maryr at 1:09 PM on September 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


"What's your point? The OP didn't ask about whether he should get married. He asked about whether he should talk only to the father, or to the father and mother. It's entirely reasonable to point out that both options are sort of patriarchal, but one is more patriarchal than the other."

My point? Oh man, I must have forgotten to write: "But that kind of added commentary is irrelevant to the question, and kinda obnoxiously sanctimonious."

He also didn't ask whether or not it was patriarchal or if one was more patriarchal than the other.
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


But... but the tourist wants a burger.

Ok, so now the tourist has two options:

Option One: free sandwiches around the corner... hmm, I like free stuff and I am hungry, but I still want a burger so I'll keep looking. Nice girl though, she was trying to be helpful.

Option Two: I asked for a burger and this bitch tells me about some vegetarian place. She must be one of those militant vegans. God, I am so tired of this bullshit. What's with all this meat-shaming? There is nothing wrong with eating meat, dammit! Gotta call a friend and tell him about this bitch. (Spends the next hour discussing how people suck).

When I was young and stupid, I used to choose option 2 a lot. Now, I choose option 1. My life is. So. Much. Better.
posted by rada at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


But it's not. It's like the person telling them about the veggie place also says 'meat is murder!! Don't get a burger! It's a waste of resources and its bad for you and do you know what they out in them?!'.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 1:36 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree that both this thread AND the pick-up truck thread got a few more sanctimonious answers than anyone would find useful. And I'm both anti-patriarchy and pro-gas-mileage, too! Showing a little more respect for the desires for the asker, and trying a little harder to assume they're coming from a place of thoughtfulness and good-intentions, could help all involved.
posted by ldthomps at 1:38 PM on September 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


No one is saying that the OP or his fiancee are sexist; it's the logic and assumptions underlying the ritual that people are questioning. It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

I really do not understand this outlook. Why can't the girlfriend have the proposal she wants rather than the proposal some folks on AskMe want? I thought that part of the genius of feminism was choice. If I want to take my husband's name or have my valentine ask my dad for my hand, I get to do that. I shouldn't *have* to do that, but I get to choose. My comfort with assumptions is okay. Having someone else be the boss of how someone gets proposed to, when that was not the question posed, is not.
posted by *s at 1:42 PM on September 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


I sort of feel like the sandwich analogy is imperfect and maybe not really allowing people to talk about this issue in a straightforward way. It may be fine as a Rorschach for how the thread felt to you but realistically if someone is asking you for a thing and you give them a different thing because you think you are doing them a favor, it's still up to that person whether you actually did them a favor or not.

I think people presume we live in a world of simultaneously imperfect information and potentially perfect information. So presuming if you've only got part of the story, once you got the whole story, we'd all share the same "enlightened" outlook on everything. And I think that's a mistake. I think people like to do things differently for a variety of reasons, even if it drives other people (sometimes people that they care about) absolutely batshit.

Answerers in AskMe seem to be on a quest to help fill the gaps in others' imperfect information but then they get crotchety if, when given it, the people don't make the same decisions they would. And people get really indignant really quickly no matter which side they are on, and it's supremely unhelpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


A lot more of the judgmental answers should have been deleted from that thread in my humble O.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


My point? Oh man, I must have forgotten to write: "But that kind of added commentary is irrelevant to the question, and kinda obnoxiously sanctimonious."

Oh, you wrote that for sure, but your example answer was so out of left field that it was effectively irrelevant to this discussion. Yes, it would have been an off-topic answer. It doesn't say anything about whether the answers actually being discussed were off-topic.

As far as I can tell, people only object to answers that are slightly outside of the narrow confines of a question when those answers are politically unacceptable to them. If the question, on the other hand, is politically unacceptable, then a pile-on of non-answers is totally acceptable.
posted by Dasein at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


@Scottie_Bob: sure, I get where you are going with this. In that case, I think the situation could be more accurately described as, there is this group, and one person asks, what is a good burger place around here? Most people talk about burger places but some say something along the lines of:

If you wanted something healthier, I would recommend... I personally find meat gross, what about...

Do these answers have an element of judgement in them? Clearly, they do. But are they unsolicited, and moreover, do these people deserve the nuclear option of being removed from the group?
posted by rada at 2:04 PM on September 26, 2013


Yeah, I really don't see how your reading is helpful at all, rada.

First, because the question doesn't contain this qualifier, "My girlfriend told me she wants a cheeseburger."

And your answer suggesting a sandwich didn't include the part about, "Burgers are weird, archaic practices of the patriarchy and a modern, independent woman does not need anyone's burger! You should really convince her to eat a sandwich instead."

Which reminds me, I am surprised we didn't have users suggesting the girlfriend just marry herself, since proposals, husbands and rings are also born of the patriarchy. Oh, but wait, so is marriage!

Funny how no one said, don't ask her to marry you, make her propose instead. Or don't give her a ring, she should give you one. Or don't get married at all. How is it everyone seems to realize there is some line there that should not be crossed, but are fine with attacking the idea of getting the father's blessing?

No one is saying that the OP or his fiancee are sexist; it's the logic and assumptions underlying the ritual that people are questioning. It doesn't matter that it's a woman who's the one comfortable with those assumptions.

Dasein, I feel like you must be very young and passionate about your activism. But your empathy has not yet caught up to your passion. When your particular brand of anti-sexism becomes more about let Me Tell You How the Patriarchy Oppresses Women and less about, oh, I don't know, what actual women are telling you they want for themselves , you are doing it wrong.
posted by misha at 2:13 PM on September 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Oh, you wrote that for sure, but your example answer was so out of left field that it was effectively irrelevant to this discussion. Yes, it would have been an off-topic answer. It doesn't say anything about whether the answers actually being discussed were off-topic."

Well, since both the answers about marriage being patriarchal and about asking the father are irrelevant for the asker, yeah, it did. Put your inference hat on.

As far as I can tell, people only object to answers that are slightly outside of the narrow confines of a question when those answers are politically unacceptable to them. If the question, on the other hand, is politically unacceptable, then a pile-on of non-answers is totally acceptable."

I think asking the father for the daughter's hand in marriage is weird and patriarchal. So, you're wrong there. Maybe you'd do better to question your assumptions than those of the asker.
posted by klangklangston at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Option One: free sandwiches around the corner... hmm, I like free stuff and I am hungry, but I still want a burger so I'll keep looking. Nice girl though, she was trying to be helpful.

...

When I was young and stupid, I used to choose option 2 a lot. Now, I choose option 1. My life is. So. Much. Better.
"
The unstated assumption here is that being told that this nice thoughtful ritual you want to do that has meaning, which is likely pretty idiosyncratic to you, is awful and can only mean what this stranger with very strong and very meaningless ideas about how you relate to something important to you, is like getting a free sandwich. Perhaps a better analogy would be free advice about how the breed of dog, or the type of car, or movie, or pokemon card you want to get is wrong on some existential level after asking for technical specifications. This kind of 'advice,' where it is really all about lecturing people about how they should value the same identity forming yet ultimately maybe not so meaningful things that you do, rather than sharing useful information is not at all like getting a free sandwich.

Have you ever considered accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


a pile-on of non-answers is totally acceptable.

I'm trying to figure out which answers are the non-answers at this point. I can tell which ones the unpopular ones are, but I don't see any that are not in good faith trying to answer the OPs question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on September 26, 2013


Maybe it would be helpful if people realized that all sorts of people use askmefi, not just folks with finely tuned feminist sensibilities (/not snarkist, just statement of fact-ist.)

Some of us, while also being feminist, or partially feminist, also enjoy certain rituals or social rites that to others of us might indeed seem sexist or patriarchal. Can we not accede that as long as said ritual is not actively harmful or insulting to someone, that the people concerned might be the best judge of the appropriateness?

In other words, if someone, for example, wants her father to walk her down the aisle, it doesn't mean she needs to turn in her feminist card. It merely means her father raised her, she loves him and she likes the tradition, not seeing it as any more than simply a nice tradition, period.

I myself don't think it's necessarily a problem to bring up a point of disagreement with the OP of a question as long as it's a side note and as long as they then go on to at least attempt to answer the specific question. But then, as usual, these things can't always be as cut and dry as any one of us would like, hence, the need for mods.

(and can I say I derive quite a bit of pleasure and amusement out of the dryly humorous comments Jessamyn makes on these types of threads? At least I HOPE they were meant as dryly humorous. She consistently cracks me up. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:41 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


@Blasdelb - you are liking the original post to asking for technical specifications? Err, have you seen it?
posted by rada at 2:44 PM on September 26, 2013


"@Blasdelb - you are liking the original post to asking for technical specifications? Err, have you read the question?"

You may not value the exceedingly technical and geeky art of doing etiquette well, things associated with femininity tend to be devalued, but yes this is at its heart a very technical and pretty tricky question best answered with people well versed in the art in question.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:49 PM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Simple rule of thumb. If your Ask answer is about your feelings and not the question being asked, its not a good answer.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:52 PM on September 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Simple rule of thumb

Pretty tone-deaf to talk about "rule of thumb" while we're trying to fight the patriarchy.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:03 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"What's your point? The OP didn't ask about whether he should get married. He asked about whether he should talk only to the father, or to the father and mother. It's entirely reasonable to point out that both options are sort of patriarchal, but one is more patriarchal than the other."

If our intrepid OP were going to value their fiance to be's father's opinion on whether they should get married over hers, or if they were planning on negotiating the nature of their married life with her father, or if they were intending to just kidnap her should her father not agree to their bride price, or if they were asking to avoid potential clan reprisals then that would be maybe patriarchal and probably not ok in ways that would require better advice. Instead, it sounds like they are planning on respecting their fiance's stated wishes (bonus points for over those of internet strangers), consulting the opinions of someone who knows their fiance to be well and cares for her well being as part of making big plans with her, being careful to honor the family they are intending to join, getting the advice of older people who care about them and have been there before, and well, that just all sounds like a good plan all around for any gender.

One very important thing that conservatives do very well, and that very easily gets lost as we carry with us fundamentally bad assumptions from the media as we remake society, is how genuinely inter-generational conservative communities typically are. As you first started dating did you have the advice of people who had gone through the same process before and then lived through a 30+ year marriage and cared about you or were you just thrust into a bar or a dorm room full of strangers - at best with peers who were as clueless as you? All of the teenagers and young adults at the very conservative church I attended for a couple of years did - and they avoided a hell of a lot of bullshit because of it. Maybe expecting young people to at least check in with their parents, unless there is some reason not to, is maybe not such a bad idea and something we shouldn't abandon because it looks vaguely like it would make you appear to not value the image of feminism as it has absolutely nothing to do with the substance.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:07 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sometimes, the answers posted are more for the answerers benefit, than the askers. What is good for you, isn't necessarily good for someone else. To use the burger/veggie restaurant analogy, if someone asked where they could get some food, then pretty much any place that sells food is helpful. Someone wanting a Big Mac might change their mind when they realise that there are other options, but they might have their heart set on a Big Mac. Directing them to somewhere that doesn't sell Big Macs isn't really that helpful, I think.

I've certainly read questions where I've asked myself "what in the feck is this person thinking, doing/wanting that??". But I don't have a sensible, reasonable answer, so I just move on. Or maybe hang around and see what other people have to say in the hopes that I might learn something. Generally it's that I don't have anywhere near as much of a clue as I think I do.
posted by Solomon at 3:11 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


misha, I appreciate you clarifying that I'm not entitled to express a different view than that apparently held by the OP's girlfriend. If I find a woman who shares my point of view, can I be entitled to share it again, or would that still doing it wrong?
posted by Dasein at 3:18 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty tone-deaf to talk about "rule of thumb" while we're trying to fight the patriarchy.
posted by Tanizaki



I'm assuming you are referring tot he misconception of how thick a stick to beat a wife? No real evidence to suggest that is actually true.

posted by edgeways at 3:18 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


My father wrote to my maternal grandfather to ask for my mother's hand in marriage, in 1969, a real handwritten letter. My mother still has the letter. It is the most hilarious, tongue-in-cheek masterpiece you've ever seen. My mother's parents were both academics and my father was working on his doctorate, and the whole thing is filled with paeans to the glamorous and highly respected life my mother would have as the wife of a graduate student, and how he expected that ten to twenty years after the attainment of his Ph.D, his income would have risen sufficiently to allow him to keep her in the manner to which she had become accustomed. After his signature, in which he included his Bachelor's of Science degree and the date he expected his Ph.D, he added a PS which read "I hope you find my terms suitably acceptable. Please write back with haste so we may begin discussions on the manner of the dowry."

My parents have been married for 43 years now, so I guess this approach has some merit.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2013 [29 favorites]


I'm assuming you are referring tot he misconception of how thick a stick to beat a wife? No real evidence to suggest that is actually true.

"Can't do much damage with that then, can we? Perhaps it should have been a rule of wrist?"
posted by Tanizaki at 3:34 PM on September 26, 2013


Maybe stop this sideline of lulz? thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:37 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"misha, I appreciate you clarifying that I'm not entitled to express a different view than that apparently held by the OP's girlfriend. If I find a woman who shares my point of view, can I be entitled to share it again, or would that still doing it wrong?"

I don't think anyone is suggesting that you shouldn't feel this way, you go ahead and rock your thing whatever that is, but maybe the fact that you feel your male opinion about how the OP should interact with their fiance's parents should be more important to the OP than their fiance's opinion is a bit patriarchal and not the most clear expression of feminist goals.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:45 PM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Basic rules for using the mefis:

1. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE.

2. SRSLY. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE.

3. Sometimes people do not think in the same way as you or agree with you. IT WILL BE OKAY.

4. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE.

5. Seriously, it's so easy to NOT BE AN ASSHOLE.

6. Everybody go hug and/or pet an adorable kitty or doggy. SO WOW.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:48 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Blasdelb, that's complete crap. No one in that thread - including me - tells the OP that our opinion is more important that his fiancee's. Several people offered their opinion for the OP's consideration, because the OP asked, "Should I just stick with speaking to her father?" If offering an opinion on AskMe is inherently presumptive then we should just ban human relations questions.

Describing my opinion as a "male opinion" is probably the most sexist thing so far in this thread. Thanks very much for that, but I'm pretty sure the validity of my opinion on this topic is independent of my genitalia.
posted by Dasein at 4:03 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The patriarchy can sometimes come in surprising forms.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:11 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they're okay with the cultural practice, how does that make your cultural attitude relevant to the discussion?

If our "attitudes" about how best to do this are irrelevant, why ask us how to go about doing it?
posted by John Cohen at 4:13 PM on September 26, 2013


That thread had very few problematic comments and a lot of helpful ones. I didn't answer because I was busy and had nothing constructive to add.

Why is this a MetaTalk thread? Oh, because the OP of this thread has an axe to grind and wants a place for people to talk shit about feminists and the overly PC crowd, perhaps. Bonus disingenuous use of shaming for the win!

Seriously, I just read that thread and there were maybe four comments that criticized the OP's plan to ask his fiancee's father. But hey, isn't it great that we have a place where we can sarcastically talk about fighting the patriarchy?

PS: KathrynT, that story is amazing.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:14 PM on September 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why is this a MetaTalk thread? Oh, because the OP of this thread has an axe to grind and wants a place for people to talk shit about feminists and the overly PC crowd, perhaps

Look, either definitively use your mind reading powers or go home. None of this "perhaps" nonsense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 PM on September 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: irrelevant to the question, and kinda obnoxiously sanctimonious.

was my first response, but then I saw Misha's wonderful line:

But your empathy has not yet caught up to your passion

That is just a beautiful and gentle way of putting the disconnect many people are feeling in sexism-grar threads.

Sit.

Be calm.

Wait for your empathy to catch up to your passion.

Because all this stuff, all of it, is about trying to increase the sum total of empathy in the world. And in that we are all on the same side.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:19 PM on September 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The patriarchy can sometimes come in surprising forms.

Actually, I think the idea that the woman's father alone must give permission for a marriage is a very unsurprising form of patriarchy, in the most literal sense of the word. People are entitled to their opinion about it, and I'm not saying the commenters should be able to derail the question into a gender studies seminar. But I don't see any getting around the fact that it's an instance of patriarchy.

Dasein, I feel like you must be very young and passionate about your activism. But your empathy has not yet caught up to your passion. When your particular brand of anti-sexism becomes more about let Me Tell You How the Patriarchy Oppresses Women and less about, oh, I don't know, what actual women are telling you they want for themselves , you are doing it wrong.

Really, you don't think a lot of patriarchy has historically been encouraged by women as well as men?
posted by John Cohen at 4:20 PM on September 26, 2013 [8 favorites]

"Describing my opinion as a "male opinion" is probably the most sexist thing so far in this thread. Thanks very much for that, but I'm pretty sure the validity of my opinion on this topic is independent of my genitalia."
Out of curiosity if nothing else because I am now confused about what exactly you're saying here,
"It's entirely reasonable to point out that both options are sort of patriarchal, but one is more patriarchal than the other."
Could you clarify as to how the genitalia of our intrepid asker's betrothed's father are relevant to your opinion on whether their plans are patriarchal, and presumably not in a sexist way, while your own are not?
posted by Blasdelb at 4:25 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand about the "Well actually..." crowd is what it looks like if he decides to agree with them.

Propose and give her a big speech about how he decided to ignore her request because he knows more about sexism than she does?

That seems unlikely to go well.
posted by politikitty at 4:31 PM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


I like that the only tag on this MeTa is shaming. Does what it says on the tin.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:38 PM on September 26, 2013


(Maybe they should add that to the Category dropdown.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:40 PM on September 26, 2013


"misha, I appreciate you clarifying that I'm not entitled to express a different view than that apparently held by the OP's girlfriend. If I find a woman who shares my point of view, can I be entitled to share it again, or would that still doing it wrong?"

At the least, going off to find a woman who shares your view would keep you from disingenuously misrepresenting what people said in order to turn yourself into a martyr of sexism, so yeah, go do that for a while.
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Describing my opinion as a "male opinion" is probably the most sexist thing so far in this thread. Thanks very much for that, but I'm pretty sure the validity of my opinion on this topic is independent of my genitalia.

If you think "male" is a matter of genitalia, I think that says more about you than the person to whom you are responding.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:01 PM on September 26, 2013


I think mail is a matter of postage.
posted by klangklangston at 5:05 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


So that's why no one ever replies. *Sad violins*
posted by corb at 5:27 PM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Y'all keep this up, and I am gonna have to send Ralph to the store to get more popcorn.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:04 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who's seen Fiddler on the Roof too many times to count, I think it's important to remember that there's a distinction between asking for permission and asking for a blessing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:14 PM on September 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


So should we all be waiting for the followup question from his girlfriend about how she should go about asking both his parents or just his mother or just his father for their blessing on their marriage? No, probably not.

But if this is just about a blessing and not about reinforcing the patriarchy, why is asking for a blessing from the bride's father or bride's parents so much more important than asking for a blessing from the groom's parents?
posted by marsha56 at 6:23 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can take my "Well, actually..." when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I like being an obnoxious know-it-all.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:34 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you can't be an obnoxious know-it-all on Metafilter, where CAN you? Seriously, I need to know. I just started grad school and although everyone in my cohort is very nice and smart, I have not yet spotted any fellow insufferable know-it-alls, and it makes me a little sad. At least I have Metafilter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:40 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I posted Traditionally, asking the father for his blessing = permission, and is a throwback to when women were chattel. and proceeded to answer the question. I saw the OP's response, and if there was an email address, I'd have corresponded. Considered commenting further in the thread, but thought it would be derail-y. I certainly didn't intend to shame anybody. It should be okay to give advice in addition to narrowly answering the question posed if it's related. OP, feel free to memail me, and mazel tov.
posted by theora55 at 6:58 PM on September 26, 2013


This is where you stop and realize that, with AskMe, you are essentially asking a bunch of random strangers for advice. Some of them may not be people you'd like or hang out with. Some of them may not be people you would go to for relationship advice. Best you can do is ignore the people who clearly don't understand your situation, and open your mind to the people who do understand your situation and maybe see things a bit differently.

I've gotten some amazing, relationship-saving advice from AskMe, but only because I've been able to look past the angry, opinionated people who prefer their own orthodoxy to actually trying to understand someone else's problems. Some people don't even want to help you -- they just like the sound of their own voices. Don't let them ruin AskMe for you; it can be an excellent source of advice.
posted by evil otto at 8:55 PM on September 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


But if this is just about a blessing and not about reinforcing the patriarchy, why is asking for a blessing from the bride's father or bride's parents so much more important than asking for a blessing from the groom's parents?

Because the groom didn't indicate any wish for the bride to ask the groom's parents?

I mean, there is a literal question here with actual specifics.
posted by Think_Long at 8:56 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suppose I was one of the "Well, actually..." responders (NB, I used the word "actually", but nary a "well" was in sight).

My sense at the time (b/c we hadn't yet had clarification from the question-asker) was that he was dithering about asking "just the father" versus "both mom and dad". I offered a reason for asking both mom and dad and acknowledged that, despite the archaic tradition, if this behaviour were to give his girlfriend the "warm fuzzies", then do whatever she wanted.

So it was a direct response to the original question. If the OP didn't care what we thought about asking the dad versus asking the mom-and-dad, he shouldn't have asked us for our opinions on the matter: "2) Should I just stick with speaking to her father? " [italics added]

[Don't get me started on the whole thing of equating feminism simply with "freedom of choice".]
posted by Halo in reverse at 2:31 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Eh, I just posted a link to an old AskMe answer I gave, which I sincerely hope helps the man, as he's in a place where love confronts honor and obligation, and all you haters and political people can just ... Well, you know what you can do.

The guy needs some help, and the girl needs a well formed question, if not to her, at least to her father.
posted by paulsc at 2:36 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know that she would like me to speak to her father beforehand to get his blessing, but I've decided that I'd like to get both of her parents' blessing...Should I just stick with speaking to her father?

I really don't like the idea of someone asking my father's permission - although they'd need an Ouija board to do it now - but this is clearly something the OP's partner wanted. There are lots of reasons why I don't like it but not everyone feels the same way, just like not everybody would like a themed wedding or a rainbow cake.
posted by mippy at 3:30 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of monster wouldn't want a rainbow cake?

It's cake. The cake is real. What's not to love?
posted by misha at 7:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What jumped out at me was this:

can't figure out a way to broach this subject with her without giving the game away.

That, to me, seemed to indicate that he actually wasn't 100% sure whether she wanted him to talk with both parents, which seemed to inject some doubt into his assumption that he should talk to Dad, and only Dad. That was why I suggested talking with her about the proposal rather than asking the parents' permission/blessing first. Not because I think I know better than him, or that I think feminism knows better than him, but because, based on his own words, it seems that he doesn't actually know what his girlfriend wants. And at that point, the best way to find out is to ask her.
posted by decathecting at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2013


There's no ethical issue with people preforming sexist rituals with everyone's consent, as long as they do it privately. Once they start talking about it or displaying it in public, it serves to reinforce sexist norms and the "it's my choice" argument fails.

FWIW I came to this conclusion as the regular and enthusiastic participant in highly sexist rituals.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:03 AM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


You can take my "Well, actually..." when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Well, actually, rigor mortis is a transient condition which sets in only after a period of hours after death and which recedes again within a couple of days, so unless your notional thief happened upon your corpse during a fairly specific window of time that was nonetheless not immediately after your death (as an implied lethal conflict over ownership would most likely have it), there would be very little prying involved.

I'M HELPING
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2013 [22 favorites]


What the young rope-rider said. The behavior his partner prefers affects more than just herself and specifically relies upon his participation. It is, in fact almost entirely a preference for a particular behavior of his and as such, his value judgment is paramount, not hers. And he did, in fact, implicitly reveal his discomfort with asking only her father when he said he prefers to ask both. He raised the issue, answerers are responding.

Her preference is not determinative when it involves more people than herself.

The implicit principle in the argument people are making, when they point out her preference, would mean that when someone comes to you and asks that you physically hurt them because they are a bad person and deserve it, and you don't think they do and that someone malicious has simply convinced them of that falsehood, you should nevertheless do so because that's their preference and their moral judgment. That's clearly an absurd conclusion because you would still be the person who made the decision to do something you weren't forced to do and which you believe is wrong.

Now, this is obviously a relatively low-stakes thing with regard to any harm involved with his participating in a patriarchal ritual while, in contrast, her preference exists as one thing that's just one among a connected set of things which is a cooperative and a community endeavor that almost certainly is very important to her, so that side is high-stakes. But we don't actually know how important it specifically is to her or to him. So we certainly can't judge how to weigh the two.

But we can offer our opinion, it's appropriate, he implicitly asked about the "ask only the father" possibility. That concern of his didn't arise from a vacuum. There's a reason he clearly strongly prefers asking both even though (and while) his partner is most focused on her father.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"There's no ethical issue with people preforming sexist rituals with everyone's consent, as long as they do it privately. Once they start talking about it or displaying it in public, it serves to reinforce sexist norms and the "it's my choice" argument fails."

I'm not sure that replacing happy consensual bonding rituals that have vague and uneasy but entirely dead connections to sexist assumptions, even public ones, with a new communal ritual of publicly shaming women for their preferences in these rituals will result in a net decrease in sexism.

Besides, are we really going to validate here that its acceptable to demand that people with a culture different than the one that is normative here only exercise that that culture privately?
posted by Blasdelb at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


This sounds very much like when my FIL said he had no problem with homosexuals as long as they didn't get all political about it. Seriously, WHAT?!

People should not have to keep quiet so you don't have to be exposed to a lifestyle you disagree with.

Besides, I DO feel like feminism is about freedom of choice and opportunity for women. To me, it is only sexist for her to want her boyfriend to get Dad's blessing if she insists every woman has to, too.
posted by misha at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Besides, I DO feel like feminism is about freedom of choice and opportunity for women."

Yes, it is about that. It's fundamental that she make her own choices, even if they're bad choices.

That's not the same thing as her choosing that other people behave as she prefers. The choice in question here isn't hers, it's his. This is an action he will take, it not only involves him, it chiefly involves him to the exclusion of her. Her preference about this means very little with regard to his choice.

Let go of this idea that because it's okay with her, then it should be okay with him.

It's that it's okay with her, that it should be okay for her. He has little standing and we have virtually no standing to criticize her choice about how her engagement is handled. But when it involves someone else, and that someone else has ethical concerns about the choices and behavior that she's expecting of him, and he asks strangers on the web about this and several other questions, then we have standing to question the rightness of what she's asking him to do, and the fact that she personally doesn't feel oppressed by it is only one thing among many that he should, and probably will, factor into his decision.

Finally, this particular piece of betrothal ritual isn't really public and communal much at all, only involving her partner and her father (and possibly her mother), but other such rituals are very much both public and communal and participation in them is a public affirmation of their rightness, which is very much a concern when they're wrong. Things like the legal name change are extremely public, codified into civil society, they are very public enactments of a particular value system.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Her preference is not determinative when it involves more people than herself."

Well sure, but each of the other people who are actually involved, namely her parents and our intrepid asker, don't seem to share your objections. Neither you nor anyone else in this thread, certainly, are one of the people other than herself who this in any way involves.

"But when it involves someone else, and that someone else has ethical concerns about the choices and behavior that she's expecting of him, and he asks strangers on the web about this and several other questions, then we have standing to question the rightness of what she's asking him to do, and the fact that she personally doesn't feel oppressed by it is only one thing among many that he should, and probably will, factor into his decision."

Our intrepid asker mentioned precisely zero 'ethical' concerns about participating in this ritual and if anything read as pretty excited about it to me. The concerns being asked about are purely technical.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:57 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I wrote in my first comment, he reads to me as having a concern in that he strongly prefers to ask both parents, while she is focused on the father.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2013


"In any event, I know that she would like me to speak to her father beforehand to get his blessing, but I've decided that I'd like to get both of her parents' blessing as she's very close to them both (can't figure out a way to broach this subject with her without giving the game away. If any suggestions are forthcoming, please fire away)." ... "Should I just stick with speaking to her father? This would make things a bit easier since we'll have some time by ourselves during the weekend while my girlfriend takes her mother off to a spa-day. Some ideas on how to broach this with my girlfriend would be great, without being too obvious."

...Is not a request for a lecture on your values or what you consider ethical with regards to how best to ignore her stated wishes for her benefit, but instead a statement of their values along with his rough ideas about what he wants this co-created moment to look like with a request for our ideas about how best to make their vision happen.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


misha, you obviously don't understand my argument and are objecting to it because of superficial similarities to homophobic arguments. Not very insightful, I'm afraid.

blasdelb, I like your strawman, but I never suggested public shaming. Your assertion that the custom is not sexist is not convincing at all. I don't think that "people who like sexist rituals" is an actual culture, but even if it were, it would not change my views.

Anyway, I'm off to completely avoid advising my child about anything in the hope that he'll fail at dating someday. (Now you have a strawman!)
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2013


With regard to answerers' responses to him, they have exactly as much "right" and community-leeway to question the ethics of the questioner's contemplated action in that AskMe post as in any other. Her preference really doesn't matter from this end of things, it's about the rightness of what he does. That she thinks it's right doesn't make it so and it's not simply about whether she would or wouldn't personally be harmed.

Some of the answerers thought that his eagerness to meet with both parents and not just with her father indicated some sort of qualms he might have about the patriarchal flavor of asking only the father. I can see why they thought that — it's a little harder to understand why he'd want to meet with the mother, too, simply "because she's very close to them both", yet that's clearly not something she, herself, has suggested. I think it's reasonable to read that as a hidden motive of his to alter the character to something more egalitarian and whole-family in contrast to seeking the patrician's approval.

In any case, I didn't participate in that thread. But I think some of the answerers are being unfairly criticized here, both because the presumption that his partner's opinion/preference is determinative is fallacious, and because it absolutely is not the case that MeFi has an AskMe policy of not challenging the assumptions behind a question, and especially not when such a challenge is motivated by an ethical concern. It just happens to be the case that this particular thread has prevailing opinion not being favorable to such a challenge, so it's suddenly a beyond-the-pale violation of community standards. When the questioner is asking what country he can move to in order to meet and marry women who share his conservative values, the prevailing opinion is (rightly) horrified at his assumptions and they raise ethical concerns.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be more clear, I don't care about the askme responses as much as I care about the bankrupt and pernicious "feminism is about choice" bullshit being slung here. Nothing you do where other people have to experience it is completely your choice with no other considerations, including whether it reinforces sexist attitudes.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


...I think it's reasonable to read that as a hidden motive of his

For Pete's sake. This is from the OP himself down in the comment sections.

NB. I did think about adding a 'no comments on the morality of having this discussion with her parents/father please' but I thought it was overkill. I kind of wish I had now... In any event, I've spoken with my girlfriend about this and I know it's what she wants, I know she's not chattel, I know she's an autonomous, independent adult who is more than capable of making her own decisions, and I know it would make me, her and her parents happy. If she didn't want me to, I wouldn't. But she does. Just my two pence on that particular topic.

posted by 7life at 2:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apologies, I'm not going to read this entire thread.

1) I don't think it's necessarily out of bounds for an answerer to mention some worries about the origins of the parental blessing thing.
2) However, I think people should be exceedingly cautious about such mentions.
3) And once it's been mentioned once or twice, I'd support deletions or mod notes discouraging further mentions, so the thread can concentrate on actually answering the questions as asked.

K, bye.
posted by kavasa at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tell me if i'm out of bounds or over-reaching here, but in reading a bunch of this meta(and especially the linked thread, and the first say 20 posts of this thread and how they evolved) i'm noticing a pattern. First of all, is it at all possible for us to go more than a day or two without having a MeTa related to sexism? I don't blame the OP at all in perpetuating this, i think this lies solely on the plates of the commenters.

It's a formula like...

OP posts thread going "is this specific thing sexist and bad/specifically bad in this one way/doing this thing that we don't like?">The first few replies answer that directly, but turn in to a conversion to "is this a symptom of a greater problem with MeFi/MeFites?">From then on it just becomes a "sexism, discuss!" thread with occasional attempts to pull it back on track.

I saw, and see quite a bit of general discussion about whether or not this specific thing is sexist, or how mefi handles sexism in general in here. This specific post seems like as i've said before, an toll booth ez-pass to have a bit of a proxy war about a general discussion people seem to want to have on here in perpetuity. There's definitely some axe-grinding in here.

It's a pretty similar thing to Jessamyns "well actually", in that it's more of a "Yes but" with a side order of "While we're on the subject/we can't talk about that without having a greater meta discussion above the meta discussion".

It mostly just bugs me because it's starting to feel like MeTa is a switching yard for freight trains, and everyone wants to just hitch their car on the back of any remotely related train that seems like it could even remotely be construed to go anywhere near where they want to go. Which often involves running the same cars up and down the same section of track 1000 times.

As i said, stop me if this is something that only exists in my head. I'll shut the fuck up, i promise.

And as i said, i place no blame with the OP here. This was a legitimate callout. It's a lot of other people going "SQUIRREL!" and bum rushing this thread.
posted by emptythought at 3:17 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think that's true, but it's probably not a new phenomenon. MeTa is always where we've talked about these issues that are related to the site's culture as a whole, and not tied to a specific post or question. There's always a flashpoint - usually someone being an asshole - and then the conversation goes from there. It's a messy process, but I'm not sure it's a bad thing. This is kind of the furnace where the culture and zeitgeist are shaped and more explicitly defined which then bleeds to the rest of site.

Our approach to sexism and religion wouldn't be the same if we didn't have a billion metaposts of people making legitimate and illegitimate callouts because that's what's on their mind. If we had a more precise tagging system, I bet we would see a lot of general trends in posts on the blue as well - anti-sexism, trans issues, space marines*, and other topics tend to clump together as they're on people's minds when they think about making a post.

*okay, not enough posts about space marines.
posted by Think_Long at 5:07 PM on September 27, 2013


As long as they answer the question, I personally don't see anything wrong with a commenter also mentioning other options, as long as they make sure to keep it polite and brief, and not overshadow the aforementioned answer. But it's not my site, so not my call. At least that's what they taught us back in the space marines.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:01 PM on September 27, 2013


Apologies, I'm not going to read this entire thread.

Okay, well, then, I'm not going to read your comment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, well, then, I'm not going to read your comment.

Then I won't even respond to you!
posted by Nomyte at 8:21 PM on September 27, 2013


graRR!
posted by Tarumba at 10:09 PM on September 27, 2013


pernicious "feminism is about choice" bullshit being slung here.

I am gobsmacked by your animosity. Maybe you could choose to chill out a little?
posted by misha at 11:08 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This specific post seems like as i've said before, an toll booth ez-pass to have a bit of a proxy war about a general discussion people seem to want to have on here in perpetuity.

Yeah, I think this has been happening a lot. Initially I thought mod input was necessary, I was convinced by previous MeTa it was not, but maybe we could try to knock that shit off? I know it's hard, I will have to try too, but this just seems shitty.
posted by corb at 3:24 AM on September 28, 2013


EC, my comment in this thread was posted specifically for the purpose of registering "here's my opinion as to how metafilter moderation could handle this situation." It's not really a diss on the rest of the commenters here if I'm choosing to pretty nearly engage with the explicit purpose of the gray.
posted by kavasa at 6:31 AM on September 28, 2013


It is vitally important that the OP asks the father for his blessing. Otherwise you won't initiate the "Shaggy Amulet" side-quest.

Start Quest: Leave Hometowny-Town and visit Father. Objective: Receive Blessing.

Stage 1: Father admits he can't give blessing because the Family Heirloom Amulet ("FHA") has been stolen by goblins. Objective: Retrieve FHA from goblin tribe.

Stage 2: FHA was swallowed whole by giant rat during foie gras style rat forced feeding preparation for Goblin Feast. But the rate escaped its fate. Objective: Track the Rat.

Stage 3: The overstuffed Rat escaped the Goblins but waddled into the hands of a Nomadic Ogre Tribe. Objective: Find the Ogres.

Stage 4: The Ogres found the FHA while preparing the giant rat for grilling. The Ogres traded the FHA to a red hat wearing merchant in Skeevy Town. Objective: Find the Merchant.

Stage 5: The Merchant won't tell you what happened to the FHA. Objective: Sneak into the Merchant's House and steal the Merchant's Notes.

Stage 6: The Merchant's notes say the FHA was sold in Lastervale, but don't say to who. Objective: Travel to Lastervale and talk to citizens.

Stage 7: Family in Lastervale bought FHA for daughter as a pretty necklace. She lost the FHA when a Fang River Pike jumped out the river and bite it off her neck while she was fishing. Objective: Catch 10 Fang River Pikes and hunt for clues.

Stage 8: You didn't find any clues in the Fang River Pikes, but in selling them to the Fish Merchant she mentions selling a "particularly fat" Fang River Pike to a passing Dwarven Juggling Act. Objective: Find the Dwarves!

Stage 9: The Dwarven Juggling Act was waylaid by Bandits near Slipshod Cave. Objective: Kill the Bandit Leader of Slipshod Cave.

Stage 10: A note on the Dead Bandit Leader mentions selling stolen goods to a Fence in Lastervale. Objective: Return to Lastervale and find the Fence.

Stage 11: The fence won't tell you what happened to the FHA. Objective: Sneak into the Fence's House and steal the Fence's Notes.

Stage 12: The Fence sold FHA to a visitor from Hometowny-Town. Objective: Return to Hometowny-Town and talk to citizens.

Stage 13: Your betrothed bought the FHA five weeks ago recognizing it as belonging to your family. Mentioned it to you, but you were busy cleaning Albino Alligator Guts off your Axe between stages of the Main Quest to pay attention. Has been in closet all along. Objective: Communicate Better.

QUEST COMPLETED: THE SHAGGY AMULET.

Come on guys, these side quests aren't going to write themselves.
posted by bswinburn at 7:01 AM on September 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't know if this would make any difference to the people who want to actively discourage the poster from perpetuating a sexist tradition, but here is a detail from my own experience. I personally don't really care about securing a parental blessing before engagement and wouldn't expect it for my own child. But I nevertheless was happy that my husband asked my parents for their blessing before proposing to me because I knew it would made my PARENTS happy because that was the culture they grew up in. It is possible that the girlfriend feels the same with regard to asking just the father rather than both parents -- she doesn't sign onto this practice personally but knows it will make her father happy. In this way the patriarchy is being dissassembled because she won't impose this obligation on her own children, but her father gets to feel good about the marriage under his own by now deeply ingrained cultural traditions.

I agree with Ivan above, though, that it is fairly common in AskMe threads to challenge some of the poster's underlying assumptions, particularly if there is an ethics issue and the poster doesn't specifically ask us to leave ethics out of it. Like Ivan, I think the main difference here is whether the majority of us agree with the practice being challenged. I don't really see these challenges as a big problem, though in general I support everyone on the site being nicer to one another and remembering that there are actual people behind the computer screens.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:35 AM on September 28, 2013


Dear AskMe: Can anyone recommend an affordable, low maintenance, attractively macho looking, semi-automatic rifle for target practice, hunting, and possible occasional self-defense/zombie annihilation? Lightweight preferred as I live in an open-carry state and plan to take it everywhere I go.
posted by spitbull at 10:57 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ralph recommends an SKS.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:28 PM on September 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


"St. Ralph of the Bunnies" takes on an interesting twist when an SKS is involved.
posted by boo_radley at 10:21 AM on September 29, 2013


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