Please be Quiet

Last week I went to dinner with sister-in-law, SIL1, KL, a lady I’ve known for several years and KL’s current man-friend.

I was “hangry” beyond sanity, so a little extra sensitive, snappy and sarcastic. I have to try to avoid being snide all too frequently, if I’m “hangry“, the filter goes out the window. So KL touches on a topic that I would think she knows is off-limits for me. Keep in mind if a slow-moving animal crossed my path I might have tried to take a bite out it.

“No-no topic.” says KL.“Can we not talked about this in mixed company please!?!?!” I aggressively snapped.

“Umm..ok…” snickering commences. And continues.

“I’m sorry are you done or should I leave?” Trust me, this wasn’t said with any less volume or force than the last sentence out of my mouth.

Tad more snickering.

Ok, I could have been kinder, even if I warned them I was hungry and cranky, I could perhaps not have been so snappy. But honestly I couldn’t figure out why I was being laughed at.

Later that week I thought I should really say something. I popped over to her place on my way out and said that I was sorry I was so snappy at dinner, but honestly, I have certain topics that I prefer not to talk about in mixed company and she snickered a bit and then asked why.

Fair enough.

While I couldn’t give her a concrete answer as to why sex, matters of gender-specific hygiene and health issues are all off-limits I had a couple that I thought should suffice.

  1. I don’t want to talk about sexual things in mixed company because causing those kinds of thoughts in other men – Not Appropriate!!
  2. When it’s a single gender group, I don’t care. Have at ‘er!
  3. Men should show some respect. I don’t need to hear that BS. They can talk about all the conquests they’ve made when I’m not around. It’s not something I need to hear.
  4. Specifics about sexual escapades shouldn’t be shared across genders. (I don’t even really want to hear about them, but that’s another conversation.) I don’t want my husband hearing about the specifics of some other woman’s sex life. Beyond Disrespectful!

She didn’t get it. The thing that really surprised me was how she couldn’t see that making someone uncomfortable was disrespectful.

KL is an outgoing, friendly type woman. She is currently doing graduate work in a male-dominated field. In her undergrad, she was the only woman in her programme. She also tends to push my buttons and talk about topics I consider inappropriate. She admits that if I mention I’m uncomfortable she might think its funny and just push my buttons. I suppose that’s where the snickering comes in.

There isn’t a topic that is off-limits in terms of mixed-company for KL because she wants to treat “men and women equally.” I couldn’t understand how refusing to talk to a man about something like birth control isn’t treating them equally.

She asked if I would stop talking about something if someone asked me to. Yes. Even if I thought it was ridiculous? Duh, it’s the polite thing to do. No, I don’t think it’s irrational. I don’t think I’m being irrational. I think it’s common decency and respect.

What am I missing here?

Why I couldn’t make her understand is beyond me. Why she thought that I was being rude by asking her to stop, I can’t figure out.

Insights are most welcome.


2 responses to “Please be Quiet

  1. There are only three situations, in my opinion, wherein it is appropriate for a woman to speak with a man about sexual things (e.g., sex, birth control, menstruation): (1) you are talking with your partner; (2) you are discussing these things with your son (though that would do better coming from his father, sometimes a woman’s perspective is necessary); and (3) you have a very close male friend who is clueless about such things and has come to you, in private, to ask for advice/information.

    (I am leaving out teachers because that is a completely different situation, and I don’t think sex ed classes should be co-ed anyway.)

    And aside from that, even in all-female company, specifics are unnecessary unless one is looking for advice about a specific situation.

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