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How to deal with goady/"hurt" family

(37 Posts)
MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 06:16:37

I suppose I have indeed become more "radical" in my opinions/Facebook musings over the last year, but I seriously can't believe how many people HATE concepts such as enthusiastic consent, gender neutral parenting, non-victim-blaming campaigns, etc.

My SIL ended up having a real go at me over email last week, saying she can't understand where I am coming from, what on earth has happened to me, do I need help ... She believes wholeheartedly that men have it much harder than women, and that I am going to damage my children with my weird beliefs.

This is coming from a family where the daughter's (preschooler) appearance is lauded above all other achievements, the father regularly uses racial slurs, the son (toddler) is shut in a bedroom if he starts crying for any reason, and my SIL mildly watches as her husband dictates "traditional" family values.

I can't change their opinions, nor is it my responsibility to educate them, I don't feel. I love the children very much and just try to be a friendly face to them when we see them.

But I don't know how to react to the adults anymore. They are family, going no-contact isn't really an option we want, but our views are just so wholly imcompatible. They like to say things to provoke me, and then watch carefully my reaction. (My own mother does this too, actually.)

For example, BIL said the N word three times in a conversation at New Year, and then got very angry I pulled him up on it. Political correctness gone mad, he can say what he wants in his own house, etc. etc.

He then waxed lyrical about how uncessary it is to have female and male designations for jobs (we're in Germany), such as Kapitän (male captain) and Kapitänin (female captain). He knows one female captain and she doesn't want the female designation, so it should be abolished across the board.

They are coming tomorrow for DS's first birthday party. I know SIL wants to "have a word" with me to see if we can "save our friendship". Short of telling them to fuck off, what can I do? What do I say? I feel like it'll be a constant battle in my head to not pull them up on their sexist/racist shit all day, but I don't want to cause a scene on DS's birthday, good little socialised woman that I am.

Any wise words? Sorry this is so long.

YouBetterWerk Fri 13-Feb-15 07:01:26

Hi Milchund.

It's very difficult, isn't it? My experience is quite similar, and I'm sure many's are.
Particularly with the recent Page 3 stuff.
Basically I had stopped posting, commenting or even Liking anything on that page because I was fed up with a particular two friends of mine, who are a couple, taking it upon themselves to mock it at any given opportunity. They ever wrapped my birthday present in Page 3 because they are THAT hilarious. So I stopped. My eldest sister feels just as passionately about Page 3 as I do and was very dissapoonted that they had silenced me, but I had just had enough and almost felt embarrassed.
But when the news came out that it had been dropped, I put up a status just saying how proud I was and a collage of all the men and women wearing the t shirts. Cue the next day when it was back, one of the couple putting up the news from BBC that is was back with the status 'BOOBS!!!'. There is no one else on his Facebook list that posts about Page 3 so I can only assume it was a direct dig at me. What gets me the most is that they are a gay couple and I have mentioned the hypocrisy to them that I fight tooth and nail for Gay rights, actively sound it out wherever I see homophobia, and they will not only not do the same for me, but will actively mock me.
Also my sister, me and a few other friends ended up having a massive, drawn out debate on her status when she put the same thing up.
I only mention this so you will know that you are not alone.
Here's the funny thing though - your SIL and BIL clearly have very different views to you. But would you go out of your way to either comment on anything they posted that you disagreed with? Or have an email row about it? I'm guessing no. My sister follows Gentle Parenting site also and 1-3 times a year posts some lovely, thought provoking stuff from them. She will often get un-like minded friends commenting on it telling her she's wrong, and then they will post a 'I was hit and it never did me any harm' or some such bollocks. But she doesn't comment on those because that's their belief and frankly she nor you (sadly) are ever going to change that.
As regards to the 'PC gone mad' comments, well he sounds like an absolute tool. People use that comment because they can't get away with spouting shit anymore.
The only advice I can give re: your SIL is maybe telling her nicely that she an always unfollow you if she doesn't like what you post. I suspect, though I may be wrong, that with the Gentle Parenting stuff she may feel deep down a bit guilty and so is lashing out, certainly that's been my sisters feelings.
Alternatively, you can edit the privacy of your posts so certain people can't see it. Just click on the little cog for settings in the status bar after you've written it and select 'Friends Except' and select the names of the people you don't want to see it. Of course, you shouldn't have to, but maybe it will help keep the peace.

Sorry it's long, didn't want to read and run. flowers

YouBetterWerk Fri 13-Feb-15 07:05:58

With regards to the 'watching you for a reaction' I'm sorry but that is utterly childish. They sound bloody awful frankly.
If going no contact is not an option (and I do understand that) and if you can bear it,I would suggest just biting down hard on your tongue and not giving them the satisfaction, as you agree they sound unlikely to change.

BuffytheThunderLizard Fri 13-Feb-15 09:06:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cailindana Fri 13-Feb-15 09:51:16

Sorry what? They're coming to your son's birthday party to "have a word" about how you object to them being racist sexist idiots? And you're letting them?

Regardless of the feminism angle, they are bullies and you are letting them walk all over you. If it wasn't feminism they were targeting you for it would be something else.

People like this don't like feminists because they point out, in a reasonable, undeniable way that they are nasty fuckwits. You will not change their minds, because that would involve them taking a long hard look at themselves to see what toads they are.

So the choice is to continue to be bullied or reduce contact as much as possible.

GibberingFlapdoodle Fri 13-Feb-15 09:54:33

They're deliberately winding you up then, in search of a reaction. I have lived with that and it is not good.

I think it's time for you to back away. You could keep a distant eye on the kids in case they spiral down into emotional abuse (I've seen links that way in case you think I'm being over-dramatic). It looks like it 's going to be made illegal and they may need you anyway in their teens.

MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 09:58:46

Thanks for the replies. It does help to know I'm not alone, YouBetter. Buffy, I need to develop those eyes of yours. Maybe I should just learn to bite my tongue. But sexism is fucking EVERYWHERE and it just pisses me off that they all spout this shit in front of the DC.

I tried to say that political correctness was just another way of saying we shouldn't be rude and dismissive of other people, but I was laughed at.

I can't think of anyone racist that they would feel was an unfair comparison. I've never actually dared bring up Hitler in case that was below the belt; it's a sensitive issue here.

Their DD has been known to say things like, "We don't like them, do we, Mama," when walking past a woman wearing a veil. She also told my DD that she wouldn't be pretty if she didn't let me do her hair. (I never force DD to have her hair done if she doesn't want! It's her hair.)

The thing is, I thought SIL was just under the thumb of domineering BIL and secretly yearned for more freedom. So I have often talked to her about why I don't make a big deal about my/DD's appearance, or why we try not to pidgeonhole our kids on the basis of gender. But it would seem she has disagreed with me privately at every turn and is now letting out her "anger" at me daring to think like a "liberal fanatic".

It would interest me what you all think about different designations for the same jobs. Like actor and actress. Part of me feels that there shouldn't be different words at all, because surely if I pursue acting as a career, I am equal to a man pursuing the same career. But perhaps it's more about the assumption that I would be male if it weren't clear that I was female. I don't know really. I just know I thought his reasoning as to why there shouldn't be the different words in German was rooted purely in misogyny.

Dripfeed alert, sorry. The other big thing for me is that I told her about my rape during this email "discussion" we had. Mostly because I got worked up about her dismissing the case for consent in rape cases. I wish I hadn't now. But whatever, now she knows the basic details. And the thing is, she claims that this sheds light on why I think the way I do, and she also thinks I should talk to her about it all. I have no need to talk to her about it, and I don't see why it should explain away why I feel the way I do. I am simply one of thousands of women who have been raped. Even if I hadn't have been, why shouldn't I feel strongly about it?

Gah, I'm sorry this is so convoluted. Thanks for reading. I feel so mixed up about it all.

sixandtwothrees Fri 13-Feb-15 09:59:30

You can say to her 'it is not appropriate or reasonable to have this conversation here, today'. And then be polite and civil to her, but do NOT let your DS birthday be ruined by these twats.

This is deeper than just their views being different from yours, they just sound like really nasty people who expect you to bloody shut up and get in line and stop with this 'having your own opinion' stuff - let alone 'having your own opinion that involves feminism and anti-racism' I mean, wtf were you thinking???

Don't stop pulling him up on it, and don't stop saying what you think. You won't need to go no contact : keep telling them calmly and gently that saying those things is offensive, deploy the rebuttals these (much more eloquent than me) people will help you construct, and they'll stop wanting to hang around with you anyway grin problem solved!!!

MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 10:00:27

Oh, x-posts. Kids are clammering. I will come back and read properly at naptime. flowers

sixandtwothrees Fri 13-Feb-15 10:03:15

My god. If she knows that about you, and rather than use it as a basis for compassion and understanding, she would rather use it to 'blame' for your 'radical' views, then she's a fucking arsehole. You've given too much of yourself to this woman now. You've opened the door to her and she's spreading shit all over you, time to back right off. Clearly a very negative presence in yours and your dd's life. Do you have to spend a lot of time with them or can you gradually withdraw to a manageable, maintenance-based level?

BuffytheThunderLizard Fri 13-Feb-15 10:03:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cailindana Fri 13-Feb-15 10:12:56

Having read your second post I'm concerned that part of this goading, at least in the case of your SIL, is due to you coming across as a bit evangelical and know-it-all.

It's worth remembering that we are all constrained by misogyny and that no one wants their life choices pointed out to them as wrong. It could well be the case that your SIL does agree with you, deep down, but the anger is a manifestation of the fact that she can't face seeing her loved ones in that light, and that she can't face changing her whole outlook on life.

Having the scales fall from your eyes is a very painful process, especially if you strongly believe that the world is a good and equal place.

Whether or which, you are not required to socialise with them and it is not your place to make them better people. Pointing out other people's inadequacies is an extremely risky business. I'm not saying you shouldn't say anything but trying to explain to them why they're abhorrent is hardly going to go down well.

This relationship needs to be put to rest in some way - up to you how you do it.

Bear in mind though that while it's perfectly acceptable for you to stop socialising with people's whose views disgust you, scolding people or expecting them to change habits of a lifetime based on your say-so will never work out well.

MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 10:57:59

cailin, I honestly felt it was more a conversation between the two of us, rather than me telling her how she should parent. I was clearly wrong, as she didn't see it like that, and she said in the emails something along the lines of disliking people who are evangelical about their beliefs.

I read these boards every day, Buffy smile I'm just too shy to post usually (although I have done on occasion under a different username).

six, DH and I are godparents to their DC, and SIL is godmother to DS. Hence their coming tomorrow. We see quite a lot of them, as apart from idiological differences (which for the most part we have not discussed as a group), we all get on pretty well. Well, I thought we did, but apparently I have been pissing them off for some time now.

If we went no-contact with every member of our family who were racist, sexist pigs, we'd have basically no family left sad

Withdrawing contact to a manageable level seems about the only option. We survive on superficial niceties with FIL just fine, and I practise deep-breathing and chanting when DM comes to visit. I just thought things were different with these family members. Guess not.

sixandtwothrees Fri 13-Feb-15 11:39:12

So I guess, one thing at a time then. On the party - I realise that because of these historical relationships you can't go about uninviting them and so on. But you are certainly not obliged to engage with a difficult and uncomfortable discussion at your own child's birthday, given that the focus of the day is the fact that it is in fact his birthday and not the fact that she wants to 'save your friendship' (i.e. 'fix you and your stupid views that annoy her').

Sounds like each get together will be more gritting of teeth... Really sorry you are experiencing this though, it's awful when you realise people you thought were okay are actually dickwads.

Bear in mind all this stuff about coming across as evangelical - maybe you did, maybe you didn't. But I find a lot of people think someone is being forceful/evangelical just because they express a view at all, especially if it's one that they don't find easy to process. So don't navel gaze too much about this. I'm sure you are a very lovely person.

MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 11:57:19

Thanks, six.

I won't be having any conversation tomorrow about the emails or anything remotely controversial. I'm looking forward to seeing the children playing together, and eating the cake I just made. DH and I have agreed that we will not let there be any atmosphere on our part (not least because other family members are coming that I don't want involved), and that we will try to act as normal.

I might well be back tomorrow for moral support!

BuffytheThunderLizard Fri 13-Feb-15 11:57:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sixandtwothrees Fri 13-Feb-15 12:03:51

Yep. Like the army of the dead behind Aragorn when he goes in to fight the Orcs at Osgiliath.

Sorry, nerd tangent.

DeliciousIrony Fri 13-Feb-15 12:08:40

Good luck tomorrow. Sorry I don't have any words of wisdom, they sound pretty horrible and unlikely to change their views. How bizarre that they think that your son's birthday party is an appropriate time to challenge you on your 'radical' beliefs. I would aim for the bare minimum of contact with them and trying not to engage in their attempts to wind you up (difficult as it is).
What does your DP think about their beliefs/behaviour towards you?

BuffytheThunderLizard Fri 13-Feb-15 12:11:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sixandtwothrees Fri 13-Feb-15 12:19:13

Ooooh buffy smile

Good luck milchundcookies let us know how you get on.

MilchundCookies Fri 13-Feb-15 12:39:21

Thanks! I have never watched Lord of the Rings (it's from that, right?), but I will imagine an army of lovely hatchet-faced harridans and that will make me smile grin

Delicious, DH is totally on my side. He has come round to me being a "radical" and is a full convert took a while, mind. But he's not really very comfortable with confrontation and would prefer never to air our grievances, ever.

I meant to ask earlier: Gibbering, what is going to be made illegal? Emotional abuse? Is it not already?!

poorbuthappy Fri 13-Feb-15 12:43:16

Are you able to judge them on their appearances? Do they conform to their own out dated ideas? We all know you shouldn't engage but sometimes it so bloody hard to be the bigger person...

almondcakes Fri 13-Feb-15 12:54:19

Both the OP and the second poster sound like they are being bullied. I suspect even if they didn't express feminist beliefs they would be bulliedby these people over something else.

I feel very sorry for both of you and hope you get some kind of positive outcome.

YouBetterWerk Fri 13-Feb-15 13:11:22

Thank you Almond.
Bunch of tossers sad
We're right behind you Milchund !

ChunkyPickle Fri 13-Feb-15 13:42:24

Hatched-faced Harridans hogging the cake and wine grin

I would endeavour to be busy as much as possible - if caught in the kitchen or something, grab something, anything and say you have to take it back out to where there are other people.

I've always found that inventing a reason to have to launch myself across the room to 'rescue' one of the kids (or some other kid from one of mine) is a good way to avoid having to reply to something awkward.

Goodness I'm duplicitous!

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