Editor's note: Carolyn Hax is on vacation. She's letting readers give advice while she's away.
On the "I insist you stop going to strip clubs" trope:
I never liked it when my husband went to strip clubs, either. I consider those places, and also pornography, to objectify and demean the people who are being exhibited in this way, and people in desperate situations are all too often exploited.
I know that not everyone shares this point of view, but this is my moral stance. I made it known to my husband. I also let him know that, if he chose to go, I would not make a fuss, but that I would find it a huge turnoff that he was ogling those women and supporting that industry, and that he would want to keep his distance for a few days while I worked through my disappointment in him.
He went a few times, to bachelor parties and such, and I said nothing, but he knew how I felt. In the end, he decided it was more important to be a man his wife can respect than to look at nude girls. When we had a daughter, he even started to see my point: He would not want her treated the way the young women in those places are treated.
When an argument against going to strip clubs is gender-reversed -- "I don't like where my girl is going" -- then I promise you there is no debate. But since it's about a woman who has a reasonable dislike of strip clubs, there will be debate. There shouldn't be.
That's how it started for me: "Don't go to strip clubs anymore." I really maybe only went three or four times a year, and that was stupid times with friends -- I was young -- and so I figured, I'm with this woman and I love her, so I stopped going. Then suddenly she had a problem with any restaurant with scantily clad women. I mean, it made sense. I had to spend time with my girl, not ogling other women.
Then the definition of "scantily clad" started to mean pretty much any sports bar with female servers. Tight jeans and shirts were out, and God forbid if one of them poured a drink for me.
My focus was on my girlfriend ... not these other women.
Of course, it was my bad-influence friends who were making me go, so, one by one, I should start giving them up.
By this point, I was told I had to stop talking to my female friends, too. That one blonde I knew since eighth grade was always eyeing me up and clearly wanted to tear us apart. (Her boyfriend was just a ruse!) And the friends who were warning me about my newfound hermit tendencies ... they were just trying to tear us apart.
Then it came to Christmas -- I had to spend them with her parents. Why on Earth do I want to go to my own home? Never mind that we had just spent Thanksgiving and the previous Christmas with her family.
It came to a head one Easter, when I asked to spend it with my family. She ensured we were late for my parents' dinner, that we did anything but go to my house, and yelled at me because I hadn't made Memorial Day plans with her yet. Yes. Memorial Day.
I was lucky. I was saved by my brother, who did a Ghost of Christmas Present on me and forced me to visit friends I hadn't talked to in years. It made me realize what was going on. (Yes. She was very mad that I spent some time with my brother.) Ten years later I'm still trying to rebuild relationships with my very close friends.
I'm with a great woman now. She has no problem where I hang out with my friends, encourages me to go out to sports bars where I enjoy myself no matter what the waitresses are wearing, and while she's not a huge fan of strip clubs, she goes out with her own friends on the rare occasion that my friends and I try to relive our stupid days and go to one.
I'm tired of this narrative that men can't be abused. I'm tired of the narrative that strip clubs and bars with scantily clad women should be given up immediately because they are somehow tainted or gross, and that belief is accepted.Bring your own cake
On office parties that favor the marriage-and-babies set:
In my last two workplaces, the person whose birthday/anniversary/etc. it was brought the goodies to mark the occasion. No one was under any obligation to do so, but most enjoyed supplying the bagels, coffeecake, etc., that day and got all the well wishes they could want.