This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Akoto Ofori-Atta discuss a Prudie letter: “She’s Not an Aunt.”
Akoto Ofori-Atta: Jenee, you know I rolled my eyes extra hard on this one.
Jenée Desmond-Harris: I thought you might!
Akoto: You were very kind to “She’s Not an Aunt” in your response lol.
Jenée: Oh, wow, I thought I was mean! What would you have said?
Akoto: Well before I even get to the auntie stuff, he seems to be a sexist jerk! The way he describes how he was treating his wife in the beginning …
Jenée: I didn’t even get into that! You are so right. And then putting quotes around “connect” when describing his wife’s motives for wanting to take a class in his field … And Brenda is right to not be over it! Clearly, this is still a live, unresolved issue for both of them.
Jenée: Yes. Also, he said he “went” to therapy. Not that he’s “in” therapy. I feel like you don’t fix being a sexist jerk in a few sessions. So yeah, he’s still terrible.
Akoto: Exactly. I so took issue with his claim that he is better now. This letter suggests there is still a lot more to do.
Jenée: And Brenda is probably one of the people who writes in about how to be a friend to someone with an awful husband.
Akoto: Haha yes. I don’t know anything about Brenda obviously, but not being warm at dinner toward someone who might be treating your friend like shit doesn’t sound too crazy? (Also, the wife should stop forcing these dinners … they don’t need to hang out with each other!)
Jenée: He is totally worried about the wrong thing. Which fits his personality, based on what we’ve read. Instead of “how can my wife and I be happy?” it’s “how can I control things so the women in my life behave the way I want them to?”
Akoto: Yes—LW is dripping with ego and control. Which is especially bizarre considering his acknowledgement that Brenda has helped his wife A LOT.
Anyway, I’m glad you mentioned the cultural differences in definitions of auntie in your response.
Jenée: I was going to list like nine immigrant communities and African-Americans,
and then I was like, it’s actually just white (American) people who DON’T do this as much?
Akoto: But it actually sounds like Brenda is not a casual case use of the honorific, but someone who is actually very central to his wife’s life?
Jenée: This is true—she might actually be a TRUE auntie figure.
Akoto: You know, people should probably put “who will our future kids get to call auntie and uncle” on the pre-marital counseling question list. Probably worth it to establish some ground rules ahead of time, especially in mixed-culture marriages?
Jenée: I honestly feel like most people wouldn’t be weird about it, even if it wasn’t how they grew up. They’d be like, “oh okay that’s cute.” At least if their main priority in life wasn’t having the upper hand.
Akoto: That’s fair. This issue is unique to this strange man.
Jenée: If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Like “Brenda can’t post pictures of our kid on Instagram.” He doesn’t want his wife to have people in his life who treat her better than he does and remind her of her worth … now you have me all fired up and being mean to him!
Akoto: Right. Also, curious that there is no mention of how Brenda and the kid get along.
Brenda is probably the baby’s favorite person lol. And you know he hates that.
Jenée: The overall vibes are probably so much better when it’s just mom, Brenda, and the kid.
Akoto: Sorry for riling you up, but I do think he deserves a little more sauce. I hope he reads this!
Jenée: And I hope his wife reads it and puts an end to those dinners with him and Brenda. Excuse me, AUNT Brenda!
Akoto: Ditch the dinners, and take whatever classes you want. I’m sure Auntie Brenda will babysit.
Jenée: Including when LW goes back to therapy! And when they go as a couple.
Akoto: Ok, I think we’ve helped solve some issues for her. Now how do we find his wife and get her a Slate Plus account?