This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Lisa McIntire discuss a Prudie letter: “My Sister or My Values”
Lisa McIntire: Jenée … HOOOOO BOY
Jenée Desmond-Harris: I know.
Lisa: I feel awful for this letter writer, and I hope she knows that she’s not ungrateful for cutting this heinous person out of her life. Pardon the knee-jerk advice, but I would suggest a therapist ASAP to work through the grief.
Jenée: And aside from being ungrateful, she isn’t really losing much if this relationship ends.
This isn’t 20 years ago, this isn’t the Ella of 20 years ago. But yes, I get that a close family relationship ending is always going to hurt. And therapy would be great. Also just on the topic of like, standing up for yourself.
Lisa: You’re absolutely right. Her sister is only giving her pain and suffering at this point—AND deteriorating the relationships that are actually loving and supportive!
Jenée: I often get questions from people who want to cut off a relative who has bigoted or hateful views and insists on talking about them all the time, and I usually say: Cut ‘em off! People get really mad at me, but this is even easier. The bad person is the one making the choice to end the relationship.
Lisa: I get that we’re in a hyper-individualistic society and there should be some push-back/questioning of resorting too quickly to cutting people out, but your self-preservation and integrity should come first. In this case, Ella sound like an actual nightmare. Calling people “scum” and “degenerates and perverts”? Get the fuck out.
Jenée: And if it isn’t this, there will be some other ultimatum.
Lisa: Right. So whose feelings do you protect: an unapologetic bigot, or your caring friend’s and your own?
Jenée: If I were Anne, I’d be very offended.
Lisa: As would be your right! “Eep, sorry my very existence is offensive to your bigoted relative.” Do NOT pull out of the wedding, and please beg Anne’s forgiveness for even contemplating it!
Jenée: You know what’s going to happen when we publish this? At least two people are going to write to me and say Ella has mental health issues and needs compassion and care.
And like, if she does, I hope she gets help. But I also think some people can underestimate the extent to which people are just evil—I mean, look at the world!
Lisa: Truly. Being hateful and small-minded is not in the DSM, I am sorry to tell you!
Jenée: Look at the news about trans kids in Texas! A lot of people are cruel and bad, and they shouldn’t be coddled. So I hope Ella does end the relationship, and I hope she learns a lesson when she misses her sister—but either way I hope she suffers.
Lisa: Consequences for bigots! Try it out!
Jenée: The end!
Lisa: And for anyone tempted to write in, I’d ask: Why do you automatically give compassion to the person causing so much hurt? Why do you relate to them over the people receiving the hatred? Something to explore! Something to explore indeed.
Jenée: OK thanks, Lisa! For totally agreeing with me (and with all reasonable people).
Lisa: It’s easy to agree when you’re very right!