What to do when you unintentionally offend someone

AayuTheLegend asks: I get sooooo annoyed by the girls in my class. They take a double meaning to everything I say. And get angry. Like once I said “Do u wanna grab a cup of coffee?” I got a reply saying, “You don’t respect me, you objectify me!” I wasn’t even looking at her that way. I just wanted to be a friend. I mean how should I calm myself down?

Hi AayuTheLegend –

Now of course there’s a lot I don’t know about the situation.  Maybe you’d done something that bothered this girl before, or maybe she’d had something awful happen to her that morning.

But I’m going to assume neither is true.  I’m going to assume both of you were fully innocent in this situation.  So if that’s the case, how did it happen?

My friend, you need to look at the world of a school from outside (the way I do).  Especially a high school or university.  As female beauty is too often judged these days, that’s the age when girls/women are their most attractive.  And hormonally, that’s when boys/men are their most focused on sex.  So young ladies are constantly aware, maybe more than any other time in their lives, of how they’re being looked at, judged, craved, rejected, all that.  And that’s assuming everyone’s being completely polite.

But I find that often that’s not the case.  Boys at this age (I won’t say “men”) can also be mean and crude, and feel a stupid sense of strength by showing off their objectification of womenfolk.  My human friend Handsome tells me that there was a house at the university he went to, where boys would sit out on a balcony and hold up numbers as the ladies walked by, rating them from one to ten. 

And this would be rough enough, but then you need to add in how females get these messages all day anyway!  From constant media saying you need to be as thin as Taylor Swift, as curvy as Kim Kardashian, and as tall as a supermodel.  And while this is happening to boys more now too (What?  You don’t have an eightpack like Zac Ephron?), for girls it’s far worse.  I’ll bet you’d be okay with showing up at school looking sloppy some morning after you’d overslept.  Imagine if you were then judged for that for the rest of the year; THAT’S what the girls go through!  (And judged as harshly, or worse, by other girls than by the boys!).

So all this is to say, my guess is that’s where that girl was when you made your friendly offer to her.  She was so sick of it all – so miserably DONE with being judged on all these stupid grounds, valued only for her beauty instead of the qualities she cares about, and here a nice boy walked up to her and asked her (and not a group of people) to have coffee. 

And here’s the irony – while she was sick of being pre-judged, she was pre-judging YOU!  You may have wanted to discuss the Chemistry homework, or to ask about a political opinion she’d shared in class.  But because you were a member of the group that had treated her only as a member of a group, she snapped at you!

My friend, you started your letter by saying how annoyed you are by the girls in your class, who take a double-meaning to everything.  My suggestion is that you start getting annoyed with the people in the world, who take at least a double-meaning to everything instead!  And so, when a young woman reacts in this way to you, you’re able to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as that kind of guy.  I really just wanted to talk with you about something you said in class.  But I sure understand how you’d be sick of being objectified.  Me too.  People can have such stupid values.”  Then when she stares at you, open-mouthed, because she can’t believe you’re saying something so aware, throw in “I can see this is a bad time.  But maybe some other time I’d love to talk.  Maybe about objectification.”  Smile, turn, and walk away. 

AayuTheLegend, you would become a legend in her mind at that moment!  The nonsensical system that she’s feeling so oppressed by?  You’d have blown a hole in it forever!

Oh and by the way, outside of the occasional bath and (I HATE THESE) toenail clipping, nothing is ever done for my looks.  I don’t diet, no makeup, nothing.  And every day I hear comments on how beautiful I am.  In at least this area, we dogs live a way better life than you humans give yourselves!

Thanks again!


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