Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: Our relatives from the city come to visit us, their country cousins, each summer, taking advantage of our lakes and freshly grown produce. While they are here though they are constantly making remarks about the hayseed community theater or the fact that almost everyone attends church on Sunday.
We are polite people, but we are close to telling them that if where we live is so distasteful to them there are plenty of other places to spend their vacations. What would you do?
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DEAR POLITE: I’d tell them that if where we live is so distasteful to them, there are plenty of other places to spend their vacations. But I am not always what you might call a polite person.
I might also not invite them anymore, if I didn’t enjoy their company as much as they enjoyed my lakes.
If I actually liked them a lot but their comically transparent self-importance was getting a little old, then I also might say, “You know, the big-city self-importance jokes are getting a little old. Because you are kidding, right, you don’t actually think this way?”
In the interest of full disclosure, and now several months after the fact of it (since this originally was published in June), no comeback I offer will ever be as delightful as the way the Austin, Texas, mayor responded to an outraged letter about a “Wonder Woman” screening. If you missed it or forgot it, here you go, and you’re welcome: http://bit.ly/Austanding.
RE: SCREENING: I don’t blame you if you don’t answer my question because you don’t want to get sidetracked by this topic, but I’m a feminist who opposes the all-female “Wonder Woman” screening. Like you, I’m a mother of boys, and I hate this idea that entertainment with a female main character is for females only. I see so many boys who immediately reject a movie or TV show or book with a female main character and it bothers me immensely, and now I see my feminist sisters doing something that only perpetuates this idea that “Wonder Woman” is for girls. If anything, why aren’t we offering “Wonder Woman” screenings where boys are specifically invited?
Hate This Idea
DEAR HATE THIS IDEA: Like you, I hate this idea that entertainment with a female main character is for females only. So when my dudes were little and I had control — of the horizontal and vertical! — they watched tons of stuff with female leads. And girl-centric books, and women’s sports. And stories with male leads but emotional themes. As if these were no different from anything else. It’s all on family screens to this day.
I think this in-home, movie-by-movie, conversation-by-conversation treatment of women and men both as fully human and rich and varied is so much more important than any one movie screening that I can’t find it in me even to have an opinion on an all-female female-superhero-movie screening. Sounds like fun actually. I hope you consider talking to your local theater about an all-boy screening for any sequels — because while it’s important to express beliefs, it’s downright badass to live by them.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.