Dear Ellie: I was at a busy airport with my husband, both in our 40s, when I overheard an older couple next to us in line, observing the following:
An attractive woman, probably early-20s, swept by in a short dress very low-cut in front, and her back partially-bare. She was accompanied by a young man in more conservative clothing.
The older woman laughingly asked her husband (possibly in his 70s), if he saw the young woman’s “ample bosom?” She then commented on her “rump.” Her husband nodded and grinned.
I was upset that those two mature seniors could casually objectify a young woman’s body parts, at a time when women globally are fighting to end that abominable practice which has always been a potential door to sexual abuse.
My own husband said, “Well, that young woman did dress to be noticed, especially in an airport.” I responded that women have the right to dress as they please, but not to be objectified as a means to an end for men. And that it’s particularly creepy when an older man, who may even have daughters, could look at a young female that way.
I’m very interested in what you and your readers think about all this.
You’re absolutely right that all women have the right to dress as they choose (within the laws of the land that apply to everyone e.g., on public nudity).
All genders dress for attention in different ways and places. It’s become part of our overall culture of diversity. And while the older woman laughed when she pointed out the young woman’s dress, she was inadvertently suggesting that her husband ogle the woman. Yes, that’s truly creepy.
Dear Ellie: My best friend, who’s married and has a young child, realized that I was struggling financially during COVID (as was she since neither of us were working).
She invited me to move in with her family at a lower rent than I’d been paying living alone.
Everything was fine at first, but as the lockdowns dragged on, we were three 30-somethings, all living on edge.
My friend’s husband became very sarcastic when talking to me, their four-year-old started yelling unless he had the TV blaring loudly, and my friend was constantly on edge. I tried to stay longer in my room out of their way, reading a lot to avoid the turmoil.
Soon, screaming fights erupted between the couple with the husband storming around. I was finally told harshly by him that I had to leave. I fled. After 10 years of closeness, my former friend and I haven’t spoken since.
It turned out to be lucky because I found a spacious flat, in a home whose owners had moved to their country cottage to wait out the pandemic. I’m now starting to go back to my workplace three times a week and work from home the other days.
But what should I do about my lost friendship? Doesn’t she owe me an apology?
As the saying goes, ‘That ship has sailed.’ The couple and their child are still a unit. Any acceptance of renewed friendship with you would likely anger her husband who’d take it as disloyalty.
He made you the scapegoat — the reason for all their tensions even though that wasn’t the case. But it allowed them to stay together … if they can.
Forget the apology. She has enough to handle in her household. But don’t be surprised that at some time she may reach out and need you.
Dear Ellie: My soon-to-be husband and I are childless older adults. I have health issues.
We normally had sex once weekly. He’s also cheated to satisfy his needs, so we use condoms. Lately he requested having sex twice-weekly to ensure that he doesn’t stray. He also bought a sex toy for when he needs it.
Now he refuses to wear a condom and wants me to relieve him while he’s standing. I think he’s in love with his toy.
I would’ve left him, but COVID and finances make me stay. I’m unhappy but grateful for a roof over my head. I do everything for him.
“A roof overhead” isn’t worth indignities inside. He’s sex-addicted. Given your health issues and older years, he’s putting you at risk during COVID.
Change your role. If you must stay, insist that further cheating ends all sexual contact between you. Talk to your doctor about your situation.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Women’s apparel reflects their taste, NOT any interest in being objectified or ogled.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.