"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Darrell Royal
Question #92521 posted on 08/15/2019 11:54 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have been reading lately about objectification, or treating a person “as an object or a thing. It is part of dehumanization, the act of disavowing the humanity of others,” according to a Wikipedia article. I wonder how prevalent objectification is in our society, and how do you know whether you objectify others?

Martha Nussbaum, distinguished feminist author and philosopher, said that a person is objectified if one or more of seven criteria apply. The seventh criteria is “denial of subjectivity,” meaning “treating the person as though there is no need for concern for their experiences or feelings.” You find evidence of this when you hear something like “I don’t need to understand, nor do I care to know how men feel about this issue.” You can substitute for “men” the word “women,” or “sexists,” or “liberals,” or “homophobes,” or “racists,” or “Trump and Trump supporters,” or any other person or group of people you are tempted to feel are somewhat less human than you.

It is sometimes hard to see in ourselves the faults we deplore in others. So, my two-part question is, how do we learn to recognize when we objectify others, and what can we do as individuals to stop ourselves from objectifying other people? In other words, what can we do to determine if we ever dehumanize groups we disagree with, and how can we develop more concern and interest in the experiences or feelings of others who are different from us?

-Pat

A:

Dear Pat,

Based on a few factors, I'm going to guess this question is directed at me and my answer from BQ #91428.

Specifically, it seems taken from this quote: 

"You're right that I don't know what it's like for a guy, but you're wrong that I should care, because I shouldn't and I don't."

Out of context, like in the way you paraphrased it, that absolutely comes across as though I'm denying the subjectivity of men. Which would be reprehensible behavior if that were my general opinion on life.

However, that statement was given in reference to a specific question that we received. A question that was in essence complaining about how difficult it is to see women in public and not objectify them. While that particular statement is not my most eloquent or explanatory writing, I stand by its sentiment in the context of the question. The asker of the question was seeking to negate the responsibility for his objectification of women. That doesn't mean he is less of a human than I am. It means that on this particular subject, I think he's wrong and it seemed as though he needed to face the harsh reality.

I was correct that I don't know what it's like to be a man. I don't get erections and it's not culturally acceptable to blame all my problems on other people. However, I do have an idea what the world is like when we give credence to men who have difficulty controlling their desire to objectify women. It's called every century prior to the 20th (and continuing into the 21st, though thankfully to a lesser degree).

I'm not saying the asker of the question isn't entitled to their opinion, or that they aren't free to share their opinion. I am saying their opinion is not relevant in modern discussion, and any issues they have with seeing women are their problem and not worth being considered by anyone else.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear you,

There is a difference between treating people subjectively and taking a stance on their opinions. Immediately dismissing another person's opinions or even actions doesn't equate to dismissing the actual person. Saying it's bad to objectify women doesn't mean the person who is objectifying women has been dehumanized.

It is also not a bad thing to not want to understand every mindset ever. For example, I really don't want to ever get inside the head of a WWII Nazi who thought it was fun to torture and kill Jews. This isn't because I am dehumanizing the Nazi, but because I don't want to get up close to something so horrifying.

Finally, applying a negative moniker to another person isn't necessarily dehumanizing. Reason being, some people are genuinely horrible. It may not be nice, but there are times where calling someone something bad is perfectly accurate.

~Anathema

A:

Pat,

I believe that accountability is inseparable from choice. If you give away accountability, you give away your agency. Put another way, if you blame someone else, you give up believing you have power to effect the situation. A similar thing happens when you focus on what someone else is doing wrong, and how that effects you. I want to establish that as the baseline for my approach to modesty, racial groups, political affiliations etc. For example, I do everything I can to take accountability for my privileged status as white middle class. That means trying to speak up for minority groups, vote in a way that benefits them, and stay quiet when they need space to speak. But I don't believe that alone is a solution. My accountability will do nothing for them if they don't also take control of their life's progress. 

In the case of question BQ #91428 that Luciana already recalled: I claim accountability for the way I dress. I dress modestly because I believe I have power to send the message I prefer. However, I cannot choose the thoughts of others and therefore cannot take accountability for them. I mentioned this a little in BQ #91572 (which question is a positive example of a man trying to understand modesty, and my answer to that question is a lot easier to understand than this. Maybe check it out.)

"The empowering thing about modesty as a concept is that we have some control over how people perceive and interact with us.  The fallacy behind it is that we are always in control of all of those thoughts and interactions, or that somehow it is a direct causal relationship. We cannot control all of it. It isn't our fault or responsibility. But we can try and control our sphere for our own sakes." 

When a man blames a woman for his thoughts, he has in a way given up his own power and control. 

How do you recognize when you're objectifying someone? The only way in heaven or hell is to be humble and ask yourself. In my experience, this requires us to stop talking, especially about ourselves. Stop raging about what others do to you, how unfair, immoral etc. Take accountability for your role in your own success and morality. It isn't their fault if you objectify them. They didn't invite it. Whether it's an immodest woman, a person of color, or a Trump supporter. 

How do we stop ourselves from objectifying? We listen to those we might objectify. We learn their stories, look for similarities, and champion their well-being. Think of ways you could have arrived at the same conclusions they did. You don't have to choose those conclusions, but try to understand them.

If you can't do that, leave them alone. You don't deserve to change someone you haven't tried to understand. And oftentimes, once you try to understand them, you stop wanting to change them. 

Babalugats

A:

Dear Pat,

My dad is a Trump supporter. I adamantly hate Trump. And while we do get into arguments, we also have great conversations where we come to understand the other's side, even if we don't agree with it. What I've learned is that there's a difference between objectifying people and tolerating their beliefs. My dad is a fantastic person, even if I think he's been a bit duped by the Republican party, and he's amazing for being willing to talk calmly about issues that we disagree strongly on. However, there are some moments where I have to tell him his ideas are completely wrong, like believing that Obama was born in Kenya (my dad changed his mind once I sent him evidence), or that Trump isn't racist or intentionally touting racist ideas (still working on that one). And there are times I have to change my mind (gun control and foreign policy). The difference is distinguishing the person from the idea.

This can get tricky when it comes to multiple people sharing the same (incorrect, offensive, unappealing) concern with one person. That one person may be patient with the first one or two people. They may be able to gently correct the issue, point out where the problem is and why the concern may be seen as offensive, and help the questioner better understand the issue. But by the time the tenth person comes along with the same issue and the same problematic language (or the same person keeps coming back time and time again), that one person may snap. That doesn't necessarily mean they're dehumanizing others, but their measure of patience of dealing with issues like this is worn out.

So, to come back to BQ #91428. We've received multiple questions about female (note: it is always female) modesty on the Board. 9 out of 10 questions are based on dehumanizing women and making them into sex objects, meant solely to either tempt or pleasure men. Honestly, it's tiring answering these questions. Our snappy responses do not necessarily mean that we're dehumanizing you, but that we're tired of dealing with this issue when we've tried so many times to politely answer it and explain why policing women's bodies is just plain bad.

Pat, I gave you one (hopefully) polite and well thought out answer on why I felt your view of modesty was lacking and even harmful. Your response to claim that we're dehumanizing you (readers, if you're confused there were some emails behind the scenes) for pointing out the error in your thinking is frankly absurd. Your response to being called out on incorrect views is to assume that those opposing you are dehumanizing you and then ask a cryptic question in an attempt to publicly shame those people and indirectly call them out. Unfortunately, I really don't see how any of our responses are going to change your mind on this topic. You're determined to be a victim and convinced that we, who disagree with your views, are dehumanizing you. You disappoint me, Pat. I spent a lot of time on my last answer hoping you'd be better than this.

-guppy of doom

A:

Dear Pat,

I feel like objectification comes from unhealthy generalizations that we make. For me, the best thing to do in these cases is to get to know and empathize with someone who agrees with me. It is more okay to be frustrated with someone that you understand than someone that you don't fully understand.

One quote that I like from Elder Bednar is (and I'm paraphrasing), "When you can no longer feel love for the other person, that is when you have gone too far." Likewise, when we can't feel love for those we disagree with as a group, we probably should take a step back and question what it is that is motivating us to disagree with them.

I hope this helps,

Inklings

Question #92498 posted on 08/15/2019 10 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

(Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone's random questions! I've been lurking the Board for 13 years now, but I think this is only my second question.)

My parents recently offered to help my husband and I purchase our first home, but we're not sure if we should take them up on the offer. By "help purchase" I mean they are going to sell one of their rental properties to put $150k towards a house for us. My parents are fairly well-off, and doing so theoretically would not cause them any financial stress, affect their retirement plans, etc. etc.

I want to say yes, but I can't really figure out why I'm hesitant about it. It would take my husband and I another 1-2 years to save up for a good down payment (plus financial cushion), so it's not like this wouldn't be helpful. And I'm not worried about co-owning a house with them. My husband and I have been discussing it and I think it might be pride? We've both finished graduate school and my husband has a solid job, so it feels like letting my parents help buy a house takes away that next step of "adulting". I don't know all the ins-and-outs of buying a house now, and I feel like they would be handling most of the process here.

My parents' love language is definitely gift/money giving, and over the years my parents have paid for lots of things for my 3 siblings and I (college tuition, household furnishings and appliances, etc.). I don't think any of us kids have kept track of what they've bought for whom, but it's not an equal amount spent per child. I am unofficially the favorite child, and while I wouldn't discuss or brag about this offer to my siblings, I do feel a little guilty about accepting such a large gift. To be fair, one sibling owns his home through financial help from wealthy in-laws, and another owns hers because her husband gets lots of military benefits; the youngest sibling is still in college, but I do think my parents would buy him a condo or something if he needed a place.

What would you do? Why would you accept (or not accept) the offer?

-Don't Look a Gift House in the Mouth?

A:

Dear Gift Horse,

I personally wouldn't accept a gift like that because I wouldn't want the pressure of co-owning a house with my parents. Let me tell you a little story: once upon a time I had a coworker who had very wealthy parents, of whom she was the unofficial favorite child, and they bought her EVERYTHING. When she decided to go to BYU for college her parents bought a house in Orem for her to live in while at college. And I'm not talking about a dumpy little house, I'm talking a lovely 4 bedroom house. She got married (and her parents paid for the very expensive wedding), and her husband moved in with her. They had the best movie nights because they had the best house, but there was a lot of pressure on her from her parents to do things their way. After all, they had paid for her house, her wedding, her tuition, and let her use their credit card whenever she wanted. They told her that they would stop paying for her stuff if she didn't go into dentistry, and so she got stuck in a major she didn't like. They didn't trust her to keep the house up to their standards, and so they hired a maid to clean weekly. Having a maid sounds like it could be nice, but it was actually really embarrassing for her because what college student has a maid? Eventually she and her husband decided to move to a different state so he could go to medical school, and her parents said they would buy a new house for them there. This ended up being a huge source of stress for her, though, because med school was starting very soon and the parents still hadn't found a house they were willing to buy. My coworker was driving to this other state every week to look at houses, and she found a lot that she liked, but none of them were good enough for her parents, so she had to keep driving down every single week to look at more houses, as med school, and the time they needed to have moved to this new state, steadily approached. Her parents eventually found a house they liked and bought it for her, and she loves it. They get to have a a lovely home while in medical school, and don't face the stress of tons of debt accumulating. Instead they face the stress of her parents getting to choose to start months-long renovations projects (because once my friend and her husband are done with med school and move out, this house is going to be the parents' vacation home). For her I guess it's worth it, but personally I wouldn't want to be so much under my parents' thumb. You say you wouldn't mind co-owning a house with your parents, but I think it's important to ask yourself what sorts of expectations they might have for you after buying your house, and if there's anything they would then feel entitled to tell you how to do.

Furthermore, I think there's a big sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own way in the world. I'm not saying that you can never accept help from anyone, because that's an unrealistic way to live, but achieving major accomplishments because you worked hard for them is more worthwhile than just having them handed to you. Other people may disagree with me, but that's what I think.

-Alta

A:

Dear you,

Personally I would say no, because that's too generous a gift for me to feel comfortable accepting. I wouldn't want to feel indebted to them, and I want a sense of accomplishment for earning it.

However, I still might accept their assistance. For example, rather than saving for a down payment, you could accept a smaller amount from them, maybe like $20,000, that you use as a down payment on a house you can otherwise afford in your own. Personally I would choose to view that as a low-cost loan that I would pay back over time. Or you could accept it as a gift if you feel comfortable with that option.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear Gift-Horse,

If you do decide to go through with it, you need to set ground rules about how ownership and everything will go down. Is it a gift, or do they want to be payed back eventually? If so, on what schedule and would you want to pay them interest to ease your conscience? If it is a gift, make sure that you set boundaries with them. You don't want to feel guilty that you painted the guest bedroom a color they hate or do something with the backyard they don't approve of. If it's your house, it's your house.

-Quixotic Kid

A:

Dear you,

I completely agree with what the other writers have said about pressure of co-owning a home, wanting to accomplish it yourselves, and feeling like it's a gift with strings attached. I don't know if I'd automatically reject their offer though. There's a few questions I think you should ask yourselves:

  1. Are your parents the kind to hold gifts over your head? For example, minnow's parents have offered to pay for minnow's MBA but we know they will forever hold it over our heads. ("Why won't you let us stay with you for the next month?? We paid thousands to put minnow through his program!") (You think I'm exaggerating but I'm not.) If your parents have been good about gifting you things and then not bringing it up/holding it over your head, then I'd be more willing to take the money.
  2. Will you feel guilty about taking this money? It may not be worth the emotional hassle if you will.
  3. Would they be willing to give you less money and not co-own the house?
  4. Would they be willing to loan you the money? That way you can get a loan without interest and not co-own the house with them.

Currently minnow and I are borrowing several thousand dollars from minnow's parents. While they offered the money freely, we refused to take it unless it was a loan. For us it's about being more independent and not feeling indebted to minnow's parents. I would probably do the same if his or my parents offered to help us buy a house. 

That's a tricky choice to make. Best of luck in making it!

-guppy of doom

Question #92482 posted on 08/15/2019 8:09 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I need help settling a disagreement. I was talking to someone the other day who insisted that underage drinking by itself isn't illegal. He said it's illegal for someone under 21 to purchase alcohol or for someone to give alcohol to or buy alcohol for someone under 21, but a person who is under 21 can't get in legal trouble for drinking alcohol alone. That just didn't sound right to me. I've always thought underage drinking in and of itself was definitely illegal... right? So, which one of us is correct?

-Drucilda

A:

Dear Drucilda,

First I checked the 21st amendment like a nerd (that's the one that ended prohibition), and it doesn't say anything about the legal drinking age, just that it's legal to drink alcohol again, and that states can still make their own individual liquor laws. So maybe that's what your friend was thinking of? The 21st amendment was passed in 1933, and in the decades following each state made their own laws regarding the minimum drinking age and how minors and alcohol would be allowed to interact. But then in 1984 a national minimum legal drinking age was passed, stating that it's illegal to drink alcohol before you're 21. That's still the current law in the US, so you're definitely right. It's not only illegal for someone under age 21 to purchase alcohol, but also to drink it. And if you live in Utah there's a plethora of even more restrictive alcohol laws

-Alta

posted on 08/15/2019 2:39 p.m.
In a majority of states, minors can legally consume alcohol if it is provided by a parent/guardian and it is on private property where alcohol is not sold (just google "minors alcohol private" or something similar).