14

I have a close friend that I know since college, we share almost every interest, and we were lucky enough to get hired at the same company.

My problem is, with the metoo and timesup movement my friend is starting to share his personal views on women and they're pretty extreme. At parties, he'll happily declare he's an anti-feminist and misogynist. He's proudly states companies that don't hire women are doing the right thing, or as he put it:

if they do hire them, all they're hiring is a future sexual harassment lawsuit.

When we watch TV, and the news reveals a male celebrity has been accused of sexual harassment, he'll openly show his disappointment and take the side of the male. He says a lot more worse things about women, but I think you get the idea.

I tried telling him upfront, but we got into a heated argument, with him stating that it's his right to free speech, etc.

If this continues, I'm seriously considering dropping him as a friend. I don't share his views, and I have a few female friends that I wish to keep.

How to do politely and sternly tell him to stop expressing those views in public? Or at least when I'm not around?

  • Has he expressed other extreme views in the past? Or is this a complete change of behavior for him? – DaveG Dec 15 '18 at 18:23
  • @DaveG - If you had these views in the past, he kept it to himself. All of this is new to me. – user23128 Dec 15 '18 at 21:00
  • I assume you are male. Does your friend express his misogynist rants only in male-only assistance, or also in front of women ? – Evargalo Jul 17 at 9:36
  • This question is similar : interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/22186/… – tryin Jul 19 at 10:35
25

Free speech doesn't mean free from consequence.

  1. You have free speech as well. Speak up every dang time. "I disagree with every single thing you just said."

  2. If he keeps going on, let him know that you like women, and you like having female friends, and while he does have free speech, his loud declaration of those views might have some unforeseen consequences, like you being unwilling to hang out with him anymore. Free speech, again, doesn't mean free from consequences.

Set those boundaries. Cut him off AT THE MOMENT he does it. "I disagree with your views and don't want to discuss it." If he responds with "FREE SPEECH." "You are free to speak, I am free to move elsewhere in this party."

You can have a heart to heart conversation where you point out the good stuff, but finish with "I would ask that you respect me and not talk about your extreme viewpoints in front of me. Surely you have other topics of conversation. Hopefully. I'd like to remain friends." And he could say "FREE SPEECH" and the answer is "Free speech doesn't mean you can say whatever you want free from social consequences. Not in the amendment, I'm afraid."

You can't control what he does when you are not around. But you can make it clear that you are not down with hearing any of it when you are. If he chooses to express those views when you aren't there, I don't know that there's much you can do about it.

By calling him on it, every single time, you are letting him know what is socially acceptable around you. What he chooses to do with that is up to him. You just politely repeat these for as long as you need to. The above is the counter to the "free speech" argument. Which isn't so much an argument as a misunderstanding about how people actually work and what free speech actually means. Explain it. Let him know that continuing to express reviews that repugnant to you is damaging your friendship. He's free to say what he likes, and you're free to inform him of the consequences of that.

Your friend will either care that you're uncomfortable or he won't. If he does, you can remain friends. If he doesn't, why would you want to remain friends who can't shut up about a particular subject to the determinant of a friendship.

From his point of view he might not want a friend who "censors his speech" but you can ask him if he curses in front of his mother or tells her sex stories. Of course he doesn't. He's censoring his OWN speech because a) he would be uncomfortable and b) he cares about not making his mother uncomfortable. People censor their own speech all the time with friends and family.

The benefit of approaching it this way is that you lay out exact what the consequences of his "free speech" are, and you have a counter argument. Ultimately his decision and his capacity for empathy will determine what he does with it.

18

Let me start by saying that it's a shame someone you seem so compatible with interest-wise is expressing such hateful and backwards ideas.

You're in a tough spot. Changing the behavior of others is difficult and often impossible when one is not in a position of authority. Consider a conversation between a vegetarian and a carnivore where one tries to convince the other to change their dietary habits. It is extremely unlikely that the carnivore can convince the vegetarian to give up their moral/ethical/ecological reasons for not eating meat. On the other hand, it is just as unlikely that the vegetarian can convince the carnivore to give up a food group that they enjoy and do not see as harmful in the same ways as the vegetarian does. So, telling your friend what to say, as you have experienced, will not be effective in changing their behavior. They are simply exercising their right to free speech, as they have stated.

A more effective strategy, I find, when faced with a situation where the other party is behaving in an unpalatable way is to set a boundary. Setting a boundary defines a set of behaviors or actions you are willing to tolerate in interaction with a person or group. Boundaries come in many flavors and take into consideration individual goals and group dynamics/power balances.

All relationships have boundaries. For example, you don't crack the same jokes with your boss in the workplace that you would while hanging out with a friend. Or perhaps a stranger would not speak intimately with you about personal issues as they would a close friend. These boundaries serve to prevent uncomfortable or otherwise undesirable situations. The tough part of boundaries is often enforcing them; the act of doing so can be very uncomfortable in its self, but is done in order to prevent the repetition of other, more acute, discomfort.

In your case, the friend and yourself are equals (outside of work), but your desire is not to be exposed to or associated with the friend's misogynistic views. If your friend wants to maintain a relationship with you in the same way that you do with them, they may choose to forego their misogynistic comments in the face of a boundary such as "Friend, your views make me uncomfortable and I would rather you not express them when we're hanging out." You can express your interest in remaining friends, and cite the numerous points of compatibility between you two as supporting points for the boundary and to clarify that the boundary is in good faith. However, if your friend feels the need to promote their values, you will need to enforce such a boundary by limiting contact with this friend. You can express your boundary as many times as you like, but when you feel it's been disrespected, it will have become clear that this friend has chosen to continue promoting their values in lieu of maintaining friendship with you. If this becomes the case, your relationships with others may be damaged by association with your friend's views.

I have never found it comfortable to end relationships. In your case, I believe you stand to lose more by staying friends with this person then you stand to gain. You could attempt to get to the root of their misogynistic views and educate them, but this process will likely be friction-intensive.

At the end of the day, all you can do is tell your friend what you are willing to tolerate and hope that they respect your wishes. If respecting you is not on their agenda, ending the friendship is a wise course of action.

1

In terms of approaches to convincing him not to air these views in public, I have found connecting your arguments to people in his life, rather than statistics, news stories etc. to be a good starting point.

He may not have a sister, daughter or female friends, but presumably he has a mother or at least some female relatives. Would he like them to be automatically turned down for every role because they are a 'future sexual harassment lawsuit'? Likewise, you could tell him that you are now reticent to go places with him as you don't want to expose women who are important in your life to his, frankly, offensive views. It's a little easier to keep a conversation civil if you're specifically talking about your mother and his mother, rather than a distant celebrity.

However, as a general note, I would really consider no longer associating with this person, even though ending friendships is difficult. You said yourself these views do not align with your own and, from a more selfish angle, associating yourself closely with a person broadcasting these views loudly may lead to a negative impression of you in work or social situations. The comment about not hiring women is particularly troubling - working in the same company and knowing that he holds this view which is contrary to employment law in many countries, puts you in an awkward position.

  • I don't really agree with this approach, as it is still conveying the message that a woman is only worthy of respect if they're personally related to him, it will not fix the problem in the long run. Another important part of it is that he might not even be THAT aware of the experiences of his female relations. I did have a run-in with a colleague (that worked on HR, that's even worse) that was making sexist comments and would be completely immune to this. In the end I just point-blank stated that the comments were really sexist and he should stop. He's from HR, he knows the consequences. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Jul 17 at 7:48
1

I see two sides to this problem.

1) Getting him to stop expressing such things in public

This requires speedy action. Normally people have a resistance to change for others, but they are morelikely to change if there is a perceived benefit or they spot a drawback in their current behavior.

So I would:

  • Tell him that it makes you feel uncomfortable. If he trully appreaciates you and doesn't think you are weaklying for beeing bothered by his comments it should at least make him think twice. Of course this enough won't work from what you have said.
  • Tell him that if he continues it will hurt your and his public profile and ergo your career. Even if you were to agree, expressing such extreme views in public are likely to cause backlash unless you are in an environment where everyone thinks like that. This should get him to stop if he is smart, nowdays saying anything like what he is saying in a public setting can have greatly negative consequences. Also I think, given his views on the matter he should be prompt to agree since he thinks women are out to get men.
  • Tell him that he sounds bitter, because he is spitting hate and not facts. Some people don't like to be seen like old bitter grinchs, and the way he is expressing, he just sounds like an old grunt. One thing is saying "In study X or Z 60% of women are found to do U or Y" and something entirely different is to be pulling comments with no basis but his own feelings.

To sum up, you need to tell him things that will make him stop for his own good, not for the "women".

2) Getting him to stop altogether

This may be near to impossible. It is really hard for people to change. And you may not want to take up this endeavour, but if you do, know it will be hard.

You need to engage him in a emotional level and make him see the problem from different angles, usually people have very fixed views over things but when you help them see the issue at hand from another angle it helps them change their mind and open their horizons.

Many great changes come from great trauma, and I feel this is going to be a great change. That is why you see so many people that for example were against dead penalty and then when someone close to them is killed by a criminal, all of the sudden want criminals to burn in stakes. So if you take this a general basis for change you can gather people change when something touches them internally, when something triggers a chord in their heart that they may not have even know it was there and it causes them to reevaluate their beliefs.

You need him to reevaluate his beliefs. But in order to do that, you have to know if this person is a good person. I asume you hang out with him, because he is a "normal" good person, he doesn't have some mental condition that will make him see things different and he doesn't take joy in hurting others. I clarify this because, how you approach thigns should depend on the mental disorder, if he's got one. So I am asuming he doesn't because you haven't said so. And I am asuming all in all, that he is a good person, what I mean, he doesn't take pleasure in other people's suffering, because I would guess you wouldn't want to be his friend otherwise.

Now we don't want to go and actually cause him trauma, so what is the next best thing? We need to try and reach and ring that chord, his innerself, through emotional engagement and empathy.

All of us are someone in the inside, that is not necesarily what it's seen in the outside, you can not hope for him to change in the outside if he doesn't change in the inside.

So first, start by showing empathy towards him and try to understand why is he saying these things. Did someone in the past wrongly accused him or someone he cared for? If that is the case, then you know why he is so bitter about this. If that it is not the case, ask him directly what has he lost at the hand of women that he complains so much about the whole situation? Many people are actually quite influenced by the exposition these issues get in the media which makes them feel that false accusations are all the rage.

  • Counter his biases: If he was wrongly accused or if he is drawing his opinion out of the media. He is falling victim of several cognitive biases. For example, we can't take the cases highlighted in the media as statistical input. The media will showcase things that sell newspaper, because they seem interesting. Saying "Woman proven to falsely accuse CEO" sells more newspapers than "There are only 2% of false accusations". Now of course we get reports of both things, but where you may get One report talking about the statistics of false accusations, you will get many reports of different scenarios of false accusations. This leads people to believe there are way more false accusations than actually are. If he or someone close to him was falsely acused then all of his thoughts regarding this incident are heavily biased towards that experience.

    So start by showing him that what you mostly see in the media doesn't reflect real statistics. Finding very accurate statistics on these topics is really hard because people don't report, and if you are not found guilty doesn't necesarily mean you are inocent, so it is a really hard topic. But I found this article in particular very interesting towards proving this point Men are more likely to be raped than be falsely accused of rape Now that is a showstopper and I think it will help him see that is not that common for men to be falsely accused and a lot of this feeling is coming from exposure in the media. Here are some more links on statistics on false accusations and how false accusations have rarely a lasting negative effect. In contraposition you can also show him the statistics of Sexual Assault and rape: The Criminal Justice System: Statistics, Sexual Assault in the United States, What We Know About Victims Of Sexual Assault In America.

  • Trigger empathy towards women: Now no matter what his life is, I think it is almost impossible to go around without having at least one good woman and good man in your life. Someone that you wouldn't like to suffer some misfortune. So try to drawn from that. Ask him how would he feel if this important women in his life were to hear him talk like that? It would be ideal if he had daughters because people tend to be very protective of their children and want the best for them. But if he doesn't he may have nieces or so. Ask him if he wants the best for them, if he doesn't want them to have all the oportunities in life? Wouldn't it be beautiful if every child in this world could dream of becoming anything they want and actually be able to do it? And not suffer because misguided people with bad information?

    So start by making him think about those women he cares about (if they are younger it helps more, because we are usually protective towards the young), and what does he want for them. This will help to tear down his defenses. Humans are usually not that evil, we are just sometimes closed up to other people and turtled up in our own beliefs and world and we fail to notice those around us and their needs. But those defenses many times go down when we think and consider of the people we love.

    Next, face him with the ugly truth. Show him rape and sexual assault statistics (the ones from above could help). And then show sexual assault consequences. You can search for rape survivors testimonies for example. I would avoid anything of anyone that has been on the media lately, because I feel his anger probably is directed towards some of them.

    Then you can go all the way down through the rabit hole and talk to him about all the issues women face because of misogyny and these outdated world views. I can tell you, it is hard to be a woman, and have to deal with men that don't know how to approach women in a non-sexual way. Or that think you are "emotional" and as consequences anything you say is tainted by emotion. Are all men like that? Of course not, but Toxic people tend to be more vocal than non-toxic. Non-toxic people many times tend to remain silent because they don't like to antagonize. That is why there are so many articles that talk about how we need men to be women allies. And that is also why I hate when articles talk about all men like they are trash, not all men are like that (btw there are many misogynistic women out there too). It can be exahusting to have your every thought second guessed, to deal with inappropiate hugs, etc. Most women I think, one way or another, have been mistreated and put down just for being women at one or more points of their lifes. Women just don't denounce all of this constantly. Also you can't denounce everyhting, as a lot of this situations are a lot of "he said, she said", which turn into "she just want attention or money that is why she is accusing".

  • Power corruption is not limited to steal money: sometimes I am surprised at how naive people can be. Everyone out there can understand and believe easily, if someone with power is accused of stealing money. I dare say people don't even have an issue to believe someone with power would murder. But you bring up that people with power harras and sexually assault too, and all of the sudden that is not possible. Power corruption has a lot to do with doing things because you can. Of course many of those men accused of rape could get laid with a ton of women without need to rape anyone, but that is not the point. The point is not just having sex, is having sex with anyone you want, just because you can, whether they like it or not. The point is having more, of anything, more power, more money, more sex.

  • Make him explain his misognystic position: Ask him what does he mean when he says he is a misogynist. Sometimes when people say things outrageous like that, they falter when you ask them to explain them. Because they are just saying things for the "impact".

    Once he explained his "mysogeny" ask him, What is going to happen if he ever has a baby girl? Will he put her in chains and take her to his basement so she doesn't see the world and doesn't want things that every men can get and no one questions his right to it? How will he explain his bias to that baby girl?

    Ask him if he is in favor of slavery? Because expecting women to come to this world to only bear and take care of children regardless of what they want, is basically slavery. And not only that, is unfair to men, there are many men that would love the opportunity to be more involved in raising their children, but if it were only a "female" job those men wouldn't be able to do it. Children favor from having everyone in the family involved in their education.

    Ask him, literally, if you were born to this world a woman and you wanted to be an engineer, and you were driven and smart, and have great ideas, would it be fair to be told you have to stay home just because you are a woman?

  • Point out that much is to be gained from diversity: The more point of views you can have over a subject the more you can understand it, that is why diversity is important. There is also the other side of statistics, the positive, for example: WOMEN ON BOARDS Diversity in general is good for business.

  • Men sue too: he said that hiring a woman is buying yourself a sexual harrasment sue. But the reality is that men and women can sue for a variety of reasons, and sexual harrasment is not the top cause of sues and there are other kind of harassment too.

Finally Women and Men need to be allies, not enemies, and good-natured women and men will never have an issue with each other, good-natured men don't use their power to get sexual favors from women, and good-natured women don't falsely accuse men. But as long as we stand as enemies the problems will increase.

If nothing of all of these works, well I advise you to step away from him gradually, he will hurt your career and make you bitter. It is hard to deal with people that has such extreme views and don't want to listen to other people's point of view.

In the past I have to deal with people that have this kind of views, some where close to me, some where people I barely knew. It is interesting to see how sometimes they were raised by oppresive parents that lead them to believe theirs also opprosive points of view. Many people as I said think what you see most in the media is what is happening, when it is not the case, so showing actual statistics helps them have an "eureka" moment about reality.

Usually people, as I said, are good, and when you make them see how their view is hurting others, they stop. But sometimes people don't want to see, and in that case you need to think of yourself. If people keeps drawing away from him, maybe he will realiaze that he is doing something wrong and eventually will change. He has to see his actions have consequences too.

  • 1
    This has a lot of ideas on what to tell the friend here, but I'm having a hard time seeing the how part of it, which is what OP was asking about. It's not clear to me why you expect telling him these things will be effective, or how OP should have that conversation. Is this something that's worked for you before? Could you include some explanation, how do you go about presenting these arguments? – Em C Dec 20 '18 at 21:25
  • @EmC I suppose the first part makes sense right? Just the second part is not clear why I suggest those things, right? – Mykazuki Dec 20 '18 at 22:53
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    @EmC I do have a reasoning and I have used his technique before. I will update my answer to reflect that, I may take me a couple of days though, I wrote a lot. Thanks for your feedback! – Mykazuki Dec 20 '18 at 22:59
  • Great! Yeah, adding why you're suggesting those things will be a good improvement, and personal experience is always helpful to hear about as well :) – Em C Dec 21 '18 at 0:54
  • @EmC I updated my answer with a better structure, please let me know if you think it is now a better fit or if am I missing something. Thanks! – Mykazuki Dec 23 '18 at 0:00
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Society has a real problem these days. Even though your friend's views are extreme as you say, his view of the world is constantly attacked. The physical world is not kind to women, but the internet is not kind for anyone today.

I know a lot of people like him. You think he is wrong. And I assume you are telling this to him with tact, and are trying to be as kind as possible. However, the rest of the world is not like you. The world is full of hatred on both side. No one likes when people are looking down on them, trying to impose their moral.

You want him to change, please consider how he feels. It'll help you change his view step by step.

The world is changing quickly, and many people are left aside, as casualties, because not everyone can adapt. So your friend, as one of these casualties is ranting, and becoming sour.

Treating him like he is some kind of monster with horrible views will not help him at all. You will make him defiant, and he will probably not listen to your arguments, as good as they are.

If you consider him wrong from the very start, and on any subject, I think you will not achieve what you want. If you start all of this considering "You are right, he is wrong, you are good, he is evil" you probably will not succeed either.

I talk from experience, people with this kind of view are suffering.

That's the best advice I can offer. Try to change his point of view little step by little step. When he says anything negativ about women, try to oppose softly.

Example :

"Rant rant rant this woman is such a ***** she's seeking money from this celebrity.

-Yes but what if she isn't and was really abused like it happened to * quote a famous case, or a movie, or whatever good example you think of *

-Rant rant rant (probably a bit less)"

0

Lesson learned from life: You cannot change other people -- it's all you can do to change yourself.

As others have eloquently pointed out, this is about the consequences of speech, not the speech itself. You are in a tough spot. Throw this ball way into the future by limiting your contact with this person, and being clear what the reason is. He doesn't have to change his mind or what he says -- that's beyond your right to ask. But you can certainly demonstrate -- with your feet -- the discomfort that his rants can cause even for people who otherwise like him. By which I mean, if you have decided that you are not going to simply tolerate this sort of speech, then you always have the options to remove yourself from the situation. If you work too closely together to gain any real separation, then you don't have to go to lunch with him, and you don't have to hang out after work.

Rampant opinions and a guess here -- this guy has deep issues driving this anger. He'll dress it up in arguments and rationalizations, but this is a man with problems and you cannot solve them. Be there if he asks for your help, or if he really wants to vent, to talk something over. But don't get trapped into the role of representing the world which has somehow hurt him, and defending the universe against his rants. Arguing logic against broken-ness is pointless and exhausting. You will be a better friend for recognizing a problem as it is, and dealing with it forthrightly.

I have been through things like this before, and I have never come across a sure-fire way to bring about a happy resolution. So aim for the minimum goal of gaining some distance, pointedly so, and see what time can do in the meantime.

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