I accidentally insulted my boss’s daughter

A reader writes:

I am a female employee in my late 20s working for a large Fortune 500 U.S. company. My boss is in his early 40s and is a father of two. His oldest is a 15 year old girl. My boss often tells me, totally unsolicited, that his daughter is “very attractive,” a “perfect tall blonde,” and “so beautiful.” He says boys are fawning over her and she wants to start dating.

One day a couple weeks ago, my boss was talking as usual about how his daughter is very attractive and wants to start dating. Then he paused, looked at me, and said “I bet you had that problem!” Without thinking, I instinctively responded, “Actually, I didn’t, because my parents didn’t raise a whore.” I was raised in a devoutly Christian home in which provocative clothing and behavior was forbidden, and dating wasn’t even a consideration.

My boss looked shocked and a little taken aback. But I didn’t realize until hours later how this came across: I basically said my boss and his wife raised a whore of a daughter.

My boss has been acting weird/standoffish towards me since I made this comment, and understandably so. But he is also a devout Christian (we’ve discussed this many times), not to mention my boss. How can I fix the relationship?


This is problematic on multiple levels, including that you shouldn’t be calling teenage girls “whores” for expressing a perfectly age-appropriate, culture-appropriate interest in dating. Actually, you shouldn’t be calling them “whores” even if it weren’t age-appropriate or culture-appropriate. That’s a horrible thing to say about another person — sexist, punitive, and demeaning, and another person’s sexuality is none of your business — and I hope you’ll take this as a flag to rethink whatever thought pattern led you there. The problem isn’t just that you said it to your boss; it’s that you said it about another person at all.

And then there’s your boss, who sounds pretty creepy in the way he talks about his daughter and with his crudely appraising “I bet you had that problem!” comment to you. Ick.

Anyway, yeah, you did indeed insult his daughter, and you need to talk to him and correct the record. Something like this would probably help: “I’m so sorry for my comment the other day about Jane’s interest in dating. I realized afterward that I may have sounded like I was insulting her and/or your parenting— and that very much wasn’t my intent. From everything you’ve told me, she sounds like a wonderful girl. It was terrible wording, and I’m so sorry for that.”

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 1,265 comments… read them below }

      1. Banana Sandwich*

        I’m going to add a WOW! And if nothing else, it is comforting to know that my big mouth could be much. much worse.

        1. Annonymouse*

          Having just read the update I have a few questions and comments for the OP:

          1) Why is there only room for girls or women to be a madonna or a whore?

          Does this make your mother a whore since she isn’t a virgin if she had you?

          There is more middle ground to be had and that’s really not a healthy or supportive way to look at your fellow women.

          2) You’re going to get some pushback on the line about having been subjected to that word has made you the woman you are today.

          Most commenters believe there are ways to teach our daughters and other women to respect their bodies and set clear boundaries about what is and isn’t ok (in general as well as for them) without having to repeatedly shout at them or use that word.

          It might have worked OK for you but it’s not going to have the best or desired results in most cases.

          3) If you believe dating is immoral then does this mean you’ll never be married? Will you have to get an arranged marriage?

          I’m seriously curious about how you expect to find a partner for life when there is no getting to know you time.

          Or do you do that in group hangouts or under the watchful eye of a chaperone?

          I’m asking as a legitimate question to further my understanding and find out more about your mindset.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I had a few lines in my head, like “I’m afraid I was too much of a geek to date.” Did not see this turn.

        OP, take this line of dropped jaws as a sign of how many miles outside normal that response was.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yes! I was worried the OP was going to have accidentally implied the daughter wasn’t pretty.

          1. Liz T*

            Same! I too gasped aloud.

            She’s lucky she has a creepy kinda-sexist boss and not a feminist boss who believes in sex workers’ rights.

            1. Specialk9*

              Hopefully she hasn’t told ANYONE at work (like hoping for commiseration or advice) because I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t have their image of her permanently and deeply damaged. I would not be able to be anything more than polite to someone if I found out their head was so full of snakes.

          2. Ramblin' Ma'am*

            That’s what I was thinking, too. Like she got introduced to the “pretty” girl, saw she was actually rather plain, and said something like, “Oh, is this your other daughter?”

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              That’s where I thought this was going too. I can’t believe a grown adult actually uttered the word “whore” in public, much less in a professional environment.

              I also can’t believe that someone under the age of 50 still thinks slut-shaming is okay.

              That said… I honestly don’t have high hopes that backpedaling on something this egregious is going to help that much. OP absolutely SHOULD apologize (profusely), as a matter of being a decent human being. But you showed your boss who you are, so you can’t reasonably expect that he won’t believe you, and have that seared into his mind during all future dealings with you. You can’t unring the bell.

              1. aebhel*

                This. I mean… feminist principles aside, that is just a shockingly rude thing to say, especially in a professional environment. And I’m saying this as someone who cusses like a sailor when I’m not at work.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  Right. I grew up in a very, very conservative Christian environment, where strict judgment on people who have premarital sex or even dress provocatively or date was the norm, and… you still wouldn’t say that. The sexism issue is very real and very important, but even apart from that, it’s rude in a breathtaking way. I mean, if it had been that he was saying “my daughter keeps slacking off on her chores–did you do that too?” and you said “Actually, I didn’t, because my parents didn’t raise a lazy bum” it would be A Problem, even if you and he both genuinely believe that slacking off on chores is lazy.

                  Adding in the sexual/gendered element just makes it worse. Don’t get me wrong, that definitely makes it worse. But it’s unkind (and, if it’s a boss, deeply unwise) to make that kind of assessment about someone else’s child even if it’s not in relation to sex.

                2. Creag an Tuire*

                  I’m somebody who cusses like a sailor when I am at work, and my jaw hit the floor.

                3. JulesCase*

                  Well, the word “whore” could be used in another context and I might not blink an eye: “She played the whore in that movie about drug addicts.” However, OP was referring to her boss’s 15-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. That is the shocking part of the equation. It’s just so…….out of left field, incorrect, and escalated. I mean, because a 15-year old wants to date, OP referred to her as a WHORE?! When speaking about the girl with the girl’s DAD?! Who is OP’s BOSS?!

                  It sounds like OP is either very emotionally/socially immature or perhaps awkward and lacking in normal social/professional etiquette.

                  It’s just such an odd thing to say.

                4. Ted Mosby*

                  @JulesCase casually referring to sex worker as whores is a pretty awful, dehumanizing way to speak about someone. Talking about women that way is the first step on the road to calling 16 year old girls whores.

                5. unions are necessary*

                  Seriously. It’s not about using a bad word. I’m a grizzled old union staffer. Curse words are punctuation. It’s not unheard of for people to swear during job interviews, when they are the candidate. I don’t shock easily. And that gave me the vapours.

              2. Girl Alex PR*

                +1 to the last part. Additionally, as a mother, it would be very hard for me to disregard a comment like that about my child.

            2. MommyMD*

              I also thought it would be this. I can’t even wrap my head around what it turned out to be, and I am far from easily shocked.

          3. Anne (with an "e")*

            That’s exactly what I thought would be the denouement of the letter. After hearing about how beautiful the daughter was, I thought the OP would eventually see a picture or something and suggest that the daughter was extremely unattractive. I never expected this. WOW!

            OP, even if this is wildly different from the way you were raised, you just do not call a fifteen year old girl, who sounds like a typical teen, a “whore.” I think it would be inappropriate to say this about her to anyone. Period. That just is not done. Negative points for saying this to her father, of all people.

            “Without thinking, I instinctively responded…” Those words sound to me like this was a knee-jerk reaction. I strongly suggest that you in the future you stop to **THINK**
            Before you blurt something out like that again, ask yourself,
            Is it True?
            Is it Helpful?
            Is it Inspiring?
            Is it Necessary?
            Is it Kind?

            Just remember to always T-H-I-N-K before you speak.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I prefer the 3 questions approach:
              Does this need to be said?
              Does this need to be said by me?
              Does this need to be said by me right now?

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Adding: “Have I really thought about this sentence or are words falling out of my mouth.” That is my go-to question.
              OP, there have been so many times where I have just paused for no apparent reason and I saved my own butt by pausing. It was seconds later that I realized, thank goodness, I did not say that thought out loud.

              1. TrainerGirl*

                I have a rule…95% of what I think never comes out of my mouth. Those are thoughts just for me, because my brain operates in snark mode most of the time and I have a very sarcastic sense of humor. The most I might do is make an involuntary face, but that you can explain. Wow. I think “whore” is one of those words that doesn’t even enter my thoughts, because it’s just so loaded. I really have to wonder what process made the OP go there.

              2. Van Wilder*

                Me too. When I was a kid, I remember my mom and others telling me to say something in my head before I say it out loud. But well into my 20’s, I still blurted out lots of not-okay things, because I thought it was worth the shock/comedic value.

                I don’t know when I finally started listening to my mom but I realized recently that I say a lot fewer stupid/hurtful things now (in my 30’s) than I did in my 20’s. I play it in my head, then shudder at how it could come across or make someone feel bad, then make a mental note and cross my fingers that I never, ever say those stupid words out loud.

            3. Ted Mosby*

              Ok I think this is great advice but side note…
              I always semi utilize T-H-I-N-K and it’s helped me a lot (i’m have ADD and tend to blurt things out by nature) but the idea that everything I say should be INSPIRING always makes me roll my eyes. Couldn’t everything be “intelligently researched if an objective fact” or something??

              Before I speak I just THNK.

              1. Cherith Ponsonby*

                I’ve always seen the I quoted as “important”, but I like to substitute “interesting”.

                (I’m an ADD talker and a nitpicker, and if I only opened my mouth when it was Necessary then I’d go mad – so I just THIK before I speak.)

                1. Ted Mosby*

                  me toooo. it took my so long to admit to myself how much i just blurt. I can THINK if I’m informative… although lets be honest 90% of what I say isn’t actually necessary. As fascinating as my opinions on the weather and 13 reasons why are….

                  Nessesaryish, importantish, but true, helpful, and kind are always good. Or very occasionally trueish but kind and helpful.

          4. Meri*

            I was expecting something like “my parents prioritized my schoolwork instead”, implying that the daughter was dumb.

        2. AMT*

          My initial thought was that OP had said this to make a joke about how her parents were very conservative (i.e. “Ha ha, they thought wearing shorts made you a whore!”). This was the only other explanation I could come up with that didn’t involve deliberately implying that girls who date are whores.

          1. someone else*

            That’s my thought, too– she didn’t realize it was insulting to the boss and daughter, because she meant it as a joke about her parents’ attitudes.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              So does that mean her parents taught her only whores date? Here I thought I grew up in a conservative christian home (with very strict rules and limits on dsting), but that was definitely not a thing. And being attractive didn’t make you the whore of babylon either. I’m a bit baffled.

              1. VintageLydia*

                Some Christians practice courtship rather than dating (basically dating with an eye to marriage, often with someone selected by the parents. It’s not unlike an arranged marriage.) But usually those type of Christians aren’t keen on women working outside of the home.

              2. AthenaC*

                Not just in my excessively Catholic family, but the slice of Evangelical subculture nearby – yes. Of course, it was broader than just whether you dated or not; it encompassed everything – clothing, posture, makeup – everything.

                Now, they were very careful to say, “Oh, I NEVER said you WERE a slut for wearing shorts that fall above the knee and sleeveless shirts on a 90F day, I just said that’s the way sluts dress so you shouldn’t be surprised if OTHER people THINK that about you.”

                But the message was extremely clear.

            2. Benefit of the doubt*

              Maybe I’m reading too much into it but I wonder if the OP was so taken aback by her boss’s comment that she tried to make a joke in return and just did a phenomenally bad job of it. When her boss made his comment, the conversation pivoted to her, she was uncomfortable and said the first thing that popped into her head. She still definitely has to apologize asap but I can see where something like that could happen. (Ive had a couple of male bosses who would say things that make me uncomfortable and my usual go to was just to smile and nod. Works much better than a snappy comeback).

              1. Van Wilder*

                Yeah, I empathize because that was such an uncomfortable situation that I could understand blurting out something stupid. Disturbing that she had something that judgmental locked and loaded, but not shocking given her upbringing.

                I hate to smile and nod while people say offensive things, but it happens a lot, especially at work.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Yes, the most innocent interpretation of this I can come up with is… once in a while in college when describing high school I’d say something like “Oh yeah, I didn’t date in high school because” [giant finger quotes] “ONLY WHORES DATE” [giant eyeroll]. Where my sarcasm and disdain was basically signaled in giant neon letters. It’s barely possible that someone could say something like that and have it be misconstrued. (To be clear, I don’t think that’s what happened here, and anyway I would never have said anything like that to anyone other than close friends who I knew for a fact would get that I was quoting someone else without agreement.)

            1. Althea*

              This was my interpretation – that she was dryly quoting what her parents would have said about her own dating at that age. So she might have intended, “I couldn’t date because my parents would have called me a whore.”

              I can completely believe this, because I have a very dry sense of humor with a lot of deadpan of non-serious statements. I have also learned to be careful of it, because it can be very hurtful, and not everyone can pick up on the deadpan.

              If so, the OP should probably include this in her apology for context.

          3. JS*

            I think its more a reflection on how her boss is raising his daughter. The way he is bragging about her looks and attractiveness towards guys is honestly creepy and gross. Most dads dread their daughters dating out of over protectiveness but he seems excited about it and brags about it, which is weird. It’s almost like medieval arranged marriage days where fathers would boast and brag about their daughters to the highest bidder for the biggest dowry. If I was OP I would definitely be annoyed the way my boss was talking about his young daughter. So while the comment was “my parents didn’t raise a whore” the emphasis here is “raise” as in how the dad is basically grooming his daughter to date.

            1. Julia*

              Yeah, it sounded like the boss was close to asking OP if she thought he should go for the highest bidder on his daughter. Gross.

            2. Ted Mosby*

              No, he shouldn’t be commenting on how beautiful his daughter is all the time, but why should he dread his child going through a normal, fun part of teen development? You don’t hear fathers talking about keeping their teen sons away from girls. This bizarre focus on a young girls’ virginity and demonizing their sexuality is its own gross kind of creepy.

            3. SG*

              I just literally cannot ever fathom a world in which anywhere, let alone the workplace, I could find OP’s response to be remotely appropriate. This isn’t a race to the bottom – yes OP’s boss’ way of discussing his daughter is bizarre, but implying that girls who get male attention and want to date are whores is so offensive to me.

        3. Commenting*

          Yes, it is very odd that her immediate “instinctive” reply was to say her parents didn’t raise a whore. Why is that on the tip of your tongue when talking to your boss? Furthermore, why is the fact that he is a Christian relevant in this at all?

          1. Ted Mosby*

            I don’t really see what OP being a christian has to do with it either. Might wanna brush up on John 8:7 real quick if you instinctively jump to call young women whores. It frustrates me when people give religion a bad name.

      2. SlackerMom*

        I think someone needs a little more education on how to be respectful of all women, even though you are one. My audible gasp was more of a @#$ $%^&.

        1. Kelly*

          Agreed! Beyond stunned when I read that! I’m still wide-eyed rapid blinking in complete and utter shock!

        2. Interviewer*

          I’ve made it through about half of the comments, and it seems universally focused on the use of the word “whore” – but her remark also strongly implies her boss is a bad parent. “My parents didn’t raise a whore.” To me, that’s calling a totally normal 15-year old girl an incredibly inappropriate word, and it’s comparatively calling out the parents (OP’s boss) for terrible results in her upbringing. A huge direct hit on the whole family, in one blow.

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh no, we all got that one really clearly too. It’s like this perfect fractal statement, getting worse at every turn.

    1. LadyL*

      Really glad my office mates happen to be away from their desks right now because when I read this question I could not help myself from going “What? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???” out loud.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yeah, I didn’t see how that could be taken any way other than insulting the boss’ daughter!

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        To the point that I don’t actually think Alison’s advice is going to work. I’ll take OP at her word that she didn’t intend to call the daughter a whore or insult her boss’ childrearing, and that her chosen wording just tumbled out without adequate review. But….the wording is so brutal, and has so little ambiguity, that I have no idea how she’s going to walk it back without the apology sounding insincere . The problem with apologizing for how it may have sounded is that there’s really no other way it could sound.

        1. Anna*

          I think you’re absolutely right. This isn’t an issue of using the wrong word or misunderstanding the intent. There’s really no other interpretation to that specific sentence or the way it was phrased.

          1. Red 5*

            Yeah, I agree here, this is so extreme there is no other way to take this. And honestly I’m not sure that the OP is owning up to their actual intent, though I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt that’s really difficult to do in this situation. The words were just too extreme.

            An apology that doesn’t recognize that the OP meant to be insulting and went too far will come across insincere. If they want to patch this up, there’s a slight chance in really owning up to it and expressing real regret for being insulting and thoughtless. But the OP has to actually have real regret and really own what they said and what they meant, and it doesn’t feel like they are there yet.

            1. Annoyed*

              You know thr OP is a woman who identifies as a woman and is a singular person. It’s ok to say ‘she’ and ‘her’ etc. instead of ‘they’ or ‘them.’ She is not pluran and there is no gender ambiguity.

                1. Nicole*

                  It’s actually not that uncommon for people to unconsciously refer to others as “they” when they’re not personally familiar with them, at least in some areas. It’s not even a transgender thing, I’ve done it my whole life and I didn’t even really learn about personal pronouns and stuff like that until I was maybe 18. On top of that, I was raised in a relatively conservative household, so it’s not like my parents were doing it consciously either.

        2. EA*

          I don’t think it will work either.

          Mostly because she doesn’t seem to get it, she mentioned that his is a devout christian as well. So I think the implication of that, is why is he raising her that way.

          For it to work, I think she needs to reflect, apologize, and like explain her upbringing a bit, and how she is working to move past it.

          1. Mabel*

            I agree. For that word to come out of one’s mouth automatically – just wow. It makes me seriously wonder what kind of conversations were had about dating, appearance, women, sex, etc. in her childhood home. Maybe if the OP is able to explain to her boss how that particular phrase – “my parents didn’t raise a whore” – was in her head in the first place, he MIGHT understand. But unfortunately I don’t have high hopes.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Even so, it had several hours to sink in and marinate. If you said it and realized what a thunderclap it was and immediately walked it back, maybe, but after the fact….nope.

              1. AD*

                My boss looked shocked and a little taken aback. But I didn’t realize until hours later how this came across

                Agreed, and the above line is key. I think the boss’s reaction was the element which, over time, gave her pause. Which would make a later apology no matter how well-worded seem…..inauthentic.

                1. kittymommy*

                  Yeah, I worry it may come across as disingenuous (actually that’s exactly how I would take it in the boss’s spot). It also seems like the OP doesn’t get why this was bad in general. It’s not that it’s wrong at work, it’s just plain wrong.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I agree. The fact that it took several hours for her to realize what was wrong about what she said worries me.

                I think the only option is a full-throated apology with Mabel’s qualification, and the knowledge that her boss may not forget what she said (even if he forgives) and that she may have also alienated any of her coworkers who were within listening range.

                1. EddieSherbert*

                  Yeah, I think this is a good think to keep in mind. Alison’s advice is probably the only way to handle it… but I don’t really thin it’s going to “fix” anything.

                2. Red 5*

                  The hours later gets me too. It shouldn’t take hours to realize that it was an incredibly inappropriate and horrible thing to say, or how it comes across. That takes barely any self-reflection.

          2. Jesmlet*

            But is she trying to move past it? The fact that this phrase popped into her head, let alone came out of her mouth seems to indicate she stands by that idea – that a 15 year old dating boys is whoreish behavior. Like… don’t use the word whore in front of your boss, don’t imply your boss’ daughter is a whore, and don’t expect an apology so far after the fact will fully or even partially mend the relationship.

            I also feel a little sad to know that people are still raised this way. I go to church every week, but this was certainly not an aspect of my life. It seems like this was a significant theme of your upbringing if it took so long to realize what you said was inappropriate. Trying really hard not to be judgmental, but whoever gave you the idea that teenage dating = whore is so so wrong.

            1. EA*

              I am not like an expert on this, but this was a common thread of my conservative catholic upbringing, and I am 27. I also see shades of it “respect yourself, don’t wear revealing clothes”, but in a more toned down, less obvious way.

              1. Sylvia*

                I didn’t get this idea from my parents, but I also grew up around it. Around the same age as you.

                On the other hand, not dating made you arrogant, cold, etc., or homophobes bothered you.

                There’s no right way to be a girl. :/

                1. Jeanne*

                  Your last sentence is the absolute truth. We all grow up with these conflicting messages.

            2. shep*

              Yeah, my parents were pretty strict about me dating until I was a senior in high school (and even then, they weren’t thrilled). But my parents were also not religious, just freaked out about boys, and I was NEVER raised to think any girl was a “whore.” They let me wear what I wanted, listen to angry metal, watch and read anything, etc.

              My [decade-younger] brother was allowed to date much earlier than I was, and while it would be easy to chalk this up to he’s-a-boy sexism, my mom flat-out admitted to me that they were too strict when I was younger. That’s what I get for being the oldest.

              1. Rebecca in Dallas*

                Haha, my mom always says that it’s like my younger sister and I were raised by different parents. They were soooo strict with me but way more lenient with my sister.

              2. TrainerGirl*

                My older brother was quite the delinquent, so my parents went into “Save the one we have left!” mode and locked me in the house for the duration of high school. I’m very thankful I wasn’t the rebellious type, because I probably would have gone crazy when I got to college (I skipped a grade and left home at 17). My parents have since thanked me for not giving them problems like my brother did, and admitted that they made a lot of mistakes in trying to protect me. Being the baby is no fun either.

                1. Midwest Marketer*

                  Ha! “Save the one we have left mode.” I sort of had the opposite experience. My older sister was a menace, so my parents spent so much time worrying over her I was pretty much left to my own devices. But all I wanted to do was study anyway. I skipped a grade too and left home at 16. I like to say my sister and I were raised only children.

            3. HR Jeanne*

              I am a lifelong, devout Christian and I cannot think of a context in which I would call anyone a whore, especially not a child. Please don’t attribute this to “Christian” behavior. This is extremely rude behavior.

              1. Jesmlet*

                Not sure if you think I’m attributing this to ‘Christian behavior’ but I’m definitely not (as a Christian myself)! I don’t know that I’d call myself devout, but I’m there singing in the choir every week and this is not how Christians should behave.

                1. HR Jeanne*

                  No, I absolutely wasn’t referring to you! Just the fact that the OP referenced that to explain her comment. I should have separated it as a comment, not a reply. Plus, I love the choir! :-)

              2. Hey Nonnie*

                “Rude” is an understatement. “Actively hostile, judgmental, self-righteous, and misogynistic” is more accurate.

              3. Annie Moose*

                Oh my goodness, yes. I wouldn’t even call a prostitute a whore! (not that this is a particularly common topic of conversation, but still!)

            4. AthenaC*

              ” It seems like this was a significant theme of your upbringing if it took so long to realize what you said was inappropriate.”

              The thing is, for those raised by people with these attitudes, it BECOMES a significant theme of your upbringing because it takes a lot of effort to override things like a child’s good sense, the influence of the dominant culture, etc.

              For some people (like the OP apparently) the end result is that those attitudes are eventually ingrained and become part of their mental backdrop. For people like me it became a constant. constant. source of conflict and soured my relationship with my mother for years. It also messed with my perspective on tasteful fashion and overall gender relations; I knew the way I had been raised was bullshit but what I didn’t have any positive examples or good information to replace the void created by casting out the bullshit. So I was making the same naive mistakes at 20, 21, and 22 that other people were making at 14 and 15.

                1. Specialk9*

                  I sincerely hope the OP gets therapy. Between this and the update, her head is full of hissing snakes, planted by abusive parents and teachers. There are so many destructive things in there, but she seems like she could actually be one of the ones who (with lots of lovely therapy) became healthy. I hope that for her so much.

              1. Jesmlet*

                Absolutely, it’s hard to break ideas that have been repeatedly drilled into you. But I would hope that by your late 20s, you’ve been exposed to enough diversity (especially if you work at a Fortune 500 company) to see that certain things you’ve been taught are wrong. There are many things I was taught when I was younger (most prominently that homosexuality is wrong) that experiences in college erased from my mental backdrop. I’m sure it takes a different amount of time for everyone. I just hope this will be the epiphany OP needs.

            5. JS*

              I mean I think it depends too on how the boss was talking about his daughter. The fact that he is so obsessed and bragging about how attractive his daughter is multiple times is more than a bit creepy. I actually LOL’d because thats probably the knee-jerk response I would have had too. Not that 15 year olds dating is unheard of (although I think as an adult I equate dating to a sexual relationship and 15 is too young imo for that) but the way he is sexualizing his daughter like an object is reminiscent of attitudes one would have towards a whore. While in any case the comment is inappropriate for work and that isn’t excusable even with the boss objectifying his daughter, which isn’t excusable either.

              I actually think the boss might be embarrassed because he realizes how uncouth and creepy he is coming across talking about his daughter in that way. Either way I think the best advice would be to drop the subject completely and ignore it. I bet the boss wont talk about his daughter that way anymore!

              1. Julia*

                It more or less sounded like the boss was trying to “whore” his daughter out, if we need to use that word.

            6. MommyMD*

              Let’s agree the W word should never, ever be used at work. Under any circumstance. Ever.

          3. TrainerGirl*

            Agreed. The fact that he is a devout Christian doesn’t mean he would follow the same thoughts as OP. Christians, like any group of people, are not a monolith. And that is such an extreme statement that anything other than “I’m so sorry, I can be a rude thoughtless idiot at times, and I let something stupid pop out of my mouth” will probably seem a bit dishonest or insincere.

        3. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Yeah, I am having a hard time thinking of *any* time that word should be uttered in public, let alone in a workplace. Maybe the shared background will help? Maybe? Or make it worse? I have no idea.

          Insert Keanu Reeves “Woah” pic here.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It literally never should be used, ever, in any context unless you’re a sex worker using it as a reclaimed term of self-identification. “Sex worker” is the appropriate term if you’re using it literally to refer to someone who has sex for money, and any other time it’s a truly nasty insult that, as Alison says, is punitive, sexist, and demeaning – and it’s meant to be that way. It’s not something you accidentally call someone.

            1. Lil Lamb*

              Seriously, I think the only time this word has ever left my mouth has been when I was quoting Regina George, and even then it was only amongst friends who would get the reference/joke.

          2. Jaydee*

            If you’re playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton, you will need to say it a few times in a public theater. Otherwise, no.

            1. BananaPants*

              Our 6 year old asked me what a “whore” was because she heard it in the Hamilton cast recording. I explained it in the historical context of Hamilton being illegitimate and then drilled it into her head that it is not a word that we EVER USE.

            2. JD*

              Or Danny Devito in It’s Always Sunny. But that’s less “whore” and more “wwhhhOOooooore”

            3. DG*

              Or if you’re playing Javert, Fantine or Sleazy Captain in Les Miserables. Sleazy Captain is just the worst.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Hey, good one! Someone pointed out way down thread that the expression “attention whore” is also considered generally acceptable, for better or worse, if still insulting.

          3. Sloan*

            I’m just so curious what else OP could have meant by that comment- it’s pretty much as insulting as you can get about another person’s daughter. How would that EVER be unoffensive?

            1. Halpful*

              The most generous interpretation I can think of is “it won’t *be* a problem because your daughter’s not a whore”. still horrible on many levels, but… less directly insulting.

        4. Jessesgirl72*

          Well, I’d say there is room to not take her at her exact word in this instance, because she said she didn’t intend too, but then immediately expressed confusion about the boss not agreeing with her that it’s inappropriate to want to date, because the boss is a devout Christian too… That shows some inconsistency and room to have to decide which part to believe.

        5. Admin Assistant*

          Agreed, I don’t think OP could come up with an apology I’d be willing to hear if I were in her boss’s shoes unless it contained some variation on “I am working extremely hard to drastically change the attitude and outlook on women that I cultivated through years of growing up in a deeply sexist household and church community.” Unless OP is willing to radically change the belief system that let her say such a horrible, misogynistic thing about a CHILD, I don’t see any apology she could provide as truly sincere or showing that she’s grasped the gravity of what she said.

          1. Admin Assistant*

            And I say this based on my reading of OP’s wording and professed thought process in the letter — I’m getting the sense that she sees the word “whore” in the context she used it as acceptable, when it’s 100% not, and she seems to profess a hope that boss might agree with her/be lenient to her because he’s also “a devout Christian.”

            1. Hanna*

              Yeah, the fact that the OP keeps falling back on “we’re both religious!” makes me think that any apology she comes up with is going to a) seem insincere or b) insult the boss even further by blaming her (and therefore his) religion.

            2. Amber T*

              Yeah… I think that’s her best bet, but that only *might* work if that’s what the OP is actually doing, which it really doesn’t sound like it is.

              OP, you really need to understand what you did was so far from normal and acceptable, on so many levels. Lots of deep reflection needed here.

            3. Turtle Candle*

              I think she’s also going to have to be very, very, very careful in the apology not to say anything that could even remotely be construed as “I only said that because I thought you were a devout Christian, so I’ll be more careful now that I know you’re not as devout as me!” (As I noted downthread, I grew up in a subculture much like she describes, and it was really cringe-inducing how often they’d strike up an acquaintanceship with someone who was a Christian, discover that the person was a denomination that they thought were too “lax” or liberal, and then actually say something like “Oh, I thought you were a real Christian.”)

              One really sadly easy way to make this worse would be to go from implying “your daughter’s a whore” to implying “your daughter’s a whore and you’re insufficiently devoted to your religion/not a “real” member of your religion.”

              1. Kriss*

                “One really sadly easy way to make this worse would be to go from implying “your daughter’s a whore” to implying “your daughter’s a whore and you’re insufficiently devoted to your religion/not a “real” member of your religion.””

                but she’s already done that. She knows the man to be a devout Christian & her statement does all three of those things right off the bat while also implying she has the moral superiority.

                1. Kriss*

                  1. insult the daughter
                  2. called into question his parenting as to what he allows his daughter to do
                  3. calls into question his devotion to faith by way of questioning his parenting
                  4. implying she & her parents are somehow superior because she didn’t date.

                  it’s just a big ol’ cluster. apologize, eat some crow, & brush up that resume because I don’t think she’s coming back from this.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Oh yeah, I don’t disagree with that. It’s just that in that context, it’s very possible for her to apologize in a way that makes it worse, and I think that while a lot of the suggestions to blame her ‘conservative’ or ‘devout’ upbringing for the gaffe are well-intentioned, they could easily actually make it worse depending on how they’re framed.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  @Kriss, you laid this out very well. Words can be used like machine gun bullets as you have explained here. The statement is loaded with insults and on rapid firing.

                  This seems to be a manner of speaking that some groups fall into the habit of using. I left my childhood church in part for this manner of speaking. It took me decades to learn to trust again, and I finally found a church were no one I met so far speaks this way. Just my opinion, but churches would do well to eradicate this type of talk.

            4. Karanda Baywood*

              Aren’t devout Christians taught to do unto others?

              How is calling someone you never met a brutal, sexist name Christian in spirit?

              1. Marzipan*

                I know next to nothing about the subject, but didn’t Jesus treat prostitutes with respect?

                1. Candi*

                  It gets better than that.

                  Remember Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho who helped the Israelite spies? She married a guy named Salmon. They had a son named Boaz (who married the Moab-born Ruth). Their son was Obed, his son was Jesse, and HIS youngest son was David.

                  That David. King David.

                  Ancestor of Jesus David.

                  I’m immature enough to enjoy the pearl-clutching that occurs when this pointed out. Bonus points for Ruth the immigrant.

                2. Specialk9*

                  And he healed the gay lover / slave of the Roman centurion. The Aramaic wasn’t trying to hide that’s what was going on, it was the later translations that hid that Jesus healed a gay Roman centurion’s gay lover.

              2. Fire*

                Not really. Assuming we’re talking about evangelical Christianity here (which I believe we are), the latest I can remember the Golden Rule being taught is like ten years old or something. There’s something that ranks far, far above it – Tough Love. Because all non-evangelical Christians are going to hell (and I was really, really taught that ONLY evangelical Christians were real Christians and going to heaven), it is considered a loving act to try to turn them away from their (perceived) sinful ways by any means possible, and it is considered a loving act to directly confront any (perceived) sinful acts, no matter how rude.

                This is the rationale behind harassing women going to get an abortion – they are about to Commit A Terrible Sin, we MUST stop them for the sake of their eternal souls, even if that means screaming at them. It’s the rationale behind not letting gay people just do their own thing – again, Sin, MUST SAVE, MUST SAVE!! In this context, calling someone’s daughter a whore would be considered tough love because it would be shocking someone into realizing what they’ve been allowing, in the person’s mind, isn’t okay.

                Even under the Golden Rule, these things still qualify as loving acts, because it’s considered to be reasonable for someone to not always realize they’re committing a sin (being blinded by sin), and would want someone to point it out to them so they wouldn’t, y’know, go to hell. This doesn’t always work in practice – pride is fairly common, and being called out doesn’t always go well, but in theory? Makes sense.

                Of course I consider all this to be unreasonable, but that’s the logic behind it.

                1. Candi*

                  Of course, they completely ignore that that’s is almost completely in contradiction to several large parts of the New Testament -the parts about witnessing by example and being polite to people you don’t agree with and Jesus’ example of not going after the rich guy to bug him some more, just for starters.

                  It became very clear once I read the whole Bible (had to hint up one of the good translations) that not only is it a lot ‘dirtier’ than many Christians care to acknowledge, a lot of what is taught is drastically out of context. (The history of the cultures around the Bible are important to; things make so much more sense.)

            5. Salamander*

              I think the only possible silver lining of this situation is if what the OP blurted out causes this supposedly-devout Christian dad to back up and analyze why he’s sexualizing his daughter so much. There’s so much ick here, so much.

              I had what I consider to be a very normal relationship with my dad, and I don’t recall him ever, ever bragging about whether my milkshakes brought the boys to the yard.

              1. Zweisatz*

                Honestly I don’t have high hopes as he was missing that self-awareness to begin with.

          2. Sans*

            I agree that’s the only approach that has a hope of working. But she’d have to mean it. And it doesn’t sound like she does. I don’t think she realizes at all how twisted it is to go right to “whore” just because of disapproval of dating customs.

            If the boss is deeply religious, it’s possible he’s familiar with the mindset she displayed, and may show some understanding if she apologizes — and means it — as Admin Assistant above phrased it.

            But … wow. Even for the future, I hope OP gives some more thought about how that was her first reaction to what her boss said.

          3. Jesmlet*

            I would’ve semi-accepted that apology if it had happened almost immediately after the comment was made but honestly I think the ship has sailed at this point. Those would come across as empty words, especially given it seems questionable whether OP realizes it’s an inappropriate thing to say about anyone’s child, not just her boss’.

            1. calonkat*

              hmm, I’m not sure on this point. It seems to me that an immediate “horrified at what just came out of my mouth” reaction would be good, but I’m not sure a delayed reaction of “I’ve reflected on what I said and what it reflects about my own past and what issues I unwittingly internalized and I am truly horrified by what I said” would be unwelcome.

              I’m sympathetic to all parties here, but my heart weeps for the OP and growing up hearing that.

              1. Jesmlet*

                I think it depends on the person’s capacity for forgiveness, but IMO if it takes you more than a couple minutes to understand calling my daughter a whore is not okay, the apology would not come across as sincere.

                To be clear, I’m very sympathetic to OP for having been raised that way. With that said, there comes a time when you can’t blame your upbringing for your own actions. Once you’re exposed fully to the outside world, what you believe and how you act is entirely on you.

              2. Gadfly*

                I feel bad for OP, but my standard with abusive behavior is that while I can feel bad for you, the abuse you are doing now that can be stopped is higher priority than past abuse where all that can be done is work on healing.

        6. Artemesia*

          I agree that this looks like an irrecoverable gaffe to me. But I would go further than Alison’s suggestion. I’d probably tell the Boss in addition to how sorry you are that your comment came out the way it did, that you were raised in a very strict religious home and not allowed to date at all and told that girls who dated were immoral and so this was a knee jerk response that came from your own upbringing. I’d then pivot to ‘and you can see how damaging that kind of upbringing can be.’

          This is one that would have me looking for a new job; I don’t see how you recover from this if you hope to make progress in this company.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Major points for coming up with a phrasing that might actually garner some empathetic understanding. Because I was trying and failing.

            OP the above is really good advice, but you need to have reflected enough to believe it.

          2. Fishcakes*

            “I don’t see how you recover from this if you hope to make progress in this company.”

            Agreed. I’ve had colleagues in the past who’ve said similar things to me and I’ve immediately written them off as extremely strange and inappropriate.

          3. MWKate*

            I think this is the best possible way to phrase the apology.

            However – OP I still don’t think this is enough. What you said was wildly inappropriate, and incredible insulting to your boss, his daughter, and demeaning to women in general. I strongly urge you to update your resume and start looking for a job. People can be forgiving, but flat out calling someone’s daughter a whore is something very few would be able to get past.

            I also suggest you take the time to evaluate why you said this in the first place and as importantly why it took you several hours to realize how it might have come across. A lot of people were raised with antiquated or conservative backgrounds, while it might be an explanation – it’s not an excuse. If you intend on working in a mainstream work environment (presumably not surrounded by people that share the beliefs you were raised with) you will need to be able to determine what kind of behavior is acceptable.

          4. Hey Nonnie*

            Unfortunately I don’t get the impression that the OP does think she was in the wrong to BELIEVE that girls who date are whores, just that she SAID it out loud to her boss.

            And if she doesn’t believe that her attitudes that generated her comment are in the wrong, simply saying she’s working on getting past her upbringing is going to be pretty clearly insincere. It won’t be an effective apology without genuinely meaning it, and no one will be fooled if she doesn’t.

            If the apology in ANY WAY comes across as “I’m sorry you were offended, but really, I was right” it will probably be worse than no apology at all.

        7. Falling Diphthong*

          I think we may be over into the area of apologies that goes something like
          • Apologize with no ‘but extenuating circumstance’
          • Explain what you’re going to do differently in future
          • Do things differently in future

          This apology probably needs to be phrased “I was appalled at what I said, and it caused me to reflect on the things I internalized growing up, and to realize _____. And in future I will _____.” Because there really is no less insulting way to take ‘whore.’

          1. LSP*

            This is good wording, and I think OP’s only chance at getting her boss to accept an apology, and even then… it doesn’t look good. This was way more than a foot-in-mouth situation. This was the voicing of a prejudice so deeply ingrained that it took OP hours to realize how it would sound to pretty much anyone else. In OP’s defense, there are plenty of people who would never come to this realization on their own, so at least there’s that, cold-comfort though it might be.

          2. Emmie*

            This is best. Or something like “I realized after our conversation how my words came across, and I did not intend that. I also realized too that how ___ had become so internalized. I am very sorry. Your daughter is ______. I am also sorry that this lesson came at your expense.”

          3. Delightful Daisy*

            I think you’ve worded the apology perfectly as long as it’s true. I think this is the only way out of this situation, and that’s dependent on how long ago it happened. I think those who have said this may not be a gaffe you can recover from are correct.

            OP, please listen to what the commenters are saying about how outside the norm this belief is and take the opportunity to reflect on what you beliefs lead you to say this. I am also a devout Catholic but I don’t believe that an interest in dating means that a young lady is a whore. I can’t think of a context where I would apply that word and certainly not in a professional setting. Good luck to you as you work through this.

        8. Kate*

          I agree. I’m not sure on the apology wording here. “I realized afterward that I may have sounded like I was insulting her and/or your parenting— and that very much wasn’t my intent.” What was the intent then? Because what OP said was pretty insulting. I would suggest something more along like lines of, “I realize my comment was completely inappropriate to say about anyone let alone your daughter, and I’m really sorry for being so insulting.” And I would hope that OP would be sincere in saying that.

          1. designbot*

            yeah this gets into the “I didn’t mean it” apology, to which my response is universally, “then why say it or even think it if you didn’t mean it?”

            1. Kate*

              Exactly! I am also wary of “terrible wording” apologies, because those to me say, “I meant what I said, but I should have said it differently.” And in this case, it seems pretty important to apologize for what was said as well as how it was said.

            2. RatherBeReading*

              As someone who comes from a background similar to the OP, it’s really, really easy to think things you don’t mean. Those mindsets can get so ingrained at such a young age, and they can be hard to scrub from your brain entirely. Even now, as progressive as I’ve become, I’ll sometimes have a thought pop into my head and then think, “Hold on. Why would you think that horribly racist/sexist/homophobic thing? You don’t even believe that anymore!”

              I’m not saying that what the OP said was in any way okay, because it wasn’t. But I can definitely understand why you would have a thought you don’t mean. That doesn’t mean you have to let that thought out of your brain for other people to hear, though.

        9. Antilles*

          Yep. Honestly, if I was the boss, I’d probably end up more angry after hearing Alison’s suggested apology. “It may have sounded like I was insulting your daughter…She sounds wonderful and it was terrible wording.” Um, what? Are you saying there’s some kind of wording that would have worked better here? Or that there was some other way to take this that wasn’t a direct insult to my daughter and my parenting skills?

        10. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, not going to work.

          As Allison said, it’s not just that it was the boss’ daughter or that it was a teenaged girl, it’s that she said it at all. That wasn’t an ambiguous reply.

        11. seejay*

          Yeah, agreed with this… this is so so so over the line. it’s not just insulting the boss’ daughter, it’s just *so* brutal and terrible and… wow. I read the title line too and totally thought it was going to come out “I accidentally said my boss’ daughter wasn’t pretty” or something like that and then I read WHORE and just… wow.

          I’m totally gobsmacked. I’m genuinely not sure there’s a way back out of this one that isn’t going to come off sounding really insincere. ><

        12. Chalupa Batman*

          I have to agree. I don’t think a basic apology would cut it here because of how blunt the comment was. I’d recommend something that includes “what I said was unkind and inappropriate, and absolutely not reflective of my thoughts about you or your family” (unless it really does reflect how you feel about him and his family, in which case the second part could be replaced with “and I’m genuinely sorry”). I’ll also take OP’s word that the intent wasn’t to insult, but anything less than a serious admission of guilt will seem disingenuous.

        13. Jokers to the Right*

          I completely agree. I’m putting myself in the bosses shoes and there is literally nothing the OP could say or do to walk this back. I wouldn’t believe her explanation and would forever view her in a negative light.

          If I was the OP I would apologize and be updating my resume.

        14. Bwmn*

          I completely agree here. I think that an apology may provide some immediate tension relief – but if there is an internal transfer to apply for, then I’d recommend doing that or if not, start looking for new work.

          I just think that interaction is overall so loaded and aggressive, that I just don’t see how this can’t impact that relationship going forward. It’s not that mistakes don’t happen….it’s just really don’t see an apology that would ever make that interaction forgotten.

          1. Dweali*

            Unfortunately with the internal transfer the comment is almost guaranteed to follow OP whereas if they go outside of their current employer it hopefully won’t follow or harm OP’s reputation as much

        15. Sketchee*

          In this case, I think OP should apologize for the sake of apologizing.

          Acknowledging an error out loud, accepting responsibility, and making a commitment to try not to let this happen again will help the OP’s piece of mind. Knowing they did what they could.

          It may or may not repair the relationship or undo any damage. Still worth doing for the sake of personal integrity.

        16. Karen*

          Absolutely. If we change the reply to, “Well, my father didn’t raise me to be a superficial idiot”, I think we can see there’s no wiggle room in interpretation. It’s quite clearly a judgment on both the daughter and the parent.

          And the fact that the “whore” response was what dropped into the “unwitting reply” slot just speaks volumes about the woman, none of which are particularly complementary. Part of being an adult is considering what your parents taught you and determining for yourself if they were appropriate, then taking the high road where necessary. Blaming your parents – even, or perhaps especially, in this circumstance where they were clearly abusive – is a childish move.

      2. MoinMoin*

        The most generous way I can construe it is that OP meant that her parents taught her to about boundaries, safe sex, advocating for oneself, etc, and so they didn’t have concerns with her dating because they could trust she would make good choices in line with their values.
        If that was the case, OP, I would add something about that into your apology- you meant that your parents raised you well and could trust you and you have no doubt that your boss did the same with his daughter.
        And I agree with everything AAM said about the wording and judgements… just wow. Please take that to heart as well.

        1. Oryx*

          You’re being too generous. Lots — if not most — parents raise their daughters the way you indicated and they do it without advocating the use of the word whore.

          1. MoinMoin*

            I’m not at all defending the word choice (or judgements behind it)- my generosity is only extending to the possible meaning behind it, and yes, I understand I’m still being pretty generous there.
            I know where I’m probably falling on the spectrum between giving OP the benefit of the doubt and white knighting.

          2. Vitriolic Vixen*

            Thank you Oryx.

            I grew up in a fairly conservative household. One where the use of that word *EVER* would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap, regardless of the provocation.

            Honestly it is shocking to me that OP let that “slip” having been raised in such a conservative home herself; frankly there wasn’t a house on my block where that word would have been allowed and my friends’ parents ran the gamut of permissibility.

            I am not going to mince words, what you said was nasty OP. And though you appear to know this, insofar your sentiments really smack of a “Sorry, not sorry (I really just want to keep my job)” non – apology.

            Unfortunately I don’t exactly care for Alison’s choice of words either. I doubt your boss is gonna buy this was an accident; I can almost guarantee if you approach him this way, he is going to eviscerate you.

            Unfortunately I have no advice other than if you do intend to apologize, please do not try to qualify it as you have done here. Do not mention your upbringing to your boss, it will just sound like you are passing the buck and blaming others for your hurtful words. (Really, your parents would condone speaking to someone this way?)

            Obviously avoid such language in the workplace in the future. The next time could get you fired.

            Good luck.

            1. Vitriolic Vixen*

              Sorry this is less directed at MoinMoin’s point than at the situation in general.

            2. Ted Mosby*

              Totally agree. I can’t imagine the look on my mother’s face if I called a teen girl a whore.

              Don’t use your background as an excuse. Jesus didn’t call people nasty names. Don’t imply that you thought he would agree because he was a Christian. It doesn’t make sense and you’d be insulting the way he practices on top of everything else. Don’t tell him you didn’t mean it that way. There’s only so many things this could mean. Any insincere apology is going to come off that way, esp because I’m sure his gaurd is up right now.

          3. BananaPants*

            I was raised in a relatively conservative Christian household. I still remember hearing girls in 7th grade using the word “slut” to talk about a classmate, I didn’t know what it meant, and I said it in front of my parents at home. The shock and horror on my mother’s face is something I remember 20+ years later. She explained what it meant and said something to the effect of, “Even a promiscuous person is a child of God.”

            So yeah, I was a 12 year old who didn’t know any better. Regardless of her upbringing, OP is apparently a professional woman working for a large corporation – to be blunt, she has no excuse.

        2. Liz T*

          That would imply that women who weren’t taught about boundaries, safe sex, and advocating for themselves are…whores. That’s not, like, a LOT better.

          1. Amber T*

            Yeah… there are definitely those that reclaim the negative words (my friend regularly participates in her local “Slut Walk,” which combats the stereotype that women who want/enjoy sex are sluts), but I really really really doubt that’s what OP intended.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it’s going to be difficult to sell that, Moin Moin, although I appreciate your effort to sympathize and take what OP said in the best light possible. I honestly think OP should just fess up and say she was wrong. And if she doesn’t feel that way, she should really reflect on why she thinks it’s ok to say what she said when everyone who heard her reacted with bewilderment and shock.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I had a jaw drop, audible gasp, eyes bugged out reaction.

        OP, this was bad. It was really bad. And it was bad not because you said it to your boss, but because it popped into your head at all. I’m also a little shocked that it took you hours to figure out why he reacted poorly.

        Your boss objectifying his daughter in this way is creepy, as is his effort to then analogize and objectify you through comparison. But your reaction would have been inappropriate even if his daughter were wearing lingerie to school and actually selling sex.

        You know nothing about his daughter except that her dad thinks she’s attractive and she’s interested in dating boys. That’s pretty normal for a teenage girl. You don’t know that she’s “dressed provocatively” (although even if she were, it doesn’t make her a “whore”). Calling very normal behavior “whore”-like is a Big Problem if you want to be successful in your career at places like Fortune 500 companies, where you’ll interact with diverse people with diverse experiences and attitudes. I really hope you’ll reflect on the comments and on Alison’s note and realize that there’s a bigger problem, here, that requires your attention beyond smoothing things over with your boss.

        I honestly think you should just apologize without qualifications. I wouldn’t say you misworded your reaction, because there’s really no other interpretation for what you said except that you think your boss’s daughter is a whore and that he’s raising her to be a whore. If you heard horrible phrases like what you said to your boss when you were growing up, then you might be able to say that although you didn’t mean to insult your boss, it’s a phrase you heard often when you were younger, and that it just automatically came out even though of course you don’t think your boss’s daughter is a whore or that he’s raising one. You can blame it on your filter, or lack thereof.

        But don’t be surprised if your boss and coworkers continue giving you side-eye. What you said was really far beyond the pale.

        1. Casuan*

          Yes to everything PCBH said.
          OP, you don’t want to get this apology wrong by more inadvertently bad phrasing. Before you offer more of an apology for what you said, think about what you want want to say then self-edit & rehearse. It will help if you also have prepped replies to what he says after your apology. So have replies for a range of comments your boss could make: if he accepts, if he doesn’t & if he wants to accept although he can’t yet do so.

          When you’re finished with the apology & discussion then let it go, at least in the sense of don’t continue to apologise. Neither you nor your boss needs to relive this.And know that regardless of what your boss does say, know that you have some serious work ahead to regain your boss’ trust.

          to clarify: Rehearse & having prepped replies doesn’t mean to prep & learn verbatim. It does mean to know what you want to say & how to say it. You don’t want to have to think all of this in the moment.

          I hope it goes well!

        2. Holy Carp*

          While I agree with you that OP needs to apologize without qualification, I think she’s going to have to accept the fact that her boss will never look her the same or feel the same about her. I can easily imagine how I would feel and react if anyone called or even insinuated my child was a whore, but an employee, a direct report? She crossed so many lines leading me to think who the $%*#$ does she think she is? Talk about bad judgment.
          And if OP works with clients, boss is going to have a lot more to think about as OP clearly has no filter and very poor decision making skills. I think she should start looking for a new job because this, for me, is quite unforgiveable regardless of how she apologizes.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I agree. I honestly don’t know if she can come back from this. I would be surprised if her relationship with her boss ever goes back to “normal.”

            1. Holy Carp*

              Somewhere further down, someone referred to her behavior as aggressive. I felt like that was the word I was looking for, in addition to vicious. I’m not trying to pile on the OP here, I’m just completely gobsmacked that these words could come out of her mouth – and as a boss, it would raise major red flags and concerns for me. I won’t comment on how she’s allowed to think and so will stay on what she spoke. I want to say that it verges on insubordination, but that doesn’t quite fit. It’s simply one of the most confounding things I’ve ever heard and I would never trust that person again.

          2. Halpful*

            While I agree that this was Really Really Bad, and probably won’t be forgotten… I’m surprised so many people are calling it unforgivable and saying she should get a new job. (Part of me is reminded of Starlight Glimmer and the bad advice from Changeling-Twilight.)

            The boss is christian, and forgiveness is a big part of christianity (or, a big part of the New Testament at least). If OP learns from this and comes to understand how wrong it was, I don’t think it’s constructive to frame this in such a hopeless way. It’s worth *trying* to make amends, even if it’s not perfectly successful in the end.

            1. Holy Carp*

              As a Christian, yes, forgiveness is a big part of Christianity. Forgiveness means many different things, however. And let’s look at this from purely a professional perspective.
              OP is in her LATE 20s, which means she’s had a lot of exposure to professional norms as well as societal norms. I’ll assume she went to college, so she started being exposed to those by age 18. I’m not going to dwell on the aggressive insult she lobbed her boss’ way. I’ll stick with her ability to adhere to the norms. If she feels it is ok to speak to her boss this way about an underage girl who is being normal and she excuses this with her Christian upbringing, how is she going to deal with co-workers who are gay, who are transgender, who are fluid? She is quite possibly lawsuit waiting to happen. If she works with clients, I ask the same questions.
              She didn’t have the awareness to not speak to her boss – the person who has the ability to hire and fire her, who has the ability to make her life miserable; where on earth would you have the confidence that she would not say such reprehensible things to clients, who could also file a lawsuit as well as take their business elsewhere and spread by word of mouth to other current and future clients?
              As a Christian, I could forgive her as a person. But as an employee, with that one sentence she sent off so many red flags that the sky was lit up as if it were on fire.

              1. Holy Carp*

                that said, I completely recommend she apologize – simply and sincerely. There wouldn’t be much chance of turning this around with me, but perhaps there is with her boss.

                1. Hey Nonnie*

                  I would like to point out, however, that her reason for apologizing shouldn’t be to “turn things around,” that is, to reap a benefit for herself. She should apologize because she is sorry she harmed her boss and his daughter, period. This isn’t about the OP.

              2. Halpful*

                She didn’t have the awareness *then*. But if she’s reading these comments, it’ll be hard to stay ignorant. People can change, and if she demonstrates that she’s changing and trying to do better, a good boss would *consider* giving her a second chance.

                I’ve changed a heck of a lot since I was 28 (which was also my first real exposure to professional norms, actually). People don’t magically stop learning at 25, it just takes more effort to undo older habits.

              3. TootsNYC*

                yeah, the “late 20s” thing really makes this worse–this isn’t “naive young woman parroting verbiage her parents threw around so easily that she doesn’t quite realize how extreme this is.”

              4. One of the Sarahs*

                Completely agree – as a boss, I could overlook an inadvertent insult, IF it didn’t raise a whole parade of red flags, but this would make me genuinely concerned that it would only be a matter of time before she was throwing out other prejudice in a blasé style. The fact she didn’t even recognise what she’d said as inappropriate in the moment would be a huge part of that too.

              5. Karen*

                Forgiveness for the person, sure. But however we want to view the boss, he has to consider that if she’d make such an appalling reply to him, it’s only a matter of time before clients and coworkers are similarly impacted. In my world, this woman is out the door, regardless of my religion, her religion, whether or not her apology is sound, etc. She’s potential big trouble for the business, and it’s not the boss’s responsibility to help her learn – his responsibility is to the business.

            2. RG*

              Forgiveness isn’t automatic, nor does it mean that you have to reconcile with the person. Should you forgive someone? Yes, if not now then at some point. Do you have to keep interacting with them? No.

              1. Halpful*

                That’s a good point.

                Also, I might have been underestimating just how personal the insult may have felt to the boss, since I don’t have kids. The closest experience I can think of is finding out some horrible things my mother said to my sister (which were really the last straw after all she’s said to me), and yeah, I’m not sure I could forgive that if she ever became willing to apologize. (and part of my brain is still trying to make me feel guilty for it; I needed that reminder that it’s sometimes ok not to reconcile)

              2. Specialk9*

                Thank you for this. My Evangelical Christian childhood scarred me with the abuse of forgiveness. It’s so often used as a tool by those who do wrong, to deflect and avoid their guilt and re-harm victims.

                I’ve come to realize that I do not owe “I forgive you” to one who hurts me – they need to fix their own insides and make restitution on their own, and I can heal the damage they did to me in private, between me and the universe.

                I owe forgiveness to no-one.

                I choose not to hold bitterness in my heart, because it’s not healthy for me, but nobody gets to demand forgiveness right after hurting me. Or ever.

            3. Gadfly*

              Her boss is a self proclaimed Christian just like OP (notice that it didn’t do OP any favors in this circumstance) who seems to be heavily sexualizing his daughter (is that a Christian thing to do?)

              Christianity incorporates so many sects with rather different interpretations of what it means to be a Christian and so many people within each sect that run in different directions with each interpretation, that using “the boss is a Christian and so should be forgiving” falls somewhere between naive and bigoted, really (ask any non-Christian who has had this used against them, or Christian–especially women and POC–who’ve had it held against them in regards to abusive situations.)

              1. Halpful*

                Yes, the “you must forgive (and give them unlimited chances to hurt you again) or you’re a bad person” thing is awful. What I was trying to say was “there’s still hope that the boss may *choose* to forgive OP”.

        3. N*

          Agree to all of this. Even if you feel that way about his daughter (but Princess Consuela Bannana Hammock’s comment sums up why that’s messed up on a lot of levels) using any sort of language like that in the workplace isn’t appropriate, anyway, ESPECIALLY in regards to an underage person.

          1. N*

            also…fighting urge to talk about how being a Christian definitely doesn’t give you the right to start casting stones at “whores”…but that’s not related to the workplace.

            1. Holy Carp*

              Speaking as a Christian, I personally think she needs to leave out anything related to being raised a Christian. I was raised very conservative and Christian and this thought would never be in my head let alone come out of my mouth. To use her background is just using it as an excuse – she is, after all, in her LATE 20s. She’s old enough to know professional norms and the acceptable norms of society. This OP needs to simply say “I am so sorry, I crossed so many acceptable boundaries and I hope you can forgive me.” And leave it at that unless she wants to follow with her resignation.

            2. Annie Moose*

              >casting stones at “whores”

              Appropriate wording… given the story about Jesus preventing the stoning of the woman caught in adultery!

        4. Bwmn*

          I think part of what makes the comment so jarring and potentially demands the OP to just look for a new job is that in addition to how harsh the comment – it’s also not a common workplace gaffe. Getting too drunk at the office party – not to argue whether it’s better or worse – but it’s quite common. And depending on where you work, you might now have even been the only person to over indulge at a specific event.

          But to give this the most generous cross cultural confusion interpretation….it’s just not a gaffe that is common. These days having a rant about work being frustrating on social media has probably gotten more than one person in some degree of hot water – and having to talk to someone about professional boundaries with the workplace on Facebook may be happening in some HR office at this very moment. But I think what makes this so harsh, in addition to the language being used – is that this is also beyond typical Boss/Staff Gaffes.

        5. Security SemiPro*

          I too had an extreme reaction just reading that comment.

          I try to be a calm, understanding, coaching, learning opportunity kind of manager, but if someone casually called my (precious, beautiful, brilliant, strong, amazing, light of my life) daughter a whore without an instant groveling shame dance attempt at recovery… I don’t think I could be a great manager for them anymore. I’m concerned that my in the moment protective/defensive reaction would also be unprofessional. I’m pretty sure that my long term relationship with them would be shattered, and I’m not sure I could find the motivation to fix it.

          That is so wrong, OP, so far from right you can’t see okay from where you are. I hope you can re-examine how you think about women and sexuality from here and find a more respectful place.

          Your boss is also being gross about his daughter, I wish her the best of luck.

      4. JS*

        IMO, its insulting the boss, not the daughter since he is so creepily involved in her dating life and bragging about her attractiveness.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I just realized that my hand has been covering my mouth since I opened this post. Wow.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Me too! And I can honestly say that’s the first time that has ever happened at an AAM letter. (I have laughed, I have said, “Oh crap”, my eyes have widened… but whoa.)

    4. OB*

      Y’all, can we just nip this thread in the bud? While it’s not quite a pile-on to the OP, it’s not constructive or helpful or insightful. I don’t feel comments like “wow!” add anything to the conversation or comments section

      1. OB*

        Adding—I’m sure many people come to the comments for various reasons, but I come here for comments like CaliCali’s, which has substance and insight

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        It’s constructive in that I think OP doesn’t fully realize how out of line either the intended or semantic message of her statement was.

        1. jamlady*

          Yes, and I think it’s important because I think a lot of us feel she can’t come back from this, and our reactions, even just the shocked ones with no advice, give her some understanding as to why.

        2. Kate*

          Agree. Sometimes you don’t realize how awful something is when one person tells you, or even a few. For example, how many people have written in, who seem to read this site, and still ask if their really awful abusive boss is abusive?

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I’d like to offer the suggestion that she wrote AAM because she knew she had a real problem. She may not be sure about the particulars or the various angles, but people don’t write in if they think everything is okay.
          [I’d like to thank Alison for taking on the tough questions, this is a tough situation to recoup from.]

      3. Jess*

        Yeah, I’d been expecting something like “brunettes look awful in purple” when she was behind you being a brunette in purple.

        OP, please don’t think people’s Christianity is going to alleviate how wrong what you said is/sounds to them.

        The upside is your boss will probably stop making inappropriate “my daughter is hot and so are you” conversation with you.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, the fact that you both identify as Christian buys you no “get out of unspeakably massive social kamikaze free” card.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Now that would be a useful variation on those homemade Free Hedge Clipping coupon books people give as gifts.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          I expected a rude comment about the girl not being as beautiful as described. That was really shocking.

          1. MoinMoin*

            Me too, or a rude comment to him about how the guest in the office looked only to find out she was his daughter.

        1. Lissa*

          Why “no”? Every other time there is a mass of comments that say essentially the same thing, shock/horror what have you, we’re told to rein it in, that we don’t need to hear the same thing 200 times. (Comments with substance are different). I don’t see how dozens of comments about shock-horror at the OP and how what she said was unforgivable are going to be helpful to her or other commenters, and the fact that people are also getting aggressive with commenters who even take it to 95% awful instead of 100% makes it very hard to see it as a discussion, not just a bunch of people wanting to get their mad on.

      4. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Well, we can collapse threads, so maybe it’s useful to have a place to concentrate the expressions of disbelief? Because, woah.

      5. George Willard*

        I strongly disagree. It’s a good message to anyone reading this site that the collective response to this was total shock.

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Normally I’d agree with you, OB, but this thread is an exception. First, because what happened was so shocking that people need a bucket to express their feelings. Second, because OP doesn’t seem to understand that what she said was 1000% inappropriate, offensive, and unacceptable in any workplace in any context—she thinks her error was insulting her boss’s child-rearing (!!).

      7. Casuan*

        To me, simple comments such as “this,” “agree,” “wow,” “Wtf?,” “+1[000000]” et cetera are helpful because they quickly give a larger opinion base for an OP to understand how good, bad, ludicrous et cetera their situation is. Indeed, this helps others & not just the OP.
        Ultimately it’s for Alison to decide if she doesn’t want these types of comments.

        to be clear: OB, my intent isn’t to critique your comment; just wanted to give my perspective.

      8. Temperance*

        She needs to know how inappropriate and frankly shocking her behavior is to those of us outside her religious bubble. Point, blank, period.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yes. And, without making generalizations to any particular bubble, I think people’s language gets much freer when they’re with someone who they think is in their bubble and will get what they “really mean” when they use language like that.

        2. Holy Carp*

          and to those that are within the religious bubble. I can think of no context where this would be anything less than beyond the pale. She called his daughter a whore. She said he’s raising a whore. I can’t even imagine how any employee would think this was ok to say to her boss. Ever.

          1. Temperance*

            In my church, it was very common for women and girls who didn’t act “right” to be called whores. Calling someone’s daughter a whore would be not great, but calling a woman who showed her shoulders a whore was de rigeur for the culture.

            It’s very likely that LW was in a very us vs. them sort of setting, and calling someone a whore who didn’t behave “modestly” was the norm, so she slipped.

            1. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

              The casual viciousness of this kind of behavior is….really something.

              1. LavaLamp*

                I recently read a book about a woman who escaped a religion that would call this sort of comment okay. It’s worse than vicious. The book is called I Fired God, if anyone is interested but be warned it’s got graphic abuse of people and animals in it.

                This comment really wasn’t okay, don’t get me wrong but I can see where someone who’s raised in that sort of way would have that thought in their heads.

            2. BananaPants*

              Frankly, if that’s the case, then what’s to stop her from “slipping” and using similarly awful language about an LGBT coworker or client? That’ll get her fired so quickly her head will spin.

              If she’s going to work for a Fortune 500 company, she needs to get past the excuse of her upbringing (although that feels like a huge cop-out on her part since it took her hours to realize she’d called her boss’ teenage daughter a whore) and not say the first thing that comes out of her mouth.

            3. Beverly Cleary Doesn't Live Here*

              I was one of those “girls” who was referred to as a “whore” and “slut” when they were only 13, 14, 15 years old. A lot of it was because I developed sooner than the others. And it was also because I had the audacity to admit that I liked boys. I was incredibly embarrassed and traumatized by it. If the OP was my employee and she had pulled that BS in front of me, I would have fired her on the spot.

            4. mountain cat*

              Yep. Same thought here, Temperance. It didn’t have quite the same shock value to me growing up as it would have to others because it was meant to firmly get across identification of sin of anything from immodesty of clothing (purposely inviting sexual attention) to sexual behavior. (Women only, of course). That word was likely a norm for her in such discussion and could still be. She may still have some beliefs like this – which is her right – but possibly made the unconscious assumption that he does, too, to some extent, so her filter may have been off. Not excusing, just explaining where it likely came from. I knew even at a young age not to talk like that “outside”.

              That word is thrown about far more than you would ever guess in certain circles to get a point across.

      9. Lily in NYC*

        Yeah, I agree. I finally remembered we can collapse threads here (at the top of the comments section) and it has made things so much easier now that Alison gets so many repetitive comments.

    5. Lynxa*

      I made a high pitched keening sound. What on EARTH! I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around THINKING this, much less saying it out LOUD.


      And then not realizing how it could have been taken until hours later!

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Yeah, was so NOT expecting that. Not sure how you would recover from that. I would sincerely apologize, but I wouldn’t expect things to be the same.

    6. MLHD*

      The biggest shock for me was that she didn’t realize UNTIL LATER that what she said was wildly inappropriate and insulting. Wow.

      And also the idea that a teenager who wants to date is a whore. Wow. How sad.

        1. WhirlwindMonk*

          You are the only person who said anything about boys. The OP screwed up big time, but let’s not push an unfounded claim of sexism on her.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            The claim of sexism isn’t unfounded when someone is throwing around the word “whore” to describe a teenager.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              If the boss was talking about his son would she still have made the whore reference? We don’t know the actual answer to that, however it does take two to tango but typically it’s women who get called whores for “tangoing”.

              I have a male friend who describes his younger self as a “slut”. I have to admit the first time I heard him say that I said, whoa. I almost never hear males being referred to in that context.

          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Implying that a 15 year old girl who’s interested in dating a “whore” is not only textbook misogyny, it’s like a Gender Studies 101 first-day example.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            What she said was sexist and misogynistic regardless of her feelings about whether boys’ desire to date makes them “whores,” as well. So there’s no “unfounded claim,” here.

            But you’re right that we may want to limit speculation on the “boys will be boys” front. Frankly, OP’s comment is so extreme on its own that we don’t need to spin out analogies to highlight how inappropriate it was.

            1. WhirlwindMonk*

              That’s definitely fair, I expressed my point poorly. I should have used “double standard” instead of “sexism”.

              1. AD*

                Your point was non-existent. Referring to women as “whores”, as people have pointed out, is pretty much the textbook definition of sexism or misogyny.

                1. WhirlwindMonk*

                  …why are you arguing against my use of the word “sexism” in a reply to a post where I explicitly said that “sexism” was a poor word choice that did not reflect the point I was trying to make?

            2. Turtle Candle*

              I would also limit speculation, because we don’t have any idea–and I grew up in a subculture much like this, and the boys were also held to ‘no dating, no sex’ standards. One boy in my class senior year got expelled from school weeks before graduation for having had sex. Using the word “whore” in this way is undoubtedly misogynistic, but there actually are cultures that really do punish boys as well as girls for what they perceive as being inappropriately sexual.

          4. Temperance*

            Oh, it’s founded. The word “whore”, in Christian culture, exclusively applies to women and girls.

            1. Buffy Summers*

              I don’t know of any culture where the word, in general, applies to anyone other than women/girls. Obviously I’m not familiar with every culture that exists, but it’s not a “Christian culture” thing at all.
              I would be willing to bet that when most people in the U.S. hear that word, they immediately think woman or girl, just because that’s how it’s always been used.
              Obviously it can pertain to a man or a woman, but even the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s first definition is a woman that has sex for money or an immoral woman.
              So, I don’t think it’s fair to represent it as a thing that exists only within “Christian culture”. It’s not. Not even close.
              In fact, like the OP, I was also raised very devoutly Christian and grew up with some really misogynistic and sexist views on many things, but that word was never, ever tossed around casually or used in general conversations. It was a bad word and if my mother had ever caught me using it, she’d have washed my mouth out with soap. (not literally) I’m still very devout and conservative in most of my views, but I don’t use that word. So, please don’t push the idea that it’s a Christian thing. It’s not.
              Maybe you didn’t mean it that way. I hope not. But that’s how I read it.

          5. Mike C.*

            Uh, did you notice how the issue of “attention from boys” is blamed entirely on the young woman in question? As if she’s drawing them in with her feminine charms? You know, instead of the boys acting on their own to anything that remotely looks like a girl?

            There’s a massive double-standard at play here and you need to acknowledge it, WhirlwindMonk.

            1. WhirlwindMonk*

              Except OPs reply was not in response to “My daughter is so pretty the boys won’t leave her alone”, it was in response to “My daughter wants to start dating.” To me, that implies that OP was saying “I didn’t want to date because I wasn’t a whore”, not “The boys didn’t pay attention to me because I wasn’t a whore.” Maybe she did mean the second one, because it is somewhat ambiguous, but I don’t think the first one is an impossible reading or an impossible opinion for someone to have.

              1. TL -*

                I think any time you are using the word whore to define or refer to a woman or girl, you are committing a sexist act.

                The only exception is if it’s an accepted joke between you and another person – my roommate and I will be answering all questions with, “because my parents didn’t raise me to be a whore” for at least the next week. (Or if you’re reclaiming it, as mentioned above.)

                As that was certainly not the case here, we have all the evidence needed to conclude a sexist statement was made.

        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Boys will, after all, be boys.

          (I cringed watching my fingers type that.)

      1. a Gen X manager*

        Yes! THIS! I’m still flabbergasted by both “instinctively” and “until hours later”.

        1. Jadelyn*

          The “instinctively” part is what got me – how is it instinctive to throw around ugly, misogynist insults like that? OP, I know you’re kinda getting piled on right now, but if you see this, please consider that there is something seriously, SERIOUSLY wrong with your instincts if calling someone a w***e is “instinctive” to you.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I can see how it is, if that’s how you were basically indoctrinated your entire life. It does actually happen in some incredibly conservative communities. Which is not okay at all, no way – but I can see how that would happen.

            OP, you need to take a serious step back and look at your thought process here. This is Not Okay.

            1. Elonia*

              Yep. Growing up, any blue-eyed, blonde-haired woman wearing red was a whore in my father’s eyes. So I carried that with me. “Blue-eyed, blonde-haired women only wear red if they’re whores.” It stuck for a LONG time. I didn’t even wear red lipstick (I am blonde with blue eyes) until about 10 years ago when I finally realized many of the things my dad said were a crock of shit.

              1. Vitriolic Vixen*

                You just reminded me of an early episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge is getting ready to go to the prom, and her mother is pinching her cheeks to give her color.

                Marge asks “Why can’t I just use Rouge?”

                And her ancient mom replies matter of factly: “Ladies Pinch. Whores wear Rouge.”

                Even if this wasn’t satire, and something like this was actually said, my experience is rare is the person running around public declaring it.

                Sorry your Dad told you such things growing up.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                For me it was the color black. I never understood why that rule went away for funerals, suddenly black was okay?

                But, yeah. I hear you. After I got married, I bought a pair of black jeans, (Could not afford them living on my own.) I made sure I was wearing those jeans if I knew my father was coming to visit, because I have that side of my personality that kicks.

                Remarkably, my father never said one word. He was always happy to see me. He had grown up beyond his former foolish self. It took me a while longer,but I grew, too and I stopped caring what color my pants were when he came to visit.

                But yeah, stupid rules that do not make sense and routinely blindsided me. I relate to this.

          2. MashaKasha*

            This exactly! How ingrained does this thinking need to be, and how many hundreds of times does one have to have said this in the past, in order to say it “instinctively”?

          3. Just Another Techie*

            So I was raised in the Bible Belt. I moved to a godless heathen coastal elite city, and while I am a churchgoer (and sunday school teacher!) my kin down south still see me as being a godless heathen. My family are sweet, kind, generous, funny, loving humans. . . who have utterly horrific (to me) ideas about women and sexuality. My sweet, kind, would never say any other kind of mean word to anyone, great aunt routinely refers to the other girls in her great-granddaughter’s school as “little whores” or “gonna grow up to be a whore if her momma don’t put a stop to that” etc etc. And when I respond with shock I’m accused of political correctness and god knows what other sins. It’s just so common in some parts of this country that people just don’t have that kneejerk visceral horrified reaction that I and many of the commenters here are having.

            1. Lora*

              Co-signed. Have had colleagues who moved to New England from the Bible Belt, and they felt extremely isolated and had trouble making friends. One woman I am acquainted with once complained to me that she has zero friends after moving here several months ago and attributed it to Yankees being unfriendly and cold.

              Um. No.

              1. Chalupa Batman*

                Would you mind telling a little more about why she has trouble/why she thinks she’s having trouble making friends (if you know more)? I’m not trying to derail, but I do think I and other commenters are having a lot of trouble wrapping our heads around how thinking like this gets so ingrained that it becomes instinctive like the OP described, and what the world looks like to people with that type of perspective.

                1. Lora*

                  Why she has trouble: sexist and anti-Semitic comments pop out of her mouth incessantly, with the occasional racism (“my daughter shouldn’t be learning Spanish, she’s not going to be a maid when she grows up!”) thrown in for good measure. Even on her best behavior, there’s a wish for the Lord to smite the terrible people who snubbed her at the PTA bake sale. She expressed to me once that she was disappointed none of the lesbians in New England had ever tried to convert her to lesbianism, because, you know, that’s what they do, and isn’t she pretty enough or what?

                  Why she thinks she has trouble: Yankees are cold, rude and unfriendly people who don’t welcome outsiders.

                  Her mother is apparently quite bigoted and raised her with these notions, and they were perpetuated in college in the sorority she belonged to.

                  Her husband is one of my colleagues. He often tries to introduce her to people so she can make new friends. It doesn’t work out, ever.

                  The worldview is very much that you are a reflection of your parents and therefore if you are terrible they are too, but….ehhhh I can’t really explain the views about women without making the OP sound like, extra-awful. There’s some mental gymnastics involved that require you to not think too deeply about the tautologies involved. It’s like this:
                  1. Sex before marriage is Sinful
                  2. (does Sinful Thing)
                  3. It’s OK though because everyone is a sinner and Jesus will forgive me
                  4. (does Sinful Thing again)
                  5. Look at those terrible people going around being sinful! And they aren’t even ashamed of it!
                  Repeat at step 1… Alternately, you can have for step 3 “(other sexual practice) isn’t really sex so therefore doesn’t count as sin”.

                  The best explanation I ever had was from a friend who became a psychologist: people who do (whatever) usually think that EVERYONE does that thing and just doesn’t talk about it, and anyone who tells them that the whatever is terrible is really being a hypocrite because they do it too. The person doesn’t realize how far they are from the norm, they think that whatever they are doing is like picking your nose or something, that nobody talks about it or does it openly but everyone does it. Which makes it harder to correct, because it’s so hard to convince the person that no, this is not a thing outside of your immediate family or friend group.

              2. Ramblin' Ma'am*

                As someone who’s always lived in the Northeast, and who’s not at all religious, I actually do agree that people up here can be “unfriendly and cold.” When I’ve visited cities in the Midwest, even if they’re also liberal environments, I’ve been shocked by how much more common it is to chat with strangers, make small talk, etc.

                1. Just Another Techie*

                  It all depends on what you mean by “unfriendly and cold” I guess. I grew up in the south and the people who were soooo happy to chat for hours at the grocery wouldn’t have pissed on me if I were on fire. My family didn’t exactly fit the prevailing notions of what “good” people were “supposed” to look like so we were pretty pointedly left on our own to cope with new babies and job losses and hospitalizations and all the other minor crises that happen in life. Whereas here in New England, yeah, there’s very little small talk, and people aren’t exactly extroverted, but we can count on each other, regardless of whether we fit the mold or not. We had a new person at our church who had to have an appendectomy maybe a month after he started coming here. Two months at the most. And half the church showed up to his hospital room and we had an organized calendar of who was bringing over casseroles for a whole month after his recovery. I literally cannot imagine that kind of tangible support for a stranger in my grandparents’ church in Georgia.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  I grew up in the Midwest and moved to NYC.

                  I find the “coldness” to be respect.

                  Us NYCers don’t push ourselves in where we’re not wanted or needed; we don’t assume a familiarity that isn’t previously established. Us Midwesterners frequently do those things.

                  (and yes, I know I just said “us” for both groups)

                3. MashaKasha*

                  I grew up in Eastern Europe, moved to the Midwest, and went through a two-year period recently in my life where I frequently visited NYC. If I could afford to move to NYC, I would in a heartbeat, because I think I fit in better there. Exactly for the reasons you said. I really really liked the people. But I would add that they’re not Yankees.

                  Another funny anecdote I just remembered about “unfriendly and cold”, a college roommate of mine was from the far South of the former Soviet Union. She once went to visit a mutual friend over a school break, who lived way up north. My roommate came back from her trip utterly shocked and told us, “the people up north are so unfriendly and aloof! Not like we are in the south. Where I’m from, the other person may hate your guts, but she’ll still give you a proper hug and a kiss when she meets you, like people are supposed to” – uh, no thanks, I’ll pass on this kind of friendliness.

            2. Guilt Tripped*


              Thank you. In some denominations you hear that word so frequently – especially in sermons and Bible study – that it can become an automatic phrase, especially if you learn to parrot it when you’re young, before you really understand what it means.

              That whole concept “we’re not raising her to be a whore” is like a constant background hum in some churches, and among competitively Christian parents. It’s almost like it’s more of a status marker than an insult.

              1. MashaKasha*

                Oof, scary. I had an ex who grew up in the deep South, and I have no problem believing you and the commenter above you. The ex had some scary stories. I’m still taken aback each time I hear exactly how bad it is. I can’t imagine growing up surrounded by a constant background hum of whore-shaming.

            3. Anonymouse*

              I was raised Mormon and am still a practicing Mormon, and grew up in Virginia (roughly falling into the Bible Belt) and I was always taught you don’t say those kinds of words!

              1. Just Another Techie*

                My momma’s family are Southern Baptists. Daddy’s family are Muslim. Hoo boy was there drama, according to family stories, when they got married.

                But as with all things I bet this varies significantly by denomination and geography. (And probably also social class and race too)

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            The instinctive thing doesn’t surprise me if OP grew up in a community where comments like this were common. That was certainly the cultural tableau among devout Christians, Catholics and Mormons at my high school—their mothers and grandmothers constantly talked about girls as “whores” and engaged in slut-shaming for teenage girls’ very innocuous and not at all sexual behavior.

            It was ugly and wrong, but if no one has ever pushed back on you for it, or if you never heard different growing up, I can imagine that you might grow up to reach your mid-20s and still have these gems buried in your subconscious.

            1. Jojo*

              I’m 30 years old, and still have a instinctive shame reaction when I leave the house in a skirt without hose on. Some things never go away!

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              The OP’s comment was shocking to me, as is yours. I grew up in a conservative Christian household, and nobody ever referred to any woman as a whore. I never heard anyone’s parents or anyone at my church use that term either. Nobody was called any names for wanting to date. I thought the people around me were pretty conservative, but apparently they weren’t as bad (on this issue) as they could have been.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I think it’s difficult because folks who say these comments often refer to themselves as “devout” or “conservative,” but I’ve met just as many folks who identify that way who would never say the word “whore,” let alone what OP said. It’s a good reminder that even within self-identified communities, there can be a near-total lack of agreement on whether something is common.

                That said, I do think OP’s comment is shocking—as I noted upthread, I was shocked despite the fact that I grew up with girls who said things like what OP said (but certainly not once they went to college and had to interact with people who don’t agree with them or share their perspective). But most of all, it makes me sad that we still have so much work to do.

            3. TootsNYC*

              “still have these gems buried in your subconscious.”

              I suppose they might also be prompted closer to the surface by the topic of the conversation, and by the boss sort of verbally “leering” at the OP by speculating about her teenage “hotness” and dating.

            4. bridget*

              I know this thread is already full of “not all Christians,” but I grew up in the epicenter of Mormondom and was raised by incredibly devout parents who would NEVER use language like this, and I never heard anything like it from other adults in my life. I view a lot of what I was taught as sex-negative now, but this kind of horrible insult was not on the table. At most you would hear that someone was “not protecting her virtue” or “not making the right choices.” Even referring to someone “sleeping around” would be a little squeamish.

    7. MashaKasha*

      Indeed! My “WHAT?!?!” was heard across the cubicle farm.

      I was a nerdy kid and a late bloomer that did not start dating until college, so I did not take the comment personally in any way, but holy cow, this is wrong on just about every level I can think of.

      1. The Mayor of Llamatown*

        I was a nerdy kid and late bloomer. I worked retail in high school and had a coworker who expressed deep disappointment in me when he realized I wore makeup, because I was supposed to be a good girl. Luckily I was also incredibly mature for my age and realized how silly it was that he only had a problem with me wearing makeup after he found out I wore it – apparently I was so good at light application that he didn’t realize I was wearing makeup. And also that being a “good Christian girl” had nothing to do with makeup.

        1. LadyPhoenix*

          Ah yes, the “Women decieved me” because of the “natural look”.

          It’s like guiz don’t realize that make up has existed for well over a hundred years.

          Nowadays I’m either “natural” or “a unicorn barfed on me”. I haz no inbetween

          1. Candi*

            That’s just modern makeup. :p Makep as a thing has been around for thousands of years.

            And -shocking- the very prudish Victorians wore makeup! /sarcasm

    8. Daisy Mae*

      Holy macaroni, that was brutal. On so many levels. This office just sounds like a hot mess of personal opinions bouncing off the walls.

      Despite the fact that the boss is exhibiting some pretty gross behavior, the OP’s response was just so aggressive I can’t relate to this letter at all. To be fair, I’m not a Christian –
      so I’m not sure why the OP thought being raised a devout Christian would absolve her of such an awful response. When you’re an adult you have to take responsibility for your actions. Blaming her childhood upbringing for an error in judgment is basically like blaming her parents for the fact that she either called this man’s daughter a whore or called this man a terrible parent. There’s a level of immaturity here that needs to be schooled.

      1. LKW*

        I didn’t see it as blaming but as justifying – which is even worse: “It’s not my fault I’m a very judgmental person, I was raised to judge others!”

      2. MadGrad*

        Right? If the letter writer meant it purely about themselves and a statement of their upbringing, she would have said something like “my parents were super conservative – no boys for me!”. There is no way to include the word “whore” into this statement that is not intended to be a venomous judgement.

        1. Daisy Mae*

          Agreed with you both. Maybe I’m too far removed from being a 20-something, but there’s a level of unawareness that is staggering to me.

          1. MadGrad*

            I’m a twenty something, and I don’t get it either. However, I also live in sin with the boyfriend I picked up in high school right now and am presumably a raging, raging harlot, so maybe that’s why. :|

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is what crossed my mind, “Well you could do what my parents did, they kept me in a locked room until I hit 21.” Maybe add, “my stupid parents” for clarity to show the sarcasm.

    9. Amber*

      Yeah my jaw dropped with OMG. OP, no matter who you’re talking about, using that word is never ok. Your boss might accept an apology but I don’t think he’ll ever forget that you said it.

    10. Just Another Techie*

      Same. I was expecting something along the lines of “I was an ugly ducking as a teen” or something. Good lord.

    11. Erin*

      My mouth literally fell open. Is it Christian to call other people whores whom you have never met?

      Well anyway. I don’t think you need to bring your Christianity or his into the discussion here. Just find some wording you feel comfortable with and apologize as soon as possible.

    12. j-nonymous*

      I’m not going to pile on, OP. A lot of people have already covered the issues with calling women or girls whores (Alison’s point is spot on). And anyway, I actually think this is (potentially) fixable.

      “I apologize for making the comment the other day about my parents not raising a whore. I grew up in a very conservative and restricted environment and I was not allowed to date. In fact, I was taught that girls who dated were immoral. I don’t believe that to be true anymore, but when you asked me about my teenage dating experience, it just instinctively came out. I certainly did not mean to insult your daughter or suggest there’s anything wrong with her for wanting to date, or with you in how you parent her. It was a terrible thing to say and I’m sorry.”

      Hopefully that will smooth things over enough so that your boss is no longer weird / standoffish toward you (but no so much that he goes back to inappropriately talking about his very attractive daughter and trying to rope you into those conversations).

      1. Amber T*

        The question is – does OP not believe that anymore? Based on the fact it took her hours to figure out what offended the boss and that the letter has an air of “how do I make him not mad at me” vs “how do I recover from this horrible thing I said,” I’m not convinced that’s the case. I hope I’m wrong. I think the apology you wrote can only work if she doesn’t believe that (notice how she said what she believes offended her boss is that she implied he raised a whore, not that she called his daughter a whore – a parenting issues vs… I don’t know how to describe it, but much worse).

        1. j-nonymous*

          I think realizing that what you said insults both the daughter and the boss implies at least *some* understanding that girls != whores just because they want to date.

          Look, I don’t condone what the OP said, but the lessons we’re ingrained in us at a young age are difficult to shake loose. I’m actually *impressed* it took the OP only a few hours to realize how her statement came across, to see that it insulted two people who did nothing to warrant censure, and to regret it. Compared to people who spend decades of their lives continuing to spout such nonsense? A few hours is miniscule comparatively. I’m also not put off by the OP’s wanting to figure out how to smooth things over with her boss. OP still has to work for this person, and most of us (OP included, I suspect) have to work to pay our bills and live. It’s an existential need that must be addressed.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          Even if she doesn’t believe it, if she wants to keep her job, have as harmonious as possible relations with her boss, and get along etc. she can and should still say something like this. It’s not illegal to say an apology that you don’t truly believe in your heart. Even if she legit thinks her boss’s daughter is acting like a whore or whatever, the specific workplace advice to apologize in this way still stands.

      2. j-nonymous*

        Oops. I actually meant to make the original comment on the post and not a reply to another person’s comment. Sorry!

      3. Serin*

        Well, yes — if the OP can say this honestly, a response like “I am absolutely mortified — I opened my mouth and heard my grandmother’s voice come out! I had no idea I still had this poisonous stuff in my brain” is probably the only follow-up that would be at all appropriate.

        It’s exactly as though the OP had uttered some appalling racist or anti-semitic slur.

        The problem is, can she say it honestly? Can she really say, “I didn’t mean it and I don’t really believe it”? Or is she only going to be able to say, “I don’t like the sound of it and I’m worried about the consequences of it”?

        1. j-nonymous*

          So, the OP should wait until she’s perfected her remorse and completely worked through the (admittedly toxic) belief system she was raised in before apologizing? Come on. Apologies are a way to repair damaged bonds between people, not a punctuation mark to signal the end of contrition.

          1. Dweali*

            OP doesn’t have to quite be contrite but does need to realize (or be at the start of realizing) that line of thought is wrong. If OP doesn’t think they actually said anything wrong (outside of the my boss doesn’t like me now) then they would just be giving (at best) an insincere apology or (at worst) a non-apology and at that point a lot of people would wonder “why even bother”.

    13. AMG*

      I did too. OP, I can stick my foot in my mouth with the best of them, so I can say from experience that the sooner you apologize to your boss the better damage control you can do. Practice Alison’s phrasing and by very contrite.

    14. nutella fitzgerald*

      Same here. I was waiting for my Starbucks order and the barista actually turned around to see what happened.

    15. Marzipan*

      Not only did I gasp, I then literally didn’t breathe until the end of Alison’s advice!

    16. H.C.*

      I initially thought it was something like daughter’s fashion sense or manner of speaking when she came in office unannounced, but yeah…. WOW

    17. The Other Liz*

      All I can say, purity culture is toxic, and it runs DEEP. It can become ingrained in men and, as we see clearly in this example, women. But good news, Focus on the Family is coming back out with Brio magazine to indoctrinate the next generation!

      1. Lentils*

        God, I just full-body shuddered at the name Brio. I recently cleaned out my room at my parents’ house as a precursor to moving out and I could barely look at all my issues of Brio, they were so…alien to my current beliefs.

        1. Specialk9*

          Brio was so f-ing toxic. I still see that stuff ‘a girl’s worth is in her virginity’ sh#t when I visit my parents, and it makes me rage for days. There’s a reason why I converted to Reform Judaism. That’s one of the many reasons.

    18. Christie*

      I GASPED THE LARGEST OF GASPS this OP should write movies because I did NOT see that coming, even with the title of the post

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*


    Alison’s advice is spot-on. Please don’t use your religion as an excuse to belittle people.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This. Even intended as a statement of your family’s moral superiority, with no insult intended, it was kind of an ugly sentiment to express, and very much not in keeping with the humility I associate with those who’ve really internalized the messages of Christianity.

      1. SleepyMel*

        It doesn’t make Christianity look good at all and this is not what Jesus would do. Didn’t he in fact associate with so-called “whores”? Sorry I’m on a tangent

        1. OxfordComma*

          I think many a Christian (and I am one) could do with rereading the New Testament, but that’s just me.

        2. Little Missy*

          Yes, and not only that but in Matthew 1 where his Jewish lineage is enumerated, one of the five women mentioned is Rahab, who was a prostitute. Jesus only judged those who were hateful and hypocritical. He was kind to those who were in physical and/or spiritual pain.

    2. MuseumChick*

      Yes. This. There is really no appropriate context for what you said. None. At all.

      I want to second Alison’s advise to re-consider the thinking that brought you to this current situation. Please don’t insult/look down on women who have a different opinion on sex/dating/how woman dress/etc than you do.

    3. Pup Seal*

      Agreed. I’m a bit confused how religion plays as an excuse except for the no dating part. I read the letter twice, and there wasn’t any mention what his daughter normally wears. All we know she could be wearing jeans and t-shirts every day to school. All we know that she’s attractive, so I’m confused to how attractiveness=whore.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I think in OP’s mind, a teenager wanting to date = whore. Still, religious upbringing is no excuse for such an inappropriate comment.

      2. Hey Nonnie*

        There’s a whole subset of sexism where attractiveness = whore. It goes along with the whole bit about women’s value coming solely from their attractiveness (or lack thereof) to men.

        No REASONABLE person would think this way, but sexism/patriarchy is by definition not reasonable.

      3. Mb13*

        Hey there Pup Seal. Your comment about the 15 year old clothing rubbed me the wrong way. Just because someone dressed in revealing clothes it doesn’t make them a whore (or interested in sex, or anything else). It just means they are wearing sexy and reveling clothes. There are only one things that make someone a whore. Exchanging money for sex. And even then it’s still incredibly rude to call them a whore

        1. Anna*

          100% agree. There is no clothing a person can wear that justifies calling her a whore. Especially if she’s 15 years old. But even if she’s an adult sex worker, that’s just rude language to use, especially to describe someone that the other person in the conversation loves dearly. Since you haven’t yet figured out how to use the word, if at all, I’d suggest purging it from your vocabulary. I’d also suggest having a long, hard think about how your upbringing, including but not limited to your religion, may have instilled some nasty values in you.

        2. Kate*

          Mb13- OP said “I was raised in a devoutly Christian home in which provocative clothing and behavior was forbidden, and dating wasn’t even a consideration.” She didn’t, however, indicate that she has any idea how the daughter in question dresses, and doesn’t appear to ever have met the daughter. That stuck out to me, as well as to Pup Seal, apparently. To me, it seemed like the letter writer was assuming that the daughter was dressing provocatively- otherwise, why would she mention provocative clothing at all? And I agree with you that the daughter’s wardrobe choices don’t make her a whore and are none of OP’s business, but the fact that she appears to be jumping to conclusions about the daughter’s behavior/style of dress just goes on the pile of reasons why OP was outrageously out of line.

  2. Simplytea*

    Wowza. I would love an update for this one. Inappropriate on all sides! What would have been the best way to respond to the bosses’ comments in the first place? Something like, “Why do you think that?” or just blank stare?

    1. The Final Pam*

      I’d probably laugh it off / change the subject because I can’t think of any way to respond to that sincerely.

    2. Mike C.*

      I think no one would be surprised if I respond with, “directly confronting how offensive that comment is right then and there”. That sort of talk shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere and should be challenged by folks who are in the position to do so.

      1. Mike C.*

        Ugh, I got the two comments mixed up, I thought we were discussing the comment from the OP. I still think directness is appropriate but it’s a much more complicated situation.

      2. Naomi*

        Sure… when you’re in a position to do so. It’s understandable to be wary about calling out your boss, though, and in any case sometimes people are so shocked in the moment that they don’t know how to respond. (Not to let OP off the hook here, because what she said was not okay in any context. But if she had kept quiet I wouldn’t blame her for feeling too awkward to call it out.)

            1. Simplytea*

              Yes. I was talking about an appropriate response to the “I bet you had that problem!” line.

              1. Jeanne*

                I would want to say things like “No, I was too ugly.” or “No, I was too smart for them.”

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I am wondering if OP was trying to bail out of the conversation and in desperation latched on to whatever came to mind without further thought.

                It’s too bad she said what she said, because his remark could have been the focus of the problem. If a boss said that to me, I might be looking for a new boss.

                Oddly, OP, part of your reweaving from this whole episode might be to figure out how to answer remarks like this in a direct manner.

    3. Antilles*

      It really depends on context. If the boss doesn’t really have a history with it and said it as a (bad and lame) Dad Joke style (you know how it is, haha!), then you would probably be best just sort of shrugging it off with a simple “eh, not really” or just straight up ignoring it and redirecting the conversation.
      But if it’s part of a pattern or said in a creepy way or anything like that, you’d absolutely be justified sort of giving him a “what in the world?” blank stare.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I completely agree with this. I do think it’s weird and a bit creepy to fixate on a daughter’s attractiveness (strikes me as rather Joe Simpson-esque), but unless the boss has been creepy in the past, it sounds like he’s… being a lame dad.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          If it were dad talking about his son’s attractiveness I wouldn’t find it weird, or if it were mom making these comments about her son or daughter it would be fine too. I understand where you’re coming from, but I do think there is a double standard with how parents are expected to talk about their kids.

        2. Lablizard*

          My dad is that kind of lame dad and it is awkward as hell. He always talks about how handsome my brothers are and how beautiful my sister and I are, and now that there are grandkids it has gotten even worse. We have been trying to get him to quit for years because none of us is all that (except maybe the grandkids), but the best we have gotten is for him not to do it around us.

          Awkward dad is going to awkward.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            I don’t know, maybe awkward dad should get called on it if those comments are being tossed around in the workplace. Not like the OP did, but still.

            1. Lablizard*

              I think the bragging about how beautiful/handsome, smart, rich, and successful your kids are is the norm for our culture (and a number of others) and is not at all inappropriate in the workplace in my country. It is a form of social one-upping and probably a leftover from the days of arranged marriages.

              The awkward is how it makes us feel and how embarrassing it is when he does it in front of us or we get, “You must be Altay Bey’s beautiful daughter/handsome son! Are you married yet? I have a wonderful son/daughter you should meet.” when we visit his office.

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                I think it’s okay to draw a line between mentioning how beautiful a child is and sexualizing your teenager in discussion with your employees, though, and the boss seems to have crossed that line. And honestly, I don’t think it would hurt to work on getting rid of most (or all?) behavior described as a “leftover from the days of arranged marriages”.

                1. Cant*

                  My father did this, a lot. He was very focused on my looks. He made comments about my sexual appeal and general appearance to his friends, relatives, and to strangers.

                  He also abused me. He was indeed sexually attracted to me, and acted on it. He enjoyed the fact that sexualizing me to strangers made me unhappy and uncomfortable, and basically made me an “object” for everyone to gawk at but not listen to.

                  He was a monster. I’m sure not every father who does this to their kid is the same breed of monster – but some of them are. You don’t generally comment on how attractive someone is unless you find them attractive. Don’t be too quick to make excuses for them.

                2. Lablizard*

                  I’m trying not to be offended by your judgement of my country, culture, and family, but fear I am going to fail, so I am stepping out of this. All cultures have weird and awkward vestiges from their pasts, and in my culture and country, bragging on your kids’ accomplishments, including their attractiveness is one of them. How you leapt from “my kids are beautiful/handsome” to being sexualized, I am not sure. Sexualization is something you brought in, not me, not my father, and not my culture. Calling someone beautiful/handsome =/= sexualized

                3. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  I certainly did not mean to insult your country, culture, and family, Lablizard, so I apologize for that. I meant that the boss in the letter’s specific comments seem to be sexualizing his daughter, in particular discussing boys “fawning over her”.

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  I agree with you, Cant, I got really creeped out by the father’s comments. I hope OP sees your comment.

              2. Ted Mosby*

                I think that’s totally normal most places (at least normal enough that all it gets is an eye roll), but this seems more pointed and more of a fixation than the usual “my kids are so gorgeous!” Calling her a “perfect blonde” has some subtle sexuality to it that just calling your daughter beautiful does not.

            2. heatherskib*

              I almost feel like he was looking for advice. His daughter is interested in dating- how did OP’s parents handle it… and now he knows that OP’s parents ingrained such a deep shame of any typical teenaged behaviors that she thinks her behavior was mostly acceptable.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Right, if my read on the boss was that it was a bad Dad Joke type thing, and we generally had a good rapport, I’d probably brush it off with some mild joke of my own. “Nah, in high school I was still holding out for Han Solo!” (It’s a weird and inappropriate comment, but I think most of us have experience of making a joke that falls flat in a way that we don’t anticipate until we hear our words out loud.)

        If it felt like part of a pattern, or more than just a misstep of a joke, that’s when I’d go for something more like “I don’t know how to respond to that” or “What?”

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the boss is looking for some vague reassurance, along the lines of “Oh all teenage girls go boy-crazy for a while, totally normal, you are experiencing utter normality and don’t need to panic.” Especially as he’s saying this to someone who is not a parent of teenagers (or former teenagers) so he’s probably trying to get reassurance from someone he views as recently in his daughter’s shoes.

      Had I gotten this stuff in my 20s I think my response would have been “Mmm. Well. There it is. Huh.” It’s awkward, but probably not the sort of thing you can correct in your boss any more than detailed play-by-plays of his children’s weekend soccer games.

    5. Allison*

      In my shoes, I might have said I was really awkward and kind of an ugly duckling, and most of my classmates either ignored me or stayed away. I also may have called him out for being inappropriate, or if I couldn’t have done that in the moment, might have talked to HR after the fact.

      Since OP was probably very modest and not interested in dating at that age, maybe she could have said that, or jumped to “woah, inappropriate.” I can see snapping with something insulting like that out of defensiveness when you’re that taken aback by such a comment, but yeah, that’s really not an okay thing to say.

      1. Jeanne*

        Even as a quick kneejerk reaction, I think I would have just said No to the boss’s question. I wouldn’t have had a snappy comeback.

      1. Simplytea*

        I feel like in retrospect I’m always thinking–I should have said “X”. This will help. I, unfortunately, have several coworkers that make these type of “observations” (or similar comments).

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s what I was going to suggest. I find blank/puzzled look, followed by a question, can be an effective way to make the other person realize how squirmy their comment was.

    6. The German Chick*

      Sometimes, when I don’t know how to answer, I simply state: “I don’t know how to respond to this.”

      1. Simplytea*

        Ooooh. I like that. “I don’t know how to respond ” and maybe squinting of the eyes. Interesting.

        BTW for everyone… it should have been boss’… boy that’s a strange one.

        1. fposte*

          As with most things language, there is no straight out “should have been.” Chicago actually requires the ‘s, for instance. (Apparently AP does unless the following word begins with an s, which is mad confusing.)

          1. Sylvia*

            AP rules are confusing, but they always favor using fewer characters. There’s usually a little bit of a reason in there somewhere. Like the month abbreviations, which shorten every month name over five characters.

            1. Drew*

              I do, too, but I’m in a workplace that’s using AP (and not for any good reason; it’s just what the EIC prefers) and I have to keep stifling my impulse to point at CMOS and say, “I don’t care why AP does it, it’s stupid and wrong!” (It is not actually stupid and wrong. I just get annoyed.)

              When I reach for Garner, you KNOW I’m serious.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Chicago Manual let’s you go either way when singular nouns end in an “s” and when the possessive plural could have the same construction. So it could be boss’ or boss’s. :)

          1. fposte*

            But the possessive plural of “boss” wouldn’t have the same construction–the plural is “bosses,” so by CMoS the possessive plural would be “bosses’.” The “same construction” rule would be reserved for something like “economics,” where the plural and singular have the same orthography.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Fair enough, and apologies! I was thinking about how you don’t pronounce “bosses'” as “boss-es-es.” But it was a bad example, and from what I can tell, spelling the possessive singular as “boss’s” or “boss'” seems fine for most style guides.

              1. fposte*

                No need to apologize–this was a rabbit hole I dived down with great delight :-). Yes, pronunciation is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Sometimes I think we should program little “subroutines” into our brains with these sorts of phrases. This is a good one.

        Perhaps the most useful subroutine is “I bet your pardon.”

        Because it buys you time, and it’s useful EVERYwhere, and it’s so easily shaded with:
        puzzlement, outrage, inquiry (for when, or as if you didn’t really hear), shockedness….etc.

    7. TheLazyB*

      I think other than standing there with my mouth hanging open for the next hour, the only reaction i could have had was “did you really just use the word whore?”.

    8. Tomato Frog*

      I once made some inappropriate generalization to my boss and she just said, in a sharp tone, “Hey now.” Worked very well on me, though I realize it would not work on the truly clueless.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have always liked “hey now”. It allows room for the two people to remain on good terms yet gets a point across. It’s like saying, “I am going to forget you just said that….”

    9. CM*

      The boss’s comment wasn’t necessarily inappropriate — in context it may have been creepy, but it could also be construed as just “you were a teenage girl once too.” So I think an appropriate response would be something generally empathizing, like, “It’s hard to know how to handle it when your kids want to start dating” or “Teenage problems are tricky, aren’t they? Don’t you miss when they were younger and their problems could be solved with a Band-Aid and a hug?”

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        “my boss was talking as usual about how his daughter is very attractive and wants to start dating. Then he paused, looked at me, and said ‘I bet you had that problem!'”

        In this context, I think you’re being a little bit overly generous to the boss.

        1. Lynxa*

          I don’t think “I bet you were very attractive and wanted to start dating when you were 15!” is an awful sentiment. Most 15 year olds DO want to start dating.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            It’s the clearly implied “I bet you were attractive.” It is very, very, very uncomfortable when a boss starts talking to you about your attractiveness. (Of course, then OP saw his dollar and raised him a hundred)

            1. Ted Mosby*

              yea, 0% a justification but I’m sure she was a little creeped out and on guard about what kind of teenager she was.

              “I bet you were a sexy 15 year old” is like #2 on top 1,000 I never want any boss implying to me.

              1. Lynxa*

                I think “sexy” is reaching a bit. Maybe it’s because people where I’m from ROUTINELY talk about how beautiful their children are (even when they’re grown) but while saying “I bet you were very attractive too” (to other 15 year olds) is a little creepy, I don’t think we can say the meaning was “you were a sexy 15 year old”.

                1. Ted Mosby*

                  I 100% see your point. At the same time, he was telling her he bet she was attractive in the context of teen boys wanting to date her. Maybe reaching, but to me that’s still pretty far outside calling your own kid beautiful or cute. Boys will like you is a different thing.

                  My workplace has a very strict policy on this. You can’t even say “you look nice today,” only something like “that’s a nice dress” (huge bureaucracy prone to law suits and very, very famous) so I’m probably extra cautions. Granted, I told my girl friends at work that they looked great all the time, but when crossing gender lines, people followed the rule.

        2. TL -*

          I wonder – I think the quotes the OP has provided are not great, but I also am wondering how much of her read of his behavior is coming from her clearly problematic perspective.

          The quotes are not great (and, heck, if the OP hadn’t included the whore part, I’d be more inclined to be worried) but there is the possibility that the dad has a knock-out gorgeous daughter and he’s trying to navigate that as a parent. It would be hard to ignore it if you really did have a model-esque daughter, especially if the whole world is treating her like an exceptionally beautiful person.

        3. Merp*

          I think it’s worth noting though that the only report we have of this boss’ inappropriateness level/degree is the OP, and frankly I don’t trust the judgment of someone who would blithely call the child of her boss a whore to his face. I’m sure too, that I’m not alone in having serious concerns about the OP’s judgment; and that, I think, really illustrates just how burned this bridge is. Burned, razed to the ground, earth salted, and then irradiated for good measure.

    10. BookishMiss*

      Had a boss do that. Stared at him silently with one eyebrow ever so slightly lifted until he changed the topic. Essentially, I politely let him stew in the Weird until it overwhelmed him and he had to move on.

    11. Genny*

      My response to the boss’s comment would probably have been something like “well, that makes me uncomfortable.” said with a laugh and a change of conversation (or exiting the conversation entirely).

    12. Anna*

      I’d probably say something like, “I bet it’s tough for a child that young to receive a lot of romantic or sexual attention that she might not be ready for emotionally. Have you asked her how she feels about some of the attention she gets? It sounds like you have a really close family, so I hope she feels able to talk with you and other adults who love her about how she’s feeling, so that you can help her figure out how to get through a time in her life where she may need a lot of advice. But with love and support from people who love her, I have no doubt that she’ll grow up into a confident, happy woman able to handle anything life throws her way.”

      Basically, I’d want to point out that the person he’s sexualizing is a child, and that she has her own feelings about all of this that might be complicated and that she might want or need help with, and that having adult men (including him!) talk about how sexy she is likely makes that a lot harder. I’d also want to, to some extent, validate some of his own feelings, while reminding him that the focus should be on how she feels about things, and on helping her find her own voice about it. And finally, I’d want to subtly introduce the idea that it’s important for her to have some agency in the situation so that as she grows up, she’ll learn how to handle things herself. No idea if any of that would work, but I think that’s what I’d try to do.

  3. CaliCali*

    I was also raised devoutly Christian. But this kind of thinking has nothing to do with a belief in Christ and everything to do with a social construct wherein women are “responsible” for any positive or negative attention they receive from men. You need to apologize first, and then you need to start unpacking your thinking about why your first reaction re: male attention is about the actions of the woman.

    1. Manders*

      Well said. I wasn’t raised Christian, but many women in my area were raised with these attitudes about sexuality. It does take time to unlearn those reflexive responses, but it’s worth it.

      (Also: it’s just a good idea to eliminate “whore” from your vocabulary, period. There was a discussion here a few weeks ago about how swearing is changing, and “whore” is one of those words that perhaps was mild once but is now considered a nasty slur.)

      1. MuseumChick*

        I second Manders. Remove “whore” and other such words (slut etc) from your vocabulary. I just recently heard that “prostitute” isn’t even that ok. Rather, woman who make their living that way prefer “sex worker” or so I’ve heard.

        Names like “whore” and “slut” are used to dehumanize woman who have the audacity to enjoy and engage in sexual activity outside of the dominate judo-christian moral culture. It absolutely find for you to decided for yourself that not engaging in sex outside of marriage, and dressing very “modestly” (in quotations because that can have a lot of different meanings), but dehumanizing those who choose differently is very much not ok.

        1. Hannah*

          Ha, “judo-christian.” I know it was just a typo on Judeo-Christian, but now I can’t stop thinking about judo Christians rushing in to throw down to the mat the belief that “whore” is an appropriate word to describe, well, really anyone at all!

          1. Manders*

            I’m giggling extra hard about this because I know there’s a history of very conservative churches being wary of East Asian martial arts, especially ones like judo where many dojos meditate as part of practice.

            Hopefully, this will be the start of some serious self-reflection for the OP, and she’ll come out the other side more open minded about the way other people live their lives. Some churches really do go overboard with telling people to judge others for wearing the wrong thing or exercising the wrong way or even thinking about the wrong subjects.

          2. heatherskib*

            Actually, given my advice for parents of girls includes teaching girls martial arts… this kinda fits!

        2. Kalkin*

          Yep, “sex worker” is the preferred verbiage, at least based on all the sex workers I’ve read who’ve posted things about it. It’s partly because even seemingly neutral-ish words like “prostitute” have acquired such a negative connotation, but even more because they want to emphasize that sex work is work. Whether you’re giving lap dances, doing cam shows, getting paid for phone sex, tying people up, or actually sharing bodily fluids with them, it takes a ton of physical, mental, and emotional energy. It’s certainly more draining than a lot of white-collar jobs, especially when you factor in that people — including, sometimes, the very clients you’ve just been serving — are quick to dismiss it as not only easy but also reflective of your poor moral character.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            As someone who dutifully sang “Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goalposts of Life” at summer camp, I am not surprised but I am delighted.

        3. birb*

          I want to briefly comment on “Judeo-Christian” in a non-joke way, and suggest using “Abrahamic” instead. A lot of Jews and Muslims really dislike “Judeo-Christian,” and I read it as an announcement that the speaker is either uninformed or significantly more politically conservative than I am.

          a) Judaism isn’t a prequel or prototype model of Christianity. It is its own group of denominations, traditions, beliefs, etc., many of which are complicated and very different from Christianity. The opinion that Christian things can simply be renamed “Judeo-Christian” and magically include Jews seems to be shared by a lot of the Christian right-wing and parts of the right-leaning Jewish community in the US, which is a small, older minority of the American Jewish community.

          b) The term “Judeo-Christian'” also suggests that Jews and Christians have a shared spiritual tradition that no other faiths share. People who sincerely believe this tend to think Islam is bad and scary and totally unlike Christianity or Judaism (it’s not).

          1. SLR*

            Sorry, but this is distinctly not true.
            A) The ‘Judeo-Christian’ moniker is totally appropriate as there would be zero Christians without this one Jewish guy called Jesus. Many Christian rituals are directly related to Jewish rituals and traditions (and many pagan too, but that’s a different part of the history).
            B) It may be your opinion that this is an exclusive type name but it’s accurate. While yes all 3 are Abrahamic there is no Islamic tradition in Christianity; there is no direct root to Islam as there is to Judaism. A quick google search asking “how does Christianity have its roots in Judaism” brought over 7 million results to the contrary of your above statement.
            -Signed a religious studies minor eons ago

            1. birb*

              This comment reads as offensive to me, as a Jewish person.

              You’re still deciding how to talk about which traditions based on how related to Christianity they are, like that’s the only real or important faith. This is gross, especially seeing how there are fewer of us than Christians in no small part because of how many of us have been killed, expelled, or forcibly converted by Christians for thousands of years. Cut it out.

              While it is true that Judaism as a whole predated Christianity, the idea that Judaism was “superseded” or replaced by Christianity is an old antisemitic trope. Jewish traditions and ideas weren’t trapped in amber when Christ died. We’ve been doing our own things, creating and dissolving denominations and having our own ideas and adjusting our rituals for roughly two thousand years since Christianity became its own thing.

              While it is true that some branches of Christianity insist Judaism and Christianity have nothing in common with Islam, this is not grounded in reality. We have shared holy books, we have shared traditions, we have shared important religious figures. Christianity could not have come from Islam because Islam post-dates it and was significantly influenced by Christianity, obviously.

              1. SLR*

                No where did I state Christianity supercedes anything​. I may have been snarky, but my point stands. The shared holy books are Old Testament, for a Christian while it’s important to know OT, it is not nearly as important as the New Testament. Judaism and Islam regard him as a prophet I am well aware. In my experience, Christians look the OT as a way to understand Jesus and where he was coming from. Some sects identify with it more than others.
                I’m not sure what was offensive about pointing out that Jesus was Jewish. If not for his death and resurrection there would be no Christ. Hence no Christians. There are traditions in Catholicism (one of the 1st & longest lasting established versions) which can be pretty directly linked to Jewish traditions and rituals. I’m not understanding what’s made you upset. I never said that after Christianity became a thing Judaism remained stagnant. That is quite obviously not true.
                Saying “Judeo-Christian” is long accepted in academia as well.

      2. Kombucha Lamp*

        I’ll admit, I was one of those girls in high school who called out to her best friends, “hey slut!” It wasn’t until a good friend of mine revealed to me she is a sex worker. She showed me how her work is different than what I imagined, plus it made an unknown world to me a little bit more familiar because I had a face and a name to attach it to.

        I think OP’s best way to navigate through this experience is to learn why what she said was wrong (because of the word choice plus the context of the comment), move on, and learn to react appropriately in future situations. I think a sincere apology would be appreciated, but I’m afraid that her relationship with her boss is kinda done. She insulted his parenting and his daughter.

        1. Kombucha Lamp*

          Clarification: Friend began work as a sex worker well after the legal age. No high school sex workers here!

        2. Lee*

          “Sluts” don’t get paid for intercourse, so the paid “sex worker” occupation has nothing to do with an individual that is promiscuous.
          I also like the idea of normalizing a word that is supposed to be shameful, so it loses the power it once over shaming females.

      3. Tempest*

        And c u next Tuesday as well please. It’s such a terrible word that, contrary to what someone told me about women ‘taking it back’, it will always be a word thrown at women to make them diminutive and there is no amount of using it to take it back that will remove that horrible connotation from it. How about just trying to lift other women up instead of putting down a 15 year old girl for her normal interests?

        I was dating at 14 and trust me I was not a whore. And dating a few boys at that age wouldn’t make me or her one either. It’s actually pretty normal.

        1. Blue Anne*

          I agree about that word. Why can’t we just say vagina? Why can’t we reclaim that? Even just saying vagina makes some people uncomfortable, which there’s really no excuse for.

          I lived in Scotland for about a decade… they have one I really hated too, “gash”. Not only is it a really evocatively violent image, but it’s used explicitly to mean something bad, like “the show was total gash” instead of “the show was total crap”.

          Urgh. Words.

          1. Tempest*

            Yeah, I now live in the UK where c u next Tuesday is a lot more common than certainly the part of North American I’m originally from, but I still hate that word. It’s not a sexy word, which is where the person I was talking to about taking it back was coming from. It’s an insult, a vulgar one at that. It says you are summed up by your genitals – that is all you’re worth and that isn’t much.

            I think whore is similar. It says if you’ve given away your ‘purity’ you’ve given away your worth, like once you have sex with a man if you don’t marry him, you’re now worthless. Like every new man you give that piece of yourself to takes another little bit of your worth away until you’re worthless, all because you enjoyed sex. If the parents of this girl have taught her about taking care of herself and being safe and not to let anyone pressure her for anything she doesn’t want, then at 15, she’s pretty much able to make her own decisions and nothing she decides will make her a whore, that’s for certain. Neither does wearing a short skirt, or makeup, or any of the things that might have been used against girls in strict churches.

          2. Hrovitnir*

            Oh god, “gash” is the worst. *shudder* I actually have a problem in that I really like the word c*** and am failing at removing it from my vocabulary – whereas I have got less and less comfortable with the word b****. Perhaps because it has become so commonly used, it feels like it’s just so easily used to attack women with some sort of deniability to claim it’s not a big deal.

            In NZ I would say c*** is more like the UK – you would potentially call a man a “good c***”, stuff like that. This is only in the last few decades though, and while I quite like it for vagina – I use both words! – I really want to stop using it as an insult. :/

            1. Tempest*

              I have heard men called c-u-*-t here, but I’ve never heard it affectionately. It has always been like the worst insult you can call them. Stupid cu*t etc. Which is equating a vagina with the most worthless, stupid thing you can be. Like calling someone balking at doing something a pussy because they don’t want to. It’s like being the female genitals is the worst thing you could be, it makes you weak, stupid and irrationally afraid. I would not like to hear my vagina called a cu*t. To me it’s a word that only works if the woman is being degraded sexually. If that works for consenting couples in their kink that’s fine, but it would not work for me. If it works for you, it’s your vagina so you get to call it whatever you like :) I will always associate it with hearing people saying you stupid cu*t ect and I guess in writing smutty erotic fiction I would default to pussy, but I’m also kind of feeling that’s not much better though I can’t put my finger on why.

              These are the kinds of things I never used to think about but I’ve become more aware of what effects other people as I’ve got older. I never used to think twice about using retard as an insult when I was in high school but now I think that’s terrible and no matter that I don’t mean to insult people with mental disabilities when I use it that way, that’s the effect it has, intended or not, so I’ll not use it that way again.

              I don’t know what has to go through your head to call a 15 year old girl getting interested in boys a whore, but I know the OP needs to reflect on that the way I did with calling people ‘retard’ and find a reason to stop using that word in that capacity. But I think you need to understand how that hurts people to find the reason, not just be afraid you’ve mortally insulted your boss and don’t know how to come back from it, because the tone of the letter is more how do I fix things with my boss, not how do I make it clear I can’t believe I said that let alone really think that.

              1. Chinook*

                My group of classmates are probably the only ones to use c**t affectionately until a shocked teacher just told us to never say it again (but never explained why).

                It was a shame because how else do you shorten the name “Cunnigham”?

            2. Marisol*

              I like the c word too. The hard consonants give it a powerful sound, unlike p*ssy which sounds weak to me. I am ambivalent about b*tch, and like you, detest gash. A gash is a wound and to imply that my healthy sex organs are damaged is appalling. Since we have “dick” and “asshole” as an insult, c*nt doesn’t seem particularly sexist to me.

      4. Miss Betty*

        I’m not sure “whore” was ever mild. When the movie “Whore” was in the theater (1991), one of our several local theaters – the only one who showed it, iirc – wouldn’t put the full name on the marquee. It was something like “W—e”, like you’d see in a very old novel. This was in a small city – with a famous university – in the midwest. In fact, probably the only place you’d hear the word would be in many churches – the Bible does use the word a lot, at least in the King James version – and in the same context that OP used it. I’m going to guess she was raised in an extremely conservative, fundamentalist church and that way of thinking was instilled in her from the day she was born. I’d even bet she’s heard her parents state that they were glad they didn’t raise their daughter(s) to be whores. It doesn’t excuse her and she needs to learn to think differently. It’s a horrible thing to say to or about someone and also probably a big hurdle for OP to get over. I hope this incident was the push she needed and she never talks like that about another person again.

        1. Jeanne*

          I have to agree that she had heard that statement often for it to roll off her tongue that quickly. When the language is instilled from an early age, it is easier to say without thinking. (I am not saying that absolves her, just context.)

      5. TootsNYC*

        I’m not so sure that “whore” was *ever* mild. Nor was it ever work-appropriate.

        It wasn’t mild in the phrase “the whore of Babylon.”

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yep, this.

      I’d also encourage a closer look at why OP thinks even using the word “whore” is ever, ever acceptable.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Or Game of Thrones, or Hamilton.

          I can’t recall saying it when I wasn’t either joking (and you have to know your audience like whoa) or quoting fiction or both.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          Or as compliments. If I’m talking to my best friend and mention hooking up with someone, the response is typically along the lines of “You are such a whore. I’m so proud of you!” Now, I fully recognize that this is not something that would work in other relationships, but given the length of our friendship and the ways in which she supported me leaving my super-conservative religious upbringing, it’s clearly meant (and taken) as a loving, affirming gesture.

        3. Emi.*

          But then someone else is morally obligated to say “Girls, you have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores! It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

      1. KaraLynn*

        It’s a word; it has a meaning. People are going to use words – even ones you may not like.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Just because a word exists and has a meaning doesn’t mean it’s a wise idea to use it willy nilly.

          1. KaraLynn*

            Agreed. But the OP was using it very strategically. She used it accurately for the meaning it had for her.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Accuracy isn’t really the issue here, though. It was an inappropriate word to use in the workplace in this context certainly, possibly in any context.

              1. KaraLynn*

                The comment I was responding to said, “I’d also encourage a closer look at why OP thinks even using the word “whore” is ever, ever acceptable.”

                My point is – it’s a word. It has meaning. Therefore, people will use it at some point.

                I agree it’s inappropriate in the workplace (most of them, at least) but the person I was responding to was saying the word should never be used. I don’t agree.

                1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  I’m still not really following the logic here – yes, it is a word with a meaning and yes, people will use it. Those two things don’t mean that people shouldn’t be criticized for using it. Outside of a historical context or being the person in charge of the “W” section of the dictionary, I’m not thinking or or seeing any examples of a use for it *other* than as a slur, and the use of slurs should rightly be condemned.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  And you’re coming across as defending her. Of course she has the right to use any word she chooses in a place with free speech. But that in no way justifies her choice of that word or the acceptability of that word in polite company, nor her thought process in deploying it against teenagers.

                  No one in this thread is being fragile or delicate about language in suggesting to OP that she do some introspection about why she thinks it’s ok to call a teenager a whore.

                3. L Dub*

                  Maybe now is a good place to insert the standard discussion about “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

                4. KaraLynn*

                  since I can’t thread anymore:

                  MegaMoose – Slurs have a purpose, just like any other word. Saying that people can’t or shouldn’t use any word, even a slur, is censorship. I’m against censorship.

                  Parenthetically – I’m not worried about how I’m coming across, especially since I’m being explicit that I don’t believe a word should be banned. The person I responded to said that word should never be used. I’m not trying to justify the OP’s or anyone’s right to use or not use the word in this specific situation. Again, I’m responding to a person who declared that a word should never be used in any instance. Try to focus on that one thought and nothing else and my point should be really clear.

                5. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  Saying that people can’t or shouldn’t use any word, even a slur, is in absolutely no way censorship. You’re conflating the right to be free from government oppression with the right to be free from criticism.

                6. Parenthetically*

                  KaraLynn, you responded to me. I did not say that the word should never be used (and even if I did, what am I, the word police? I have no power to stop its use, more’s the pity), I asked OP to take a look at her attitudes about why she thought it was acceptable to use that word. If you’re going to keep pushing back, at least push back against what I am actually saying.

                7. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  KaraLynn, you seem really to be conflating entirely different ideas.

                  You have the right to use any word at all that you want. It is your legal right. GO ahead. Use All The Words.

                  You will be harshly criticized for using some of those words, because some of those words are rude, obnoxious, aggressive, hostile, misogynist (like, say, “whore,” which is all of those things). If you use a word like that, some people will decide they do not like you and do not want to be around you because of what your use of that word says about you. If you say it at work, you might be fired, because your boss may decide that you lack professional judgment and decency.

                  None of that is about censorship. No word has been banned. You are free to yell it out your window at the top of your lungs if you want to.

                  We are free to think you are a pretty horrible person if you do that.

                  People using “should” on this thread is about what people ought to do in a polite, decent society if they want to be considered decent people. Thinking some words are not compatible with decency is not censorship. You can still say them – most people simply won’t think you are a decent human being.

                8. KaraLynn*

                  Parenthetically – you said it’s never acceptable. I argued against the idea that a word that exists should never be spoken by anyone, ever. You’re certainly not the word police and my arguments against your statement are meant to reinforce that.

                  You seem to be confused on what you said yourself, and also unsure of whether or not you’re defending the idea – “I’d also encourage a closer look at why OP thinks even using the word ‘whore’ is ever, ever acceptable.” vs. “I did not say that the word should never be used (and even if I did, what am I, the word police?)” which makes the ability to argue against you rather pointless.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Uh, no. It is never appropriate to refer to your coworkers’ children, or your boss’ children, as “whores.” Manders is right—this is a pejorative word that borders on a swear word in some workplaces, and it should not be part of professional business communication no matter how “accurate” you or OP thought it was.

              (And it’s not an accurate use of the word. Words have changing meanings, but “whore” does not mean anything other than its dictionary definition.)

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I still disagree with you. And I think you’re making an argument against a position that no one has taken.

                2. Misc*

                  There’s a difference between ‘allowed’ and ‘appropriate’. People here are saying it’s never the latter, you’re arguing over the former.

              1. Julia*

                I just read “it is never appropriate to refer to your co-workers as children” and nodded along. I should really get more sleep.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        And, like….man. Wow. That’s not even one of those words that people use as a joke. My wife can pick up her phone when it’s her best friend and go “Hey betch.” But whore? That’s a word that’s got some serious teeth.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I mean, I’ll say it in jest about myself (“I’m such an attention whore”) but then again, I am talking about myself. My sister has had many casual and serious relationships; one time someone made a comment about her being a bit of a whore and I absolutely ripped them a new one. It’s not a word you say lightly about someone else, that’s for sure.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Yeah, “attention whore” is one I forgot about, you’re right.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Huh, I forgot about that expression too. It seems to have been pretty neutralized in that particular expression, but my judgment could be off.

              1. mollywobbles*

                I have heard it, but I’m uncomfortable every time, and I wish people wouldn’t use it.

        2. TL -*

          I use it as a joke with some of my female friends. Not all, because some of my friends wouldn’t find it funny.
          But I won’t use it in front of my male friends (or my male person, either) to refer to any woman, even if it’s a context where I would normally make a joke.

    3. CaliCali*

      And for what it’s worth: while raised devoutly, I was a conventionally attractive girl who did get some attention from boys, AND I was paying attention to the boys…because I was a teenager, and as Alison says, that’s a normal thing for teenagers to do. I wasn’t trying to entice them with my feminine wiles, but I certainly wasn’t rebuffing the attention that I wanted. The way you were raised seems to indicate that the latter is the only appropriate action. That’s an attitude that won’t get you far in the secular world or the Christian world, considering the wildly varying viewpoints within Christianity about it.

    4. Mazzy*

      Yeah I’m very Christian and I don’t see the connection between someone being happy to see their kids grow up, and i don’t get where your insult came from because he isn’t forcing his daughter to have sex. All she is doing is dating – on her own free will

      Your insult would only make sense in limited circumstances such as someone dressing their kid provocatively from a young age or supporting them getting pregnant in high school. But your boss? I’m not seeing it from the letter

        1. HisGirlFriday*

          This! Please also don’t slander parents who choose to support a daughter who got pregnant (or a son who got someone pregnant) in high school. That may not have been the parents’ hope for their child, but supporting a child through the consequences of an ill-thought-out decision is not a reason to insult the parents or the child.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Exactly. My mother was a teenager when I was born and my grandparents were incredibly supportive. It wasn’t what anyone planned, but they made it work and I think I turned out pretty well.

            1. Jen G*

              I read Mazzy’ s comment as supporting supporting a child that is *actively planning* to get pregnant in high school. I think we can all agree that would be a bit crazy. If I misinterpreted, then of course the rest of you are absolutely right.

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                But even in that situation, I would think that family could use guidance and support, not slurs.

            1. The Other Liz*

              My mom: Hey honey what’s new?
              My (adult, parent of 7) brother: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
              My mom: Ok, who’s pregnant.

          2. all aboard the anon train*

            Not to mention, so many girls (or boys) DON’T get support from their parents, so hating on parents who do support their kids seems counterproductive and pretty awful.

          3. Jadelyn*

            Seriously – what would they prefer, that said parents kick the child out to have their baby in a homeless shelter or something? I fail to see how that’s a better option.

            1. Elonia*

              My father told a family friend who was visiting when I was about 12 that if I ever got pregnant, they would kick me out and raise the baby themselves.

              I was 12.

        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Particularly when, as a country, we insist on the least productive strategies to prevent teen pregnancy, and demand the most sex-negative form of sex education. We all bear responsibility for teen pregnancy.

      1. Oryx*

        1) You need to walk back that getting pregnant in high school comment.

        2) Calling someone a “whore” is never, EVER appropriate. There are no “limited circumstances” for that.

        1. Mazzy*

          Excuse me? I don’t need to walk back anything everyone is piling on the OP so I was trying to come up with some situations where the comment would at least make some sort of sense or logic. and while I clearly referenced a family that actively support teenage pregnancy by not providing any other role model everyone is commenting on a family that has a accidental teenage birth despite the parents best efforts which is not what I referenced so why would I need to walk that back?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Because calling pregnant teenagers “whores,” regardless of their family’s stance on it, is horrible for the same reasons that what the OP said was horrible. Let’s drop this please.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Mazzy, what you wrote about teen pregnancy was wrong, and it was ugly.

            It’s not right to refer to teenagers who become pregnant as “whores” or to say they’re “supporting” teen pregnancy or raising “future whores” because those mothers failed to “provid[e] any other role model.” It’s not only deeply offensive, it’s inaccurate. It is never ok to call someone (including teen mothers!) a “whore” or otherwise denigrate their child-rearing.

          3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            “I was trying to come up with some situations where the comment would at least make some sort of sense or logic.”

            And you came up with teen pregnancy, which was wildly insulting and off base.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Dressing a kid provocatively from a young age doesn’t make that kid a “whore” — ugh, I shudder even to type it. And by “supporting them getting pregnant in high school” I seeeeeriously hope you mean “encouraging them to get pregnant in high school” because I can’t imagine a decent human being thinking it’s bad to offer support to a person in a difficult situation.

      3. B*

        That insult does not make sense in any set of circumstances, especially the ones you described. It is just perpetuating the sexist myth that women are to blame for everything.

      4. Snarkus Aurelius*

        That insult makes no sense whatsoever in any context. Please don’t reinforce sexist attitudes towards women while giving men a free pass. There’s enough of that already in this world.

      5. MadGrad*

        On top of other comments, dressing your young kid a certain way has nothing to do with her or her choices – no reason to judge her for it!

      6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        You honestly think that calling a young girl a whore in any circumstances or context is compatible with being “very Christian?” Seriously now?

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Removed because this is going to take us way off-topic.

      7. Kaybee*

        My mother got pregnant in high school, and the only reason I had food or clothes or a place to live was because people “supported” her. If you meant “supporting them getting pregnant in high school” to mean *encouraging* a minor to get pregnant, the word for that is abuse. Either way, that insult doesn’t seem very Christian to me.

      8. MissGirl*

        I think Mazzy meant supporting as encouraging or pushing a teen to get pregnant. I don’t think he meant it’s wrong to support a teen who is pregnant. There are some families, sadly, who push their teens to become pregnant. I know one doctor who had a mother relieved when her daughter got pregnant at 17 because they were starting to wonder what was wrong with her.

        That said, there’s no reason ever for the language the OP used and it’s shocking she doesn’t realize how over the line this is. Apologize, grovel and make this right.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t think that’s what he meant, because he refers to “failing to provide any other role model.” That’s not about actively encouraging teen girls to get pregnant (which would be a form of abuse in most states), it’s about shaming teen mothers and then blaming them for a system that does not support young women or foster access and the ability to make safe sex choices.

      9. RKB*

        In zero circumstances is it okay for an adult to refer to a teenage girl as a whore. End of story. There’s no way to justify that. I don’t care what the teenager does – it is NOT okay for adults to remark on the sexuality or lack thereof of a teenage girl. GIRL. Not woman, GIRL.

    5. Your Weird Uncle*

      Well said!

      It can be so difficult when we are learning to be individuals completely independent of our parents and the environment in which we were raised, especially when it comes to the realization of just how much we might have internalized. OP, I think you should use this as a starting point to start the examination of where your beliefs are coming from, and just how much of those beliefs you really want to be carrying through your life.

    6. Amadeo*

      Yeah. The boss’s fixation on his daughter and how beautiful she is and how she’s having to beat the boys away with a stick and so on and so forth is weird and creepy, but I am also devoutly Christian and I can’t say that any sort of comment has ever come out of my mouth about anybody. Expressing disapproval when your opinion is requested is one thing, being bald-faced insulting out of the blue is another.

      OP, try Alison’s script and apologize to your boss forthwith! And watch your language in the future. Not sure how to handle any further gushing from your boss about his daughter, but you may also not have that problem for a while. If it comes up again, I’d suggest just listening politely, offering a non-committal response if one seems to be required and moving on from the conversation as fast as possible.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’m reading the boss’s comments as he’s very proud of his daughter but also a bit disconcerted that he sees she is becoming a person who is attractive to other males–i.e., no longer a little girl. I don’t see a gross thing here so much as a father’s “OMG what do I do about all these boys” thing.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Gross or not, it is in no way something I want to hear out of my boss’s mouth! Talk to your pastor/men’s group/grocery clerk about it, not your employees!

        2. Observer*

          I might have seen it that way – till he made that comment to the OP.

          But, it still doesn’t excuse either calling the kid a whore, nor telling the boss that he’s doing a terrible job at raising his kid.

        3. Amadeo*

          I suppose that’s also possible, but I can’t say it wouldn’t still weird me out. I think the delivery would matter, and that’s a difficult thing to convey in a written letter. Like, the difference between slightly nervous babbling Falling mentioned below and the ‘thumbs in suspenders’ boasting. I mean, I still wouldn’t be interested in hearing it and would change the subject as fast as I could, but one would make me more uncomfortable than the other.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think the comment is closer to a Certain Politician’s comments about his model daughter. To be fair, Jessica Simpson’s father also made the same creepy comments. It has to do with men who value women by their appearances and think that the attractiveness of their offspring reflects positively on them.

        5. JB (not in Houston)*

          From the OP’s letter, it seems he spends a fair amount of time talking about how attractive she is, so I have to disagree with your reading of his comments.

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          That’s pretty much how I read it – didn’t see it as creepy, but ymmv and it all depends on HOW he said it as well.

        7. Not So NewReader*

          I think we look at it through our own experiences. I remember my father saying to me, “I find out you are using this guy, I am going to break every bone in your body.”

          In that moment, I realized that my father thought most women were trashy. That is where his remark came from. I think that OP’s boss thinks (pretty) women are trashy and that is why the constant running commentary.

          For me, I learned to blow off my father’s random remarks. I could just walk out of the room and my life would go on no matter. However, it’s tougher when a boss appears to be allowing too much of his own private thoughts to show. The bosses hold our paychecks in their hands.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect the boss is uncomfortable with the transition from Little Girl to Person For Whom People Feel Desire, and this is coming out through babbling.

        Like, it’s not great, but with the stuff in the letter it’s something a peer might address with him, and a subordinate would probably need to stick to the vaguely puzzled “Mm. Well. There it is.”

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            It’s more of a spectrum. All dads are awkward. Some just tell jokes that make their children’s eyes roll like a slot machine, and they’re still basically functional; some are so awkward that they give sort of a Donald and Ivanka impression.

    7. Lizzle*

      Yeah. I…that’s a really strongly-worded response for it to be instinctive. Why would you think that wanting to go on a date makes a teenage girl a whore? And why in the world would you think “whore” is workplace-appropriate language? And how could you not consider that phrasing a direct and blatant insult to both his daughter and his parenting?

      I get not wanting to be judged as sexually promiscuous because you are attractive. But your boss’s daughter doesn’t sound promiscuous either, and I really doubt he was trying to imply that you are. (Although of course, yes, it was inappropriate and skeevy for him to comment on your appearance at all.)

      Honestly, I don’t have daughters, but if someone called my mother, sister, or niece a whore I don’t know how they could talk their way back from that. And I have to disagree with Allison that “it might have sounded like” is going to fly–but I guess it’s worth a shot. Be ready for him to call you out on the fact that your wording was pretty straight-forward and blatant!

      1. Allison*

        “Why would you think that wanting to go on a date makes a teenage girl a whore?”

        There are still people in the western world, especially the Bible Belt, who believe that unsupervised dating is risky and leads to intimacy that’s not appropriate before marriage, and “good girls” protect themselves by only agreeing to chaperoned outings with the opposite sex, usually within the bounds of an official, parental-sanctioned courtship.

        And there are those who believe that girls shouldn’t date until they’re 16. That age seems to be the time that teenagers have enough judgment to do somewhat adult things, like drive. Growing up, some of my friends couldn’t get cell phones until they were 16.

        1. Manders*

          Yeah, I don’t want to digress too much from giving the OP advice about her situation, but I did grow up in an area of America where many, many people believed what the OP believes, and many dads talked about their daughters this way. And I was in one of the “blue dot” cities and ran with a pretty liberal crowd–things get even weirder as you head deeper into the Bible Belt.

          I’m not saying it’s a healthy attitude. It squicked me out at the time. Now that I’m old enough to see how my conservatively raised friends went on to struggle with unhealthy ideas about their bodies and their sexuality, it makes me sad. But it isn’t necessarily “common sense” for people who grew up in this sort of culture to shed all their old hangups once they hit their 20s. It takes a lot of self reflection and conscious effort. Hopefully this will be the catalyst OP needed to start doing that hard work.

          1. Thlayli*

            Honestly I’m kind of leaning towards feeling sorry for the OP here – I think she’s been given pretty skewed values by her parents.

            OP you should read the section if the bible where Jesus stops a crowd from stoning a woman to death for extramarital sex, and the section where he accepts hostpitality from a woman well known to have extramarital sex. Then ask yourself if calling a teenage girl a whore for going on a date is really what Jesus would want you to do.

        2. Lizzle*

          Yeah, I guess I just feel like there’s a big gulf between “you shouldn’t do that” and “your daughter is a whore.”

          1. LBK*

            Eh, the difference is just phrasing. The idea is the same: that female sexuality doesn’t belong to women, and women who reclaim it should be condemned. Saying a woman is a whore if they don’t date within the guidelines outlined by men is just putting the same concept much more bluntly and insultingly. At least with the insulting version you’re not pretending this is borne out of some well-intentioned protective impulse.

            1. Allison*

              My angle was more “if she doesn’t follow these rules for purity, it must be because she doesn’t value her purity and probably wants to have sex.” And if you’re a super conservative, judgmental meanieface, you may make the jump to “she must be a whore.”

              1. LBK*

                I think we’re agreeing – I’m saying that I think it’s all part of the same belief system, and that calling someone a whore is the natural conclusion of that line of thinking. To me, thinking that way in the first place is so gross and wrong that verbalizing it with an epithet is only incrementally worse; the main issue isn’t that she didn’t phrase it in a more pleasant way, it’s that she espoused that ideology at all.

            2. Lizzle*

              I disagree that it’s a matter of phrasing. You shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, but that doesn’t make a child who’s interested in trying a cigarette a little s***, and it doesn’t make their parents failures. It just makes them a curious kid–and, of course, it doesn’t change the fact that cigarettes are bad.

              I think many commenters here think that the conservative idea of sexual purity is crazy in itself, and so see the OP’s type of talk as a normal extension of that. Maybe it’s on the same spectrum, but it’s NOT the same thing.

              1. LBK*

                To me, when you have that belief system, you’re already so far on one side of the spectrum that layering in a nasty word barely bumps you further along. My point is just that I don’t think believing women should be chaste and calling a woman who isn’t chaste a whore are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum – I think they’re pretty much right next to each other.

                1. Lizzle*

                  Well, to be clear in most conservative theology (if not always in practice) the idea is that people should be chaste, not that women should be chaste. However, I think you and I will probably not agree here.

                2. LBK*

                  But it’s usually the woman’s burden to not tempt the man; at least in the examples I’ve seen, the scrutiny on not dressing or acting in a certain way to encourage sexual desire lands squarely on the women.

                3. LBK*

                  (And I realize now that when I say chaste, I don’t just mean in the most literal sense of women not having sex, I mean leading a chaste lifestyle and holding the according comportment – sorry that wasn’t more clear.)

                4. Lizzle*

                  Oh, I see. I think I was reading a condemnation of the spiritual discipline of chastity while you meant a condemnation of certain cultural posturing around sexuality/purity/modesty.

                5. LBK*

                  Oh yeah, that’s what I meant – I don’t have a problem with people who, for their own reasons, decide to be chaste (although I think there’s a lot of questionable, problematic socialization that goes into that, but ultimately it’s not my business). I have an issue with people who impose that value on others and who control/judge the behavior of others (usually women) under the guise of “protecting their purity” or something like that.

                6. Chinook*

                  “I don’t have a problem with people who, for their own reasons, decide to be chaste (although I think there’s a lot of questionable, problematic socialization that goes into that, but ultimately it’s not my business). ”

                  LBK, can I ask what problematic socialization goes into being chaste? I speak as someone who was a 29 y.o. virgin when she met her husband (who was not either of those). I can tell you that I came to that conclusion not just from my religious upbringing but also from seeing all my classmates being sexually active and the headaches that caused when it came to relationships, health problems and unplanned pregnancies (often starting at the age of 14 – we joked that there wasn’t much else to do in our small town). And it wasn’t because I live a sheltered life either – I was the only one of my classmates to go to university and then I lived abroad as a single woman for a few years.

                  I know others sometimes make the choice because of what they are told, but I often found that those of us who consciously make that decision do so because we have weighed the pros and cons and realized we sort of like keeping this one thing for our future spouse.

        3. Observer*

          You can believe that unsupervised dating is a bad idea etc. and STILL recognize that a girl WANTING to date (or even dating!) does not make her a whore, even if she isn’t a “good girl.” Most people recognize that there is a fair bit of space between the two.

      2. miss_chevious*

        I’ll be honest, I would think of that comment, too. Although in my case, it has nothing to do with Christianity, but because the boss’s behavior is so creepy and belittling and over the top that I would want to shock him into stopping by trotting out his worst fear. It still wouldn’t be appropriate and I wouldn’t actually say it, but I would think it. And it wouldn’t be meant as a judgment on his daughter at all, but a verbal smack in his face.

    8. neverjaunty*

      Seriously. The Bible has rather a lot to say about the kind of behavior the OP engaged in (off the top of my head, for Christians, Matthew 5:22), and none of it says that the way to show devotion to God is to call a teenage girl a “whore” because her father’s a jerk.

      1. Luna*

        Why is her father a jerk? For being proud of his beautiful daughter? Mothers all over the world say the exact same things, but when a man says it it’s creepy? Hypocrite much?

        1. Mike C.*

          I think you need to better understand the context in which such comments are made. Google “purity balls” and come back to the thread.

          1. Luna*

            Never heard of such thing – am in Europe, so apologies for thinking paternal pride is OK.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Repeatedly stating your pride in your child’s looks is a pretty weird thing, even without the creepy sexualizing context. And really not good for kids, either.

              1. Julia*

                Why can’t he praise his daughter on her kindness, intelligence, stamina or anything other than her looks and attractiveness to the other sex?

            2. LBK*

              Paternal pride in the context of an ongoing conversation about children is one thing; unsolicited comments about your child’s appearance with no context go beyond just “paternal pride”.

            3. Sylvia*

              So, Google it.

              Also, somehow my dad manages to be proud of me without talking about how hot I am. Amazing.

              (Writing this made me cringe. My dad is great and he would never say something so inappropriate.)

              1. blackcat*

                Yeah, my dad’s bragging posts about me on FB are about my intelligence and/or professional activities. I think he might have shared wedding pictures referring to “my lovely daughter and handsome new son in law,” but that’s about as far as he goes on commenting on my looks to other people.

                Parental pride =/= talking about a child’s hotness.

            4. Aveline*

              Even if the dad’s comments were not sexual, repeatedly banging on about how hot his daughter is would be wrong because

              (1) Girls and women have enough pressure from overall society about our looks. We don’t need parents reinforcing that pressure.

              (2) No person develops a healthy sense of self if their parents, partners, or friends focus on one, and only one, aspect of their personhood.

              So if the father is focused on the daughter’s looks in the extreme – even if it’s not sexual – it’s harmful parental pride.

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          For the record, it’s creepy when moms do it too, but I suspect neverjaunty is referring to the boss’ comment about OP’s own attractiveness.

        3. Detective Amy Santiago*

          It all depends on how it’s said and how OFTEN it’s said. Saying something once about your child being attractive is probably okay. Repeatedly talking about it is icky.

          And when you say “if she wasn’t my daughter, I’d date her” you have definitely crossed the line.

          1. Aveline*

            Repeatedly focusing on only one aspect of a child’s personality or body is icky. Even if it is “look at how smart Jamal is. He gets only As”

            It’s doubly icky when its based on looks, but any monofocus is detrimental.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Very good point. Because what does that reinforce to Jamal when he struggles in a class and comes home with a B or C?

        4. NaoNao*

          Because generally, when men of any stripe comment on a woman’s looks, it’s sexual in nature or context. And it’s very inappropriate for not just “a man” but a *father* to say that.
          And furthermore, he wasn’t just saying she’s “beautiful”. He was describing her desirability to the opposite sex, a group to which he belongs. That’s why it’s creepy.

          All compliments have context behind them: social, psychological, cultural, etc.

          It’s disingenuous to act as if words, or phrases are context free and “should” mean the same exact thing regardless of speaker, relationship to the spoken to, and the context of their utterance.

        5. Lablizard*

          I think you and I both hit a cultural misunderstanding wall on this one. Parents bragging on their kids is the norm where I am from, so I wouldn’t even notice. The question to the OP about being popular with boys when young, though, is a O_o to me because who wants to talk about their teenage dating that’s with their boss?

          1. Aveline*

            There’s a huge difference between bragging and bragging about only (or primarily) a daughter’s looks repeatedly. There’s also a big difference if it’s sexualized.

            Parental bragging is universal. What this dad is doing is not that.

        6. Sylvia*

          What is the non-hypocritical thing to do here, then? Invent a story of OP’s boss’s wife behaving the same way so that we can criticize them equally?

    9. TCO*

      Thanks for this. I was also raised in a conservative Christian environment, and even with some complicated messages about gender and sexuality, it was never, never okay to call someone a whore, especially not when their only “sin” was being beautiful.

      I say this to make it clear that while OP’s reaction may have been based on messages she received in a church setting, they’re not a Christian belief. If OP still observes her faith, I’d encourage her to untangle these messages and find a positive view of gender and sexuality within her religion. It’s not okay for OP to say, “But we’re all Christians!” and assume that absolves her of responsibility here.

      1. Allison*

        Calling pretty girls “whores” seems to be what people do when they’re envious. Women do it when they feel insecure about their own beauty, men do it when they’re unable to get a date, and blame these women for only dating rude jocks instead of nice guys.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Yes: I grew up in an environment where dating was severely frowned upon (actual premarital sex could get you expelled from school), and it was still not okay to use words like “slut” and “whore.” It is possible to have a belief that dating is deeply wrong and immoral and still avoid using slurs.

        It might still have made boss uncomfortable to say something like “I was raised to believe that dating was wrong” or similar, and I’d avoid it (but then, I’m not the kind of person who has religious discussions at work anyway, so my boundaries there are clearly different than the LW’s), but it would have been nothing like the kind of bomb dropped with the ‘whore’ comment.

      3. Temperance*

        Pushing back – it IS a Christian belief, just not one held by all Christians. We need to call out this sort of behavioral and thought pattern, but not by erasing the reason.

        1. Aveline*

          I would say it is a belief held but some Christians, but it is not Christian. Jesus would be appalled by the use of the term.

          We need to push back on normalizing this as in line with what the teachings actually are. Christian churches teach this, but it isn’t in line with what Jesus actually preached.

          1. Temperance*

            I totally disagree with you. We absolutely do NOT need to call this jerk behavior by Christians not Christian. I’m not Christian, and I would never call a woman a name like that. Don’t push the worst of your people out on us.

            I want this to be “normalized” if that means that jerk Christians will be called out for being Christians and jerks.

            1. Aveline*

              Dude, I’m agnostic.

              I also think you are missing my point entirely, but it’s not even worth debating.

              If you weren’t raised Christian, or around them, perhaps you aren’t getting that the most effective way of getting them to change is to point out to them that what they are doing isn’t Christian or Christlike.

              What you are proposing has the opposite effect of what you intend on these types of people.

              I know, I was raised with/by them. The only time I’ve ever seen change was when the person/group learned that “you are doing X. It is against what the Christ said.”

              1. Chinook*

                Aveline, you are spot on. There is a reason why there is the popular phrase “What would Jesus do?” (Remember – getting angry enough to flip tables is an option!)

              2. Temperance*

                I was raised evangelical. I don’t really care about getting them to change, because they are not my people.

                The faith I was raised in had the expectation that our behavior would be Christlike, which doesn’t mean kind. It means that we call out sin, we love our neighbor for their own good, and try to get them to convert. It certainly doesn’t mean be polite, kind, or sweet.

    10. EA*

      I was raised this way as well.

      You are right, and the OP really needs to think about this and reflect, the worst part it, this just slipped out, and truly reveals how she feels. His daughter did nothing wrong, it is really you and her father who are at fault here.

      1. Shiara*

        I’d like to push back on the idea that things that slip out/unguarded comments are inherently more sincere and revealing of “true feelings” than things that are said with more reflection. When we’re uncomfortable and off guard, it can be easy to parrot stock phrases rather than expressing true feelings (one of the reasons prepared scripts are so nice for difficult situations).

        Whether this was a parroted attitude or revealing true feelings though, it is definitely worth examining how this horrid statement was the LW’s instinctive response. Whether by reflecting on internalised but unexamined values, or coming up with more appropriate scripts for dealing with inappropriate comments (I liked fposte’s “I’m sure that was kindly meant…” above), and doing your best to excise whore from your mental and verbal vocabulary.

        1. Mirax*

          Yes! One of the best things anyone ever told me is that your second thoughts matter more than your first. And I notice it in how I judge other people (internally)–my first thoughts are often the kind of petty criticisms that I internalized from how my parents talk about people; my second thoughts are my conscious effort to correct that unkindness and keep it corralled away where it can’t hurt others.

        2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          You know Shiara, that’s fair. “My parents didn’t raise a whore,” to my mind, sounds like something that was said repeatedly as a scold/compliment to the OP when she didn’t/did adhere to the Purity boundaries of that particular strain of Christianese, and it stuck in there as a soundbite that came out at the absolute worst time in all its ugliness.

          Please, OP, if you’ve read down this far, please, please, please, excise that word from your vocabulary. There is absolutely no appropriate usage for it in the workplace (even against printers and the like). And, in case a Pauline recitation of credentials will help, I have been a Christian for 20 years, was raised Evangelical, did indeed Kiss Dating Goodbye with all that entails. I get the background.

          Ditch the word.

        3. Halpful*

          that’s a good point; when I’m tired it’s easy to accidentally say the *opposite* of what I mean (like, “I want macaroni. … wait, no, NOT macaroni, why did I say that!?”). When I’m *really* sleep-deprived, the things that come out of my mouth wouldn’t pass the turing test. I actually start to sound like a MegaHAL bot. :)

  4. Alli*

    I’d say the apology needs to go further than that, but I’m at a loss as to how to word it! I don’t think there’s any coming back from this one, in your boss’s eyes.

    1. The Final Pam*

      Yeah, I don’t think so. Even if OP apologizes I don’t think the boss is ever going to see you in the same way again. I certainly wouldn’t.

    2. MadGrad*

      Yeah, I don’t think “I didn’t mean it like that!” is going to cut it. There really isn’t any other way you can mean that kind of comment, no matter how embarrassed you are that you said it to your boss.

      1. AD*

        Agreed. This whole thing is problematic on so many levels – and the fall back on religion makes me queasy. If I were OP’s manager I would fire her immediately.

    3. Aunt Margie at Work*

      That’s true, because there is probably no way it can sound sincere. LW is sorry that there is now a problem with the boss, but unless she really understands that not only is saying this is wrong, but believing that a teen age girl who dates is a whore is wrong (for the reasons Alison listed), then there’s no way to come back.
      And since boss has, to a large extent, vested his pride and value as a father, he’s not going to be persuaded easily to let this go. And you kind of called his daughter a whore. In his place, I don’t think I could let that go.

      1. Lynxa*

        “LW is sorry that there is now a problem with the boss”

        This right here. LW said she didn’t realize she was saying her boss raised a whore of a daughter, but I can’t figure out HOW else that statement could have been meant. LW seems to be upset the boss is upset and offended, but you can’t apologize if you’re still trying to maintain plausible deniability about why you said such an off the rails thing about a 15 year old.

        1. Ursula*

          The only possibility I can think of is if she wasn’t paying that much attention (maybe because she was tired of the boss talking about his daughter all the time) and so was only answering the question directly asked: “Did you have an issue with too many boys?” In other words, she was thinking only about herself and generalities when she answered, and not even thinking about how those generalities would apply to the particular of his daughter.

          I’ve had that kind of thing happen to me before (though not with anything this offensive!) That said, it also means that she does still believe what she said, just that she didn’t think about the implications to the person she’s talking to when she said it, and perhaps wouldn’t have said it if she had. Which is only slightly worse than believing it and not saying it.

          1. Thlayli*

            Yeah, that makes sense. She wasn’t concentrating on what he was saying and just heard “I bet you were with a lot of guys in high school”. And got offended and snapped at him. And didn’t realise what it sounded like till later.

            1. Lynxa*

              But he said she is attractive, boys are fawning over her, and she wants to start dating. Not that she’s going on a date with a different boy every night or has had five boyfriends this week. I just don’t see how it’s translating to promiscuity when she hasn’t even STARTED dating yet! The only thing extrapolated to the LW was “I bet you were attractive and had lots of boys who wanted to date you”. (And I grew up in the bible belt. “My parents didn’t raise a whore” is definitely something I could hear people say, it’s the context here that’s baffling me).

              1. Thlayli*

                I was thinking she took the boss’s comment up wrong. He said “oh I bet you had that problem” where the “problem” is a lot of guys liking the girl, but she misheard or something and though he was saying she dated a lot of guys in high school. But now that I think of it, if she misheard him she would have mentioned that in the letter so that doesn’t make sense after all.

                There’s a comment further down about how in that culture women might say “my parents didn’t raise a whore” to men who were flirting with them basically as a way of getting rid of the man. That’s the only thing I think makes sense here.

            2. Mags*

              Same way I might say, “I’m no dummy” in a way that could be read as implying the other person is, even though it’s just an offhand remark that I don’t really mean anything by.

              E.g. Other Person: We should try this.
              Me: No, that won’t work because of this.
              Other person: Oh, you’re right.
              Me: I’m no dummy.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              I know as a younger me, I would have felt my defenses go up. I would have wondered where is he going with that remark?? Is he hitting on me? Does he think I was a runaround?

      2. Jadelyn*

        LW is sorry that there is now a problem with the boss – this, exactly. OP doesn’t sound like she’s sorry she said it, just that she’s sorry that it’s caused a problem with the boss.

    4. LBK*

      Yeah, I would be doing way more groveling than Alison’s wording suggests…I think complete mortification that those words ever came out of your mouth is the only thing that could potentially make this right. But honestly, given the history that led up to this situation, I might just look for another job. I don’t think you recover from this.

      1. fposte*

        I’d also, if the OP is no longer subscribing to those notions she heard as a teenager, explain that that was stuff you were inculcated with as a kid and you were surprised and mortified to hear it coming out of your own mouth. There’s a slender, very slender, chance that there could be some commonality over the difficulty making good choices as you raise young people. (“I don’t agree with what my parents did, but I have more understanding now about how tough it is to parent a teenager.”)

        It won’t undo the original comment, but it could give a little more of a sympathetic framework to it.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes, I absolutely agree with this. If this is just a wretched echo of OP’s past, that needs explaining. If it is (God forbid) still part of her current thought process to shame women’s sexuality, that needs addressing.

          1. KaraLynn*

            It’s part of her current thinking or it wouldn’t have come out of her mouth – or at the very least, she would have realized that it was wrong immediately after she said it and not later on.

          2. Blue*

            I completely agree with you – I feel like this is the only way to begin to explain it, but OP shouldn’t attribute it to ingrained teachings she’s working to put behind her unless that’s actually the case. The fact that it took time for her to realize the implication doesn’t sound promising, unfortunately.

            1. Lablizard*

              Assuming that it was just a vestige of her upbringing and not how she really feels. I think the boss is going to be on alert for a “gotta save my job” apology and any insincerity in the apology might be detected.

              Personally, there is no way someone could recover from this statement if it was made to me, so this might be coloring my viewpoint.

        2. jamlady*

          This is really the only way to go. But yeah, it really won’t do much, if anything, and I think it might be best for the OP to move and learn from this.

        3. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I tend to agree this might be the only way to maybe salvage this situation, but I’m not sure the OP even wants to – this boss sounds like a piece of work.

        4. Effective Immediately*

          This was going to be my suggestion; it’s the only way to even come close to walking this back.

          “I’m so sorry, I realize I was raised with some really toxic ideas around gender and sexuality and I’m working on it. I’m horrified that what I said was so rote and immediately where my brain went; it is completely inappropriate and wrong and will never, ever happen again.”

          This whole letter though, front to back is so….yikes. By the end I was ready to jump right on my NOPE rocket to Nopetune. Wow.

          1. Aunt Margie at Work*

            I’d like to make a play on the space ship here, something like a “Seeyous capsule to Nopetune” cuz you are hilarious and I want to join in.

          2. Ursula*

            The problem with this apology is that she says the boss is also a ‘devout Christian’ which means that the boss probably actually agrees with her toxic ideas, he’s just offended to have them applied to HIS daughter. So she could offend him all over again by calling sexist norms toxic.

            1. Chinook*

              That is an incorrect, highly insulting assumption. I too am a “devout Christian’ (of the Catholic variety), raised in a devout Catholic family (complete with grandfather working for the priests) and I never heard such toxic ideas from any of the men or women around me.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yes, exactly. “Devout Christian” covers a very wide spectrum. I’m sure I know some Christians who feel this way, but I don’t, and neither to my parents, other relatives, or Christian friends. We can accept that there is overlap between people who say and believe such things and people who are Christians, but being a devout Christian doesn’t mean you agree with the OP.

              2. Thlayli*

                I am going to go out on a limb here and take a wild assumption that the OP may be Born Again Christian. Many BACs insist on referring to themselves only as Christian or “devout Christian”. In actual fact many BAC attitudes are the opposite of Christian.

                1. Thlayli*

                  I want to add a caveat – there are plenty of BACs who do not think that teenage dating is the same as being a whore. However when BACs do hold beliefs like this they tend to refer to them as “Christian” beliefs rather than the beliefs of a specific denomination and cultural group. Which is extremely annoying to the vast majority of Christians who do not hold these beliefs.

              3. BPT*

                Well I think the point is that the LW thought that he would share her views. It’s very possible she was mistaken, but I assumed that the facts that 1) they have both talked about being devout Christians many times (in a workplace) and 2) she didn’t think he would be offended by her insinuating girls can be whores, would suggest that he might share similar views to hers. Not saying that’s the case, but it’s possible.

                Not that you can’t ever bring up religion in a workplace by saying “I went to church this weekend” or something, but having several discussions with your boss about being a “devout Christian” would suggest to me that they did share things about their personal beliefs.

            2. Emilia Bedelia*

              It may or may not mean that he agrees with her- let’s not say that all Christians, devout or otherwise, have those sexist ideas. The boss being a Christian is a bit of a red herring, because that doesn’t really affect whether he has damaging sexist views or not, and the OP bringing it up adds a weird level of complication to this.
              Toxic ideas about women’s sexuality are not exclusive to Christianity. It’s perfectly valid for the OP to say that they were raised in a particularly sexist and damaging way, without specifying that it was because they were raised Christian.

            3. TootsNYC*

              I don’t think any of us can assume that her boss shared her toxic ideas!

              I’m a devout Christian–anyone who works with me will know that I’m a Christian before very long, because I sometimes mention it in passing.
              And I absolutely don’t share her toxic ideas about dating.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      I think the only way is something like how Cookie framed it below. Own it, and acknowledge that you have some really problematic views and are working on them. I would go into the boss’s office and talk to him.

    6. Marcy marketer*

      I agree the apology has to go further. I’d say something like, “I apologize for what I said earlier about Jane. It just popped out of my mouth without thinking and I realize it’s a relic from my very religious upbringing. I thought I had left that kind of language/thinking behind but I guess I still have work to do there. Again, I’m so sorry and it was totally inappropriate to say.

      1. Lynxa*

        Oh, this is really good. That’s about the only thing that would make me feel even a little bit better about the LW if I were the boss.

      2. Chinook*

        I like your wording but I would replace “religious” with “conservative,” especially since the OP’s boss is of the same faith. By saying this is part of her religious upbringing, it sort of implies that the boss is not being religious enough.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Or maybe just drop the adjective and say it’s a “relic from my upbringing”? I know it’s less precise, but it also mitigates against the idea that “all conservatives are X” or “all members of my religious groups teach Y.”

      3. Bend & Snap*

        This is the only way to go IMO. Sincere (one would hope), not an excuse and takes full responsibility for the comment.

      4. Manager-at-Large*

        ^^ This. When I read it in the letter, my thought was that this was a script she’d heard many times from a parent growing up and it just popped out – things like “you are not going out looking like that – we are not raising a whore” and other terrible things to say to a young woman.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, if it had been like, “I was raised in a super-conservative household – I couldn’t date at all, it was like ‘we’re not raising a whore, you’re not going out like that!’ all through high school,” sort of in air quotes, it could have come off differently, but…..

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Hey that sounds familiar!
          If this were the case, OP, could have used a few more words for added clarity.

    7. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Also, can we talk about how she’s characterizing her boss’ reaction as “standoffish?” This is not a social snub against you, OP, he’s giving you a wide berth because you leveled an incredibly offensive insult at his entire family and his daughter in particular. “Standoffish” carries the connotation that someone is snubbing you unfairly.

      1. fposte*

        I think she’s just describing changed behavior in the term that came to mind; I don’t think she’s meaning it the way you’re reading it.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          That’s fair enough. Still, OP, consider internalizing that you’re being shunned, hard, for possibly the most major social error you’ve ever made. This is not just a “how can I get him to forgive me and move on” kind of moment. This is a “is a heartfelt, written apology and lots of soul-searching enough, or do I have to resign in disgrace” moment.

          1. a Gen X manager*

            Agree, Not Mad. It could also be that the boss is SO angry that he isn’t ready to interact with OP, because of concerns that he won’t be able to comport himself appropriately.

            I’d also add that it is very likely that boss shared this with his spouse / best friend / someone and that it is continuing in his world and others are sharing in his hurt and anger.

    8. Jana*

      I agree. While an apology definitely seems appropriate (and necessary), based on OP’s retelling of the incident, it doesn’t sound as if it will ring true to claim the comment wasn’t intentionally directed at the boss’s parenting or his daughter. The boss’s comments about his daughter and OP were without a doubt inappropriate, but it might be difficult to come back from OP’s judgmental reaction toward a teenage girl (who OP seems to only know insofar as the boss’s comments about her). Of course, it is worth making the apology.

    9. blackcat*

      Yeah, and there’s also the fact that the boss’s comment was creepy (both about the daughter and the LW).

      I think this relationship might be torched.

      1. Misc*

        I can – just – see a situation in which the OP was on edge because of boss being creepy towards her/discomfort with the whole topic, and the comment about her dating got her hackles up, triggering a rather harsher dismissive response than necessary to get him to back off from that line of inquiry.

        It’s still an incredibly problematic and insulting thing to say; while women should be able to listen to their instincts and say no, that doesn’t mean you automatically punch someone in the face when they go to shake your hand in a pervy way.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The boss maybe standoffish because he now realizes that OP is on to his inappropriate weirdness. He might be afraid that OP is going to report him.

  5. Leatherwings*

    Wow. Your bosses’ language about his daughter and his comment towards you wasn’t particularly normal or acceptable, but your response dwarfed that in its wrongness. I definitely agree you need to apologize but I also think you need to recognize that it’s possible you permanently damaged this relationship.

    1. Mazzy*

      I agree about the boss why is he saying these things about his daughter? Unless he had reason to believe she’d turn out horribly so is glad she didn’t?

      1. Manders*

        There are definitely cultural groups out there that would consider the dad’s comments normal, because they believe dads are responsible for protecting their daughters’ purity, modelling the way their future husband should behave, or controlling their dating life. It squicks me out personally, but I do also recognize that there are places where that’s the norm.

        1. Observer*

          Really? And those dads typically talk like this to their young, female reports? And make comments on the related hotness of said reports?

            1. Observer*

              And very few people, even a lot of people who voted for him, think that this is normal or reasonable behavior. (eg One person I know who voted fro him called his “gross”. They voted holding their nose…)

              I don’t want to get into the politics, but it’s worth pointing out that just because someone is successful, politically or otherwise, it doesn’t mean that anything they do is considered “ok” even by the people who work with them, or the public.

          1. Manders*

            I moved out of the area where that was culturally acceptable before I was old enough to work in an office job, but yeah, some men did talk to young women about their younger kids this way. Again, super weird and gross in my personal opinion, but I would not be surprised to hear certain middle-aged men in my hometown talking about their kids’ dating lives like this. When you think of a woman’s worth as being just her beauty and her ability to get married, the things you brag about as a “proud papa” are pretty freaking gross to people who don’t think that way.

            Look up “purity culture” for more about this. It was big in the 80s and 90s in my area, and some of the people who grew up in it are old enough to have kids of their own.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t even think it was strictly purity culture–it was around a few decades ago in a lot of workplaces. “She’ll break a lot of hearts someday,” etc., etc.

              It was still inappropriate, but, believe it or not, it wasn’t necessarily sexual on the boss’s part to compare it to a young woman who was pretty close to his daughter in age.

            1. BookishMiss*

              But yes. Purity balls are a thing, and they are Creepy. Purity balls, purity rings, etc, are all part of the belief system that women’s bodies and sexualities are not their own to control – because they aren’t capable of controlling them, therefore men must save them from their sexy selves.

              1. Mike C.*

                Which is a very interesting contrast to the idea that women must cover up lest they distract or seduce unwary men!

                1. BookishMiss*

                  two sides of the same icky, tarnished coin. Honestly, I don’t prefer either, they just suck in different ways while having the same end result.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It’s more common than you think. I find it creepy and possessive/objectifying, but in communities where people do this, they don’t find it creepy at all.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              It is indeed very very culture-dependent. One of my college roommates and good friends was from a different ethnic/cultural background than me (her parents weren’t Christian, nor were they particularly conservative) and I was baffled and unsettled by how often they talked about the attractiveness and beauty of their daughter. Until she invited me to an event in her community, and I discovered that it was a cultural norm–“my beautiful daughter” and “my handsome son” and so on and so forth were just something everyone… did.

              I still don’t really like it (I wish we could all focus less on attractiveness as a primary merit, among other reasons), but it’s much less creepy in a context of ‘everyone does it.’ It’s problematic in a general sense, but it doesn’t have the deeply worrying ‘this man is obsessed with the physical attractiveness of his daughters’ connotation that it does when the person is an outlier. It’s a problematic social norm, not a red flag personal fixation.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Tangentially, look at this old song lyric: “Farmer Johnson’s daughter just pulled up in a Jeep, he knows how to grow them if you know what I mean…”

            [Watermelon Crawl? I think.]

            The whole idea is that the beauty of a man’s daughters is verification of his virility.

        2. Julia*

          I do think that fathers should model the way men should behave towards women, by treating both the daughter and her mother with respect. The rest is creepy, though.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      The boss has a strong case of “proud poppa” in that he is obviously proud of the fact his daughter is an attractive young lady. Maybe going a bit overboard but I can understand that. I have two nieces and they’re both gorgeous. And yes I am aware I am biased on the topic. So I can understand his actions even if he’s going overboard.

      Your relationship with your boss just got nuked ’til it glows. You insulted his pride and joy, his baby girl. An apology is definitely required in this case, and the sooner the better. However it is quite likely that you have permanently damaged both your own image and your working relationship. Being a Christian he may forgive but this is something that won’t be forgotten.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Yep, I agree. I know a few dads who do this and it’s never not weird to hear them saying gross things about their daughters bodies. It would make me feel really uncomfortable to hear it. But OPs response was not proportional.

      2. Lablizard*

        My dad is equal opportunity on this kind of awkward. He says the same things about my brothers as he does me and my sisters. It sometimes makes me wonder if he was expecting to sire trolls or orcs or something and is overly pleased to have had humans

  6. Cambridge Comma*

    OP, it’s hard to tell written down rather than spoken but I wonder if you had a moment of automatically repeating something that you heard a lot as a teenager rather than thinking about it critically. That’s often worth dismantling.
    Perhaps you need to change the topic when your gross boss starts talking about his daughter. It sounds like it gets to you.

    1. fposte*

      I think this is a really good observation. I also can’t tell, OP, whether this was a vestigial impulse of some kind or if assessing somebody as being a whore is something you’re generally pretty comfortable with. If it’s the latter, I would really encourage you away from that practice; no good can come of it, and there are plenty of ways to prioritize a different code of dress and behavior without demonizing people who don’t.

      1. Effective Immediately*

        You know what, though? The fact that OP didn’t figure out how bad it was until much, much later and still isn’t coming across as really understanding how massive calling someone–particularly your boss’s daughter!–a whore is makes me think she might be in the “assessing someone as being a whore is something [she’s] pretty comfortable with” category.

        I hope this incident triggers a LOT of reflection for OP.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          My generous interpretation is that the OP wasn’t really thinking about the daughter at all, just herself, but still! I’m having a hard time with complete sentences on this subject, apparently.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I went the opposite way and I thought OP panicked thinking her boss is some kind of weirdo.

    2. Lies, damn lies and...*

      Yeah, this was my thought – OP is not saying this as a judgement call necessarily, but because this is something she was taught by her parents. It needs to be walked waaaaaaaay back, and consideration around the language used in OP’s house is going to be important for future interaction.

    3. LibbyG*

      Yeah, I’m imagining the long-version of the LW’s response being, “No, I didn’t have that problem because dating was strictly forbidden by my parents; they said many times that they were ‘not raising a whore’.” Not an excuse, and it doesn’t dispel the general cloud of judgement, but it could help the LW convey to her boss that she wasn’t actually referring to his daughter.

      It makes me so sad that girls are still growing up with this frame.

      1. Hannah*

        Yes, exactly what I was thinking. She said the wrong thing, but not in the sense that she accidentally slipped and said what she really thinks about the boss’s daughter. It was just really bad word choice. I think we’ve all blurted out the wrong thing before.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I’m not sure I agree. Blurting happens, granted (my favourite fictional example is a scene with Hugh Grant in “Love, Actually”), but calling a child a whore is horribly problematic and needs to be examined much more thoroughly and thoughtfully than, say, stubbing my toe and dropping a series of f-bombs in front of a client.

    4. De Minimis*

      That’s what I think probably happened. She may have been told that over and over again and just repeated it without thinking.

      1. Hlyssande*

        That’s what I was thinking too. It’s not an excuse, but that kind of indoctrination is hard to shake without some sort of major event to force you to shake it off… such as this. I really hope this is a wake up call for the OP to self-examine and really work at rooting out that sort of thought process, because it’s seriously gross.

        1. Stinky Socks*

          On further reflection, I almost wonder if the boss/dad hadn’t primed the OP’s response just a tiny bit. If all of dad’s comments about daughter center on her physical attractiveness (never her kindness or sense of humor or work ethic or intelligence, etc.) then I could see OP unthinkingly slip into that particular mindset that both reduces women to their appearances/attractiveness *and* reduces women who don’t follow the particular group’s rules to sluts.

          If that’s the ocean you swam in the entire time you were growing up, it can make it harder to notice the toxic waters again later… This is not to excuse OP’s comment by any means at all. But I’ve known enough of these folks in real life that her comment didn’t actually surprise me that much.

    5. Erin*

      Good point. I’m assuming that’s what happened here – that you (OP) had a moment of automatically repeating something you heard a lot as a teenager.

      I’m honestly confused why the word “whore” needs to be used at all. I understand dressing more conservatively than other teenagers. I understand not being allowed to date until a certain age. I understand having religious convictions. I do not understand why we need to call other women/girls whores. Please consider trying to work that out of your vocabulary. Particularly at work! :)

      1. SLR*

        And to add to this, OP even mentioned that the Boss is a ‘devout Christian’ as well, so she’s trying to justify that she said it; maybe she thinks he believes that too b/c ‘devout Christian’? IDK, it was just something in the tone of this: “But he is also a devout Christian (we’ve discussed this many times)”
        that made me think she was justifying her words with something like ‘well he’s devout too, he would agree’. I’m thinking she saw a fellow Christian and assumed they were raised with the same ‘values’.

    6. designbot*

      If this is indeed the situation, I think it’s worth mentioning in the apology. “I instintively repeated something I heard all the time growing up, and when I heard it come out of my mouth and saw your reaction I immediately realized how awful it sounded. I can only offer my deepest apologies and assure you that I do not have negative feelings about how you’re raising your daughter; and even if I did it wouldn’t be my place to say. I am truly sorry.”

  7. Potato*

    Wow – I actually winced. Regardless of whether it was said in jest or in seriousness, that’s a horrible thing to say about a child, much less to a parent. I’m surprised it took a couple of hours for it to sink in just how inappropriate that comment was. Apologise, profusely and in person.

    1. Cordelia Naismith*

      Okay, I’ve thought about it a little bit more and I have something more constructive to add. OP, all I can think is that this must have been something your parents said to you often when you were a teenager, and so it was there in your head as a normal thing for an adult to stay to/about a teenager. As you can probably tell by the shocked reactions this post is generating in the comments, it really, really isn’t. Now that you are an adult and are interacting with people besides just your family and church, you should probably take some time to re-evaluate how the wider world views these kinds of comments so you don’t continue to find yourself in this kind of situation. The word “whore” in particular is considered a very cruel, vicious slur. It’s not something that anybody should be saying at all, but especially not a work and double especially not to a parent about their teenaged daughter.

  8. Anonymous Poster*

    Whoa. Yeah, this is a problem.

    Apologize to your boss. Alison’s wording is fantastic. You didn’t mean how it came across, but you now realize how it came across and are really, really sorry.

    This as an initial reaction is a problem. Whatever you have to do, but this is not a good initial reaction to have so try to work on how to break it. It might, big might, mean similar reactions elsewhere that you should be on the lookout for in the meantime. However you arrived at the reaction (And it can be arrived at from many different paths, I wouldn’t necessarily argue devout Christianity plays a huge role in this), I’d suggest looking at that and seeing if it could pop up elsewhere.

    The reason I suggest this is because these sorts of things (trust me, I’ve struggled from time to time with them too) manifest elsewhere that you aren’t aware of. My very caring wife has been helping me with this, and I’ve been helping her. If you’re in a good relationship with someone, they can help you too by lovingly pointing out where else this may pop up in your blindspots, and helping you address them.

    Good luck!

    1. MadGrad*

      I said this above, but I honestly don’t think that phrasing will do much because… What else could she have meant by that? The idea that she was officially not a “whore” because she didn’t date and dressed conservatively still probably implies that his daughter, sho does date, is by comparison. Or at least, that she considers that activity “whorish”. There’s no charitable way to cut this, so I wonder if she wouldn’t be better off apologizing profusely, acknowledging that it was a knee jerk reaction that HORRIFIED her, and mentioning that she’s seriously rethinking some of her values (which I sincerely hope she will – that’s not how you talk about children).

        1. MadGrad*

          Oh yeah, for sure, but not calling children sexually charged insults I think is the bare minimum.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        Using that word carries a lot of baggage, I completely agree. I suspect this may be a knee-jerk reaction in a social setting versus actually thinking these thoughts about people. Most people don’t think calling others names like that is okay if they’re actually thinking about what they’re saying, and it would dawn on them later that what they said could (and probably was) very offensive.

        If this is similar to myself, where I’ve parroted offensive phrases as a knee-jerk reaction instead of actually thinking through what I was actually saying, then I could see in that case where the idea of, “I did not mean what I said, am very sorry, and am working on it. Please forgive me.” would be appropriate (and needs to be said ASAP to the boss!).

        I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt, because this was my case. It also unearthed other things I needed to work on, which is why I suggested analyzing where it came from and working on that with a trusted person who can caringly point these things out.

  9. Heart Vandelay*

    I am having serious trouble constructing a response and will continue to sit here with my mouth agape! Once again, I’d like to praise Allison for responding some of the most difficult letter writers with aplomb, grace and solid advice. If I had to respond ..

  10. Katie*

    So is it Christian to call other people whores??? I’m not sure you define it right OP. Plus totally inappropriate language at work I’d have thought…

    1. Chinook*

      Not only is the OP’s response not a Christian one but, by wielding her faith as a weapon to shame another person, she is giving a prime example of why other Christians are not open about their faith in the workplace.

      Frankly, her response would make me not only embarrassed to be part of the same faith as her but also for her boss to jump to the logical conclusion that I believe what she does by the mere fact I wear a cross around my neck (which I don’t).

      Thanks for that, OP.

    2. Temperance*

      Hey, just being gentle here, but when you suggest that rude Christians are not Christian because they’re rude, what you’re actually suggesting is that non-Christians are, by definition, rude/judgmental/awful etc.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t think that’s the implication at all. The idea is that Christianity has guiding principles that in theory should lead to certain behaviors and attitudes. The idea isn’t that people of other faiths cannot also have those same behaviors and attitudes.

        It would be similar to saying “If you’re a vegan, how can you wear a leather belt?” That doesn’t imply people who aren’t vegan necessarily wear leather belts.

      2. CM*

        I don’t think that’s true, and I hope this isn’t too much of a derail. Christ taught his followers to love each other. So it’s hypocritical to shame others in the name of being a good Christian. That’s all. It doesn’t follow that non-Christians are all rude and bad. (Contrapositive, not converse: if you’re being a good Christian, you’re not mean and judgmental toward others; therefore, if you are mean and judgmental toward others, you’re not being a good Christian.)

      3. Tomato Frog*

        That doesn’t follow. If I said “If you don’t believe in the laws of physics, you’re not a scientist” it doesn’t mean all non-scientists don’t believe in physics

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think I agree with that. I think it’s more about conformity to the teachings of your faith. Non-Christians aren’t expected to conform to Christianity’s teachings, but that doesn’t mean non-Christians are inherently rude/judgmental/awful, either. At least that’s not how I took it (as a non-Christian).

      5. Mustache Cat*

        I totally get what you’re saying. When people automatically reject the possibility that someone who is rude or harmful is ‘Christian’, they reject the possibility that Christians can do harm, which just jumps over the deeper social/theological problem. And yeah, the idea that Christians have a value system that emphasizes harm reduction only feeds into the larger belief that atheists don’t have any value system, and therefore are harmful to society in some way. (See: many, many surveys that say that the public doesn’t trust atheists). I think this is pretty off-topic, but I wanted to chime in and support you, Temperance!

        1. Relly*

          I absolutely see what you and Temperance are saying, and get where it seems problematic, but I don’t agree that your interpretation is what the speaker is actually implying.

          Of course there are Christians who do bad things. What I mean when I say it is usually, “okay, you know how Steve does bad things, and claims that Christianity is his reason? Eff Steve. Steve is just a shitty person.”

          I think most religions have a principle or two that boils down to “Don’t be a shitty person,” which means when someone does horrible things and uses that religion as an excuse, the other adherents are left face palming and going, “no, that’s not …. It’s not anywhere in the book that you should do that, I promise. Janet is just an asshole.”

          I also don’t think that atheists lack a moral code, and I’d never want to imply that. My vibe is that atheists go “I don’t need a book to tell me not to be a shitty person. That’s common sense.” And they do good things because that’s how society works, because they’re good people, because they’re compassionate and kind. And if someone else did crappy things and tried to justify it using atheism, the rest of the atheists would head desk and go”no, that’s not atheism. That’s just Vinnie. Vinnie is a jerk bag. Not because he’s an atheist. Because he’s just a jerk bag.”

          Every group, religious and non, has good people and shitty people. I think the quote is just meant as “look, Emma is one of those. You guys have shitty people too, right? Ugh, eff Emma.”

      6. Thlayli*

        That’s not the same thing at all. To behave in a Christian manner is to do the things that Christians believe are good, and that Jesus taught his followers to do. To behave in an unchristian manner or to not behave in a Christian manner is to do the things that jesus taught his followers not to do. It is nothing whatsoever to do with any other religion.

        For example, Christians are taught that murder is wrong. If someone commits murder they are behaving in an unchristian way. Or they are not behaving in a Christian way. Buddists, Muslims and Jews are also taught that murder is wrong, therefore to commit murder is not only unchristian it is also unislamic and unjewish/unbuddist (I have no idea What the actual words are sorry).

        Tl;dr: calling a behaviour unchristian is just saying that Christians should not do that. It is not the same as saying that non-Christians do that.

        1. Anna*

          Failing to observe the Sabbath may be unchristian. Calling a child a whore is mean and wrong, regardless of the religion of the speaker. So I think it’s inaccurate (or at least, under-described) to call it unchristian, since it would be bad behavior for anyone.

      7. Spiny*

        Well, no. Pointing out hypocrisy doesn’t also make traits or values exclusive to a specific identity.

    3. BPT*

      I mean yes, in some cases, it is part of a Christian belief system to treat women differently and call them whores.

      If you’re literally talking about the one belief that makes you Christian – believing Christ was the son of god sent to die for humans’ sins, then no it’s not necessarily Christian because it’s not explicitly stated in that one belief, but then neither is being a good person or praying or any of the other things that come into a Christian faith.

      I grew up in the conservative Bible belt (and grew up Christian). There are plenty of churches who teach this. There are plenty of Bible verses you can use to justify this (as well as verses that go against doing this). If you simply look at Jesus’ life, then maybe you don’t call women whores. But certainly it’s part of some Christian belief systems to degrade women.

      Note – I’m not saying this is exclusive to Christianity. It’s present in sects of every religion and people who aren’t religious can also display these traits. And I certainly don’t agree with it, obviously. But “Christian” is not equal to “good person.” There are plenty of Christian beliefs that are harmful to others and are practiced that way.

      1. SLR*

        We’re getting into ‘No True Scotsman Fallacy’ territory here.
        She weaponized her faith to call the boss’s daughter a whore. That’s the issue most of us have here with this. The fact that she’s backing this up with ‘but he’s devout too, we’ve discussed it’ is her defending her comment by saying if he were raising his daughter devoutly christian as she was he’d think the same thing. See Chinook’s comment above about how wearing a cross doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been taught and internalized the same version of Christianity.

        1. BPT*

          Right – the No True Scotsman Fallacy is the exact reason why you can’t say that one action is or isn’t “Christian.”

          I know not every Christian believes the same thing, I was raised Christian but am not one anymore.

          What I’m saying is that, yes, this action is “Christian” to some people, so asking the LW if her action is “Christian” in an attempt to shame her out of it is not likely to work – if she was raised this way, then it is actually a Christian action according to her brand of Christianity.

          The argument should be that it’s a terrible thing to say and never to say it, especially about a child, full stop. Not that “it’s not a Christian thing to say so you shouldn’t say it.” That’s not likely to work with fundamentalist, fire and brimstone believers.

          1. SLR*

            Yes exactly, regardless of how OP was raised, for her to imply her boss is raising a whore AND said it out loud is horrifying! I’ve said before in other comments, that I honestly think that because they’ve discussed their faith together before she thought it was in line with his values as well as hers.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think the “no true Scotsman” fallacy plays in here. The whole point of that fallacy is that there are people who are definitely in a category based on some non-shifting criteria (i.e., born in Scotland, lives in Scotland for X # of years… whatever it is) and regardless of behavior or belief, and when you find out that person exhibits behavior you don’t think a Scotsman should, then you differentiate by saying “This is what a true Scotsman would do.”

          Christianity’s different, though, as is any religion (maybe barring Judaism, which has a strong cultural/hereditary component in addition to the religious one). There is no definite criteria someone fits apart from behavior and belief. So if you decide in advance, “This is the behavior and belief that represents Christianity,” you can easily call people out for being fake Christians. Now, you may say it isn’t a person’s place to judge someone else, and that’s fine. But if you can agree certain behavior doesn’t seem congruent with a belief system, there’s no fallacy in positing that the person exhibiting that behavior probably doesn’t actually believe the belief system.

          Likewise, just because there is a wide range of interpretations of the Bible amongst denominations doesn’t mean Christianity is meaningless as a concept (whether you agree with it or not—in fact, if it were meaningless, there would be nothing to disagree with). I saw this fallacy a lot of when I taught high school English. There were a lot of kids who came into class thinking “Well, if there are different valid interpretations of Austen or Morrison or Hemingway, then any interpretation is valid, and you can just make up whatever BS you want.”

          1. BPT*

            But I mean there IS a definite criteria for being a Christian – and that is the belief that God came to earth in the form of his son to die for our sins, and that through that we are absolved. That is the literal definition of a Christian. Christianity specifically says that you don’t get to heaven through works – it is solely through this belief. That means that as long as you hold that one belief, you are a Christian. Certain sects of Christianity add things to that – specific behaviors that are expected, other beliefs that can go along with it. You can add things to that one specific belief and still be a Christian. That’s why different sects pop up.

            1. Humble Schoolmarm*

              I’m not sure it’s even that clear cut. Works are important in the Catholic understanding. It was one of the fundamental divisions of the Reformation between Catholic and Protestants. There is even some pushback on the first part of your statement in some very liberal denominations (ie. mine; I have heard “You’re not a real Christian if you believe/don’t believe such and such” so many times in my life and it drives me entirely bananas.)

              1. BPT*

                You’re right about works in Catholicism – I should have made that more clear. But the point is, both Catholicism and Protestantism are under the umbrella of “Christianity” because of their belief in Jesus. Then every denomination and sect adds different things to that core belief, but that is the one belief that categorizes one as Christian.

                I’ve never heard of a liberal Christian church who doesn’t believe in Jesus as the holy son of god who died for humanity, to be honest. Even Unitarian churches (according to the UUA) specifically don’t label themselves as “Christian” – they say they take inspiration from Christianity, and generally believe in god and may have certain views on Jesus, but in doing so they note that they are separate from Christianity.

                People can believe whatever they want of course, and there are like a million different ways to be Christian, but there is that one belief that generally needs to be there to meet the textbook definition. Just because I like going to church doesn’t mean I call myself Christian when I’m really agnostic. Someone who believes in all the tenants of capitalism but insists on calling themselves a communist have the right to do so, but that doesn’t really mean they meet the definition of someone who is a communist.

  11. Doug Judy*

    Yeah OP, this is bad, and I get you were raised conservatively and it was probably ingrained in you that not dressing in long denim skirts and baggy shirts made someone who was seeking male attention. When I was in middle school my Sunday school teacher asked me who bought my clothes. I said my mom. She later called my mom and told her I needed to dress less slutty because the boys in class were having trouble concentrating. My mom responded that I was dressed stylishly with properly fitting clothes and if the boys were having issues then perhaps she should teach a lesson on self control.

    BTW your boss is also creepy, ala Jim Bob Duggar. Way too involved in their daughters dating lives. Ick.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      God bless your mother.

      The attitude that women should change because of men’s reactions is so horribly insulting and damaging.

      1. Doug Judy*

        It’s super gross. And this happens like 20+ years ago. Mom was ahead of her time. She really is the best.

      2. Alex the Alchemist*

        Amen. And as a Christian, I think it’s important to remind people of Matthew 18:9 whenever anyone tries to blame women for men’s reactions to their appearance: “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

        Basically if you can’t control your gaze just stab your eye out instead of blaming it on women just trying to exist.

        1. Doug Judy*


          I totally forgot about this as it was 20 some years ago, but the Sunday school teacher’s son who was a bit older than me gave me a 2X tshirt for my birthday once. I likely weighed 95 lbs at the time. I was an incredibly insecure teenager, so all I said was that it was a little big for me. He said to wasn’t, I needed to hide my chest better. I wish I had told him off. I know I never wore it, and I remember my parents telling me to just ignore him, I wasn’t the problem. That whole family was a piece of work.

          1. Observer*

            The teacher allowed her son to give you a shirt for your birthday?! And her told you that you needed to hide your chest better?! Talk about people in glass houses! Before complaining about the way other people raise their kids, make sure YOUR own kids are acting with minimal decency!

            FTR, I consider this guys behavior to be considerably more immodest than wearing a too tight shirt. (Not that I’m saying your shirt was too tight.)

          2. No, please*

            My middle school principal told my very angry father that my chest was too big for a shirt that was well within the dress code bounds of “acceptable.” He told that principal exactly what he thought of him. The office door was open and surrounding classrooms heard everything. My dad really helped me see, right then and there, that not all men objectify young girls and I’m eternally grateful for that lesson.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That is disgusting, and I am so sorry. And forgive me, but your Sunday School teacher and her son can go straight to you know where.

            Don’t feel bad that you didn’t tell him off; when people act beyond the bounds of basic decency, it’s ok to be so shocked that you’re unable to respond in the moment.

            1. Raine*

              This is my favorite response to use when I don’t know what else to say. Clue the movie was amazing.

    2. Little Missy*

      Your mom was the “bomb.com” as my daughter used to say. And she was totally correct here.

      I think “slut” and its variants need to go to the same corner as “whore.”

  12. London Engineer*

    Based on the headline I was expecting something along the lines of complaining about the new intern or a customer behaving inappropriately without realising who they were not this pile of misogyny and creepiness.

    1. HisGirlFriday*

      YES! This is what I was thinking. One of those great karmic moments you read about, like where a guy was on the tube in London and someone pushed past him and was rude, and then later the pushy guy shows up to be interviewed by the guy he pushed.

      THAT is what I expected.

  13. Anne*

    The only apology I can imagine being effective in this situation is to say, hey, I can’t believe I said that, I was raised in an environment that shamed girls for their sexuality growing up and I don’t feel the same way anymore but I reflexively said it anyway and I’m so ashamed that I did.

    Even if you actually DO feel the same way now – heck even if you actually think your boss’s kid is a whore – you should say it anyway because he is literally never going to look at you again without thinking “she told me to my face that I RAISED A WHORE” and you really need to do everything you can possibly do to mitigate that.


    1. Natalie*

      Yeah, this is what I was thinking, too. Although, LW, you are going to have to a) mean it, and b) guard carefully against any future kneejerk utterances.

    2. TCO*

      This is good wording. I think that OP’s boss deserves more explanation than “Hey, that was offensive and I’m sorry” when OP said something so judgemental and personal. If OP feels comfortable being a little more vulnerable, I’d suggest she use Anne’s wording. Since the boss is also religious, he might be sympathetic about the power that religion can hold over our worldview.

    3. ToraHime*

      I like this apology, but I’m also not the OP’s boss, who probably won’t “get” this apology–because from the OP’s description, he sounds like the type of person who “shame(s) girls for their sexuality” without realizing that’s what he’s doing. (And OMG, he is GROSS and inappropriate in so many ways.)

      I think the OP has to move on; look for a new job, figure out why the “whore” response came out reflexively, and decide whether that’s something you want to work on.

    4. V*

      Agree that this best approach. And it needs to be presented as a explanation/context for the comment, not as an excuse for the comment. There is no excuse for that comment.

    5. Shiara*

      I like this phrasing, and I think it has the best chance of defusing the situation, and is the most charitable context for situation while acknowledging the gravity of what was said.

    6. Bolt*

      I would leave out all explanation/context… I feel it could make it much worse if the wrong word is used. I would keep it to a simple, “I can’t believe that I said that, I recognize it was inappropriate and thoughtless, I am incredibly sorry for what I said.”

    7. LiveAndLetDie*

      I like “I can’t believe I said that, and I am ashamed that I did, and I am sorry” much more than I’m liking the responses that suggest an “I didn’t mean it” approach. The OP needs to take responsibility for the reprehensible thing that was said and apologize without making excuses or deflecting. I would even refrain from trying to cast it against her upbringing or religion, and keep it short. Just saying “I’m sorry, what I said was wrong and awful, and I feel ashamed that I said it” is going to be the best way to handle this.

  14. Here we go again*

    Yikes. I was also in audible gasp territory…

    FWIW, I don’t think the OP really insulted the boss’ daughter, rather I think she insulted the boss and specifically, his parenting. It was also completely inappropriate for him to make the comment “I bet you had that problem!” because that’s just creepy.

    That’s not to say that OP handled it even remotely correctly, but I do think she needs to apologize and take a moment to talk to the boss about how he comes across when he makes these comments (about his own daughter?!). It sounds like the boss is totally clueless about societal norms.

    All that being said, this may be a relationship that cannot be repaired.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I thought that OP was talking about herself and not even thinking about the boss’ daughter at the point where she said that. That’s why she didn’t realize until later that the boss would think she was referring to his daughter.

      1. Amadeo*

        Yeah, this is what I figured too when she said she later realized how it could have been taken. It’s entirely possible that Boss’s Daughter wasn’t really on her mind when she said it and only realized belatedly how her boss could have taken/probably did take it. I mean, I’ve done flubs like that before but not quite at this level.

    2. CaliCali*

      I really agree with this. It’s not that she called the girl a whore, because she actually didn’t. It’s that she said her parents didn’t “raise a whore,” implying that her boss IS. And given the context of Christian patriarchy (which is what’s specifically at play here, not necessarily the level of devout…ness), the sexuality of women can be seen as the purview of the men in positions of authority in her life (and is reflected by his creepy comments about his daughter). So if the girl were actually promiscuous, it wouldn’t be about her asserting bodily autonomy, it would be about her father’s failure as a parent. That’s the actual insult that needs to be rectified, but I’m really not sure how you could come back from that.

      1. fposte*

        I get the distinction you’re making, but I doubt that the boss was up for parsing it that finely; most people aren’t when their daughter is involved.

      2. Observer*

        Assuming you are correct, all it means is that the insult to the father is all the greater, not that she didn’t call the kid a whore. It takes it from “Your kid is a whore and you are the ones who made it happen, unlike my parents.” to “Your kid is a whore and, unlike my parents, you are a horrible and ineffective person for making your daughter this way.”

    3. bearing*

      That was what I was thinking. Faced with a creepy boss talking about his daughter as if she were a sex object, I could see myself reflexively snapping something that would telegraph “you are inappropriate and most normal parents do not want to put their daughter’s sexuality out there in front of strangers.” I suspect that OP’s reflex just came from a very deep place rooted in her own background where the usual thing was to associate openness with sexuality with immorality and where that word summed it all up.

      Which isn’t to excuse it. But blurting out inappropriate things happens, especially when boundary violations are already occurring. I think the boss’s comments must have been a sort of trigger for OP. I do think it’s more about the boss than about the daughter: not that OP was accusing the daughter of being a whore, more like accusing the boss of trying to make his daughter into one. I am not sure if there is a point in distinguishing the two, since it reflects a certain assumption about what relationship parents ought to have to daughters’ sexuality, except that the boss *was* truly acting inappropriate in talking like that to the OP whereas the daughter did nothing.

  15. marymoocow*

    I took the boss’s comment “I bet you had that problem” to mean “You are as pretty as my daughter, I bet lots of boys were interested in you.”

    I would also never say “whore” at work, and I never say it in my personal life either. I think it’s such an ugly word. It’s really disappointing and sad that this word is so ingrained in OP that she uses it “instinctively” and didn’t realize for hours that she hurt her boss’s feeling.

    1. marymoocow*

      Just to clarify. I definitely think the boss was out of line to bring up your dating history. I just think he intended it as a compliment and totally messed it up.

      1. Bee Eye LL*

        I agree the boss crossed a line. I’m wondering if he was actually flirting with her and she didn’t realize it until he directly the compliment at her.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Eh, I wouldn’t jump to flirting immediately, not by that one comment. It sounds to me like an awkward compliment from a man who probably thinks all women value being “pretty”. I work with a bunch of middle-aged men, and if one of them said something along those lines, I’d probably roll my eyes (yes, roll my eyes AT THEM) and say something snarky and then think nothing of it unless it happened again.

      2. Em*

        I disagree here. I do think he intended it as a compliment, but that doesn’t make it okay to talk about an employee’s appearance at work.

      3. Delta Delta*

        That’s how I interpreted the boss’s comment, too. It struck me as sort of an awkward compliment.

    2. kb*

      Yeah, OP’s boss made a misguided attempt at a compliment. It was not appropriate and is incredibly awkward to respond to, but generally it’s intended to be complimentary. I’ve been on the receiving end of it many times and all you can really do is change the subject.

      1. iseeshiny*

        “How can I fix the relationship?”

        There is no way to fix this, sorry. I’d start job hunting.

      2. iseeshiny*

        Yikes, I meant to say, “I love this, thanks for sharing!” here, and then put my previous comment as it’s own reply.

    1. Emm*

      I’m the furthest thing from religious that you can get, and I have NEVER said “whore” out load. Hell, I’ve never even *thought* it.

      How very Christian of them.

    2. Spring Flowers*

      Not to derail, but my (Catholic) religion teacher in junior high straight out in the middle of lecture called Mary Magdalene a whore.

      1. Chinook*

        “but my (Catholic) religion teacher in junior high straight out in the middle of lecture called Mary Magdalene a whore”

        The last person who implied that (which was DH while watching Jesus Christ Superstar last weekend) then got an in-depth theological and historical lesson about how he is mixing up two female characters and how this was encouraged by a particularly chauvinistic medieval pope. This was then followed up with gospel quotes showing a) they can’t be the same person and b) even Jesus wouldn’t call the prostitute a slur like that.

        1. Spring Flowers*

          This was back in the 1990s, and my and I still look back and laugh (as wrong as that might be) at how I came home, saying, “Mom, Mrs. Teacher called Mary Magdalene a whore in class!” At the time my mom was taken back by it, but she didn’t complain about it (probably because Mrs. Teacher was also the principal). The other interesting point was that Mrs. Teacher had been a nun, but for whatever reason, she left, got married, and had children.

          Since then I have learned different interpretations of Mary Magdalene, including how she could’ve been Jesus’ wife. I’m just perplexed why a teacher would have said that, especially to a bunch of 12 year olds!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        There’s a great article in the WaPo about the persistent myth that Mary Magdalene is a whore and the role of persistently shaming her instead of focusing on her (amazing) role as Apostle of Apostles. And if you want a deep dive, read the Gnostic Gospels.

        But you could also always invite over Chinook, who is kicking butt and taking names :)

        1. BookishMiss*

          NPR has a pretty cool one as well.

          But I think I’d rather ask Chinook to record a podcast we can just play on loop.

          1. Chinook*

            Nah, too much work. I think any NPR podcast that includes a biblical scholar or theologian that understands/used the idea of intertextuality would be a good way to go. The history of combining Mary Magdalene (who is never referred to by her relationship to anything other than the town of Magdela and is referred to more often than most of the characters in the Gospel and has a a pivotal role), the prostitute who washes Jesus’ feet (who is never given a name) and Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, is an interesting one (and a good argument for why not everyone should be named Mary) and revolves around a known chauvinistic Pope Gregory who was known to have an axe to grind against women and liked the message of redemption that came with conflating the two stories. The Catholic Church, in 1960, started to try and make up for this defamation of her character by making her feast day, June 22, an obligatory one, putting her on par with the 12 apostles (because of her role as apostle to the apostle as she was the first to announce to anyone that Jesus had risen from the dead).

    3. Temperance*

      I just snorted at your comment, but yes, I would like to confirm that devout Christians like LW use words like “whore” to describe women who show their shoulders and knees, who go on GASP dates, and who wear crossbody purses that show the shape of their breasts.

      1. Purple Jello*

        This column is so educational. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to wear crossbody purses.

        1. No, please*

          You’re also not supposed to dance. To quote my great aunt, “Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire!”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            But less of a problem if you leave room for the Holy Spirit. Which is a space equal to one nun.

        2. BeautifulVoid*

          Me neither. And I specifically bought a diaper bag with a crossbody strap so I could have my hands free while wrangling my twin daughters. Guess I’m setting a terrible example for them.

    4. Dzhymm, BfD*

      There is a strain of extremely judgmental Christianity where such sentiments would feel right at home (think of the stereotypical Church Lady). In fact, I’m willing to bet that the reason the word just popped out of the OP’s mouth like that is because that sort of talk is quite common in their family and community…

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yeah, I don’t think this is fixable. You just don’t insult someone’s teenage daughter like that! My SIL was dumped by her long-term boyfriend because she saw photos of his son’s prom and said that the son’s girlfriend was dressed like a slut (final straw kind of thing – she is so judgmental and mean).

      1. TallTeapot*

        Yep. I don’t see this ever being undone, OP. time to start looking for another job…and unpacking what made you say such a thing.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree. Regardless of whether the interpretation is that the daughter is a whore OR that the boss and his wife are raising one is pretty hard to come back from, even if both parties are of the same mindset that even contemplation of dating as teenager is verboten and that responsibility for sexual temptation lies with the woman. I would apologize as Alison suggests, but I’d also look for another job (both because this is likely to follow OP around at this job and because of Boss’s gross comments).

      Also, the justification for this comment that OP felt she and her boss were like-minded on the subject was also pretty horrifying to me, but I also knew/know a lot of devoutly Christian people who dated as teenagers. Devoutly Christian is not synonymous with the mindset OP displays.

  16. The Final Pam*

    Yeah, your boss’ comments are weird, but I don’t think there’s any way to come back from this. You didn’t just make some offhand comment that could be misinterpreted, you called your boss’ daughter a whore. This is not something that is easily forgiven or forgotten – even if your boss accepts it was a slip of the tongue, do you think a parent would ever get over something like that or forget something like that? I can’t see a situation where the relationship is permanently mended.

    And if this is just a slip of the tongue / involuntary I’d really take a look at what makes slut-shaming so unconscious or involuntary for you, because this sounds like something that could happen again and it’s not a great look.

    1. a Gen X manager*

      I totally agree, Final Pam. I can’t imagine that there is any possible way to come back from this; it is simply too harsh and too personal. The use of that particular word is also particularly problematic in the same way the “c” word would be.

      If the conversation were of a different topic and OP had used the “b” word, she could probably smooth that over since it is part of the vernacular and people say that about themselves, but the word whore carries so much judgment and so many connotations that it isn’t something that you could say that you were joking about or whatever. I agree with Alison about apologizing, but OP will need to move on ASAP.

    2. Metal Husband*

      Final Pam, I wasn’t going to comment until I saw your name. Thank you & good job.

      I also agree that the boss was a bit skeevy… but the word “whore” is just so strong (and also misogynistic, rude, uncalled for, etc.) that I’m not sure OP’s relationship with the boss will ever go back to normal.

      OP, I’m sure you do feel bad, but I don’t think this is something that can be resolved completely. Unfortunately, you’ll always be the employee who said your boss’ daughter was a whore.

  17. Karyn*

    Even if he is a devout Christian, I wouldn’t assume that he practices as strictly as you did/do. There are many ways to be devout. I know devout Jews who keep kosher but still drive to temple on Friday nights. It’s all personal. That’s why this letter has so many things wrong with it: too much personal stuff at work (religion, inappropriate comments from boss to employee, inappropriate comments about boss’s daughter).

    OP, I don’t want to pile on for the comment you made because it’s possible you realize it was wrong, but I would urge you to start separating your personal from professional lives when it comes to your boss, and perhaps start looking elsewhere for positions – it may be that there is no coming back from this one.

    1. Alton*

      I agree with this. Religion is very personal, and you can’t take for granted that someone who shares your faith will have the same views or experiences. I think it’s best to keep this sort of thing separate from work.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Right… I used to have one Muslim coworker who’d say “I’m not all that religious – I mean, I observe Ramadan, obviously, but I don’t abstain from alcohol or anything like that” and another who’d say “I’m not all that religious – I mean, I don’t drink, obviously, but I don’t observe Ramadan or any of that stuff”.

      1. Karyn*

        Yep, that’s exactly what I mean. I consider myself a devout Jew in my beliefs and general actions in the community, but I don’t participate in Passover dietary restrictions or go to temple every week. It’s all about personal beliefs, so it’s dangerous to assume everyone is devout in the same way as you might be.

      2. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

        One of my grad school cohort was Muslim. Abstained from alcohol, couldn’t stay away from bacon. I asked him why once, and he just sighed, shrugged, and said “As my dad said every time he had a whiskey, we are all sinners in the eyes of Allah.”

  18. Anne*

    OP you should also be aware going forward in your career that there are a lot of different ways to be a devout Christian, and assuming that because someone is devout that they share your exact same morals and worldview is a very, very risky thing to do.

  19. Cookie*

    Maybe you could say something like, “I grew up in an extremely religious household and obviously I still have some issues – I can’t believe I said that.”

    It’s pretty shocking, but if you bring it back to your issues and make it sound like you’re working through them, it’ll smooth over a little better.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I really like this. It might be way to salvage the job/relationship at this point.

      Several years ago a senior boss said something very, very sexist and demeaning to me in a meeting. I called him out on it after and he actually sincerely apologized and seemed so upset that he said it, and said “I think I have a lot of work to do. My daughter will be joining the workforce in a couple years and nobody should talk to her the way I talked to you.”

      It’s a start.

      1. LBK*

        I like this, but it’s also kind of disheartening to me when people can only feel bad about sexism when they think about their daughter/wife/sister/mother being on the receiving end of it. Women you don’t know and aren’t related to also deserve your respect!

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          This is the thing that frustrates me about people who are homo- or transphobic and only come around when a family member comes out. Okay, great, you can rethink things when it’s your brother – was it too much to ask for just in general? Because I’m an upper middle class white boy who grew up in the whitest, most conservative neighborhood ever, raised by Republicans, and to my knowledge there’s not even anybody LGBT+ in my family tree closer than second cousin, and if I can figure it out, anybody can.

          1. AnonAcademic*

            I consider it a major emotional intelligence deficit when people can only understand or appreciate social issues like sexism or homophobia when it affects their immediate family.

        2. jamlady*

          I honestly think a lot of people really don’t see it or understand how something comes across *until* a woman reacts to it. Then it’s a moment for them to step back and think “wow okay, what did I just do?” And yes, having women in their lives they care about helps them do that. It’s not perfect, but like Katie said, it’s a start.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I’m certainly not going to condemn someone who’s seeing the light for not seeing it as soon as or in the way that I would’ve preferred. But it is still frustrating – it’s like, you were totally cool with all these other examples until it affected you personally? Where’s your empathy?

              1. LBK*

                True – sometimes people can’t believe such gross things actually happened the way women describe them until a woman they know and trust says it happened to them.

            1. Marisol*

              This upsets me too. I think it is an inability to think abstractly. They can’t access their empathy because they can’t imagine a theoretical person existing. So it’s less of an empathy failure per se and more of an intellectual fail. This American Life did a whole podcast about this a while back. Some activist groups discovered that they could change people’s minds if they sent door-to-door canvassers to share their personal experiences of an issue; for example, pro-choice canvassers who had abortions themselves and were willing to talk about their experiences did so, which resulted in previously pro-life voters actually reconsidering their position. But this only happened when an individual could share their specific experience one-on-one. Otherwise, no one changed their minds. The same thing happened with gay marriage. Once the voter interacted with someone who was gay and who wanted to marry, they came around to supporting it too. It’s infuriating for me to think about, honestly. (And the reason activists don’t do more of this apparently is that it’s an expensive way to get votes, with one canvasser per voter.)

              1. LBK*

                Sorry to say but at least for the gay rights study, that method was later pretty conclusively disproven – attempts to replicate it were completely unsuccessful and digging further into the study opened up some big holes that pointed to the entire thing being fabricated. Will post a link to the 538 article about it in the reply if I can find it.

                1. Marisol*

                  wow, very interesting. I wonder if some sort of correction was posted on the TAL website that I missed. Thanks!

              2. Observer*

                I agree that it’s often a failure of imagination. But it turns out that the study was a sham.

              3. Effective Immediately*

                I just want to chime in, as someone who works in abortion care, even if this were proven to be 100%, full proof effective in terms of moving electorates, it would be deeply problematic. We’re very, very careful about the times/places we ask people to share their abortion stories; the potential for opening them up to very real harm is just way, way too high. Ditto gay marriage, I would imagine.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree, and it bugs me, but I’ve also found that people are more willing to make profound changes to their worldview when it affects them personally (or directly). I guess I’m a little instrumentalist—if the analogy to your daughter makes it easier for you to comprehend why what you said is horrific, then good. I wish you could do it on your own, but I’ll take the win, regardless.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, that’s pretty much my feeling on it. I don’t love it but I’ll take it over people never changing at all.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Honestly? I don’t think there’s a way to salvage things. If someone had said that to me about my daughter, there’d have been a long silence, and then I’d probably have told them to pack their things and get the hell out.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Given the context that the boss is pretty religious too, I think OP probably needs to be careful about this. Calling someone’s daughter a whore and then referencing the very same upbringing that boss believes he’s instilling in his daughter as a reason for why the insult happened may not be a winning strategy. Maybe a “strict” household or something similar though.

      1. CaliCali*

        Agreed. I don’t really think bringing up her rationale is going to help here, since they’re coming from the same general perspective.

        1. Dinosaur*

          Or even just owning it as a family thing might go over better. “That sentiment was something I heard often in my household as a teenager and I’m horrified that I unthinkingly parroted it. It was completely unacceptable and I apologize for putting my baggage on you and your family.” (Assuming that’s true.)

      2. Turtle Candle*

        I agree. One of the tricky things here is that she could accidentally insult the boss further by implying that the problem only came up because he’s less devout than she is, at which point the whore insult is compounded by the ‘I am a better believer than you’ insult. I think there are ways to do it, but it’s a potential minefield.

    3. Somniloquist*

      I like this as well. It seemed to me that she might have been parroting something that was said many times to her by her family and it was an automatic response. I would also advise her to express a large amount of mortification as well. Even though the boss was so out of line he probably can’t see the line anymore, the power dynamic still exists.

      And OP, if this is something that you just heard hundreds of times and internalized, I would really encourage you to look into why this is so inappropriate with a healthy dab of critical thinking. I’ve had to do that myself with my (non-religious) family and some of the norms I grew up with too.

  20. Bee Eye LL*

    Maybe I am reading into this a bit much, but it sounds to me like the boss is hitting on the OP. Like he used the daughter as an excuse to throw in compliments that I don’t think most fathers would use to describe their own daughters. Seems more like he is projecting. The “bet you didn’t have that problem” was where he finally crossed the line and turned the compliments directly to the OP. And maybe she sensed that in some way and her response was a defense mechanism.

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      To clarify, in NO WAY am I defending what you said to him. That was pretty harsh, but I’m seeing this as a defensive response to a boss who was out of line first. Like some others said it may be time to look for an exit.

      1. annejumps*

        Yeah, I was wondering about that too. Seems like there’s more going on under the surface than is immediately apparent in the text.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agree with this. She did not directly say, “I am not a whore but your daughter is” and he did not directly say, “I wanna hit on you”, but there is so much wrong with this one conversation I cannot imagine a whole work day of this stuff. The boss gives me the creeps.

        I just wonder why OP wants to salvage this.

        OP, chose work places where people speak directly. I worked in one place that ran on inferences. For any given sentence, there can be at least two or three ways of interpreting it. I had to learn this in order to survive one place. It was exhausting. I learned as the day wore on to say less and less because I was less on top of my game by mid afternoon. And anything I said could be used against me at any time, even years later.

        OP, do you even like this job? Or is your fear of moving on holding you back? Some times when we catch ourselves spewing garbage it is because we have been too long in a baaaad place. I am reading your remark as you got your defenses up VERY high and VERY fast. If this is the case, you need to look at WHY.

        I have seen all kinds of stuff go on that is mind-bending. I know of one whole work place who covered for a child molester. The story blew up a while ago, so this is not news now. The person who stumbled on to it basically kicked a hornet’s nest and the hornets went after her. She wound up in a bunch of trouble and making newspaper headlines herself. I do understand that there is only a one in a million chance that this could apply to your setting. But if this rings true in any manner, just get out now. Do not work for unethical people. Make peace as best you can and then leave.

    2. kb*

      I don’t know, I’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of commentary a few times and I don’t think they were flirting. I think it’s generally intended as a compliment. It’s really weird and awkward to respond to (especially in the workplace), but I never got the sense people who have said it to me had any ulterior meanings attached to it besides maybe soliciting to my perspective as a former teen girl.

      1. kb*

        I’m not trying to defend boss’s statement–it is really inappropriate. I just don’t read it as flirtatious or an attempt at a come-on on its own.

        1. Cant*

          So, what would someone have to say to you before you took it as a sexual interest in you? Apparently someone saying “I find you sexually attractive” isn’t quite enough? Do they need to prove that they really mean it by humping you, or bringing flowers of a certain color, or something?

          Of course they mean it as a compliment! The point is, it’s not necessarily good for you that they find you attractive!

          Sure, attraction in and of itself is not a crime – people get workplace crushes without actually acting on them. Acting on the attraction in the workplace is the part that is generally a poor idea; verbalizing your attraction is acting on it, and therefore a bad idea. Some workplace romances even work out, but it is super-double inappropriate in all cases for a boss to say something like that to a subordinate.

          1. kb*

            As I said in my comments, I think it’s inappropriate, weird, and awkward. But I think on its own, it’s distinct from being hit on. I suppose it could be the world’s least-effective come-on, but in the situations I encountered it, it was an already awkward attempt at a compliment gone awry.

          2. kb*

            I do notice I was a bit unclear. When I said “generally intended as a compliment,” I should have specified “generally intended as an asexual compliment.”

          3. Anna*

            You can acknowledge that someone is attractive without hitting on them. Sometimes it’s just a statement of the obvious- that person meets society’s current idea of beauty. It’s a fact that Taylor Swift is attractive by conventional standards. She does nothing for me personally, but there’s no denying she’s society’s idea of beautiful.

            I could easily see myself making a similar comment to the boss with no sexual intent. The thought process would be “She’s objectively attractive. It’s likely that she was in high school. So she’s like my daughter, maybe she has some advice”. If OP is actually conventionally beautiful, it might not even occur to the boss that it’s weird to mention- it’s just a fact like OP having brown eyes or long hair.

            Inappropriate in the circumstances? Sure. Something that could only ever be interpreted as a come-on? Not in my opinion.

    3. Cant*

      This is how I took it, too. He shouldn’t make sex comments about the daughter or the employee at work. That’s going to be problem #2 the OP has to try to tackle, but honestly I think she should just start looking for a new job.

      The combo of “creepy boss with boundary issues” and “boss is attracted to the OP” and “OP insulted the boss and his kid” and “OP believes being attractive is sinful” is just… not worth it to tackle. Any two of those would be very hard to tackle successfully. All four? No. Take your labor somewhere else; this is officially the Titanic.

  21. Katie the Fed*

    This letter just makes me profoundly sad on so many levels: your boss’s sexist comments about his own daughter, and your equally sexist comments. We have so, so much work to do.

    OP, I hope you’ve give some serious thought to how you think and talk about other women. We need build each other up, not tear each other down.

    1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      This. The whole thing just makes me sad. The letter illustrates how we (as a society) place too much value on women’s sexuality–whether that’s value the father feels for his daughter because she’s pretty or the OP’s misguided guarding of her own sexuality and policing that of other women. It’s reductionist (and sexist and misogynistic) to think of women this way. I’m deeply troubled by the whole letter.

    2. Sibley*

      Agreed. As I find myself saying frequently lately: It’s ALL fixable. The only question is what it’ll take to fix it.

    3. caligirl*

      Katie the Fed,
      As a contractor, I have a secret hope/fantasy that you are in my command somewhere and I benefit from your expertise somehow in day to day life too – thank you!!

  22. Mary Dempster*

    I… wh…. hu…. WHAT?!

    I can’t see ANY coming back from this, even with the apology. If someone referred to my teenage daughter as a whore, and implied that I raised her to be one, even if she was standing on the street in knee high boots with dollar bills sticking out of her cleavage, I would lose my mind.

  23. Cringing 24/7*

    This literally made me so uncomfortable that I instinctively exited out of the window to compose myself before I could finish reading the OP’s letter.

    1. Anne*

      I first read this as if it meant you had literally climbed out of a window to compose yourself before coming back inside and finishing, and I was like “same”

        1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

          Me three!

          And TBH, it at least gave me a laugh related to this whole horrifying cluster of misogyny.

        2. Marisol*

          Me four. Also, what is with that word “defenestration” lately? I keep coming across it. Is it having a moment?

            1. Isben Takes Tea*

              One of my favorite historical events is the Second Defenestration of Prague, because it implies that there was, in fact, a FIRST Defenestration of Prague.

                1. Marisol*

                  the fact that the wikipedia article keeps repeating the word, as though it’s in common usage, is humorous to me. sort of reminds me of a comic deadpan.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I did, too, and it was a nice moment of levity in what is otherwise a deeply disturbing letter :(

  24. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’m going to defend the OP here, and I’d like to ask for a bit of sympathy for her.

    When you’re the OP’s age and level of inexperience in the work world, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why this blog exists. When you’re raised from birth in a very specific and rigid environment, then you DOUBLY don’t know what you don’t know.

    If you look at the OP’s description, her response was kneejerk. She used the word “instinctively.” That, combined with her upbringing and age, says these thoughts are ingrained and haven’t had a lot of light shed on them. It’s no different than being raised to believe the world was flat or Jesus roamed the earth on a dinosaur. If that’s all you’ve ever been unequivocally told, then that’s what you know.

    I was also raised in a pretty strict and sexist environment minus the religion. When I was in my 20s, I also inadvertently said some horrible things about women because that’s how my parents raised me. But those terrible social experiences challenged that thinking and made me see the error of my ways. That and a kind person, who I originally offended, took me aside to say that my parents were trying to force me into their outdated, inaccurate sexist views rather than protect me. Side note: my parents were also mortified I repeated what they said in casual conversation, but they certainly didn’t criticize me for it. They now (somewhat) see the errors of their ways.

    I’m not excusing the OP; I’m explaining her position.

    Was this horrible? Absolutely. But this is how we learn and challenge some darker sides of our upbringings. Taking AAM’s advice is a great idea, and I’d even take it a step further to explain your thoughts, OP, provided you believe what you said was wrong. If you don’t think so, then I’d apologize and keep your mouth shut.

    1. Mary Dempster*

      But there’s still the idea of swearing at work – in what universe is that word OK at work, even if you’re being understanding of the sexist implication behind it? I mean, at least use the word harlot.

      1. miss_chevious*

        Swearing at work is highly contextual. I don’t think the OP was right is what she said, but she’s wrong on about three levels before we even get to swearing.

    2. fposte*

      I think we get her position, but late 20s and in a Fortune 500 company isn’t living in a bubble. As a manager, I’d nail to the wall a 19-year-old that said this; a late twentysomething I would probably just fire.

      1. paul*


        This isn’t some minor slip.

        OP called a 15 year old a whore which is never appropriate, and moreover, not for anything that the 15 year old *did* apparently!

        I was raised in a conservative rural area and this sort of behavior wouldn’t be acceptable 15 years ago there; this isn’t a “cultural misunderstanding.”

        1. Matt*

          Personally I don’t think the OP should be fired for this. Keep in mind, what she said was in the context of a pretty sexist situation to begin with. I know in the process she ended up insulting a 15 year old, but I think it’s probably more accurate that the frustration was directed at her boss who was making clearly making very sexist comments directly at the OP. I’m guessing she probably wouldn’t have made those comments otherwise.

          1. AD*

            I think you’re being overgenerous in assessing the OP’s intent in using that word, in that context.

            And there’s a distinction to be made – the boss’s comments were uncomfortable but what OP said was outright demeaning and insulting. Conflating the two is not a great approach.

          2. fposte*

            My call would be very situational. But I work in a field where you’re public facing, and you can’t compare people to whores whether they were sexist to you or not.

          3. hbc*

            Of course she wouldn’t have made those comments otherwise. But there’s unleashing your frustration with something like “They raised me to care more about my internal beauty” or “I wasn’t so interested in outside attention” which doesn’t directly put down anyone, and then there’s “They didn’t raise a whore” or “I wasn’t that shallow.” The latter are obvious negative judgments.

            As annoying as I’d find that manager, the OP’s statement was on a different level.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah. I’d expect to see a serious come-to-Jesus (no pun intended) revelation on OP’s part to show that she knows she holds some really antiquated, problematic views, and will be working on them. Sincerely.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. And it’s frankly insulting to other young women to blame this on OP’s “lack of experience” and age. I was recently a woman in my late 20s, and I have scores of women friends who did not say things like this when they were in their late 20s, either. And that includes women who grew up in families and communities like what OP has described. It would be different if OP were 19, 21, or even 24. But late 20s? No dice.

        Naivete is not an excuse when you’re likely 7-8 years out of college and working at a Fortune 500 company, which is more likely than not based in a large city with a diverse population and a diverse workforce.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*