update: I accidentally insulted my boss’s daughter

Remember the letter a few weeks ago from someone who, uh, ended up calling her boss’s daughter a whore? Here’s the update.

Thank you so much for your compassionate response, and to your commenters for their objective input. I am happy to report a relatively good outcome.

There may have been only one or two commenters that guessed this, but it turns out my boss wasn’t upset. Shocked, but not upset. He said he shouldn’t have been talking about his daughter like that at work and he didn’t realize how his comment about me sounded until I reacted like that. Then I apologized and told him that I was completely in the wrong to insinuate that about his daughter. I didn’t qualify or try to explain. He said he understood where that comment came from and that (remarkably) he didn’t take it personally. Things are mostly back to normal since then. Thankfully, no other coworkers were within earshot (this happened in a conference room while waiting for some other coworkers to join us), and I don’t work with clients or customers anyway.

I am still looking for new jobs, though. Also, I don’t think my boss is creepy or “sexist” or whatever people said. He is a good boss.

The comments were very eye-opening. I thought the word was normal and commonly used, because that’s how it was at home (the exact quote I blurted out was screamed at me countless times at home and I was called a whore several times a day by my teachers). To this day, I hear the word used at least weekly outside of work. But now I see that it is beyond the pale. I still think dating is immoral, but there is no need to use such harsh language. I am cutting the word out of my vocabulary. Now.

To all of those saying my behavior is not Christian or that I am not a “true Christian”: I am well aware that Jesus was a friend of prostitutes, but Jesus is not all there is to Christianity. Read your Bibles.

Also, I just wanted to say, I did not feel attacked at all by the comments. I deserved to be attacked, but I was not. It appears some commenters think criticism of Christianity is an “attack” or “bashing,” but this is not so. Criticism of beliefs is alright, and in this case it was much needed. Thank you. There is nothing wrong with a little judgment. If you hadn’t judged me, I wouldn’t have learned.

I wrote back to this letter-writer and said, “Thank you for this update, and for your good grace about the comments! I’m sorry you had that word screamed at you ever, let alone so frequently — that’s horrible and must have been a very difficult way to grow up.”

She replied: “It was a difficult way to grow up *at the time*, but it kept me in line, and thus led me to become a better adult. So in hindsight, I don’t think it’s horrible. (But we’ll probably disagree on that.)”

While I do indeed disagree, I am deeply impressed with letter-writers who handle disagreement from a mob of strangers with this much grace.

Note: A while after this post published, I removed a line from the letter-writer’s update about “sexual deviancy” that seems to refer to LGBTQ people and others. You may see reference to it in the comment section so I wanted to provide that context.

A second note: Because there’s been some question about this below, I want to clarify it here: I do not think bigotry is gracious. Far from it. I think the letter-writer was gracious about accepting a ton of criticism directed her way in the original post, and I think that her stances are pretty awful. I think both of those things can be true at once.

A third note: I closed the comments on this post because of a number of bigoted remarks flooding me in moderation.

{ 532 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Note: A while after this post published, I removed a line from the letter-writer’s update about “sexual deviancy” that seems to refer to LGBTQ people and others. You may see reference to it below so I wanted to provide that context.

    A second note: Because there’s been some question about this below, I want to clarify it here: I do not think bigotry is gracious. Far from it. I think the letter-writer was gracious about accepting a ton of criticism directed her way in the original post, AND I think that her stances are pretty awful. I think both of those things can be true at once.

    A third note: I closed the comments on this post because of a number of bigoted remarks flooding me in moderation.

    1. Lady Russell's Turban*

      I don’t think you should have deleted that comment. It added insight into the OP and spawned some excellent comments viz. not just refraining from using the word “whore” at the workplace but also examining what one has been taught and to keep one’s judgments to oneself in the workplace. That sentence was offensive, as she must have known it would be, although I don’t think she intended to wound with it. But that is the problem–she has had such a narrow upbringing that she just doesn’t get it. I started out impressed by the OP but by the end of her update I was considerably less so.

      1. Banana Sandwich*

        I have to agree. This wording leads me to believe that she doesn’t truly get it and will continue to commit similar offense, which I think adds to the real end result of her letter.

      2. Erin*

        But I guess we’d be told to read our Bibles some more if we thought she was less of a Christian for such anti-What-Would-Jesus-Do thinking.

      3. jamlady*

        I get it, but just knowing it was there is enough for me. There are still very great comments below (I particularly like the comment from CaliCali about keeping personal moral judgements out of the workplace).

      4. Amber Rose*

        It seems was quite a bit of debate over this, but in the end Alison has erred on the side of not suddenly shocking LGBTQ+ folk who came to read about workplace issues with an unexpected hateful slur. Which is fair, really.

        Those of us who missed it can get the general gist from the comments below.

      5. (another) b*

        I agree, Lady Russells Turban. I actually didn’t really pick up on the religious superiority in the first letter. The explanation about the OPs upbringing and talking about sexual deviancy and that dating is immoral indicates that the OP is still judging the daughter, and others. I don’t want to turn this into a Christianity debate but I hope she learned a lesson from all of this and maybe learns to be more open minded.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Wow. I think this whole thing (letter, response, edit) has given me whiplash.

  2. Venus Supreme*

    I appreciate the LW for writing in again. Thank you for posting the update, Alison.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Agreed. OP and I have exceedingly different values and beliefs (as I believe is true of most of the readership) and I’m grateful she came back to give us an update not only on her relationship with her boss, but also her perspective on the values / Christian part of it.

      I also very much appreciate OP’s determination to cut that term out of her vocabulary, even though its use is normal in her circles. That’s not always easy to do, and it shows consideration to others who do not share her upbringing or beliefs, as well as helping keep OP’s professional reputation intact.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        (And thanks to Alison for deleting the line discussed below. I didn’t see that before posting this reply.)

  3. Court*

    OP, this is amazing. I love how well you’ve stood up for your convictions while at the same time recognizing you had some learning to do in the initial situation. Really well done. We need more people like you.

    1. Claudia M.*

      I was just thinking this!

      Eloquent, well-spoken, polite but firm.

      I am impressed by OP as a person (I default to expecting people to be offended on the internet), and I love this update!

    2. AMG*

      Seconded! I think the fact that he didn’t get angry about your comment is not only a testament to him, but also to the fact that he could assume that your out-of-character comment was intended as something other than how it came out. Good on you for doing such a lovely job accepting head-on criticism with grace.

      I am also sorry you were yelled at and called a mean name. I am happy to see you using the experience to build yourself up and not tear yourself down.

    3. BRR*

      This letter writer has really impressed me. I hope she reads these comments to balance out the original comments.

    4. Karen D*

      I am impressed as well. Blending faith and grace is a rare talent, and OP is providing a wonderful witness for her beliefs.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I don’t think she is at all, personally.

        1. Nerdling*

          Oh, I don’t know. I think she’s witnessing in a manner that makes it quite clear exactly what those beliefs are, and I for one appreciate knowing just where I stand in people’s views.

  4. Mina*

    …. how is dating immoral? If this is off topic I apologize but I *am* a Christian, working in my second Southern Baptist church, and this is a concept that has never ever been put forward. So I’m really confused.

    1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      It sounds to me like OP is equivocating dating with premarital sex? Or maybe she means “dating multiple people at once”? I don’t agree that either are immoral but it sounds like her beliefs are fairly strict and maybe comes from a background where the tradition is more “courting”? Not sure.

      1. Allison*

        A lot of conservative Christian communities believe that courting is family and marriage-centered, and dating is just done for fun. To them, dating is not serious or sincere, the family is not involved in the process, and couples partake in intimacy that is inappropriate outside of marriage.

        1. OxfordComma*

          Huh. I guess this explains it. I was really baffled by the idea that dating equals immoral behavior, especially since a good portion of the dates I have been on have involved little more than dinner and a movie.

          To the OP, I am glad you are cutting the word out of your vocab and that things seem okay at work, but yeah, I’d start looking for a new job.

        2. AMG*

          Interesting. I always thought ‘dating’ and ‘courting’ could be used interchangeably and that both were for the purpose of getting to know someone to see if they would be a good marital/life partner. I will have to pay attention to the word ‘courting’ when I hear it now and not call it ‘dating’.

          1. Allison*

            Nowadays, a courtship generally means you already know each other through church, friends, or family (in the case of one Duggar daughter, the Jim Bob met him first and thought they’d make a good match) but the man asks the woman’s family if they can begin an official courtship, and all of their activities are supervised by friends and family.

        3. Parenthetically*

          Yep. I didn’t grow up in this, thank God, but I definitely swore off dating as an “immoral” act when I was about 13 after I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The big thing I took away from the courtship movement as a teenager was the idea of dating as this consumerist, get-what-you-can activity that reduced other people to their attractiveness. Obviously I do not believe this anymore — there are exploitative, consumeristic, immoral ways to do “dating” and equally exploitative, consumeristic, immoral ways to do “courtship.”

          1. De Minimis*

            If I remember right, the book was controversial even within the Evangelical movement [at least among youth and singles groups.] I attended a Southern Baptist church around that time and heard arguments for and against it.

            I think I tried reading it, but it seemed targeted more toward teens/younger adults so I don’t believe I finished it. I don’t know if the book is as prevalent as it was when it first came out.

      2. Banana Sandwich*

        I cant believe this still exists in 2017.

        I applaud the OP for being honest and self evaluating but….dang. really?

        1. VintageLydia*

          If you are familiar with the Duggars (of 19 Kids and Counting fame) then you’d know that not only does this exist, but it’s a loud and fairly large movement in evangelical circles.

          1. Banana Sandwich*

            I’ve heard of them but actively avoid reality TV at all costs – mind still blown

            1. Allison*

              I’m a dirty, dirty feminist but those Duggar shows have been a guilty pleasure for . . . oh goodness, 6 years now?

              1. Venus Supreme*

                I’m with you. Do you follow “Life is not all pickles and hairspray” on Facebook? I recommend it as a fellow feminist who lowkey watches 19 Kids and Counting.

          2. paul*

            fairly large?

            I’m in the buckle of the bible belt, in a rural-ish area, and while I’ve seen it, it’s very fringe even here.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              It’s one of those things that’s simultaneously not that big but at the same time way bigger than I’d think. (See also: How much a bald eagle weighs.)

              1. KG, Ph.D.*

                You’ve completely blown my mind with the bald eagle thing. Holy crapoly. I’m going to tell everyone I know to google how much a bald eagle weighs! I’m stunned.

                1. BF50*

                  I’m actually surprised they don’t weigh more. That may be because one swooped over my car last summer and I swear it’s wingspan was wider than my SUV.

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  As someone who has tried (and mostly failed) to hold a golden eagle during a falconry lesson, I can attest that eagles feel extremely heavy when they’re moving around at the end of your outstretched left arm!

              2. Banana Sandwich*

                HAHA! We must share consciousness because my mind works the exact same way

            2. VintageLydia*

              Courting itself may be fairly fringe but a lot of the other elements of that culture can be pretty wide-spread, especially when it comes to isolating children from anyone outside of their church community, homeschooling using certain materials (like Abeka Academy, which my husband was partly educated with by his moderately evangelical mother) or sent to parochial schools with similar curriculums. It’s a large enough demographic that members of Congress will openly court these people. I mean, there are two or three regular commenters here who grew up in this sort of environment. The readership here is large but it’s not THAT large.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            The family that believes women are nothing but baby factories.

        2. AKJ*

          It’s actually a more recent trend in some evangelical circles. (Since about the 80’s or ’90s) An influential book on the subject was published about 20 years ago called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which advocated a return to a more formal style of courtship.
          The author of that book has since stated he has come to disagree with much of the book’s premise, but it remains popular.

        3. cheeky*

          That’s where I am with this. I applaud the honesty, but am dismayed that people think this way.

    2. MuseumChick*

      I wonder if the OP has a different definition of dating than most of the commenters here. I would be really interested to hear from the OP on this.

      1. Thlayli*

        Yeah, I don’t quite understand the difference between dating and whatever OP thinks is ok.

        A friend of mine is from a culture that does arranged marriage and she refers to meeting people your parents have already vetted as “dating”.

    3. A.*

      In the evangelical circles I associated with in the early aughts, there were popular books about it. It made sense at the time in my little bubble but I’m glad to be away from it.

      Glad to hear things turned out well for the OP. Perhaps the boss had heard this phrase before and did not take it personally.

    4. CaliCali*

      So look up “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” — in evangelical circles, this book was VERY popular (I read it), and while I was one who did indeed date, some stricter Christian circles frown on dating due to the generally accepted level of intimacy (personal and physical) that results pre-marriage. He actually wrote a follow-up book called “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship” that includes his ideas about what a Biblical premarital relationship looks like.

      I should note that the author has since realized some of the harmful effects of his thinking on the subject (look up “Joshua Harris I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and you’ll see some recent articles about it)

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I read it too . . . Actually, his book was more “liberal” then a lot of other literature in the subject (ex. Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally). At least he thinks men and women can talk to each other and be friends!

        1. Pebbles*

          Hell, if that wasn’t possible I’d be out of a job. I started off as 1 of 2 women in an entire department of around 40-50 people. Things have improved here ratio-wise, but not by much.

      2. Parenthetically*

        It’s been pretty heartening to see how he’s changed his tune about a lot of things. Still some blind spots but it’s good to see him genuinely apologizing for the damage a book by a hubristic, uneducated 19-year-old did.

    5. Lucy Honeychurch*

      I think (some) evangelicals prefer the term “courting,” as it implies more strongly that the end goal is marriage, and that you shouldn’t be “dating” for fun or pleasure not intended to lead to marriage.

      Could be wrong, though, I have no personal experience with such communities!

      1. Thlayli*

        lol that’s funny. My parents always used “courting” to mean sexual behaviour teenagers should not be engaging in because they’re too young. Language is funny. To me “dating” is going to a movie and “courting” is having underage sex in a field after drinking a few cans of cheap lager.

    6. Sara*

      She may be part of the sect of Christianity that does courting ala the Duggars.

    7. Al-anon*

      Yeah, there was a word for this belief system, started with a “C”, where the idea is to only date with the goal of getting married. So obviously hooking-up is immoral, but so is teenagers who just like each other and spend time together and enjoy each other but dont want to get married.

      Funny thing, one of the founding texts of the recent growth in this idea in the mid 2000s was written by a 20 year old man who’d never dated before.

    8. TeacherNerd*

      I’m curious about this myself. What happens if that courtship/dating doesn’t lead to marriage because you realized you’re mismatched – is it still considered immoral behavior?

      Genuinely not trying to knock another person’s belief; this was the first I’d heard that dating could be immoral. I understand the no-sex-before-marriage thinking, and why that’s off the table for many; the rest of it seems weirdly judgmental. Or, rather, it comes across to me as such, and I, again honestly, cannot tell if the OP realizes how this could be interpreted by those whose beliefs are so different.

      1. HisGirlFriday*

        My understanding is that if you’re courting — truly courting, with the idea of marriage — and you discover that you’re incompatible, it’s not immoral because your *intent* was good.

        But I’m Catholic, so take that for what you will.

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        This is strictly based on the Duggar version of this, and mildly on a former pastor’s wife (and he openly disagreed with her stance) that believed in courting. There is nothing immoral, because there is no contact. Everything is supervised and there is no kissing, hand holding, etc. I think once you move into engagement then you are allowed minimal contact, but I’m not sure if there is any period unsupervised until you are married.

        I could still have some of that incorrect. I never watched the Duggar reality show and I picked up the info above from articles written about it. The pastor’s wife that I knew firmly did not believe in kissing before the kiss during the wedding ceremony. I’m not sure how she felt about hand holding or being on a date without supervision.

        1. AMG*

          It is so hard for me to imagine going from nothing but holding hands to intimacy right after the wedding ceremony. How surreal that must be. No wonder they made a reality show about this lifestyle. I am not judging–I just can’t imagine what that’s like.

          1. Banana Sandwich*

            I read an article recently (cant site it, sorry!) that covered a study done on people who waited to have sex with their partner until marriage and those who didn’t wait. Unsurprisingly, those who waited until marriage had a much higher rate of being dissatisfied in their marriage. Just saying.

            1. Allison*

              The beginning of 17 Kids and Counting focused a lot on Josh’s courtship with Anna, and how pure they were and how they felt it was important to wait until marriage. The whole wedding focused on how great it was that they could finally kiiiiiiss . . . and do . . . other stuff. Ooooohhh!

              Turns out he wasn’t so pure, was he?

          2. Parenthetically*

            Neither can I. And there is often, along with very little discussion of sex beyond mechanics, VERY MUCH an expectation that a) you will have full sex on your wedding night, having never so much as cheek-kissed, and b) that sex will be awesome and mind-blowing because you saved it for marriage. I’ve known a lot of extremely bitter, frustrated, disillusioned couples in my life because of this nonsense. I don’t judge the people who get sucked into this stuff, but I very much judge the teaching.

            1. Allison*

              I wonder if the logic is that all sex will be good, because you’ll have nothing to compare it to. Never mind that plenty of people have bad sex the first time and know it’s bad, without having had past experienced to compare it to.

              1. Cyclical*

                The logic may also be that sex is for procreation, not enjoyment, so if you don’t like it it doesn’t matter.

            2. Kalamet*

              Yeah. My husband and I waited, and we… weren’t even successful on the wedding night. Turns out two 20 year old virgins aren’t naturally good at sex. I’m very happy in my marriage, but I’ll admit that the physical component of our relationship is lacking. I honestly think it’s a consequence of the purity-emphasizing culture we were raised in.

              1. Thlayli*

                I am reading a book recommended on this website called come as you are by Emily nagoski. It is pretty cool and may be of interest to you. It’s about female orgasm and desire. It’s pretty heavy on science but it’s interesting.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I love that book! Not to derail; just wanted to second that it’s an excellent and non-judgmental book, primarily for women, about female sexuality.

      3. Cyclical*

        I think is probably why the girl’s parents in these situations vet the boy before he can come near their kid. The girl typically can still have a final say-so, but her parents do the leg work to determine if he’d be a good match.

      4. Blossom*

        I think the emphasis is on figuring out long-term compatibility at an early stage, to avoid realising the mismatch only once things have progressed.

        The Duggar world is not my world, though; I’m just going off other “courtship” cultures past and present. I don’t see it as judgemental, though the word “immoral” is a bit jolting. I quite like the “courtship” idea, but occasionally I quite like the opposite idea too (as in free love, not protracted aimless dating – though whatever works). Argh, life.

        1. Bri*

          Homeschoolers Anonymous and recovering Grace have very complying personal testimonies from people who grew up in that lifestyle. I was very triggered by the original article and the update. I wonder how old the OP is. At least she has a job and isn’t being kept at home.

    9. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      I grew up with a couple friends who went to a specific kind of very conservative, very evangelical churches, and to them dating was only about finding a spouse – it was never to be done casually, and the person you “dated” was the person you would marry. Breaking up a relationship was tantamount to breaking off an engagement. They could “hang out with” members of the opposite sex but only in large groups, were not allowed to go to school dances (one good friend dropped out of his church’s discipleship group because it forbid him to go to prom and he wanted to go just to hang out with friends).

    10. nonegiven*

      My sister went to a Baptist University, she said the sorority girls had their dances at a nearby Catholic University. Baptists have a problem with dancing that I never understood, but then I found most of the explanations, when I had questions as a child, to be circular, illogical and completely contrary to my own observations. I am no longer affiliated with any religion.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Q: Why don’t Southern Baptists have sex standing up?

        A: Because people might think they’re dancing.

        Disclaimer: I’m Southern Baptist, although not a poster-child. :-)

      2. Chinook*

        The Baptists had their dances at a Catholic University? Man, talk about going over to the dark side!

    11. Stranger than fiction*

      My question exactly. And also where in the bible does it talk about dating? How do couples get together in the Ops circle? Light a courting candle in the window? Does she know the definition of prostitution is sex in exchange for money? Clearly things worked out but only because her boss seems to have come from a similar background.

  5. Giles*

    OP, I very, very, *very* strongly disagree with some of the beliefs you have, but I appreciate how you’ve handled the situation and comments from here. I’m glad it all worked out.

    1. LBK*

      Completely agreed. Don’t agree with some of the things in this update but it’s a very graceful answer and I’m highly impressed by the last paragraph.

    2. Manders*

      Agreed! I think the OP and I wouldn’t agree on much if we met in meatspace, but I’m glad she was able to bounce back from this difficult situation with grace.

      I do also want to add: OP’s upbringing sounds unusual enough that I would strongly recommend spending some time talking with a therapist or a pastor who’s familiar with both her religion and professional norms, just to make sure there are no other landmines she might unintentionally step on in the future.

      1. Alli*

        I think anyone who has been called a whore frequently throughout their upbringing should spend some time talking to a therapist for many reasons.

        1. Manders*

          Very much agreed. But OP sounds like she may not be ready to confront those issues head-on right now, so maybe talking to a therapist about work stuff is a good first step.

          1. RVA Cat*

            I was just coming into to mention “Carrie”. The whole thing about being called that word made me think of “dirtypillows”….

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yes. I can’t believe that parents and teachers would say this so frequently to a child. It’s awful.

        2. Pandora*

          I second that but I think being brought up in a conservative/fundamentalist christian environment would probably makes confronting these issues or going to therapy a difficult process.

  6. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    I’m just so sorry this letter writer was screamed at so often at home. That sounds awful. We don’t agree about dating / morality but it’s commendable that she was able to give an actual apology and not “I’m sorry you were offended.”

    1. OxfordComma*

      And it’s totally wrong that the OP’s teachers called her that as well.

      1. Lauren*

        And at home….and yet somehow things it was a good way to grow up.

        OP, I’m sorry, but that sort of behavior is abusive.

    2. Emmie*

      My heart goes out to the OP that she grew up with that language multiple times a day. That must have been very difficult at the time . Thank you to the OP for reaching out with an update, and taking so many comments with insight. I am not sure that many of us could have done the same thing. I sincerely wish the OP well.

    1. Statler von Waldorf*

      Almost certainly, given how many times I’ve had that phrase thrown in my face. And that’s all this gay man is saying here on that subject.

      1. anon for this*

        Yeah. That’s what I was worried about. It made me uncomfortable reading it, and gave me that same worried feeling I get when people use questionable code in person that could be about about LGBTQ identities.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I think you are included in it, but she would describe anything other than missionary as a deviancy. She is very broad in her narrow mindedness.

        1. Statler von Waldorf*

          I doubt that strongly. Every single time I’ve heard it used, it’s a definite shot against LGBTQ people. Every. Single. Time.

          1. Allypopx*

            I’ve also heard it towards heterosexual sex acts that “show perversion” which casts a wide net. But yeah society definitely uses it as coded language against us LGBTQ folk.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yeah, I’ve definitely seen some pretty strenuous arguments that anything but P in V is “deviant” or “perverted.” I do always want to point people to Song of Solomon when they say stuff like that. “His fruit is sweet to my taste” may be poetic but it ain’t vague.

            2. AMT*

              Yes, and I’ll add that when straight people are called “deviant,” it is often because they are doing something stereotypically associated with gay or trans people.

          2. Kate*

            Amongst the more conservative Christian communities, anyone or anything less conservative is Not Christian. As Gaia says anything other than purely procreative missionary sex in a Christian marriage is “sexually deviant”. I don’t want to be graphic but masturbation for example, would be included in this.

            1. Manders*

              Yep, in some religious groups sexual deviance can include non-monogamy, reading 50 Shades of Grey, enjoying porn, fantasizing about a celebrity, wearing the wrong clothing, enjoying sex, having sex at the wrong time of the month, not enjoying certain kinds of sex, having a difficult pregnancy, needing certain types of medical care, or even experiencing stuff like having sexual thoughts or a crush.

              All this can mess young women up in ways that can take a lifetime to deal with. It’s good that OP’s looking for perspectives from outside her religion, but dealing with the rest of her life after this kind of upbringing is going to be a painful process with no quick fixes.

              1. Chinook*

                “All this can mess young women up in ways that can take a lifetime to deal ”

                Actually, it can mess up both young women AND young men because it truly doesn’t prepare them for sexual life after marriage. At the very least, the “Song of Solomon” (which, as Parenthetically already mentioned, considers explicit references to items often found in the list of “sexual perversions”) should be required reading as part of any marriage prep course (complete with explanatory notes and possibly even illustrations).

                After all, if you are going to use the Bible to back up your belief system, you better make sure you use all of it!

                1. Manders*

                  You’re totally right! I was trying to address the kind of gendered pressure OP might have experienced as a woman, but men (and non-binary folks) can get their own set of issues.

                  I mentioned this in the first thread, but in my experience, the folks who thrived as teenagers in these repressive cultures often come to the realization later in life that their experience of their own sexuality or libido isn’t as normal as they thought it was.

          3. Lilo*

            But it’s 100% used as a catch 22 for people who are gay. “No sex outside of marriage” “okay, we’re a loving, committed couple, can we marry?” “No, you marrying is a sin”.

            But then the same organizations often close their eyes to adultery “well the pastor asked God for forgiveness for his affair so who are we to judge” or hide far far worse (read up on how Elizabeth Smart says the way she was taught about sex worsened her ordeal).

            1. Marillenbaum*

              Seconding the Elizabeth Smart recommendation. I was raised in the same religion (albeit in a different part of the country), and I firmly remember the “chewed-up gum” analogies, being told it was better to die resisting sexual assault than to survive it, and to die rather than get an abortion to save my own life (now that I think about it, my church leaders were really chill with the whole “me dying” thing).

      3. Manders*

        I gotta admit, I had myself a little giggle imagining what the OP would think if she could see everyone who was giving her advice. I’m guessing the deviants are in the majority here. But that’s a journey she’ll have to make in her own time, and it’s a good thing that she’s opening herself up to new ideas even if it’s slow going.

        1. anonderella*

          Manders, I agree with everything you said.

          In addition, I’m sending ultimate good feels to the OP; I really am impressed with the dialogue she opened up, and utmost with how she handled the situation. Values aside (no cheekiness, there; really mean that), I applaud your willingness to head-on confront opposition and find opportunity within, instead of doubling down. There’s enough of that already in this life.
          Thanks, OP. You didn’t separate yourself from those who hold different values – in fact, the opposite. You opened yourself up to the world – or what part of the world is represented in AAM (my opinion – that part of the world is awesome : ) ). I try to hold that same standard to myself, but it is so refreshing to see it done before me; really helps open doors (for myself) to help others who don’t share my values. Just, thanks : )

      4. Lilo*

        Yeah, as someone with a younger sister who is LGBT, that raises my haunches. Saying that is just as offensive as yelling the four-letter (sometimes reclaimed) d word at her.

        1. Annabell*

          As a lesbian who was raised in the Bible Belt, I feel the same way. The word deviant is really, really loaded and it kind of feels like a slur.

    2. Gaia*

      It is probably broader than what you are thinking but what you are thinking is most definitely included. Anything short of missionary, for the sake of procreation, within a monogamous, heterosexual marriage would be defined as “deviancy” for someone that shares the beliefs it appears our OP has.

    3. anon sexual minority*

      You’d be surprised at how many people (by people I mean christian extremists) use ‘dogwhistle’ terms they think cleverly fly under the radar, but are pretty obviously bigoted, ignorant, and just plain hateful. I have a coworker who was homeschooled by extremists who took about 10 years to stop using offensive terms for normal concepts.

    4. petpet*

      I don’t see “sexual deviancy” mentioned anywhere in either of OP’s letters. Was it edited out?

      1. Laura*

        It was indeed. You can see a discussion about it starting with Bree’s comment below.

    5. Mirax*

      I’ve been on the internet too long, because my mind basically went straight to, like, vore or something. You know, something out there and mildly physically improbable.

  7. Princess Carolyn*

    Gosh, if I heard “whore” as often as OP did growing up, I too would get the impression that it was an OK thing to say. No matter how uncomfortable this OP’s point-of-view makes me, she chose a particularly graceful way to follow up on a letter that wasn’t warmly received. That’s very impressive, and I know I wouldn’t handle it as well as OP has.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      Agreed! While I’d like to think I’d be as open to feedback and measured in my response as OP was, I suspect that I might have been too overwhelmed and embarrassed by the 1200+ comments telling me how wrong I was. Even if I took the feedback to heart and tried to change my behavior, I’m not sure I’d have the courage to write in again. It’s impressive that the OP did, and so quickly after the original letter!

    2. Casuan*

      [for context, I also don’t agree with all the OP said, like dating being immoral]

      & If OP’s teachers called her a whore…?!?
      That isn’t acceptable in any public or Christian school I know.
      :::wondering if other students were also called this word:::

      We all judge. What we do with these judgments defines our character & relationships.
      For those who say that despite her update, OP still doesn’t get it… For any of us it can be difficult to stop doing or thinking things that were so ingrained into us as children & teenagers.
      OP has shown grace & a willingness to learn from this experience & we owe Alison, the letter writers & fellow commenters this same consideration.

      As for the Bible, even learned Christians translate some of the Bible differently yet the words that define what makes a Christian have always been consistently translated. Everything except that can be interesting debates yet not affect one’s salvation.

      Good luck in your job search, OP, & thank you for the update!!

  8. LKW*

    That is a remarkable update. LW, I am impressed by your maturity and I’m glad that you’re removing that horrid word from your vocabulary.

  9. Mustache Cat*

    Kudos for cutting the word out of your vocabulary and for taking the commentary gracefully.

    As for the rest…uh, I guess I just won’t engage, since I doubt Alison wants a theological debate in the comments.

    1. MJH*

      Let’s just say many Christians (a religion named for Jesus!) strongly, strongly disagree with this.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I have a degree in theology from a very conservative seminary and… yes. Very disagree. All the disagree.

      1. Alli525*

        Amen (as it were)!! I am deeply religious, although OP wouldn’t think so (I lost many friends when I converted from evangelical Protestant to Catholic), and I am ashamed of all the politicians currently calling themselves Christians.

      2. Chinook*

        Add me to the voices of Christians (though I suspect this sub-group of Christians she is from wouldn’t consider a Catholic a Christian).

    2. Cafe au Lait*

      It’s not even the difference in theology that bothers me. It’s the “I’m right and you’re wrong” undertone that’s being applied to the theology.

      1. Mustache Cat*

        Yeah, unfortunately. I recognize that some Christians have beliefs that I find…uh, horrible, but to say that between multiple translations, misunderstandings, modifications, edits and most crucially the imperfect hand of man when transcribing the perfect word of God, there is only one True interpretation of the Bible strikes me as unnecessarily prideful and wrongheaded.

      2. Allypopx*

        I actually get MUCH less of that from OP than I’m used to from people with beliefs this strong. “Criticism is alright and I’m not personally condemning you all to hell” (paraphrase) is pretty tolerant on the scale of things.
        The thing is if you really “believe” something, to you you are right and others are wrong. That’s the difference between a belief and an opinion.

        1. Chinook*

          Oh, I agree that the OP is actually coming across as quite tolerant and I do admire how she spoke up and admitted how wrong her statement is without qualifying it.

          I am still a bit confused about how Jesus is not all there is to Christianity and how the Bible would clarify that, though.

      3. nonegiven*

        A lot of the Christian sects are like that. Theirs is the one true way.

        My Great grandmother was so appalled at the RSV that she wrote a poem, self published, where she called it a work of the devil.

        My grandmother always told me that Catholics weren’t really Christian and wouldn’t be going to heaven.

        I’ve been told I’m going to hell so many times I’m renting a bus, anybody need a ride?

        1. Havarti*

          “The fact that there’s a Highway to Hell and only a Stairway to Heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers.”

        2. BookishMiss*

          I have a table reserved. You can sit with us.

          Seriously, though, Christianity has always seemed to me as foundationally based in bettering the lives of everyone around you. The judgey part… Well, my grandmothers and i learned to peacefully disagree on quote a few parts of my goth teenagerhood.

    3. PizzaDog*

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Glad the LW is making this step, and the rest of it isn’t my business.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I was emphatically not a fan of the “read your Bibles” remark. The snarky implication that anyone who disagrees simply has a less qualified understanding of Christianity than you?…Sure, Jan.

  10. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Do keep in mind that you could have already been on your way to becoming a “better adult” without being called a whore on a regular basis. Plenty of adults have turned out to be awesome people without that sexist, horrific experience.

    1. Selina*

      This is an importantly point. To put it into the work context, this is like the “um counter” taken to the extreme. You can be a good, confident person without being berated and belittled into submission. Negative feedback isn’t the one path (let alone the best path) to self-improvement.

      1. Sadsack*

        Especially if the result is such rigid thinking as an adult. Though I commend OP for writing in and coming back with an update knowing many here would disagree with a some of what she would say.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is an excellent point. Yelling degrading remarks is not the only way to instill responsibility and compassion in adolescents.

      1. Lance*

        On the contrary, it can be a very bad way to accomplish just such, considering the sorts of things it can teach kids, and the inherent lack of compassion in the remarks.

    3. Jesmlet*

      It’s sort of the equivalent to people saying their parents beat them and they’re good adults so beating must = better adult which is so completely not true. I’m not staunchly against corporal punishment but correlation does not equal causation. There are better ways to get you there than to treat your kids like punching bags and stress balls.

    4. Dinosaur*

      And by viewing that kind of treatment as a child as responsible for how one turned out as an adult strips the OP of her own agency and hard work in making herself a successful adult. However, I think the OP has a right to define the way that she views her past experiences, no matter what I may think.

    5. OldJules*

      Abuse is abuse regardless of intent. It’s not ok to mentally or physically abuse children ‘for their own good’.
      “I’m belting you because I am a screwed up human being” vs “I am belting you because you didn’t do well in math” is no different.

    6. Chinook*

      While I agree that the OP could/would have become a “better adult” without the name calling, it is not like she could have done anything to stop it. I admire her for a) recognizing now that this is wrong (which I hope means she won’t do it herself) and b) looking at it optimistically as it not damaging her permanently. She took the lemons thrown at her and made lemonade instead of throwing them at the next generation.

  11. Dawbs*

    Can I just go with “wow”

    Because that does it for me. All apologies to hax

  12. CaliCali*

    In what was a very hot and contentious thread, I think it’s commendable that you were able to understand and accept the rebuke (both from Christians and nonbelievers as well). I’m deliberately speaking in Christian parlance here, since I was raised evangelical, and also because I do hope you’ll hear me out on one point: you have already responded well to the accountability for your actions, but the takeaway isn’t just “don’t use the word ‘whore’,” it’s to refrain from displaying your moral judgment of people’s personal lives at work. You’re free to live your life by your own moral code, so long as that moral code is respectful toward those whose codes may differ. If you have gay coworkers, Muslim coworkers, even liberal Christian coworkers — which you very likely will in the professional world — please recognize that the language you heard at home regarding those groups will not fly in the larger world as well, and for your own success and the strength of your witness, approach all coworkers from a place of compassion and keep your judgments in your heart. My liberal Christian heart hopes that you will eventually soften in said judgments, but in the meantime, recognize that a Christ-like attitude manifests itself as a professional, cordial, and respectful one in the workplace.

    1. carolinecrale*

      thank you so much for saying that much more eloquently than i was about to attempt to!

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yes, I wanted to say something very similar to this, so thank you.

      I’m a pastor’s kid, raised in a very religious environment – not evangelical, and more progressive than the OP, but I was exposed to a lot of similar ideas along the way. It is absolutely critical to recognize that no matter your own personal beliefs, you have to respect and get along with a whole bunch of people whose beliefs are different from your own. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to show respect and compassion. You’re lucky, OP, that your boss’ beliefs hew closely to your own, or you could have been fired immediately. Unless you’re very selective about where you work, that won’t always be the case.

      (Also, in my opinion, if you’re unwilling to follow Jesus, you shouldn’t call yourself a *Christ*ian – literally Christ-follower. But that’s a little off-topic.)

    3. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      This is extremely well-said and as another liberal Christian, I second it wholeheartedly. Thank you for your eloquence.

    4. Blue Plates*

      I agree with CaliCali’s points regarding moral judgment. I was rather taken aback by this:
      In addition to thinking critically about the circumstances that led you to think the word “whore” is Ok in or outside of the workplace, I hope that in your career you are exposed to enough people who practice these “condemned” behaviors (e.g. a vast majority of your co-workers) that it eventually softens your harshness.

      1. Blue Plates*

        Arg, I had pasted in this sentence between the carrots above:

        “Despite what “liberal Christians” like to pretend, premarital sex and sexual deviancy are unequivocally condemned!”

        1. TootsNYC*

          I don’t know any liberal Christians who think premarital sex isn’t condemned–they just think it’s going to occur because humans are sinful. And they don’t think that life in this world is made any better by ignoring that.

          1. BPT*

            I mean I do know many liberal Christians who don’t think it is “condemned” or sinful.

          2. Chinook*

            Heck, we Catholics (who seem sometimes to be obsessed with sex) don’t see someone who has premarital sex as condemned, just in a sinful state. Ditto for other “deviant” behavior that takes place outside of marriage (within marriage, anything pretty much goes as long as you are a)married to each other and b)both consenting).

            The difference is that condemnation is permanent while a sinful state is temporary and can be solved by a)confession and b) not repeating the act (either by getting married or not doing it). And it also recognized that humans are imperfect and, as a result, will sin. We shouldn’t, but we do.

    5. Kate*

      Thank you for such a thoughtful and respectful response in what I expect could become another fairly contentious thread. Personally, I’m having a lot of strong feelings about this update. I would not have been able to post something so eloquent, so I always appreciate when someone else has already done it for me.

    6. wearing too many hats*

      Thank you to CaliCali for saying exactly what I wanted to express! It’s definitely much more than eliminating the one word from OP’s vocabulary.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This is all very true. Being able to code-switch out of religiously loaded language is a vital skill for just about anyone raised in a religious environment, regardless of how abusive or not that environment otherwise was.

    8. Claudia M.*

      Comments like this is why I started reading this website!!

      Comments that state “we may not agree, but we don’t have to, and we can both approach that politely like adults.”

      With so many people prone to being offended on the internet, I really appreciate posts like yours that manage to say their peace without sounding judgmental or spiteful.

    9. jamlady*

      This is a really great comment. My brain went rage-crazy and I just wouldn’t have been able to put it down so well. But I agree – you do you, but in the workplace, keep it to yourself.

  13. Bree*

    “Despite what “liberal Christians” like to pretend, premarital sex and sexual deviancy are unequivocally condemned!”

    I realize this isn’t common practice, but would you consider deleting this sentence, or the whole paragraph it sits in? Condemnation of “sexual deviancy” reads awfully anti-LGBTQ, and it’s jarring to see here. The paragraph has nothing to do with workplace issues, and the rest of the letter can stand without it. It just seems unnecessary to give these ideas any kind of platform?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s not really targeted though. She is condemning the straight and not straight equally. In fact, she’d consider a lot of normal straight sex a deviancy.

      The part where it’s relevant to the workplace is that she is going to have really serious problems anywhere other than her current job.

      1. Statler von Waldorf*

        Yup, in the same way that the law equally forbids the rich and the poor from begging in the streets and sleeping under bridges. It’s totally equal, see?

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          We aren’t talking about the law here- and the OP has no power over you or any LGBTQ in any way, thankfully. The only thing she can do is think you’re going to hell. She thinks I’m going to hell too. In fact, since I’m a “liberal Christian” I probably get a worse punishment than the heathen gays.

          I understand that it is painful to be judged, and that the LGBTQ community is judged constantly in a myriad of ways. But trying to shut down the evidence of thinking like the OP’s still existing does no one any good. Both because it lets others minimize its existence, and for the future LGBTQ who will someday be shocked by hearing it expressed by someone like her. It’s empowering to those who are still discriminated against and bullied to see that they aren’t alone, that this still exists, but is considered unacceptable, and it’s helpful for the hetereosexuals to see that this kind of judgement is also directed at them, and not just “an LGBTQ problem” You don’t get things changed if you try to pretend it doesn’t exist, or only exists for some people!

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Should add, that *I* do not subscribe to “heathen gays” – just naming how the OP pretty obviously views it.

            1. anon sexual minority*

              Just fyi, Heathen/heathenry (not always capitalized) is an actual religious faith, not only a designation for a not-christian.

              1. Thlayli*

                ive always thought that “heathen” meant “non-Christian” in the same way that “gentile” means “non-Jew”. I was surprised by your statement. So I checked both the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries. There are a few definitions. Both agree that one definition of heathen is a non-Christian. Only one of those dictionaries has “member of a polytheistic religion, pagan” as a definition.

                So heathen can be used to mean “member of polytheistic religion” but it also legitimately means “non-Christian” too.

          2. all aboard the anon train*

            I can understand where you’re coming from, but it minimizes the oppression of LGBTQA+ people to say that us being called sexual deviants for our sexuality is the same as a heterosexual couple being called sexually deviant for doing more than the missionary position. It’s really not the same thing.

            1. Allypopx*

              Yeah you’re not wrong, they’re very different, but I think in this specific instance the phrase is being used as a nonspecific condemnation, and from context likely a universal one, and that while the reactions to it are valid (I cringed too), it’s a little bit of a mischaracterization of the facts to say it’s specifically a slight on the LGBTQ community when this OP clearly has a lot of opinions on behaviors by anyone outside a certain strict set of guidelines.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                But it is specifically a slight on the LGBTQA+ community. The term is so deeply rooted in anti-LGBTQA+ language. And sure, some people may use it regarding heterosexual practices, but it’s primarily used regarding LGBTQA+ people.

                The OP may have meant for it to encompass anyone, queer or straight, but seeing the term as vaguely written as it is in this letter is going to make a lot of people immediately think of it as an attack against the LGBTQA+ community because that’s where it has a history of being used.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  There are no non-heterosexual people in this story and considering LW’s strong stance against dating, I’m inclined to believe it was a general condemnation of anything beyond marital missionary sex. It definitely is a jarring thing to read… but erasing the words don’t make the belief go away. I belong to one of the less marginalized letters in the acronym but I still feel it whenever people say stuff like this. I’d rather cishet people get the reminder that this exists to this extent than edit out this sentence to preserve my sensibilities… but of course that’s just one person’s opinion

                2. all aboard the anon train*

                  @Jesmlet Yeah, I get that. My knee jerk reaction was more to one of the other comments saying that queer people are less likely to feel alienated if they know that this term references heterosexual people as well. Which seems particularly tone deaf when sexually deviant has such a deep rooted history in the LGBTQA+ community.

                  Because the experiences of hatred I’ve had, that you may have had, or that other queer people have aren’t always comparable to those of heterosexuals. Lumping them together ignores the very different forms of hatred queer and straight people face.

                3. Jesmlet*

                  @all aboard: I’m fortunate enough to be able to cut the people out of my life that have sent hatred my way and I get the visceral reaction to that phrase. I’m just trying to bridge the gap between those who get it and those who may not.

                4. all aboard the anon train*

                  @Jesmlet Got it! I commend you for having the patience to do that (I certainly don’t).

          3. Caleb*

            “and the OP has no power over you or any LGBTQ in any way, thankfully. ”


            I can get fired from my job for my sexual orientation. Because people like the OP (Who was lovely and graceful) often act politically to make that an option for employers. That’s power, isn’t it.

            Also, maybe if you have to use the word “They” so much when referring to the queer community, consider not saying whatever it is you think you have to say?

            1. Allypopx*

              I understand why this is emotional, but I think your last line here is a little harsh, and as someone who can use a “we” and I think there’s a really valid point being made here.

              1. Caleb*

                As I don’t, I don’t think the line was harsh.

                Perhaps you have a higher tolerance for tone policing than I do. But, straight people starting out sentences with “Sure, guys, you probably get hurt feelings from all the judgement sometimes” while demonstrating that they have no conception of the structures of oppression I face every day is a pretty good indicator that whatever they have to say isn’t terribly accurate, relevant, or gracious.

                1. Allypopx*

                  I understand where you’re coming from, and I think we might have different views on tone policing, but I respectfully agree to disagree as I don’t want to take over the post.

            2. AMG*

              What do you think should have been used instead of ‘they’? I honestly don’t get what’s wrong there.

              Also, I called OP’s reaction to criticism lovely. I am supportive of LGBTQA+ rights and therefore, I don’t agree with her views on it, but I do think she was graceful in her acceptance of criticism. Just because she is (IMO) wrong about LGBTQA+ doesn’t mean she is wrong in every possible way.

              1. siobhan*

                I can’t speak for what Caleb intended with that comment, but someone who says “they” instead of “we” should not presume to lecture us about what we should and should not find empowering.

          4. LBK*

            But trying to shut down the evidence of thinking like the OP’s still existing does no one any good.

            I’m not following this; how is pointing out that “sexual deviancy” is a coded term for homosexuality trying to shut down evidence of this thinking still existing? It’s literally the opposite: pointing out that just putting it in more polite words doesn’t mean it’s not saying the same thing. People may have changed their language but they haven’t changed their minds.

            1. Morning Glory*

              I think that comment referred to the request to remove the line from the OP’s response – which Alison ended up doing.

          5. Statler von Waldorf*

            Actually, I’ve had “good christian boys” beat me into a coma. So in my very personal experience, they can do much more than tell me I’m going to hell. So if you are going to speak of getting “worse punishment than the heathen gays,” I’m going to ask you if you have been beaten into a coma for being a “liberal christian?”

            As for the rest, it’s clear that you are not gay, and you haven’t personally experienced hatred towards you for your sexuality. It’s not empowering, it’s terrifying, lonely and alienating. I feel no need to give people espousing hatred a platform from which to do so, and I refuse to feel guilty for that either.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              I missed that first point entirely in the comment you’re responding to (I was more concerned with the implication that queer people will feel less alienated to know that heterosexuals deal with hate too….because no).

              But I’m with you. I’ve had death threats against me for my sexuality. There’s no doubt in my mind that a LGBTQA+ person is going to face worse repercussions than a “liberal Christian” or a straight person. That’s an incredibly tone deaf thing for someone to imply.

              1. seejay*

                This. 100% this.

                Stop giving platforms to hate and stop lumping in a threat or description that *could* include a non-marginalized group just because someone that’s coming from a narrow point of view happens to use a term that includes them in that particular case. If you’re coming from that non-marginalized group, don’t tell the marginalized that just because you’re included *this time around*, this is how “everyone should deal with it”. The marginalized have much more experience dealing with it and if you want to be a good supportive ally, listen to them about how to deal with it, how it effects them, and the response to it.

                Her comment was offensive and it was distressing.

            2. Alex*

              I’m so sorry, Statler. I’ve suffered a lot of physical and emotional violence for being gay at the hands of people with similar views as the OP, but not as severe as you. I’m glad Allison removed the line from the letter though. I won’t use the word “triggered” because it didn’t do that, but it definitely gave me the same feeling I used to get when my classmates called me a “f—-t” or when my senior English teacher looked me straight in the eye and told me I was going to hell… in the middle of class. Not a feeling I enjoy revisiting.

              But the bottom line is that word is first and foremost an anti-LGBTQ slur, even when it might be meant to include other people.

              1. AMG*

                This breaks my heart for both of you and everyone else who has been a target of hatred.

                Can’t do anything about the rest of the world, but I’m here, and I support you. Publicly and vocally. I have good kids who are being raised to know there is nothing wrong with the LGBTQA+ community and that they are perfect exactly as God made them.
                It just seems insufficient when I read stuff like this.

          6. siobhan*

            Being exposed to homophobia is empowering to LGBTQ people? Careful not to pull something with that reach. We know that homophobia exists, thanks, we live it. But it’s not “considered unacceptable” by all. OP has more societal power than you seem to think, when hundreds of lawmakers feel the same way and are willing to impose the same value system on all of us by means of legislation. What part of being reminded of that do you think is empowering?

            Signed, a ~heathen queer.

            1. siobhan*

              To be clear I’m not asking that the phrasing be removed from OP’s letter, though I don’t blame those who are. I’m objecting to the patronizing suggestion that we should feel a certain way about it.

          7. an anon*

            She may not now have any legal power over LGBTQ people, but the current administration (and many state governments) are trying very hard to make religious refusal laws happen for public accommodations and other businesses, which would give OP (and people with similar opinions) the legal right to refuse goods and services to LGBTQ people.

            Can you see why this would be a touchy subject for LGBTQ people right now?

          8. 1.0*

            “But trying to shut down the evidence of thinking like the OP’s still existing does no one any good”

            I’m visibly a lesbian; I have absolutely no illusions that people like OP hate me.

            I find it a little astonishing that you seem to be implying that not leaving up hateful dogwhistles about an oppressed minority group on a blog about workplace advice is somehow shutting down evidence that homophobes exist. I mean, I mostly just wanted to read about workplace norms and not be suddenly reminded that people like OP would be perfectly pleased if me and mine got wiped off the face of the earth.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        OP may not have meant it that way, but “sexual deviancy” is very commonly a coded way of referring to anyone who’s LGBTQA+.

        1. Apparently I Live in A Bubble*

          I managed to live almost 38 years on this earth without knowing that “sexual deviancy” was a LGBTQ reference. Until I just read this thread I only ever heard sexual deviant used to describe the guys growing up in my neighborhood who got off on feeling up girls without their permission and both men and women who were know for assaulting opposite genders for resisting their advances; maybe someone who enjoyed threesomes (2 guys + 1 girl or vice versa).

          I am either so ridiculously naive or manged to live in a bubble. I grew up in a pretty small, very stereo typically redneck town where it was not uncommon for women to get drunk and come home and beat up their husbands, or vice versa. Or for boyfriends/husbands or girlfriends/wives to get into fights in bar parking lots or driveways over shared partners.

          I didn’t read the OP’s letter until after this reference was deleted so I didn’t see how it was used there.

      3. Selina*

        This is common dog whistle language, regardless of how neutral it may read. The LGBTQ community has a specific history of being belittled as “deviants.”

        1. Sadsack*

          I think it was an actual term used for defendants who were charged as being homosexual and made to stand trial for it.

    2. MuseumChick*

      Bree, I get what you are saying but I disagree it should be removed. The OP has a world view that I STRONGLY (underline that about 100 times, bold it, highlight it) disagree with. But it’s her world view and contributed to the work faux-pas in her original letter. If we want people to hear our worldview, we have to meet them where they are. And that sentence shows exactly where the OP is.

      1. Bree*

        Yes, I understand that counter-argument. But as a queer person, I don’t think we need to give people who hold these beliefs any more attention. And, quite frankly, stumbling on this update could easily be hurtful to people.

        I think the rest of the letters give us enough of an idea of the OP’s worldview to have a discussion. Those specific beliefs she mentions? Shouldn’t even be up for discussion or debate.

        1. Jesmlet*

          The only way you change people’s minds is by meeting them where they are. We shouldn’t have to, but it’s a hell of a lot more effective than pretending it doesn’t exist and hoping they eventually all die out. I know this was the same argument against the Heineken ad but the most significant progress I see in people is when they actually get to know individuals who are non-heterosexual/cisgendered and see first hand all the brainwashing they got as children is wrong. I wouldn’t want to give hateful speech a platform, but ignoring it isn’t ideal either.

        2. Lee*

          Bree- Ignoring things you don’t like because they are hurtful does not change them. It’s like pretending the
          Holocaust didn’t happen so Jewish folks don’t get offended.
          It’s also obvious you’re picking and choosing what to be offended by…as the word ‘queer’, which you use to describe yourself, was once a derogatory word used to describe homosexuality in a negative way.
          And it’s now used in a positive light by gays, and that’s not because it was omitted or ignored.

      2. Carrie*

        But someone’s humanity and worth aren’t just things that you can just agree/disagree with. We shouldn’t accept that the premise of her worldview is even legitimate. We can’t meet people where they are if they don’t see some of us as people. Plus, devaluing people’s humanity like LW did isn’t a benign thing, when you think about disproportionately high suicide rates of LGBTQ youth. We can’t afford to give hateful speech a platform.

    3. Lil Lamb*

      I don’t know about deleting the line, but I agree that it was pretty upsetting to read.

    4. Sami*

      Right. I only want to hear about the outcome of what happened with the OP’s boss.

      1. seejay*

        Everyone’s talking about how nice her letter was but I read it and just got a lot of judgement and patronizing vibes out of it. Sorry. :/ Maybe she learned a few things but there was a few too many things in it that were jarring to me that made me take steps back.

        But then again, I have very clear boundaries with people these days and major trust issues due to the current political climate and recent immigration crap that just happened that almost got me deported so I’m *really* very black and white about a lot of issues lately. I’m not happy with the “us vs them” attitude I’ve developed and I’m working through it, but it’s hard, especially when I read something like this letter that just cements a lot of the problems I see going on in society right now.

        Ok, off my soapbox.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*


      And the inclusion of it at all by the LW makes it difficult for me to appreciate the grace with which she handled the criticism in the comments suggestion because it just seems so needlessly hostile.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I think this is what’s getting me about that part of the letter, yes – like, it comes off as “I hear and appreciate your input and am willing to accept correction gracefully (but you’re still a bunch of filthy perverts)” which is a jarring dissonance.

        1. Lil Lamb*

          But in the end is that surprising? There are some extremists who will smile while telling you that you’re going to burn in hell.

    6. Kate*

      Agreed. The quotes around “liberal Christians” and the extremely condescending “like to pretend” are irrelevant and disrespectful. Neither of the practices she mentions are necessary offshoots of “dating.” And saying “like to pretend” is basically just saying that other people’s religious beliefs aren’t valid. LW, I have “read my Bible” and there are about a million things in it that some people no longer take to heart. For some people, it’s premarital sex. For others, it’s the rules against eating shrimp. Liberal Christians are as entitled to their beliefs as you are, they aren’t “pretending” anything, and they don’t need to be set off in quotation marks.

      Removing one word from your vocabulary is unlikely to make a difference if this is the way you speak about other religions, or people who don’t practice your religion in the manner you think is right.

      1. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

        LW, just a thought: there is really no way that being called a whore as an adolescent girl or young woman, in a tone ranging from blurt to scream, doesn’t leave deep and lasting marks on your psyche. Your teachers and parents were engaged in a long-term campaign of gendered verbal abuse agianst you – and it was, without question, verbal abuse and cruelty – at a time when you were especially vulnerable to gendered insults directed at your sexuality and sexual expression. You may believe it turned you into a better adult, but that kind of thing has traumatized women I know for life – and you may want to think on that.

        I’m glad you took the chance to reflect on the appropriateness, grace, and compassion of your use of the word “whore” in casual conversation and about other women. I’d suggest that there’s plenty in your attitudes towards other beliefs and worldviews that could stand the same scrutiny. Your views on what “liberal” Christians “like to pretend” betray a rigidity and venom towards others’ beliefs that could use a little critical interrogation. There is a level of judgment that comes out in your words and tone even now that I personally take exception to, and plenty of others who are LGBT+ or in premarital, polyamorous, or otherwise nontraditional relationships that would absolutely take that kind of wording as a gratuitous insult. While you’re scrubbing whore from the vocabulary, I’d suggest at the very least reevaluating how and when you express those sentiments, even if you don’t reevaluate those sentiments themselves.

        1. Lissa*

          Your first paragraph, yeah. I agree with a lot of what’s said here, both that the OP is pretty incredible in actually coming back to comment after the response her letter showed, and also that the stuff around “sexual deviancy” and “liberal Christians” is troubling, but honestly I also just feel so badly for her growing up being verbally abused and now saying she’s glad it happened! It’s pretty upsetting.

        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          And sorry, Alison, I have no idea why but this comment posted twice – I cancelled this reply and posted it as a top-level comment, and it appeared both. Gremlins afoot!

        3. Parenthetically*

          Yes. That part set off every Stockholm Syndrome alarm bell I have. It’s a really common coping mechanism for people — women especially — who grow up in oppressive religious subcultures to handwave away the abusiveness of their upbringing because “it made me who I am today” or “I’m a stronger person because of it.” I find it happens most when their abuse has been framed to them by their abusers as “healthy/godly/biblical/loving discipline” and specifically contrasted with “child abuse.” So the thought process, in my experience, goes like: “Oh, no, I wasn’t abused, you see, my parents were just really strict (because if I began to see myself as a victim of abuse, it would cast doubt on my entire upbringing, my whole religion, my parents/pastors/teachers whom I admire and respect, and I cannot fathom doing that, so I’ll just continue to pretend that it’s normal and healthy to have an adult scream the word ‘whore’ at a child.”

          You can definitely see some of that journey with the women who’ve documented their escape from the Westboro cult, for example. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time.

        4. siobhan*

          I think this sort of suggestion is difficult for anyone to hear, but it’s important, and very kindly put. Thanks.

      2. Kalamet*

        Yeah, I had a strong reaction to the way the sentence was worded, but that’s probably because it’s very reminiscent of how my MIL posts on social media. Sooo passive-aggressive.

    7. irritable vowel*

      Upsetting as the words are to me, I’m in favor of leaving them in. If she found them necessary to include in her response, then they should stand here as representation of her and allow us to gain the fullest understanding we can of her.

      1. Ennigaldi*

        We don’t need to do that, we can make do with just the work-related stuff to avoid triggering people.

      2. Caro in the UK*

        This where I stand too (although you said it far more eloquently than I can). Although I abhor these beliefs, I actually appreciate knowing who holds them up front so, to be blunt, I can avoid engaging with them.

        However, I’m very aware that many people will find this paragraph of the letter extremely upsetting, so I’d completely understand it being removed.

      3. Allypopx*

        It’s irrelevant now that Alison’s made a decision, but I tend toward agreeing with you. Especially given that it’s an update and not an original post, I don’t feel it needs to be censored.

        But this is a topical blog and I also agree with Alison that there’s no need to use her space as a platform for what is clearly being read as coded and hateful language, so I don’t dispute the decision.

      4. LawBee*

        Agreed – said by a lesbian Christian who has been called a deviant to her face. They should stay in.

      5. hellcat*

        Agreed. That’s the OP showing us who she is just as much as everything else in that letter.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I went back and forth debating on whether I needed to remove that line. I ultimately left it in because I thought the OP should be allowed to present her take on things after taking so much criticism in the original post.

      But you’re right, there’s no reason to give a platform to that, so I’ve removed it. Apologies for calling that one the wrong way originally.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        Thank you! As a queer, liberal Christian it was pretty jarring for me to read and I appreciate you being sensitive to this issue.

      2. gwal*

        When you choose to do something like this, would it maybe represent the individual’s perspective more accurately by appending [redacted] or some other such indicator that the current text is merely the relevant content, not the whole story?

        1. Elsajeni*

          Yes, I’d also like to see a note in the text regarding what was edited out, and I have to say that I’d really appreciate if the response from Alison addressed it as well. I’m really uncomfortable with such a positive response praising the OP for being reasonable and fair-minded, knowing that part of the reason she looks so fair-minded is that an offensive comment was edited out of her letter.

      3. Juli G.*

        Allison, would you pin something that says the original post was edited? I was incredibly confused reading the comments until I got to this point.

    9. Mazzy*

      What the heck??!? I can’t believe some of the comments this week with the tickling letter and this. The op literally said nothing remotely pertaining to LGBTQ issues.

      This sentence very clearly responds to the fact that commenters on the original thread cherry picked parts of the Bible that at least in my opinion made the op look uneducated or hypocritical when there are indeed parts of the Bible about sexually promiscuity.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I’m guessing you’re not LGBT+, because “sexual deviancy” has been coded dogwhistle language used against us for a very, very long time. Many of us have an immediate flinching reaction to it as a result.

        1. Mazzy*

          But it’s not fair to read things into something someone said that made it seem a whole lot worse than it was when it is clear that is not what they were talking about.

          There were a lot of “context matters” discussions yesterday when similar leaps were made on the tickling letter. You can’t add whatever you want to a comment that someone else said, just because of your experience. For example, tickling isn’t torture

          1. LBK*

            But it’s not fair to read things into something someone said that made it seem a whole lot worse than it was when it is clear that is not what they were talking about.

            How can you be so certain that’s not what she’s talking about?

          2. Jadelyn*

            It’s not “reading into things” to say, hey, this language is almost always used as a coded reference to a specific group of people, and it’s deeply offensive as a result. I honestly don’t care if she actually meant queer people when she said “sexual deviancy”. Whether she meant it that way or not, she specifically chose to use an extremely loaded phrase with a lot of ugly baggage, and it’s not unfair to say “that’s not okay, don’t use that term like that.”

            Also, how is it that we (LGBT/allies in the comments here) are “reading into things” when we talk about our experiences surrounding the use of certain language, but you’re able to say “it’s clear that’s not what they were talking about”? How is your saying “that’s clearly not what they meant” anything but you reading things into what was said? You’re doing the same exact thing, just getting a different result. So don’t scold me for “reading into things” and then turn around and give the OP’s words your own spin (“it’s clear that’s not what they were talking about”) like that’s somehow different.

              1. Mazzy*

                The letter wasn’t about anything having to do with LGBT though!

                This is like saying I can’t call my Uncle Tom Uncle Tom because there are racial connotations, even if his name is tom.

                You are completely adding this extra meaning on your own accord. We are talking about this letter, this OP, this father and daughter – not patching how their language would have different meaning if used by completely different people in different circumstances.

            1. Jesmlet*

              Context matters. There are no queer people in this story so it’s not necessarily reading into things to infer that OP’s “sexual deviancy” comment was painting with broad strokes and not necessarily an attack on the LGBT community.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                In the context of speaking about Christianity, it’s very likely that sexual deviancy was referring to LGBTQ people.

                And I think we’re probably getting pretty far afield here and should let this go.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  In the context of Duggar-style (really Goddard-style) Evangelism, it usually references any sex that is not both marital and procreative. It’s one of the reasons Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar handwaved Josh’s molestation of his younger sisters. They reasoned that many teen boys do that sort of thing not because they think many or most teen boys molest their sisters while they are sleeping in their own beds, but because they equate child molestation and consentual extramarital sexual explorations as one and the same in the sexual deviancy box.

                  Not that it makes much of a difference here. It’s still a dog whistle term associated almost entirely with LGBT+ people and I understand and support Alison removing it from the letter. But I also think OP is one of those who would use that term much more broadly than is typical.

          3. TootsNYC*

            But it’s not fair to read things into something someone said that made it seem a whole lot worse than it was when it is clear that is not what they were talking about.

            And there you have proof of why dogwhistles are used, and how (and why) they work.

            1. Jadelyn*

              This x100000 – that’s the whole point of using coded language like this. People to whom it’s referring and people who share the speaker’s beliefs know exactly what they meant, but they retain plausible deniability and bystanders will tend to defend the speaker with “they didn’t mean it like that”. Just as we see here.

          4. Risha*

            “But it’s not fair to read things into something someone said that made it seem a whole lot worse than it was when it is clear that is not what they were talking about.”

            It is absolutely not clear that that was not what they were talking about. As a straight woman, I flinched when I read that line and immediately assumed it to be a reference to LGBTQ people. Not to put too fine a point on it, coming from an extremely conservative Evangelical American woman in 2017, it is VASTLY more likely that it was a dogwhistle than that it wasn’t.

        2. Caleb*

          It’s especially jarring for queer folk like me who grew up Evangelical and internalized a lot of self-loathing. It is coded language for homosexuality. Sorry. It just is.

        3. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Mazzy, no. Just no. “Sexual deviancy” is not what you think it is and it is not about cherry-picking and it is not analogous to the tickling letter. That term has a real history of actual use in the persecution and criminalization of LGBTQ+ community.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              Yes. I wish I could edit. When I wrote “history” I was thinking of the use of it in criminal trials against LGBTQ+ – but general persecution out in the world, and the use of this phrase in that manner, persists today.

              1. Anonymous 40*

                Sorry – that wasn’t meant as a criticism. Just a lament that crap like that still happens.

      2. Ennigaldi*

        It’s coded language very common in OP’s circles, as other commenters have pointed out. Just because you personally don’t know to spot it doesn’t mean it’s not very deliberate and harmful.

        1. Alli525*

          Exactly. I had no idea that “America First” was a dogwhistle for white supremacists until.. well, you know. I won’t speak his name here (or anywhere).

      3. LizB*

        From someone who is queer in the US: yep, she did. “Sexually deviant,” while also encompassing a lot of heterosexual behaviors, is the world’s biggest dogwhistle for LGBTQ people. Like, deaf elderly dogs in a 90-mile radius just perked up their ears size of dogwhistle.

        1. Mazzy*

          But the letter had literally nothing to do with anything lgbtq so even if you were correct, which I don’t agree with, why are you mentioning it

          1. LBK*

            Saying that Christianity doesn’t condemn homosexuality is a common talking point among the “liberal Christians” the OP’s follow up referred to, so I thought it seemed pretty apparent that’s what she meant. Gay rights and religious liberty are hot button issues currently (eg the EO that’s allegedly being signed tomorrow).

          2. LizB*

            Because the phrase has a nasty history of being used as to insult and criminalize LGBTQ people, and readers here are LGBTQ. Seeing that phrase is a nasty little jolt that reminds you of hate you’ve faced in the past. As you said, the letter has nothing to do with that topic – so why include the hateful language if it adds nothing to the OP’s point and will make some of the audience feel worse about themselves?

            If an OP wrote a letter about being bait-and-switched on a job offer where religion had no relevance, but said that the company “jewed me out of the salary they promised me,” you can bet your butt I’d be asking Alison to change the language or remove the sentence. The world does not need more hateful language in it.

          3. Jadelyn*

            Because many of us have had that phrase weaponized against us. It has a hurtful history. It’s a phrase that frankly should not be used because of that.

          4. SarahTheEntwife*

            The letter mentioned it. Nobody would be talking about it if the LW hadn’t done so first, even if we might guess she isn’t ok with the idea of queer people from what we know of those streams of Christianity.

          5. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Because SHE, the LW, mentioned it. You are insisting that the term does not mean what everyone who has been the target of this language KNOWS it means. That (pretty damn recent) history lessons tell us it means. Why this insistence, against actual experience?

          6. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Because in an update where the LW was acting gracious and accepting of the criticism that was lobbed at her for using the word ‘whore’, she managed to get in an equally harmful dig against LGBTQ people. And people are rightfully upset by that, just like they were upset by the original letter.

          7. Ann Mousy*

            You many not realize it, but right now you are that guy trying to argue about how the N-word, a slur recognized wide and far for what it is and what it means, is a harmless reference to a particular shade of skin coloration.

            The words are by themselves words, with literal roots, but they are used pretty much exclusively as a horrible slur against a very specific group. Don’t be the guy who defends slurs. Be the guy who learned a new slur today and resolved to not use it because it is a slur.

          8. Viktoria*

            More importantly, why is *she* (the LW) mentioning it? The commenters are merely responding to the update. It’s completely unrelated to the substance of the question* or the update, as well as to the topic of this website, so there is no harm done by removing the line to spare commenters from reading something hurtful and possibly triggering to them. Alison doesn’t have any obligation to publish unedited letters, or to publish the letters at all- it’s completely at her prerogative and personally I’m glad that she doesn’t allow letter writers unfettered freedom to espouse their completely off-topic and hurtful views.

            *This is the case whether or not the LW was intentionally referencing LGBTQ people; I think others have pretty well covered the history and meaning of the term.

          9. TootsNYC*

            even if you were correct…why are you mentioning it

            Um, because they’re correct. or because they fear they’re correct.
            And because they don’t want this sort of contemptuous framing to stand unchallenged. And in standing unchallenged, to spread and succeed, and put them in danger.

            Boy, do dogwhistles work on you, Mazzy!

          10. Amber Rose*

            Language changes. Use of language changes. Definitions change. Language is very organic that way. So when someone tells you that a certain word or term is hurtful because it has been used in a negative way towards a group they belong to, and has a history of being used as such, I encourage you to believe them. Regardless of whatever the originally intended definition was.

      4. all aboard the anon train*

        As others have said, “sexual deviant” is code for LGBTQA+. It’s the “polite” way to say a slur about LGBTQA+ people.

        It hurts just as much as a slur does. Worse, because in my experience people who use “sexual deviant” usually think they’re not bigoted because they’re not using a known slur outright.

    10. Statler von Waldorf*

      Seconding this. If it was right that tasteless 9/11 joke can be edited out as irrelevant to the letter, this letter writers condemnation of LGBTQ people can be edited out too.

    11. Lilo*

      There is actually a strong theological argument that claiming to speak for his in that manner is the real meaning of the 4th Commandment, not swearing (all those years of Sunday school have to be worth something).

    12. Alice*

      Now that these comments here I don’t think it should be deleted — as some people have said, hiding the evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I was surprised, though, that Alison included that line (or paragraph) without addressing it — and while praising OP as gracious. But hey — it’s your blog, we just comment on it :)

  14. Alice*

    Wow — scare quotes around “liberal Christians” who “pretend…”? The good grace in this response doesn’t extend too far.
    Still, I’m impressed that OP and OP’s boss seem to have come to an understanding. Very level-headed on everyone’s part.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    I’m glad it worked out and you were able to see some things in a new light.

    I…can’t even comment on the theological aspects though, since I don’t think Alison would care for it.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      Yeah, all I can really say is that I’m learning a lot about my out-laws that my partner hasn’t adequately explained. If I tried to say anything else, I’d be at serious risk of breaking commenting rules.

  16. Jessesgirl72*

    I hope the OP can reconcile her own beliefs while allowing others to have their own.

    I was one of the people pushing back against the “true Christian” argument in the original, as I believe no one has the right to define that for anyone other than themselves.

    However, that applies to the OP as well, and she is going to have more difficulties in the work place if she can’t keep her judgements of others lifestyles and religious definitions out of the workplace. Especially when they are so narrowly defined and out of synch even with those who consider themselves Christian, let alone all the rest of humanity.

    In fact, given that, I might even suggest she’s best off staying in a job where she is accepted and understood. I am glad her mistake hasn’t negatively impacted her job.

    1. Lilo*

      Yeah I was raised religious, but was told by some particular groups that were dominant in my area (I was located near the HQ for a particular conservative group so it was a pretty dominant force) that I was the wrong kind of Christian and going to he’ll. Pro tip: not a great way to get people on your side or to convert. Kind of just bullying.

    2. MWKate*

      Absolutely agree with the last sentence. Considering some of the OP’s rather extreme/ultra conservative views I think she would have a difficult time in a lot of workplaces. Even if you try to keep your views on different subjects to yourself, holding beliefs such as these would likely slip out, as they did here.

      I think it’s fair to assume that a majority of other workplace are going to have a more diverse population. (which…I would usually say is good but I get the impression here that it might be more of an upsetting experience for said diverse population than an enlightening experience for her) I think that would be a rough road for her, and her potential coworkers.

  17. Roker Moose*

    I am horrified by the LW’s upbringing– specifically, the use of ‘that’ word– but I appreciate her good grace in handling the apology.

  18. Book Lover*

    I find this terribly sad.

    I live in a southwestern relatively conservative state, and yet I don’t even know how to think about this kind of attitude. But I suppose there is a difference between conservatives and the religious right, and I am surrounded by one and not the other.

    I find this update upsets me more than the original letter.

    1. Salamander*

      I found it to be upsetting, as well.

      I think the LW was lucky, very lucky, that her boss doesn’t seem to be holding her original remarks against her in the first instance. But if she can’t keep her opinions about how other people live their lives to herself in the workplace, she’s going to have a very difficult career. She won’t always be working for such an understanding boss, and I suspect she’ll have to interact with more people who are less likely to give her a pass on this kind of thing. I certainly would not.

    2. MWKate*

      I kind of agree. I’m glad she is working that word out of her vocabulary, but the beliefs behind the use of the word are still there. She might not use the word whore, but it appears she still think all that the word entails is true.

      Also – it’s incredibly sad to know children are growing up with this kind of verbal abuse. We all know it happens, but imagining parents and teachers shouting at a child that she is a whore constantly is horrible.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I was left more upset about this update than the original post. When I heard Alison had already gotten an update from OP, I knew not enough lessons were learned. I was hoping that, when we did receive a response, it would include drastic lifestyle changes. This OP’s attitudes are frightening to me and I find them more dangerous to our society than any perceived threat of minority religions currently persecuted by our society.

  19. Allypopx*

    I disagree with some of OP’s sentiments here, but I am beyond impressed with the grace with which she’s taken the comments and the level-headedness she’s showing here. I’m glad things went well and that the situation seems to have resolved.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Then I apologized and told him that I was completely in the wrong to insinuate that about his daughter. I didn’t qualify or try to explain.

    This part was the critical right move. And it’s very hard for people to pull off, without launching into the defensive “… but–“

  21. 123456789101112 do do do*

    Refreshing post. I got a two-fer: a satisfying resolution to a post and a reminder of why I no longer attend church. Thanks, LW!

  22. Judge Crater*

    Yes, kudos to any letter writer who can handle feedback from people with very different perspectives than her own! It’s sadly a bit too rare to find these days, on all sides.

  23. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    OP, I am glad you are cutting the word out and were open to the criticisms of the comments in the original post.

    Since you have written into an advice column, I feel the need to give you some additional advice, especially since you are looking to move on to another job: you need to check religion at the door when you get to work. And I don’t just mean talking about it. The beliefs you subscribe to are very much so not the norm and if you can’t separate that they are your beliefs that you choose to live by and not everyone else, your perceptions of coworkers will be colored by your bias and you won’t be able to have healthy working relationships.

    Dating is very common in the US culture as a whole, as is premarital sex, and LGBT rights are not going away – certainly without a fight. You need to take a long, hard, deep look at yourself and make sure you can handle working with a gay person, a trans person, people who openly date, etc. If you think so poorly of these people you felt the need to preach about it in a letter to a work advice blog, I am a little afraid you won’t be able to check your personal feelings at the door when it comes to working relationships.

    If you take the time to really consider that and realize you would have problems working with people you believe are sinners, then you need to refocus your job search to within the community that your beliefs come from. If you can’t work without spouting your beliefs, especially as though they are fact, you will almost certainly alienate many of your coworkers.

    You listened the first time around about the word. I hope you will listen this time around to advice on your belief system as a whole. It is certainly your right to maintain those beliefs – but I have no doubt your professional career will be hindered if you cannot remove workplace relationships from those beliefs.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      **not going away – certainly NOT without a fight.

      My kingdom for an edit button

    2. BeautifulVoid*

      This is excellent advice, eloquently and respectfully stated, and I hope OP takes it into consideration.

    3. Clever Name*

      While I really admire this letter writer, their religious attitudes are precisely why I don’t tell anyone at work that I’m an atheist.

      1. Anonymous 40*

        Their religious attitudes are precisely why I don’t tell anyone at work that I’m a Christian.

        1. AKJ*

          Second this.
          I’m a member of a progressive congregation that is open and affirming as a matter of faith. (Also, our pastor is LGBTQ, although we were open and affirming before she was called) I once mentioned to a queer coworker when discussing weekend plans in passing that I had an event at church, and his whole face changed. I felt horrible, because I realized what he was thinking and I fell all over myself awkwardly attempting to explain.

          1. AMG*

            Been there. Options: start blabbing about how you are supportive of gay rights and make the conversation awkward, or let it drop and make interactions going forward awkward and let the coworker think you might be a polite bigot. To nobody’s surprise who knows me, I chose the blabbing awkwardness.

          2. Anonymous 40*

            I’m part of a politically-mixed church in a heavily conservative area with pastors who lean left but carefully walk a narrow middle ground. It’s maddening sometimes. After I posted pictures of my family at a pro-immigrant rally in January, a couple of people at church who had always been very friendly hardly speak to me anymore. I wouldn’t want to be associated with their view of “Christianity” anymore than they’d probably want to be associated with mine.

        2. Tammy*

          Yup, this. I’m a member of a pretty progressive congregation that belongs to a pretty progressive religious movement that still is (IMO) rather challenged about issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and the broad category of “stuff” related to sexual morality and choices. It’s why I don’t talk in any but the broadest terms about religion at work, and it’s why I don’t talk about many aspects of my personal life at church. (I check several of the LGBTQIAP* boxes). I personally resolve the dissonance by remembering that I’m just called to love God and love people, and figuring out/judging all that other stuff is God’s problem and not mine.

    4. CaliCali*

      Here’s the thing — I actually work in a place that OP would likely find a comfortable place to work. Many people homeschool their kids and someone just got married who, based on what I know, went through a courtship. It’s Christian-owned, and based on some of my overall contextual knowledge, there are many here who share similar views regarding premarital sex and dating.

      The thing is that I ONLY know that because of my broader knowledge. You wouldn’t know it from talking with them, because no one brings it up. We have many people here who are not religious, people of different faiths, people cohabiting with non-marital partners, people with gay children, etc. As part of the company’s ethos, the utmost concern is that this is a RESPECTFUL workplace (and it really is). You likely would have been fired at my company, or at least severely reprimanded, not because what you said was even something out of line with people’s moral codes, but because it shows a deep lack of respect to others. This is what you’ll need to work on reconciling with the working world.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I like this definition of a respectful workplace. I don’t need to work (or be fellow citizens) with people who have thought about it and realized, on a deep level, that my positions on all issues are the correct ones. As an American who truly believes in the melting pot from my Schoolhouse Rock days, I find it chilling when people who might ostensibly agree with me on issue X condemn anyone who might disagree as having clearly given the issue no thought, and goes on to pile a bunch of stereotypes on them.

        Observation from my nephew, who has lived in the Deep South, Pacific Northwest, and Midwest: Wherever he has lived, the jerks are concentrated in the majority. People in the minority have usually had to reflect on why they hold their opinions; people in the majority can just assert ‘because obviously I’m right, because it’s obvious.’

    5. MWKate*

      100% agree. I tried to express this in a much shorter and less eloquent way, and didn’t succeed.

      If you think you may, or that it would be acceptable, to treat co-workers you felt were not living their lives “right” any differently than you would treat those that shared your beliefs you should seek employment within your community. It will not be good for them, or likely for you if you are not willing to examine your beliefs, to do otherwise.

    6. Yogi Josephina*

      Bingo. My boss is a very, VERY strict Mormon. It’s common knowledge around the place. His only rule, which honestly you could have completely separate from religious belief, is No Swearing In Front Of Him.

      Other than that? He checks it at the door. Our workplace is VERY liberal within a VERY liberal town in Colorado. I’m a fiery liberal lesbian, and most of my coworkers share one or more of those traits. He works with tons of people who I’m SURE he disagrees with morally, politically and religiously, but he knows that his way of life is not most peoples’ way of life, and he knows that the workplace is just no place for his religious beliefs. He treats every single person there with respect and dignity and knows that bringing his religion into any aspect of our workplace is totally inappropriate. You’d honestly never know.

      So it’s possible to do, and hopefully the OP can follow suit.

  24. yikes*

    So you’ll still think of girls and women who do things you disagree with as whores, you just won’t say it aloud?

    1. CatCat*

      I mean, who cares what OP thinks? I say this as a likely immoral, heathen, deviant whore.

      She just has to check herself on expressing those thoughts in the work world.

      1. MJH*

        I think the problem is people can tell if you think they’re whores, even if you don’t say the word outloud.

        1. CatCat*

          Really? I lack these mind reading skills.

          If she can act civilly and professionally at work, it’s totally irrelevant what her personal prejudices and supernatural beliefs are.

          1. MJH*

            It doesn’t take mind-reading to sense judgment coming off of someone in waves. If the LW can be completely cool with every kind of lifestyle in the sense that her judgments don’t come across at all in the workplace, well, that’s great. I just have my doubts that such a thing is possible.

            1. Myrin*

              I’d say it’s about 50-50 – I’ve definitely been in situations where A says they get along so well with B who is basically their best work friend (or similar) only to later find out that B was warm and coridal to A but couldn’t actually stand them. So IMO there are people who are very good at masking who they like and dislike (I’m fairly sure I’m one of them) and others who aren’t. I agree with your general sense that the OP probably belongs in the latter category, though, simply because her beliefs are that strong and I’d guess it would be an immense amount of work to actually hide that.

              1. MJH*

                Yeah, I’m thinking if a coworker decides to transition. Is LW going to start using a new name and pronoun? Or will she simply stop talking to the coworker, or worse, refuse to change her vocabulary? Is she going to inquire after a gay coworker’s spouse in the same way she would a straight person’s? There are so many ways that judgment can spill out.

                1. Banana Sandwich*

                  Yeah, I agree. I’ve met very few people that can keep strongly held beliefs like this to themselves without it coming out in some way.

                  Point made by the fact the the OP did this exact thing.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I think hypocrisy gets undervalued.

            I’d far rather work with someone who is uncomfortable with people of category A but doesn’t talk about it and makes an effort not to act on that belief, than with a coworker who proudly insists they feel no personal prejudice against group A… but since other people do they will be discriminating against them because It’s Business. (Comes up in casting, for example.)

            1. Jesmlet*

              Exactly. Imagine how harmful those thoughts would be if LW got a position supervising others? If you have prejudices, it is nearly impossible to personally detect whether you are acting on them or not because you’ll go to the mat justifying your decisions and rationalizing how you arrived at them.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding Cat Cat. It doesn’t matter what your private beliefs are, it matters how you act on them. In this column, how you act on them at work.

    3. paul*

      I don’t like and won’t defend those beliefs–I find them abhorrent–but its’ a pretty frequent theme on this blog that how you behave at work matters more than how you feel about your coworkers.

      1. CatCat*


        I would have pleeeeenty of thoughts and judgments about OP if she were my coworker. But we’re not at work to be besties. I still would need to treat her with civility and professionalism.

  25. LoiraSafada*

    I hope you will continue to grow, OP. It seems like you handled the aftermath well. I think the conversation around ‘whore’ was as much about internalized misogyny as it was about Christianity. Please continue to reflect on this experience and your belief system, since you are incredibly lucky there was no negative fallout from this. You likely won’t get a second chance like this again and frankly, many people are likely to find your views around ‘sexual deviancy’ abhorrent; possibly more so than casual utterance of the word ‘whore.’ It might be worth it to seek out a therapist or trusted friend if you feel like your upbringing is negatively carrying over into your adult life.

    1. anon sexual minority*

      It’s sad that people are raised to believe that natural sexuality and diversity and curiosity are unnatural, yet screaming at children, bullying them with bizarre horror stories, threatening them with supernatural beings and eternal torture…that’s somehow natural and acceptable??

      1. LoiraSafada*

        Very sad. I hope she reaches out to someone and gets some support to unpack all of this.

  26. One Fine Day*

    “the exact quote I blurted out was screamed at me countless times at home and I was called a whore several times a day by my teachers”

    I have no words.

    1. Gaia*

      I cannot even imagine. And that she now feels this was beneficial to her. I worry this is a cycle that will repeat. There are other ways to raise children to follow even strict moral codes than to make them feel degraded.

    2. J.B.*

      I feel so so sorry for OP. I think that the internalized awfulness still exists and I hope she moves further away from it. Because her upbringing was abusive full stop.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Even if the word “whore” is—in that community—a low-level insult, sort of like…like….like…flirt, maybe, or tease, or…cheat, or (I’m struggling here) doofus or weirdo or dummy

      …to be insulted several times a day by the teachers?

      poor kid!

  27. bunniferous*

    This update made me sad for OP. I am a Christian, probably conservative by most posters standards. It is obvious OP was raised in a very harsh legalistic home.

    If Jesus was a friend of sinners, we all can be as well. He never called anyone a whore but he had strong words for Pharisees!

    With the mindset OP is stuck in, it would make it very difficult for her to function in the majority of workplaces. I wish I could have coffee and a chat with her.

  28. Gaia*

    OP, while you are at it, you may want to remove the phrase “sexual deviancy” from your vocabulary. Whether or not your moral beliefs state that homosexuality is acceptable or not, it isn’t a phrase you should use in the same way that whore isn’t a word you should use regardless of your moral beliefs. It is ugly, hateful and has a horrible past (and present) usage.

  29. Not a Christian*

    I’m sorry to say this, really I am, because I do honestly believe that everyone should be able to practice their religion openly and without reservation. But, I couldn’t help but be struck by the small bit of prosletyzing that the OP slipped into her update.

    “Read your Bibles. Despite what “liberal Christians” like to pretend, premarital sex and sexual deviancy are unequivocally condemned!”

    I believe that people should be able to share their beliefs and opinions about their faith without judgment. I do not believe that should ever extend into telling people they’re wrong. The Bible is rarely unequivocal. To state that one belief has more accuracy or righteousness than another is pretty wrong.

    To be honest, I don’t think religion should have ever entered into this discussion and I’m kind of disappointed that it has and continues to do so.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve read the Bible: there are two chapters on coping with mildew. It gets WAY more attention than does sex.

      1. Jadelyn*

        To be fair, I haven’t been Christian in a very long time, and I never read the entire Bible cover-to-cover anyway, but mildew??? Really?

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Tzara’at — it’s usually translated as “leprosy” but the description bears no resemblance to the actual disease even when on humans and it can also afflict cloth and houses, where it sounds more like mildew than anything else. I occasionally chant torah at my synagogue, and for some reason I tend to have a lot of spare time around the time of year we get to that part of the text, and so I’ve chanted the house leprosy passage three times but never seem to get bits with actual plot. :-b

          1. Blue Anne*

            I am definitely going to be using “____ leprosy” instead of “mildew” from now on.

            “Honey, can you run a wash? All the damp towels in the laundry are getting towel leprosy”

      2. Not a Christian*

        I should link to that West Wing clip where the President asks about whether its appropriate to stone his brother, etc. I’ve also found that for every passage one finds to verify their argument, another is available to counter it. (probably the same with mildew!)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          There is also no mention of homosexuality in the New Testament.

          1. MJH*

            There definitely is reference to it. You can read Romans 1 if you’re interested in where.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s referenced, very briefly, in a couple of places. There is legitimate academic debate as to whether pederasty or prostitution are what’s really being condemned, but the fact that it’s a debate means that homosexuality is also on the table as a legitimate interpretation of the passages.

            As with mildew, the sheer volume pales in comparison to turning the other cheek, loving one’s neighbor as oneself, let he is without sin cast the first stone, and similar themes. Plus exchanging news of who says hi to whom.

          3. Ellen Fremedon*

            What about the centurion’s servant, or the Ethiopian eunuch? Homosexuality–and heterosexuality–as we conceptualize them today are pretty modern concepts, but there are certainly people in the New Testament who would have been read as queer within their own milieu, some of whom would also be read as queer in ours.

      3. LizB*

        I’ve read it in the original Hebrew! (Well, the first five books, at least.) There’s a whole lot of “and then they went from this place to this place, and camped at this place… and then they left that place, and fought this army, and camped at this place” and “you need exactly this many dolphin skins to build the tabernacle.” And since there’s no one right way to interpret those passages, there sure as heck isn’t only one right way to interpret the passages about sex.

    2. LiveAndLetDie*

      I mean, OP brought religion into it the first time, considering the entirety of the scenario was couched in her religious beliefs. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid religion being part of this discussion. OP certainly doesn’t seem to want to leave it out.

      1. Not a Christian*

        I know. I think this situation and update could have been discussed without bringing religion into it. I’m not even sure why the OPs religion somehow justifies or validates her behavior. I don’t think it does and I wish the question and update could have posed without it. That’s where my disappointment lies. It’s a universal/general disappointment rather than a specific one.

    3. Myrin*

      Yeah, as someone who studied under some of my countries most esteemed theologians, I had to snicker a bit about that “unequivocally” part. No text that is 2000 years and older is ever going to be “unequivocal”, much less one whose modern form is the result of literal trials and tribulations the way the bible is.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Hell, look at modern fandom and transformative works – even text that is just a few years old is open to interpretation, lol.

      2. paul*

        It’s been a very long time since I read theology, Christian or otherwise, but I don’t think any field that contains Barth *and* John Calvin *and* Marylin McCord Adams can be said to have much that isn’t disputed!

      3. Creag an Tuire*

        I dunno, the whole “no rubbing one out on the side when your brother’s widow is right there waiting to be impregnated” seems pretty unequivocal to me. You’ll get straight-up Smote for that nonsense.

        Somehow, I don’t think that’s the “deviancy” OP had in mind, though.

        1. Natalie*

          Hey, his sin was not knocking up his dead brother’s wife. Precisely why or how he avoided doing that wouldn’t have mattered.

          (Weirdly, this is the second time I’ve discussed Onan online today.)

    4. This Is Not My Real Name*

      “I believe that people should be able to share their beliefs and opinions about their faith without judgment. I do not believe that should ever extend into telling people they’re wrong. The Bible is rarely unequivocal. To state that one belief has more accuracy or righteousness than another is pretty wrong.”

      Exactly. It was Christians who expressed their self-righteous, arrogant, judgmental beliefs similar to the OP’s (“MY way of doing Christianity is the ONLY way — YOUR way is wrong, and you’re going to burn in hell) who made me decide that being labeled a Christian was an embarrassment and I wanted nothing to do with it.

    5. fposte*

      But now we enter paradox-land, because you’ve said that you shouldn’t tell somebody their beliefs are wrong, and you’ve just told the OP that her belief about the Bible being unequivocal is wrong.

      1. AD*

        Beliefs, in the larger sense, and issues of faith are a bit different than something like a literal or somewhat-objective parsing of the text that is actually in the Bible (which OP advised us all to read, according to the letter). I don’t think Not a Christian’s point is invalid.

        1. fposte*

          I believe understand where she’s going, but as written it exempts herself from the point she’s making, and I think that’s something we all need to be reflective about.

      2. Not a Christian*

        It could probably be interpreted as a circular argument and we could have a very fuzzy, grey debate about the fine points of beliefs and religion. I’ll say this because I’m not capable of writing eloquently about the subject. My belief that the Bible is not unequivocal, doesn’t negate her belief that the Bible is unequivocal. Both of us are capable of believing these two things in a shared space. However, this sentence,

        Despite what “liberal Christians” like to pretend, premarital sex and sexual deviancy are unequivocally condemned!”

        if we’re going to parse it out, calls out “liberal Christians” for a) supporting premarital sex and sexual deviancy (and I won’t touch what that refers to) and b) explicitly tells readers that it is not only wrong according to the Bible, but that “liberal Christians like to pretend” that it isn’t wrong. In essence, the OP is not only saying that she believes they’re wrong (which is fine, she has every right to her belief), but that they are systemically wrong and they know it. And that’s what I have a problem with.

    6. Alton*

      I think it’s disconcerting that the OP is so willing to dismiss Christians who don’t share her beliefs as not being informed or as true of Christians. Whether she agrees with them or not, they are also Christians who have their own interpretations of scripture. If enough people believe something, it becomes a part of the faith, for better or worse. Religion is what the followers make it. No one has a monopoly on dogma.

  30. SideshowStarlet*

    I haven’t read all the comments in the first letter, so it’s possible I just missed it the first time around. OP’s TEACHERS called her a whore? I hate to be one of those people who ask if that’s legal, but… Is that even legal?

    1. MWKate*

      I have to believe it is a private school. Nevertheless, I consider this verbal abuse. Though, people are so sensitive and hands off about religious schools and institutions its not that surprising they could get away with it. Especially if the parents do the same thing.

      1. SideshowStarlet*

        Even at a private school, though. I remember there was a case on Judge Judy where the mother of an 8 year old was suing the alternative school she sent him to for behavioral problems for abuse (they locked him in a closet with some textbooks all day) and the judge tore into the people who ran it. They wouldn’t have been held to the same standards of a public school either.

        1. LizB*

          But if all the families whose children attend the school are in agreement that this is an appropriate way to speak to kids to make them into good, moral adults, nobody’s going to take it to court.

    2. Ann Mousy*

      Yes, it is legal. It might get a teacher fired – I would go on a personal Crusade to get such a teacher fired if it were my kid. But it isn’t illegal.

      We had a teacher in high school (~2000) tell us how worthless he thought educating girls was, since he figured we’d all get pregnant and raise babies. Not illegal, and he suffered no consequences because of it; I’m not sure it occurred to any of us to bother complaining, I’m sad to say, because we had so little expectation anything would come from a complaint. A different teacher told us about how he insulted an overweight girl in one of his classes daily over her eating habits, then after she graduated, she lost weight and he married her.

      1. SideshowStarlet*

        May still be illegal, but since nobody complained, the right people didn’t find out. I’m horrified by the thought of the student marrying her former teacher. Like maybe the reason the teacher was so fixated on her weight and eating habits was because he was infatuated with her and was grooming her to think she was unworthy of love. Then By the time she was legal and had a body the teacher liked, her self esteem was so low, she ended up with the guy who spent a year verbally abusing her. Where do schools find these people?

  31. LiveAndLetDie*

    Wow, OP, I’m sorry you were screamed at as a young person, but I also think you would do well to stop judging others. Knowing the word is bad is one thing, but knowing *why* it’s bad is another. I fear you’ve only learned the former.

    I’m not even going to touch all the rest of this letter with a ten-foot pole, it is wildly out of line with my own beliefs.

  32. Serafina*

    Well, I’ll say it. Contrary to what Alison and others are saying, I don’t think this response was gracious at all: it was smug, judgmental, condescending, and dripping with scorn and bigotry towards millions of innocent people by someone who is by no means the pure virtue-made-flesh that she imagines herself to be.

    This is really very sad. The LW has taken a babystep away from one horrible word by recognizing that it and its context are horrible, but continues to exercise (and wholly embrace) the mindset behind it with her judgmental, bigoted, and outright cruel attitude towards the majority of the human population as “immoral” and “deviant”. I recognize she has had a very twisted upbringing that will take a very long time to counteract so that she can start seeing fellow human beings (and herself) as complex people with graces and flaws that don’t all add up to a sum of their merits in the eyes of judgmental onlookers.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I’m so glad it’s not just me who got that vibe from this letter. There’s a deep dissonance between “I am humbly accepting criticism and correction with grace” and “but you’re all still wrong and filthy deviants who don’t know as much about What God Really Wants as I do and need to learn to see things my way.” The letter has both elements in plenty, and sadly for me the bad outweighs the good.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Precisely. It was a nasty followup on some nasty behavior and frankly, nasty, corrosive attitudes.

    2. Caro in the UK*

      The tone of LW’s update reads to me as though she’s learned not to say the offensive thing, but is still wedded (and proud of?) the offensive judgements behind them. Which is a hollow victory at best, but understandable given her upbringing. But yes, I don’t think anything about this update is good at all.

      1. MWKate*

        Exactly. There is a still a problem with “I won’t call you a whore but think you are one.”

        I don’t think most people would capable of treating people they judged this way with the same respect they would those that shared their beliefs.

    3. bunniferous*

      Considering her upbringing, I think this probably really was the best she could do. I would bet she was raised by a legalistic Christian cult…I have online friends who grew up with this sort of thing and it is horrifying and takes a LOT to recover from.

    4. Here we go again*

      I was actually on the OP’s side (sort of) in the original letter. I felt like her comments were provoked and they were more directed towards the boss’ parenting style then his actual daughter. After seeing that the boss realized his comments were inappropriate and the OP’s update, I guess I’ve changed sides. I hate all religions and wish they would all go away. I think 99.9% of the world’s problems are tied to religion, but I try to understand that people find comfort in believing something and try not to judge people for following what they were taught or whatever they found comfort in during a hard time.

      All that being said, the OP seems really in your face about her religious beliefs and is condemning her fellow believers.

      OP- You can believe what you want and feel how you feel, but please try to understand that each person is a product of his or her upbringing and life circumstances. You are free to think dating is immoral you are free to think being LGBT is immoral you are free to think eating meat is immoral, or owning a car or not recycling or whatever… You are also free to judge people for their believes and lifestyles, but try to have some perspective. Try to recognize that if you were born in a different time, different place and different family, you may or may not feel the same way you feel now. And you can still feel that things are wrong and understand why others don’t feel that way.

    5. JenM*

      Completely agree. I don’t see any graciousness here. The whole update has a very “Bless your heart” snideness to it.

    6. NCKat*

      Yes, I got that, too. I would be a lot more understanding of your viewpoint, OP, if it wasn’t for that line about the Bible. It sounded to me like you were still on your high horse.

      1. NCKat*

        Allison, should that line have been included when you published the update? I’m wondering if it’s making us focus too much on her still-conservative viewpoints. She’s entitled to them; she can’t express them with inappropriate terms in the workplace.

        1. Anonymous 40*

          I think removing that too would give an inaccurate impression of the LW. Leaving it in shows that her thought process and attitude toward others hasn’t changed as a result of this experience. I think that’s relevant to discussion of her behavior in the workplace, since it leaves an awful lot of room for her to act this way again on a different topic.

    7. Ann Mousy*

      I think most people look at it and pity the OP. That’s what I did. This is live, in-your-face Stockholm syndrome. She’s been abused her whole life, deeply internalized it, and now spreads it around. This is somebody who was broken so badly she thinks people who treat her like a piece of meat are her friends and anyone who’d tell her she deserves better are her enemies. She loves her leering boss who’s come on to her, but hates people she tries to de-humanize with labels like “liberals”.

      There’s nothing we can do but pity her and be glad less people fall into this fate in our country as the years march on. Getting angry at her may feel good, but it’s like getting angry at a beaten dog that bites your hand – it won’t stop the bleeding and it won’t change the dog. Can’t really step in for an adult like this – she has to want something different for herself and seek it out in order to change. Can try to provide different example to other kids in the same situation she was in.

      1. Marvel*

        I have pity, I really do–I was raised under an ideology I very, very much disagree with as an adult and I know how hard it can be to break out of!

        But… I also agree with Serafina.

    8. seejay*

      Yep, I’m in this boat 150% too. I read the letter and just found myself dismayed and totally turned off. :/

    9. hellcat*

      100%. Dropping the word from your vocabulary is a good start, but it can’t be the end of the journey

    10. Putting Out Fires, Esq*


      I am one of those liberal Christians. I remember when my very good friend and mentee was attending a very famous and influential legalistic church and I got to hear all sorts of that nonsense.

      She grew up. The inevitable storms came. She realized her house was built on sinking sand. She moved to rock. She is a better person and friend now.

  33. Oxysheep*

    This doesn’t sound like a good conclusion to me. It seems the only lesson learned was to not use that particular word, not that the generalization or judgement itself was wrong. In fact, it’s celebrated. OP, as a fellow Christian I can honestly say this letter really turned me off to the religion. I’ll leave theology alone, but in your new job if all you do is silently stew about your coworkers, not to mention any clients you might have, you are all going to have a miserable time.

  34. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

    LW, just a thought: there is really no way that being called a whore as an adolescent girl or young woman, in a tone ranging from blurt to scream, doesn’t leave deep and lasting marks on your psyche. Your teachers and parents were engaged in a long-term campaign of gendered verbal abuse agianst you – and it was, without question, verbal abuse and cruelty – at a time when you were especially vulnerable to gendered insults directed at your sexuality and sexual expression. You may believe it turned you into a better adult, but that kind of thing has traumatized women I know for life – and you may want to consider whether it had that effect on you, or shaped some of your atittudes.

    I’m glad you took the chance to reflect on the appropriateness, grace, and compassion of your use of the word “whore” in casual conversation and about other women. I’d suggest that there’s plenty in your attitudes towards other beliefs and worldviews that could stand the same scrutiny. Your views on what “liberal” Christians “like to pretend” betray a rigidity and venom towards others’ beliefs that could use a little critical interrogation. There is a level of judgment that comes out in your words and tone even now that I personally take exception to, and plenty of others who are LGBT+ or in premarital, polyamorous, or otherwise nontraditional relationships that would absolutely take that kind of wording as a gratuitous insult. While you’re scrubbing whore from the vocabulary, I’d suggest at the very least reevaluating how and when you express those sentiments. I’d argue that you should re-evaluate those sentiments themselves, but that’s probably a bridge too far.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “Your views on what “liberal” Christians “like to pretend” betray a rigidity and venom towards others’ beliefs ”

      Yes. To the venom especially.

  35. Green Tea Pot*

    OP, you certainly did show grace and dignity with your response. I am so happy all ended well.

    I am so sorry you were ever called names. I think you are terrific!

  36. SideshowStarlet*

    Considering OP’s upbringing, I think she is lucky to have had this learning experience before she had children of her own (may be taking a leap here… OP didn’t mention having any kids).

  37. MLHD*

    She’s certainly entitled to her beliefs, I’m just so puzzled how a person with such shockingly conservative views can make it in our society when something so innocuous as DATING would be considered immoral. Like, how do you not walk around in total disgust at everyone around you all the time?

    1. fposte*

      Plenty of people are disgusted with much of humanity all of the time. Nothing special about conservative Christianity there.

    2. Anonymous 40*

      Considering her (now deleted) comment about “liberal Christians” and telling anyone who disagrees to read their Bible, I think she does.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      Very different context, but I work in the Hasidic community (I’m culturally Jewish – identifiable by name and arguably by appearance – but obviously an amateur Jew, as it were) and you’d be surprised how huge and tight-knit these communities can be. When you have a huge pocket of people who were all raised the same way, it’s very easy to never come across different ideas or even different kinds of people.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        As a spouse of an amateur Jew, this made me laugh really hard.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        My old college roommate used to call herself a “Food Jew”: she was as Jewish as she needed to be for free food!

    4. Ann Mousy*

      It might help to get some historical (and non-USA) context.

      Women were treated as property for most of human history. Lots of women bought into the idea they were property, the idea that they were less than men, in order for this to happen. Lots of women still buy into this idea, both inside the US and especially in many other countries. Lots of men buy into it, too.

      Many of the improvements we’ve made in this are extremely recent and very localized. My grandmother was property of her husband, when he beat her it was considered acceptable and normal. My mother was sterilized against her will by my father’s decree (after my birth, in the late 1980s); it never occurred to the doctor that did it to even bother asking her what she wanted, and to her it was a sad personal loss instead of a crime against her. Marital rape was broadly legal in the US in the 1970s, and only completely eliminated in 1993! Child brides are still allowed in most states; some states still don’t have any legal minimum age at all when parental consent is given.

      Women are not viewed as equal to men, right now, in most of the world. Things trend in a good direction, but even in the Western world a women’s equality is not a given.

    5. MashaKasha*

      Oh, but you do. It’s part of the package. You’re not of this world.

      Then on Sundays you come to church and interact with your righteous friends and shake your heads together at the depravity of the world around you, which gives you enough energy to manage it in this world until the next Sunday, and so on.

      I was involved with the fundamentalist, evangelical circles for about two years after my friend and I were converted by a group of them, in our early 20s. I remained a Christian for another 20 years, but had to get out of the fundamentalist evangelical wing pretty fast, for my own sanity. I am fairly conscientious and tend to beat myself up over real or imaginary imperfections, and what I was hearing from my evangelical brethren was not helping. As mainstream as my life was then, I felt like I couldn’t go through my day for five minutes without breaking one or another rule, with new ones popping up all the time that I had not been aware of but had broken them anyway. From living in sin with my husband before we got married to using birth control to only having two kids instead of a bajillion, to using makeup or wearing pants or going to see a classic ballet performance, I kept being told to apologize for something new every which way I turned. Not a time in my life that I remember fondly. What makes me sad is that, while I was old enough and confident enough that I knew to get out of that situation, I can easily see how someone could be born into this environment and grow up in it, and go on into adulthood thinking this way of thinking is normal and everything else is deviant, or overly permissive, or both. I can imagine how growing up surrounded by this can mess up a kid’s mind.

  38. KaraLynn*

    Dating is immoral but teachers calling little girls whores is commonplace. Yay religion!

    1. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

      Yeah, any community with a set of beliefs that directs the word “whore” at young girls on a regular basis and in which it is heard by adult women at least weekly is no community I’d want to be a part of. I think that counts as criminal child abuse, personally.

      1. KaraLynn*

        It is child abuse and it should be thought of that way. This person’s view of the world is and most likely always will be a malformed one. And now I’m seeing comments about the line that Alison later removed and my opinion is even worse. Ugh.

    2. ella*

      As a general heathen, I’m really confused that I seem to be on the conservative side of this question (that is, that we shouldn’t call people whores). I don’t get to tell Christians, “Hey, rein it in with your wild behavior” very often.

      1. KaraLynn*

        Yes, it’s a contradiction for sure, but don’t think for a second that those who believe it won’t find a way to justify it.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I giggled at “general heathen.” I think I specialized.

  39. Stop That Goat*

    Well, good thing he was so gracious about your comment. I know many folks that wouldn’t have been.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Yes. Frankly, if I were in a management position and heard something like this, it would be a Very Serious Conversation and the start of a progressive disciplinary process.

  40. A Teacher*

    I’ve been waiting for this update since it was noted that Alison had it. I’ll share it with my high school kids tomorrow since they asked me if it was in yet. I’m disappointed. You don’t have to say the word “whore” for people to know you’re thinking it. I’m guessing the thought process you were brought up with still impacts your thought process today. That makes me sad. So while you’ll remove the verbiage from your vocabulary, I hope you’ll do some deeper reflecting and think about people beyond their dating/married/gender lifestyle. Everyone has something of value to offer the world and I feel like, OP, you’re missing that based on the comments that you make about “sexual deviancy” “liberal Christians” and “immorality.”

    1. wearing too many hats*

      yes! I want to suggest – in a kind and supportive spirit – that OP consider both therapy and seeking out opportunities to interact with people with different life experiences and perspectives. The path to maturity is long, but it can be made easier and more rewarding by stretching out of our comfort zones frequently.

    2. Serafina*

      “You don’t have to say the word “whore” for people to know you’re thinking it.”

      Very. Important. Point.

      The great Carolyn Hax has said in multiple advice columns, “Contempt is the cigarette smoke of opinions. You can try to wash it off, but it clings to you and everyone can smell it.” People notice when someone looks down on them, even if they make an effort to be “polite” about it and not use slurs or burn crosses or spit in faces. Our language is full of “dog whistles” that are used as “polite” substitutes for slurs (i.e. “sexual deviancy” in place of LGBTQA+, “thug” and “angry” and “ignorant” in place of person of color, etc) but once in context, they don’t fool many people.

      OP’s contempt for anyone who dates, doesn’t abstain from sex until marriage, and only considers relationships with the opposite sex acceptable, as well as “liberal Christians” rings loud and clear in this update. There’s nothing “gracious” about it.

      1. VintageLydia*

        It’s like working with Angela from The Office. Even when she was making nice, you can feel the contempt she felt toward her coworkers. Brilliantly acted.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        That is an excellent analogy! And yes, everyone can tell. Especially when that contempt conveniently aligns with structural systems of oppression, those who lack that privilege are old pros at smoking out dog whistles and microaggressions. As a bisexual Black woman, I know who’s genuinely down with me and who’s just faking, and that has real consequences in the workplace.

  41. wearing too many hats*

    What a thoughtful update by OP! It reads as being a bit too self-righteous and condescending toward the Comment writers though.

  42. afiendishthingy*

    I’m trying to figure out whether OP is from/in the US. In her first post she says she works for a “Fortune 500 US company” but it seems like that could just mean it’s based in the US?

    I find it all really problematic regardless of where the events took place – that boss makes inappropriate comments about OP’s attractiveness, that OP was called a whore by family and teachers while growing up, that she pointed to “sexual deviancy”. But some context would be helpful – are there schools in the US where teachers regularly call their students whores? If there are must be parochial, right? But I got a vibe this wasn’t in North America.

    1. Allypopx*

      Can I ask why you got that vibe? And what culture you are more inclined to think is being represented?

      This jives pretty well with experiences I’ve had in the south and experiences I’ve heard from (and witnessed) surrounding families from the midwest – which isn’t meant to paint those regions with a wide brush at all! But the U.S. is a diverse place and this all seems like a super realistic representation of subsets of U.S. culture that I’ve experienced.

      Even growing up in the northeast I was in a very religious culture and it wasn’t quite this abusive but I understand the general mindset.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m not from the US and this is exactly what a stereotypical American caricature looks like to people from here.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Which drives me nuts.

            When I lived in the UK I spent a lot of time point out to my friends (who loved a good round of America-bashing) that the USA is much more equivalent to the EU than to the UK. It’s a bunch of small countries with different cultures tied together. There isn’t a default American.

    2. The OG Anonsie*

      I could really easily see this being somewhere other than the US where this is a more dominant part of the culture, but I could also easily see it being somewhere within the US where this is a more dominant part of the culture than people elsewhere would realize. It sounds exactly like both stories a friend of mine in Malaysia tells me about growing up there and how a lot of my friends grew up in some more strict religious families/communities in the states.

      Or even outside of them– I’m young and I grew up in a notoriously hippie-centric part of the country raised by big dirty hippies and I heard things get classed as slutty or whoreish aaaaall the time. I believe my mother used the word “skank” when telling me to never shave my legs above the knee as a kid, though. Or maybe “trashy?” I don’t remember, I was 11 or so.

      Folks with a lot of rules about sexuality gonna have a lot of rules about sexuality, I guess.

    3. Just Another Techie*

      All of those things are very common in many parts of the US. I’ve first hand experienced them, in Ohio and in Mississippi and in Georgia. I’ve had teachers in public schools admonish girls not to “act like whores.” I’ve had family members and church members make comments about little girls acting like whores or “gonna grow up to be whore” or the like.

      Also it’s kind of insulting and borderline xenophobic what your comment implies, that such problematic things can only happen in uncivilized places “over there” somewhere and not in the great neo-liberal bastion of the US.

    1. London Calling*

      When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when you have a name like Pimp, to you everyone’s a whore.

      1. This Is Not My Real Name*

        And when you think everyone’s a whore, you think being a pimp is something to brag about.

  43. LavaLamp*

    This whole article has reminded me of a friend of mine who fits in the conservative sphere of Christianity. I don’t doubt that she shares some if not all of the same beliefs as the OP but she, I guess the word I’m looking for, would be she tried to save me without being a judgemental person. Instead of being told that I’m a terrible person bound for hell, I was simply invited to a church service over Easter and was offered a chance to chat with the pastor about my thoughts and faith, and always included in invitations to youth fellowship at her church with no pressure.

    If a 15 year old high schooler can do it right without saying judgmental things then it’s possible. It certainly just takes the ability to remember that we aren’t supposed to be doing the judging, we are supposed to love and leave that up to the dude upstairs.

    I say this as someone who still isn’t sure where the fall in the religion scale, but that I do believe whoever or whatever made us would prefer love over hate.

  44. Hanna*

    If the OP’s main takeway is that she should stop saying the word “whore”… Well, that’s better than no change at all, I guess. No comment on the rest.

    I would be very interested in seeing how the OP would adjust to a different workplace with a different kind of boss. Let’s just say that she’s incredibly…lucky to have found her current workplace.

  45. Aphrodite*

    OP, may I ask if the boys were also called “whore” by family and teachers or was it just girls?

  46. Mary Dempster*

    1. You didn’t “insinuate” it about his daughter, you said it outright. You’re really not taking responsibility for this at all.

    2. I don’t believe he was A-OK with what you said at all, but if he knows you think it’s just fine to be raised being called a whore on a multiple times a day basis, he probably thought it’s not worth opening that can of worms. I wouldn’t have started that fight at work, let alone with a direct report, especially if they subscribed to such dogmatic principles.

    I am sorry for you and how you were raised. I am horrified at your parents and your teachers, and very scared you will continue this cycle.

    1. ZSD*

      I think the OP might actually just not know what “insinuate” means. I read that as simple misuse of the word, not shirking responsibility.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        I believe she said in the first letter that she ‘accidentally’ insulted her boss by calling his daughter a whore, in the workplace. She also said in her original letter that after saying the words she was not like his daughter because her parents “didn’t raise a whore” that she realized later that “[she] basically said [her] boss and his wife raised a whore of a daughter.” No, she didn’t “basically” say it, she SAID it.

        Seems like there’s a lot of important definitions she’s unaware of.

  47. Mary Dempster*

    Also this quote speaks volumes to me about the OP. “There is nothing wrong with a little judgment. If you hadn’t judged me, I wouldn’t have learned.”

    Here’s the difference. We weren’t judging you for what you believe or their personal lives in any way, but HOW YOU TREAT OTHERS. I’m guessing, however, that you use this as validation to judge people on their actions that don’t affect you in any way.

  48. Amber Rose*

    LW, I hope you understand one day that what you endured was abuse, plain and simple, and that even if you felt it kept you in line, abuse is the absolute worst way to accomplish that goal. There is no situation in which abusing a child (or anyone really) is acceptable.

    That you have internalized your abuse as a positive thing is unsettling. I really hope you’ll spend some time in introspection about how you felt as a child, and how people are reacting to your recounting of your childhood environment.

  49. brightstar*

    I was raised as an Evangelical Christian, and some of this sounds familiar though it’s new to me that dating can be seen as immoral. But it seems the OP was raised in a legalistic home and an abusive one. It reminds me of hearing a preacher on TV talking about how you shouldn’t date or kiss because it’s a slippery slope that leads to premarital sex and thus eternal damnation.

    I’m a little disconcerted to see that the big lesson the OP seems to have taken from this is that judging people is fine.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      I am remembering that line from Mean Girls about sex means insta-STI and dying.

        1. Mary Dempster*

          Don’t have sex in the missionary position. Don’t have sex standing up… just don’t do it, promise?

    2. Anonymous 40*

      It reminds me of hearing a preacher on TV talking about how you shouldn’t date or kiss because it’s a slippery slope that leads to premarital sex and thus eternal damnation.

      My teenage years would have been very different if dating or kissing inevitably led to sex.

  50. Stellaaaaa*

    I mean, I’m glad things worked out, but OP still couldn’t resist trying to preach and convert AT us, so I’m skeptical that any advice or open-minded message was truly taken to heart.

    1. Allypopx*

      Oh that’s such a hard behavior to break in this kind of culture. I think this might be a step for the OP. She might be realizing that she needs to reevaluate some of how she interacts with the world. “A journey of a thousand miles…” and all that, but even if she never makes it that far, I think some of the comments on that thread got through, and that’s a start. We wouldn’t be friendly in the real world by any stretch, but I feel for the OP, especially with some of the background she shares here, and I hope she a) gets help and b) starts approaching the world more thoughtfully, even if it starts with small things.

    1. Hunger Games Summer*

      Agreed – it feels like the OP is just opting to remove a particularly inappropriate word from her language but is still judging others in ways she shouldn’t

    2. Allypopx*

      Yeah I’m having a weird mix of feelings that I’m not confident I’m articulating well in my responses to others. I might stop interacting with the comments actually.

  51. Emi.*

    OP: I’m glad it worked out! Good on you for apologizing without qualifying.

    Fellow commenters: Saying “I’m not even going to comment on X” or “I just won’t engage with X, because Alison doesn’t want a debate” is not really any politer than commenting on or engaging with X. It’s just a cute way for you to get your jab in, while making it impossible for the OP or anyone else to defend their views without being the Bad Guy who started the debate. It’s rude, it’s unfair, it’s self-aggrandizing, and it’s still off-topic. Can we please cut this out?

      1. AD*

        To what does this refer?

        And sorry to be a pain, but can we also cut down on comment or tone-policing by commenters?

        1. N.J.*

          There are comments scattered throughout this thread that are like what Emi mentioned, where commenters are saying they are not going to comment on such and such aspect of the OP’s update. By calling out that they won’t they are explicitly saying they aren’t commenting because they not only disagree with what is being said, but judge/condemn it. I charger with what Emi is saying completely. Heck, I have certainly been tempted to makes flippant and disapproving comments myself on blogs in my life. And why shouldn’t Emi and others tone police? We are a commenting community, one with a specific set of rules and conduct guides about kindness, respect and civility. Alison can’t be monitoring us all the time so as long as the tone policing doesn’t devolve into name calling or otherwise due y indulging observations it is our community’s duty to perform some self pinging. Neighborhood watch as it were. While Emi’s comment is less than flattering, it is true and didn’t call our individual commenters, nor did it name call. It correctly characterized the nature of the comments she was observing.

          1. N.J.*

            The number of typos and autocorrect errors in my comment are embarrassing. I apologize if this is unintelligible. “Self pinging” should say self-policing etc.

          2. AD*

            Sorry to push back, but apart from Katie the Fed’s comment (which was pretty innocuous) I’m not seeing other examples of this.

            And the larger problem I have with this is that with more and more frequency, there seems to be someone (near the bottom of the page of comments) on letters with a lot of comments who says “I am really tired of comments being too xyx, etc”. It’s starting to feel a little self-righteous at this point. Alison has established a very helpful set of commenting guidelines, which are more prominently listed on each page. And if a comment (or thread) is problematic, she’ll chime in. And that’s a good thing. She should be the one monitoring and curating this site.

            But it’s becoming demoralizing to have the kind of comments like these, which are admonishing large swaths of people who are usually being respectful and following the comment guidelines. It feels a bit like thought-policing.

            1. Statler von Waldorf*

              Seconding this. I have personally seen internet communities collapse under the weight of tone and thought policing by the masses. The tyranny of the majority takes over really, really fast.

          3. Gandalf the Nude*

            Hmm… originally I was thinking it was not different from the 300+ “Wow” thread at the top of the original’s comment section, but the first condemns a specific action rather than a whole belief system. So, my bad for contributing. It can be hard not to respond to judgment with judgment.

  52. Erin*

    Wow, I can’t believe how harsh some of these comments still are. It really sounds like she read over the comments, really thought about them, and is even implementing some changes, like removing “whore” from her vocabulary. What more can you ask for? She’s still going to stick to her beliefs, understandably, and we should respect her for that.

    I think I was one of the original commenters that said calling other people whores isn’t very Christian-like. I’m really happy to read your update and feel bad about my wording now.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      A lot of us are reacting to a line that Alison rightly removed…before the edit, the update had a vibe of, “I’m a totally better person now and I’ve taken your advice to heart but I still need to convince you that having sex and being LGBTQ are wrong!” It cast the whole update into doubt because it indicated that OP hadn’t actually taken the advice.

      It’s a conversation that doesn’t belong here and would turn into a pointless echo chamber but I thought it might provide some context for you.

    2. LizB*

      What more can you ask for?

      Not being proselytized to and called immoral in an update to a workplace advice column question? I’m glad the OP is making positive changes, but she clearly has no intention of rethinking her judgmental attitude towards folks who don’t follow her moral code.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s basically how I feel about this update. It’s great that she apologized to the boss and she realizes “whore” is not an appropriate word, but that’s really it.

    3. Mary Dempster*

      “You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.” No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: “That is ******* stupid. Are you kidding me?” I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!” – Patton Oswalt

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        Yep, pushing me to respect everyone’s beliefs is just forcing me to respect people who don’t respect me. I’m tired of the liberal martyrdom (I’ve commented along these lines before) that calls you a bad person for not being kind to people who adamantly hate you. I have no problem judging and condemning people who hate me for who I am and how I live.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Big fan of Karl Popper on this score: In the name of tolerance, we must never tolerate intolerance, because giving space to bigotry in the name of being “tolerant” of all beliefs just means that genuine tolerance gets choked out by the weeds.

            1. fposte*

              Sorry, while this is a truthful comment I tried to yank it back because it needed more explanation than I felt like making. What I meant was that notions of tolerance have always struggled with the problem of what will be destructive if not tolerated, with the entity in question shifting over time.

      2. Allison*

        It’s not black and white. If someone just believes in God, or doesn’t personally believe in dating, mocking them for it is pretty disrespectful.

        1. Mary Dempster*

          I didn’t say mock. I just said you don’t have to respect them, just acknowledge them. Or really, Patton said that :)

        2. Alton*

          There’s a huge difference between personally not believing in dating (a valid individual choice that only affects the OP) and judging other people for not following that belief. Or being prejudiced against an entire group of people. I don’t disrespect beliefs that only govern how the believer lives their life, but I don’t respect beliefs that involve thinking I’m a sinner for being queer and not subscribing to their faith.

    4. Amber Rose*

      Nobody is asking LW to stop being religious. She is being asked not to use those religious values against other people. To challenge the mindset and assumptions that the abuse in her childhood has ingrained into her.

      She really thought about our comments, but she seems to have done so from a stance of “I am absolutely not wrong about anything, I just need to change my use of language so other, ignorant people don’t get mad at me.”

      And that’s… sad. Honestly sad.

    5. Anonymous 40*

      I think a lot of people feel that her insight was very shallow. She seems to have learned that using the word “whore” isn’t appropriate…and not much else. Referring to people as deviants and implying liberals can’t be Christians is clearly still fair game. While we have to respect her right to believe what she does, we don’t have to respect her for believing it. I think the difference there is important.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      A lot of the comments were in reference to a section of the update that Alison removed at the request of a number of commenters.

    7. Marillenbaum*

      I don’t have to respect her for sticking to her beliefs when I find nothing respectable about those beliefs. I refuse to congratulate someone on the courage of their convictions when those convictions involve denigrating the worth and dignity of literally anyone who doesn’t think like them.

  53. Lady Phoenix*

    I still don’t like the OP after this update.

    Being called a whore in your childhood by qdults is gonna mess you up, not “make you a better woman” which means “judging anyone with a lifestyle different from mine is a-ok”. OP was verbally abused and now she is carrying on those lessons.

  54. Allison*

    I understand you believe courting is better than dating for young people ready to find that special someone, but you need to realize that that’s a very niche value – dating is the norm for teens as young as 13 nowadays, and you’re likely going to run into many people who date instead of court, and people like your boss who have teenage and adult children who date as well. It will be tough to form positive connections with people if you’re vocal about dating being immoral.

    I’m sure you know there are a lot of people who believe women shouldn’t work outside the home, that unmarried women should stay with their parents and help out until they’re married and should focus on being helpmeets for their husbands even before any children are born. They might say it’s immoral for you to work, that you’re a bad daughter or bad wife for neglecting God’s place for you. How would you feel if someone said that to you, or if you heard someone said that about you? It’s fine to have a moral code, it’s one of the reasons why many people embrace religion, but don’t use it to shame or condemn others.

  55. The OG Anonsie*

    Alright comment section, calm down. I get it, but calm down.

    The boss’s reaction shouldn’t surprise me (and I guess it doesn’t, really) since there is a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram of people who can’t help but make excessively sexual / objectifying statements about their own daughters and/or female coworkers and people who would recoil at the idea of those same women actually proactively doing anything sexual.

    A father who apparently regularly has it in his head that men are going to be after his daughter being more worried about her purity and reputation than the person who would call her a whore is… Unexpected but not shocking.

  56. nonegiven*

    I thought she’s probably had the word drilled into her at home. “…because we’re not raising a whore.” I never dreamed she’d been called a whore.

    My cousins were raised that way, everything was “because I love Jesus.” The older one has died of AIDS. The younger one married a seminary student at 14 after getting pregnant. After her divorce, bouts with drugs and using sex to get what she wanted, I think she did work as a prostitute for a while.

  57. TootsNYC*

    I’m struck by the OP’s comment that she regularly hears the word “whore”
    To this day, I hear the word used at least weekly outside of work.

    Even if you take away a big chunk of the nastiness that clings to that word, it’s STILL an insult, it’s STILL so negative.

    What sort of “sea” is she swimming in, that anyone around her finds a need to use a word like that at all?

    Though, I guess, some people use the word “bitch” so easily, but I can tell you I’d be fading out FAST on people who used insults (dummy, weirdo, bitch, etc.) that easily. I just have no use for that kind of negativity. I need more positivity around me.

    St. Paul wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” And in true Martin Luther “What does this mean for us?” fashion, I extend that to mean, “avoid negative things.”

    1. AMT*

      I’m trying to imagine a community where “whore” is used as frequently as OP said, by adults to other adults, and always in a judgmental way (as opposed to something like “you drank all my soda, you whore!”). How does it feel to witness that kind of commentary so frequently? What does it do to your self-esteem? I grew up in a very sexist, sex-negative family and it took me years to adjust my way of thinking, and that was after moving many states away. Imagine growing up and staying put in a place where this is the norm.

      1. Czhorat*

        It’s a community of misogynistic, religious fundamentalists who see any woman’s sexual behavior as sinful, unless she’s having sex with her husband for the purpose of having a baby. Even in that case, she probably isn’t supposed to enjoy it. That she sees dating as *immoral* shows how pervasive that is, and how internalized it has become.

        It’s the kind of toxic belief system that quite honestly gives religion a bad name.

      2. De Minimis*

        I’ve known a lot of different fundamentalist groups over the years [went to one type of church, attended a religious school that was affiliated with a different group, went to various churches on and off during my 20s-30s before deciding I wasn’t a big churchgoer…]

        I’ve never witnessed a group that talks or behaves the way the OP describes. I almost wonder if it’s something like a Warren Jeffs type group, or maybe the Westboro Baptist Church….

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Anti-sex people spend way more time thinking about and obsessing over sex than people who just do the deed and move on with the rest of our day.

  58. Green Tea Pot*

    OP, you certainly did show grace with your response. I am so happy all ended well.

    I am so sorry you were ever called names. That’s beyond the pale.

    In my book (raised Catholic, not religious, dated a lot, now happily married, have many LGBT friends), there’s nothing wrong with dating, unless of course you put your own self worth and dignity at risk by making unwise decisions…

  59. Czhorat*

    If the OP still thinks that dating is immoral, she has a very strange theory of morality.

    It’s hard to make a cogent moral argument against it; it’s fine to make a cultural case that this isn’t what you do, but to label it as “immoral” is a very strong and not particularly tolerant statement. We need to recognize that there are others who live as well as us, even if they choose to live differently.

    1. Marvel*

      Yeah, the phrasing bothered me too. “I think dating is immoral” is a very different statement than “I think dating is incompatible with my religion” or “I don’t think dating is the right moral choice for me.”

  60. Dust Bunny*

    Trying really hard not to lose my ^%!@ here.

    My parents are atheists. You know what “kept me in line”? Being taught that other people didn’t have the right to use me and that my self-worth was not based on whether or not I attracted the wrong kind of attention. That kept me out of the same kind of trouble your parents probably sought to avoid without teaching me to sling pejoratives to make myself feel better. Sure, I’ve dated, but I’ll dump a guy who tries to take advantage of me.

    1. imakethings*

      Also raised by atheists. Magically turned into a successful, functioning adult in a happy pit of sin with my live-in boyfriend of many years and our chubby crew of cats. It’s hard to imagine that people would consider my life as sinful. I’m so boring!

  61. Marvel*

    I honestly don’t know what to say to this other than, um, well, I hope that works for you and continue to learn and grow as a person.

  62. ByteTheBullet*

    This update makes me sad. How much pain we inflict on our children in the name of religion.

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