Dear Amy: I work for a small entertainment startup, consisting of five cisgender white men. I got in on the ground floor during the pandemic.
As the only female and youngest/newest member, I’ve felt undervalued and excluded, despite being the only one with a four-year degree.
So far, I’d brushed these concerns aside because of my youth and lack of experience.
However, two weeks ago, politics came up and I realized that several of my co-workers (who are also co-owners) have beliefs that fly in the face of social justice, such as denying the existence of white privilege and calling women “sugar” or “honey” in the workplace.
It is now clear to me that the secretarial and maid work they’ve had me doing (instead of the engineering I learned in school) may be as much the result of sexism as my lack of seniority.
Because the industry is male-dominated, I had expected a certain amount of sexism.
Now I’m wondering whether I can ethically work alongside people who I -know fundamentally disrespect me and disagree with my progressive opinions. But if I quit, they will quite likely replace me with another white male.
Is it my obligation (as a white person and aspiring ally) to try to teach these privileged men something about the experience others are having in this country, and hopefully change the direction of the company?
— Fit or Quit
Dear Fit or Quit: Identity is obviously extremely important to you. You carefully categorize these co-workers according to their race, gender, and sexual identity.
But people are more complicated than their assigned stereotype. The more mature path would be to watch, learn, and be open to lessons coming from unexpected places. Yes, even from that jerk who calls women “honey.”
Push back regarding any workplace behavior that affects your ability to do your job.
But to insist that these men must acknowledge their “white privilege” in order to meet your approval? All you would prove is that you are as arrogant as they are.
A true “ally” supports and amplifies the perspective and work of others, allowing them to use their own voice, and not speaking for them.
It is not the job of an ally to assume the position of lead patron and educator. Nor should you stay in an inferior position in order to prevent another cisgender white man from replacing you.
People without status or power have long been forced to tolerate nonsense from their co-workers in order to stay employed, or to advance in their fields.
Your own privilege means that you don’t have to do that.
Do you really want to dismantle the patriarchy? Strike out on your own. Look to the careers of Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes for inspiration.
Dear Amy: I have a problem. My spouse and I have been together over 10 years. She was married before, but I was never married.
She makes a terrific salary, is a wonderful cook, loves my dogs, and she’s my best friend.
However, she’s messy in the kitchen, leaves her socks all over the place, and God help our air quality if she’s eaten even one raisin. But I adore her. I want to be with her every moment of my life.
Is there something wrong with me?
— Love Struck
Dear Love Struck: Happy belated Valentine’s Day to you two!
I believe that one key to a happy relationship is for both parties to choose to celebrate the joy of the good stuff, and to submit to a combination of surrender and acceptance for the rest. (Loving dogs helps, too.)
Thank you for the wonderful reminder that when you really love someone, you love all of them, even those things you don’t really like.
Dear Amy: You nailed it with your response to “Upbeat.”
When really depressed (not just having a “bad”‘ or “off” day), one cannot usually be cajoled or coaxed out of it with blanketing a person with “positive, happy or upbeat” info, slogans or phrases.
I went through a depression last year and while my relative meant well, telling me that the most important thing was to “make your bed each morning,” I had to tell her that the problem was getting out of the bed while feeling enormously crushed and weary.
I ended up calling elderly relatives, not to vent about myself, but to listen to them. Listening without leaping in to offer solutions helped me to feel better.
— Been There
Dear Been There: I’m glad you navigated your way out.
You can email Amy Dickinson at askamyamydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or Facebook.
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