While waiting in a long line to get my Covid-19 vaccination, I noticed two noisy white men in front of me. At first I excited their noise. But as I waited, I noticed that they were harassing the older black women in front of them. They crowded her and told her to move up, even though she kept a proper social distance, “lift her legs” and “stop shuffling” she I called terribly. Older women ignored them. And I was afraid to intervene for fear of men directing their anger at me. What should i have done?
How disastrous the harassment was for this woman to have the otherwise enjoyable experience of being vaccinated more than a year after her covid-related horror, suffering, and death. I wish someone had protected her. But I also respect your fears of your safety. Bullying can be frightening not only for victims, but also for bystanders who are wary of escalations.
Still, there are tactics to intervene and resolve the following situations: You may have temporarily left the line to seek help from someone who worked at the site or who is physically imposing. Distractions are also effective. For example, asking a man whether the first shot or the second shot was lined up could have interrupted the abuse and took another path.
Not surprisingly, our first urge in such cases is often to stop the acolyte (and often to punish the acolyte). But caring for the victims is just as important. For example, I might have joined a woman in line to support her. (It may have felt dangerous to you.) And I’m sure I’ll find her in the recovery area to ask if she’s asking for help or if someone goes out with her I would have done it.
Gender is a construct, but he is a boy
My son is 9 years old. He was born as a boy and is identified as one. He participates in soccer and boy scouts and prefers clothes on the boys’ side of the store. He also likes his long wavy hair that falls under his shoulders. This is not the kind of fight we chose with him. Other boys in school have similar hairstyles. Problem: It’s quite common for strangers to call my son “your daughter.” What is the best way to handle this? She looked at me like I was crazy when I last gently modified someone. How can you support your son’s choice while preventing others from misleading you?
A striking omission from your question is how your son feels about strangers calling him a girl. If it doesn’t upset him, keep fixing people gently and stop worrying about their apparent mystery. Who cares about the thoughts of strangers? I’m more worried about your feelings. For example, a “fight” that says you haven’t chosen with your son means that you may be participating in a team haircut.
This is important. The traditional method of classifying hairstyles, clothing and activities into “male” and “female” types is artificial (even if age is closely monitored). But times are changing and many are beginning to loosen about gender markers. Why should boys not have long hair and girls should not play soccer?
Now, the caveat here is if your son is upset by a gender error. If so, explain to him that the boy had shortened his hair in the past. So a person with long hair may look like a girl. Ask if the occasional mislabeling is worrisome enough to cut his hair. (If he likes it, I hope he feels safe enough to keep it, but I don’t get a vote.)
Kindly confirm attendance (if vaccinated!)
My daughter is married on the west coast. I would like to have a party for her on the East Coast in July. I’m trying to send an invitation. Is there a polite way to say that only vaccinated people can come?
Why do random dates and your impatience (I fully understand) endanger the health of your guests? Wait for the party plan! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that you continue to avoid large gatherings.
Me and (probably) you are not entitled to guess these guidelines again or predict when they will change. Once the CDC has announced recommendations for the type of party you want to give (including inevitably vaccination questions), set a date and then send your invitation. With the facts as a weapon, you can also respond to the wording of invitations.
You know it’s not a dog, right?
The neighbor, who always seemed to be out, started walking the cat on a leash in the neighborhood. This looks super freaky! Can I ask her what she can do?
Of course, I’m not going to lead in “super freaky”. I should say it. “How novel it is to see your handsome cat tied up in a string. Was it difficult to train her?” Most of us have been in various quarantines for over a year. These walks that don’t hurt anyone, including cats, may be the highlight of your neighbor’s day. Who will judge her?
For troublesome situations, SocialQ @ nytimes.com, Facebook Philip Galanes, or @SocialQPhilip On Twitter.
Should I speak up?
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