DEAR ABBY: I'm a 27-year-old, white, female college graduate. I have a sensitive problem with my father.
My father is a racist. He's filled with hatred for blacks, Jews, Asians, even Native Americans (despite the fact that his own grandfather was a Native American). Somehow, I managed to grow up to be a very different person. To me, human diversity is a wonderful thing and a cause for celebration.
My father's use of offensive terms to refer to ethnic minorities has made being seen in public with him a humiliating experience. I have asked him repeatedly to refrain from using ethnic slurs in my presence, but he refuses to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with such terms. I get nervous when we go shopping or out to eat together, because he uses these words in public. It's so embarrassing that I'm afraid to have friends into our home because of something he might say in front of them.
I know my father will probably never overcome his hateful attitudes. I love him and want him to be part of my life, but I can no longer tolerate his racism. It is not only offensive to me, I'm afraid others will assume that I share his views, since most people's values are shaped by the values of their parents. To me, there could be no accusation more painful and degrading than being assumed to be a racist.
What can I do, other than dropping out of my father's life? -- NOT GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION IN MICHIGAN
DEAR NOT GUILTY: Since your father has been told repeatedly that you find his racial slurs offensive, and he persists in embarrassing you by using them in public, you are certainly within your rights to limit the amount of time you spend with him in situations that make you vulnerable to embarrassment. You can also minimize your potential discomfort by not exposing him to your friends, or by warning them in advance to be prepared to meet a bigot. Only as a last resort should you cut him off completely.
DEAR ABBY: I hope you don't mind my response to the reader who signed herself "Happy to Be Ron's Girl." She's the young woman who enjoys meeting her boyfriend's needs through homemaking.
Abby, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, per se. What I object to is that she thinks she's wearing the crown of true womanhood because she likes scrubbing toilets, doing laundry and ironing shirts.
I work at a local high school, teaching gender equality to the girls there. I tell them they need to get in touch with their skills and find jobs that fulfill them. Too often, girls do what society tells them they SHOULD do. In the "happy days" of the '50s, there were many unhappy and unfulfilled women staying home with the vacuum cleaner because they felt they had no other choice.
A woman's place is where she WANTS to be -- at home or on the job. That is what "contemporary feminism" is all about. -- JUNE KALLESTAD, GENDER EQUITY COORDINATOR, CLOQUET SENIOR HIGH, CLOQUET, MINN.
DEAR JUNE: That's sensible, and I'm in complete agreement. And by the way, you are right where YOU belong -- advising young women about how to build the brightest future they can for themselves. Bravo!
For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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