DEAR ABBY: I must take issue with your response to "Tired of Behinds" (Sept. 5), who was upset that her fiance is part of a men's group chat that includes the sending and receiving of pornographic female images.
While "boys will be boys" has been the reigning excuse for male misbehavior for years -- nay, centuries! -- times are changing. "Tired" has every right to demand that her fiance behave respectfully toward women, both publicly and in private. He may not be able to change his friends' behavior, but he has control over his own and could demonstrate that he's not a boy, but a man who respects women for who they are, not their looks or perceived sexual value. Would he want others to look at his sister, his mother, his daughter or her that way? I doubt it.
Excusing "boys" for their misogyny only perpetuates our sexual assault culture. "Tired" should take a long look at her fiance's behavior and decide whether or not he is the kind of man she wants to share her life with. -- WANTS A BETTER WORLD FOR MY DAUGHTER
DEAR WANTS: Most, but not all, of the many women -- and men -- who commented on that letter agree with you. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your response supported the idea that for men to bond and feel like "real men," they need to advertise to each other their sexual interest in women other than their spouses, and women need to tolerate it. The practice is hurtful and disrespectful. How can a woman feel like her fiance's friends care about her welfare if they're sending naked photos of other women to him? It seems women's feelings don't matter at all in this bonding ritual. Furthermore, the men don't have to touch these other women to have a "sexual experience" with them. -- TIRED OF "BOYS" IN TUCSON
DEAR ABBY: I do not agree with you that what these men are doing is the equivalent of "old-time barbershop talk." What's being shared digitally today isn't at all like the magazines and chat from even 20 years ago. It's far more graphic and less woman-friendly.
You are right that "Tired" will not change her fiance. That's why she should leave now and avoid the future heartbreak that could be waiting. There's always a victim when it comes to porn. Just because the sharing is within a closed group doesn't mean some women weren't victimized. Or that some men won't become addicted. -- SAD ABOUT THIS IN THE WEST
DEAR ABBY: Speaking as a man who has been part of multiple "men's groups," as well as happily married for many years, I find "Tired's" fiance's chat group to be inappropriate, just as she does -- particularly the group icon picture. I respect women as people, not physical/sexual objects. He should speak up out of respect for women. Doing so could influence one or more of his friends to rethink their position. -- WILLIAM IN OREGON
DEAR ABBY: These are private conversations between adult men. Sexuality makes the world go 'round. Yes, women deserve respect and not to be sexually harassed. But we shouldn't have to totally remove sexuality from the equation. Women chat about men and look at images just like we do. It's just less talked about. -- MR. B. IN HOUSTON
DEAR ABBY: If these are solicited photos, as the writer suggests, privately sent and then shared in a group, it is illegal in most states. You cannot share nude photos of someone without her/his expressed consent. Perhaps "Tired" should inform her fiance of that! -- EMILY IN MICHIGANRead more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Sex & Gender | Friends & Neighbors
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.