We protect the ones we love.
Unfortunately, sometimes we go a bit too far with that defense.
So what happens when you feel that someone is crossing a line with someone you love and you jump to their defense but you jump a bit too hard?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) throwDad224 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my wife’s friend she is too old and ugly after she repeatedly asked my 19-year-old son to take off his shirt? He was getting uncomfortable.”
OP got right to the setting in question.
“My family had a small get-together at my house.”
“One of my wife’s friends was over (she is unmarried I think she is 45-47)?”
“We aren’t too close to her since she lives pretty far away.”
He then got to the situation itself.
“She was over our house and she started complimenting my son (my son is 19). It starts off innocent but as time goes on it gets more and more crossing the line.”
“When we were out on my deck she starts telling my son to take his shirt off, ‘whats the point of going to the gym if no one will see it.'”
“My son is visibly uncomfortable and tries to shut her down.”
“She repeatedly is asking and is getting more aggressive with it. I interject and I am like ‘Hey Kathy, I think you are a bit too old and ugly for my son.”‘
“This got her upset really quickly, and she excuses herself to the bathroom and starts crying. My wife goes to comfort her, and then later she leaves.”
“At the end of it my wife is super angry with me for saying that, that I should have said hey Cathy looks like you had too much to drink or something else.”
OP tried to explain his logic.
“I told my wife, that Kathy (btw this is not her real name) works a corporate job she has had training on this and that she knows better.”
“And our son was uncomfortable.”
“He is 18+ but he doesn’t know how to deal with an adult-adult let alone someone saying that in our house.”
“I told my wife flat out that if I was to invite a guy friend and he was to ask to see our daughter in a bikini my wife would have called the police.”
“She says its different.”
“I tell her that I was way kinder to Kathy than I would have been had a guy said something like that to our daughter.”
“And I told my wife that Kathy needs to apologize to my son before she can ever come into our house again.”
“Overall, I think I was fair.”
“If Kathy just said it once and I said that I think I would be the a**hole, but the fact she kept repeating it that’s why I said it.”
“And I wanted her to get the message that yes I am upset that’s why I included the ugly part.”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some pointed out how inappropriate Cathy’s behavior was.
“I’m going to go with NTA.”
“It would probably have been better to say sternly ‘Kathy, that’s enough. Stop it or leave my house’ and leaving her appearance out of it.”
“However, your comments were in the context of her sexually harassing your barely legal child who is less than half her age.”
“And I’m having a hard time sustaining any outrage because you were a little snarky slapping down her exploitive and inappropriate behavior.”
“Your wife is wrong.”
“It is not better because she is a woman and your son is a man.”
“Sexual harrassment and preying on the fact that younger people often don’t have experience shutting down inappropriate advances, particularly from someone connected to their parents or in some authority or authority-adjacent position, is always wrong.”
“The gender of the perpetrator and victim are irrelevent, and if she has a tendency to behave in a sexually inappropriate and aggressive manner when drinking then she should never drink.” ~ neobeguine
“What always bothers me about these situations is just because the son is technically legal doesnt make them automatically a fully functioning adult.”
“I had trouble with this when I went away to college and would get harrassed on public transit yes I’m an adult but I still look and feel too young to understand how to deal with this.”
“Plus she’s a family friend and the son is barely legal.”
“How long was she a friend?”
“Odds are long enough to have seen the son when he was a minor and it’s hard for me to belive on the day of his 18th birthday she just magically saw him in a sexual light when the day before she didn’t think of him that way.” ~ greenrosepdtl
“No adult, not matter their age, deserves to be harassed and made to feel uncomfortable and pressured into showing their body.” ~ mourningthesky
Not everyone saw OP as totally innocent.
“The biggest reason I don’t really like OP doing it the way they did, is because they are specifically aware that their son doesn’t know how to handle this.”
“So as a parent they should do their best to model ideal behavior that would be suitable in a more delicate situation.”
“I don’t care about sparing the offender’s feelings. I care about providing the best example for the son that he can use in other situations where he’s vulnerable.” ~ curien
“I’m gonna go against the grain here with ESH and I’ll tell you why.”
“Calling out Kathy’s behaviour was absolutely the right thing to do… it set an example for your children, showed your son that you had his back and all kinds of good stuff like that.”
“But the problem wasn’t Kathy’s level of attractiveness.”
“The problem was that she was sexually harassing your son (in his own home, no less!), irrespective of her appearance.”
“You called Kathy out and protected your son, but, if anything, you’ve perpetuated the double standard being discussed in the comments.”
“The problem isn’t that an unattractive woman was hitting on your son, it’s that it was flat-out sexual harassment.”
“By making it an issue about her appearance, you’ve completely sidestepped teaching your son a valuable lesson:”
“His discomfort alone is enough reason to assert himself or seek help from you in shutting this stuff down in your own home.”
“He was wronged, you’ve just completely missed giving him the words to understand and explain exactly how. Instead of calling Kathy old and ugly, you could have called her behaviour out as unwelcome and predatory.”
“Your son needs to know that even if a young, attractive woman repeatedly made unwelcome advances towards him, it would still be just as wrong.”
“Otherwise you’re accidentally perpetuating the idea that, if it was a young and attractive woman, it would be welcome no matter what because (implicitly) men always want sex from anyone attractive enough.”
“That is antiquated and damaging bullshit.”
“It also gives Kathy no reason to assess her behaviour, but I won’t really count that since teaching her not to be a predator shouldn’t be your job.” ~ CriticalFields
“I really want to say ESH.”
“I dont think that saying ‘hey Kathy, youre old and ugly lol’ is the best way to to about this.”
“What would you have said if she was 30 years old & beautiful ?”
“A better way of handling it would be to say something like:”
‘“Kathy, your behavior is crossing a line and needs to stop immediately. If you dont stop then you will need to leave”’.
“A firm statement like that will get the point across just as well, without hurting anyone, and shows your son how to handle conflict like an adult” ~ Georgejefferson19
Commenters didn’t approve of the inherent sexism.
“Double standard no more. I wouldn’t let her around my boy anymore.”
“I would be livid if a husbands friend was telling my daughter the same type of things.” ~ TheRealBillSteele
“How is it any different if a man asked to see their daughter in a bikini?”
“The double standard had my jaws dropping.”
“I don’t care if it’s my daughter or son, they’ll get the same defense from me as a parent. If they’re uncomfortable with the advances, you step in and shut it down.”
“At the end of the day, sexual harassment is not exclusive to a gender. It can happen to both genders.”
“Was it kinda harsh the way it came across?”
“Sure, but NTA.” ~ jxher123
“Came here to say screw that double standard nonsense. Good job Dad. Kathy absolutely knows better and owes you all an apology.” ~ Tracy1275
Protecting the people we love is a natural instinct for many of us.
Be kind where possible.