Male Ally or Apologist?

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I am a woman, and I have worked with two men for a couple of years. One of them has become a good friend and confidant to me. He and I have had numerous conversations about gender issues. So, when our other co-worker began to sexually harass me, I thought I could turn to him for support. Instead, he told me: “I don’t like to get involved in office drama.” He also told me that he still thinks our co-worker is a “really cool guy” and I should give him a second chance. Do I have the right to feel hurt?


You don’t have to earn the right to feel anything. I get not wanting to overreact, but that’s a far cry from what’s going on here. You confided in a trusted friend about an uncomfortable, perhaps even painful experience. He brushed you off and told you to let it slide. That’s a betrayal.

But let’s put aside your so-called friend for a moment. My greater concern is whether the harassment is continuing. I want you safe.

I don’t want to be prescriptive about how you handle this, though; every person and workplace is different. If there’s a manager you trust or a human resources officer, consider confiding in her or him. If not, contact an organization like RAINN that provides support to survivors of sexual abuse.

As for your friend, keep your distance for now. When this matter is resolved, let him know what a bad friend he was to you. Characterizing your harassment as “office drama” showed a stunning lack of compassion. And for the record, he also proved that he’s a terrible arbiter of cool.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

Here’s My Resolution …

My wife and I are having a disagreement, and we’ve decided to defer to you. We are invited to a New Year’s Eve party. The hostess asked us to bring a New Year’s resolution to share with the other guests at midnight. I find this corny beyond belief! Can my resolution be: “Never go to another party where I’m asked to announce what I’m thankful for or what my resolution is”? I think it would be funny.


I agree with your sentiment privately, Willy, but heed your wife on this one. Your hostess announced the terms of her party up front. As an invitee, your choice is to attend or to sit this one out. But mocking her publicly is not cool. It’s also an unkind way to start the new year. Just make up a resolution. Diet and exercise are always hot.

Grandma? I Don’t Think So

I am a 42-year-old man and a first-time father (as of two months ago). My wife and I are thrilled! I was raised by an amazing single mother. My parents divorced when I was young, and I only saw my dad a couple times a year. This pleasant (but distant) pattern continues. Sadly, my mom died last year. She wanted nothing more than to be a grandmother, but didn’t live to see it. Still, I plan to let our daughter know all about her Grandma Sue. The problem: My dad remarried a wonderful woman. They both seem excited by our daughter’s arrival. But they signed their gift as “Grandma and Grandpa.” How odd would it be to tell them that “Grandma” is a name reserved for my late mother? I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Should I let this go?


If we stopped what we were doing every time someone thought we were odd, many of us would never get out of bed in the morning. Yes, it’s a little strange to reserve an honorific for someone who never lived to use it. But it also shows fierce loyalty and love on your part, Brandon.

Say to your father and stepmother: “We are thrilled to have you in our daughter’s life. But we’re keeping ‘Grandma’ for stories about my mother. Let’s choose another name for you. How do you feel about ‘Nana’?” It’s hard to imagine anyone being hurt by that.

Thanks for the Pleasantries

I am retiring soon, and I would like to give small gifts to the people I see on my way to work: the Jehovah’s Witness missionary, the bus driver, the subway motorman. These are people I’ve greeted every day. (I’m going to give them nicely wrapped cookies.) But I’m stumped about the men and women who work at my independent coffee place. They are surrounded by sweets all day. Giving them cookies seems redundant. Any ideas?


What a thoughtful gesture: saying goodbye (and thanks!) to the folks whose presence enriched your daily commute. Your impulse bodes well for connecting with people in retirement, too.

As for the employees at your coffee place: If they are like the employees at mine, many of them are struggling with piecemeal shift work and low wages. I would slip $5 or $10 in thank-you notes and hand them out individually. But cookies work, too. Your kind heart is on display either way.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.