Help: My Boyfriend's Best Friend Sent Him Dick Pix.


Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel’s column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life whom you’re not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email [email protected].

I’m a straight girl,
and I have a boyfriend who has an ostensibly straight male friend. This guy has
always joked that he and my boyfriend should date, but he claims to only find
women attractive. This man has gotten very aggressive since my boyfriend and I
got serious. He gets extremely angry with my boyfriend if he can’t hang out
with him on any given night, he has yelled homophobic slurs at some of our
other friends, and as of recently has sent my boyfriend two pictures of his
penis. What should I do?

Holy red flags, Batman! This fellow is acting like a real
jerk. It’d be easy for me to say this guy is an aggro closet case, but it’s
honestly beside the point. And anyway, sexuality is more complex than that.
Ultimately, I don’t care if he identifies as straight, gay, bisexual, asexual,
or anything else – this behavior is unacceptable. It’s time for a conversation
with your boyfriend. You can’t dictate what your boyfriend does with the
friendship, but it’s fine to calmly point out the ways in which you’ve seen the
friend’s behavior negatively impact your boyfriend and perhaps even your
relationship. And be sure to ask your boyfriend how he feels about this friend.
Does he even see anything wrong? As for the bit about the homophobic slurs –
that’s just beyond the pale. To the extent that it is possible, cut this
“friend” out of your own life. He’s obviously in pain, but he’s using
it as a weapon against others. If everyone continues to tolerate his behavior,
he has no reason to change. It
would be great if your boyfriend could sit him down and have a man-to-man talk
about this behavior, but that may be out of the question.

I’m currently living
in China, and a close friend of mine from college is coming to visit in the
Spring. She’s dead set on visiting Beijing and the Great Wall –insisting that I
HAVE TO GO with her since she’ll probably only be in China once. I don’t want
to go. How big an asshole am I if I help arrange her plans but skip out on that
weekend? She’ll be staying with me for most of the trip, during which time I’m
crazy excited to show her around, get her drunk, and skip a day or two of work
to take her shopping.

Listen, your life does not stop just because a visitor drops
in. When I lived in New York City, plenty of my buddies came through town and
crashed on my couch or aero bed. I worked full time and did comedy at night and
on the weekends. If a guest expected me to act as a tour guide, I always said,
“Sorry, I really can’t. Now here’s your house key, and here’s a map, and
hey, I even made you a list of tips to help you navigate around the city! And I
bought you a $10 Metrocard as a welcome gift.” You might want to include a
language dictionary in a little welcome packet for her. You can even book her a
nice tour (she ought to pay, of course). Your obligation here is to provide a
stable, safe and comfortable home base from which this gal can journey to the
far reaches of wherever she pleases.
You’re gonna be a great hostess. You don’t need to schlep to frigging
Beijing to prove your worth as a friend. And lest you feel guilty about leaving
her alone, there are some wonderful advantages to traveling by oneself. I love
the opportunity to go at my own pace, make new friends on the road, and really
absorb the sights and sounds of a new place. Just make sure you’re clear with
her about this before she arrives so
that she isn’t wildly disappointed or anxious.

I’m disabled, poor,
and struggling to make a better life for myself. I don’t have a lot of
friends because I don’t know many people in my area. Enter my former neighbor
and good friend, an older, retired professional, light-skinned black man.
He tried to “fix my flaws,” at first in subtle ways, then in more
obvious ways. He told me how physically unattractive I was, how my voice
was annoying, and how I didn’t fit the American standard. I tolerated
this for quite awhile. The worst of it was when he publicly humiliated me on
the bus, stating that while he pointed to all the younger looking, thinner,
prettier, lighter skinned black women out (who all happened to have straight
hair) and said, “Let’s face facts: You are not pretty enough to be in the
front office. You need to lose weight and lose that voice. You also need a job
where it’s not face to face, so you need to find one where no one can see
you.” I want to start my own business, but he told me black people can’t
run a successful business without a white partner. I felt so depressed since
then, I can’t even look in the mirror. I feel like giving up and I know
that he’ll win if I do, but I don’t have anyone to help me get past this. Do
you have any ideas?

This jackass is not and never has been your friend. This
fellow is an asshole and an abuser who manipulated you into feeling bad about
yourself. Typically, he did it under the guise of being helpful. You say he
started out being subtle – I think he was feeling you out, seeing how far he
could go. Sometimes abusers start small and then go big (like that incident on
the bus). You say you tolerated it for “quite awhile” and this makes
me wonder if there have been other people in your life who’ve treated you
poorly, making you feel as if this were normal and acceptable. Consider whether
other folks have said such negative things to you. Remember, abuse isn’t just
physical, and it doesn’t just come from an intimate partner or relative.

I urge you to seek counseling to help you with depression
and self-esteem. Because of your income, you may qualify for no-cost or
low-cost counseling through your local public health center. If not, many
therapists offer assistance on a sliding-scale basis. Get to Googling, look in
the Yellow Pages, or call a local church or community center for a reference. And
if you ever feel suicidal or just plain hopeless, call The National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline
at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Now, I feel equipped to talk about suicide prevention and
depression. I speak at colleges about this topic with relative frequency. But I
don’t have personal experience with the type of poisonous racism you describe
in such vivid detail. Sometimes I
call on friends (or friends of friends) for help with a particularly thorny Friendzone
problem, and your multilayered issue fits the bill. To that end, I contacted Dacia Mitchell, Managing Editor
of This Week in Blackness and
co-host of TWiB!Radio, to get her insight.

“The first thing I would want to tell this young woman
is that she’s not alone and that racial trauma is VERY REAL,” Dacia wrote
in an email. “As black women, we already survive the constant din of
racial denigration from multiple media sources, friends, family, you know,
AMERICA! and to have that denigration confirmed by a trusted ‘friend’ is a
horrific trauma that we all bear…Her friend denigrated her under the guise of
‘racial solidarity.’ That is, he advised her how to look and ‘how it is’ for
her own good. And on the flip side, this young lady may not have immediate
access to a community where she can express outrage. This woman does not need
to hear, ‘You’re beautiful just the way you are, tell that so-and-so ‘I’m
fucking fierce!’ and strut away.’ That’s another form of ‘solidarity as
oppression.’ That tells this young women that you have to behave with a certain
aggressiveness in order to survive and be considered worth saving, further
exacerbating her psychological distress. ”

Dacia added, “I want to shout to the rooftops that this woman is not
alone. That she is heard. That she doesn’t need to fit a manufactured standard
to be a worthwhile person. That she is loved because of, not despite, who she

And my friend Twanna
A. Hines, M.S.
of Funky Brown
had a minute in her busy writing schedule to weigh in here.

“If you’re a strong black woman, or a strong black man,
there’s this idea that somehow you’re just supposed to figure everything out on
your own or turn to your family and friends for advice and support,” Twanna
wrote. “It’s not true. First, not everyone has functional family members
or friends in their lives who are equipped to offer sound, supportive
assistance. Second, seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness or
dysfunction. In fact, it’s the other way around. Not seeking assistance when you
need it is a form of self harm.”

I have limited space here, or I’d include a thousand more
voices. I’d also address sexism, ableism, and all the other “isms”
going on here. Thankfully, Dacia had some great suggestions for resources you
might like, including Gradient Lair, Are Women Human?, The Crunk Feminist Collective,
and Black Feminist
. I’ll add Our Bodies

Thank you for sharing your story. It’s going to help others.

And now I’m going to throw this to the commenters and ask
them to provide their own perspectives.

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