Dear Prudence, June 30, 2011:
Dear Prudence, I am a married man with two wonderful teenage daughters living in a tranquil suburban neighborhood. A few months ago a nice couple, “Mike” and “Mary,” moved in next door along with their eight children. The family is devoutly Christian. The children are home-schooled, well-behaved, and reserved; and the girls dress modestly. Our families have dined together and get along well. As part of their chores, my daughters do most of the yard work. It’s hot here much of the year, and they typically wear short shorts and tank tops or bikini tops. The other day Mike said he wanted us to have a “serious” discussion and told me he caught his boys watching my girls from a bedroom window. He asked if I could please have my girls not wear such revealing clothing if they’re going to be outside, as he is trying to protect his kids from “certain elements of the world” and doesn’t want them influenced by “overly sexualized displays.” When I told my wife and daughters, they were offended. Is it unreasonable to ask my daughters to cover up a bit? I’ve had problems with difficult neighbors in the past and feel sometimes it is necessary to make small sacrifices in order to keep the peace. My wife thinks I should kindly tell Mike to shove it. What should I do? —Neighborly Dad
Dear Neighborly Dad,
What a conundrum! On the one hand, your daughters are trying to live in the world without dying of heatstroke, and on the other hand, your neighbor’s sons have access to a window that absolutely, positively, must be looked through if there are female-identified persons on the other side of it. What’s a neighborly dad to do?
I think you’re right that people should make “small sacrifices” for others, specifically young women whose bodies are being sexualized without their consent by other people with eyes. Too often, women act like they have license to be comfortable in public and private spaces without interference from men helpless to control their poor boners.
The only way to protect your neighbor’s sons from the vile sexuality living just next door is to advise your daughters to show a little more modesty when they’re doing chores, and certainly not for your neighbor to shut his fucking blinds.
Keep the peace, man. Nice religious zealots should be accommodated at all costs or else they might discover their beliefs are bullshit, the worst thing that could ever happen.