When my friend posted the pictures, she captioned them "my sexy friend." Which was why, obviously, her parents felt the need to call her, and threaten to stop paying rent if she didn't take them down, because those pictures, and that caption, made her look like a lesbian. It was unprofessional, it made her unemployable, and she was embarrassing them in front of their friends.
I don't even know where to start. Never mind the fact that they called her off and on all day, even after she'd taken the pictures down, and even though for part of the day she was at work in a small office.
She seems to have made up with her parents. They told her last night that they loved her, and she loves them, and both sides are committed to keeping each other in their lives. It doesn't help that her parents come from a part of the country, and a culture, where her being a lesbian is something that would embarrass them in front of their friends.
I am so, so mad. Not that I'll tell them, in the event that I meet them come graduation. And not that I'll even tell her, at least not anytime soon. It is not my business, and she has enough people pressuring her to behave a certain way. And every family has there own history, and nuance, and their own way of solving problems.
But still. I can't let it go, and I don't think it's just because someone hurt my friend. Or because of the homophobic paranoia. God knows that's a post in and of itself.
I think what has me most is the level of power her parents have over her life. College is a nebulous time, in terms of the power balance between a student and their parent. I had one friend who broke up with her boyfriend because her mother threatened to stop paying her tuition. I had another friend who flatly told her mother no, she would not take down a picture of her drinking alcohol on facebook. And her mother accepted it, with nothing worse than some grumbling. Add to that the question of how much privacy a daughter deserves, especially in relation to her sexuality, and it has the potential to get very complicated, very fast.
I ran into my own problem with autonomy yesterday. My student loans turned out to be four months worth of rent less than I thought it was going to be. Part of that's my fault, and I ended up sobbing while a friend hugged me and told me it would be ok, everyone needs help from their parents when they're in college. I can pay them back gradually once I'm out of school.
The thing was, I really wanted to pay them back now. My parents are mostly great about respecting my privacy. I mean, it was annoying when my entire family knew I'd gone on birth control before my (at the time) boyfriend did. But in the important stuff, my parents do a very good job of respecting my privacy and agency. And yet they still step in when I screw up and need help on four months worth of rent.
I know that, and I'm still upset that I can't pay them back now. I can only imagine how conflicted my friend feels. I guess the best we can do is act as responsibly as possible, be grateful when our parents help us out, and try to look at the situation with grace whenever we butt heads over how much freedom we deserve.
But I don't love her parents, and I don't think they treated her with any kind of grace. Whether they meant to or not, for a moment they made her feel like all she was was flaws. For a moment, they couldn't see how wonderful and gorgeous her whole is, and that meant she couldn't see it either. Among all the give and take between parents and their daughters, maybe the biggest power imbalance is the need for approval.
Which is why, on this one, the closest I can get to grace is just to keep my silence.