Ask Aunt Pythia
I’m gratified to find a few new questions in Aunt Pythia’s in box this morning – I really thought I’d have to retire her persona, since I plumb ran out of questions last week, and that was making me sad. Thanks for the questions, friends! And please don’t forget to:
Submit your question for Aunt Pythia at the bottom of this page!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I was recently on a flight where the person sitting next to me found it appropriate to hit on me. Now, he was a reasonably intelligent and nice person (up until the time that he mentioned that most of his recent dates were “short fat pigs” and asked me if I was single, despite previously indicating in his conversation that he thought I was 20 yers younger than he is).
However, now he has hunted down my email address and started contacting me. Is there anything wrong with getting my friends to anonymously pay him back for his objectification and slight harrassment of me (putting him on spam email lists, sending him fake magazine subscriptions, etc.), and if not, can you recommend things for us to try?
Sexy, If Not Going for Lame Extra-masculine-creeps
I have to ask a couple of things here for the sake of clarity.
First, I need to assume you expressed a lack of interest in this guy when he started hitting on you – either by saying “I’m not interested, thanks” or something along those lines, or by lying outright when he asked you whether you’re single (“I’m married with 14 kids, if it’s you who’s asking the question”). I would include the possibility of an evasion of all things romantic/sexual, but if he didn’t ask enough of a direct question to have you respond like that, then I’m not sure I’d call it hitting on you. And if he did hit on you and you didn’t say no thanks, then maybe he felt like your signals weren’t negative, so why not give it a shot.
As for hunting down your email address, if you mentioned you work at a certain math department, say, and he found your email address on that website, and then wrote to you, that’s a different level of hunt then if you have a private email address which he found god knows how. I’m not saying there’s no creep factor at all in emailing you, but if he felt a connection that he didn’t want to assume was only him, than this whole thing might be kind of sweet and explainable and not really creepy (from his perspective).
I guess my point is that you do have to say no at some point for someone’s wishful thinking to get on track. I realize this isn’t exactly fair, since you never asked for the attention in the first place, but a lot of people, especially men, are trained to assume they’re right unless they’ve been explicitly told they’re wrong.
On the other hand, if you did say “no thanks” in one way or another, and/or if he really hunted for your email address, then I’d agree that it’s too much. I hope the very first time he wrote to you you responded by saying, “I’m not interested. Please do not write to me again.”
Now, assuming that the above happened, and he still wrote a second and third time, pressing his case, I’d say you and your friends definitely sign him up for all sorts of stuff. Especially Viagra stuff. Plus, one of your other friends should write to him telling him to back the fuck off. And then block his emails using a filter.
Hope that helps,
Dear Aunt Pythia,
Thanks for the kind words!
I don’t invest my money in an active way. And it annoys me to think about how much the managers of retirement accounts get paid to do nothing with people’s money, but on the other hand I sympathize with people who don’t change that set-up, because it would require some real research, and in the end the retirement industry isn’t set up to let people invest in things they actually care about – instead we’re supposed to think that the only thing we care about is when we retire, which is supposed to translate magically into a risk appetite.
One more thing: I’m not regretting any of this. I never, ever want to become one of those people who check their stocks all the time.
BORING!! You people are BORING!!!
Almost as boring as people who talk about exercise and/or dieting all the time!!!!
Instead I am grateful that I have a job that helps me pay my bills and allows me to not think about money very much.
This might mean I don’t have enough money at retirement, but first of all I’m not planning to retire, and second of all there are a hell of a lot of people in this country way worse off than I am, and we’re all going to have to figure this out somehow (expand Social Security!).
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I am in my late twenties and have begun thinking about saving for retirement.
I am a public school teacher and I make around 35k/year. I currently have a small amount of money in a generic target-year retirement Roth IRA. I would like to do so in a way that helps my money grow but also is not supporting unethical banks or other companies that contribute to social/environmental degradation. Is this possible?
Now that I am looking into “socially responsible investing,” it seems like a rabbit hole. For example, I found a Vanguard fund that was billed as “socially responsible” that avoided oil company and tobacco company holdings, but that meant that most of its top holdings were in financial institutions that have been in the headlines for their mismanagement of money and power.
Other funds I have found (Domini), require a larger up-front contribution that I can make at this time. I have also heard that investing (as I would do it) is value-neutral because you’re not actually buying the company or benefitting directly from their profits, but I am suspicious of this reasoning. Anyhow, as someone with background in finance and an eye towards making money decisions that take a broad view of “cost benefit analysis”, do you have any insight into so-called “ethical investing”?
You already know way more than I do about this stuff (see previous answer). I’d love to hear from readers who have even more knowledge of “ethical investing”, specifically if it’s a scam to take advantage of people who want to consider themselves environmentally conscious (probability: 99.3%).
As you can see I don’t have a lot of faith in this industry. I don’t even think it should be an industry – I think we should provide for retired people directly through Social Security and stop feeding all these funds to the market.
Speaking of this question, has anyone seen the new Frontline called “The Retirement Gamble”? Producer Marcela Gaviria told me my previous Frontline interview inspired her to make it (I’m so fucking proud!), and the questions today inspired me to watch it just now. It contains a really great explanation of why I don’t trust the assholes in this industry, nor do I have much hope for it to change any time soon. Everyone should watch it! Caveat: a bit too much of an advertisement for Vanguard, but otherwise excellent.
I wish I could be more encouraging.
Dear Aunt Pythia,
Have you seen this crazy letter from a sorority member to the rest of her sorority? Is this your typical sorority? If so I really missed something in college but that was so long ago that reptiles walked the earth.
Oh my god I was hoping someone would ask me about that. For those of you who haven’t read the letter, here’s the critical part:
I do not give a flying fuck, and Sigma Nu does not give a flying fuck, about how much you fucking love to talk to your sisters. You have 361 days out of the fucking year to talk to sisters, and this week is NOT, I fucking repeat NOT ONE OF THEM. This week is about fostering relationships in the Greek community, and that’s not fucking possible if you’re going to stand around and talk to each other and not our matchup. Newsflash you stupid cocks: FRATS DON’T LIKE BORING SORORITIES. Oh wait, DOUBLE FUCKING NEWSFLASH: SIGMA NU IS NOT GOING TO WANT TO HANG OUT WITH US IF WE FUCKING SUCK, which by the way in case you’re an idiot and need it spelled out for you, WE FUCKING SUCK SO FAR.
My take on this: for whatever reason, and it’s a total mystery to me, these sorority members feel like they have to win the approval of a bunch of men in a fraternity. And it’s not a mystery what kind of approval:
“Ohhh, I’m now crying because your email has made me oh so so sad”. Well good. If this email applies to you in any way, meaning if you are a little asswipe that stands in the corners at night or if you’re a weird shit that does weird shit during the day, this following message is for you:
DO NOT GO TO TONIGHT’S EVENT.
I’m not fucking kidding. Don’t go. Seriously, if you have done ANYTHING I’ve mentioned in this email and have some rare disease where you’re unable to NOT do these things, then you are HORRIBLE, I repeat, HORRIBLE PR FOR THIS CHAPTER. I would rather have 40 girls that are fun, talk to boys, and not fucking awkward than 80 that are fucking faggots. If you are one of the people that have told me “Oh nooo boo hoo I can’t talk to boys I’m too sober”, then I pity you because I don’t know how you got this far in life, and with that in mind don’t fucking show up unless you’re going to stop being a goddamn cock block for our chapter. Seriously. I swear to fucking God if I see anyone being a goddamn boner at tonight’s event, I will tell you to leave even if you’re sober. I’m not even kidding. Try me.
Okay so it’s a sexual kind of thing, judging from the phrasing. Although I’m not sure exactly what being a boner means.
My take is: whatever social currency these women are hoping to capture, it involves impressing men with their friendliness, flirtatiousness, and possibly their actual sexual promiscuity, if I’m not reading too much into it.
If I’m not wrong, what’s being described sounds like a piece of a larger system whereby sororities compete with each other for the approval of fraternities. And a system in which the sorority members get yelled at if they weren’t brazen enough with their attentions.
Here’s a shot in the dark: this competitive currency system, whatever the hell it is, was set up by the fraternities.
Please explain to me if you can!!
Please submit your question to Aunt Pythia!