TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Boundaries

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I changed my mind because I’m outraged.

I’m not sure if there’s a cultural difference at play–maybe it’s a Mormon thing–because I can’t imagine parents in the United States who would actually do this to their child.

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie rejects the odious Mr. Collins. Her mom insists on the match because she wants her daughter married and in her mind marriage and happiness are the same thing. While Mrs. Bennett isn’t known for her parenting skills, she’s at least consistent.

In Pride and Popularity, there’s a Mr. Collins-esque characters named Collin (HA) who takes Chloe out on one or two dates at her mom’s behest and assumes after the second that they’re a couple, trying to kiss her to “seal the deal.”

Up to this point, Chloe has begged her mom not to make her date Collin to no avail. Her mom guilts her into every date, calls Collins herself and tells him Chloe will be his girlfriend, and tries to ground Chloe when she rejects him.

She calls her daughter “stubborn, selfish, and prideful” for not dating a guy she isn’t interested in. All she’s asking is that Chloe become Collins girlfriend for a couple of weeks; completely reasonable and not at all ridiculous, right?

WHAT KIND OF PARENT DOES THIS?

Here’s what you’re teaching your daughter:

  1. Her preferences don’t matter. I stand by (in theory) the idea that you should give [insert appropriate term for undesirable partner here] a chance. Someone might make a terrible first impression only to surprise you [see Fitzwilliam Darcy]. HOWEVER, Chloe has made it clear she’s never going to be into a guy who finds his phone more interesting than he finds her. Somehow that means she’s selfish.
  2. Her feelings don’t matter. At least, not as much as Collin’s do. In fact, her having feelings at all is selfish. Chloe has to reward this guy for pursuing her…even though he’s socially awkward, had his mom set them up, doesn’t try to connect, and spends entire dates on his phone. Telling people their wants and needs are selfish is probably the worst thing you can do.
  3. Her choices don’t matter. Chloe has rejected Collin multiple times, and her mom goes behind her back to override her disinterest. That’s messed up. You’re subtly telling her that her “no” doesn’t mean much, which would be horrifying enough if there wasn’t a rapist in this story for whom “no” means nothing. Awesome.

I’m confused by the reaction to this event. Chloe treats it as an inconvenient but normal part of her regular parenting, i.e. “You know how parents get.”

None of this is cute; it’s controlling, and not something to laugh off.

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