take it to the bank
My boyfriend works for Citicorp, a big bank. I work for a nonprofit consumer advocacy group that is planning a series of grassroots protests against his employer’s policies. He respects my positions on those policies, even agrees with many of them, but he worried that my being part of a demonstration in front of his place of employment is going to harm him. What should I do about that? I don’t want to recuse myself from this—it’s part of a big, important campaign.
There’s this, too: He keeps asking me for details about the campaign. I don’t think he’s going to go tell his bosses about it, but I find myself hesitating to answer him and resentful that he’s asking. What’s that about?
—Doth Protest too Much?
The Omniscient One says: If you work full time for a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, then you’re asking the wrong question. What you should be asking yourself is “Why am I going out with someone who works for a giant corporation that is against everything I believe in?” Citi just paid $75 million in fines for deliberately misleading investors. When Citi got its federal bailout money, they used it to give millions in bonuses to its its executives. In 2004 Japan forced Citibank to close its offices because they were guilty of overcharging customers, money laundering and giving money for illegal operations. They’ve been money laundering drug money south of the border in the “Cocaine Penisula” and have worked with the CIA to upend democratic governments in South America. When you cuddle up to your boyfriend in bed at night, just remember you’re sleeping with a piece of Citicorp. There are a lot of other less odious banks he could probably find a job with.
The Straight Skinny: You clearly don’t trust your boyfriend. The question is this: Are you right to be suspicious or are you paranoid? Either way, the relationship is doomed.
Still, if you want to cling desperately to the smokestack of a sinking ship, here’s my two cents: Your career is an important as his, even if it’s not as lucrative. You’re a professional do-gooder, which means it is essential to your career that you take part is a demonstration like this. If you take yourself out of the game, others will notice and value you slightly less.
On the other hand, he’s being a total paranoid: No one is going to demote him, or fail to promote him, because they spotted his girlfriend carrying a sign outside the bank’s offices. That only happens at law firms.
Strictly Classified says: If Jim Carville and Mary Matalin can make it work, my guess is you two can do the same. I think if the demonstration is that important to you, go for it. As for the second question, respond to his queries with some of your own. Think of it as a bout of Socratic jujutsu.
The Sales Guy says: Well it looks like you’re on the opposite ends of the social/economic/class warfare map. There is no easy answer here. One, your actions will definitely impact his livelihood if they know who you are. His loyalties will be questioned and that kind of negative scrutiny will kill his chances of advancement. Termination may even be an option.
On the counterpoint, your occupation and ideology demands you be there. What’s more important—your relationship or your careers? You both need to sit down and hash this question out…because it’s a dealbreaker.
Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: I’m just going to be straight with you because I’ve seen this a million times with spouses of bankers. Since you aren’t married yet, I don’t feel the need to pull any punches. Here’s the thing: You will never realize true sexual fulfillment in the bed of a banker. Each caress he delivers, every position he adopts, all movements he makes in those sheets will be tabulated on an imaginary balance sheet he keeps in his head. And he will demand remuneration in some incomprehensible way down the line—with interest. The concept of intimacy will be impossible to realize because the idea of “sharing” is inherently suspect to these kinds of people. It may hurt to hear this now, coming from an unlicensed psychoanalyst like myself, but I tell you it is true.
Think it over. If you decide you would like to discuss this further, perhaps over dinner and drinks at my luxurious pad, look for me at the Citicorp protest. I will be lingering toward the back, wearing my “I Am the 99%” t-shirt and red silk Turkish smoking jacket.
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