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Today's column

Posted by Robin Abrahams  October 6, 2013 09:09 AM

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... is online here, and it's a doozy: Can you call a sexually submissive person a "slave" if they really, really want you to? Or is that politically incorrect?

Does your friend--we'll call her Iron Ma'am--feel viscerally disturbed by calling Cinderfella a slave, or does she only feel that she ought to be? We can't control our reactions to words. There are words I know intellectually are offensive, but they don't carry an emotional impact, because they weren't taboo growing up or else they were so taboo I didn't learn them until I was too old to latch on with a strong emotional response. If Iron Ma'am feels bad because she doesn't feel worse, she may as well chuck her compunctions. Cinderfella clearly has a deep-grooved neural response to the word "slave." She doesn't: He wins. She can always donate the cost of an equivalent session with Merry Maids to an organization that combats modern-day slavery to assuage her conscience.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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