Fighting fire with fire can make the flames bigger, but it can also end an argument. Whether it's the right choice, well that depends on the situation and the context.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for telling his brother's girlfriend she dresses inappropriately after she insulted his wife. He wrote:
In my family's culture, both men and women dress pretty modestly. By that I don't mean we fully cover our bodies, we just don't wear sleeveless tops or pants/shorts that are shorter than knee height. It's just an unwritten rule. No one is forced to adhere to it or criticized if they don't, but everyone (both men and women) do it anyway.
A year ago, my (32m) younger brother (27m) started dating this girl (26f) whose dress sense is completely at odds with my culture. She wears translucent blouses where you can fully see her bra or nipples if she isn't wearing one. She likes to wear ripped jeans where the tears are on her butt so you can literally see her a$$ cheeks.
To top it off, we had a memorial service for one of our relatives who passed away and she showed up in one of those laced-up split dresses. I mean why would you dress up like that when you know the people you're going to meet have a modest dress code? But my brother loves her so no one says anything even though a lot of us feel uncomfortable.
More recently, my wife has been going through a stressful time at work and she's been coping by stress eating so it's not a surprise she's put on a few pounds. We were at my uncle's house for a party when my brother's gf "jokingly" passed a comment that my wife needs to get a bigger set of pants for the "extra pounds" she's carrying.
My wife got teary-eyed because she's been feeling very self-conscious about her weight. I told my brother's gf that my wife is fine and to refrain from giving unsolicited comments on her clothes or weight in the future. She then said "I'm just saying she doesn't look beautiful with such tight clothes." That comment pissed me off.
I told her my wife is already beautiful and we'll take her opinion into account once she stops dressing like a h**ker. She went crying to my brother who then got mad and started yelling at me. I told him to f#$k off and to teach his gf how to respect other people. Our family is split on this issue.
Some have said she had it coming while others believe I shouldn't have stooped down to her level and sl*t-shaming her. So AITA?
If you had said what you did to your brother's GF out of the blue, just because you disapprove, that would be one thing, and you'd be the A. But she attacked your wife out of the blue, made her feel bad about herself, undermined her self-confidence, body-shamed her, and told her she was fat and no longer beautiful. That's horrible!
What you said was in completely understandable anger and in defense of your wife. NTA. Keep having your wife's back. I can't even tell you how much she must appreciate you, even if everyone else thinks you were out of line.
ESH. None of you were acting particularly maturely. Yes, you were right to defend your wife from someone who was fat-shaming her, but sl*t-shaming someone is not the way to do it. Honestly, it sounds like you have been looking for an excuse to do this for a while now.
Pretty clear ESH.
When people say f#$ked up s#$t it is actually a far more effective response to calmly and politely call them out on it rather than insulting them back.
ESH. I don't get everybody here saying it's cool for you to perpetuate sh#$ty misogynistic culture because the person you're targeting also sucks. Good for you for defending your wife. Maybe pick a legitimate reason to criticize to go back at her with, instead of making a s*xist comment.
ESH. Your brother's partner was out of line, but it seems like you could have addressed the inappropriate comments she made in about a thousand different ways, without resorting to this s*xist name-calling.
This is a clear ESH situation, no matter how you slice it.