A Letter to a Gender Discriminating Bully

Dear Sir,

Perhaps you remember me from yesterday's Ephemera Fair. I was working at a booth selling photographs as part of my daily job. I must say that I have quite the bone to pick with you.

What about a slightly above the knee, cotton dress with thick plush lined leggings reads I'm “just here to look pretty" and what gives you permission to say that to me? "Are you just here to look pretty?" Really? Why should I be discriminated against in a professional setting? Why do you have the right to ask me what a photograph is of and tell me "well at least you're literate" when I tell you what's written on the tag? Maybe you're illiterate, how am I supposed to know? And, "I don't even want to know what school you go to" is not a proper response when you ask me who someone else's bust portrait is of and I identify him as Theodore Roosevelt instead of the correct answer of FDR. Most people would politely correct me. You also do not have the right to laugh at me when I don't know off the top of my head that Lincoln won the 1860 election or who won the 1940 election. Again, you never gave me the answer, but not to worry, I later remembered it was FDR.

I can't forget to mention that when I told you I was an RIT graduate you laughed and asked "isn't that an engineering school?" Yes, it is known for that program, and what if I was an engineer; a female engineer working in the arts? What would your response be then? For your information I'm an RIT photography graduate with honors and a minor in art history. I worked my ass off in college, even battling a life changing neurological disorder and quickly recovering from brain surgery my senior year to graduate on time. And thank you for informing me of how the tri-color process works, which I couldn't tell you when you quizzed me on it, but that doesn't give you the right to laugh at me again when I told you I'm going to be attending further schooling for photographic history. Little do you know I've interned at the George Eastman House and on a groundbreaking photography project at New York's Museum of Modern Art. I also have been accepted to three graduate schools, two of which are highly competing over me with luscious funding offers. What was your life story at twenty four?

What's odd is that when I told two males about our encounter both said that you were flirting with me. One even called our three minutes together "speed dating". What about "are you just here to look pretty" from a middle aged man sounds kind and welcoming? If you had told me that I "looked pretty today" or my "dress looked nice" then we would have a different story, but that is not how this went down. Every female that I have told our story to has called you profane names, agreeing with me that you were completely out of line. This has led to debates amongst my friends, both male and female, about the use of terms of endearment by strangers. It can be observed that older men tend to automatically refer to a younger female as sweetheart, cutie, or hun, but is this appropriate, especially in the work place? How do these compare to those terms used for males like sport, chief, or buddy? A female friend and I agreed that these gendered names are not on the same level, however a male argued that they are. I bet that you would agree with him. At least you didn't call me "hun".

Please think the next time you go to speak to a female, or really to anyone. Please watch the words that come out of your mouth and your tone as you speak them. As a result of your behavior I am now self-conscious and nervous as I dress for day two of this fair. Is my skirt too short or is it too provocative to wear sheer tights rather than thick leggings? Is every man here just saying hello to me because I "look pretty" and is that why they're entering our booth? Was the man who asked if I "know what material" we have asking because I didn't look intelligent based on my clothing? This is why I call you a bully. You have gotten inside of my head and I do not appreciate it.


Meghan Jordan