School Band Director
July 12, 2016
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
Do you remember being told or taught anything growing up about the behavioral expectations for being a girl?
I noticed it a lot when I was growing up. I have an older brother and things were different for us and I didn’t really get it. My parents were very concerned about my curfew and me being out alone. I wasn’t allowed to walk alone. But that’s just a reality of being a girl.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
Sexism is the differential treatment of an individual due to one’s gender identification. It is all based on stereotype to me: Men are strong. Women are weak. Men should get jobs. Women should have babies. He is a leader. She’s being a bitch. Boys just being boys. She’s a slut. She’s a prude. Are you sure he raped you? Or are you getting back at him for dumping you? You were asking to be raped in that outfit. You’re being too emotional. You need to think more like a man. She must be on her period.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Like shit. Useless. Dumb. Weak. Infuriated. Annoyed. Belittled. Humiliated. I get irritated when people hold doors open for me now. I appreciate the gesture, but it is very annoying that I am denied the opportunity to reciprocate that kindness to my students and male colleagues any time that I try to do the same for them. All I’m trying to do is be kind and do you a favor and they literally say no. Just walk through the goddamn door and don’t waste my time arguing about who’s holding it for whom. You are not less of a man because a woman held the door open for you.
How do you personally balance those feelings with the fact that you know you are not weak and you are not useless?
I’m very empathetic, I think. I just have a lot of understanding that people aren’t always trying to be malicious towards you or sexist towards you. They’re trying to help you out so I remind myself of that. They’re not trying to offend me but it is still offensive.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
My awareness of sexist behavior has become increasingly acute. I work in a mostly male environment and I have seen just how uneducated these young men are about the feminist agenda. Yes, they are told to be gentlemen and are very polite but there is still an air of superiority in their behavior. I don’t think they understand that feminism means equal opportunity, not matriarchy.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?
I have performed in a Chicago based event called Tuba Christmas for many years of my life and I recently found out they were organizing a New Orleans show so I jumped to participate. Everything was going well and we were all having a good time playing through the Christmas tunes when a band parent said very loudly, “There is nothing sexier than a woman with a tuba between her legs.” That was when I realized that I was the only girl in the ensemble. It hadn’t even occurred to me until after I was belittled in my own workplace, in front of one of my colleagues, and two of my students. Then he repeated himself, only louder. No one said anything. I am still kicking myself for not saying anything to him to let him know he was completely out of line. Every time I think of it, rage and nausea consume me. I have to see him on a regular basis and he continues to treat me in this fashion and his son is learning to follow suit. He believes women should be ready and willing to get on their backs and spread their legs wide for any male who finds them remotely appealing. A women doesn’t have valid opinions, intelligent thoughts or feelings that matter. We are sex toys created for the pleasure of men. I try to handle his behavior in the most intelligent and respectful way possible since my professional credibility is on the line, but it is difficult not to lash out. I am counting the days until his son graduates so I never have to see him again.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I didn’t do this for people’s pity. I did it in the hopes of opening some eyes. My awareness of unequal treatment happened immediately after experiencing it for myself and I never want to freeze up in a moment like that ever again.