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"If That's The Case, I Can Only Say That I Expected Better From You"

Illustration for article titled If Thats The Case, I Can Only Say That I Expected Better From You

Jenna was John's professor at a large university in a state where the demographic balance is mercifully tipped in favor of females. Jenna didn't know much of John other than he favors tight jeans ("not skinny," she specified, "tight"), world travel and making the occasional disparaging remark about Asian women, which would have been one thing but for the fact that she happened to be teaching an Asian American Women's History class and most of students in the class were Asian womenn. Jenna passed it all off as part of some sort of "negging" type philosophy aimed at landing masochistic Asian undergrads — until he started monopolizing her office hours, following her to her car when necessary, which is when Jenna began to think John was simply insane and began hiding from him in the bathroom. Despite all his bluster John turned in precious few of his assignments and ended up receiving the third-lowest grade in the class. To John, you see, all that was just foreplay: now he could finally ask Jenna out. She politely declined. And!

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From: "John" To: Jenna Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2008 12:14:06 -0700 Subject: inappropriate..? and not replying just compounds the strangeness of your response. are you ok? i can't find any reasonable explanation for how strange this is. after thinking it through, i can say with absolute conviction that there was nothing whatsoever about my invitation that was in any way inappropriate. are you referring to the difference in our ages, or to the fact that before last week i was taking one of your classes? if that's the case, i would remind you that i am no longer your student and that we are both adults. if anything, it was inappropriate to reply so unkindly, with the implication that i should feel ashamed for asking you out. or is your response predicated on the assumption that older women shouldn't date younger men, and by proposing to violate this anachronistic societal norm i'm doing something inappropriate? if that's the case, i can only say that i expected better from you.

i wish you all the best, and again i'm very sorry to have done something that caused you distress. for my part, however, i would point out that the harshness of your response was wholly unjustified. with all due respect, if this wasn't totally out of character for you (which is how it seemed to me, because every other time we've talked you've always seemed like such a wonderful person), this is something you might want to work on. a thousand other responses ("i have a boyfriend," "i'm flattered, but i feel like it would be inappropriate to date a former student," even "that's very sweet of you to ask, but i'm not attracted to you") would have been so much less hurtful than just replying "Inappropriate."
sincerest regards,
John

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DISCUSSION

theroo
Rooo sez BISH PLZ

@beercheck: *sigh* I'm blunt. I'm often punished for it. For example, I'm sure you're going to be annoyed — and vocally so — because I'm about to be blunt here.

Women in our culture are frequently FRIGHTENED INTO SILENCE. We are ostracized — sometimes subtly, sometimes not — when we speak our minds. We are encouraged to be passive aggressive because it is "not ladylike" when we express frustration, or anger, or fear, or any negative emotion, for that matter — or when we attempt to enforce boundaries we feel another person has violated.

Like here. She tried to enforce a boundary by sending a one-word response, and she's getting bashed here by people who say she was "unprofessional."

If a male professor had done the same, I can't imagine we'd be seeing the same responses.

Of course, if you're tiny and blonde, like Dolly or Reese, blunt reads much better because the visual body cues confound the message. It's "easier" to take — for men and for women, who often punish their own just as viciously — when the message deliverer is "little and cute".

But if you're a brunette? Tall? Overweight? In any way conventionally "unattractive"?

You're "evil". "Vicious". "Rude". A "bitch".

Yes, blunt is beautiful, but let's not pretend it doesn't have consequences.