Sexism and Humilation for Work Experience? - Updated

I don’t usually have many negative things to talk about and when I do I’ve never felt the need to blog about it, but this I think deserves some air time.

This morning I emailed several Bristol based Film Production companies asking for work experience. I politely and formally introduced myself and said that I’m hoping to study Film and Television Master Degree next October and I’d like to get more work experience before I continue my studies.

I quickly received a reply from Early Bird Productions which shocked and offended me. I think you’ll agree its sexist, degrading and completely unprofessional.

Here it is:

Hi Danielle,
First answer... So apart from being a blond, blue-eyed model, with a degree in writing and a future as a scriptwriter what else do you have to offer?

 Second answer... You are the third "blond, blue-eyed model, with a degree in writing and a future as a scriptwriter" to write in this week - and it's only Monday lunchtime!!

Third answer... Sorry, nothing at the moment - but by all means keep in touch. We are expanding in the first quarter of next year, and there will be some interesting work coming through (hopefully).

Take care,

John

PS: Your being "blond, blue-eyed model" isn't a factor in anything in reality, and your "degree in writing and a future as a scriptwriter" only marginally. Being diligent and nice is much more important! (Can you get degrees in that?)

 PS2: Love your blog! I'm have no doubt you will find something useful very soon....”

Let me also explain that my CV and covering email didn’t mention my experiences in modelling, as it is irrelevant to my work in film. This man looked through my blog and found out about the modelling, even feeling it necessary to comment on my ‘blue eyes’.

I’m absolutely disgusted by this response. How are people supposed to get anywhere in the world with sexist, inconsiderate men like this? And what right does this man think he has to talk to people like this, when all I asked for was work experience? Clearly, he has too much time on his hands to write emails like this and perhaps business is not doing too well.
Maybe I'm a little naive but I thought sexism in the work place was something every upstanding person recognises as wrong, immoral and unjustified. Even with that aside, why would a 'professional' feel the need to speak to someone like that? What makes it even funnier, is their website claims "CVs welcome from suitably qualified professionals and hopeful starters:" They must be kidding, right?

Oh and the invitation to keep in touch? Thanks Early Bird Productions but I think you’ll find I’m busy next quarter.
 
*** AN UPDATE***
 
I later received an apology for this email. I've decided to post it at the sender's request as his right of reply, which I think is fair. He has also asked me to make it clear that his apology was genuine and not because of this blog.
 
"Hi Danielle,
 
Sorry... I was in no way trying to be anything other than amusing. And obviously failed miserably.

I do get quite a few emails from people trying to expand their experience, and its quite difficult to think of any reply other than the usual. So forgive my stupid response.

Yes, apologies also for the grammatical errors... I'm not a writer. Although my other half, who is a journalist, would probably have corrected the same errors. (And also told me off for use of exclamation marks!!)

I am truly sorry that I offended you. I hope you can ignore my peurile response. I was merely trying to say that I had taken the time to look at your blog, was impressed with the presentation, and wanted to tell you so.

Answer '3' is still the only one I wanted you to hear. I had hoped the irony, if that is the right word, in "answer 1" would have been obvious: you plainly have a lot to offer apart from being B&BE... And answer '2' I was only trying, and again failing, in trying to suggest that it is a difficult journey that you have embarked upon, and I wish you well.

So, having been utterly, correctly admonished for being a prat, I hope you forgive me. I have never hired or fired anyone for any reason other than their ability to do the job.

Lesson learned. Good luck in your search."
 
It seems this man was trying to be amusing as he puts it, which perhaps puts him in the 'unproffessional' category rather than the 'sexist' one. But still, my point remains that had I been a man I would not have received these comments, in particular the ones about being a "blonde, blue eyed model". Further more, I had been a man and 10 years older, I most definitely wouldn't have received this response. Even so, if the comments are to be viewed as merely sarcastic and an attempt at humour, the original email still remains inappropriate, unprofessional and personally, I still find it insulting.
 
There are other emails between us which I won't post as I prefer to let this lie now, but one brilliant qoute which stood out to me was the following:
 
"I'm not sure that anyone has died, I don't think I've destroyed the ozone layer or laid waste to the hopes of the Palestinians; I don't think I have been discovered to be Jimmy Saviles' twin brother, nor have I been caught fiddling my HP expenses. In other words, I think you are blowing this up out of all proportion."
 
I'll now leave this subject to rest.
 
In the last few hours I've received countless messages, unsurprisingly mostly from women, and I'd like to thank you for your support and encouragement.
 

 


Comments

  1. :S Wow... Can you post your original message? Why is he quoting "blond, blue-eyed model"??

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, there is no apparent reason for why he is quoting 'blonde, blue eyed model'. My CV and covering letter didn't mention my experiences in modelling, as I feel it is irrelevant to my work in film. Obviously, it neither mentions the colour of my eyes or hair! It seems he went on my blog, looked through my modelling photos and felt the need to keep calling me 'blue, blonde eyed-model'.

    My original email is quite long, but in short I introduced myself as a recent graduate, planning to study an MA in Film and TV Production next year and I'm looking for work experience. I also mentioned some of my recent acheivements such as being chosen for The Neetwork and Second Light Screenwriting Lab. It was completely professional.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree, that that is an extremely inappropriate repsonse to an email, and if I were the company I would be concerned about how this person handles communicating with people. What if he had attempted this tone with a funder? Or a potential crew member?

    I also agree that it is probably less likely that he would do this with a man. Or at least, he would not mention the man's physical appearance, he may just be as 'ironic' about his abilties though.

    In short, its sad to see that people are responding to emails this way, but the joke will be on him, I think, if he does not learn from this experience. I'm sure this is not the sort of image the film company want to project.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, came across this post via twitter. Have been following topics of objectification of women through media communications, sexualisation of the ad industry, how these connect societies view of both women and sex in general and then how it relates to human trafficking (porn and prostitution in particular), and also some other related topics.

    I regard the email as higly unprofessional and disrespectful to you as an applicant to start with and therefore unacceptable and deserving of an apology.

    The next question would then be, as mentioned, would he have responded similarly to a male applicant - ie. is he generally unprofessional, is he really so over applicants who disappointment that he would've replied so sarcastically to whoever applied next (and was a blue-eyed model, or otherwise had their leg pulled for other more relevant features then) or would he have given any male applicant a more professional answer?

    Men and women are naturally sexist towards one another as they do in any given situation take a different tone with someone of the opposite sex. But this is of course where professionalism and/or good manners and decency comes in - if you are a business and/or don't know the person very well or at all, you ought to refrain from putting forward varying tones, levels of maturity, etc. in your communication based on the applicant's gender. Same goes for when a younger, inexperienced male applicant applies compared to an older, experienced man - it would be more decent, professional, respectful, telling of a character of integrity if they reply with a similar tone - even though older men do take different tones when speaking to younger men as they do life in general, which isn't bad in itself.

    So, although I believe the core problem here is professionalism, a guy who seems usually professional was willing to act out of character on the basis of gender.

    I will soon be writing on my own blog around this topic and am also pondering 'what really drives feminism?' and a few other questions but would like to hear your thoughts too as I am convinced men and women operate differently (amidst an already somewhat anti-woman culture) - so it's good to recognise unchanging traits as well and look to find solutions to the current 'war of the sexes' scenario in acknowledging where men and women struggle to see eye to eye.

    Good on posting this email though and putting this situation forward Danielle - so would love to hear from whoever posts here what your thoughts are on what I said as it's a difficult thing this.

    cheers
    Servaas, South Africa

    ReplyDelete

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