Am I Being Disrespected?

A post on College Misery titled “Yes. I’m a Woman. No. I’m Not His Secretary” suggests that being engaged in the following dialogue by a student means you are being disrespected on the basis of your gender:

Student: Do you know if Professor Zhou is in his office?
Me: I don’t know. Why don’t you knock to find out?
Student (knocks and is silent, walks into my neighbor’s empty office)
Student: Do you know where Professor Zhou is?
Me: I’m afraid not. He comes and goes as he pleases.

This is the beginning of the semester, which means that many new students are wandering around the campus trying to figure out where everything is located. Today, two students came to my office to ask me where the lab is located. One inquired about the Registrar’s Office. One asked about the cafeteria. And three were looking for a bathroom.

All of these inquiries must mean I’m being horribly disrespected. I just can’t figure out whether I’m being asked all these things because I’m a woman, an autistic, a blonde, a Ukrainian, a Jew, a blogger, an immigrant, a temporarily hearing-impaired person, a younger person, an older person, or a person wearing red shoes with sparkles (all listed attributes are currently true). Such an opportunity to feel self-righteously downtrodden and I’m missing it because I have no idea what I’m being discriminated for in these instances.

8 thoughts on “Am I Being Disrespected?”

  1. You are being singled out because you are an older person. Students often assume that an older person, especially one sitting in an office, works at the university and isn’t as new as they are. I’m sorry that you had to encounter this painful prejudice. 🙂


  2. At the cost of sounding all sagacious and stuffy, I will point once more to the bureaucracy post I linked to. It begins by trying to analyse the American concept of respect/disrespect, which took me some time to figure out. We have different parameters of respect where I come from, and the new cultural definitions can be… trying.

    On the other hand I’m sure an American would feel Indians are a loud, nosey, disrespectful bunch.


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