Tell Someone “No,” Get Called a “Whore” (#StandingwithDNLee #batsignal)

Editors’ Note: We’re running this on SBF not only in support of Dr. DN Lee, but as a segue to talk about how not getting paid for creative work isn’t a feasible option for women of a certain age, particularly women of color of a certain age. We’ll explore this further on Wednesday.

By DN Lee, as told to Isis The Scientist; originally published at Isis The Scientist…

Earlier today my friend DNLee shared an interaction with me that really disturbed me. It disturbed me, in part, because it happened to her and and she’s my friend and I love her. It also disturbed me in part because I think that its the sort of thing that happens to many women. But, most of us lack the bravery and clarity of DNLee, and so we keep quiet about it. We tuck these experiences away and call them part of the female or minority experience. We don’t share them.

As a result, the men around us are shocked when they learn the way that the women they know are treated. I asked DNLee for the opportunity to share the amazing response that she wrote with my readers. In turn, I am asking (with her permission) all of you that read my blog and have your own blogs (or Twitter) to help carry DNLee’s story to your readers. Take what she’s written and repost it on your own site (with attribution to her). I’m heartbroken to learn the way that she was treated, but I’m more heartbroken by how many people don’t realize what the women in their lives are experiencing. I hope you’ll help me.

Here’s DNLee’s voice…

achemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid, and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century [sic] proverb most seriously:

Don’t start none. Won’t be none.

For those not familiar with “inner-city” anthropology–it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)

Biology Online 1

Biology Online 2

Biology Online 3

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.

My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”

This is my official response:

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore–he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand. What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..

DNLee Are you effin kidding me

After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed.This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

You don't want none of this.

You don’t want none of this.

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

Edit To Add (ETA): Biology Online wrote the following on their site earlier today–

“We would like to express our sincerest apologies to Danielle N. Lee (DNLee) and anyone else who may have been offended by the way our recently hired employee, Ofek, handled the conversation with her. Ofek’s behaviour was completely out of line and after gathering the facts we immediately terminated his employment. Ofek failed to show the respect and prudent behavior expected of him as a contributor to Biology Online.

“From the moment that Biology Online started, it has always been a cordial avenue to exchange invaluable information and discussions among scientists, professionals, students, and biology savvy individuals from different parts of the world. Offensive and discriminatory behavior has always been discouraged. We intend to preserve this core function of the website. After an immediate and fair deliberation of the situation we decided to terminate the services of Ofek for his failure to represent and keep what we value in Biology Online.

“We would also like to express our gratitude to the people who made us aware of the situation and to all loyal patrons of the website for your continued support. We assure you that Biology Online will continue providing its audience a congenial place for discussions and free biological information for everyone.”

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One thought on “Tell Someone “No,” Get Called a “Whore” (#StandingwithDNLee #batsignal)

  1. Renee Martin October 15, 2013 at 9:45 am Reply

    I have to say that the good dr. responded with a lot more calm and grace than I would have.

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