I'm looking for a new position at the moment. Looking for a new position in Infosec is not a slam-dunk at the best of times, but the field is so awesome that in my opinion, it really pays off. That said, I will be feeling much happier when I start a new job, because then I can feed my family and we can have insurance and all those other things that people like to have.
Today a recruiter in Connecticut contacted me about doing some contracting in Hartford. I live nowhere near there, and I'm not about to move, but I do have family around that area, so I could imagine making this work.
He told me that he'd offer me X amount. X would have been great, except that it came with no bennies, which made it a good deal less than my most recent position. So I told him that for Y amount where Y was 30K more than X, I'd talk, and I added "a girl's gotta eat."
So far, so good, right? I'm looking at a job that I would really enjoy, at a nice rate, in an geographical area that I wouldn't hate. I am all ready to talk to this guy so that I can begin making my Infosec magic again. Whee! A job.
He sent me back an email agreeing to the rate. I was just about to be really happy when I scrolled down a little and saw the really horrendous picture he'd attached to his email. Except that I use gmail, so the picture was inline, where I could not avoid seeing it.
The picture was of a girl in her teens or maybe 20's...well, really, it's hard to tell, because the only part of her face that you can see is her mouth. She's half naked; she's wearing a tank top but it's pulled way up. Her lower body is....pretty much all bones. I mean, basically, she's a rib cage and hip bones and...organs...I guess. Her navel is pierced.
I saw this picture in my email and I stopped breathing. I really did. I started to gasp like you do when you're having an asthma attack, a phenomenon with which I am not unacquainted. Everything left my mind except the horror of this picture, which I will not visit upon you because of what it did to me. I will tell you, though, that he apparently found it on mywits.com, which is a site for funny pictures.
This picture wasn't funny. I only skimmed the site but I didn't actually see any pictures on it that I thought were funny, only pictures that appeared to be objectifying.
When I was able to breathe, I went looking for his recruiting company online. I tried to call the general number but nobody answered. So I sent him email asking him to have his supervisor call me. Instead, he called me. I asked to speak to his supervisor. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him that I was very offended by that picture and I wanted to speak to his supervisor or someone in HR.
He started to freak out and promise me that he just thought it was funny, that he sends "funny" pictures all the time, that I said "a girl's gotta eat" so he was sending me a picture of a girl who apparently didn't, and on and on and on. He was obviously so upset that I finally just said "I'm letting it go at this." That didn't stop him from apologizing though, and he went on and on and on some more.
Finally I just said, "Thank you very much. I am no longer interested in the position," and I hung up. Gradually, I stopped shaking. I took a long breath, the first in over 30 minutes, and I started working on this article.
Do I feel that I shot myself in the foot, by refusing to play nice and agree that it was funny? Hell to the no. Two years ago, I was doing contract work for another company for the DOE. I sat in an office, staffed with government workers and contractors, and I listened to them spew hate speech about a woman they worked with, and about a foreign national, and I didn't say a word. I am talking about really offensive language here, folks, not just "she's a bitch" or "he has brown skin". I didn't say a word because I needed the job. You know what? No job is worth putting up with that, even if it's not directed at me.
This stuff is not funny, no matter where you get it from. Anorexia is a disease that kills people, not something to make fun of. Emailing pictures of half-naked women to business associates is not appropriate no matter what your reasoning. I can't apply for a position under these circumstances because I will not WORK under these circumstances, and I'm ashamed that I ever did.
I am not going to reveal the name of this recruiter or his company. My guess is that he is young and inexperienced, and he really thought it was funny. In my experience, when I've told a man that his behavior offends me and he apologizes almost to the point of tears like that, he really means it (and I hate to say this, but my usual experience is that instead, the man tells me that there's something wrong with me for reacting negatively). Perhaps I'm just naive, but I think I'd rather stay that way than believe that the guy might have gotten off the phone and laughed his head off with his co-workers about it.
I didn't insist on speaking to his supervisor (and by the way, he didn't refuse, he just wanted to apologize first), because of that feeling that he was really sincere. But I did tell him that I couldn't imagine anyone thinking that the picture was funny, and I told him never, ever to do that again.
And now I think I'm gonna have a drink because...DAMN.