On Tuesday evening I put up a blog post about Laura Ramadei. Last week she put up a post on Facebook to publically shame a bad customer and it went viral. For those who missed it the post was awesome and powerful but I’ve already gushed about that. Today I want to take a quick look at why Brian Lederman deserves our disdain (but not aggression).
First and foremost; I am not saying ‘no aggression’ because I believe that any act of harassment should go unpunished. I am saying no aggression because often the internet takes these things too far and at the very least his family does not deserve the backlash. I am also saying it because I truly believe that this is not an issue that should be argued upon. Laura Ramadei was harassed by Brian Lederman. Full stop. End of story. Reacting aggressively pulls focus away from this truth. (See what radical aggression has done to the perception of feminism here) I urge you all to respond to Lederman in a way he can’t complain about. Respond calmly and logically with the unwavering assertion that Lederman acted in the wrong.
Brian Lederman deserves our disdain for two specific reasons. The incident itself and his reaction to Ramadei’s letter.
His assertion that he did not touch Ramadai and meant for her to take his comment “as a joke” is problematic in itself. In her open letter Ramadei mentioned that she has experienced all kinds of harassment from a number of customers over the five years she was working as a bartender. The idea that she would choose a fabricated incident to not only comment on but quit her job over is ridiculous. More than that, Lederman defends himself with the statement, “I’ve grabbed plenty of girls’ a**es in my life, but I’ve never grabbed hers,” as though this ‘witty’ comment is meant to endear us to him. The sexism evident in this comment is a mirror of his assertion that he would like to have Laura “to go.” These statements are in no way funny or clever. They are degrading. The fact that Lederman can’t see the difference makes it easy to picture him touching Ramadei (and other hospitality workers like her) inappropriately.
In addition to all of this he reverted to crass threats when he became aware of the allegations against him. “That f****** c***, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous,” he said to the New York Post, “I will make sure she doesn’t get another job in New York City.” About as classy as one would expect from a person who thinks harassing waitresses is funny. Aside from pretty much completely incriminating him through what would otherwise be unnecessary aggression, it again shows his abuse of power. If it is “pretty ridiculous” for Ramadei to make a post on her personal Facbook page, I wonder what Lederman would deem telling her manager that she felt uncomfortable? Or refusing to serve him? Or going to the media herself?
Ramadei did not know that her post would go viral. In her post she hopes that it will “maybe – just maybe” reach Lederman but more realistically anticipates the possibility that “a Facebook passerby will read this and more deeply consider how they treat women, how they treat servers, and/or how they treat other people in general.”
That’s my hope for this story as well.
Treat each other well this week (and every one after)