I got not one, but two emails today addressed to “Dear Sirs,” and it has really pissed me off.
One was from an RPG-themed publication soliciting advertising. The other was from a convention soliciting prize support. In neither case am I upset about the solicitation in and of itself. Hell, I practically invite conventions to ask me for swag, and I’m usually happy to oblige. And I don’t mind being solicited for advertising, because I do buy ads so that is fine.
What bugs me is the assumption that the company is run by men.
At first I thought, “Calm down, Julie. This is what happens when you check your email before your first cup of coffee.” And that is true. I tend to be in a foul mood first thing in the morning. But the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me.
It would be one thing if it said “Dear Sir or Madam” which is a longstanding business salutation when the gender of the recipient is unknown. I mean, forget the fact for a moment that spending 10 seconds doing a Google search for Bards and Sages Publishing pulls up my name. Heck, they use the contact form on the site. That means they visited the site, found the contact form, and someone failed to see my name all over the site.
But that is fine. I’ve grown accustomed to that level of laziness.
But they didn’t send a lazy “Dear Sir or Madam.” Instead, it was just addressed to “Dear Sirs.”
We’re about thirty years removed from “Dear Sirs” being an acceptable generic salutation. It is 2011. Women make up almost 50% of the workforce. There are thousands of woman-owned small businesses in this country. Tens of thousands of women hold management positions in major companies. And yet I’m getting business emails addressed to “Dear Sirs?”
And it certainly isn’t like we’re anomalies in the gaming community these days. Attend any gaming convention and you’ll find plenty of female gamers. And what about the amazing female writers and developers? People forget about Elaine Cunningham? Margaret Weis? Laura Hickman? Nicole Lindross? Lisa Stevens? I wonder if the CEO of Paizo gets emails addressed to “Dear Sir?”
It is one thing to be lazy and not bother to learn the name of the person you want to request business from. It’s another to hold a worldview that has internalized the notion that anyone in a position of authority or decision-making is by default male. THAT is what a “Dear Sirs” salutation line says.
Now the real question is, do I respond personally, or just send them a link to this post?