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Fear and Loathing at OCCC Bookstore

The OCCC bookstore seems to have recently been practicing a policy of gender discrimination when it comes to entering the bookstore with a bag. Students carrying bags were asked to check them in with the bag guardians sitting at the table outside of the bookstore, but the only exceptions were women with purses.

I’ve been the lone photographer of the Pioneer for almost a year now, and can regularly be seen around campus with my camera slung across my shoulder.

When I went to get a refund for a textbook while carrying my camera, an overweight troll of a woman with beady little eyes trapped behind a pair of glasses insisted I in check the bag I didn’t have with the bag guardians.


“I don’t have a bag.” I said.

Referring to my camera strap, she responded, “Then, what’s that?” I accommodated her failed eyesight, and showed her it was not a bag but merely a camera I was carrying. To drive her point home, she needlessly stated that bags are not allowed inside the bookstore.

As I was being harassed by this fine example of human perfection, I noticed two women casually exiting the bookstore with huge purses on their shoulders. I asked, “What about them? They didn’t have to check their bags in.”

The troll condescendingly replied, “Those are purses, and I checked them for books.” This seemed like a blatant lie. She had not checked anything at all as they exited. I was standing right there and saw nothing of the sort.

I let the apparent lie slide for the time being, and the interrogation continued. She asked what I was doing with the textbook in my hand. I told her I was returning it. She then rudely inquired whether or not I intended to buy anything.

I replied with a quick, “No.”

She made me leave the book with her while I walked over to the register. This seemed a little ridiculous, because no one else was in line.

When I got to the register empty handed, the girl operating it looked slightly confused and asked if she could help me. I informed her that she had to go retrieve the book I was returning from the troll guarding the entrance.

The cashier got the book, issued my refund, and I was free to be on my way.

The enlightening conversation with the troll had given me an idea. Partially because I love poking the bear in most situations, I decided I would test this bag check policy for gender bias and return with my camera bag to buy some pens or something.

The bag is smaller than most purses, but I placed my personal belongings of keys, wallet, and cellphone in it to help make a legitimate purse argument. I also took along two co workers from the office, one of which was a purse-carrying female.

I tried to enter the bookstore along with my co workers and once again was stopped by the troll. As I had expected, she demanded I leave my bag containing gear worth more than the car she probably drives with two bag guardians that couldn’t care less whether or not my things got stolen.

I informed her of the value of and even showed her my bag’s contents, but she still refused. Then I made my purse argument, stating that it contained all of my personal belongings.

She said it was bookstore policy and told me I could take my things out whenever I checked my bag in. I asked why she didn’t require females to this. Possibly sensing the gender bias hail storm brewing overhead, she gave up and said for me to go ahead.

Feeling that I had gone far enough to prove my point, I replied, “No. If it’s policy, I don’t want to put you out on limb,” and exited the store.

All the while, my female co worker had managed to gain access to the bookstore practically unobstructed. Only the bag guardians asked if she had any books in her bag as she entered.

She said, “No,” and even offered to let the them check inside. They said it wasn’t necessary and allowed her admittance.

Both co workers stood beside me as the troll demanded her toll and said absolutely nothing to my female co worker about the large purse she was carrying.

My co workers also stuck around after I exited the bookstore and overheard the troll bad mouthing me to Vice President of Academic Affairs Felix Aquino.

She made fun of me for saying my camera bag was a purse, and lied to Aquino, telling him I had tried to bring my camera bag into the store two days in a row.

This hideous woman still gives me dirty looks every time she sees me. If she reads this, the looks will probably get worse, but I can’t imagine how.

In the end, I think it’s laughable that she practices gender discrimination against me, has slandered me to at least three different individuals that I know of, and still insists I’m the villain.

The troll is an ignorant swine of a person, but the point of all of this is that gender discrimination against male or female for any reason is wrong and has no place at a bookstore on the campus of a college that receives state and federal funding. In fact, discrimination of any sort has no place anywhere in our society, and it should always be confronted as the injustice it truly is.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this blog are the opinions of Chris James and do not reflect the opinions or views of any other Pioneer employees.

To contact Chris James, email pioneerphotog@occc.edu.