Thanks for clarifying this Kaitlin, I appreciate your comments and they have merit. It was just the "gift" part that was grating on me, and the experience I had a seminar a few years back when a woman who was wearing a hakama (granted, I am in an org. that typically doesn't wear hakama until dan grade) and told me "don't thow me hard, I can't take ukemi", and I thought she was joking. Even though I threw her quite softly the first time, it was evident that she was really inexperienced and couldn't take even a basic roll (so of course I was even more gentle after the first throw). Fortunately she realized after the first class that she was in a dangerous situation wearing a hakama in a huge seminar full of very gung-ho aikidoka, and took it off. Seminars are definately not a place to wear a hakama unless a) you are a dan rank or b) it is tradition for the org/host (previous post addressed this nicely).
Kaitlin, I too really revolt against being treated poorly on the mat. Poor behavior (note: not equality) in my estimation is when an obvious junior starts to instruct a senior; when someone instructs differently than what the teacher is showing; when someone turns their back on me when I've bowed into them (because they think they are somehow above working with me-or whatever else they've got up their...); when my partner doesn't give me their full attention and committment in the practice; basically any disdain. I hope you don't ever experience these, and most likely in your own dojo you won't. It is at seminars or camps that I find these behaviors, not typically within the dojo. At the same time though, I guess I don't equate hierarchy as having anything to do with poor behavior (unless of course someone is disdainful of me because they are a higher rank).
Anyways, thanks for listening, and for voicing your opinion; all opinions on this site are equally important, and I learn a lot from you, as well as everyone else who posts.
And lastly, hakama length; I would love to hear from Mr. Goldsbury, Mr. Linden, or Mr. Hooker about what they consider the traditional length.