My parents conceived me in the USA, but my mother travelled half a continent, alone, to give birth in Canada. The US were invading Vietnam at the time, and my parents, no radicals, did not want a possible son to be drafted to another imperialist war.
Just today, I’m thankful for that choice, difficult as it must have been for my mother. Because in the USA, you can fire someone if you think they are sexy. That’s what happened to Melissa Nelson, backed up by the all male Iowa Supreme Court. Her employer’s lawyer said:
“While there was really no fault on the part of Mrs. Nelson, it was just as clear the decision to terminate her was not related to the fact that she was a woman,” he said. “The motives behind Dr. Knight terminating Mrs. Nelson were quite clear: He did so to preserve his marriage.”
Poor boss Dr Knight. Apparently he found Mrs Nelson “irresistable” and wasn’t sure he could restrain himself, describing her as a Lamborghini – which some might call sexual harassment, since it was in reference to it being a waste she wasn’t having much sex – and he thought eventually they would have an affair. Not based on anything Mrs Nelson had suggested, mind.
Not only do women have to make sure we’re not tempting men with our bodies, our clothing choices, our habits, our movements – now we have to not earn a living, in case our male employers feel they might suddenly feel driven to be sexual with us.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I find other people attractive and don’t sleep with them all the time. Some might say I make a habit of it. Walking down the street – oh, there’s someone else, I think I won’t sleep with them. Sometimes at work I see someone attractive and, well, chat to them about work. Out with friends? Just more opportunities not to sleep with people I’m attracted to.
That is life, isn’t it? Unless, of course, you’re a male employer living in Iowa, unable to control those manly urges. Having the power to fire someone because you think they are sexy is rape culture in the extreme. Having that power bolstered by a Supreme Court shows how entrenched rape supportive attitudes are in the institutions supposed to protect citizens from crime.
Rape culture, Iowa is soaking in it.
Thanks again, Ma.
Thank goodness someone else was moved to comment on this. Great post. I was terribly pleased to find heaps of examples of your excellent work after randomly googling you this morning (another journalist had a similar surname to yours and I was reminded of you – usually it’s just Purple Rain that does that). I s’pose it’s just nosiness, but I’m always interested to know what people are using their time for these days. Happy New Year!