Friday, 4 February 2011

Women are still the weaker sex in the workplace

It seems women remain the weaker sex even when they are in the firing line. Two legal cases this week have underlined just how resistant public attitudes are to attempts to introduce equal treatment of the sexes in the workplace.
In one a 40 year old male shop assistant alleged he was sexually harassed by a 68 year old female colleague, because she had slapped his bottom on several occasions. In another a female health worker was fighting a “gross misconduct” claim. She had been sacked for making a sexual quip while straddling a naked male patient, who was suffering an epileptic fit and required to be held still for an injection.
For me the rights and wrongs of either case are not as intriguing as the online reaction to them from the public. For the most part, both women received support; the argument being that but for political correctness neither case would have come to court.
I would agree wholeheartedly with the consensus expressed by both male and female respondents – save for one major reservation. If it were a male shop worker slapping a woman’s bottom or a bawdy male nurse restraining a naked women patient, I doubt they would receive much sympathy for the consequences of their actions. Any man with a wife, sister, or daughter would agree.
Reactions are mixed, for example, when female teachers are discovered to be having affairs with their male teenage pupils. But outrage is pretty much guaranteed when the genders are reversed. I can’t see the difference myself – the teacher has abused a position of authority and must face the consequences.
But there are occasions in the workplace that are not so clear cut. Laws cannot be framed to allow for gender differences in the protection of employees. It is the job of the judiciary to apply common sense. This means equality for all but some, that is, women are more equal than others, that is, men.

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What do you think? GC