Sunday, December 23, 2012

Patriarchy still running rampant in society

This weekend I came across an article in which the Iowa State Supreme Court found that a male dentist was within his legal rights to terminate a longtime employee he found too "irresistible". This decision was made by seven justices, who unsurprisingly, were all male.

Dr. James Knight terminated Melissa Nelson after 10 and half years of employing her as a dental assistant because he worried for his marriage and feared that he would have an affair with her if he did not fire her.

According to court documents, the two never had a sexual relationship nor had they ever sought one, but the possibility that Knight might pursue one is apparently a valid reason to fire someone.

Here we again see women being blamed for a male's actions or potential actions because of their supposed attractiveness or lack thereof. One rape myth is that a woman "asks for it (rape)" because of the way they are dressed, which turns men on and therefore not responsible for their behavior. Melissa Nelson may not have been raped, but she was blamed for her attractiveness, her looks. She was terminated from a job that she was good at one in which there had never been any issues before, merely because her male boss could not control himself. How is it Melissa Nelson's problem that her boss cannot keep it in his pants? How is it legal to fire someone because you think that you might have an affair with them down the road, even though there has been no previous behavior on either of your parts before to indicate this nor had she ever flirted or made any overtures of the sort?

This court decision tells men everywhere that they are not responsible for their behavior but that they can instead blame it on a woman's dress, attractiveness, or sexuality. It perpetuates rape myths and continues to make it the woman's responsibility to not turn men on and to "control" their sexuality and attractiveness.

Reading this article I was so disappointed and shocked by this decision but it makes me realize how important organizations like WomenNC and conferences like the CSW are, because we see how little progress has been made for the status of women, if something like this can happen in this day and age.

1 comment:

  1. The story you describe sounds like something from the Onion. Just unbelievable. It would be funny if it weren't so sad...