• Wed, Aug 22 2012

Feminists Shouldn’t Dismiss Gender Discrimination Lawsuits Filed By Men

The New York Times has a big story today about a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. In it, James T Hayes, Jr. claims that he was pushed out of his position at the US Immigration Office to make way for a female who wasn’t as qualified as he was. When he threatened to sue, he says that the government agency retaliated against him, opening bogus misconduct investigations in an attempt to threaten him into silence. Hayes also contents that a former boss committed sexual harassment and ran a “frat-house like” culture that intimidated men in the workplace.

I have to admit that I had my moments when I questioned the story told by Hayes. And part of that reluctance certainly came from the fact that we just aren’t used to seeing men claiming gender discrimination. I read sentences like, “Men make up the majority of the leadership at ICE,” and I think that obviously we haven’t reached a culture where men are routinely passed over for work or promotions simply because they don’t have a uterus. It’s not like there are no successful men at immigration, which might demonstrate that women are routinely picked for top positions over male candidates, qualification levels be damned.

Then I thought about the story of Brandon Cobb, a high school coach who was fired because there were no female employees of the athletic department and his school wanted more gender diversity. That man was still fired because of his gender, and that’s unacceptable.

Now I’m not suggesting that Hayes was pushed out of his job to make way for more gender diversity, I’m simply saying that having a lot of men around doesn’t necessarily mean that gender discrimination against men isn’t taking place.

More than anything, I think it’s important that feminists support cases like this, and support the effort to make sure that every person, no matter their gender, is given a fair opportunity. If the Immigration department is really discriminating against men, those responsible need to be reprimanded and the men involved need to be compensated.

There’s something about this claim that feel familiar to women in the workplace, although they’re rarely on this side of it. The charges of a “frat-house like” culture have been echoed against prominent companies run by men for decades. Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg were charged with a “frat boy” culture. The Chicago Tribune famously suffered from mountains of criticism for its “frat-like” feeling. But this case is the first time that I’ve heard the frat house analogy applied to a situation that discriminates against men.  Does the choice of words make me scratch my head a little? Yes. Does that make it false? No.

The Immigration department, like every other company that’s been charged with gender discrimination, still has to make it’s side of the story. Investigations will have to be, judgment will be passed. But women looking for equality should stand up and support anyone who faces the uphill battle of confronting gender bias. It we’re real feminists, we’ll respect both female and male points of view on workplace discrimination and equal opportunity.

(Photo: mypokcik/Shutterstock)

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  • Lastango

    Lindsay,
    you write that “part of that reluctance certainly came from the fact that
    we just aren’t used to seeing men claiming gender discrimination.” I
    suspect that’s because it’s inconvenient to the progressivist narrative, so the
    media makes a special effort to look the other way. There are lots of
    parallels. For example, a little googling will produce studies showing that
    women two-thirds or more of the physical violence in relationships, but we better
    not hold our breath waiting for that to get an equal-opportunity airing, or a focus of gender studies at the local U.

    ———-

    (Some
    readers will think I must be lying. But the Washington Times reported in 2009
    that “Men account for about a third of domestic-violence injuries and
    deaths” and that Harvard’s research
    published in the American Journal of Public Health found that “50 percent
    of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal… In those cases, the
    women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the
    violence was one-sided, both women and men said women were the perpetrators
    about 70 percent of the time.” I’m not trying to make that the subject here, or
    hijack your post. But it’s important that we start getting over our collective,
    selective surprise that women may not be better human beings than men are. It’s also important — for lots of reasons — that we stop demonizing men.)

    ———-

    In some
    areas of government, PC-based discrimination has become the norm. For instance,
    one local police officer around here wrote that any white male joining the
    force today had better be content with being on patrol his whole career because
    all the promotions are going to the women and minorities. Women may be 20% of
    the force, but when the bureaucracy is done they will be 50% of the sergeants
    and lieutenants. So, I think you are exactly right when you say that
    “having a lot of men around doesn’t necessarily mean that gender
    discrimination against men isn’t taking place.”

    ———-

    Here’s
    another reason for women to oppose gender discrimination: it can work against
    them, too. Some years ago, I read about a white woman working in a professional
    capacity for the federal government in DC. She reported she was very pro
    affirmative action — until she lost a
    major, career-changing promotion to a much-less-qualified black woman. That can
    happen to anyone who is competing with a member of a protected political class.
    ———-
    Regarding the societal wakeup call on this aspect of workplace discrimination, help is starting to flow from the family courts. Men are starting to win alimony and custody battles. (The bitterness of the women who are losing there is stunning!) When it comes to getting people to recognize the merits of true equality, there’s nothing quite like the twin realizations that (a) they are not members of the only group competing for special favors, and (b) the playing field is leveling and they no longer have an edge.

  • Lastango

    Lindsay,
    you write that “part of that reluctance certainly came from the fact that
    we just aren’t used to seeing men claiming gender discrimination.” I
    suspect that’s because it’s inconvenient to the progressivist narrative, so the
    media makes a special effort to look the other way. There are lots of
    parallels. For example, a little googling will produce studies showing that
    women two-thirds or more of the physical violence in relationships, but we better
    not hold our breath waiting for that to get an equal-opportunity airing, or a focus of gender studies at the local U.

    ———-

    (Some
    readers will think I must be lying. But the Washington Times reported in 2009
    that “Men account for about a third of domestic-violence injuries and
    deaths” and that Harvard’s research
    published in the American Journal of Public Health found that “50 percent
    of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal… In those cases, the
    women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the
    violence was one-sided, both women and men said women were the perpetrators
    about 70 percent of the time.” I’m not trying to make that the subject here, or
    hijack your post. But it’s important that we start getting over our collective,
    selective surprise that women may not be better human beings than men are. It’s also important — for lots of reasons — that we stop demonizing men.)

    ———-

    In some
    areas of government, PC-based discrimination has become the norm. For instance,
    one local police officer around here wrote that any white male joining the
    force today had better be content with being on patrol his whole career because
    all the promotions are going to the women and minorities. Women may be 20% of
    the force, but when the bureaucracy is done they will be 50% of the sergeants
    and lieutenants. So, I think you are exactly right when you say that
    “having a lot of men around doesn’t necessarily mean that gender
    discrimination against men isn’t taking place.”

    ———-

    Here’s
    another reason for women to oppose gender discrimination: it can work against
    them, too. Some years ago, I read about a white woman working in a professional
    capacity for the federal government in DC. She reported she was very pro
    affirmative action — until she lost a
    major, career-changing promotion to a much-less-qualified black woman. That can
    happen to anyone who is competing with a member of a protected political class.
    ———-
    Regarding the societal wakeup call on this aspect of workplace discrimination, help is starting to flow from the family courts. Men are starting to win alimony and custody battles. (The bitterness of the women who are losing there is stunning!) When it comes to getting people to recognize the merits of true equality, there’s nothing quite like the twin realizations that (a) they are not members of the only group competing for special favors, and (b) the playing field is leveling and they no longer have an edge.