eclectic_boy: (croc)
[personal profile] eclectic_boy
"the consequences of this widespread belief that boys and men are constantly addled to the point of harm, is, of course, to punish girls and women"

And, because I ought to start with my own thoughts, I'm trying to weigh the unfairness to both the dentist and the dental assistant. What protected-class status should be given to looks? Should the dentist's attraction be considered a disability, and what accommodations are appropriate for ameliorating such a disability? Relatedly, when I think about the argument for telling the dentist to just control himself and deal with it, I get strong resonances with the notion of telling someone with depression to "just cheer up".

Date: 2013-07-22 05:23 pm (UTC)
randysmith: (Not dead yet)
From: [personal profile] randysmith
Isn't the issue one of responsibility? I'm not sure whether it's societal conditioning, genetic inclination, or a little bit of both, but I'm inclined to believe that men in this society are on average somewhat more distracted by/pulled by an attractive member of the appropriate sex than women are (and yes, this is the most shallow description of the pattern--there are all sorts of mainstream interactions initiated from both sides that come from this that I'm not digressing into). But even assuming this asymmetry, who has primary responsibility for someone's feeling of attraction; that person, or the person to whom they are attracted? The answer strikes me as obvious, but our society doesn't seem to agree.

Date: 2013-07-22 05:27 pm (UTC)
randysmith: (Not dead yet)
From: [personal profile] randysmith
(Having actually read your thoughts rather than just the article) It's not so much telling the dentist to just control himself and deal with it as it is saying that he's the person who has to find a solution (which might be "just deal", might be installing CCTV cameras that his wife can watch, might be negotiating with his assistant for her to leave voluntarily (with extra pay?)). It's not his assistant's responsibility. It's not fair to him looked at in isolation, but it's the least unfair thing overall. If I'm depressed and hire employees, they don't have the responsibility to deal with my depression (unless that was why I hired them, i.e. they're a therapist).

Date: 2013-07-23 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eclectic-boy.livejournal.com
Well, it's *an* issue. But things are rarely *the* issue. In this case, another issue is whether a private employer is allowed to fire someone for any reason, for reasons excepting those involving a protected status, for only reasons directly related to their proven performance, or what.
Edited Date: 2013-07-23 04:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-07-22 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiddledragon.livejournal.com
I feel like working with someone you're attracted to is something most people have to deal with sooner or later; it's not exactly a protected status. If the dentist's wife was worried about their marriage being threatened just by her husband being attracted to someone, I have to wonder how stable it was in the first place.

Date: 2013-07-23 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eclectic-boy.livejournal.com
Just to clarify: I wasn't pondering whether infatuation should be given some support through protected status, but whether appearance should be -- whether differential treatment because of attractiveness, ugliness, vocal timbre, personal odor, or anything in that realm should be legislated against.

Date: 2013-07-22 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nightengalesknd.livejournal.com
This is me being pretty pro-disability employment and pro-accommodations, and whose knowledge and understanding of attractiveness comes from books and articles and what other people tell me. So I am probably not the best person to try to tackle any piece of this one, but here goes.

I think it would be hard to argue that uncontrollable attraction to one particular person truly reaches the level of a disability. Part of the definition of disability under the ADA that relates to employment is that the disability prevents one from holding not just one specific job but whole classes of jobs. In other words, being unable to be a concert pianest is not a disability, but lack of manual dexterity that precludes efficient typing, filing, playing the piano and packaging would be. This clause can (and has been) interpreted pretty narrowly by courts in terms of how classes of jobs are defined, but it seems a reasonable starting point.

I think that uncontrollable attraction to multiple people could potentially be impairing in such a way and to such an extent as to be considered a disability. Which brings one to the next step of asking if said person is otherwise qualified to do their job and if any reasonable accomodations can be made. And. . . I don't know. What if an attractive patient comes in and the dentist is unable to focus on her teeth or her cavities or diagnosing her oral cancer because of the irresistible nature of her clevage? Or am I catastrophizing here, which I hate when people do about disability, playing the "what if" game without looking for actual accommodations. Can the employer wear tinted glasses? Can they arrange for a third employee in the room when they have to interact? Can they put tools and charts on a tray between them to avoid having to hand things back and forth?

And another disability-related thought. This is all based on what someone (several someones?) were afraid might happen. While avoiding having an affair is certainly something to encourage, it all seems a bit theoretical. It's sort of like how people try to refuse to hire someone with a disability because they might need too many sick days, or might be too hard for customers to understand or might increase safety risks on the factory floor. And you aren't allowed to do that. At least, you aren't allowed to do that without credible evidence that the person's disability really does mean those things.

I'm not sure I have answers. And I agree that "just deal with it" is problematic. But I don't think the disability piece holds water under the current US legal realities.

Date: 2013-07-22 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sildra.livejournal.com
This is all based on what someone (several someones?) were afraid might happen. While avoiding having an affair is certainly something to encourage, it all seems a bit theoretical. It's sort of like how people try to refuse to hire someone with a disability because they might need too many sick days, or might be too hard for customers to understand or might increase safety risks on the factory floor. And you aren't allowed to do that. At least, you aren't allowed to do that without credible evidence that the person's disability really does mean those things.

Of course, regardless of what his attraction "disability" means, fearing/assuming the possibility of an affair also takes all agency away from the woman.

Date: 2013-07-23 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nightengalesknd.livejournal.com
That too.

There's a pretty big difference between "man harrasses woman" or "man is afraid he will harrass woman" or "man's wife is afraid he will harrass woman" which are about the power imbalance and "man and woman have affair."

Although if the man is the employer of the woman, the line between affair and harrassment would be - well I'm not sure where it would be.

Date: 2013-07-23 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amyprime.livejournal.com
http://www.iowacourts.gov/Supreme_Court/Recent_Opinions/20130712/11-1857.pdf

This I can see: "If an employer repeatedly took adverse employment actions against persons of a particular gender, that would make it easier to infer that gender and not a relationship was a motivating factor. Here, however, it is not disputed that [the wife] objected to this particular relationship as it had developed after [the assistant] had already been working at the office for over ten years."

This I don't think I like: "[The assistant] also raises a serious point about sexual harassment. Given that sexual harassment is a violation of antidiscrimination law, [the assistant] argues that a firing by a boss to avoid committing sexual harassment should be treated similarly. But sexual harassment violates our civil rights laws because of the “hostile work environment” or “abusive atmosphere” that it has created for persons of the victim’s sex. ... On the other hand, an isolated decision to terminate an employee before such an environment arises, even if the reasons for termination are unjust, by definition does not bring about that atmosphere."

Date: 2013-07-23 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eclectic-boy.livejournal.com
Thanks for all of your responses and varied expertises! I didn't want to focus entirely on this dentist/wife/assistant example, though, so let me ask more explicitly:

Have you developed an opinion as to whether the "widespread belief" of the above quote is a dangerous, false stereotype; a frank assessment of our current culture; or neither?

Date: 2013-07-23 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiddledragon.livejournal.com
Destructive stereotype, I tend to think. Mainstream culture puts too much emphasis on women to deny and/or not act on their attractions to have an accurate sense of what the comparison would be without those social pressures.

Date: 2013-07-23 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matt-rah.livejournal.com
It's pure sexist bullshit.
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