Can We Talk Intelligently Please?

I don’t like a double standard. I don’t really think any of us do, unless of course they favor us, and that is human nature. Our best selves however recognize that we all needed to be treated with the same dignity and respect. We all need to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, and we all need to be able to be treated with equal expectations, at the very least at a base line level, in what is and is not appropriate behavior in society at large. Basically what I am trying to get at here is that the expectation of how we act, what is and is not appropriate to say, etc. should be norms, no matter who we are all in all.  Before I get into this, let me say a few things. Bullying is wrong. Harassment is wrong. Sexism, racism, etc. are all wrong. If you read anything in this that you think says otherwise, one of two things is true. It is possible that you misunderstood what I was attempting to say. It happens to all of us, me a lot in truth, so it’s not a condemnation. It is equally possible (I am being generous to myself as it is much more likely) that I did not do a very good job of trying to explain the point I am trying to make. If, after reading this, you would care to comment, please do. Keep it classy though please, because in the last few days I have had enough of what can only be called unproductive conversation based in ignorance.

Let’s get the ball rolling with the elephant in the commercial, Gillette. In a rare twist, most of my issues with it can be summed up by VOX. Believe me, I was as surprised as any of you who know me are. I am in no way justifying any of the poor behavior that is shown in the advert. It’s terrible behavior. I desperately want to be able to seriously talk about the problem of reducing important social issues to an advertising campaign designed to make a large corporation money. Now, I freely admit that this is my, perhaps overly, cynical view, but it is an educated view based upon the shrinking profits of Gillette over the past several years and their inability to regain market share from competitors, combined with the current social awareness of these matters. Really, the VOX piece describes much of my concern better than I can, so please read it and think about it. The one thing not mentioned is the portrayal. In the advert, the majority of men are portrayed as those who encourage poor behaviors, while it is the minority that stands against them.  No, that is not my fragile male ego talking. I promise my ego is neither fragile nor is it small enough to be bothered by a commercial. It is my concern that the wrong message is being portrayed from that standpoint however as I reject the narrative that the majority of men are somehow terrible. That was the impression that I got from the ad personally. Read the VOX piece, consider it, and give it some real thought. After doing that can we have an intelligent conversation? You know, one that involves a little bit more than ugly accusations spewed and devoid of negative assumptions?
Something else that I found interesting about the people who think that Gillette was brilliant and being socially responsible and that more corporations should do this, and to be clear, I have no problem with holding that opinion, though I do disagree with it, when asked about Citizen’s United, the SCOTUS case that allowed large amounts of corporate money into the political process by declaring campaign donations protected speech, the answer was a resounding no. I do not see a logical consistency here. If corporations should be socially responsible and push for positive, or perceived positive, societal change, then should not those same corporations be able to support the candidates and policies that can bring that about? If not then aren’t we saying you should have a voice, but no influence politically? Isn’t that downright unamerican? Can we have a conversation about that? Can we intelligently discuss this? Can we talk about if we really want a bottom line profit driven corporation to control general societal morality and behavior? Please?

The second story is about a Gm plant in Toledo, Ohio and some overtly racist actions that occurred there. I hope that you take the time to read it as it is disturbing to say the least. Let’ take a few minutes to talk about what this is and is not. This is not about free speech. Yes, hate speech is protected as free speech, however the workplace has policies in place against such language and treatment of individuals that they apparently did not follow as they should have. Your employer has the right to limit your speech, during your on the clock hours. Not only that, an employer is ethically obligated to apply company policy equal to all. What happened here (according to civil action) is continued racial harassment. It’s wrong. Period. That, and under no circumstances is a noose hanging from a rafter free speech when used as an obvious threat. Never. That’s a threat, which is illegal, and likely constitutes a call to action, neither of which is protected speech. Can we have an intelligent conversation about this? Can we talk about how amazing it is that the two gentlemen who were treated so horribly did all that they could, every step of the way, to try and resolve the problem rather than immediately jumping of the cliff of civil actions like so many do? Can we talk about how sick it is that they had to? Please? Intelligently and not trying to cloud the issue with free speech arguments that do not apply? Please?

Finally we get to the piece i came across accidentally by virtue about reading a lot of news regarding sports. It is about a German Men’s Soccer Team. The very first line of the article reads: “The first woman to coach a men’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting her selections are based on penis lengths.” Read the whole article please, it is short. I am perfectly willing to accept that this is a sarcastic remark. Let’s change the first line slightly though by reversing the situation. We will, in our thought experiment, change it to a woman’s team and a male coach. The first line of our imaginary story for the purposes of our thought experiment reads “The first man to coach a woman’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting his selections are based upon breast size”.  Again, this is not my fragile male ego, but rather my research and experience, that tells me that, even if it were an obvious joke and sarcasm, that the imaginary comments in the thought experiments would be called out as at least inappropriate, by some sexist, and by some others to rise to the level of sexual harassment. Now, to me personally, I have no issue with the woman making an obvious sarcastic comment like this. I chuckled honestly. Then it dawned on me that while I would chuckle about the same basic comment made by a man about women, I do not think that many, and maybe most would. I further think that there would be very loud calls for him to quit or be fired. If the comments are inappropriate, then they need to be inappropriate for all. Can we have a serious conversation about how being treated equally includes this? Can we thin have a conversation about some of the “male rights” types that I find basically silly, in this have a point? Please?

Three stories, three topics, and three different types of situations, but they all have one thing in common. We can not talk about them like adults. As an example, in a conversation about the Gillette story, after I had affirmed that the behaviors they are presenting as bad are indeed bad, when I mentioned my concern that such serious topics should not be reduced to profit was suddenly a misogynist idiot that hated women and was simply attempting to mansplain myself. If voicing a concern is reduced that that, we can not talk. Similar things happen in various discussions about the other two stories. The question of being able to have an actual conversation goes far beyond these stories, but let’s start small. Can we talk about this please?

 

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One Reply to “Can We Talk Intelligently Please?”

  1. Not meaning to be silly or sarcastic at all, but with all the media, commercial and insane politic these days (some of it in the churches), I often wistfully wish I was Amish.

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