Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Whatever happened to women’s lib?

(Originally published in the Capitol News, Corydon, IN)

Recently, I was discriminated against at my workplace.

It was that time of year, when boxes of old files had to be shuffled from one storage room to another.

Ordinarily, my co-worker (a 60-something grandfather) and I sit behind desks, making the files that go in these boxes. We work in a white-collar environment where the most strenuous work we have to perform is unjamming staplers or accepting deliveries of office supplies. But this week, the boss gave us the order not only to build shelves for housing the said files, but to transfer the archived files to the newly built shelves, and to "get it done quickly."

This ritual has been oft repeated over the years, but what made this year’s ceremony unique was the steady stream of people coming to the basement to ask us if we were done yet; that’s annoying. Besides all that, the week before, I was out sick with the stomach flu, and really wasn’t feeling up to the whole manual labor gig.

At this point, some of you might be wondering where our help was. Well, there is no help. In our office, we are the sole male staff members; we work with a bunch of chicks. And the fact that they’re somehow above being conscripted into pack mule service really rubs me wrong.

Growing up, I remember so well all the raging debates over equal rights: How women were treated unfairly in the workplace, didn’t earn enough money, were sexually harassed, blah, blah, blah. I remember people getting upset that men still opened doors for women.

When I joined the Air Force in 1990, the military was adamant about stamping out sexual discrimination. Yet, it seemed odd to me that men and women wore different uniforms. That women had different physical fitness standards. That women could wear makeup and jewelry and men couldn’t even have beards.

Today, I’m married and have two daughters. I’m the male minority in my house—My girly-house, with flowers, pillows and Barbie dolls everywhere. Thank God I have a basement I can retreat to, adorned with GI JOES, movie posters, and my computer.

My recent box slinging has really gotten me thinking though. What ever happened to equal rights for women? Hillary Clinton is being seriously touted as a Presidential candidate in the next election, so surely that’s a sign that women are not second class citizens.

So why was it that me and a man almost ready for retirement were the only ones moving those 60 pound boxes? Why couldn’t the younger (than both of us) girls in the office have been helping out? Why am I asked to carry cases of blank paper to the back on a regular basis? Why do the secretaries always want me or my co-worker to fix this or that?

And it’s not just my workplace. Try as I might, I can’t recall what color ribbon people wear for national testicular cancer week. Just recently, when people were encouraged to wear red on a Friday, I recall that it was because heart disease is a leading killer of women. Funny, the only people I’ve ever known to have heart attacks were men.

What happened? When did it happen? Years ago the most abrasive bullying person on daytime television was Morton Downey Jr. Today the biggest bully is Rosie O’Donnell.

In researching this further on the internet, I see that the National Organization for Women is still alive and kicking. And still pushing for an equal rights amendment. I think that’s an excellent idea. Let’s have some equal rights. Let’s make women sign up for Selective Service. Why can’t a woman go into combat? When do I get to stop opening doors for women, or standing up when they enter a room? Or letting them go first?

I think it’s high time women started pulling their own weight, and stopped whining they aren’t being treated fairly. I’ll tell you who’s not being treated fairly: My back!

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