Mike Pence would not have a business dinner with Debrahlee Lorenzana. What’s wrong with him?
Many years ago I did a sexual harassment seminar for a New York law firm. Afterwards, the partner responsible for handling the firm’s EEOC and workplace matters told me that my ethics-based approach to the topic wasn’t sufficiently rigorous, since he believed that innocent contact between employees in the firm could spawn lawsuits. “I refuse to travel with female associates,” he told me. “I can’t be sure what they will think is harassment.”
“Wait,” I asked. “So because you’re afraid of being accused unjustly of sexual harassment, you engage in sexual discrimination?”
He sputtered something and left to arrange his sock drawer.
I think of this conversation often. I thought of it when Vice-President Mike Pence was reported as saying in 2002 that he never had a meal with a woman who was not his wife, and was promptly savaged for it by feminists and the news media. Because the new rules and practices of the workplace have developed amid contradictions and rigid doctrine rather than with attention to whether they were workable or not, Pence and that hypocritical lawyer years ago are both victims and victimizers. It is often impossible to know what ethical workplace conduct is.
The New York Times was happy to bash Pence for his candor as part of a requirement of membership in “the resistance,” but then, as is often the case for the schizoid paper, later competently and objectively examined the issue away from politics. A Morning Consult poll conducted for the paper found that there is widespread fear of one-on-one situations, male-female interactions in the workplace. About 25% think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate. Almost 2/3 say it is prudent to be especially wary and sensitive around members of the opposite sex at work. A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse. Continue reading
Ethics Alarms encourages long form comments, especially when they are as carefully reasoned, authoritative and well-written as the one presented here, by zoebrain, the Ethics Alarms expert on all things trans, gendered, re-gendered and more.
The new, complex and divisive ethical issues arising from gender matters have appeared here with increasing frequency, most recently in the post that inspired this comment—actually two comments—that attempts to enlighten the cyssies among us. I think it is required reading for anyone who wants to understand this complex subject, which is certain to generate more ethics dilemmas and controversies. I am grateful for all comments, but I want to send special thanks to the author, who obviously spent a lot of time and thought on what follows.
Here is zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More Interview Ethics: Janet Mock Ambushes Piers Morgan”...
First, I better say why this is important, why the distinction between “used to be a boy” and “used to look like a boy” isn’t just some sterile, trivial and pedantic squabble. Continue reading
The latest issue of “Pole Spin,” the “international pole dance and lifestyle magazine,” features “the world’s youngest pole dancer” and a proud family with four pole-dancing teenagers.
Is this wrong? Child porn? Bad parenting? What the heck is it when something with sexual connotations is used by children in a non-sexual way? Continue reading
The Debrahlee Lorenzana controversy raises important ethical issues, even though we may yet discover that it was wholly manufactured by Debrahlee. Right now, this ethics train wreck in progress is a classic “employer said/ ex-employee said” dispute in which all the facts have yet to be sorted out. Lorenzana, the former employee, alleges that she was terminated by Citibank for being so va-va-voom! attractive that she distracted her otherwise staid bank coworkers and supervisors. Citibank, the employer, has told the media that “Ms. Lorenzana has chosen to make numerous unfounded accusations and inaccurate statements against Citibank and several of our employees. While we will not discuss the details of her case, we can say that her termination was solely performance-based and not at all related to her appearance or attire. We are confident that when all of the facts and documentation are presented, the claim will be dismissed.”
The timing of her lawsuit certainly seems too good to be accidental. Stanford Professor Deborah Rohde’s recently published book, The Beauty Bias, argues that attractiveness is such a powerful factor in hiring that the nation may need tough new laws to combat “lookism.” Just as the bloggers and op-ed writers were starting to argue about whether we need yet another protected class of Americans and, perhaps, quotas of ugly people in the workplace, here comes a victimized beauty claiming that discrimination cuts both ways. As John Travolta’s character says in “Face-Off,” “What a coinkydink!” Continue reading
So obsessed was I with the Tebow Super Bowl ad that I temporarily forgot that there usually are one or more product ads that inflame the culture wars. Sure enough, this time there were two: Audi’s “Green Police” commercial, which has political implications but no ethical ones that I can see, and the Doritos ad, chosen by post-game polls as one of the best and most popular. That one did raise some ethical issues, recently collected by conservative columnist and radio host Dennis Prager.
The spot begins with an attractive woman greeting a date at the door, and asking him inside as she gets ready to leave. She has a young son, four or five years of age, who is snacking on a bowl of Doritos. We ( and the child) see the male date’s face express some combination of excitement, lust and pleasure at the sight of the woman’s comely derriere as she walks into her bedroom. He then sits on the sofa, smiles at the boy, attempts to make pleasantries, and starts to munch on a Dorito. The child sternly slaps the man across the face, and says to him, menacingly, “Put it back,” referring to afore-mentioned Dorito chip. “Keep your hands off my mama…keep your hands off my Doritos,” he continues to the shocked date, getting nose to nose with him in the process. All the actors in the spot are African Americans.
Television commercials can be culturally damaging and irresponsible if they appear to approve, encourage, or endorse wrongful behavior and attitudes. Was this such an ad? Prager thinks so. Let’s examine his objections individually: Continue reading
Some concluding Ethics Alarms from the Brown-Coakley Senate race, many with the same dispiriting lesson: hyper-partisan zealotry is causing many Americans to abandon their senses of fairness, proportion, and common sense : Continue reading