Tuesday, September 25, 2007

XES

This is a new term of mine, pronounced like Excess. It refers to reverse sexual discrimination.

We are relatively well protected against sexual harassment and discrimination, although more in theory than in practice. Every so often a big class action case makes the news, such as female workers at a company like Walmart not earning similar wages to male employees or being bypassed when promotions are at issue. But in reality our society has accepted women earning less than their male counterparts for the same job, and employers have a long list of reasons for this, starting with maternity leaves and ending with PMS and lost productivity. Women are less likely to be available for business dinners and other after-hours activities, as they have a home to run.

What seldom makes the news is when XES takes place and a younger 'sex kitten' gets promoted because the boss likes the attention. There may be an actual relationship involved or the higher-up is at least playing with the thought. Paul Wolfowitz thought it natural to promote his girlfriend, Libyan-born Shaha Ali Riza; ultimately it of course cost him his job at the World Bank. But for every high profile case there must be countless others where a female has replaced a more capable male because her superior has had the hots for her. Of course, there are female bosses who have their eyes on younger males and the opposite can happen. Also, a company or an organization may be headed by a homosexual who will make sure that only other gays (or lesbians) climb up the ladder. This is particularly widespread in the arts: a head of a company may make his rounds in the orchestra pit before a performance, certain people are constantly seen visiting a maestro's dressing room, or a gay critic will blindly praise a lesbian violinist or the spouse of a man he feels attracted to, even if the latter may not be 'available'.

No, I'm not homophobic: I have nothing against homosexuals as long as they are not after young children. Many are among the gifted in the arts and I count a number of them as good friends. Nor do I have anything against the more beautiful sex; however provocative clothing or behavior better suited for an escort service are not the credentials required for a promotion. But our laws do not really protect a man being replaced by a favorite 'chick', nor a woman by a gay object of admiration of her superior.

Perhaps wisely, at the start of the industrial revolution, people argued about the wisdom of mixing men and women in the same workplace. In many Muslim countries this is impossible, and to a lesser extent among the Orthodox Jews. We cannot deny the sexuality in us, although some mainly religious institutions have tried to. If we are as advanced a species as we claim, with proper upbringing and education we should be able to handle these everyday situations. People will always be attracted to each other. Nature made it that way in order for mankind to survive. But if we are talking about a true democracy, such feelings need to be suppressed at the workplace, for the common good and health of the organization or firm. Too often the culprits of such behavior have a long personal history of not sticking to promises and commitments. It is sad enough when a woman who has given a man the best years of her life is served notice that he now has decided to shack up with a 'younger model'. At least she doesn't have to put up with the humiliation of a loyal male worker being brushed aside because of increased testosterone levels of a boss.

Many polygamist societies have allowed a man to take several wives; that way the first (and eldest) will still be respected and taken care of. A few systems provide the same for a woman: in parts of India where men are too poor to properly support a wife, a few of them will do so together. Although my moral values obviously don't agree with this, I do understand the age-old thinking behind it. Abraham had his Sarai and Hagar after all, and at the funeral of a late French president Fran├žois Mitterand, both the wife and the mistress walked side by side after the coffin of the man who had fathered their children.

Bill Clinton acted only like a healthy, although weak in flesh, heterosexual male with his Monica. At least he didn't try to nominate her to the Supreme Court or become his Secretary of State. Forgive the man for his hormones and virility. Nobody died and nobody even got the boot, with the exception of Miss Lewinsky herself.