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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Separate But Equal

Right off, I'm going to concede that that is a misleading and insensitive title. But, if you're looking for sensitivity, please stop reading now...

Okay, good. Now that it's just us, let's continue. A little while back, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about how I've had enough with this bullshit where we define equality as completely ignoring our differences. I'm all for equality, but no way in hell are we all the same! This applies to all differences, racial, national, but specifically, I was talking about gender differences when this came up.

I said, that if I were running a small business, and I had two candidates applying for the same job, and one was male, and the other female, that, all things being equal (as in, I think skill-wise, they would perform at equally mediocre levels), I would choose the male over the female if the female were of reproductive age because there would be the risk of her taking maternity leave. That's a fact. I provided a caveat where, if the woman were willing to sign a contract that said she would not get pregnant while under my employment, then that would work for me. Is that sexist? Maybe. But it seems to pretty clearly be the smarter move for my company, does it not? Let me again state, that this is in a case where both candidates are equally qualified. If the woman were better qualified to make money for my company, then fuck that guy she's going against, because I will hire her. People, women in particular, react rather negatively to that overall sentiment, but I don't understand why I should be willing to risk my financial independence because I have to pretend that these biological differences don't exist and won't affect me.

You want to call me sexist? Fine. You can go ahead and call me intelligence-ist, too, because I also refuse to hire stupid people. Why is that any different? Half the population can't help being born female (not that I even think that's a detriment; I'm just making a relevant point), but far more than half the population can't help being born stupid. And guess what? If I have a sales position that would generate greater income if it were filled by a more attractive person, then I will discriminate based on physical appearance, not because I hate ugly people (but c'mon, seriously, right?), but because that's what's best for my company! In fact, in that instance, that position would be more likely to be filled by a female...of reproductive age (because we all know women are no longer attractive after that window, am I right?).

Awww... Am I hurting your feelings? Well, you'll have plenty of time to cry about it at home because my imaginary company will not be hiring you, because Curmudgeon, Inc. doesn't have time for overly sensitive pussies.

I mean, listen, I want to be a professional athlete. But guess what? In some crazy scheme to turn a profit, it turns out all these professional sports leagues discriminate based on physical prowess because THAT'S WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR FUCKING COMPANIES! I'm not gonna go whine about it and sue them for discrimination just because I wasn't born 6'7" and don't possess the skill set they need to make money. Nobody's going to line up to pay money to watch me play basketball. In fact, every Monday night, I have to pay my money for court time.

Look, I know this all sounds a little harsh, and that sort of thinking is, in a way, what contributed to our current economic mess, because corporations can justify a lot of terrible things under the umbrella of "doing what's best for the company" (which maybe throws into question the viability of an economy based entirely on the free market/capitalism--not that I have any better suggestions at the moment), but my point is just that we're all different. And we discriminate against each other all the time based on these differences. I mean, Jesus Christ. Have one conversation with a friend about dating and you'll quickly be reminded of how discriminatory we are. Too short. Too fat. Not the right religion. She eats her peas one at a time. Unfair discrimination is clearly wrong, but not all discrimination is unfair. Our differences are real and we can stop pretending they're not for the sake of faux equality. Different people have different advantages for a whole host of reasons. And what's an advantage in one situation can be a disadvantage in another.

And for the record, I do support affirmative action, because minorities, specifically black people, were very clearly systematically and institutionally discriminated against in this country, in an attempt to keep them from ever being able to socially and economically establish themselves enough to be upwardly mobile and compete with white people. I don't think an underqualified applicant should be chosen over a qualified white applicant, for example, but I do think if both a white and black applicant were overall, equally qualified, the black applicant should be accepted, because statistically speaking, he/she probably had a much tougher road to reach that same level of achievement as the white person he/she would be competing against.

Furthermore, people often shy away from stereotypes, and generally for good reason, but I don't know... Lots of Jews do have big noses and are good with money, though not all of them. Take my mom for example: she doesn't have a big nose and she's terrible with money. Lots of black guys love big asses and can jump high...but not all of 'em. Many Asians are hard workers and bad drivers, but not--well...maybe with the driving thing...uhhh... A lot of Russians love vodka. A lot of Australians surf. A lot of Middle Easterners eat hummus. You should take everyone you meet on a case-by-case basis, but it's kind of nice to have cultural differences, no? Life would be painfully boring without all these differences. I wouldn't want to travel around the world and have everyone and everything be exactly as they are in my home town. How much would that suck?! It's bad enough that every corner of the globe has a Starbucks and McDonald's. Do we have to homogenize the people now, too?! We're different. Stop being pussies and trying to be the same as everyone else. Figure out where you fit in given your physical and mental capabilities, and deal with it. I will never be a Major League Baseball pitcher. It's okay. Accept yourself and embrace our diversity because life would be way more dull without it...unless you're a goddamn queer! (Joke.)

So maybe not "separate but equal," so much as "together despite different?"


  1. When hiring the male, would you ask him to sign a contract to not become a father of a time-demanding child, go on a many month leave to take care of an ailing parent or decide to do a rigorous night school program? Wouldn't these male life choices also affect you and your company?

    From my perspective, you are not talking about gender differences but rather the ability for a woman to choose what she wants to do with her life. Males make similar life choices. Granted, they may not be as physical as a pregnancy, but it seems... curmudgeonly to say the least... to make that decision for her when considering her as hire.

  2. Obviously there's a large variety of reasons for which an employee, male or female, can opt to be scarce. There's always that risk. But a female would carry the same risk of leaving for all those reasons you listed, AND the pregnancy one.

    If I interviewed a guy who I thought was a big flight risk, I wouldn't hire him either, for sure. Case-by-case basis. That was just an example if I felt everything else were totally equal and I couldn't decide between the two.

    Good to hear from you, A...