My Blog Week: September 6 to September 12
A Word on the Week
The Tale of Associate Brown
The company that employs her has issued a directive. In the interest of gender-inclusivity, all employees are to be referred to by rank: Officer (c-suite); Leader (management); Technician (special skills staff); and Associate (clerical support, environmental services, building maintenance…). No one is “he” or “she”, or even “they”. No one has a gender here, only a title and name.
Associate Brown has noticed that men in her department are given more chances at plum assignments; more chances, then, to receive high marks on performance evaluations. Women seem shut out of advancement, are paid fewer bonuses, and overall, despite starting wages equal per job description, are less likely to achieve a ten-year anniversary earning as much as their male counterparts.
In her most recent evaluation, Associate Brown was warned by her Leader that she was not “standing out” in performance, and that if the department budget were cut, he would have difficulty justifying her presence on the staff.
She goes to Human Capital to lodge a complaint. She is warned in stronger terms:
“Associate Brown, we never make references to gender. That’s in the company handbook, and you should have been told also in your orientation. Gender-references are grounds for dismissal. If this happens again, you will be let go.”
Maybe an exaggeration, maybe not. After all, the Australian state of Victoria recently “protected” sexual assault victims by making it a crime for them to name themselves publicly. Politically correct redesignations can be coopted on purpose to shut down conversation (though it isn’t clear whether the Victoria law was written with intent or clumsiness).
This is because backwards doesn’t work in social/cultural reform. If the new attitude isn’t culturally adopted first, the new language will polarize at best. It may even obscure truth and offer a blank check to old-fashioned injustice.
Consider the trans community. The propagandist twist on well-meant efforts at recognition is to assume a victim, then take a stand on the victim’s behalf. People with nothing personal at stake can stir plenty of trouble striking the pose of righteously angry supporter.
Never mind that special terminology is a singling-out, not an including. The actual proposition is, “Knowing irrationally hateful people will do violence to your property, your reputation and opportunities, your body—possibly fatal violence—would you like a third party to jump in and insist to these same people that they learn a new way of speaking or risk being publicly shamed…all for your sake!”
When someone plays the role of friend, and you have few friends, it’s easy to fall in with them. People in the arts, also, don’t always view their position as privileged, imagining things they talk about among themselves viable for workers in the trenches, or average people trying to live.
Again, consider police brutality. There are both laws and departmental policies prohibiting escalation, unprovoked shooting, etc. But the broader culture hasn’t accepted the wrong of police brutality. Entertainment definitely has something to answer for, as the message goes to the class less likely to encounter the police in what feel like life-endangering circumstances—the message being police actions are always right and never to be questioned.
We’re undergoing a shift on this issue, the BLM movement and the barrage of videos teaching those who hadn’t known, what cultural rejection of cultural reality costs. We hope it sticks, but need to be wary of the Very Helpful, and of new behaviors that don’t act to change underlying beliefs beforehand.
On Monday, a new story from Baron Haussmann, about a countryside criminal ring. Tuesday, The Mirrors (part seventeen), a memory of Charmante’s aunt key to the coming confrontation. Wednesday, a new Jumping Off poem, “Fall Sick”, another take on storytelling conventions. Thursday, part eight of Shine!, by Mathilde Alanic, famed author Patrice Conan taking time to acknowledge Annie. Friday and Saturday, excerpts from A Figure from the Common Lot, “Gone Before”, and “Peas in a Pod”; Honoré recovered in time to feel a new danger, and Richard in Louisville, discovering his father.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: September 6 to September 12