Archive for February, 2011

How to end sex discrimination in one easy step

February 15th, 2011

Make it a men’s issues instead of a women’s issue.

I read about yet another workplace sexual harassment lawsuit today. These stories are a regular occurrence in the news. You can change the names and workplaces, and get basically the same story every time.

Multiple choice “Make Your Own Sexual Harassment Story” generator:

Woman gets job, woman’s male colleagues make inappropriate comments a) [behind her back] b) [in front of her]. Woman is denied a) [raises] b) [perks] c) [promotions] d) [all of the above]. Colleagues make a) [explicit] b) [implied] comments about taking maternity and parental leave, and how it will negatively affect your career. Woman a) [gets fired] b) [leaves for another job] and sues the former employer.

The sad fact is, that men are just as victimized by this behaviour as women are. Grown up men who work in these offices are likely to be offended by the same juvenile antics, just as much as women. Maybe they don’t say anything because they’re afraid of not getting the raise or promotion. Nonetheless, they are entitled to a workplace that is free from this kind of office politics. How many of these men have kids? How many did not take a parental leave after their kids were born, because it would be bad for their careers, even if they wanted to?

These men are suffering too, probably without realizing it. They are putting up with a workplace that could be better for everyone, themselves included. Many must be too chicken to say anything, lest they suffer the same fate as their female counterparts. If you think taking leave is such a hardship on one’s career, why assume that the mother of your children should be stuck with that? Shouldn’t you share? Or better yet, shouldn’t you stand up in your own workplace for the rights you have under the law to share part of that magical first year with your kids?!

These “women’s issues” need to be seen as “family issues,” that affect men equally. Only then will we have achieved any kind of lasting solution. Until that day, women will continue to be victims and men will continue to be silent accomplices, and continue to miss out on the benefits and rights they are just as much entitled to.

We are all Egyptians now

February 2nd, 2011

Last summer, police in Alexandria tortured and murdered a 28-year-old man named Khaled Said. Afterwards, supporters created a website called We are all Khaled Said. This horrific event was one of many catalysts leading up to the the current revolution to end the brutal dictatorship in Egypt.

Today, we are all Egyptians. The peaceful protesters who had gathered over the past week, have been attacked by armed men. Witnesses say they have seen government officials paying people to join the attackers, and found government IDs on some attackers. I don’t think you need witnesses to know the truth, you just need to put two and two together:

  • A week of peaceful protests telling the dictator to step down (peaceful except when they were attacked by police)
  • A dictator who said last night he’s not going anywhere any time soon, and there would be chaos if people didn’t go home
  • A day later, violent attackers descend on the protesters, complete with tear gas

I mean, come on. This is the same government that shut down the internet, confiscated journalists’ camera equipment, and arrested the journalists! The dictator has no clothes!

You can find out more on Al Jazeera’s English channel, as well as from many Egyptians on the internet, including my friend and colleague from the Drupal community, Khalid Baheyeldin — Khalid’s blogKhalid’s twitter feed.

I do not know what we outside Egypt can do, except exercise our own freedoms in support of theirs. That’s why I am writing this. We can all contact our elected leaders and urge them to articulate our outrage and to pressure the powers that be in Egypt to yield to the will of the people. If you are in Canada, go to the prime minister’s website and send him a message. And as long as you know your postal code, you can get contact info for your local member of parliament and tell them what you’re thinking.

Millions of Egyptians are trying to change their country for the better. What can it mean for our own freedoms, if we do not stand against the egregious oppression they are facing in this struggle? Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.