Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It's A Man's World After All

Only twelve hours after pushing something the size of a melon through a bodily opening the size of a lemon, a Houston woman had to leave the hospital, and heavily medicated, take a 2.5 hour firefighter promotion exam. Why? She had been waiting for two years for the chance to take the exam, and then found out it was going to be held shortly after her due date. And she had no other choice.

She asked to be allowed to take the exam at the hospital, but she “was told there could be no exceptions, except for firefighters on active military duty.” Undeterred, she even considered inducing labor a couple of days early, but the doctor advised against it due to likely medical complications.

Despite all the obstacles, she took the exam and got 104 out of 110 questions right!

Her success, however, does not undermine the fact that this is still a man’s world. To all my friends out there who tell me that sex discrimination is no longer an issue, and that feminism is ever so passé, consider this: why isn’t “giving labor” considered a good enough excuse to have the firefighters’ promotion exam administered at a different location?

I do not think that they (the firefighters, etc.) were consciously trying to keep a woman from taking the exam and getting promoted in this largely male profession.

However, I do believe that their failure to consider this woman’s predicament and their failure to make reasonable accommodations clearly illustrate the passive sexism still present in our society. By passive, I mean that they did not actively make it difficult for her to take the test (i.e. they did not purposely set the exam date to coincide with her labor), but they blindly and passively supported the sexist status quo that only (or I should say, largely made accommodations for male firefighters (firefighters on active military duty are mostly men).

So tell me now, should the women's lib movement be allowed to die?