Sex discrimination in employment
By Raj Kumar Singh
The many biases against men
1994 Federal Way, Wash. - "Take it like a man" is a phrase that represents a major part of the social training of every American male. In the past (and even in large measure today), it's taken to mean that a man should accept a burden, and do so without complaint; failing that, he should at least be self-sufficient in relieving himself of those burdens that he finds intolerable.
Many of our male citizens, however, have taken to redefining this phrase. Nowadays, men often feel that a "real man" doesn't properly accept the oppression of sex discrimination. In fact, more and more often they are demanding and receiving the assistance of government agencies in seeking redress from their offenders -- with positive results!
During the first years of the '90s, over 17 percent of the complaints alleging sex discrimination that were filed by men - a pretty high figure considering the social pressure on a man to accept his problems quietly. To some, then, "take it like a man" has come to instruct men to fight negative treatment and to freely demand help from their government in doing so.
Be Aware of Sex Discrimination Against men
In this context, the job for the man of today is to maintain an awareness of what constitutes sex discrimination from the male perspective. Additionally, he must be prepared to prove that it was perpetrated against him, and most importantly, he must have the gumption to take action against the discriminating parties regardless of the level of support he receives from those around him.
Some of the actions that constitute sex discrimination against men may surprise even the relatively enlightened. Being expected to do the dirtier, more dangerous, and/or more physically challenging jobs around the worksite simply because one is male, is not a compliment to the worker's masculinity -- these expectations are sexually discriminatory. Contrary to popular opinion, an employer cannot legally set up an "affirmative action program" simply based on a desire to generate numerical equality between the sexes in a certain job category. (Explicit, demanding criteria must be satisfied for "reverse discrimination" to be legally approvable.) And when a female coworker and a supervisor swap sex for a promotion that should have gone to a man, he's a victim of sex discrimination under the law.
Many victims are men
For our society to be able to deal with this issue productively, we must first abandon the notion that gender discrimination always involves male perpetrators and female victims. Rather, they are best seen as person-against-person transactions. I've made a study of human rights commission files and have interviewed numerous male complainants. Based on that study, I've come to the conclusion that none of the respected stereotypes are of any practical value. I've talked to gay men who've filed complaints of gender discrimination based on their sexual orientation -- and I've talked to the wife of a man who was the victim of a supervisor who was openly gay.
Men have been denied employment based on the idea that the open position was "a woman's job" (e.g. motel housekeeper) -- as well as because an employer simply wanted to see more women become bartenders, "a traditionally male occupation." And I've read of cases where male complainants have prevailed against employers who supported sexually abusive supervisors or coworkers, who were in some cases female and in others, male.
If you are a man and think you may be a victim of sex discrimination, call your state governor's office and request information as to what state and local agencies are in place to accept your complaint. Also, call the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1-800-669-3362) to find out if federal law applies to your specific situation. And, of course, there are many attorneys that specialize in this area and can counsel you on the merits of filing a civil suit. Stand up for your rights! Your complaint wouldn't be the first to meet with success.