Monday, June 23, 2008

The Reasonable Woman

Bill is almost done with his BA at University of Phoenix. I would say that it will be a huge relief when it is over, but honestly, the last year or so has not been hard at all (on me). In the beginning I was very involved in proof-reading papers, but lately I haven't even known when one class ends and the other class begins. There came a point in his schooling when he went all business on me and that is when I completely lost interest. OK, OK, I just don't get it. Business, shmizness, blah, blah, blah. His latest class was on sexual harassment. I know this because I kept finding all these articles and papers strewn around the house about it. I became a little concerned and asked, "Babe, is there something I need to know about?" He laughed and said, "No. But if a man leers at you, you should count how many seconds he does it. If it is for 6 seconds that is OK, but once he hits 7 seconds or longer you can charge him with sexual harassment." He then proceeded to leer at me for 6 seconds, dramatically turning away at the count of 7. What a joker.

Last night, Bill broke his vow to never again let me read one of his papers and he handed me his sexual harassment paper. I'm sure it's mostly because they have had many good debates in his class and he wanted to share this information with me. It could also be because harassment is largely a woman's issue and he thinks I care about that stuff. I stopped periodically and would ask him a question because the whole thing didn't make sense. His paper made sense, but sexual harassment doesn't make sense. The whole thing is a big crock. One of the odd changes to the law has been changing the wording of how we judge whether sexual harassment has occurred. Apparently the standard for evaluating a situation used to be done through a reasonable person's point of view. Now the law states that using the word person is not enough, it now says reasonable woman. Bill was completely irritated at me because I think that distinction is exactly why we have so many problems with our legal system. He gave up on me last night but emailed me this today:

"The reasonable woman standard is a legal fiction alternative to the reasonable person.It is used in sexual harassment litigation in some courts in the United States.It recognizes a difference between men and women regarding the effect of unwanted sexual interaction.Because women historically have been more vulnerable to rape and sex-related violence than have men, these courts believe that the proper perspective for evaluating a claim of sexual harassment is that of the reasonable woman."

Obviously Bill has done quite a bit more research on this subject and even completed a presentation this evening on the subject, mocking me in front of his class. I understand the need for laws on the matter but is it too much to ask that people in general act in a reasonable way?
But then again, I was just this weekend accused of having too much faith in humanity. I imagine that is true, but I'd be a sad case if I changed who I am to fit into the way the law works. So for now I'll just make sure Bill doesn't switch back to the Hooter Girl Swim Suit competition and try to keep this woman as reasonable as I can. (And as you know, this is sometimes easier said than done!)


April said...

How funny, I just referenced you in my blog tonight too. Our references happened at the same event. And, what I want to know is how do you determine if a woman is "reasonable"? Samantha's view is very different from Charlotte's view, but i think they would both think of themselves as reasonable women. Hmmm. PS I watched the same episode tonight along with three others. It's marathon time in my home.

H said...

I think most men would argue that most women are not reasonable. They might make the point that Charlotte and Samantha are TV personalities, but I agree with you that they have completely different, yet reasonable points of view.
(Now I'll have to go see what flattering thing you said about me!)