Read Grace’s Letter


Dear Grace,

What is sexism? Great question, and if you asked random people, you’d likely get random answers. Why? I’m not sure anyone really knows, as it’s all in some grey area. Is there a list of things a man can’t say somewhere?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m condoning neither sexual harassment nor gender-based rude treatment or remarks. But this could be a very, very, fine line.

What’s different in Canada is that nearly nobody sues anyone. Sure, there are law cases going on right now in Canada, but very few, if any at all, with one person suing another person, especially for sexism. If a lawsuit happens here, it’s usually about sexual harassment or worse, or for a wrongful dismissal.

Instead of allowing the victim to sue for monetary gain, the offender will be fired from his job. There is no monetary gain from a sexism complaint. Someone gets fired, and, so, they can’t do it again. This still doesn’t stop the complaints, whether justified or not. And to compensate, the corporations put in place procedures such as supervisors work in teams and not one on one with frontline staff.

I do speak from experience here, as I once had a problem employee file a sexual-harassment claim against me and another supervisor, once she figured out she was going to get fired. She claimed we both hit on her in a coaching session. What she didn’t pick up on is that the other supervisor was openly gay. She didn’t get a payday; she got fired.

My scenario sounds like it may have ended quite differently in the U.S., and it wouldn’t have been pretty either. The big difference is that our legal systems differ so greatly from Canada to the U.S. So, I do have to ask, is this really a sexism problem or is it really a problem inherent in the U.S. legal system and the litigious society in which it operates?

Personally, I think that sexism lawsuits won’t stop until laws are changed and/or made to prevent this being about monetary gain sought by people just because their feelings were hurt. Real reform must guarantee that real victims get real care and healing, and it must afford equal protection to those who truly can’t afford a lawyer. All victims still need their jobs. But at least it would limit what scumbag lawyers and pseudo-victims can gain.

Reform efforts must make it harder for money-grubbing “victims’ to hurt the alleged perpetrators either out of hopes for monetary gain or just plain revenge. There are crappy people everywhere, and laws are needed to make that stop. To attack this issue further, companies also need procedures in place to protect all their employees as well as their company.

I truly believe that, without some serious law reform, these sexism suits will continue to hurt innocent people.

I did get called a “sexist” in public once. I held a door open for a lady when I was entering a store. She called me a sexist. I apologized but explained that I didn’t hold the door open for her because she was a woman — it was because she was so much older than I was. Good thing she didn’t sue me for being ageist, I guess. But, I’ll continue to hold open doors for any sex and any age…cause I’m a rebel like that (wink).



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