When we think about unintended consequences, we usually refer to economics.
And that’s with good reason, since most of the time when the government takes action to intervene in the economy it usually has negative, unanticipated impacts. That’s why we always need to be thoughtful when we address problems. It would be nice, if the cure to a disease was less harmful than the affliction. Right?
The onset of the #metoo movement brings much-needed attention to the issue of sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace. But here’s the thing: what if the pendulum swing far away from outright sexual harassment? If society becomes overly Puritan, will that benefit women?
Detrimental Unintended Consequences
Of course not. Instead, it will ultimately obliterate feminism’s goals. Ah, the irony.
Here’s the thing: if society becomes hypersensitive, don’t you think people are going to do everything possible to protect themselves?
For instance, Vice President Mike Pence came under scrutiny in 2016 because he revealed that he doesn’t take a meetings alone with women unless there’s someone else present.
He was criticized for it, but that was before this #metoo movement. Now, he looks wise. Will more people follow Pence’s thought process?
Let’s do a thought experiment. If a male hiring manager has two job candidates before him, and they’re both equally qualified, will he hire the male candidate or the female candidate in a hypersensitive environment?
The question is rhetorical, of course he would hire the male candidate, that way nothing he does can be misconstrued as sexual harassment. He will have no fear of “human resources” crashing down on him and potentially ruining his life.
And when women do get hired, are men going to think twice about mentoring them in a professional manner? Again, that’s rhetorical.
None of this is good for women. Yet nobody is thinking this far ahead, likely because it’s not easy.
The state legislature recently convened a committee to study sexual harassment. Teresa Tanzi, who claimed that she had been a victim of it at the legislature, chaired the committee.
Legislature Addresses Issue
Here’s how Tanzi views the issue, according to a release from the General Assembly’s public relations department.
“Our laws dealing with sexual harassment were enacted over 30 years ago, and then were mostly left unchanged in the decades since. As anyone can see from the number of people who say they experience sexual harassment, inappropriate comments or have felt they have to stay silent about such behavior in order to get along at work or in society, our existing laws haven’t really been very effective, said Tanzi.
“What we really need is a shift in society’s norms. But updated, more effective laws would go a long way toward getting us there, both by helping to protect people and provide justice, and by educating people about what’s inappropriate and what they should not tolerate.”
To that end, the Commission’s members have submitted a series of bills that they believe will help address the issue of sexual harassment. The bills would prohibit companies from requiring non disclosure agreements, exclude the period of investigation of a discrimination case by the Human Rights Commission from counting toward the statute of limitations, expand and clarify the definition of “employees” for purposes of the fair employment, mandate sexual harassment training for employees and supervisors of employers of 50 or more employees, among similar measures.
All of those ideas sound decent. To that end, the legislature deserves some credit.
But we need to guard against hysteria over this issue, since it could hurt women and men alike.
A New World Order?
Perhaps, in the relatively near future, the pendulum of society will have swung completely in the opposite direction though. Maybe lawmakers will demand that corporations hire a certain percentage of women–probably somewhere around 70 percent. That will be done to address a new problem of men not hiring women to avoid the #metoo issue completely.
That could lead men to avoid the workplace completely.
Maybe 2030’s America will closely resemble 1950s America. Except instead of men dominating the workplace, it will be women. Men will stay home in most households and act as caregivers to children and homemakers of families.
Is that the end goal?