Can’t win for losing

melissa-nelson-cnnMelissa Nelson

This week brought us two seemingly different, yet surprisingly similar, court cases involving women. The first case is from south of the border in Iowa where a dental hygienist named Melissa Nelson was fired for being so attractive that her boss couldn’t trust himself around her. She did the only thing she could do. She sued on grounds of gender discrimination and the all male Iowa supreme court sided with her boss. Apparently it’s entirely understandable that her hornier than thou boss fired a long time employee and married mother of 2, who, from all accounts, he was in no danger of sleeping with, rather than act like a professional and keep his pants zipped. Sadly, the boss’s wife also plays a major role in this drama. When she found out that the dentist and his hygienist had sent text messages to each other, she demanded that Melissa be fired. I have news for you, lady. If he can’t be trusted around one woman, he can’t be trusted around any of them. And just exactly what does he mean that he couldn’t trust himself around his employee, who, by the way, had worked for him for 10 years? Does he mean that he can’t help but flirt with her? Or perhaps he means he can’t help but verbally harass her. Or maybe he means that, even if she says no, he won’t be able to stop himself from having sex with her. So this woman, who had done nothing wrong, gets fired because nobody bothered to consider that she actually had a say in who she decided to sleep with… or, in this case, not sleep with.

Then there was a case from this side of the 49th parallel where a Muslim woman wanted to testify while wearing a niqab.

Nahla Hashad N.S., a woman who wants to testify in court, while wearing her niqab.

The Supreme Court of Canada released their decidedly ambiguous ruling last week, basically saying whether or not a niqab would be allowed in court would be decided on a case by case basis. As a feminist, the niqab fills me with all sorts of anger. The niqab, is a garment used to cover the face of women (because the burqa didn’t cover enough) so that Muslim men are less likely to be distracted by a pesky erection in their daily lives. As much as I am entirely against the wearing of a niqab, in this case I find myself with mixed feelings. N.S. is charging her uncle and her cousin with sexual assault. She wants to wear her niqab in court. The lawyers for her attackers want her to have to remove it saying that they should be able to face their attacker in court. This seems to me to be purely a power move designed to stop N.S. from testifying. If she removes her niqab in a court room full of male strangers, she will be ostracized and humiliated by her community and branded a whore, which, to me, is basically akin to raping her all over again. Because the Supreme Court’s ruling passes the buck, N.S. might still have to remove her niqab.

There have been many countries who have banned the burqa and the niqab, including France, Belgium and even Syria. If the Canadian government had the balls to follow suit, instead of kowtow to a religion… a religion, whose text, I might add, does not say that a woman must cover her face, unless she is the wife of the Prophet, then this wouldn’t even be an issue. Even a Canadian Muslim group is calling for a ban.

So because these men won’t take responsibility for their own erect penises, two more women must pay the price.

Obsessed

One response to “Can’t win for losing

  1. Eek! Both of these cases are horrifying- and you’re right- interestingly similar in that men are not being made to take any responsibility and the women are being put on trial for having done nothing wrong- and in the case of the Muslim woman, for being a victim. These are cases where it is overwhelmingly obvious that we live in a patriarchal system and where the underrepresentation of women in government and in the legal system, negatively affects the women in the society. Absolutely despicable!
    Thanks for the post! -Liza Wolff-Francis, Matrifocal Point

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