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Trapped by PC
Entry 238, on 2005-10-19 at 14:07:10 (Rating 4, News)
In my blog entry of 2005-07-29, I mentioned a case where a corrections officer had been suspended for breaching the policies of her organisation and speaking directly to the media. It was about an incident where she refused to sit at the back of a room during a Maori meeting - Maori tradition dictates that only men can sit at the front. Today we hear she has been fired.
While this is not surprising, it is totally unacceptable, in my opinion. Effectively she spoke out on a political matter. Organisations and companies shouldn't be able to make up any rules they like and expect to enforce them. The only way progress is made on these issues is my embarrassing the groups involved. In fact a policy is being created now to balance the two issues.
I certainly wouldn't want the job of creating the policy - well actually maybe I would, because I enjoy being politically incorrect! But if you are a bureaucrat trapped between two areas of totally nonsensical political correctness: feminist and racial issues... well, good luck!
The way I see it, the answer is easy. No one has the right to force another person into a subservient position, and especially not on the basis of their gender. Maori protocol needs to evolve. Maybe there was a "good reason" originally (something to do with visitors being potentially unfriendly and the men being at the front for protection) but that is no longer relevant, so lets forget it.
I do support diverse cultural practices - and I definitely don't want to see everyone acting the same way - but on balance this one should be abandoned, or at least some flexibility should be observed when a woman wants to sit in a position in the room based on her seniority. After all, I think this is all about power and control more than some deep connection with culture. Even our prime minister (a woman) has had problems with this in the past.
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