You have probably heard about this. I mean, Melissa Nelson, a female dental assistant was fired after ten years because her boss believed that she was “irresistible” and that an affair with her was inevitable down the road.
First of all, let me just talk about this generally. I’ve said: “Damn, girl, nobody’s going to be able to keep their hands off of you!” It’s often a prophesy that I fulfill myself, because I am very handsy with my friends when I’m drunk. Truth be told, I’m not exactly prim and proper when I’m sober.
Shocking, I know.
I do not, however, literally mean that anyone’s appearance or attire will somehow release this siren song or Poison Ivy (from comics, not botany) pheromone that shuts down someone’s prefrontal cortex and lets the amygdala run wild.
It’s an expression, you guys.
Unless you are Phineas Gage*, you can probably moderate your social behavior enough to not have an affair with a coworker, now matter how “irresistible” you deem her to be.
At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, claiming that a woman is so irresistible that you cannot imagine yourself not eventually having sex with her sounds rapey. It’s not the same thing, but, logically, it’s a few steps away from “but look at how she was dressed,” or “she was asking for it.” Because, let us not forget, this is not a coworker of his who is pressuring him to sleep with her. This entire “inevitable affair” scenario exists solely in his mind. The whole “it takes two to tango” thing applies here—otherwise it’s rape. Unless the dentist in …
… question believes that he, too, is somehow irresistible, no affair is inevitable. He’s just being weird about finding her attractive.
You guys, I have a lot of attractive friends. Drop-dead gorgeous friends. You just deal with it.
Now, that’s just the issue of his complaint. You guys, he fired her, and his firing of her was upheld. Which is nonsense.
You can fire someone for his or her appearance if it is relevant to that profession. If a “studly” actor balloons up in weight and refuses to lose the weight (there are a number of actors who gain a lot of weight between films but start working with a trainer and lose it in between) or if a female swimsuit model refuses to shave any of her body hair, well, it makes sense to fire them. Similarly, hiring a black actor to play a black character is not “affirmative action.” It’s just . . . sensibly filling the position.
I am also totally fine with someone being fired for not meeting workplace hygiene standards or for smelling terrible. I have a very strong sense of smell and may be a little biased (multiple friends have confessed to me that they associate the smell of vanilla with me because my room/apartment tends to always have that smell), but if someone smells universally bad, it’s reasonable to fire him or her. It’s not the same as that person being ugly. You can’t just avert your gaze, and it is a lot easier to take daily showers than it is to lose 50 pounds or buy a new face. (Mind you, this should be quasi-universally repellant smells. I don’t like the smell of chocolate at all, but someone having chocolate breath is not the same as someone having what’s-a-toothbrush breath)
And, again, his firing of this woman was upheld. By the Iowa Supreme Court. Which is comprised entirely of men.
I am all for respecting the rights of employers, but there are exceptions. No one should be fired for reasons of obvious prejudice (race, sexual orientation, religion, etc). That’s basic decency. The only person who should be fired for being attractive is an actor who is supposed to play a hideous character.
This is all SO ridiculous, because this is a woman’s source of income. This is her life.
*That’s the guy who lost part of his brain thanks to a dynamite accident but lived and suddenly no longer had a filter with regard to his words and actions. No impulse-control. Because that part of his brain was no longer physically present within his skull, and could no longer censor him. You’ve read about him.