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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Sexism and is it worth getting upset over? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Sexism and is it worth getting upset over?
Belle
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So my daughter (18 years old) was pulled over for speeding. And she was speeding, no question. She shouldn't have been. No discussion or question about that.

We told her to go to court and ask to speak to the judge and see if it was possible, since this was her first offense, to do community service or a driving school in order to keep the ticket off her record and save me a ton of money in insurance costs.

She did that. Court was today. I wasn't there, but my husband was. They called on the way home to tell me that they paid the ticket, and community service was not an option. Oh well, end of story, learn a valuable lesson, etc. Right?

Uh, not quite.

See the judge didn't say community service is not an option. He said community service is not an option for girls.

Boys who are first time offenders are allowed to work and have the ticket expunged. Girls are not. So, if you speed in my hometown it's okay, just as long as you have outdoor plumbing.

I am not happy about this.

Note, it's not that she didn't get to have the ticket expunged - she DID speed, and so I'm fine with her having to pay the penalty for it (and she is having to work to pay us back the cost of the ticket, so it is coming out of her pocket.) What I am unhappy about is that the municipal court in my town allows for male drivers to have an alternative to the penalty, but not female drivers. In other words, if you're going to tell female drivers do the crime, pay the fee, then shouldn't you tell male drivers the same thing? All I ask is equity - just treat males and females equally under the law in this case.

My husband and I are fighting about this right now. He thinks that I have no reason getting upset and having what he calls "an emotional response" to this. I wondered if I might be over-reacting so I called some women and told them the story. They reacted the same way I did.

Now I put it to Hatrack. Is this something worth getting upset over? Or am I just an overemotional female who needs to just shut up and quit complaining because I'm not a part of the good ole boy network? (apologies for the snark, I am still not happy.)

And even if I am justified in getting upset...what can be done? My husband says if I complain all I will accomplish is having the opportunity for the boys taken away. I say good - at least there is equity then if NO ONE gets the community service option.

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BlackBlade
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The specifics in this case might not be life altering, but the principle certainly matters a lot to me. I think you are absolutely justified in your feelings on the matter.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
My husband says if I complain all I will accomplish is having the opportunity for the boys taken away. I say good - at least there is equity then if NO ONE gets the community service option.
So, your position is that it's better for nobody to get something good than for only some people to get it?

That I do not agree with.

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natural_mystic
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This sort of arbitrary asymmetry is definitely reason to be upset. The unfortunate thing is that the path of righting this wrong is probably very long and of uncertain success.
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Parkour
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Why?
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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
My husband says if I complain all I will accomplish is having the opportunity for the boys taken away. I say good - at least there is equity then if NO ONE gets the community service option.
So, your position is that it's better for nobody to get something good than for only some people to get it?

That I do not agree with.

I think everyone being equal in the eyes of the law is more valuable than boys being able to get out of a ticket.
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Uprooted
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I'm not one to spend a lot of time worrying about sexism, but that makes me mad, too. I would at least want an explanation of WHY boys are given the option and not girls.
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natural_mystic
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Parkour: to me or MPH?
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Belle
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quote:
So, your position is that it's better for nobody to get something good than for only some people to get it?

That I do not agree with.

Is equity important enough for us as a human society to force some people to give up things they had?

In this case, teenage boys would have to pay a ticket rather than work a few hours picking up trash in the park to get that ticket expunged. Is the loss of that opportunity more important in the long run than having a court system that considers males and females to be equals?

I'll take the equity, thanks.

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Rakeesh
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I would say the *ideal* solution would be to have the standard of justice raises for females to equal males. That'd be the first thing to try for. But if that turned out not to be possible, well then there's an injustice being done: to females. It's important to correct that injustice.

Frankly I'm baffled that that's *not* pretty straightforward, and I don't understand the PoV that says it's better for one group to be able to benefit when another can't rather than both groups benefitting. Because another way of saying that is, "Rather than both groups being equal."

That's all aside from the problem of your daughter being treated in a sexist way by her justice system. That's enough for anyone to get upset about. It'd take some pretty specific circumstances for that, "It's not for girls," not to be overtly sexist.

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Xavier
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I'm interested in the rational the court uses to justify the disparity.

Suppose it is something like: "Study X shows that males show a lower rate of recidivism after community service, and the same study showed that females respond better to paying a fine instead."

If that was the case, I'd be a lot more likely to cut them some slack. They are at least trying to govern effectively.

If they don't have any such rational reason for it, my outrage would be pretty high.

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Juxtapose
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As a male, I think you have every right to be upset.

Can you go to the local news station?

EDITED to add that if they DO just take away the option for boys, that would not in any way be your fault. If you point out an injustice, and they react spitefully, it's on them 100%.

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mr_porteiro_head
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My first guess would be that the program for community service is run by some non-profit organization, and that the court just doesn't have access to an acceptable program that accepts girls.
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Raymond Arnold
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I consider it worth getting upset over.
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scholarette
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I would be livid. I don't see why the solution couldn't be boys and girls get the community service option. But no question for me- this situation is wrong and should be stopped.
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ElJay
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Absolutely not an emotional reaction. That is entrenched sexism in the very place it should least be -- the way the government treats its citizens.
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advice for robots
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Would doing community service put your daughter in any danger? Perhaps putting a girl on a team of mostly boys is what they're trying to avoid. I'm not really sure what type of community service is involved here, so this might be irrelevant.
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Parkour
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quote:
Originally posted by natural_mystic:
Parkour: to me or MPH?

Sorry, mph.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
My husband says if I complain all I will accomplish is having the opportunity for the boys taken away. I say good - at least there is equity then if NO ONE gets the community service option.
So, your position is that it's better for nobody to get something good than for only some people to get it?

That I do not agree with.

Yeah, I have to call this out too. SO many of the same arguments were levied against Title IX.

In this case it is absolutely better to 'ruin' the opportunity for the boys if the state makes it a choice between that and an unacceptably sexist system. It's invalid to blame the whistleblowers for ruining the system, too.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Would doing community service put your daughter in any danger? Perhaps putting a girl on a team of mostly boys is what they're trying to avoid. I'm not really sure what type of community service is involved here, so this might be irrelevant.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to pick up trash in the most dangerous city in America, at night, while wearing a suit made out of money.
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Strider
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Belle, I think you have every right to be outraged. Though it's worth at least first trying to get a response concerning the rational for the disparity, before taking any more involved actions.
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Chris Bridges
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Boys have the option to keep their criminal record clear, girls do not. That, to me, is a major and indefensible act of discrimination and no, boys should not get that perk if girls cannot. Aren't all government programs supposed to be nondiscriminatory?
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Boys have the option to keep their criminal record clean
Small correction: minor traffic infractions such as speeding are generally not classified as crimes, and do not go on a person's criminal record.
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Rakeesh
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To be fair, I'm not sure Porter was objecting to this case here-but rather the concept expressed. He'll have to clarify (or not) at his leisure, though.

As for this specific case, some of the ideas mentioned here were things I considered-I can imagine some situations where it might be dangerous, but they'd be pretty darn unlikely. A sexist municipal judge seems more likely to me.

quote:
Small correction: minor traffic infractions such as speeding are generally not classified as crimes, and do not go on a person's criminal record.
Well, that's usually true (I think), but then the records they go on are easily searched even without paying anyone by private citizens - some people at work were doing it the other day - and apparently traffic infractions, non-criminal all turned up. I'm not sure if they'd still show up if the record was expunged.

In any event, it doesn't matter in the slightest to the overall question of the thread. There are definite benefits to having the opportunity to have one's record expunged of a traffic infraction, and they're being denied to females on what is very likely (for example, if there was a good explanation aside from judicial fiat, it's difficult to credit he wouldn't have said so) a sexist basis.

On a personal level, having one's husband respond to anger over such an event with, "...that's an emotional response..." well frankly, absent knowing other context, that sounds a bit sexist too. Though I quickly point out that it would depend on the entire disagreement and what else went around that statement.

Frankly just getting upset sounds pretty understated. I would be pissed.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
To be fair, I'm not sure Porter was objecting to this case here-but rather the concept expressed.
:nod: I was talking about the broad idea that if everybody can't have something, nobody should.

Maybe that wasn't fair of me to do, because it is more important that things be equitable when dealing with the legal system than in the general case.

As far as this specific case is concerned, it's definitely not fair. Without knowing more about why the community service is not an option for everyone, I don't have an opinion about whether anybody did anything unreasonable.

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Hobbes
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I want to go back to the OP: that's clearly sexism. How .. nefarious it is depends on the reason it works that way. Porter gave an example of a reason that would, in my mind, reduce the terribleness of it. Certainly you're justified in getting upset (I don't quite understand your husband's reasoning but it's always hard to communicate someone else's reasons, particularly when you disagree with them) but that's a different question than the thread title, "is it worth getting upset?". It really depends on what you plan on doing with your unhappiness. I know a lot of people who really like getting worked up into a lather about something and using the excuse that we need to take responsibility for the world around us. Which is true but they never do anything about it besides posting nasty things online so then I'd say it's not worth getting upset over because it will accomplish nothing other than you spending more time upset. If you have plans to do something about it, I think that would be great (and worth it). I have no idea how one would go about that, or what you can and can not accomplish that way.

I go into that because I've been thinking about my reaction if I was not given a job due to being LDS (I doubt this has happened but for some reason it's been on my mind a lot). I imagine I'd be quite upset but it would not be worth it. I'm pretty sure I would do nothing about it either; though I think I'd then be unhappy with myself as a result. I see these as corollary situations and I think it's a really hard situation to be in. Something was done that is clearly wrong (unjust, not a good thing for the justice system) but the cost of actually changing the reality of it is daunting at best. Can you choose not to be upset when it accomplishes nothing? If not, is that an indicator you should do something? I think the answer to both is 'no' but I'm not sure.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Chris Bridges
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Thing is, this is a situation where something could be done. If the local media gets interested, or enough people raise their voices and demand an explanation, I think the unfairness of this is obvious enough that it could be changed.
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Samprimary
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Yeah. To emphasize, you're absolutely right to be outraged by this situation. Your husband is flat-out wrong.

Take the whole story to the local media. Get some other people to call in with it. It's wonderfully sensational. It needs to be prodded at until it gets revoked out of shame.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
I would be livid. I don't see why the solution couldn't be boys and girls get the community service option. But no question for me- this situation is wrong and should be stopped.

Agreed! Your husband is absolutely wrong about this and his response is also sexist and kind of patronizing. Outrage is by definition an emotional response. That had nothing to do with whether its justified.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
My first guess would be that the program for community service is run by some non-profit organization, and that the court just doesn't have access to an acceptable program that accepts girls.

I would look into WHY things are that way. If it is arbitrary, then get a little mad about it. If there is a good reason, such as the one mph has suggested, then be less mad.

Find out if there are plans to allow girls to do it in the future. If they want to implement it but are having trouble finding a vendor or program to run it I would at least be a little more understanding of the current situation.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
My first guess would be that the program for community service is run by some non-profit organization, and that the court just doesn't have access to an acceptable program that accepts girls.

I would look into WHY things are that way. If it is arbitrary, then get a little mad about it. If there is a good reason, such as the one mph has suggested, then be less mad.

Find out if there are plans to allow girls to do it in the future. If they want to implement it but are having trouble finding a vendor or program to run it I would at least be a little more understanding of the current situation.

If the program for community service was run by a non-profit that would only accept Christians, would you consider it OK for the courts to offer this option only to Christians?

If not, why is discriminating against girls different?

[ April 08, 2011, 08:14 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Swampjedi
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Agreed! Your husband is absolutely wrong about this and his response is also sexist and kind of patronizing. Outrage is by definition an emotional response. That had nothing to do with whether its justified.

What, precisely, makes the husband sexist?

My wife has called me out on emotional responses, when the proper course of action was to let the rage run its course and then decide on how to act.

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Teshi
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I agree that Belle's husband finding her outrage out of line is sexist. I can't think of a good reason why she shouldn't at least be a little weirded out by this imbalance between the apparent choice given to men that isn't given to women.

It's easy not to be annoyed when it doesn't affect your gender.

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Swampjedi
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Based on the limited information presented, I don't agree. There's no definite link between the snark and the husband's statement. I don't think it's fair to label someone who isn't here to defend himself.

If there WAS a link(i.e., the snark was a quote/paraphrase), then I'd agree.

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Swampjedi:
I don't think it's fair to label someone who isn't here to defend himself.

Agreed, given the little amount of information we have.

quote:
It's easy not to be annoyed when it doesn't affect your gender.
As a man, of course I am immune to empathy. [Roll Eyes]
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Teshi
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Well, clearly there are male people who are annoyed here, Scott, no need to put on the snark hat.

But I can't think of a reason why reacting fiercely to an unbalanced justice system isn't justified. The only reason could be that you think it's fine that men get a choice whereas women have to pay a fine (which seems to be what is going on here).

Some male people might find it harder to sympathize with the situation because it wouldn't affect them and has, by default of their gender, probably not affected them personally.

Some female people might have the same problem when faced with an issue that only men have (for example, if men are ONLY given the community service option in this scenario or, more dramatically, only men being drafted into war.)

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Swampjedi
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The advice to not act in an emotional state is good. If this had happened to my kid, I'd have been livid. Then I'd wait until that had burned out to do something.

Actions undertaken in the heat of passion tend to be actions regretted.

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The Rabbit
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Swampjedi,

It's sexist to believe that there is nothing wrong with a judicial policy that denies equal treatment based on gender.


There is an enormous difference between saying that someone is overly emotional right now, and should wait until they've calmed down to decide what to do and saying that a person has no valid reason to be upset in the first place and is just being overly-emotional.

Assuming that what Belle reported is accurate, her husband's response is sexist first and foremost because he thinks there is nothing wrong with the courts descriminating based on gender. The fact that he criticizes Belle for being overly emotional about it (a common negative stereotype of females), just adds frosting to the cake.

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Belle
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The only justification my husband was able to give me was the judge said "you don't want your daughter picking up trash with a bunch of boys do you?" My husband said he responded "yeah, actually I'm fine with that a little manual labor won't hurt her."

But that's beside the point. One of the cops is our neighbor and he said the judge can assign driving school to first time offenders and most judges in the area do. Driving school will take both boys and girls. He prefers to assign community service because he thinks it's better for them, but only for the boys because he doesn't think girls should pick up trash.

I can't confirm that what the cop says is true...I just know that we were told she cannot do community service and that driving school was not given as an option.

The main reason I'm angry with my husband is he thinks there is no reason to be upset about it because we cannot change it. He says getting emotional over things we cannot change is pointless.

My feeling is things don't generally change until someone IS emotionally upset about it. That's the first step. Of course, you don't always need to act in the heat of that emotion (and I did not, though I wanted to, storm down to the courthouse and give the judge a piece of my mind because it would have been counterproductive - it would have just gotten me charged with contempt of court). But you do need to have that emotion as a precursor to action designed to change something, I feel.

I just don't know what to do. The mayor is aware of the issue, according to our neighbor. I suppose this judge reports to someone, somewhere. I just don't know where to go with it. Getting the media involved would be an option if I were willing to go on TV and make a big production and fight about it, but as a non-tenured teacher I'm not really willing to do that. I will write letters to people if I think it will get something done but I don't know who to write it to.

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Scott R
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quote:
The only justification my husband was able to give me was the judge said "you don't want your daughter picking up trash with a bunch of boys do you?" My husband said he responded "yeah, actually I'm fine with that a little manual labor won't hurt her."
quote:
He prefers to assign community service because he thinks it's better for them, but only for the boys because he doesn't think girls should pick up trash.

I can't confirm that what the cop says is true...I just know that we were told she cannot do community service and that driving school was not given as an option.

That really does seem to point to gender discrimination.

Do you know what kind of supervision the trash-pickers get? Do you know the county's policy on mixed-gender community service groups?

I'd definitely contact your local paper, Belle, and see what kind of storm you can conjure. Does anyone know of a professional association or something (like the bar, for lawyers) that governs judges? It might be worthwhile to make a complaint.

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Bokonon
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Are judges elected in your area Belle? If so, campaigning for someone who will apply justice more equally is an option, if not immediately satisfying.

An alternative would be civil disobedience, but you've already paid the fine.

-Bok

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Threads
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Belle, you are definitely justified in getting upset.
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Swampjedi
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

The fact that he criticizes Belle for being overly emotional about it (a common negative stereotype of females), just adds frosting to the cake.

This, to me, is the problem. You can't immediately go from "emotional reaction" to "dude's a pig". THAT is a sexist response, and that is what I am objecting to.

quote:
The main reason I'm angry with my husband is he thinks there is no reason to be upset about it because we cannot change it. He says getting emotional over things we cannot change is pointless.

There's nothing sexist about this. It's not an opinion that I agree with (and I think it is insensitive), but it isn't sexist.
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Dobbie
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The judge probably assumes that the any fines will be paid by the parent; he's not giving the boys the option of workin, he's giving the boy's parents the option of making them work.
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katharina
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quote:
Originally posted by natural_mystic:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
My husband says if I complain all I will accomplish is having the opportunity for the boys taken away. I say good - at least there is equity then if NO ONE gets the community service option.
So, your position is that it's better for nobody to get something good than for only some people to get it?

That I do not agree with.

I think everyone being equal in the eyes of the law is more valuable than boys being able to get out of a ticket.
Agreed. This is a problem.
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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Swampjedi:

quote:
The main reason I'm angry with my husband is he thinks there is no reason to be upset about it because we cannot change it. He says getting emotional over things we cannot change is pointless.

There's nothing sexist about this. It's not an opinion that I agree with (and I think it is insensitive), but it isn't sexist. [/QB]
As far as I can tell, Belle has not called her husband sexist.
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Selran
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
I will write letters to people if I think it will get something done but I don't know who to write it to.

You should get in touch with the local ACLU organization.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Do you know what kind of supervision the trash-pickers get? Do you know the county's policy on mixed-gender community service groups?
Why does it matter? If the county had a policy against mixed-race community service groups, would it justify the court also being racist? If the county outsourced the community service to a church, would it justify religious discrimination in the courts?

The traffic laws are the same for both genders. They should be enforced the same for both genders. It's unethical for a judge to consider gender as a factor in a traffic appeal.

If the county also have behaved unethically in outsourcing oversight of its community service sentences to a group that will only accommodate citizens of a particular race, creed or gender, that makes two wrongs not zero.

Governments have a responsibility to treat all their citizens equally.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Swampjedi:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

The fact that he criticizes Belle for being overly emotional about it (a common negative stereotype of females), just adds frosting to the cake.

This, to me, is the problem. You can't immediately go from "emotional reaction" to "dude's a pig". THAT is a sexist response, and that is what I am objecting to.

I did not say "dude's a pig" and I don not appreciate your sticking those words in my mouth.


Did you even read the first part of that quote.
I found Belle's husband's response, as described in her OP, sexist because IT IS SEXIST TO THINK GENDER DISCRIMINATION IS NOT WORTH GETTING UPSET ABOUT. The rest is a side issue. GOT THAT NOW??

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Dobbie:
The judge probably assumes that the any fines will be paid by the parent; he's not giving the boys the option of workin, he's giving the boy's parents the option of making them work.

It is not simply an issue of fines vs community service. It is also the opportunity to have the ticket expunged from your driving record. Having a clean driving record is over the long run worth a great deal more than the cost of the fine.
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