My grandfather was born in 1905. He was a man of his times with the same attitudes as other people of the Edwardian era. But, in some ways he was ahead of some people in the 21st century. The last years of his life he tried to cram a lifetime of wisdom into a sixteen year old boy – me. Once he said,
“Joe, one day you may have to hire someone for a job. You hire the first person who can do the job. You are trying to hire someone because either you are losing money without someone in that position, or you will make more money when you put someone in that position. It does not matter if they are a man or a woman, black or white, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Atheist. If you don’t hire the first person who can do the job, you just take the money out of your pocket, put it in an ashtray, and burn it up. Because, that is what you are doing when you don’t give someone a job for reasons that have nothing to do with the job.”
My grandfather carried that attitude over to his customers too. In the 1940s and 1950s, if you were a homosexual you stayed in the closet. Not only would homosexuals have a hard time finding employment, but some public places refused their business. My mother said she could always tell when a homosexual couple was in my grandfather’s shop. He would be jingling the change in his pocket while quietly humming “I’m in the Money.” If other shop owners did not want your business for any reason; you were welcomed in my grandfather’s shop, and he treated all of his customers with the same respect.
This week I heard a man who is in the escrow business talking about losing business. You see, many of his employees are women and his conservative Muslim customers have been asking him to give them a man to handle their business. When he says no, they go back to the bank and complain. Then he has to tell the bank no too.
Now I am all for religious freedom, but I began to think about this. I also thought about what that would mean in my life. You see both of my editors are women, the cover artists on my short list to do my next book cover are all women. Most (not all) of my beta readers are women, my best friendships (and worst enemies) are women – platonic of course. Hell even my mother and my girlfriend are women. Now when I am looking to hire someone, I follow my grandfather’s advice, but most of the people interested in doing the kind of work I need done are women. As far as friendships go, there is a huge difference between having a woman for a friend and having a man for a friend. My male friends and I discuss totally different topics and some of the stuff we do is different from the conversations and activities I have with my platonic females friends.
Now we have laws in the United States that say you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sex. But, at the same time, the government in the United States is bending over backwards for Muslims in this country (democrats and republicans), and that is why employers who are already yielding to the “please no women” requests from conservative Muslims are not getting in trouble with the government. It has been four days since the first terrorist attacks in Paris. The French President from his very first public statement has said these acts were committed by Muslim extremist terrorists. Our government is still refusing to call them that.
Anyway, back to my thoughts on this issue. Like I said, I am a big supporter of religious freedom. But here is my view. If the only women I had any contact with were all in my family, if I never worked with women, or offered work to women, my life would be dramatically different. My quality of life would be nothing like it is today. And I am not talking about money, I am talking about those things that give meaning to our lives (though my income would probably be less too).
This also goes against everything I believe in – thanks to the upbringing I got from my grandfather. And if those two are not enough? It is against the law, even if our goverment will not enforce those laws.
So, not only do I applaud that man’s stance, but I join him. I understand orthodox Islam, probably better than most Americans. But this is the United States. I welcome you to immigrate here legally, no matter where you come from or what your religion is. The United States is a good place to live, not perfect, but good. I encourage all people to practice their religion as they feel led too (as long as you are not doing harm to others). But, in the United States it is the law and our desire, that as Americans women should have the same opportunities as men. What they do with that opportunity is – well – that is their Freedom of Choice. Act as you want in the privacy of your own home, but in business and the work place – women in this country are given equality with men by law. If you do not like that, you need to learn how to accept that or find someplace more agreeable to you.
I’m not trying to be hateful or anything like that. This country is more than 200 years old. Our Declaration of Independence states fairly well what we as Americans think of freedom and equality. They signed that document in 1776. We were not even close to living up to those words of equality and freedom back then. We are doing a lot better now, but we still need to do some more work. So, you see, we are not going to start reducing freedom and equality because it conflicts with someone’s religion. As a matter of fact we are going to continue to work harder at making sure equality of opportunity and freedom of choice are expanded even more in the United States.
Oh, and one more thing I’m am mostly conservative, and libertarian on the rest. So, if you think my stance on equality and freedom are too much for you, just wait until you hear what working class liberals have to say on the subject.
(Yes, I know there is still discrimination going on, but as all of you know it is impossible to rid ourselves of all the ignorant people).