Give me a moment to pick my jaw up off the floor.
Okay, ready now. The State of New York’s Department of Correctional Services has, as the result of a lawsuit, stopped distributing a handbook to its female employees that made it very, very clear that the powers that be weren’t very happy about women working their turf:
The state Department of Correctional Services is no longer distributing or using a handbook that told its female officers to not gossip at work, be too bossy at home or swear to “be one of the boys.”
That handbook, which had been given to officers who graduated from the training academy for more than 20 years, was featured recently in an article in The Post-Standard.
Women were encouraged to play tennis or eat ice cream on their days off to relieve stress and to not dress for work as if they were going to a nightclub or beach.
Department officials had been reviewing policies, as well as the handbook, in recent months. In light of publicity about the handbook, “Whatever speed it was being done at before is being sped up,” said Erik Kriss, public information director for the department.
“We decided to update or possibly discontinue it, but in the meantime decided the best thing to do is not use it for the moment,” Kriss said of the handbook.
No such handbook exists for male officers, who outnumber female officers by about 10 to 1.
The book had sections on catcalls and wolf whistles, discouraged women from being flirtatious on the job and encouraged them to seek out other women’s advice in child-rearing.
The best thing to do is not to use it “for the moment”?
How about, it was a stupid thing to distribute in the first place!
The department claims that it received only one complaint about the handbook, and that only recently (a claim disputed by the plaintiff in a sex-discrimination suit, who submitted the handbook as evidence of disparate treatment). Corrections departments are not the most forward-thinking of places, but you’d think that someone, somehow, in 20 years, might have cottoned to the idea that telling your female employees — and only your female employees — that they’re untrustworthy, gossipy airheads who can’t be trusted to put on a standard uniform and need to be told to eat ice cream and ask other women for child-rearing advice just might be a wee bit sexist.
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