Friday, June 24, 2011

Thompson's Tampon Talk Realistic

The vampires are circling, but is their blood-lust justified?
NZ Employers and Manufacturers Assn (EMA) boss Alasdair Thompson faces public calls to step down, following his claims that women's productivity is affected by taking sick days when having their periods: “…once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do, they have children they have to take time off to go home...”
There were immediate howls to resign and he’s received hate mail. Thompson's apologised for causing offence but stands by his overall argument and has no intention of resigning.
I cannot see what the bloody fuss is about! Alasdair stated a fact – that some women take time off for bad periods, or for looking after sick children. He NEVER said:
+ that he SUPPORTED lower pay for women because of this.
+ or that pay rates should be DIFFERENT between men and women.
+ or that he felt women had a lower work OUTPUT simply because of their biology.
But some employers DO pay women less because of their biology, or their child-nuturing, or don’t promote/train them too highly (in case they fall pregnant and thus be off-work and a loss to the company)…or just ‘because they’re women and that’s the way the pay scale’s always been’ (I briefly studied this issue last year at uni).
Yes, it’s sexist. Yes, it’s a sour part of the current employment reality. Yes, it should be changed. And no, I don’t have the solution. However, sacking Thompson is not the answer. The debate should be about how to remove sexism in the workplace.
It’s interesting to see who’s baying loudest for his blood. People like Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly: “Leaders spouting this sort of crap make it very difficult for women to assert themselves and to suggest there might be discrimination.” But that's EXACTLY what Thompson WAS pointing out! And remember, this is the same CTU big mouth who nearly singlehandedly shot down the filming of The Hobbit in NZ!! Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the comments were outrageous and it was time a woman took the helm at the EMA. Again, this is what Thompson WAS saying: that a person should hold a position if they were capable of it, not based on their sex or whether they suffered from bad periods!
I was acquainted with Alasdair when he was Thames Coromandel District Council mayor in the ‘90s: he was (and I believe still IS) a good hard-working straight-up guy who’s always supported equal pay. He’s such a gentleman that, in the controversial interview, he was uncomfortable saying the word “period”!
Perhaps this pathetically-PC world requires a more delicate framing of comments, but what he said is true: some employers DO penalise some female workers via lower pay rates, because of some out-dated sex-oriented attitudes about pregnancy, motherhood and…*whisper*…menstruation.
PS: 24 June 2011 - Thompson issues an unreserved apology. Will this be the end of it? Or the end of HIM?
PS: 25 June 2011 - The ascerbic and influential blogger Cactus Kate also feels it's not a sackable offence...but does the EMA agree?
PS: 26 June 2011 - Allegations that the Campbell Live tv programme  -scene of Thompson's crucifixion - did not honestly portray what Alisdair actually said! VERY interesting reading indeed: I do hope his lawyers have seen it!
PS: 26 June 2011 - More on-line support: RoarPrawn...and the legendary Brian Edwards...
PS: 28 June 2011 - Speculation that Thompson may go, as early as TODAY...shame!
PS: 28 June 2011 - Thompson keeps his job...for now...
PS: 06 July 2011 - Thompson gets the sack. I hope the vampires are happy!


Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

What he said is not true—or, at least, neither he nor anyone else who's tried has been able to find any credible evidence to support Thompson's assertions. Therefore, we have to conclude they were based on mere prejudice.

I have no problem with him being prejudiced and sexist; he and the EMA are entitle to their opinions, however wrong I may think they are. However, they're not entitled to their own facts. That's at the core of this controversy: Thompson made stuff up and then aggressively defended it.

Some employers do discriminate, as you suggested, against women along the lines Thompson implied, even though it's obviously and blatantly illegal to do so. But that's different from saying, as Thompson was, that the pay discrepancy exists because of some imaginary difference in use of sick leave.

I have no opinion on whether Thompson should be sacked; that's a matter for the EMA, and I'm not a member. I would've thought that the honourable thing for Thompson to do would be to resign to save the EMA from further damage, but that's between Thompson and his conscience, and not for me to say. However, if he isn't sacked or resigns, then member businesses that don't agree with his sexist and misogynistic remarks will have no alternative but to quit the EMA rather than be deemed to agree with those remarks.

Like me, not everyone who is outraged and disgusted by Thompson's sexism has demanded his sacking or resignation. But I just can't see how he can save this situation or his job.

Anonymous said...

How he said it was clumsy and oafish, but the point was that this sort of discrimination DOES exist, even if it is illegal.
I don't think he should lose his job. All he seemed to be doing was pointing out what is actually happening.

Timespanner said...

Initially, I thought this was just some over-the-top and over-sensitive stuff, and agreed that it was leaning towards PC-style uproar. But the latest reports about Thompson's comments to Helen Kelly in Washington have swung my opinion towards the "What's going through this guy's head?" category.

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Here's a quote from blogger 'Cactus Kate':
"Alasdair Thompson is a halfwit for even bringing up the topic. He's worse because he attempted to defend his comments on tv in a remarkable performance.
But it is not a sackable offence... Too often NZ has become a nation of "sack 'em" whingers. Every time a white male (and they always are that hit the news) opens their mouth and upsets someone NZers want them sacked.
Forgetting completely all the good things they have done. And that at the end of the day, speaking their minds doesn't actually negatively affect anyone.
My advice to men regarding women and sick leave and periods is just STFU, no brainer, you will never win."
So Thompson has some influential bloggers in his corner...but Cactus Kate posted BEFORE the alleged Helen Kelly incident you mentioned. This coming week will be a telling time for Alisdair - may common sense prevail.

Timespanner said...

I agree, I hope there is common sense here. We seem to be a country with a media which reacts with banner headlines to cases such as this with a blazing torch, pitchfork, and calls to "Burn the Witch!" Or Warlock, as the case may be.

Perhaps the latest incident has now become known because of the magnifying glass poised over Thompson's life and record. The slightest "odd" thing, faux pas or brain fart is now enlarged, scrutinised, and examined for evidence that he deserves the dunking stool.

Isn't Cathy Odgers, aka Cactus Kate, the potential ACT party candidate reported in the Herald yesterday as likely to give Heather Roy the push? I can see then why she would support the EMA, no matter what.

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Yeup, she's one and the same!
But if she's serious about becoming a politico, she'll be careful about putting her cactus spikes where her mouth is. So by publically supporting Thompson's position (if not his brain-fart!), she is laying her cards out...