When I first started reading the articles and watching the videos about the Iowa City dentist who fired his assistant because of his emotions and concerned over his marriage, my first thought was that the story had somehow been distorted by the media to look worse than it was. After all, this is a modern day and age, and while women clearly still encounter sexism all the way from subtle slights to major knock-downs I would have thought that being fired for anything along the lines of “looking pretty” would be a blatant no-no. (Although the reality of being fired for not being pretty enough is a whole other reality many women face.)
It really doesn’t matter what this dentist’s excuses were for firing his assistant; the bottom line is that he did it and labeled it in sexual terms. This is one of the things that people have the hardest time understanding—that women should not be responsible for controlling men’s sexual desires or emotions. This is a spin-off of rape ideology in that the victim is blamed for being raped because she asked for it, that it was her fault for drinking, for dressing provocatively, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for fill-in-the-blank. This dentist’s assistant was fired for being attractive and employed in close proximity to this man. This type of thinking shifts the blame from the truly guilty party and enables them to continue their destructive and abusive behavior.
My big question is how this would have gone down if the dentist had been a woman and she had fired a male assistant for emotional reasons and to protect her marriage. Can you imagine the names that woman would be called, the slander that she and women in general would face? People would rally behind that man, because he was wronged.
All of life is a power dichotomy.