Firing an 'Irresistible' Woman Is Not a Victory for Family Values
Nearly everyone has, by now, heard about the dentist who fired his assistant because he and his wife saw the woman as a threat to their marriage. On December 21, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a female employee who has not engaged in flirtatious behavior, and has not done anything wrong, could still be legally fired simply because her male boss views her as an "irresistible attraction."
While this seems like a line of reasoning that would draw the ire of liberals and feminists, the ruling has received support from some unlikely sources. For example, Keli Goff, writing at the Huffington Post, titled her response, "Why Most Women Agree With the 'Irresistibly Attractive' Ruling (Even If They Won't Admit It)" Goff framed the ruling in the context of fear; namely, a woman's fear of her "significant other" having an affair with an attractive coworker. What Goff failed to realize, though, is that every woman -- whether stereotyped a Hollywood beauty, or stereotyped a plain-Jane, or stereotyped with any other label routinely pinned on women -- is "irresistible" to at least a certain number of men, and if such a man is her boss, he can fire her, using the court's reasoning.
I guess it shouldn't be surprising that some liberals and feminists, who support hiring employees based not on merit but on characteristics, such as race and gender, would also support firing an employee based on a characteristic, such as physical appearance.
However, setting aside the legal arguments (because Iowa law does permit employers to dismiss employees at will), the firing of a woman because she is "irresistible" is neither a conservative nor a pro-family position.
Applying conservative principles, employees are hired and fired based on merit, as noted above. But in this case, the court set forth as fact the dentist's own statement that his assistant "had not done anything wrong or inappropriate and that she was the best dental assistant he ever had." Nevertheless, the dentist "feared he would try to have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her." Moreover, the dentist's wife demanded that he fire her, and the senior pastor of their church agreed.
Now, the dentist's attorney said the ruling is a victory for family values. While this may sound plausible at first, it's pure folly.
In short, personal responsibility and family values are inseparable. And the behavior of the dentist (not to mention his wife and their pastor) was a complete betrayal of personal responsibility.
For a man, personal responsibility includes behaving with self-control (for example, by keeping his pants zipped) and honor (by respecting his wife, in particular, and women, in general, whether or not "irresistible"). Remember honor?
A male doctor firing his female assistant because of his own lustful urges hardly fits the description of family values. Perhaps the good doctor should get himself a chastity belt.