The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of Iron County Today
Robert Kirby is a well-known, awarded newspaper columnist. Courtney Kendrick is a widely-read blogger. This month’s incident leading to Kirby’s three-month suspension is a blow to the columnist and a setback for his newspaper (Salt Lake Tribune).
It is also, in my opinion, an embarrassment to the women’s movement. Kendrick comes across as less a victim than a weak female unable to resist any request – no matter how obnoxious or silly – from a man. Kendrick should be pitied, not made into a role model, and her actions could prove harmful to strong women pursuing respect and careers.
If you aren’t aware of what happened between the two, I will catch you up. Last July the pair were appearing on a panel. Kirby made the first mistake, telling her “Let’s pretend I picked you up from an escort service and we’ll walk over to that table and sit down for a chat.”
She could have rolled her eyes. She could have responded, “Sorry, but I’m not your escort.” She could have put him in his place. Instead, she said her reaction was “almost biological or evolutionary”; she was “conditioned” to “put her head down and agree.”
Sorry, but that’s not how mothers and fathers are raising their daughters. If a male makes an inappropriate comment (which Kirby certainly did), we don’t advise our daughters to bow their head and agree to whatever the guy says. It’s not a matter of biology or evolution; it’s simply standing up for yourself.
Next, Kirby offered her an edible marijuana candy to calm Kendrick’s nervousness about the panel. Kendrick reacts that she “took it because I felt pressured to please this person with his ‘old man charm.’”
Following this logic, any of our children should go along with the “cool kids” in high school and be “pressured” into taking a hit off a joint, smoke a cigarette, or down a shot of tequila. How hard is it to say, “Nope, not interested?” It’s nothing more than we expect our 14-year old to say. A grown woman should have the self-esteem to reject an offer she finds offensive.
It is also interesting that Kendrick didn’t really sound off on the subject until she read a recent Kirby column in which he criticized a woman for interrupting a Mormon sacrament meeting by accusing a member of the congregation of rape. When she was led from the microphone, she shouted that she was being assaulted. Kirby wrote – rightly, in my mind – that being escorted from the church wasn’t even close to assault. She had no more right to interrupt a private event than I would to march up to the front of the National Rifle Association convention and blare out that the attendees were all murderers.
This is not a defense of Kirby, though I believe that a three-month suspension is ridiculously harsh. It was not Kendrick’s fault that Kirby acted like a hormone-charged teenager, nor is it her (or any woman’s) responsibility to control boorish behavior. But I do think Kendrick’s reaction makes it easier for men in power to question the risk of hiring qualified women interacting in an often male-dominated workplace. This does not mean that sexist and offensive comments should be considered the cost of doing business. However, Kendrick’s “poor little me” act doesn’t reflect female strength or good judgment.
Women won’t break so-called “glass ceiling” if they refuse to take a stand against male stupidity. Just because a man makes a suggestion, it doesn’t mean you bow and curtsey.