This is the introductory piece for my new column, Observations of a Radical. It is my hope and intention that I will be able to convey my opinions on how capitalism has created a backwards reality for working people, as well as ideas on how to break away from the capitalist grasp on society.
This morning, I was walking towards my place of work when I passed an area of construction work on a nearby street. On the corner of the street I was walking on, there was a sign that read, “Men Working Ahead.”
At face value, the sign itself was well-intentioned. I imagine the construction crew placed it there with the intention of alerting motorists and pedestrians about the work being done, as well as to comply with the corresponding laws regarding construction.
As I continued walking, it dawned on me how incredibly sexist the sign is.
Regardless of whether or not the construction crew consisted of only males, why should the sign make any mention of gender? According to the National Association of Women in Construction in 2009, nine percent of the construction workforce is comprised of females. I do not know of any statistic on how many trans-gendered individuals are construction workers, but it is important to recognize that a sign about “men working” discriminates against all workers that do not consider themselves male.
It may seem like an unimportant issue, or at least an insignificant one when compared to other battles for female empowerment, but the subliminal discrimination is very prevalent and very important. It is a cornerstone of the capitalist-created reality that the masses accept subliminal discrimination in their daily lives, either by brushing off small issues or by not noticing them altogether. If we do not notice it, then we cannot question it.
Last year, Sinclair Community College in Ohio halted a construction project due to a “Men Working” sign that was at the construction site. The comments left by various individuals on Internet news articles about the incident range from indifferent to incendiary. It is unfortunate, though not surprising, that this is the reaction we must deal with.
This has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with recognizing that sexism is alive and well in today’s society. As I wrote earlier in this article, “if we do not notice it, then we cannot question it.”
If I can offer an amendment to this statement, I would like to instead convey the following: If we do not notice it, then we cannot resist and fight against it.