Monday, June 10, 2013

Visually inspect your spaces

Start looking for anything that unlawfully discriminates against people in your DoN workspace.

The more I read this...the more it disturbs me. For example:

4.D.1.  DON Commanders, Commanding Officers, Officers-in-Charge, and civilian directors will effect the 
removal of material that a reasonable person would consider degrading or offensive and document any 
material discovered during the course of workplace inspections.

Exactly what is "reasonable?" For example, what if I make the argument that I find Cosmopolitan magazine offensive? It talks about sex and shows women in skimpy clothing. I could make many "reasonable" arguments that a Cosmo in the barracks spaces demands to be removed.

But this is absurd. Many female sailors WANT to read Cosmo, and personally, do I really care if they do? Or if my male sailors read Maxim? And what about the memes and motivational posters hung up in individual workspaces?

We have a definition for pornographic materials, but "offensive materials" is a subjective and slippery slope. And besides, if you have porn in your workplace, likely you aren't doing a whole lot of work, or at least the work that the Navy is paying you to do. But offensive materials is a BIG net that can catch all sorts of things (indeed, it caught the Air Force Times at some point).

And even if we don't find something offensive, someone else might do it on our behalf. I deployed a female sailor, who went off and came back from an independent deployment. She loved it, and she told me it changed her mind about leaving the Navy (big win for the Navy, she's a great sailor, and we need more like her). About two weeks later, I received a phone call from another command, where a member was concerned about my sailors well being, and basically alleged (although not quite saying it) that she was sexually harassed while on deployment.

I was mortified that somehow my sailor had been afraid to talk to me about it, so I sent a female chief and a SAVI to speak with her and determine what happened. Come to find out, someone had made a slightly off-color comment, and my sailor wasn't bothered by it, but another one was "on her behalf."

Now I was angry. Someone was treating my sailor like a little girl that couldn't speak up, when the reality was she was a grown adult woman who could make her own decisions as to what did and did not offend her. And, to make it even more sad, THAT PERSON HADN'T EVEN TALKED TO HER ABOUT IT! What happened to solving things at low levels like grown adults?

We'll never get our sailors to act like grown adults if we keep treating them like kids.