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Thread: Workplace harassment in the 21st Century

  1. #26
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    We had to go through one of these training sessions last year. I about slept through the presentation, but the questions and possible scenarios brought up during the question and answer period were hilarious.
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  2. #27
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    There was about a 4-minute video on the topic that I had to watch during new employee orientation and then the topic was never brought up again.

    I never hear talk of past directors or supervisors or harassment problems that occurred before I arrived. I work in an organization with over 3,400 employees though so I'm sure it still happens somewhere. Actually, I see articles regarding it happening at the Sheriff's office from time to time with the female deputies, and while they are technically part of the same organization, that department has a vastly different culture. I'm not citing that as justification, it's just a reason why it doesn't surprise me...
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  3. #28
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Putting on my women's studies hat for this one

    Notice that most of the responses so far to this thread have been made by men. Now, I could be reading too much into this, but the apparent lack of female input on this topic could be evidence that sexual harassment is not only still alive and well, but that many of our female Cyburbians have either been on the receiving end or know someone who has, and that it is a very uncomfortable situation to talk about.

    Fortunately, I have not been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the workplace - outside of the workplace is another story. I have, however, been the victim of serious wage discrimination. I was too young to fully understand my rights though, so I simply quit rather than do anything about it.

    Not to put a downer on the good natured humor of this thread, but I'd like the men among the crew to consider this:
    - When you walk down the street or into a parking lot alone at night, do you feel the need to scan each and every car on the horizon ahead of you to see if someone might be hiding in it? I do and most of the women I know do. Are we looking for other women? No.
    - When walking home or exiting your car when you are alone, when you here someone approaching you from behind, do you instinctively feel the need to put your keys between your fingers to use as a weapon in the event you are attacked? I have done this on numerous occasions and I know that most women have.

    Sexual harassment is very alive and well in the world, evidenced by the sexual assault and rape statistics against women. It is currently estimated that 25% (yep, 1 in 4) women will be sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime in the United States. Every woman I know has been sexually harassed in their lifetime. It happens on the street, in bars, in grocery stores, at the mall, at the gas station, at every single venue where women go. This is why you must endure those seminars. Maybe sexual harassment isn't as prevalent in the workplace as it was twenty years ago, but I see that as a sign that speaking about it and forcing others to acknowledge it is working.

    Okay, taking my women's studies hat off Carry on.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    To TerraSapient, yes, sexual harassment is a terrible thing and something very much worth talking about, preventing, and so forth. But I think there are so many other workplace issues that deserve the same attention that aren't. It can be just as demeaning and psychologically damaging for a man or woman to be treated like a child and given the alpha-male or alpha-female treatment, be bullied, be on the receiving end of rage/anger, etc. But yet it seems we don't have mandatory classes or videos about these sorts of things.
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  5. #30
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    To TerraSapient, yes, sexual harassment is a terrible thing and something very much worth talking about, preventing, and so forth. But I think there are so many other workplace issues that deserve the same attention that aren't. It can be just as demeaning and psychologically damaging for a man or woman to be treated like a child and given the alpha-male or alpha-female treatment, be bullied, be on the receiving end of rage/anger, etc. But yet it seems we don't have mandatory classes or videos about these sorts of things.
    Very good point IP. I have seen some crazy bosses in my days. As a teenager I worked at a furniture and cool stuff place that I won't mention and had a boss that threw a table across the room when he was upset about something. I pulled him aside and told him that if he didn't calm down, apologize, and swear to never act out like that again, then I would lead the employees for the day home to never return. It was a hard move, but I am glad I had the courage to do it. My boss complied and begrudgingly apologized to the staff and swore to never act that way again. It could have ended in a much different way if he was a slightly crazier person.

    I have a family member who had a boss that would frequently scream at the staff, call people stupid, and fire people whenever he was in a bad mood. My family member handled it better than I would have. I would have been fired on day 1.

    There is no excuse for treating others with intimidation.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Yeah, the rage/anger thing is out there and I'm sure many people have encountered it. I know I have. It's also very uncomfortable to witness it. It can be very dangerous.

    But you bring up a good point about men typically not having to worry about sexual harassment as much. Nevertheless, when walking alone at night, I do tend to make sure my knife is within easy reach and my car keys as well, and I scan the horizon. But it's because I'm more worried about getting mugged or robbed, not raped. Women have the added worry about being raped. Men typically don't have to worry about this, even though it does happen, especially men who may be more effeminate. But besides that, men can certainly be on the receiving end of the much more commonplace suggestive, demaning, or disparaging statements, stares, and comments. Somehow, it's more accepted though, and that's a shame, since it can be quite uncomfortable (especially when it's an older lady or something), even though men won't admit it.
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  7. #32
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    Notice that most of the responses so far to this thread have been made by men. Now, I could be reading too much into this, but the apparent lack of female input on this topic could be evidence that sexual harassment is not only still alive and well, but that many of our female Cyburbians have either been on the receiving end or know someone who has, and that it is a very uncomfortable situation to talk about.

    Fortunately, I have not been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the workplace - outside of the workplace is another story. I have, however, been the victim of serious wage discrimination. I was too young to fully understand my rights though, so I simply quit rather than do anything about it.

    Not to put a downer on the good natured humor of this thread, but I'd like the men among the crew to consider this:
    - When you walk down the street or into a parking lot alone at night, do you feel the need to scan each and every car on the horizon ahead of you to see if someone might be hiding in it? I do and most of the women I know do. Are we looking for other women? No.
    - When walking home or exiting your car when you are alone, when you here someone approaching you from behind, do you instinctively feel the need to put your keys between your fingers to use as a weapon in the event you are attacked? I have done this on numerous occasions and I know that most women have.

    Sexual harassment is very alive and well in the world, evidenced by the sexual assault and rape statistics against women. It is currently estimated that 25% (yep, 1 in 4) women will be sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime in the United States. Every woman I know has been sexually harassed in their lifetime. It happens on the street, in bars, in grocery stores, at the mall, at the gas station, at every single venue where women go. This is why you must endure those seminars. Maybe sexual harassment isn't as prevalent in the workplace as it was twenty years ago, but I see that as a sign that speaking about it and forcing others to acknowledge it is working.

    Okay, taking my women's studies hat off Carry on.
    Its been that way since the dawn of time. Do you foresee any point in the future where the balance of physical/sexual power is any different?

    Sexual harassment is a serious issue. But funny jokes and good natured teasing about sexual situations and innuendo are often seriously funny. It can be a delicate balancing act in some instances.

    This thread needs a dobopoq
    Last edited by Gedunker; 03 Feb 2011 at 8:25 AM. Reason: seq. replies
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  8. #33
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    This thread needs a dobopoq
    LOL/OMG

    Harassment in general seems to be on the rise or at least more tolerated than in years past. I've either witnessed or been a target of harassment in 2 out of 3 of my most recent previous employers. It's really said that the workplace culture condones this by not discouraging it or providing necessary workshops/training for all of its employees. It ruins an otherwise perfectly enjoyable job.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  9. #34
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Its been that way since the dawn of time. Do you foresee any point in the future where the balance of physical/sexual power is any different?
    I do, actually. Human societies have been fighting to end forms of discrimination and violence over the centuries. Our history is loaded with examples. Religious freedom. The right to own land. The right to vote. The right to marry someone of your choosing. Gender freedom. End of violence against women? We'll get there.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    It gets better

    At my senior year internship, one of the staff planners propositioned me. Several times. Within earshot of others.

    At my first planning job (1978-79), four of us shared one area. A couple times a week, after lunch, two of the fellows would light up nasty cigars. I'd take a leisurely stroll to the ladies (one floor up) or go research something in the library/conference room.
    The community development director (boss of the planning director, who was my boss) used to send the planning tech (almost always female) to go get him coffee. One time he assigned me to dust the shelves in the library.

    At two different more recent jobs (1980s), a co-worker would openly proposition me.

    Those events would never happen nowadays. For one thing, it's illegal. For another, I know where to turn.

    Finally found this post describing some of the workplace harassment I experienced in the private sector. I'm sure Mr OCD was spying on me from the other side of the file cabinet wall, and I'm sure he sent multiple messages to my distant supervisor advising of my latest "transgression." (That man's admin once told me that he'd commented about how her car looked dirty and she should get it washed so it presented a better image in the parking lot.)

    Just as the liquid lunch and workplace smoking have moved to the history books, so will gender-based discrimination. Give it time.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    I agree. It is slowly but surely becoming (mostly) a thing of the past in the workplace - at least most office workplaces. It's far less accepted than it used to be and part of it is education and lack of general cultural acceptance. Seminars and such help. While I have not seen any form of harassment in my office environment or at any of my previous jobs, I'm sure it still happens in some places but in general it's on the decline.

    As for women having to look out for their personal safety, that a different matter as crime and sexual deviants will continue to be out there in the general public.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  12. #37
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Two points from someone who has sat through many a training seminar on this topic. One, there are two forms of harassment, hostile environment and quid pro quo. When people think of harassment, they think of hostile environment. However, quid pro quo happens as well and will get you in deep trouble with the EEOC.

    Second, it just not limited to male-female anymore. The training I've sat through had examples of same sexual harassment and female-male.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  13. #38
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When I worked in the food service industry, there was a lot of sexual bantering among the workers.

    In my current workplace - people are respectful. I am very conscious of what I say and do regardling my female coworkers. I think a lot of the other males are as well. No one wants the stigma of being accused of sexual harassment. The females can use sexually explicit language more than the males. I suppose that is because they are less likely to offend the males.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  14. #39
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Two points from someone who has sat through many a training seminar on this topic. One, there are two forms of harassment, hostile environment and quid pro quo. When people think of harassment, they think of hostile environment. However, quid pro quo happens as well and will get you in deep trouble with the EEOC.

    Second, it just not limited to male-female anymore. The training I've sat through had examples of same sexual harassment and female-male.
    Good point about the two types of harassment WYP. I tend to think of the hostile type when the topic brought up. I see little problem with the quid pro quo unless it turns into harassment, or something that can be used to intimidate or humiliate its recipient, which is something I think the seminars try to point out.

    I did once have a young male coworker who was harassed by an older lady. She was relentless. It was creepy. I felt really bad for him. She not only made inappropriate comments, but would try to slap his bum when he walked by. He did talk to the boss to get intervention but I don't think they handled it very well. I'm not entirely sure what ever came of that situation since I left before it was resolved.

  15. #40
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    My harassment saga has been duly concluded as of today and my final check will finally be delivered Fedex after being intentionally withheld for what will be 10 days tomorrow. There is a cease and desist order of direct communication issued to my ex-boss, they were forced to retain an attorney after I did who duly informed them they broke the law, and the coup d'etat was the Dept. of Labor swiftly assessing them a fine of 10% of my final check amount + $100/day for each day final pay was withheld. They got a one-two punch this morning between the arrival of my lawyers letter and the DOL fine assessment notice via mail today.

    Through the whole ordeal I've tried my hardest to be the bigger person, be rational and measured, and not succumb to the desire of my ex-boss to engage in this dispute in a negative manner. It paid off today because the legal bills and DOL fine will have to be reported to the board of directors so it cannot be swept under the rug. I didn't do this just for me, but the people that still work there, and those that are yet to come so nobody will have to endure this sort of thing in the future.

    Harassment is alive and well in the workplace. Believe me.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  16. #41
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    This thread needs a dobopoq
    You rang?

    SH when it happens - and it surely does, must suck. Once an overture has been made it completely destroys ones faith that they will be judged and compensated for their competence/work ethic etc.

    Most workplace SH that you hear about seems to occur in office environments. And let's face it - office culture is largely white culture. White people are generally more uptight when it comes to expression of sexuality. I don't think it's any stretch to say that in black culture it's considered much more normal for males to publicly express that they find particular females attractive. But the soul of white corporate office culture is fettered with Judeo-Christian/Puritan shame about sexuality. America is also just about the most litigious country in the world. I posit that this is related largely to the fact that because America has always been so heterogenous, we have tended to settle disputes through an impersonal and adversarial legal system. Whereas in a country like Japan - where there is a largely shared cultural heritage, people are more apt rely on the informal system of honor that is expressly personal.

    So as a result of all this, you have narcissistic Prima donnas like Debrahlee Lorenzana who made a career out of artificially enhancing herself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LhsEWMFeIQand then wines about being fired because she was "too sexy", so she is suing Citigroup:http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-06-...ork-in-a-bank/
    Nothing better expresses the ambivalence of women who go all out to make themselves the object of sexual attention but then cry foul when the attention comes to them on any other terms than what they want it to be.

    The bottom line is, the fact that SH exists is just a reflection of the sexual power of women. The people in higher positions who are committing the SH (mostly men) are there because if they weren't they'd have no corresponding value to females who are highly valued by men for nothing other than merely existing.

    Why have most of the world's scientific and technological advances through history been overwhelmingly the creation of men? And why are men still so disproportionately in all the top positions and highest paid jobs?

    Is the answer:

    A. The XY chromosomes of males result in more outliers - ie more males of extreme intelligence, and more males of extreme mental deficiency compared to the XX chromosomes of females.
    B. An entrenched cultural system which has tended to push men toward control of resources, and women toward control of children.
    C. A psycho-sexual imperative that motivates males to extreme career achievement for the promise of economic and sexual rewards as a way of coping with the sexual power of women that is theirs by default.

    The answer is of course that all three reasons help explain the disproportionate achievement of males. Answer B is the unjust one, which has rightly so begun to come unhinged in recent decades. But the reality remains that few women will choose to breed with a man who expects to become a homemaker. That hasn't changed. But it is still perfectly acceptable and remains quite common for women to pursue either or both roles over the course of their life span. For increasing %'s of men, the only power that testosterone grants is one that is illegal to exercise. But women can legally commit paternity fraud. They can tease and taunt, flirt, wiggle, jiggle, reveal, gush, swoon, pout and preen to their hearts content, with no fear of being accused of sexual harrassment, domestic violence or rape.

    The workplace has always been full of harrassment in one form or another. Older males have always teased and taunted, hazed, threatened and intimidated younger inexperience males. But only when women entered the workplace did we start to care about this sort of behavior. The whole notion of "violence against women" is prattled about endlessly against a deafening silence of any notion that such a thing ever occurs to males. When men die trapped in coal mines, on exploding oil rigs, on flooded Navy Subs or in cleaning up radiation accidents like Chernobyl, we refer to them as "miners", "Oilworkers", "Sailors", "Liquidators" or "Bio-robots". But when the people who are disproportionately affected as a sex are female, suddenly they become human and are referred to as women, girls, females etc.

    Women have a unique value as sex objects and will sometimes suffer sexual abuse.
    Men have a unique value in their willingness to expose themselves to potentially painful and dangerous situations without complaining about it - and they too will sometimes suffer bodily damage or even death.

    Life can suck for both sexes and both are shallow in different but equal ways. Nobody should have to die or be harrassed for sex in order to do their job. That there remain those who do should concern us in both cases.
    Last edited by dobopoq; 03 Feb 2011 at 8:44 PM.
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  17. #42
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Of the two, quod pro quo is the most objective. If you put out, you get the job, promotion, better hours, more pay, etc. In this day and age, any boss who does this deserves to have his/her !@# handed to them for being an idiot.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  18. #43
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Of the two, quod pro quo is the most objective. If you put out, you get the job, promotion, better hours, more pay, etc. In this day and age, any boss who does this deserves to have his/her !@# handed to them for being an idiot.
    I think our culture has changed so much that this is actually passed off as humor more often than not. Like sarcasm, where the speaker says what they really feel but both parties can laugh it off. Though obnoxious, I think it would be easier to deal with than a violent form of harassment. Though, I am a very strong personality and have never had a problem standing up to bullies, so it could very well be that my interpretation of the situation is different than another persons might be.

    If in a serious tone my boss ever said "Put out or get out", I would have no problem thanking them for firing me and letting them know I would see them in court, have their job, and own their house by the end of it.

    Edit: I should probably add though, that the only reason I would be able to react this way is because SH has become a major issue and is no longer tolerated. Otherwise I would just end up out of a job...

  19. #44
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Alot of it has to do with personal relationships with coworkers as well. And a boss should always be held to a higher standard. But for instance, I just told a coworker of mine that the pants she is wearing make her butt look big. Sexual harassment? Possibly - except that this is a coworker I routinely hang out with after work and who has in the past complained to me and others about how certain outfits of hers make her butt look big. I felt it was my duty as a good friend to inform her of this

    And now if I haven't completely thrown away all my credibility on this issue, I think Dobopoq brings up an interesting question:

    AWhy have most of the world's scientific and technological advances through history been overwhelmingly the creation of men? And why are men still so disproportionately in all the top positions and highest paid jobs?

    Is the answer:
    A. The XY chromosomes of males result in more outliers - ie more males of extreme intelligence, and more males of extreme mental deficiency compared to the XX chromosomes of females.
    B. An entrenched cultural system which has tended to push men toward control of resources, and women toward control of children.
    C. A psycho-sexual imperative that motivates males to extreme career achievement for the promise of economic and sexual rewards as a way of coping with the sexual power of women that is theirs by default.
    I think there are potentially more answers than those three
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  20. #45
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    ....And now if I haven't completely thrown away all my credibility on this issue, I think Dobopoq brings up an interesting question:
    Why have most of the world's scientific and technological advances through history been overwhelmingly the creation of men? And why are men still so disproportionately in all the top positions and highest paid jobs?

    Is the answer:
    A. The XY chromosomes of males result in more outliers - ie more males of extreme intelligence, and more males of extreme mental deficiency compared to the XX chromosomes of females.
    B. An entrenched cultural system which has tended to push men toward control of resources, and women toward control of children.
    C. A psycho-sexual imperative that motivates males to extreme career achievement for the promise of economic and sexual rewards as a way of coping with the sexual power of women that is theirs by default.
    I think there are potentially more answers than those three
    I would agree there are more answers to the question I raised than these three. Aside from pressure to become mothers, it is a simple fact that women have great intrinsic value for being the gateway to the future. Whatever the problems of the present you can always start again.

    I quote from the song White Wedding, by Billy Idol:

    "Take me back home
    There is nothin' fair in this world
    There is nothin' safe in this world
    And there's nothin' sure in this world
    And there's nothin' pure in this world
    Look for something left in this world
    Start again
    Come on

    It's a nice day for a white wedding
    It's a nice day to start again."

    When women discover how much power they have over men - through the sight of their body and the promise of sex, it's awfully hard to be persuaded against making ones life revolve around how to manipulate men as a sex object - till the point when motherhood (and/or the legal system) has ensnared one or more. True - the minority of unattractive women are forced to live more for the sake of achievement - as men are forced to. But a majority of women it seems - are able to consciously wield some degree of feminine wiles over men in tandem with whatever careers they may have staked for their own sake. The woman who not only possesses great physical beauty - but also lives for something deeper than to merely control men as by the strings of a puppet is a special and extraordinary achievement. Such physical power often yields a Pandora's box of evil.

    If you can control the amount of male gaze you receive by how much skin you show - like a curtain controls the amount of sunlight that penetrates a room, why concern oneself with trying to be the best in one's profession? Why not make a profession out of men's weakness? - A profession whose status is only acknowledged in private.

    In the end, the average man will be driven to extinction if he does not create the next great symphony, scientific breakthrough, technological leap forward, or medical miracle because all the females will simply breed with the alpha males who own everything. Invariably, the average man is forced to work in the more dangerous professions to obtain a danger premium in their salary if they are keep pace with the alpha males.

    The average females do not have to suffer nearly so greatly to compete with the alpha females, because (in the words of the song, Blood Sugar Sex Magic, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers):

    "Every women
    Has a piece of aphrodite
    Copulate to create
    A state of sexual light
    Kissing her virginity
    My affinity
    I mingle with the gods
    I mingle with divinity

    Blood sugar baby
    She's magik
    Sex magik sex magik"

    So Female-Female competition is not nearly so much a zero-sum game as Male-Male competition is. Female beauty is infinite and intangible. Male status and wealth has to be achieved, is tangible and finite and therefore capable of being hoarded by alpha males.

    The ultimatum of motherhood combined with feminine wiles conspire to preempt and undermine female achievement every step of the way. These are the constraints of biology - not the lingering residue of patriarchy.

    Sexual harrassment is inevitable so long as women chose men for career success and men choose women for youth and beauty. The less rigid sex roles become, the more benignly these proclivities and instincts will assert themselves.
    Last edited by dobopoq; 07 Feb 2011 at 8:30 PM.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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