Wonder “WHOA Man”

More than anything, I wanted a Barbie when I was little.  Santa thankfully came through the year I was 5 and I still have that very special Barbie 20 years later (ok – that was a lie, it’s more like 30). Or 40. Let’s just say it was a loooong time ago.

My daughter has now inherited my Barbie collection and made an interesting observation this week. The tube-top my Barbie can wear falls off her newer Barbie.  And the Jordache jeans – well, they won’t go past her Barbie’s knees.

Mattel “updated” Barbie a few years back.  Smaller chest and wider hips to better represent real women.  Not sure why they didn’t put some meat on Barbie’s thighs, but perhaps that will be v2.0.

I applauded the move to better represent all body types, and especially loved the professional series of Barbies like doctors, vets and of course, President Barbie.

Women issues continue to be in the spotlight.  It’s been a flurry of women’s rights, gender equality, equal pay, politics…and now, Wonder Woman issues.  And yes, Mattel has a Wonder Woman Barbie.

As Wonder Woman was hitting theaters, the original Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin was promoting it’s women-only screening.  It got some attention.  From a lot of pissed-off men.

In addition to only allowing women, and those that identify as women, into the show, Alamo only allowed female staffers to work the show.  And the snarky remarks from Alamo via social media caught the attention of a New York attorney, who filed a civil rights complaint.  He alleged the event, as described, discriminated against male customers based on their gender.  He also cited that by staffing women only, Alamo was illegally engaging in employment discrimination.

“I’m a gay man, and I’ve studied and taught gay rights for years.  Our gay bars have long said that you do not exclude people because they’re gay or straight or transgender – you just can’t do that for any reason.  We have to deal with the bachelorette parties that come to the gay bar.  They’re terribly disruptive, but if you forbid women from coming to a gay bar, you’re starting down a slippery slope. It’s discrimination.”

I’m guessing the decision-makers at Alamo didn’t talk to their HR leaders – or employment attorney – or PR guru – before deciding on and promoting this event.  Unfortunately, it feels pretty cut and dry to me, even if I loved the witty back-and-forth from Alamo.  And let’s face it.  Women would be up in arms too with any “man-only” anything.

Damn lawyers.  Taking the fun (and meaning) out of this event.  But…they are right.  Legally, anyways.

We live in an ever-increasing legalistic environment, and it’s tough if you work in HR.  While we don’t want to be viewed as police or warriors of the black and white of things, we have to speak up when our organizations are teetering on the edge of illegality.

I’ll probably wait for Wonder Woman to hit Apple TV so my daughter and I can watch it with our Barbies.  But Dad will always be welcomed to join in.

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).

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