I thought Norway was supposed to be so progressive, but where money is involved obsession and greed have no equal. The recession seems to be bringing out the worst in people. Norway’s workers’ union recently released a study that listed a firm that asks female employees to wear red bracelets during their time of the month in order to alleviate issues of frequent bathroom breaks. The report was apparently commissioned because of the country’s “tyrannical toilet rules.” Sound bizarre? Maybe, but apparently two-thirds of managers “require staff to ask for an electronic card before they can use the bathroom, while others asked staff to sign a toilet visitors book or placed their commodes under video surveillance.”
Why all the fuss? Productivity.
Frequent bathroom breaks mean loss of productivity for that worker who cannot work during visits to the commode. Why focus only on the women? It could be their position in society. While Norway likes, to tout its focus on women’s rights, the country introduced a special Gender Equality Ombud, equal pay and general equality are far from the norm with women making as much as 20% less than their male counterparts. The country blames low pay for women because their chosen profession typically lies in teaching and nursing while men focus on professions that are more technical. I have always believed that the teaching profession has been unfairly marginalized solely because it was dominated by women.
Of course, the problem may also lie with the special “Gender Equality Ombud, “In recent years work on equality has focused very little on advancing women’s rights in male fora, quite the opposite. “I think our biggest challenge in the years to come is to focus on the role of the man in gender equality. It’s high time that men draw up an agenda for their struggle for equal rights,” said Gender Equality Ombud Anne Lise Ryel at a Nordic meeting of ombuds in the Faroe Islands in 1998. Our present Minister of Children and Family Affairs, Valgjerd Svarstad Haugland, has said repeatedly that the issue of gender equality must focus on men and the role of men.”
I am beginning to now understand Norwegian Artist Edvard Munch’s motivation behind “The Scream” (1893) long considered to represent “the anxiety of modern man.” I’m pretty sure if you look closely, you’ll almost be able to make out the red bracelet on the screamer’s arm. The subject is not a man at all. It is a scream from generations of women who cannot believe the “audacity of modern man.”