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Men and cereal boxes

Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011, at 11:02 AM

I guess you've heard of Betty Dukes, a black minister and greeter at Wal-Mart.

Dukes is the lead plaintiff in Betty Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, the largest civil rights class action suit in history. She accuses the retail goliath of sex discrimination in pay, promotions and hiring.

Dukes claims that female employees at Wal-Mart have been paid less than men in nearly every job category, and promoted less often, despite lower turnover rates and better job performance ratings.

The dispute has been ongoing for several years as it worked its way through the court system.

The Supreme Court justices must now decide if the case should move forward as a class action suit.

Now I'm not taking sides. Whichever way the Supreme Court rules, I will continue to shop at Wal-Mart. I don't work at Wal-Mart and never have so I'm not biased. I've been a steady Wal-Mart shopper since I was able to cart wheel (wheel a cart)....

Women have been claiming discrimination in the work place since the Women's Liberation Movement in the '70s, and long before.

I do remember when my aunt was in the work force, but not at Wal-Mart. She was a dutiful faithful efficient longtime worker. One day she confided in me that she was "sick and tired" of young men being brought in and promoted over her, becoming her boss. It was her job to train these upstarts. She taught them the ins and outs of the business and received miniscule pay raises while the trainees moved into higher paying positions. One day she had enough and quit. No more, she said, and she retired for good. She chafed at the discrimination but it ended there. She never brought a law suit against her employers.

What I'm curious about is why some disgruntled woman hasn't sued the breakfast cereal industry for discriminating against women on their packaging.

Have you noticed that few women are pictured on cereal boxes? It's man dominated.

Yes, there's a token Barbie Fairytopia multi-grain cereal but mostly the male gender is promoted.

There's Batman Cereal, Cap'n Crunch Quaker Oats, G.I. Action Stars, Spiderman, Superman Stars, Mr. T. Cereal, Ghostbusters Cereal, Indiana Jones, Sponge Bob SquarePants, O.J's Cereal, Uncle Sam Cereal, King Vitamin, and Mickey's Magix, to name some.

That leads me to believe that it must be men who design those boxes.

Something else nags at me.

My mama taught me certain table manners. I was taught not to chew with my mouth open and I wasn't to smack my food or slurp.

But the cereal fathers make cereals that crunch, pop, crackle, snap, burst and make noises that defy table etiquette. The boxes display overused words like crispy, crunchy to describe the ingredients. The words are repeated many times, many places on cereal boxes, if you'll notice when you walk the cereal aisle.

That reminds me of a funny line that humorist David Smith wrote about Grape Nuts, his favorite cereal.

He said there are no grapes or nuts in Grape Nuts. (Well, it was funny to me.)

I guess my favorite cereal is Shredded Wheat, with or without frosting. I figure my liking dates back to when I was a little girl. My mom would buy shredded wheat in a short rectangular box. The shredded wheat inside was in large biscuits, not bite size and not frosted. But those large biscuits were separated by cardboard inserts. There would be a row of biscuits on top, and another row of biscuits beneath. It was those cardboard dividers that I was after because the dividers had drawings of animals and scenery that I could color. I suppose It was just a commercial gimmick to get consumers to buy that product. I would take out my eight color pack of Crayolas and color those picture dividers. It was exciting to open the box to see what coloring pictures would be inside. It was like finding the toy in a box of Crackerjacks. But I developed a liking for shredded wheat too.

In our changing world, shredded wheat is a constant.

Here's hoping you've got milk.

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