Thursday, December 16, 2010

Seeing All Men as Predators

Tarring Men
by Nicole Sprinkle

When it comes to our kids, men get a pretty bad rap. As a society we talk ad nauseum about racism and other forms of discrimination. But when it comes to men, no one seems to have much to say.

Ms Sprinkle goes on to describe how she needed a babysitter.

there was also this 23-year-old young man who responded to my ad on our neighborhood’s Listserv. He was well spoken and exuded a quiet friendliness over the phone. He was studying to become a paramedic (great to have around in case of emergencies), lived his whole life in the neighborhood, had a mother who owned a local daycare, and worked as a summer camp counselor at the very preschool my daughter was now attending – and got rave reviews from his supervisor there. In his e-mail to me, he said he would be interested in the job if my child was a boy. When I spoke to him on the phone and asked why he’d stipulated the male gender, he openly explained that he understood that many parents felt uncomfortable having a man watch a young girl. Touché. And extra points for sensitivity. I told him I did, indeed, have a 3-year-old daughter. He replied that he had no problem with that. Hmmm, but did I? Well, yeah, I did. Or at least I was learning that I did.

Since he was being so forthright with me, I told him frankly that I liked him best of all and yet still wasn’t sure I could make the leap of letting a man watch my daughter: one who might have to help her wipe, clean her up in case of an accident, who would be alone with her everyday for several hours.

I also told him that I felt really awful about having to feel this way, and that it was such a shame that society forced us to discriminate against kind, competent men as caregivers for our kids.

Nobody forced you to discriminate, Ms Sprinkle, any more than whites were 'forced to discriminate' against blacks in the early twentieth century Deep South. Society does not 'force' a prejudice upon you as if you are merely an empty vessel without moral or critical autonomy.

Yes, I know that statistically a man is far more likely to molest a child than a woman but,

It's statistically more likely to be reported, and statistically more likely to make headlines, I think that's about all we can say regarding that particular can of worms.

I told him I needed to think about it for a day or two.

He very kindly told me he understood and would wait for and respect my decision. Two days later I called him to tell him I was so sorry but I was going with the local mom. Again, he pleasantly told me he completely understood but to feel free to call him if it didn’t work out. I hung up the phone feeling sheepish.

You should feel more then sheepish, Ms Sprinkle. You are a prejudiced human being who judges other people as child molestors for no reason other than their sex. You acted on the very same forces that give rise to racist lynchings and homophobic murders.

Finally, to round out the week, a big brouhaha broke out on my neighborhood’s parent’s Listserv. A number of men playing chess on the stone chess tables inside one of our local playgrounds were given citations by the police. The reasoning? No adults allowed in a children’s playground without a child. (That’s the rule in all city playgrounds.)

Parents online became incensed – most felt the police were doing their job. The men didn’t belong there and a law’s a law.

A law's a law? Separate but equal, right? To draw another parallel to the early twentieth century US, white privilege was upheld through laws being laws. What we learn from those experiences is that it takes brave people to challenge unjust laws, and privileged, moralising chatterers to defend them.

And of course - the police are just doing their job. Adolf Eichmann merely 'did his job' too. Ms Sprinkle apparently believes that, when it comes to the most crucial moral questions of our time, it is best to disdain our critical faculties and perform the tasks we have been allocated.

'The men didn't belong there' - can anyone tell me where we think men do belong? There are women-only spaces that women fought hard for; they simultaneously fought to open up men-only spaces to everyone. The result is that men have nowhere of their own. As Ms Sprinkle herself admits:

I couldn’t help thinking that had it been a group of women playing chess, the police nor the parents would have given it a second thought.

I just know that as a mom who was faced with a tough decision along the gender divide, I can’t help feeling saddened by my well-meaning bias

I am sure that white men too thought it was 'well-meaning bias' when they 'protected' white women by persecuting black men.

Ms Sprinkle is cognizant enough to understand that men are being similarly persecuted, but ultimately doesn't care enough to do a thing to fix this situation; and, it seems, would prefer that it remains this way.

With this kind of anti-male discrimination being so widespread, is it any wonder that so many false accusations against men are made?

On that note, the False Rape Society weighs in:

What is both infuriating and chilling is that Sprinkle doesn't have the first clue how offensive it is ... Sprinkle ended up hiring a woman over the best candidate, solely because the best candidate is male.

After this unpardonable display of misandric pyrotechnics, Sprinkle feigns sensitivity toward the plight of good men ...

I can just hear Sprinkle telling a black person in the 1950s: "It's really awful that I have to feel this way, and it is such a shame society forces us to discriminate against good people like you, but I really don't want my daughter being in the same school as your child."

Sprinkle backs up her unbridled prejudice with an offhand comment that "statistically a man is far more likely to molest a child than a woman," blinking at the fact that the vast majority of child abuse is committed by women, and that a child is more likely to choke on pretzels than to be sexually molested by a man. But of course, we ban men, not pretzels, from our children's lives.

Sprinkle ends her hateful piece with the following attempt to paint her as an enlightened good parent: "I can’t help feeling saddened by my well-meaning bias . . . ."

As one comment under the story astutely pointed out, there is no such thing as "well-meaning bias." It is either bias or it isn't. You can't gussy up bigotry as good parenting by hiding behind the argument "but it's for the kids!"

In an era when we are telling men that they need to unshackle themselves from their masculine stereotypes and spend less time being breadwinners and more time being fathers, somehow Ms. Sprinkle, and a number of women commentators under the story, are perfectly OK with the view that men can't be trusted around children ...

If men are legitimately scary, Ms. Sprinkle, shouldn't we make it a crime for fathers to be alone with their own children? Logically, that has to be the next step, doesn't it?

Frankly, I fear for Ms. Sprinkle's daughter. It's not the new babysitter who is a concern, it's Ms.Sprinkle herself. She can't help but pass on to her daughter a wildly unreasonable fear of almost half the population of planet earth.

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