Sunday, June 03, 2007

Don't Take It Personally

I read several blogs every day, one of which is called Parent Dish. Parent Dish is a site where several people are paid to post on all things related to parenting, and encourage discussion in the comments amongst the readers. Sometimes the articles are ridiculous, sometimes they are thought provoking, and often they fall somewhere in between the two. Sometimes the comments fill me with blinding rage. The judgmental attitudes of other parents makes me sick. Today I read one article and it's comments that made me see red.

The basic gist of the article is that men are increasingly afraid of volunteering with children because they worry about being labeled as pedophiles. A couple of fathers posted saying that this is true, and frustrating for them. How unfair it is that they are made to feel uncomfortable when out alone with their own children. How unfair it is that they are made to feel like Bad Men if they try to help or talk to another child. And then the loonies came out. These women regularly post on this site, and they rarely have anything sensible to say. One woman had this to say:

"Men, you should know that you are suspect by virtue of your gender. The vast majority of pedophiles are men. Don't take it personally and make sure that nothing you do can be misconstrued. Don't play tickle games. Don't ever close a door when you're alone with a child. Be careful where you touch a child."

I just about spit out my tea when I read that....but it didn't end there. One father took offense to what she said, responding:

"Why not take it personally? You're basically telling us were all suspected pedophiles and shouldn't ever be around children - anything can be misconstrued."

And she went on to respond with this gem:

"I say don't take it personally because it *isn't* personal. It is a fear based completely on your gender. It has nothing do do with what you have or haven't done. No, you shouldn't hug a child unless you have a relationship with both the child and the parents that warrants hugging. Even then, you should be careful. There *is* a way to give a chaste hug."

Another father responded with this:

"Unbelievable. This post is making me sick. 'Sorry, we suspect you're a pedophile JUST BECAUSE you're a man?' 'shouldn't hug a child unless you have a relationship with the child and the parent that warrants hugging?' What the?

I've worked with kids of all ages. Do you have any idea how many toddler-age kids will spontaneously hug you? What are you supposed to do? "Sorry, honey, you can't hug me because I'm a man, and that means that I am evil"?

Give me a break. Does anyone else think that this is just sick? We're letting the bad guys run - and ruin - our lives and our children's lives!"

And back to our original, "Don't take it personal" poster. This was her response to the above father:

"It's "Sorry we suspect that you *might* be a pedophile JUST BECAUSE you're a man." I watch my children carefully around dogs, too. Because they are animals and have teeth, they *might* bite. If I see a dog who is mildly out of control, I won't let my kids go near it. The owner, if he doesn't want people to misinterpret his dog, should make sure his dog acts in accordance with the image the owner wants to project. Same thing with people.

I hang out with a lot of toddlers and they are definitely not commonly spontaneous huggers.

A man is supposed to give a chaste hug back. This can be one armed, it can be two armed, it can be a head rub, it can be a back pat, it can be a high five. Do I have to spell out that the man's waist area should never be near the child? If the man wants to avoid false accusations or misinterpretations of his actions, he should be very sure that his actions are obviously what they are meant to be."

Did you get that? "A man's waist area should never be near the child." Tough to do around my daughter and most children her age given her height. Oh no! My little girl was in the general vicinity of a penis! That man she walked past who didn't immediately turn his waist away must be a pedophile! Gasp! Another penis, this mall is FULL of pedophiles!

The ridiculous paranoia and half baked logic that goes on in conversations like this really makes me ill. Especially the "Don't take it personally" bit. I mean, seriously...would you say to a black person "Don't take it personally, it's only because of your skin colour that I don't trust you." Or to a Jewish person "Don't take it personally, it's only because you're a jew that I (insert random stereotype here)?" Oh, even better...would you say to a woman "Don't take it personally, it's just because you're a woman that you should be barefoot, pregnant and cooking me supper in the kitchen?" The first thing I think when I see a man with a child is not "Oh My God! Pedophile!"

I hate the fact that sensationalist media and the Nanny State has made us all terrified of our neighbours. Yes, there are bad people out there, but I simply cannot believe that lurking behind every mans friendly smile is a rapist or pedophile. I don't believe that there is a kidnapper around every corner just waiting for me to be off my guard. Yes, there are lots of whacko's out there, but I really believe that most of them are of the harmless variety. I refuse to go through life jumping at shadows and suspecting my neighbours of the worst. Maybe this makes me one of the whacko's, but I still believe that the majority of the people I run into on a daily basis are Good Guys, not Bad Guys.

Ahem. Okay then, rant finished. Back to regular programming. Maybe a little later I'll post a picture or two of Mary. Oh, and while I'm not making any promises, I'm going to try to post more often here in the future, I've been a serious lollyblogger since moving to Regina.


greypanther said...

Lollybloggeer or not I am glad you are staring to post again.

I can understand why you saw red after reading those comments. I also must be a whacko because I also let my children hug my male friends. And yes because of their height how can my husband give a chaste hug to my daughter who is just over three feet tall? Come on people use your common sense here. It is up to the parents to teach a child to be careful around dogs and the same goes for any "potential" pedophile. The best defense against a pedophile is making sure the child knows the proper terms of all the private parts. Many pedophiles have stated that the ones who know their terminology are the ones they leave alone. Why? Because the child is educated and will tell an adult about the encounter. Think about it!

I know I won't take it personally. I'll just teach my children properly.

I hope you have a good day despite this Jenn. I would love to see more pictures of Mary :)

JSM said...

Geez, that's almost as bad as the I-Village brain trust.

Did I blog about the hysteria here when a jogger waved to a kid as he ran by-on the other side of a busy street? Just a simple wave.

The kid ran home terrified, the police were notified, and pretty soon the entire city (it was Lincoln, pop. about 300,000)were on the lookout for "the jogger" who's only crime was waving to a child. I can't imagine what the police would have charged him with, had they located him. The kids are all terrified that there's a child molester around every corner, mainly due to opportunistic politicians using this fear to manipulate voters into casting ballots for the person who will be "toughest on crime" whether it exists or not.

The newspaper was filled with the same sort of hysterical comments about how men should never speak to children that are not their own, etc. Do you know it is almost impossible to find a babysitter these days as no one (understandably) is willing to put their lives on the line to watch a child that may mis-interpret a hug (or a wave) etc. and ruin the sitter's life? It is so crazy here with the paedophile nuttiness that they are prosecuting 18 year old boys for having sex with 16 year old girlfriends and making them register as sex offenders, something that certainly makes the statistics look much worse when they are all lumped as "paedophiles".

As a result of all this fear-mongering, children are no longer permitted to ride their bikes, or walk to school alone because, you know, a jogger might wave to them.


Talk about mass hysterias-it's like Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. When do we get to start burning joggers, or people who didn't give "chaste hugs" at the stake.

I liked it better when we were all afraid of Communists.

Emmett said...

You know, I always found it funny (in a not-hilarious way) how the U.S. government went on and on about how they weren't going to let the terrorists win -- and then proceeded to terrorize their own people. We have become rather accustomed to living in fear, haven't we? Media attention is given to every wacko or right-wing nut with an opinion to spout, turning non-issues into issues and making everyone afraid that they will be the next target. And the longer this goes on, the more legitimized these extremists feel.

Whatever happened to common sense? It doesn't really seem to exist anymore. I see some parents all but *demanding* that everyone be responsible for raising their children (except for them) and it makes me shake my head. So strange -- why would you want that? Ah, well. At least I know some good parents exist. I am positive that Mary will grow up with a healthy share of both Jenn's idealism and Ian's bitterness. If she ever decides to leave the house I'm sure she will contribute great things to society. :)