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tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

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2006-04-09

Strange Men, children and hysteria

Via Ampersand at Alas, A Blog: Pedophilia fears contributed to child's death :
"The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated, "I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."

Instead, he assured himself that the parents must be "driving around" and would find her.

A few minutes thereafter, Abby fatally fell into an algae-covered pond."
There's no doubt that child molestation is a real problem, and increased awareness is a good thing. But as Abby's story horribly illustrates, societies in which adults don't feel free to approach or help strange children, are not child-safe.

I know that there are many men who don't feel safe to go up to a distressed child and try to comfort them for fear that other people watching might take them for paedophiles. Yet the fear of paedophilia, while overstated as to frequency, should not be dismissed lightly either. It is rare, but it does occur (although most child abductions and paedophile molestations are not by strangers but by family, neighbours or acquaintances).

What's the answer? Apparently gay male couples in the States in the few areas that allow them to adopt overwhelmingly ask for female infants to avoid the suspicion that they are 'grooming' a boy for sex, and then still have to travel with the child's adoption papers and passport to prove their legal relationship because otherwise 'concerned citizens' take it upon themselves to report the two men with a small child to the police.

This level of paranoia cannot be healthy.

2 comments:

ardlair said...

Yes, this is a UK story.
However the news spin here has been of the failure of the nursery to adequately supervise the child rather than the shit-they-might-think-I'm- a- paedophile issue you touch on here.

But I have strong views about this.
Probably wrong place to state them.

But here goes.

Misandry abounds.
Unfashionable to acknowledge. But real.
The man who sees a woman naked in a public place is a peeping tom, a voyeur.
The man seen naked by a woman in a public place is an exhibitionist, or worse a flasher.

We need to get a bit more real about this kind of gender issues. A bit post-feminist. A bit more mature.

The massive majority of men, like the massive majority of women, want to protect childern from all evil, any evil.

The fact that we scare them away from doing that, lest they be accused, is a sad, sad sign of our sad,sad times.

tigtog said...

I think some reflex misandry is a response to deep cultural misogyny, and manifests as a lack of trust by women of men generally, but I don't think this issue is so much attributable to that.

I think it's more a reflection of most parents today having grown up in nuclear families of two or three children tops.

When we were a society of extended large families, all kids saw their brothers as well as their sisters saddled with watching and caring for the younger siblings, and that older boys might enjoy playing with younger kids just because young kids are fun to be around was known by all because they saw it every day in their own families. That a man could quite happily and effectively comfort an upset child was likewise a daily occurrence with all the grown brothers and as-yet-unmarried uncles around the place.

This is one part of the comforting social fabric that our modern family structure has lost. People go into parenthood today with very little familiarity with children, they are almost alien visitors, and the idea that other unrelated people, especially males, might enjoy being around little aliens with no ulterior benefit simply does not compute. Thus any adult approaching their child is viewed with suspicion, and because of the media trumpeting of high profile paedophilia cases, that suspicion falls most squarely on males.

It's illuminating to look at first generation immigrant families from poor countries where large families are the norm and see just how different the family dynamics are in caring for the littlest children.