The New Sexism

Jed Diamond wants to know why you won’t let him babysit your kids.

Women have rightly fought hard to change attitudes that unfairly label women as too soft, too emotional, or too “hormonal” to be successful.  But men, too, are the victims of sexist attitudes that need to be challenged.  Writer, Mark Trueblood, stands up for men in an article, Why CNN Owes Father’s An Apology.  The CNN article suggested that if a man was supervising a sleepover with his teenaged daughter and her friends, there was more risk of sexual abuse than if the mother was supervising the kids.  “This article coldly slaps divorced dads, fathers, and men in general as assumed child molesters,” says Trueblood.  Many men and women agreed with him.

I know I’m dating myself to tell you I grew up watching the T.V. series, Father Knows Best starring Robert Young as the wise and caring, Jim Anderson who was always the ideal father to his children Betty (Princess), James Jr. (Bud), and Kathy (Kitten).  My family wasn’t like that.  I was an only child being raised by a divorced Mom, but I longed for an ideal family where fathers were loving, caring, and supportive.

But, life moves on. I got older, went to college, got married, and my wife and I had two children, Jemal and Angela. Both of us worked and we were both involved in the lives of our kids. We joined a baby-sitting co-op where Moms and Dads could watch the kids of their friends, get credits, so that they could have friends watch their own kids when they wanted to go out. It was a great arrangement.

Like many couples we loved our children, but over the years the stresses of life pulled our marriage apart.  My first encounter with sexism occurred after the divorce. The children spent half time with me and half time with my ex-wife.  We were still in the co-op and my wife continued to watch our friend’s kids and have them watch ours when she wanted to go out. But once we were divorced no one called me to watch their kids.  When I asked what was going on I was told, “Some of the parents are uncomfortable with you.  They wonder why you would want to baby sit other people’s kids. They’re suspicious.”

I was totally shocked. I finally sputtered out, “Well, the same reason I watched kids when I was married.  I love kids. I have two of my own, in case you haven’t noticed. And I still would like to get away occasionally for a few hours to run errands or whatever … Just like the other parents.”  It didn’t do any good. People were still suspicious of a single Dad who loved little kids and stopped asking me to watch their children.

♦◊♦

My second experience with sexism occurred when I began to volunteer in my kid’s schools. I had time during the day since I was a therapist and writer. I think I was the only Dad who was a regular in the class rooms. All the other parents were mothers. I was proud to be helping and having a chance to see my son and daughter in their school environments. I also felt good to be bringing some adult male energy into an environment that was dominated by women.

I assisted the teachers in any way they felt was helpful. I particularly enjoyed working in my daughter’s school when she was 9 or 10. The teacher wanted me to help kids that were having trouble with their writing skills. I would bend down, often put a hand on their arm or back for support and comfort, as I did when helping my own kids, and reassure them that they were competent and could do the assignment. I helped and they seemed to appreciate my supportive presence.

One day my daughter came up to me after class and told me that “the kids don’t want you touching them.”  At first I thought she was joking. She and I would kid each other a lot. But she was serious. I asked her what she meant, but she just shrugged and said the teacher had said something to her. I went and talked to the teacher and she said she was uncomfortable with the way I touched the girls in the class and she thought it best if I helped in ways where I wasn’t in physical contact with the kids. I asked if one of the kids had complained. She was vague in her reply.

I told her that her suggestion, that I was touching the girls inappropriately, was ridiculous. The way I touched the kids was no different than the way I touched my own children and I touched my son the same way I touched my daughter, with love, care, and support. I became more enraged, the more we talked and I eventually stormed out of her office. I never came back.

At home alone I quizzed myself. Was I touching the girls differently than the boys? Was there something about me that was unsafe?  I felt dirty and ashamed, even though I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.  I felt misunderstood and alone. I talked to my daughter and tried to explain my feelings of despair.  Looking back now, with many years in between, I wish I had been stronger in my own defense and in the defense of fathers and men.

Clearly this kind of sexism isn’t going away any time soon. I do think things are better for men than when I was a young father. But the big difference is that more and more men and women are standing up and speaking out against sexism in all its forms. When men are told that their interest in small children is suspect, that touching children with kindness and love is inappropriate, everyone loses, particularly the children.

—Photo Tobyotter/Flickr

About Jed Diamond Ph.D

Jed Diamond, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men’s health, MenAlive is also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives. Jed is the author of 11 books including his latest: Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Gender and Men’s Health. His homepage is MenAlive.com.

Comments

  1. When I was 9 or 10, I would not have liked being touched by a teacher or classroom volunteer. My family was not very physically affectionate and I was creeped out by adults who wanted to pat or hug me. Are there other 9 or 10 year olds who like being touched? Do you know which ones like being touched by adults and which don’t? No. So I would say, don’t touch other people’s kids.

    • Sarah, Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about touch. If we didn’t grow up being touched, or were touched inappropriately, touch is something that can trigger old feelings. Its important that we be sensitive to the needs of children (and adults), but we also need to recognize how important touch is and learn not to be afraid of giving or receiving.

  2. Transhuman says:

    We don’t know how important touch is to humans. I read about a recent study, which is in its early days, about why when we are hurt we grip the injured site. There appears to be a psychological result of pain reduction, that it tricks our body into believing we are being “looked after” and that the reason for our hurt is lessened. We train our children not to hug, the insecurities of adults is what is denying children human contact. Then we wonder why they feel disconnected from society.

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      @Transhuman: “We don’t know how important touch is to humans”

      Actually, we mostly know. There have been many studies – and books – about how important touch is for human (and animal as well) well-being.
      Googling “importance of touch” gives almost 90 millions results. So the evidence is out here.

      People denying that, are doing it just out of fear – or ignorance.

      • I think the responses make it clear that human touch is, well, a touchy subject. As a culture we are touch deprive, the majority of us don’t get enough healthy cuddling and touch. We know males are particularly deprived. We also have a significant degree of child abuse, which is often denied. As a result we grow up with the desire for touch and the fear of touch. Relearning to touch and be touched is a necessary part of our work in our lives.

  3. I appreciate all the comments and dialogue. This, for me, is the best of what The Good Men Project is about. I will continue to make efforts wherever I can, through my writing and my interaction with family, friends, and community to explore what it means to be a good man.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jed. You want to work in that world. Good for you. It’s not this one.

    Valter. Missed again. I was talking about whether I, as a babysitter of sorts, touched somebody else’s kids. I never said kids shouldn’t be touched. As you know. What I don’t get is why people misrepresent what others say on a comment thread when what the people said is RIGHT THERE for everybody to see. I don’t get the math. And these other kids have survived and done pretty well. My lack of touch is probably not the reason one was killed in an auto accident.

    • Richard, well said.
      I am adding and not arguing or disputing you.
      Is it our mission to touch other people’s children? I think not. Will other people’s children live just fine without the touch of a stranger or work related person (teacher, minister, rabbi, etc)? Probably. Do other children want to be touched or is it our need to touch them? Likely both. Is there anything wrong with that. Probably not.

      Are men at risk when they touch a child? Should a man be fearful when he is in a public restroom and a little boys is in there with him? When a little girl on a bus wants to sit on a stranger’s (man) lap because she stubbed her toe, and he automatically reached out to comfort her, is that man at risk?

      The witch hunt is on.

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      @Richard, perhaps I misunderstood what you meant. I apologize for that.
      (but, there’s also the possibility you didn’t make yourself clear, isn’t it?)

      @Richard Aubrey: “And these other kids have survived and done pretty well.”
      More or less, we all survive.
      But there’s a huge gap between surviving an thriving, between being simply alive and being happy and fulfilled. IMHO, being touched with affection and empathy is part of what make us thrive and develop (and science confirms this).
      Besides, while I’m aware of your concerns (and I share part of them), I don’t want to live conditioned by fear.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jed. When my kids were little, I frequently looked after them and their little friends. Ditto my granddaughter. Except for administrative reasons–putting in high chair, etc.–I didn’t touch the the others.
    Much to my surprise…they survived. Yeah, I know about the terry-cloth monkey moms and the failure-to-thrive Nazi experiments. But I’m talking about my experience. With one exception, every one of those kids is still alive and thriving. Who could possibly have believed it?
    Those kids you talk about will survive. Believe me, they’ll get along just fine without your touch. And you’ll be safer.

    • Richard, I’m sure you’re right. We would all be safer if we touched less. But I’m not sure the world would be a better place. We do need to be careful and aware of the world in which we live, but I still want to work to have a society where healthy touch is not seen as abuse and abusive touch was seen for what it is.

      • Justin Cascio says:

        It’s possible to connect meaningfully with other people without touching, but it’s sad to lose that, too. Being unable to connect with one another and nurture the young is its own danger. If we don’t connect with our kids, they aren’t having their needs met for safe human contact.

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      @RAubrey: “Believe me, they’ll get along just fine without your touch”

      Perhaps.
      But, following that line of reasoning, we’d better live enclosed in a box, only skype-ing and chatting with the outer world.
      That would be way safer. It would be sadder, voider and deader, too.

      • Male here.
        This is just sad as all hell. Yet, until we get all the shadows of sex abuse into the open and see it as the disorder it is, we will debate the most basic human needs – appropriate loving, touching, comforting.
        Recently, I was in a DDS chair at a student dental University gripping the arms, pale, and wretched. A teaching DDS came by to OK the work and patted my arm. I immediately felt a wave of comfort and relief by his touch. It meant a great deal to me.
        Unfortunately, and this is one major “tell” of a pedophile – they do things out in the open that “appear” normal, yet are sexually gratifying to them, and they justify their actions as “normal” and “Caring” ad nauseum.
        Are we touching someone from a concern for the other person?
        I hope I am not spamming here, as I already mentioned this to Jed, so if anyone wants some real specifics on this subject – read The Parent’s Guide to Protecting Children from Pedophiles. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004G09100
        I hope this is appropriate, it seems much needed and I apologize if this is totally wrong.

  6. John Sctoll says:

    I have always felt that the biggest problem is the notion that “Children don’t lie about sex abuse” is a mantra.

    The problem is that most people ‘in the industry’ assume this means that every accusation is 100% accurate and real. They just don’t seem to get that children can be taught to say things that they really do believe are true but are in fact implanted memories. Some very famous cases have resulted.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Seems to me there are two questions:
    Are more people going to be creeped out by being touched, or by not being touched?
    Does touching provide more grounds for suspicion than not touching?

    A third one would be, do we really think an instant’s touch in first-grade arithmetic is any substantial portion of a kid’s touch experience during the day? I submit they can get by without it and the teacher’s touch isn’t as important as some may think. So be safe.

  8. I think the prejudices you talk about here are very real, and unfortunate.

    But I would like to point out that women in public schools also have to be very careful about how they touch the kids. As an elementary school teacher, I made a point to keep physical touching to a minimum. Younger kids especially can be very physically affectionate, and you have to learn how to “hug” the child in a way that involves minimal bodily contact. Not all kids like to be touched on the arm or on the back, especially by someone who is not in their family. And adults working in schools have to be hyper-aware to not create even the remotest appearance of impropriety.

    I’ve had these conversations with female teachers. They really do deal with this. They know that the most innocent touching can be misconstrued or twisted. So they don’t do it.

    I also remember a math teacher I had in 7th grade. She did something similar to what you described. She would put her hand on students’ backs while she was helping them. Or on their shoulders or arms.

    We used to call her “the molester.”

    So this may indeed happen more to men than to women. But it’s definitely not exclusive to men.

    • Rebecca, I know it it happens to women as well. I think it says something about the state of our world (and the media that often blow things out of proportion) that caring adults are afraid to touch children. And children are growing up to become touch deprived adults who are afraid of touching. I’m glad I continue to touch and hug and choose to believe that most people will understand it for it it is, good old fashioned love for our children.
      P.S. It may have something to do with the reason my son (who just passed 40) continues to kiss me (as well as his friends, his wife, and his children) on the lips and has done so from the time he was born and hopefully we’ll be hugging and kissing to the day that we die.

  9. Anthony, thanks for sharing your experience. I think we are all empowered, validated, and supported when we tell our stories. Blessings.

  10. Anthony Zarat says:

    “Looking back now, with many years in between, I wish I had been stronger in my own defence and in the defence of fathers and men.”

    This kind of prejudice is so shocking that a father can feel disarmed and unable to respond when it happens. Like you, I spent many hours rehearsing what I “should” or “could” have said after I was victimized by prejudice while showering my son in a public bathroom.

    In August of 2011 I often took my son Michael to swimming lessons. After swimming, I gave my son a shower and then put on his clothes. This ended when two women wearing Indian saris followed me into the men’s bathroom and watched me showering my son. It quickly became clear that they were suspicious of me and what I was doing with a child in a bathroom.

    On my way out, one of the women volunteered “sorry, but we had to be sure.” I never took my son back to swimming lessons. His mother takes him now.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    David. They wouldn’t approach you. They’d approach the authorities, whoever they might be.

    My wife used to teach HS spanish and I helped chaperone trips abroad. My primary job was watching people who were watching us, especially those who tried to pretend they weren’t watching us. In four trips the worst thing was a kid got his wallet stolen, but, as he said, he wasn’t carrying it as we told him to. Plus, everybody but me got the Toltec Twostep in Mexico one time.
    The tour companies put various groups together until they have three dozen or so, justifying the guide and the bus and whatnot. At one point, I noticed a girl in another group was limping. I found out from the teacher the girl had some kind of ankle issue. I volunteered to get an Ace bandage–a hoot, since I had to pantomime it, not speaking Spanish. I know Spanish for beer, but not for Ace bandage. Eventually, having cracked up a couple of pharmacists, I got the thing and went to her room, which was a six-person place. I had lots of spectators as I did the figure-eight thing, for a minute. And then the others started to leave. I got the last one to stay and watch me fooling with a teenage girl’s foot on the grounds she might have to do it, since you can’t do it to your own ankle. All I needed was to have had thirty seconds alone and some kid who was annoyed at me. Although I was officially only watching our kids, chaperones of the other groups had unofficially told their kids to listen to me, since I was the only adult male around. So I might have told somebody to stop something dumb and ….
    That’s all it takes. It doesn’t happen often, but that’s all it takes. The key here is…there’s nothing I could have done about it afterwards. Nothing. I’d be hosed.

  12. This bias is not a surprise at all, and is implicitly endorsed by many “progressive” psychologists, by the way. Welcome to an environment of your own making.

  13. David Byron says:

    I wonder if I managed to avoid a lot of that stuff by being too socially unaware for people to get up courage to approach me about it. At any rate I helped out at a couple of primary schools and a creche and I don’t have any memory of any memory of something weird coming up because of it. And I do come off pretty weird. And I didn’t even have any connection with those schools. No relatives in attendance and I was married and didn’t have any kids. In the case of the creche I had a friend already working there but not with either of the schools. Thinking about it now that just seems so odd that I didn’t get screwed for that. Pretty sure I wasn’t…

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jed.

    “We” is the folks who should think as you do, who should stop thinking of men as potential predators, who need to see men as equal partners. “We” must all be aware, “We” need to stand up”. That’s you and people who think like you.

    “them” is the people behind various campus behavior codes which prostitute due process, people behind VAWA, people who think harping on false rape claims is an offense against women, prosecutors who want to make their names by going after vile child molesters even if they have to make stuff up, feminists who howled about the Duke laxers even after the rape hoax was obviously a hoax and ignored the real rape of Katie Rouse. Women and divorce attorneys who routinely use such accusations as leverage in divorce cases.

    Clear, now?

  15. Richard, help me out here. I have trouble with “we” vs “them.” Who is the “we” and who is the “them?”

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Looks like Jed’s volunteering to be the forlorn hope. Unfortunately, while the Hope sometimes cleared the way for the rest, usually by dying in heaps, there is no possibility of clearing the way in this situation.
    BTW, I have heard that “forlorn hope” is an english corruption of the Dutch for “lost band”.
    Jed keeps talking about ought to be and not assume and so forth. He says “we” a lot. Problem is, it isn’t “we”. It’s them, and they don’t care what “we” think or don’t assume.
    And they have the muscle. See Yale, Witt, Due process (lack of).

  17. Mark Ellis says:

    Agreed, Jed, but the problem is that the incidence of child molestation is not gender equal. We can ask to be treated equally all we want, and I support your basic contention and see value in your speaking out. But simply as a matter of real world incidences, while we decry harmful assumptions about male intentions, men have to be doubly careful–our quest for equality notwithstanding.

    • Child molestation is a serious problem that everyone who cares about children should be concerned about. But to assume that men are more likely to molest children than are women is a bias that is not supported by scientific studies. Most of us grew up with the gender bias that boys tend to be “bad” while girls tended to be “good.” Many of us were raised on some variation of the nursery rhyme, “Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy-dog’s tails.” Most of us are not aware that we still look at the world through the distorted lenses of this bias.

      • “But to assume that men are more likely to molest children than are women is a bias that is not supported by scientific studies.”

        And as we are all telling you, that is only a small part of the problem. You are making the mistake of thinking it is enough to be innocent. It is not.

        If you want this t turn around, you have to advocate for severe penalties, severe enough to be siliencing, for lying harpy mothers of school children who want to feel like Supermom Mama Grizzlies, and all those knuckle-dragging Neanderthal hormonal fathers of daughters who suspect everything with three legs. They need to be hung out on display to silence all the other false accusers.

        That is effectual activism. Exhorting men to risk their freedom and their children’s childhoods is going at it from the wrong end.

  18. Mark Ellis says:

    Jed, your taking some heat here, from the real world as it exists.

    I remember that old experiment with the infant chimpanzees. One was given a warm cuddly cloth “mother” to suckle at, and the other was given a cold chicken wire “mother”. Both received the same milk, but the one with the fuzzy mom thrived, while the other manifested a range of emotional problems, and eventually, if I remember the study correctly, refused to take sustenance.

    My point is that nobody’s denying the fundamental value of human touch and warmth. I can’t speak to the boundaries of professional therapists, but for everybody else, if you don’t know the parents extremely well, be warned.

    • Mark, We need to do more than accept the value of human touch. Sometimes when you’re a man you have to stand up for the right to be judged equally with women and not to be assumed to have negative intent just because we are men.

  19. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jed. You think you’re one bad hair day away from a misunderstanding? Misunderstanding? Sorry I didn’t make myself clearer.
    Just for grins, as an example, a woman in our area some years ago got her daughter to make vile accusations against a teacher. Didn’t like the teacher. Mom did ninety days, teach lost his job and left the area.
    At U N. Dakota, a kid is suspended due to an accusation that is so false that the cops are trying to arrest the woman for filing a false report. Makes no never mind to the U.
    See Yale, Witt, due process (lack of).
    Misunderstandings are not your problem.

    • Richard,
      Point well taken. I do know these kinds of things happen and we all must be aware of what “could happen,” but I still feel we all need to stand up, #1 for equal protection, not assume that men are more likely to be abusers than women and #2 to recognize that men and women need to extend their love and care to all the children in our surroundings. Too many of us have grown up “touch deprived” and uncared for. We can do better.

  20. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jed. With all due respect, you’re an idiot. You’re one bad-hair-day away from jail. Remember Amirault? McMartin? Evidence is for fools. We don’t need no stinkin’ evidence and if the evidence we have is physically impossible, hell, whatever you did was bad enough (Brodhead, Duke).
    Sarah, nice of you to support guys in your ministry but if you really mean it, you will never, ever let one of them be alone with a kid. You will always have a witness. If that’s organizationally and administratively awkward, then don’t have men in the program. It would be an injustice.

    • Richard, with all due respect, I’m an idiot? I know you are trying to protect me from someone’s bad-hair day causing them to misunderstand my intentions and send me off to jail. Believe me, I’m careful, but I also am unwilling to live my life in fear and choose to believe that most people will accurately perceive my loving touches for what they are–my way of letting my children and my children’s friends know that they are cared for and cherished.

    • Richard,

      We have a team of individuals who teach each week, background checked, and fully trained with written guidelines for appropriate behavior towards children. No one is allowed to be alone with the kids, man or woman, and our guidelines for touch apply to ALL volunteers regardless of gender. The ultimate goal is for our kids to feel safe, secure, and comfortable while their parents attend services. Thanks for your concern!

      Sarah

      • Sarah, a background check does not find the men who are yet uncaught. Penn State – he was not on any registry. Sure, it is good to run a background check, yes, and the way you have it so no one is alone with a child is excellent. Good for you. That is the best way.

  21. Mark Ellis says:

    I raised my kids from toddler-hood and soon learned the lay of the land. The schools are virtual landmines of pedophile awareness. Unless the parents in question have been thoroughly vetted, I don’t touch kids, talk to kids, or even look at them. And I am a great father. Around the time my daughter turned twelve and she and her friends became interested in boys, my father advised me to cease and desist from sleepovers. He said, “All its gonna take is one of those girls to say anything, and you’re done.” I took his advice, and usually let my daughter sleep at her friends house where a wife was present. Conversely, I was guilty of the same stereotype; I had no problem letting my kids go with women or couples, but always had that shred of doubt about sending them to be with a custodial or shared custody father.

    There is no worse insult than falling into the net of pedophile suspicion, but you can’t really blame the parents, there is so much pedophilia afoot. Men have to deal with it, and take great steps to avoid any exposure. I like where this writer is coming from, and wish there was less fear and loathing out there, but in the meantime, don’t leave room for even the slightest perception of impropriety.

    The flip side of is you can’t bemoan this state of affairs and not be for the harshest possible punishment for real, convicted pedophiles. Thank God for Bill O Reilly’s Jessica’s Law, which makes sure in all but five states that child predators do hard time.

    • Mark, I’ve been a therapist for more than 40 years and have dealt with child sexual abuse in all its forms. We should rightly be concerned about the safety of children. The problem is that many assume that males are more likely to abuse children than are females. The result is that too many men who are around kids respond like you described: “I don’t touch kids, talk to kids, or even look at them.” Both the kids and the men suffer from emotional and physical deprivation. Studies show that children sicken and even die if they aren’t touched and loved. The flip side of the coin is that too many people assume that “if a woman’s watching the kids, we don’t have to worry” and don’t vet the female as rigorously as we would vet the male.

  22. gabby watts says:

    I hope it makes the author feel less singled out to know that as a child I would not have wanted a teacher of either sex to touch me ‘for support and comfort’. Lots of kids grow up in homes where their own parents do not touch them affectionately and this would not be comfortable for them coming from a stranger. Not because it’s sexual but because it’s too intimate and it crosses a boundary. In a society where not all parents show their kids physical affection, they way you touch your kids cannot, unfortunately, be extrapolated to other kids. Maybe, these kids need this encouraging touch more than anybody, but unfortunately, you can’t be the one to break the cycle.

    • Gabby, you’re point is well taken. Not all children, or adults, are comfortable with touching. We have to be sensitive to people’s need and in doubt can ask. I’m pretty sensitive to kids and adults and wouldn’t touch or hug someone I didn’t know. With the kids, I only reached out once I had known them for some time and was pretty sure that a touch would be well received. I’m pretty sure that the discomfort was coming from the teacher because of her own experiences, not from the children.

      • Actually, men like Jed can still express love and affection without touching through unconditional support, patience, and guidance. I’m sure this is what children who fear being touched might need the most more than touch itself. Once that’s fulfilled, they’ll know they’re loved.

  23. There’s a group of people in Papua New Guinea, I can’t remember what they are called at the moment, where the men are the primary parents. Men take care of children while women farm. I’m sure there are other cultures where this is true too. I point this one out because when we first started discussing this in my anthropology class, a couple of people looked at each other and said something along the lines of, ‘that’s weird.’ I find it sad that our culture has become so uncomfortable with men expressing affection that we get worried about having them be care-givers.

  24. Experiences like yours have contributed to why I don’t have much interest in being around children now. Its a rather funny double bind we find ourselves in as men. On one hand we supposedly have the male privilege of not being expected to spend time with children but on the other we try to do just that we are actively turned away.

    And this type of sexism (which is nowhere near new if you ask me) feeds directly into why people either have a hard time with acknowledging and/or outright denying that women/girls actually do bully/harass/sexually assault/violate children.

    Even though in the last week I’ve read two stories about just such things. One was of a woman that raped her own daughter and called it “sex education”. The other was of a mom that refused let her daughter take a Plan B after finding out she was raped (the girl went missing for 48hr and after being found and examined it came to light she was raped repeatedly during that 48hr) and then bragged about it for Pro Life street cred.

    But its men and fathers that we need to keep an eye on?

    • Danny, I definitely know the feeling of fear and frustration that makes us want to turn away from children rather than risk being labeled and judged. I’m glad I didn’t turn away. I think my children and grandchildren have benefited greatly. Just as sexism can build on itself, so too can our willingness to stay connected with ourselves, each other, and all the children of the world. They need us and we need them. Hang in there.

  25. Justin Cascio says:

    This is really sad. I’m most upset at how your daughter’s teacher made you feel dirty, while being so shifty, herself. Sending that kind of message, and doing it through your kid, was totally inappropriate and unprofessional. The attitude shared by some women in caring professions that men are dangerous to children, reinforces the message to the kids that men are dangerous. It hurts our relationships on both ends: the men and the children.

    • Justin, thanks for the care and concern. I was blessed to have a supportive wife, a men’s group, and friends I could share with. But having a public forum like this where we can share from the heart is invaluable.

  26. This entire piece makes me very sad. I volunteer with in a children’s ministry in a church, and we are always eager to have men volunteer with the children. The missing component from the lives of too many children is the presence of a strong male role model. Sometimes the men the kids see at Sunday school might me the only meaningful interaction they have all week with a guy.

    It really is a shame that more men aren’t involved in the lives of kids who aren’t their own, but in reading this it’s easy to see why, as well as what needs to be done to correct the problem. Discrimination against anyone is always wrong and educatig others will help to combat that Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Sarah, its women like you who men need in their lives to support the men in being with children. Some of the best support I ever got was from women who told me “hang in there. We love that you’re here with us and the children. Don’t give up.”

  27. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    What really pisses me off is that I spent my school years being abused (shouting, beatings, refusal to acknowledge ed plans, being punished for having been bullied by girls) in special education programs exclusively by female social workers, all of whom were protected by the school system from receiving any consequences for their actions (they would rather turn a kid into a drugged up vegetable or kick them out of public school altogether than reprimand a female social worker). All three male social workers I ever met were great. They were kind, supportive, had actually bothered to read about the mental conditions of the kids they were teaching and offered advice that was much more relevant to my situation. The school system couldn’t wait to get rid of them (none of them were around for more than a year). That’s not to say there weren’t any great female social workers, there were, but there were a lot of situations where they simply couldn’t give me the kind of advice I needed as a growing boy (funnily enough, the school system had it out for them too. I think they might just really dislike mentally handicapped children).

    • You have a right to be angry. We all do. Let’s turn that anger into action in support of male social workers, teachers, dads, and grand dads who have the courage to stand up to an abusive system.

  28. Sadly, stories like yours are becoming all too common these days. Men are looked on with suspicion when it comes to child care, even in their own homes.

  29. This is the stuff that makes me fearful of being around kids, I’m not afraid of the kids but I am afraid of the bigotry amongst some parents simply because I am a male. It’s sad because I don’t feel comfortable interacting with kids because I don’t want to be seen as suspicious for wanting to be normal and interact with other humans. I have no kids of my own which makes it even more difficult and it’s a fear of mine as I am probably going to set up a photography business yet still feel cautious about ever doing children’s or family photography.

    I hate this new sexism, it’s sad that people don’t understand how many of us men would do their best to protect a child and never want to harm them. Pretty much all of the babysitters/child carers here are female and I really doubt males will be anywhere near as successful with a self-employed child-care business.

  30. David bruce says:

    This is such a sad scenario. One of my friends is a fully qualified primary school teacher, but nobody will hire him to babysit because he’s a man. This is blatant sexism, and if the roles were reversed there would e a national enquiry and billions of dollars poured into it.

    • David, It’s more than sad. Its a tragedy. But it is changing and will continue to change as men, and women, come together to support men in our desire to reach out and touch those we care about. As a therapist I have seen damage to children from two sides. I’ve seen the damage from child abuse, where children are hit or touched in inappropriate ways. I’ve also seen the damage when children are not touched enough out of fear that the adults, particularly the men, have of being seen as unmanly, or worse, abusive.

      • Children need good dads in their lives and good male role models. With all the recent commotion around male pedophiles, men are lumped into suspected child-molesters along with all the other stereotypes.
        In would like to post here that there are certain signs of male pedophiles – “tells” and they can often be spotted. Male pedophiles were usually abused themselves as children and suffer from a horrid disorder which they carry out on children. PTSD. They need treatment and this hatred of them rather than hating what they do and recognizing they are victims grown up and sick, is another form of male hatred.
        I published a book on it.

    • David Byron says:

      Men are happy to allow women into their gender role but women guard their own gender role jealously.

  31. Valter Viglietti says:

    Thank you Jed, I find this kind of sexism really shocking.
    I’m an outgoing, very affectionate and physical guy. I like (gently and respectfully) touching people, and I know the importance of touch for well-being. And I like children, because they can often be direct and spontaneous, much like dogs.

    Yet, any time I find myself watching a kid (maybe when having a walk or doing shopping), after a moment I become aware someone might think I’m a pedophile or something. And I’m afraid. 😯
    Our culture is becoming so paranoid about this, we can’t even be loving and affectionate anymore. You’re right, everybody is losing, the children first.

    • Valter, we all have to have the courage to be who we are and allow our natural desire to touch, care for, and comfort children. I wish I had this kind of supportive community when I was raising my own children.

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