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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Male Babysitters Still Facing Misandry


Courtesy of [The False Rape Society] I saw [this article] where a woman from the NY Times wrote about how she did not hire a well-qualified man with great manners, character references, paramedic training, and basically everything an awesome babysitter should have, and instead hired a less qualified woman because she was afraid the man would be more likely to harm her child. Her article details the experience while justifying how and why men aren't trustworthy around kids.

SERIOUSLY!? And this bitch woman is still working as a guest-writer for the paper?? But of course, from the first comments on the website where the article was published, you'd never guess that the reasoning she stated, if used in other contexts would be completely objectionable, if not downright contemptible.


"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. Yes, I know that statistically a man is far more likely to molest a child than a woman [This is false -- as I'll explain later] but, really, what is the likelihood of it happening to your child when the potential caregiver comes replete with recommendations that you trust and a personality and career path you admire? 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." [emphasis mine]


Now picture this example: "I'm sorry, but I just can't hire you for my jewelry business. Because while you're obviously well-trained and experienced with excellent references, the fact that Black men are statistically more likely to commit crime is just too much of a concern for me. I'm so sorry though! That you have to suffer for this horrible bias of mine, but it's just so well-meaning I can't help myself! Good luck in the future."

Would you not label that person a racist, who just violated the Constitution, not to mention a half-dozen employment laws?

Well, in this case I have only one thing to say to this woman:

Fuck you misandrist.


To add insensitivity to this blatant sexism is that this woman felt about as guilty as someone feels for stepping on your toes, and she was punished accordingly. And by punished I mean she got her story published in the NY Times to indoctrinate more people into misandry.

That society turns a blind eye to this injustice is not only deeply telling of what kinds of prejudice are becoming more acceptable, but it also is evidence that we as a country still cannot get out of our stupid box where only men do Bad Things, and women are too weak or too high on a pedestal to ever possibly harm a child...

Funny thing is, the hard data refutes this completely. [According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families], among child maltreatment (including sexual offenses) 42.6% were men and 56.2% were women (1.1% were of indeterminate gender). That's a 13.6% difference! Which in contemporary polling means a landslide of a difference.

So yeah... Fuck you again, misandrist.

Sure, I'll make more money than you in many careers, and be less likely to get raped by someone I know, or have my physical looks questioned less often, but apparently that privilege comes with a price:

No matter how good of a person I am, I'll always be held in contempt around children because, yes, I'm seen as more likely to mistreat, molest, or otherwise hurt a child. I am just a criminal waiting to happen.

Well y'know what Lisa Belkin? Fuck you.

And you know what? The children agree with me too.



Cheers

14 footnotes:

Jasmin said...

among child maltreatment (including sexual offenses) 42.6% were men and 56.2% were women (1.1% were of indeterminate gender).

That's not surprising, since most caregivers are women--have you ever seen one of those talk shows that does a hidden camera exposé on daycare? Horrifying.

I'm wary of anyone I don't know watching my kids, regardless of gender, but if I had to pick someone, of course a paramedic-trained babysitter would be at the top of the list. For some reason, I hold a stereotype in my head of women caretakers being more likely to physically harm their charges (slap them, etc.)--no idea why, but I digress. Why not just advertise for a female caretaker in the first place?

Anyway, the article sounds like it was written so the author could be reassured that she's a good person, not because she actually feels bad about not hiring the guy. I'm sure she's satisfied her conscience with a bunch of "I would've done the same thing" comments on the article.

Zek J Evets said...

yeah, it was definitely a failed trendy-piece that was ALL about assuaging guilty minds.

if the author of the article had advertised for a female babysitter, that would've been a hole different story since she would've been looking for a very specific person (albeit, still disallowing men to be good caregivers), however since she made it a seemingly open-position it makes her turning down this guy not only misandric, but professionally idiotic.

another thing that surprised me was finding this article in the NY Times, which is supposed to be the journalistic standard of America. apparently they didn't get the memo about not including discrimination in their publication.

Mira said...

I agree with Jasmin that the article was written so the author could be reassured that she's a good person (and it seems to be the main concern to many people who discriminate others, based on whatever criteria).

As for the babysitters, they are not popular in my culture. Grandparents are the ones that take care of the child if parents are busy, or the kids are taken to the kindergarten. I know only one child (my nephew) who had a babysitter.

But even with this situation you could tell most of the caregivers are women: I never had a male kindergarten teacher, and I had many. Some of these women were good, but many were awful. They hated the kids and they hated their job. They were not gentle and they would scare us and slap us and force us to eat horrible food even if we weren't hungry (the last one was one of my main complains).

One thing many people don't get is that women are NOT more capable to deal with children, nor they are naturally more compassionate or better with kids. True, there is a motherly instinct, I think, but with humans, it's always more about the learned behavior and culture. There are so many good fathers and males who are gentle and caring, and women that are not. It's all individual. Saying only a female can take care of a child is really stupid.

But then again, am I missing something? The woman was not concerned about the guy's ability to take care of her kid, but the fact he might sexually assault the child?!?

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: yeah, i think the underlying assumption among the author -- and many of her readers -- is that male-babysitters only do this job because they want to secretly molest the children, like those guys you see at a public park by themselves watching kids play on the swings.

nevermind that they might be someone's father or brother or uncle.

to me, it's a part of the idea that "real men" (y'know, the men who don't molest young children) only choose careers that are stereotypical enough for their "manliness", and so therefore any guy who actually WANTS to take care of kids must somehow be a perverted loser.

i mean, such things aren't explicitly stated, but they are made implicitly connected by how the article links the story of the male babysitter with stereotypes of male sexual predators.

personally i find it disgusting, since in my experience i wanted a male babysitter because all the girls i had were HORRIBLE -- like my parents should've taken legal-action horrible.

anyhoo, /endrant.

Eurasian Sensation said...

I dunno Zek, I interpreted the article in a different way to you. Sure, her decision was wrong to not choose the male babysitter. But I didn't really see her as trying to justify that behaviour.

To use your racism analogy, I guess the parallel would be someone admitting to past racist thoughts and behaviour, and explaining the mental process that resulted in it, but realising that it is based on a set of assumptions that don't really stack up logically.

I think the article is mostly a comment on how paranoia about sex offenders has got out of control and led to men being unjustifiably tarred with the same brush. And the author has copped to it herself. Does that make her a bitch? I dunno. If she was writing to unwaveringly justify her decisions, sure. But I'm not sure that's what she's doing.

I'm reminded of the Shirley Sherrod firestorm, when she recounted previously denying a white man financial assistance because of her race, then later coming to realise the error of her ways. Right-wing media seized upon the prejudice as the key aspect of her story, rather than Sherrod's message of transcending prejudice.

I dunno. That's how I interpreted the article. Did I miss something?

Zek J Evets said...

@eurasian:

really? because she tries to justify it throughout the whole piece, but is best evidenced by this line:

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

She's obviously not guilty enough, or cognizant enough of her misandry to realize that just because you hold a stereotype about a group of people doesn't mean you have to then treat those people like the stereotype.

It's not even that she's misandric which makes her a bitch (although it certainly helps), but the fact that she didn't hire the male babysitter KNOWING that her decision was based off of prejudice and ignorance. Sure, we all have stereotypes, and it's not something to brag about or kill anyone over, but to admit to your prejudice and feel so "guilty" about it, while in the next paragraph allow your "well-meaning bias" to influence how you treat other people?? It's a clear-cut-case of classic hypocrisy!

If Lisa Belkin actually felt guilty, what she would have done is give the guy another chance, instead of writing an article in the NY Times trying to make herself feel better about it by generalizing her prejudice so that it "makes sense".

As for your parallel with racism & Shirley Sherrod, I'd have to disagree. Because unlike Lisa Belkin, who actively discriminated against a man, Sherrod wanted to discriminate against the White farmer, and in fact probably hated him on some level -- BUT! She never actually used her position, influence, or power to not help him/get him the help he needed. She got him a lawyer, talked with him about his options, and basically did her job. She didn't say to this guy, "Fuck you Whitey" (even though she may have been thinking it) which is not same as what Lisa Belkin did.

As for this article being a message of transcending prejudice... I just don't see that honestly. Maybe I've seen too many movies, or read too many stories, but to be about transcending prejudice the person kind of, well, y'know, has to transcend their prejudice.

However, we've all got assholes and opinions, and so you might see a hopeful message where I see something to shake my fist at.

Jasmin said...

^^^Agreed. If she really felt bad about it, she would've apologized and given him the job (or recommended him to a friend, etc.). The article only benefits Belkin, which is why I'd label it navel-gazing at best.

Eurasian Sensation said...

Hmmm, maybe I am a glass-half-full kinda guy!

She's a hypocrite, I agree, but I can still give her some respect because she's aware of her hypocrisy.

When you talk about "justifying", that's kind of a loaded term, in that it implies making excuses and diverting blame for the behaviour. Yes, she is explaining the reasoning process that she went through before coming to her poor decision. But given that the article is about the conflicting thoughts that many parents weigh up, I think it's important that such a piece would detail those thoughts. Is it diverting blame? I'm not sure. I kinda agree with Jasmin's use of the term "navel-gazing". But I think that it actually makes for an interesting piece of writing, dealing with a topic that a lot of parents would be conflicted about. To admit to acting on a prejudice is not a bad thing - it's a change from the usual "I'm not a racist/sexist/etc but..." sort of stuff I'm used to hearing from people.

I'll add one thing to the stats mentioned earlier. As Jasmin said, the disparity, I would imagine, is largely due to the fact that caregivers are far more likely to be female.
My field of work is in the field of sexual violence prevention, so I'll throw some other stats at you that I'm well acquainted with. In Australia at least, 97% of sexual offences are committed by men. If we talk about physical or emotional maltreatment, then it's more even, but it's sexual molestation that all parents are most scared of. So I can understand the mentality that drives her to discriminate, even though she still makes the wrong decision.

Another thing... maybe it's just me, but as a male I don't feel the great sense of indignation that you do, Zek. I'm not saying you're wrong to feel that... but for me, I'm not getting that "oppressed and downtrodden" feeling from reading the article. I tend to think that as a male the odds are mightily stacked in my favour in general, so this ain't something I care to get so up in arms about. And honestly I think that to compare the difficulties faced by male carers to the difficulties of black people in the 1950s (as the False Rape Society post does)... well, it just doesn't sit right with me. Both discriminations are wrong, but the two things aren't really on the same scale at all.

I wonder whether you might have read the article slightly differently if you had come across it randomly, rather than via False Rape Society, since that site plants a negative seed about the Lisa Belkin's motivations to start with. (Just a thought - I'm always interested in how context affects interpretation.)

When I read the article, I'm not trying to read between the lines to guess her agenda, because I really don't know her and thus don't think I can guess her motivation. Instead the take-away message I got was "My protective instincts influenced me to make a ethically questionable decision, and I really think it may have been the wrong one."

Zek J Evets said...

@eurasian:

I think she diverts blame quite obviously when she says (as I highlighted in my commentary): "I felt really awful about having to feel this way... that it was such a shame that society forced us to discriminate". Would this not constitute her avoiding blame for her conscious decision to discriminate against a highly-qualified applicant? The reason I make (and that FRS makes) the comparison between this situation and Black people in the 1950's is because the reasoning is reminiscent of that same segregationalist, Jim Crow, prejudice BS -- but obviously not the level of systemic oppression.

And while I can -- and have -- sympathized with admitting to having/holding prejudices, the difference for me is that Belkin wasn't looking to change her prejudice, or even correct the terribly bigoted action she took. She wanted corroboration and confirmation that it was "okay" for her to do this.

As for the agenda/context I read the article in, if you check this link (http://ethecofem.com/2010/12/08/trend-piece-tuesday-men-are-scary/) you'll notice that my commentary more closely follows this Feminist's opinions than those of FRS.

I'm not indignant -- I'm upset, and it shouldn't matter how the odds are "stacked" because discrimination is discrimination, and in the end it hurts whether it's a rare occurrence, or part of a larger problem.

Jasmin said...

I tend to think that as a male the odds are mightily stacked in my favour in general, so this ain't something I care to get so up in arms about.

I'm not male (obviously), so I have little reason to "get up in arms" about it either, though I'm more inclined to "care" (meaning, roll my eyes) at the navel-gazing than I am concerned about the specific incident. I'm reading this as fitting into the generic category of "self-centered people who share bad things they've done just to get people to pat them on the back and go 'there, there rather than actually righting the wrong and checking their attitude" moreso than in the "discrimination against male babysitters" category (even though that's the title, I know). So I found the comparison apt, not because I think it was related in scale, but because it's an all-too-common ploy used to reassure people that they aren't racist/sexist/homophobic/etc., and I don't believe in handing out cookies for minimal effort.

Jasmin said...

"society forced us to discriminate"

Bwah! Is she one of those people who's suing McDonald's?

Eurasian Sensation said...

@ Jasmin:
I'm reading this as fitting into the generic category of "self-centered people who share bad things they've done just to get people to pat them on the back and go 'there, there rather than actually righting the wrong and checking their attitude" moreso than in the "discrimination against male babysitters" category (even though that's the title, I know).

You may well be right on that. My personal approach on reading these kind of things is that I don't try too hard to guess the motivations of someone who writes something unless they are incredibly apparent. I guess that's because as a blogger and blog commentator, I know how easily some people can mistakenly infer all kinds of things about me just from their own interpretation of what I've written. Thus I try not to make that mistake myself. Which perhaps means that I miss hidden agendas or read things differently compared to the next person. But my tendency is to give the benefit of the doubt to a writer in what they appear to wish to convey.

@ Zek:

the difference for me is that Belkin wasn't looking to change her prejudice, or even correct the terribly bigoted action she took. She wanted corroboration and confirmation that it was "okay" for her to do this.

Again, I think this is interpretation, and while you might be right, I'm not convinced that this is really her motivation. You are right in saying earlier that she hasn't "transcended" prejudice - it's more a work in progress. As for not righting her wrong... it could be argued that if most readers interpret the article in the way I did (in other words, seeing it as anti-discrimination, on balance), then she has actually done something to right that wrong, by drawing attention to a negative unfair assumption people are making about males. Which is actually what I think she intends to do, although whether she did this effectively is debatable.

Jasmin said...

ES,

then she has actually done something to right that wrong, by drawing attention to a negative unfair assumption people are making about males.

Not really. The guy potentially still doesn't have a job, and the only person who could possibly tangibly benefit from the article is the author. It's like if someone stomped on your foot on the street and then wrote an editorial about how stomping on others' feet is wrong. That doesn't pay your medical bills.

I don't try too hard to guess the motivations of someone who writes something unless they are incredibly apparent.

What's "incredibly apparent" to you might be "mind-numbingly obvious" to me, or vice-versa, but I don't think one's motivation (which is pretty much the same thing as intention) matters anyway. If I did something to right a wrong and it was incorrect/inadequate, I'd want someone to tell me (provided I was actually trying to right the wrong--and not give myself a pat on the back--in the first place) so I could fix it. But I think the last sentence of my earlier comment (the one about cookies) sums up my view on that.

I know how easily some people can mistakenly infer all kinds of things about me just from their own interpretation of what I've written.

But it's not about you (or Lisa Belkin), and I think your attitude plays a large part in your comments. It's about fucked-up shit you (or Lisa Belkin) do, and you/Lisa Belkin will never learn if you see every criticism of that as a "misinterpretation".*

*I turned your personal "you" into the general "you".

Tomás said...

You might find this article interesting: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/im-a-male-daycare-worker/Content?oid=4703161

Also, thank you for teaching me the word misandry! I am surprised I never heard it before.