Is it OK for all men to be seen as predators?

stereotypesFrom 5 Things To Show That Men Are Daily Victims Of Gender Bias Too

As a society we talk a lot about racism and other forms of discrimination. But when it comes to men and the way they are being stereotyped and discriminated against, no one seems to have much to say.

I was taught from early age to be fearful of men and talk only to women if I needed help. In spite of good intentions of ‘keeping me safe’, that strategy made it only worse by limiting the pool of people I could ask for help when required. In fact, the safest I ever felt as a child was among boys and men.

Father holding daughter at beachFrom Greatest American Dad

For that reason, I get very upset when I come across examples of men being treated as potential predators. Child advocates advise parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers.

In 2007 Virginia’s Department of Health mounted an ad campaign for its sex-abuse hotline. Billboards featured photos of a man holding a child’s hand. The caption: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together,” which implies that my dad or uncle could be seen as sexual abusers if they were holding my hand in public when I was a child. How sick is that? What if I gave my dad a hug or a kiss in public, as I naturally did a lot as a child? Or sat on my dad’s lap? What’s wrong with that? Why should children be denied their father’s affection because of someone else’s sick mind?

From http://www.stopitnow.org/virginia

Not surprisingly fathers’ rights activists and educators argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men’s relationships with children. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups are struggling to find male leaders, and why there are so few males involved in early childhood education or  teaching in primary schools.

One of my male friends recently came across a lost child in tears in a mall. His first instinct was to help, but he feared people might consider him a predator. So he asked his daughter to comfort the lost child instead. “Being male,” he explained, “I am guilty until proven innocent.”

And that’s not the worst. In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn’t stop to help for fear he’d be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

Abigail RaeFrom Neglect Ruling in Girl Pond Death

People assume that all men “have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness,” says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male “as a potential evildoer,” he says, and as a byproduct, “there’s an overconfidence in female virtues,” in spite of disturbing statistics on physical abuse inflicted on children by female perpetrators.

From Messages the Abusive Woman uses to Control her Children

Most men understand the need to be cautious, so they’re willing to take a step back from children, or to change seats on a plane. One abused child is one too many. Still, it’s important to maintain perspective. “The number of men who will hurt a child is tiny compared to the population,” says Benjamin Radford, who researches statistics on predators and is managing editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer. “Virtually all of the time, if a child is lost or in trouble, he will be safe going to the nearest male stranger.”

Society protecting children by treating all men as potential predators is not safe. Just sick.

From Gender and Aggression

Resources:

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46 thoughts on “Is it OK for all men to be seen as predators?

  1. randomrose says:

    You have written with intelligence and knowledge, I applaud you on that but I am not sure of the whole situation. Yes, the ‘good’ have been spoilt by the ‘bad’ and the bad, no matter the circumstances, are usually in the minority. Unfortunately I would still be telling my children not to approach a man. I do not let my grandson enter the men’s toilets if I am the only one with him, we go to the disabled or feeding room toilets.
    One bad seed is one too many as far as I am concerned and it is not worth the risk of chance where children are concerned. It is sad that the good have been affected but that is what happens when a bad element is around.
    Thank you for posting this topic, well worth thinking on.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      You are totally right – we do need to teach our children to be safe. I also teach my children to be cautious when they are approached by strangers etc., however I do that in a gender-neutral way. They should know that there are nasty people out there – both males and females.

    • dumbkoffering says:

      Have you considered that you might actually be putting your child in danger if you let them alone with women?
      Last year a woman was arrested for several murders including adults and kids. It shocked me so much that nowadays I dont leave my kids alone with men or women. Thinking that women can be trusted is a serious mistake and could have dangerous consequences for your child.

  2. Mélanie says:

    @”potential predators” – yep, we call them “brutal hunters”, too… they are supposed to be “homo sapiens”, but first we are all superior mammals – not all of us, of course and unfortunately for the abused kids/people! 😦 I’ve already stated my blunt opinion about such “characters”(specimens?!): death penalty!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      You are right, Melanie. Nasty predators do exist. I’ve met a few of them when I was a child and described those encounters at https://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/scream/ .

      Silencing such issues makes it only worse. However, in my experience, fearing all the men is not helpful either. 😦

      • Mélanie says:

        I did read your article… spasiba!
        * * *
        exactly, maia padruga… we don’t need “to switch” from an extreme to the other either… just to figure out “le juste milieu” = the right/fair middle… sick people have always existed, alas and we all have to be attentive, vigilant, watchful… last but not least: silencing or turning a blind eye may have lethal consequences.

      • Otrazhenie says:

        Love your French – “le juste milieu”. Very well said. It is all about balance, fair middle point. 🙂

  3. Ronnie says:

    Great post.

    In a nutshell: I am a man, therefore it is instinctive for me to be protective towards women and children. Not predatory.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Well said, Ronnie. That’s exactly how most men I met in my life are treating women and children – men, who are living in different countries, were brought up in different cultures and speak different languages. Men should be appreciated more for making our societies safer, rather than branded as potential predators.

  4. Wow, I really never thought of it like this. This was a true eye opener thank you. As a child I was told it was strangers in general.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      That’s what I’m telling my children – they should be aware of potentially nasty people among strangers, irrespective of gender. I believe it to be a much healthier and safer approach to safety. Glad that you found this post useful. 🙂

  5. mommyx4boys says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. Nowadays men are treated like dirt, viewed as useless, sexist, predators, this attitude toward boys and men has to change, I know there are some bad men in the world, but there are also a lot of bad women in the world, and neither should be labeled negatively because others that are the same gender have done things wrong. On behalf of my husband and four sons, thank you again.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      So true. I have three wonderful sons and I’m worried a lot about the way they will be treated when they grow up. There is too much negativity about men out there: in the media, in the way men are being treated. Though, the same applies to women as well. I hate all gender-based stereotypes and labels, especially negative ones. Glad that you liked my post.

  6. This is perfect. Thank you. I can’t leave a longer comment because I have oodles to say on this and I have a hard time bring concise. Haha! Thank you.

  7. kindadukish says:

    Thank the Andrea Dworkins of this world for this state of affairs…….

  8. spirited13 says:

    So sad….In other times, men were the protectors…the warriors….There is much fear and it has been fuelled by the media. There is good and bad in all of us, if we admit it. Balance is the key. Look for a good heart within….a nurturing spirit….Blessings to All, Barbara xxxx

  9. katelon says:

    Great point. This fear of abuse has gone to both genders though. When I went back into teaching again for awhile, I was instructed not to hug or touch a child! As a holistic therapist, I have worked with several clients who had been raped,and/or sexually or physically abused as a child, so I understand the concerns. But it seems like we’ve gone the other way. On one hand, movies and music have become more sexualized, and yet, we have moved away from affection, support, assistance. Very sad!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      So true. At the same time, touch is so important in communication between humans. Affection, support, assistance, understanding – it is so hard to transmit these feelings without a touch.

      I would not last even a day without hugging my children or playing a game of rough-and-tumble. What can be more natural and enjoyable than that in parenting? And this physical aspect is so important for children’s development.

  10. PookyH says:

    I feel strongly about this too. I ave a dear dear friend who will never teach again and whose life has been turned upside down with anxiety and depression and court all stemming from the fact he was a primary school teacher and the kids liked to hold his hand or sit on his knee. I trust him insofar as you can trust anyone and believe he had nothing but the most pure love for the kids in his care, many of whom would have regarded him as their sole male role model. It was a sad day when he decided he could not face the classroom again even once his ban is lifted.

  11. Incredible article, I hadn’t heard those stories. I wrote a piece you might be interested in ‘On Being a Feminist Men’s Rights Activist’ http://elizabethkhobson.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/on-being-a-feminist-mens-rights-activist/

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your comment. Loved your post. Interestingly enough, the most empowering people in my life with true ‘feminist’ spirit were men: my dad, my male friends and colleagues. May be, for that reason the issues they are facing in their lives are so important for me.

      With regard to the stories, I was not aware of them until I had my children. Then I started noticing it everywhere – pre-schools, playgrounds etc. A year ago one of my boys was going through a stage when he was very shy of being naked in front of other people, so he refused to get changed in the male changing room in front of other males. In the female changing room there were little cubicles with curtains, where girls and ladies could get changed in private. I was surprised to discover that there was nothing like that in the male changing room – there was no way a boy could get changed there in private. When I raised that with the pool management, I was told that pools do not have such enclosed ‘private’ spaces in male changing rooms as that might increase the risk of boys being sexually abused. 😦

  12. What a wonderful point you make in this post. One false accusation could ruin a good man’s reputation for life. And I feel so badly for the man who hesitated helping the little child who ended up drowned. We have become a society filled with fear and that saddens me greatly. Many years ago when airport security wasn’t as tight, I asked a pair of seedy looking men to watch my carry-on bag while I ran to the restroom. On my return, they cautioned me to be careful next time of who I asked to watch my bags. I’ve thought many times about that interaction and wondered who those 2 really were. But they took nothing from me while I was gone. Would they have acted differently if I hadn’t put my trust in them? I’ll never know. 😉

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment. Loved your story. I’ve learned in life that the look can be very deceiving. Seedy looking people can be very kind and honest. 🙂

  13. Willy Nilly says:

    A very thought provoking post. The coin has two sides. Does one avoid males in an uncontrolled environment and do males avoid hasty condemnation by walking on by, averting the eyes, ignoring someone’s plea for help. Thankfully, for most, they can still judge when to act in someone’s behalf, even at their own peril, and when to let it go.

  14. thinkingpaco says:

    Great article, and I totally agree with the fact that men are in need of protection sometimes, as the vast majority of us are loving guys who might just have a bad boy look. However; I don’ t see the situation that bad, at least where I live.

    I am a teacher, and I run a little grammar school in Spain where I teach English and Spanish to all ages. I’ve never had any problem about it, even though we have had a few scandals in Spain lately involving paedophile networks based here and working globally.

    In my opinion, the fact that parents still trust me and my male colleague their children means they understand the number of sick men who would even think of abusing a child is very small. I even think it goes against nature.

    The fact that we are teaching children to fear men worries me a bit more, as we won’t be able to control the consecuences it may have in the future.

    In the end, I think we should teach common sense to our children so they become capable of discerning by themselves, which I understand it’s not an easy task.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Love your comment. Glad that your experience in teaching is so positive. Totally agree with your point regarding teaching children to fear men – it does have very harmful consequences for everyone in the society. Thanks for your insightful comment.

  15. Ajaytao2010 says:

    Oh true dear not because I am a male but the whole concept is true
    and one thing to add most women when they get angry think males are predators 🙂

    okay this is what I feel dear it may be wrong to others so sorry to those people>

    thank you 🙂

    • Otrazhenie says:

      There are definitely a few ‘rotten apples’ among females as well as males. Luckily only a few 😉

      • Ajaytao2010 says:

        yes dear I was just telling what I have felt in my life and nothing pertaining to all females or males and I feel it is nobody’s fault or nobody is wrong but most females are conditioned that way from childhood as well as males

        sorry I did not want to hurt anybody’s feeling but just expressed mine

        thanks 🙂

      • Otrazhenie says:

        Don’t worry Ajay. You did not hurt my feelings at all. I think your observation is correct. It might be explained by the ‘US vs THEM’ virus of the mind that we all pick up from early childhood – a few other examples of that ‘virus’ are available at https://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/the-toxic-virus-of-the-mind-us-vs-them/

        However, in my view it is time to get over it. 🙂

      • Ajaytao2010 says:

        yes dear dont worry dear

        I most of the times avoid unnecessary controversy dearvery sorry to do it with you but at the same time I honor your intelligence and I feel you are exceptional a thinker yourself and I fell it from my heart 🙂 so dont worry it is light and as you say we should get over it 🙂

      • Ajaytao2010 says:

        🙂

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