Friday, June 10, 2016

Prejudice Tolerated

I was with the girls as they did a craft at an activity centre near where we were staying. The weather wasn't great but they didn't notice because they were having fun. The door opened and a woman rushed in with her child. She spoke to one of the women at the desk and started to make arrangements for her daughter, who was the same age as Ruby, to stay there for a couple of hours. She was quite loud and quite insistent that she be assured that during those two hours there would be a woman on staff. The activity centre has both young men and young women working there and she wanted to be assured that there be a woman on staff at all times and further that if there was a man on staff that there be two women there at all times. The young woman at the desk told her that during the next two hours there would be two women on staff at all times. That settled it, papers were signed and the woman left.

There had been a boy of about 11 at the activity centre who had turned, like the rest of us, to listen to the fairly loud conversation and the clearly stated demands. The implication that men were not safe was clear and damning. There was also a male staff there, one who had shown real skill when teaching the girls about lizards, he treated them with respect as girls but also as learners with curious minds. He's a nice kid. He heard it too.

Me, I was there on my own. A disabled man, in a wheelchair, with two active girls. I was painted with the same brush by this woman, who had no fear about speaking loudly and clearly in a biased and bigoted manner against all males.

Now, I get she's a mother and she wants her daughter to be safe. I also get that she may have some history that has made her even more protective. But I think that she could have spoken quietly to the woman at the desk and made the arrangements in such a way that ...

... a little boy isn't left feeling guilty for being a boy

.... a talented male staff isn't convicted of crimes he never committed

... an older guy supervising two little girls isn't left feeling like he has to justify his role

Men aren't all bad.

Women aren't all good.

Men aren't automatically dangerous.

Women aren't automatically safe.

Using that as your single measuring stick for a safe environment is a huge mistake. Huge. 

She made that environment unsafe for the little boy who was there, who listened, who took in her attitude that he was somehow bad. I know it affected him, because when she came in he was the only boy at the table with about 5 girls. He had been laughing and talking with the others moments before the entry of the woman with her daughter. After the woman left and her daughter joined the table. He picked his craft up and went and sat alone at another table and quietly went on with what he was doing.

That's not OK.

\A woman worried about the safety of her child, used her voice and her attitude to assault a little boy's sensitivities and drive him to a place of aloneness.

That's not OK.

The next day, at the pool, he was invited by Ruby and Sadie to play a game of underwater tag. He hesitated, only for a moment, and then joined in laughing and having a wonderful time. All of them did.

He's a good kid.

He was having fun.

I watched them playing, hoping that these would be the moments he remembered.


Frank_V said...

I totally realize some people might not like what I'm going to say, but here's my story. My ex-wife was always very active in the LGBT community. After our divorce, we remained friends. We performed music together, we were even roommates for about six months, peacefully living together.

But, I was struck by one glaring fact: There ARE some women within the LGBT community that adopt a very alpha-male, rough and tumble, ignore people's feelings, sort of attitude. In fact, they acted so much like misogynist men, I started wondering "What's the point?"

I always thought the point of the LGBT movement was to build a better world for everyone, not bash one group into submission, and to dominate them in the same misogynist style we are trying to eliminate.

Those types are thankfully few and far between within the LGBT community, but, we still need to be aware of them, be they male OR female, and not tolerate such behavior.

Unknown said...

and this is how prejudice spreads, and build, and we all get doses with shame as we are growing up.
her little girl is getting some awful powerful messages too...and none of them are about her own capabilities or ability to see shades of grey.

I didn't leave my son in these kinds of groups until I felt he was old enough to speak up for himself, and I would keep the time period short.

Ron Arnold said...

It's the testosterone ya know. Totally poisons us. Or so I've been told . . . .

Anonymous said...

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I've long admired your blog, but this post feels uncomfortably close to one of those "not all men" distractions.

Since Muhammad Ali passed away I've seen his quote about the 10,000 snakes being passed around on social media (if you haven't seen it, it's here:, and while that's specifically about racism, I feel like that's a reasonable attitude to have when it comes to any marginalized group dealing with people who are in the privileged class relative to them in a given situation.

No, not all men are predators, and yes, it's a shame that that little boy felt uncomfortable, but I think it's a bigger shame that women and girls have such cause to fear men. Without that social reality, that women wouldn't be afraid, and naming it in a way that makes it seem equivalent to the misogyny that causes it seems quite dismissive of the bigger social reality (especially since you usually seem so of how identities and social power interact).

Racer_X said...

Thank you for a well written Blog. I agree with everything you a woman, I'm going to say that we live in a culture where women in circumstances feel afraid of men. If I'm in an elevator by myself with another man, all sorts of things flash through my mind...I'm scared. Not all men are bad, totally and utterly agree with that. I protect men because I'm fortunate in that I'm surrounded by men who have never hurt me.

The woman should've indeed done it more quietly and tactfully.

My question and my curiousity is wondering and thinkig.....why did she do that? What happened to her or even her child that made her that scared of men?

Just a thought.
Thank you !