From our friend, the inimitable DaddyTypes, we learned about a new mom-op-ed in the WSJ–original home for the now fully meme-ified Tiger Mom excerpt. This new essay is from Lenore Skenazy, whom I look kindly on, despite her own adventures in book-opportunism and master self-branding. The topic this time? Man-mania, HISteria, paraBOYa, or whatever else you want to call the irrational fear of men as predators around children.
Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van’s tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids’ grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face.
Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper.
And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it “Worst-First” thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.
Consider the Iowa daycare center where Nichole Adkins works. The one male aide employed there, she told me in an interview, is not allowed to change diapers. “In fact,” Ms. Adkins said, “he has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening.”
That is freaking insane, and if that kind of presumed guilt were levied against any other group, lawyers would be circling in the water.
But like any good trend-argument story, the examples here are curated from the raw fringe of male experiences. I’d wager that most encounters with the male species are handled with a lot more common sense. Still, we feel it. It’s at the playground, on playdates, in volunteering for school: that little touch of suspicion about what our motives are, who that kid is to us.
Something Skenazy didn’t quite hit on in her piece, though, was the extent to which men do this to each other. I don’t trust the other fathers any more than they trust me, I imagine. We’re all socialized. And it is, of course, a load of crap: just because most pedophiles are men doesn’t mean that other men should have to bear that shadow. I have no idea what the hell a pedophile must be made of. That is one part of sexuality that doesn’t exist on a spectrum or a continuum. So I’m unimpressed by collective suspicion. Glad to see Skenazy is too.