Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gotta Love the Kiddies

Once again, The Week is to blame for getting me in a really bad mood.

On December 15, they quoted an article by Boris Johnson, a Minister of Parliament and occasional columnist for The Telegraph newspaper. Apparently, Johnson was stuck next to two bratty kids on a trip to India when a stewardess politely asked him to follow her to another seat. Excited, Johnson prepared to leave, eagerly anticipating an upgrade and a little peace and quiet. However, as the stewardess soon pointed out, they were merely moving him to another row, as British Airways has "very strict rules" about allowing adult males to accompany children on flights. After all, adult males are sexual predators, and we can't allow them to do anything with children unless they're accompanied by a woman. Still, Johnson, thought, it would be nice to get a little peace and quiet, so he prepared to follow the stewardess.

The whole thing fell through when one of the kids told the stewardess "But he's our father!"

My initial response to this situation was to fall out of my chair, laughing. To begin with, we have a father trying to escape his kids and being thwarted at the last minute by the little monsters. And then, of course, there's the fact that the English, in their gratingly polite way, can sometimes be a little overly sensitive. I mean, really, who wanders through a plane making sure that children aren't seated next to unattended men?

Finally, of course, who wouldn't want a little more peace and quiet on a long flight?

But, ultimately, this isn't really that funny. First off, the fact that society increasingly seems to view men as presumptive sexual predators, without any corroborating evidence, is terrifying. And, as much as we might chalk this up to silly English paranoia, is it really different from the message that every university sends out to female students during orientation?

True story: I once found myself hanging out with a girl who was dating a friend of mine. She and I had drank a couple of beers, and she was telling me about the problems with her relationship. From his perspective, the problem was that he couldn't trust her. From her perspective, the problem was that she had been raped twice, and he hadn't been supportive.

My initial response was to despise my friend. A surprisingly large number of the women I dated in my youth were survivors of rape, and I personally advocate castration and disembowelment as a punishment for rapists. I am only slightly more generously inclined toward men who date rape survivors. As far as I'm concerned, if you date a girl who has been raped, it's your absolute responsibility to introduce her, as gently as possible, to the world of sweet, consensual lovin'. Any failure to do so, and you're the scum of the earth.

However, as I soon discovered, I only had half the story. I was a little disturbed by how cavalierly the woman discussed her rapes. In my experience, this information is usually imparted somberly, with a great deal of reticence. She told me about it as she leaned back, sipping her beer. Something wasn't quite kosher. When I asked her for further information, she told me that both her rapes had occurred at social occasions. After a little more discussion, the truth came clear: she had engaged in consensual intercourse after drinking beer. Later, she had decided that her actions, which most of us would call "cheating on her boyfriend," had actually been rape.

Shortly after telling me this, she finished her beer.

A few minutes later, she told me that she'd always thought I was hot.

Not long after that, I showed her to the door.

I have three sisters, a daughter, and a wife; no one has to tell me that there are bad men out there. Although we've been fortunate overall, there have been enough little disasters for me to realize that bad things happen to people, and that, all too often, evil men make these things happen. However, this notion that men are fundamentally oppressors and women are fundamentally victims is absolutely wrong. Not only does it ignore the basic decency of the vast majority of men, but it is also supremely misogynistic; it denies the evil that women possess and robs them of their endless potential. As a true feminist, I respect the ability of women to do everything that men do. Including rape, murder, child molestation, treason, military service, and welding.

God, I loved Flashdance.

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  • Welcome back...and wow...Nice start to the new year! btw Happy New Year....But I happen to agree with you on this....I work in a field where I see a lot of this happening....and lots of men (and women) get falsely accused for things they don't do or things "perceived" wrongly.

    welding??????? LOL

    By Blogger Odat, At January 3, 2007 at 10:46 AM  

  • That first story was pretty funny, but you're right, the witchhunt isn't. I, too, am to blame though. I am extremely suspicious of Boy Scout Leaders and Catholic priests around my boys. Can't help it!

    With regards to the girl and the alleged rape, I too heard a story like this. Got a whole bunch of people kicked out the Peac Corps cuz she didn't want to admit that she got drunk and cheated on her boyfriend. Truly disgusting behavior.

    I'll weld, but I'm out on the rest of that list.

    Thanks for all the good reading Crankster. Happy New Year!

    By Blogger Lee, At January 3, 2007 at 11:09 AM  

  • I'm torn between personal loathing of Boris Johnson, patriotic pique at being described as over sensitive and paranoid, agreement with the wider argument, and infatuation with your wonderful writing.

    I sang karaoke to Flashdance on NYE. Shameful but true.


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At January 3, 2007 at 12:03 PM  

  • Happy New Year.

    I am so glad that you have returned to writing, you are so good at it! And you choose your topics so well. Perhaps you should go into politics and try to bring some reason into the process....

    Please write more. Thank you.

    By Blogger The CEO, At January 3, 2007 at 12:50 PM  

  • Welcome Back Cranky!

    Anytime an adult WANTS to spend time with kids, I get cautious. Interestingly enough, I find I have no poblem shipping my daughter off for a week at Girl Scout sleep away camp, but, I will not send my son to Boy Scout Sleep away camp. hmmmmmm.

    By Blogger Pickled Olives, At January 3, 2007 at 3:15 PM  

  • Odat-
    Trying to negotiate a reasonable stand on the whole thing is a killer, isn't it?

    Nice to hear from you again!!

    I support female welders! Gotta say, though, I was both an altar boy and a Boy Scout as a kid, and I was never inappropriately approached by either a Boy Scout leader or a priest.

    Maybe I was just the ugliest kid in the troop.

    I'm proud at you for the karoake and floored by the compliment.

    As far as regional pride is concerned, well, I hereby resolve to take it easy on the English.

    I will, however, joyously attack the Dutch.

    So wonderful to hear from you. Now that the holidays are over, I'm going to be writing a lot more.

    Regarding politics, first I have to get out of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    Nice to see you again!

    Gotta say, though, some of my best childhood memories are from Boy Scout Camp.

    By Blogger Crankster, At January 3, 2007 at 3:36 PM  

  • LOL! My dad, who was an altar boy, is a little put off that he never got hit on. He swears he was adorable.

    By Blogger Lee, At January 3, 2007 at 4:46 PM  

  • Excellent, excellent post.

    A few years ago, I was sitting in the hallway at my daughters middleschool waiting for her to finish play rehersal. The small child of another parent was racing frantically back and forth across the hall, playing as three-year-olds do, when he stumbled and clunked his head badly on the marble floor.

    Instinctively, as a parent, I reached down to help the child up.

    Within moments, the parent was accusing me of injuring the child.

    Some measure of reason needs to exist. Yes, there are some bad men out there. But frankly, most of us are good folks.

    By Blogger Mystic Wing, At January 3, 2007 at 6:32 PM  

  • Great post.

    I'm and advocate for sexual assault survivors, but (and it's a shame that there needs to be a but in this sentence) I couldn't agree with you more. Women can be filthy beasts and men can be altogether lovely. Equal opportunity.

    By Blogger Lex, At January 3, 2007 at 8:31 PM  

  • It's always a special part of the relationship for me when the woman leans back and just comes out with it: I was gangraped--three times over the course of seven months--by a squadron of Mongolian basketball players.

    And you're sitting there, wondering what to say.

    By Blogger Matt, At January 3, 2007 at 9:14 PM  

  • I am wondering what to say...this is right before she tells you you're hot, right?

    By Blogger monicker, At January 3, 2007 at 10:01 PM  

  • "As a true feminist, I respect the ability of women to do everything that men do. Including rape, murder, child molestation, treason, military service, and welding."

    Very true. Me too!

    By Blogger ramo, At January 3, 2007 at 10:58 PM  

  • Lee-
    At least I'm not alone. Let your dad know that I feel his pain.

    Mystic Wing-
    I'm sorry that you went through that. Of course, you've just given me a glimpse of my future...

    Thank you. I appreciate the vote of confidence, especially given the touchiness of this particular topic.

    You joke, but it sounds like you've really been there.

    This is where I learned that my male tendency to try to say the perfect thing and fix the situation was not always completely productive. Sometimes, you just need to give a warm hug. Or something like that.

    This is exactly what it sounds like. My wife often tells me that I am unable to tell when women are hitting on me. Well, in this situation, even I could figure it out.

    It's time people recognized that we all possess a wide array of traits, not just the traditional male or female ones. We are all capable of violence, or tenderness, or...I don't know, knitting?

    By Blogger Crankster, At January 3, 2007 at 11:18 PM  

  • Both of my parents were of the alpha orientation, so I received adequate indoctrination in the code of equality between the sexes. Unfortunately, enlightenment does not remove a person from suspicion, so I stay the hell away from minors, drunks, and reprobates. Btw, I consider myself a sensitive male. I point to my first experience with sex as proof. I cried afterwards, because I was scared and all alone. Ouch! I guess that’s an old joke, sorry.

    By Blogger slaghammer, At January 3, 2007 at 11:49 PM  

  • I'm not a feminist. I'm not going to serve in the military. I can't be expected to dress like everyone else. And have you seen their boots? Not in a million years.

    By Blogger mist1, At January 4, 2007 at 12:23 AM  

  • You have hit on one of my main pet peeves with society. People are always on the lookout for a way to come across as a victim. Some people seem to thrive on having people pity them. I despise these types of people. My opinion is that anyone who has had any of these types of issues in their past are going to be reluctant to talk about them, much less in such a casual way. If someone does I am automatically suspect of their motives.

    Or maybe I'm just cynical.

    By Blogger Just D, At January 4, 2007 at 7:52 AM  

  • Yeah, the Dutch are way too laid back to deserve any mercy.

    And I forgot to say that Boris Johnson is an over-privileged, smug TORY, who thinks faux humility is the way to charm us all. He is an oaf of the worst order.

    'What a feeeelin'!'


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At January 4, 2007 at 8:39 AM  

  • Slaghammer-
    I don't know if it's an old joke or not, but you made me laugh my ass off. Thanks!

    Somehow, I think you could pull it off.

    I couldn't agree more. Real problems change you, and those changes are things that you want to deal with in your own time, in your own way. You don't use them as calling cards or conversation starters.

    Having worked for a Liberal MP in my youth, I am, of course, obliged to hate the bastard.

    Even if his article was funny and expressed a really solid point.

    By Blogger Crankster, At January 4, 2007 at 10:07 AM  

  • Many people have a need to simplify everything, either out of laziness or confusion. It's easier to categorize women as victims and men as evil brutes, but doing so denies us all our individuality.

    The British Airways incident is appalling, really, on several levels.

    Another excellent Crankster post!

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At January 4, 2007 at 1:32 PM  

  • I've got Glamourpuss's back, here - have you ever heard of ME being "gratingly polite?"

    Please - limit your stereotypes to the Dutch!


    Jinja Out

    By Anonymous Jinja, At January 4, 2007 at 4:59 PM  

  • Hearts-
    It's nice to know that other people see this, too. Thank you!

    On the other hand, you could be the exception that proves the rule!

    By Blogger Crankster, At January 5, 2007 at 12:48 AM  

  • Crankster Boris Johnson is always making the most cringinglt major faux pas. He looks and acts like the product of an albino imbecile and Mr bean. Im consistantly suprised that anytime I do see him in the media there isnt a little red light floating around his forehead.. You gotta wonder where his children making so much noise from knocking into one another or where they in the hope they would get thrown off the plane for their appalling behaviour with the view to leave ol papa on board...

    By Blogger Judith, At January 5, 2007 at 4:39 PM  

  • Judith-
    I love that description! As sad as it is, I sometimes find myself agreeing with the opposition. In this case, I'm ashamed to discover that I share one of the same opinions as a Tory MP.

    I'm hanging my head in shame.

    By Blogger Crankster, At January 5, 2007 at 11:00 PM  

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