Diddle He or Didn't He?
Because I value trusting one's instincts, I'm prompted to write about your advice to "Uneasy," the woman whose boyfriend would go into another room to talk on the phone to his stepdaughters from a previous relationship. I feel the woman was expressing suspicion that he still had some interest in their mom out of an unwillingness to believe that he may be behaving inappropriately toward his stepdaughters. One in four women reports having been raped or molested in childhood, and stepfathers play a prominent role in those statistics. He may not be a "molester," but maybe he's asking the girls about their bodies in ways that make them uncomfortable. You should have encouraged "Uneasy" to call a truce with her boyfriend: He takes calls openly, and she drops the nagging if there isn't anything unseemly going on. -- Uneasier
Oh, the dark world of people who prefer to take their phone calls in private. Yes, this guy could be a molester, and could be asking these girls inappropriate questions about their bodies. And when I walk away from my boyfriend to take a call, I could be planning the violent overthrow of our government, and arranging to trade my neighbors' twins for a suitcase nuke -- or maybe I simply see no need for corroborating witnesses when I try to reschedule my cleaning lady.
The woman in question admitted that she had no reason to believe her boyfriend had any interest in an ex-wife he'd divorced over five years earlier, or was anything but a stand-up guy trying to remain a father figure to his very young stepdaughters. Yet, according to you, merely because he preferred to talk to the girls without his jealous girlfriend standing over him, I should have encouraged her to say something along the lines of "Hey, honey, I'll calm down if only you let me listen to your calls so I can be sure you aren't raping babies."
Warped thinking like yours makes me realize how lucky I am to be a woman and white as typing paper. Although I recently got stopped by a cop for going the wrong way on a one-way street (he rolled his eyes and let me go when he realized I wasn't drunk, just ditzy), I'm generally safe from automatic presumptions of criminality like Driving While Black or Living And Breathing While Male.
Here you are, parroting this outrageous man-bashing propaganda -- "one in four women reports having been raped or molested during childhood" -- maybe because you heard it repeated so often you assumed it was fact. This figure is a common misquote of a survey by radical feminist sociology professor Diana Russell. Although Russell presents herself as a truth-seeking social scientist, her work reflects a substantial bias against men, as evidenced by her claim, based on one of her studies, that "a considerable amount of marital sex is probably closer to the rape end of the continuum."
The actual figure from Russell's survey was an unbelievable one in 2.6 women sexually abused before the age of 18 -- a figure she arrived at with substandard sampling techniques and what UC Berkeley professor Neil Gilbert, in his book "Welfare Justice," calls "research that lumps together relatively harmless behavior such as attempted petting with the traumatic experience of child rape." For example, one of Russell's questions asked, "Did anyone ever try or succeed in touching your breasts or genitals against your wishes before you turned 14?" Well, if you put it that way, even I was a victim of child sexual abuse: It was sixth grade, we were playing spin the bottle in somebody's basement, and the boy who kissed me tried to feel me up.
Should we really count a quick boob grab I got from some sixth-grader the same as the experience of some other 12-year-old girl who was repeatedly forced to have sex with her uncle? We should if we're looking to criminalize being male -- and never mind if that poisons relations between women and men, dilutes funding and attention to real victims, and leads to prejudicial policies like British Airways' that no unaccompanied minor can sit next to a man. (Which -- horrors! -- means some unaccompanied brat is more likely to be seated next to me!)
Women best protect themselves by appraising men as individuals, based on evidence, not by leaping to the assumption that "stepdad" equals sex predator. In other words, my advice to "Uneasy" stands. My advice to you? Pick up Christina Hoff Sommers' "Who Stole Feminism?" to get a better idea of the damage done by radical feminist activism tarted up as serious science. Contrary to what the likes of Diana Russell would have you believe, you should come to the conclusion that the answer to "Hey, Dad, how'd you meet Mom?" probably isn't "While raping her at knifepoint."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com.
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