This post was pretty easy to write because for the most part, I didn’t have to write it. This morning I was tagged into a stranger’s status update’s comment by a mutual friend. I clicked on the link provided which brought me to another status update by this stranger which was an open letter to Tracy Spicer in response to her “I don’t want my kids sitting next to a man on a plane” article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.
The stranger goes by the name of Craig Mack. I sent him a private message through Facebook asking if I could publish his open letter here and he expressed to me that I was more than welcome. If you haven’t already, please click on the link and read Tracy’s article first. Then I want you to read Craig’s response below. At the end of this post I will chime in with my own tale as I can relate to this story personally.
Craig’s response has been copied and pasted verbatim from his Facebook page without editing from me other than justifying the format, and making the text italic.
my open response to Tracey Spicer on her piece http://www.smh.com.au/travel/i-dont-want-my-kids-sitting-next-to-a-man-on-a-plane
27 April 2014 at 22:09
@spicertracey Regular listener when you’re on radio. Permission to picture the real you in future when you’re putting a smile on my dial…
— Darrell Milton (@darrellmilton) January 23, 2014
She even wrote back, which is great because, well because it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
I was just about to write “but now I’m hurt by what she wrote” but in truth, I have been hurt by this school of thought long before she wrote it because I have been that man on the plane who has been asked to move twice because an unaccompanied minor was moved to sit where I was already sitting.
Early today I was on the radio talking about this very story and mentioned that as a semi-regular flyer, I actively choose the back row of the plane because often I get to sit by myself. It’s not that I don’t like sitting next to anyone, but I am selfish because I want the window seat, and I want to be able to get up and go to the toilet, should I need to go, without bothering anyone. Okay, that’s half-selfish/half very thoughtful of me…
The last row of flights is where they generally sit the unaccompanied minors so that the flight attendants can keep an eye on them. In addition to being asked to move twice and I have also witnessed an unaccompanied minor sitting next to a woman. It was interesting in that instance because the woman was offered the opportunity to move by choice so that she wasn’t sitting next to the young boy (I have often wondered if it was for the safety of the woman because, you know, young boys can be rowdy and all).
On my flight back from Brisbane last Thursday night, there were young sisters travelling by themselves returning from spending the school holidays up north (I saw a man and woman drop them at the counter in Brisbane and a woman they called Mum welcome them at the gate in Sydney who promptly told them how much she missed them).
investigative journalist busybody blogger that I am, mid-flight I questioned the male flight attendant who was eating his dinner in the galley about whether he could attend to the girls. I had noticed that both the female attendants down the back of the plane had interacted with them, but he hadn’t.
He told me that he could in fact attend to them, but in this case, he believed the female staff were dealing with them enough, so he didn’t need to butt in. (Source; Qantas Flight Staff – QF545 – April 24, 2014). As the sisters were travelling together and the whole back middle row was empty, they were sat there and no one had to be moved.
At this stage I will enter a link to a Wikipedia entry that will give further links to news articles about the airline sex discrimination policy controversy. And yes, I know Wikipedia is not a great source of information, but the stories linked here are from reliable “enough” sources.
For those who don’t want to read those stories, one of the controversies mentioned happened back in 2012 when a a 33-year old fire-fighter from Sydney was told to move seats by a Virgin Australia flight attendant. This sparked public outcry on Twitter including tweets like the following one.
It’s a shame that as a male over 18, society would rather see me as a probable child molester rather than a potential role model #Virgin
— subsonic (@subs0nics) August 10, 2012
That is exactly how I see it. But…
In my recent article “The Reasons Why Child Abuse is an Issue For Men” I finished off the article with these lines;
And the sad thing is, even though I have written this article promising you, dear reader that many of my fellow men are good, honest, decent guys, it scares the hell out of me that one day my own sons might be left alone with someone who might abuse them in some way.
Now, it could be a woman who might be the perpetrator of such evil, but statistically speaking, it would most likely be a man.
As I mentioned to the radio announcer, I was in two minds over Tracy’s story, but I fully support what Craig wrote in response 100%. Coincidentally, the radio announcer, 2UE’s Justin Smith was the last person I spoke to before I got on my flight on Wednesday afternoon and I put this question to him and his listeners in response to a story about a police officer being charged with sexually abusing a child and his expert he was talking too before he took open-line calls mentioning tougher sentences;
How do we stop paedophilia? How do we prevent this from happening. We are always talking about punishments after the horse has bolted, but how do we stop it in the first place?
It’s a tough one I know, and it was semi-rhetorical. I went on to add;
If (allegedly) a member of the police force who is dealing with what’s right and what’s wrong on a daily basis, if a member of the Church who is reading from religious texts talking about what’s right and what’s wrong, if teachers, Scout leaders, and other people who we trust can’t get this right, then how are we going to stamp this out? As a man who is faced with prejudice against him when it comes to dealing with kids, I have a vested interest in this…
I truly do. From my incident at the playground where I was the only one to come to the rescue of the little lost girl, to being the man at the park that frightens away mothers with her children because “obviously” when I take my sons to the park I’m there to molest your child in broad daylight. (Truth be told, when my sons aren’t wanting me to join in on their fun, I’m one of those slack parents hanging out drinking coffee, scrolling through social media, and often times talking to my dad’s group about shit like this).
Do the airlines have it right? Maybe. But what might be a better policy is instead of saying unaccompanied minors cannot sit next to men, maybe unaccompanied minors cannot sit next to any adult. If my child sits next to a woman who is against his finger being up his nose for the while flight, she might touch him to pull his finger out. I don’t want that.
If my child gets agitated, restless, fidgety or anxious, I don’t want this woman to scold him, nor do I want my child’s behaviour to interfere with a carefree flight of another passenger; male or female.
So maybe that’s the solution. Don’t have a set of rules for one gender that discriminates against the other. No one needs to feel hurt in this situation, but many men like me are starting to feel like we are looked upon as being evil when clearly we think that we would be the best person for your child to sit next to because the protection of your child is as important as the protection of our own.
And in the end, whatever the outcome of this debate is, the protection of our children is what’s important. I just hope my child never sits next to that 1 in 10 paedophiles that is a woman…