Should Male Airline Passengers Be Subjected To This Sort of Treatment?

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.

27 April 2014 at 22:09

Hi Tracey,

Firstly congratulations on being the first journalist (though in reference to this particular piece I use the term loosely) who has managed to offend and infuriate me so deeply that I’ve felt the need to write them. When you’re competing with the likes of likes Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt & Miranda Devine it’s quite a (dubious) honour..maybe because I expect it from them.
I don’t know if you’ll read this, or if you’ll take any notice but on the chance you do I have to express my utter disgust, dismay and offence at your opinion piece in yesterdays SMH online, this one where you imply that every male on the planet is a potential paedophile who cannot be trusted
Think about that for a moment. In saying that you wouldn’t sit your child next to a strange man on a flight for fear of them being molested you’re saying that your husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, colleague, best male friend cannot be trusted in the company of a stranger’s child because they may touch them. Just think about that. That’s quite a claim to tarnish every male you know, every male on the planet with the paedophile brush.
You’re saying that me, and every male (and because there is a portion of female perpetrators, all females for that matter) that I know cannot be trusted with a child sat next to them on a flight or in any environment because EVERY MALE is a potential predator. EVERY male may molest a stranger’s child. An interesting perspective of course is that for the vast majority of the male of the species, we’re reasonable and sane and the thought wouldn’t cross our minds (not sure if that occurs to you so thought I’d point it out).
Yes, there a few men (and women) who are predators as is evidenced in trials, police investigations and investigations of the church, past and present. That does not however allow anyone to accuse every male on the planet of being a predator. How disgusting and irresponsible of you, and how despicable of the SMH to publish such venomous trash.
I’d like to think that MOST of society would know better than to take note of your opinion that every male, including your husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, colleague, best male friend is a potential paedophile who will molest your child if you turn your head. Unfortunately some people will see your view as a “trusted” opinion giver and blogger (I refuse to use journalist here) as a reasonable one. Your fear, their fear is then injected into and poisons society.
You even go so far as to say that although statistics prove over 90% of child molestation is enacted by someone known to the child, you’ll still vilify every male on the planet with your ungrounded, baseless, offensive opinion. (yes I get it, it’s an opinion but, especially from such a public figure it’s a damaging one)
I hope for your child’s (and consistency) sake that you also do not trust your husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, colleague or best male friend to be in close unsupervised contact with yours or anyone else’s children, that’s the place and time when they are most at harm… not sat in an airline seat surrounded by other passengers and crew (and yourself if you’re travelling with them).
I hope for their sake that your husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, colleague, best male friend are not subject to the small minded, fear mongering, hateful, unfounded bigotry and distrust that you project onto every male who comes near you and your children.
Unfortunately you are fuelling a dangerous and damaging fire and simply aiding the insecurity of men (and doubt of women in men) around children. I have friends who have ceased doing valuable volunteer work with children’s charities because of people with unfair, ungrounded, disappointing and inhuman viewpoints such as yours. I have friends in their late teens and 20’s with much younger siblings who feel judged and watched as they play with their brothers and sisters in the park because of people who hold unjust, unreasonable, soul crushing, despicable opinions like yours.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone has the right and responsibility to protect their children but when that opinion damages the confidence of another person, let alone whole genders and reinforces horrific, negative stereotypes with no reason or evidence, one has to question the validity of that opinion… and if it is shared, as you have done, you have  a responsibility to share that opinion responsibly and with balance.
You have not only done a frightening disservice to men with your damaging views, you’ve done a disservice to mothers and women and the faith that they should have in humanity.
Men are innocent, trustworthy, honest, humane people (well most of us except fools like Andrew Bolt & most of the Federal Liberal cabinet).. it’s such a shame you cannot believe that and shameful to spread that distrust and fear so publicly.
Congratulations on adding another reason for society to hate and distrust for no reason. I hope you are proud and that your piece paid well.
( as a side note I used to travel alone all the time as a child, the worst that ever happened was spilling my lemonade on my colouring in paper when we hit turbulence)
Craig Mack

It pained me to read her article because I like Tracy Spicer as was evident when I sent her a tweet from my personal Twitter account (of course if you want to follow this blog on Twitter, click here) in response to her Tedx talk which I admired her for doing.

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.

paedophiles on a plane
There might not be snakes on this plane, but I don’t like where Samuel L Jackson has his hands…

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).

Being the 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.

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…

2 thoughts on “Should Male Airline Passengers Be Subjected To This Sort of Treatment?

  1. Dear Tracey,
    I read with dismay and extreme disappointment, your article published in “The Age” on 28-Apr-2014. I am highly offended by your article and can hardly contain my loathing of the views you hold. For your information, by way of courtesy, I have made a complaint and highlighted your article to:
    Media watch ABC
    3AW Neil Mitchell
    Q&A ABC
    The Dept of Human Rights, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner
    The Editor of The Age
    I have also made complaint and asked the advertisers who were associated with the web page when I viewed your article ME Bank (CEO) and Colonial State Bank (CEO), asking them to confirm or deny association with your views. I have asked these corporations to withdraw support from Fairfax in light of the extremely sexist and prejudicial views portrayed in your article.
    I find your views disgusting and by reading through the comments, so do the vast majority of readers. The fact that your views are seemingly supported by fairfax (allowing it to be printed) and multi-national airlines who allow such prejudicial beliefs to be accommodated (Qantas and Virgin unaccompanied minors policy) only demonstrates all the more that sexism against men is largely ignored by society. Clearly the men who read the article see issue, and reject your views…
    The portion that struck me, more than anything “Some airlines will quietly comply.” Clearly then they recognise the embarrassing fact that the views are sexist and are willing to accommodate such prejudices, but not publically. What a disgrace!
    I’ve copied and pasted your article with a little tweak. See how it makes you feel.
    Perhaps you might reconsider your views in this light. Imagine the outrage if your views were racist, and not “just” sexist against men. For most people it is far easier to recognise racism, than sexism especially if it is sexism against men.
    Yours sincerely,
    Tony Burt
    Male traveller and proud (single) father of two girls – who yes, they also had to travel unaccompanied on occasion.
    See below, all words Male/Men changed to aboriginal, all words women/female change to Caucasian.
    I Don’t want my kids sitting next to an aboriginal on a plane

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