In response to a lawsuit, British Airways has changed its policy to allow men to sit next to unaccompanied minors. And now it's time for everyone else to acknowledge that just being a dude doesn't make you a pedophile.
According to the Economist, Mirko Fischer switched seats with his pregnant wife so she could look out the window — putting him next to an unaccompanied kid. When British Airways forced him to move because of their policy against seating men next to unaccompanied minors, he sued. Now he's won £750 (about $1160), which he donated to a children's charity, and the airline has changed its policy. Obviously, the decision is good for dudes who want the right to sit wherever they want. But this has bigger implications. Writes Helaine Olen of Strollerderby, "This is not just a victory for Fischer, but a victory for all of us who are seeking to make parenting an equal opportunity experience for moms and dads." She explains,
For true change to occur, society needs to treat men and women equally when it comes to how we expect them to relate to kids. [...] Every time someone insists females are more trustworthy with children - whether it's a flight a flight attendant on British Airways declaring that only the fairer sex can be trusted to sit next to a young boy travelling without a parent or it's a teacher instinctively emailing mothers and not fathers when volunteer help is needed in the classroom - their supposed praise is, in fact, reinforcing the existing social order, an order where women are still mostly condemned to a second tier status outside of family life and men are equally damned when it comes to the worlds of emotions and the home.
It's not just airplanes where the men-must-be-molesters stereotype applies. This misconception also has a hand in keeping men away from playgrounds, schools, and a variety of children's activities that fall outside the traditionally male realm of the sports team. Yes, tragically, molestation on airplanes does occur. But stopping it is a matter of more effectively monitoring and caring for unaccompanied minors — not just keeping them away from men. Women can be abusers, too, and pretending they're all saints and men are all pervs does neither adults nor children any favors.