The woman who almost became the Prime Minister of the Great Britain believes that men should not serve in jobs that require caring for children (Huffington Post, 7/15/16). Tory Andrea Leadsom delivered herself of that opinion in an interview with the Times last week.
told the paper. “Now you can call that sexist, I call that cautious and very sensible when you look at the
“Your odds are stacked against you if you employ a man. We know paedophiles are attracted to working
with children. I’m sorry but they’re the facts.”
Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party hit the nail on the head with his response.
“These remarks are stupid, ignorant and not ones any minister should be making. Over the last day
Theresa May has shown she is willing to relieve ministers of their duties and she must do so again now,”
“It is inconceivable that somebody who holds such offensive, ignorant views should be sat around the
He’s right. Prime Minister May should sack Leadsom without delay. She has no business serving in any governmental job. The recent Brexit vote demonstrated that a majority of British voters are fed up with the status quo. That means those who wield political power are faced with the difficult job of winning back the trust of the people they supposedly serve. Leadsom’s astonishingly ignorant and virulently sexist remarks only make that job harder.
Leadsom is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to keep count.
First, it’s just not sensible to say in effect “Some men are pedophiles; therefore no men should be employed to care for children.” That’s not logical. Guess what. Some women are pedophiles too and British researchers think their incidence is surprisingly high.
Has Leadsom even read this article the Telegraph published barely nine months ago (Telegraph, 9/30/15)? It describes the conviction and sentencing of Marie Black on 23 counts of child sexual abuse that the presiding judge called “utterly depraved” and “the most harrowing case” he’d ever seen. If she had, she’d have learned that professionals who study the matter conclude that female pedophilia is much more common than most people think.
Forensic psychologist Nina Burrowes says the gender of female abusers often accounts for some of our
shock: “I do generally believe [women sexually abusing children] happens less often than men, but it
happens a lot more often than you realise. I suspect it’s much more underreported.”
She suggests that society has not been willing to learn more about female paedophilia (where adults are
sexually attracted to children) and female child sex abuse (where they either act on those impulses and
sexually abuse children, or do it for different reasons).
“We find it abhorrent because it challenges our ideas of women and motherhood,” she explains. “We also
find it frightening because we like to live with the idea that men are dangerous and women are safe, so
when you see children to a male stranger in the park it’s dangerous but if they’re talking to a woman it isn’t.
In other words, attitudes like those expressed by Leadsom are precisely what allow female abusers to do their dirty work. As long as women aren’t subject to reasonable scrutiny, those few who abuse kids are enabled to do so with relative impunity. Leadsom, therefore, is contributing to the very problem she supposedly abhors.
How many men are pedophiles? No one knows for certain, but it’s an astonishingly tiny percentage of the total. Canadian clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Seto puts the number at “probably much lower than 1%.” But that number reflects men who’d had sexual thoughts about underage kids. The number who act on those thoughts is surely vastly smaller. Sexual behavior between adults and children is one of the human race’s basic taboos a fact made clear by our laws prohibiting it. Unsurprisingly, few adults violate the taboo.
Therefore, Leadsom’s assertion is what, in other contexts, is called ‘profiling.’ When the police stop and harass African-American males, just because they’re African-American males, they’re roundly criticized – and rightly so – for racial profiling. Yes, African-American males are more likely than other groups to commit crime, but still only a small percentage of them do. So the mere statistical fact gives the police no right to stop an African-American male without some additional form of probable cause to believe he may have committed an offense.
The same is true of Leadsom. That some men do sexually abuse children provides no reason to conclude that any individual man may commit that crime. The same holds true for the smaller population of male teachers, daycare workers, nannies, etc. It may be true that pedophiles are drawn to those occupations, but still, only tiny percentages of men doing those jobs abuse children.
And, speaking of abuse, let’s not forget that women make up the large majority of child abusers. When it comes to physical abuse and neglect, women out-abuse men by a wide margin. In the U.S. there are about two female child abusers for every one male. That data come from the Administration for Children and Families that annually collects statistics on child abuse and neglect from the 50 state child protective agencies.
Leadsom should be made to answer whether women too should be prohibited from caring for children. After all, they’re much more likely than men to abuse children, so again, according to her “logic,” the obvious conclusion must be drawn.
But of course it shouldn’t be. The overwhelming majority of men and women who care for children do so scrupulously and well. Leadsom’s remarks are hypocritical, misandric, illogical and factually incorrect.
If they were only that, we could pass them off as the merely the babbling of a single sexist person. Unfortunately, they’re much worse.
That’s because Leadsom’s claims encourage the larger culture to do exactly what she’s promoting – the further marginalization of men in children’s lives. It’s been said too many times to repeat that children in Western cultures can now live well into their teens without having any meaningful contact with an adult male. Fatherlessness is rampant due in large part to the actions of family courts that routinely consign fathers to the role of visitor to their children. Does Leadsom even know that a whopping one-third of all British children have no contact with their fathers? Or does she consider that to be a good thing?
It’s not. The lack of men and fathers in children’s lives is a crisis. The catastrophic decline in male achievement in school, at work, in families and elsewhere is mute testimony to the absence of fathers in children’s lives. No society long survives the breakdown of families and yet our culture is hard at work doing exactly that. Children need men in their lives, particularly fathers. Leadsom’s baseless attack on men is all of a piece with society’s assumption that fathers are disposable refuse.
The truth is that we need more men in caregiving roles, not fewer. Although a poor substitute for a father, a good male daycare or primary school teacher can offer a child – boy or girl – a much-needed male role model with whom to identify, learn from, emulate and, with luck, be mentored by.
Leadsom’s virulent misandry exacerbates already-existing societal dysfunction. Here’s a piece I did in 2013 about men in the U.K. refusing to work in daycare because they’re afraid of false allegations of child sexual abuse. Another piece I did earlier cited a poll of male Canadian primary school teachers, 13% of whom had been the victims of those false allegations.
Andrea Leadsom has been appointed the Environment Secretary for the new May government. She should be removed immediately. Her avid promotion of discrimination against men is aimed squarely at making worse a societal problem that threatens the very fabric of British society. Such disgraceful words should not be allowed to stand. Theresa May must contradict them by firing Leadsom. In so doing, she’ll at long last be saying that British society will never be fixed as long as ignorance and misandry reign.