All Articles Tagged "sexual predators"
In Cameroon, the breast, one of the most conspicuous signs of a woman’s femininity, is a target for ritual mutilation. Breast ironing, a practice that involves flattening a young girl’s breasts with highly-heated stones, pestles, spatulas or coconut shells among other objects, is typically carried out by an older female relative.
According to Friends of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), one out of every four girls in Cameroon has been affected by breast ironing, equating to nearly 4 million young women. Breast ironing is primarily practiced in the Christian and Animist south of Cameroon, and less frequently in the Muslim north, where only 10 percent of women are affected. It is also practiced in Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea among African countries.
Read more about this on TheGrio.com.
I can’t say that I’m all that surprised to read the allegations against Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s most beloved character, Elmo, who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a young man that started when the individual was 16.
I don’t have any inside information about whether the allegations against him are true or not – I’ll just wait for the investigation to conclude before totally disavowing a crucial part of my childhood (i.e. Elmo). But I will admit that whenever I hear these stories of adult men, who spend their time in the company of children, being the subject of some sort of inappropriate conduct involving children, I say, “yeah, I can see that.” In fact, I know a few women who are outright hostile to the idea of leaving their children in the company of men, including teachers, coaches, even among family members. “As a woman, a mother, a concerned citizen and mostly a survivor, I am very skeptical of men being around children,” said one friend via Facebook.
Statistically speaking, men are the gender most represented among offenders of sexual assaults, abuse and violence. That fact alone is probably the best argument to be made for our skepticism. But is this a healthy attitude to have towards men in general? Is it fair to assume all men are potential predators of sexual abuse and aggression until proven otherwise?
Recently, I saw this provocatively titled documentary, Are All Men Pedophiles, which as the title suggests, raises the question of whether or not we are being conditioned to assume that all men are sexual predators and pedophiles. According to Jans-Willem Breure, director of the film, all men are potential “hebephiles” — that is, attracted to pubescent children. Our society is built on idolizing youth, he theorizes, and usually sexualizes children through the media, fashion and through music. Therefore, you can’t necessarily blame men for finding teens sexually attractive. Breure’s other theme in the film is that since the age of consent is arbitrary and has been culturally and throughout history, maybe it is time to retire the archaic belief that frowns upon adult and teenage relations.
I don’t know if I am quite ready to have sympathy for pedophiles (nope, don’t see that happening), which is why I can’t totally co-sign this documentary. Breure, who said in an interview that his inspiration for this film came from his own attraction to teenage girls, might be playing fast and loose with the technicalities and gray areas. Overall, the documentary is very one-sided and narrow in scope. Sexuality is reduced down to a fetish as opposed to an expression of genuine love and affection. We are lead to believe that age is nothing but a number, but missing from the documentary are voices of the teens and children to articulate how they feel about being the object of a grown person’s sexual desires. Instead, we only get to rely on the opinions of “experts,” some of whom are pedophiles and people with pedophilic thoughts and tendencies.
But not to throw the baby totally out with the bathwater, Breure does raise a compelling point about how society is almost always hush about female pedophiles. The way stories of female abusers are presented in the media tends to take on a more mocking tone or looked upon as a farce. The female offenders are treated as seductresses and their young male victims as “lucky boys.” No wonder woman-on-man sexual assault is less likely to be reported than the reverse.
As we become increasingly more suspicious of the male sexual predator, the more it becomes socially acceptable to excuse, or flat out ban men from certain corners of society – you know, for the sake of the children. Recently I read a story about a play center in the UK, which absolutely banned boys/men over the age of nine from its facility. A couple of days ago, I read another story about an Australian man, traveling on Virgin Airlines, who was asked by a flight attendant to change seats with a female passenger so he would no longer be next to two unaccompanied minors. In his blog post titled My Virgin Experience as a Pedophile, Johnny McGirr wrote of his experience:
“Men are policemen, doctors, social workers, teachers… people who are entrusted to the care of children but according to Virgin once you step on one of their planes you are a pedophile or a potential pedophile.”
Even in my own personal prejudices and biases, if a woman was sitting alone in the playground, I would probably guess that she is enjoying nature or her alone time. But if it was a man sitting alone in that same playground, I might assume more dubious motivations. For that, I kind of feel sorry for men. However, for every falsely accused man in the world there are dozens – if not hundreds of heartbreaking stories of folks doing God-awful things to children. So it is best to always air on the side of caution and pay attention, regardless of gender, to who these people are that we have around our children.
Every Predator Isn’t A Registered Sex Offender: How To Protect Your Daughters From Men Twice Their Age
They began preying on me when I was about 10 or 11; men who were old enough to father me and of course those a little younger. Either way, they were too old to be approaching me. I was a pretty quiet kid for the most part. I wasn’t one of those grown little girls who was up in a man’s face every opportunity I got. My mother was a firm believer in dressing children age appropriately so attire wasn’t the issue. I used to blame it on the fact that I was more developed than most of the girls my age. “They probably just think I’m older than what I actually am,” I’d always think to myself, inwardly hating the fact that I had such a womanly shape at such a young age. Now that I reflect on those days, all I can say is, “Ain’t no way.” There’s no way that these men didn’t know how young I was. Since transitioning into adulthood my common sense tells me differently. I don’t care how much her breasts protrude or how curvy her hips are, a child is easily spotted and those who can’t tell simply by looking at her, can tell once she opens her mouth. The truth is they don’t care.
Back then I never took them up on their advances. I’d quickly make my way home from school with my head held down, eyes glued to the pavement trying to block out the derogatory cat calls that were being hurled my way by grown men. I was disgusted by their advances, they made me feel tainted. I couldn’t understand why anyone would be flattered or consider their words compliments.
By the time I hit 16, I thought I was grown. I had a car and my junior license, you couldn’t tell me nothing. At that age having a “boo” was the thing to do so I followed suit. His name was Rodney*. It was my summer job that allowed us to cross paths. My company and his rented office space in the same building. He approached me in the lobby one afternoon. We exchanged small talk. I told him I was 16, he told me he was 20. I looked at him strangely. He seemed a little mature for 20, but I was young and gullible enough to believe just about anything. He eventually asked for my phone number, I obliged.
As time progressed we graduated from phone conversations and late night texting to hanging out in his uncle’s basement. He’d always “try” me and I would decline his advances. One day I guess he decided that “playtime” was over because this was the day he tried to force himself on me. With the exception of my best friend, I never told anyone about that experience. That night when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but I took to the web and did a search on him. I was able to locate him on a social network, which is where I found out that he had actually lied about his age. He was 30, not 20.
The company that he worked for happened to relocate shortly after the incident. I never saw him again. What bothers me the most is to see that the cycle still continues. Grown men are still out there going after little girls. They know these girls are underage and still pursue them anyway. Why? Because they’re young, naive and easily manipulated.
We all know that predators are out there, but what can we do to protect our children? The first thing I always encourage parents to do is keep the lines of communication open. You’ll be surprised how much your kids will talk if they feel that they can come to you. Secondly, know where your children are. If you need to confirm, do it. Safe is always better than sorry. One of the most important things that can’t be stressed enough is to know who your kids are talking to as well. And don’t take, “Oh, I’m just talking to my friend,” as an answer. Get all up in their business, especially those teens. Check those cell phones and social networks occasionally.
I was always a pretty good kid. My parents trusted me, but my one lapse in judgement could’ve cost me so much more than being shaken up and having hurt feelings. Protecting your daughter from men such as the one I encountered begins simply with opening the lines of communication.