Babysitting While Male

Scott Henson Scott Henson blogs about the Texan justice system at Gritsforbreakfast. A recent entry he called “Babysitting while white” found its way into several other blogs, among them Reddit/MensRights and from there into The Spearhead, but also into the New York Daily News and into the Daily Mail. Actually it was part two after a similar incident of being detained by the police in 2008 for the suspicous act of a white man walking down the street with a black child. In a black neighbourhood in Austin, Texas.

Given that one has read the two articles in Gritsforbreakfast, the 2012 one having about 300 comments, it is rather strange that the author has not realized it is not, as he writes, a matter of being white and walking with a black child on his hand but, as at least a handful of commenters have expressed, a matter of him being a man, and the child being of another skin color.

Imagining the colors reversed, the black man would have been treated much worse, if not in risk of loosing his life. But in the case of the sexes reversed, there probably would have been no call to the police at all.

Scott Henson is an example of what he ironically calls himself, an average redneck, who is willing to look for police authoritarianism and racism but keeps oblivious of the issue of sexism. Despite several of his commenters of 2008, he does not think of it even by 2012, when again it is up to the readers to point it out. Illustrations for it follow:

Comments 2008 [boldtype by the author]

ryanpaige said…

I find it suspicious that an African-American person lives in my neighborhood, so I call 911 on her every afternoon when she comes home from work.

Since it’s a 911 call, the police investigate every afternoon and detain the woman for an extended length of time to make sure she belongs in the neighborhood.

Of course, since she co-operates with the police every day, it goes a lot faster than it would if she stood up for herself or her rights. Thankfully for her, I guess, she’s not an uptight prick about that sort of pointless “investigation”.

11/06/2008 10:53:00 PM
Anonymous said…

i hate to say this, but as an African American woman, if I had seen a white man walking down the street with a black toddler, I would have called 911 as well. I would rather be thought a racist and have the incident investigated, than read the papers the next day to find out that toddler was found dead. Sorry. I guess racial profiling goes both ways. And while I recognize my position is inherently racist…i’d make that call every day. Simply because it is a child. I woudn’t make that type of call under any other circumstances, but I will do anything in my power to protect a child.

11/07/2008 10:26:00 AM

The general sexist attitude is expressed clearly by the above comment of a black woman who is proud of being so “concerned” and does not even get an inkling of her flagrant sexism while she is showing herself off as courageous to exhibit racism.

Anonymous said…

Let me clarify for you what was really happening.

It’s more of an issue of “babysitting while male”.

If you had been a white woman holding a black child’s hand you would not have aroused suspicion.

This is the same reason why it’s ok for a woman who is by herself without a child of her own to stand and watch children playing in a playground, but it’s creepy when a man does the same thing.

When I see a man with a child, I pretty much involuntarily make an evaluation on whether the man is looking after the child or whether the man is a predator and the child is a victim. I evaluate whether or not this child needs my protection. I don’t know if men do this but I bet other women do the same analysis in their heads. Is this man the child’s friend or foe. The more you look like you are the child’s father, the less likely you are in my mind a foe. This happens very quickly, but I know it happens. I expect a lot of people do the same thing whether they realize it or not. Given that you are already under suspicion just based on being male, two other things played against you. First you’re white so it’s less likely that you are the child’s father, but you could have adopted the child, but then the second issue comes in – you are old which makes it less likely that you adopted the child (since you already have a grandchild you can’t be very young). So anyone looking at you and judging whether you are friend or foe to this child will lean towards the foe category.

11/07/2008 05:29:00 PM

Grits: 11/07/2008 09:23:00 AM & Anon: 11/07/2008 11:35:00 AM

(…) “The second and third officers were, most likely, never dispatched to your stop – they chose to involve themselves in the incident.”

Anon, you’re probably correct. The second and third officer just dropped by to check on their “fellow” officer. The males of the “thin blue line” still haven’t accepted the fact that women police officers are capable of taking care of their own business.

A mainstream feminist projection of his, of course. And in full opposition to his description of the acting of the police woman (in the recent case) who approached him first, as well as of the supervisor whom he depicted as clueless and too inefficient to resolve the situation without delay.

Anon: 11/07/2008 10:26:00 AM

[“]i hate to say this, but as an African American woman, if I had seen a white man walking down the street with a black toddler, I would have called 911 as well.[“]

How about a black woman walking with a white child, or a white woman walking a black child, or a Hispanic man walking a blond child, or a …………. ? I think you get my drift. And here I thought Austin, Texas, was a hotbed of liberalism, and “All You Need is Love” and Kumba Yah. Reverse racial profiling? Austin, Texas, unfortunately is not Mayberry RFD and the attitude of large police department personnel is, again unfortunately not that of Andy Taylor.

Anonymous said…

I’ve worked as a police dispatcher and while most departments will check out most 911 calls, the level of response in my experience always matches the level of credibility the officer gives the call. As a fairly comparable example- after 9/11 we received calls every once in a while along the lines of “I’m in a bar and there are two guys here speaking in a foreign language.” No crime, no activity other than not speaking English. The officers’ response was invariably to pull into the bar, walk through to make sure nothing was happening and go on their merry way without contacting anyone. For three cruisers to pull up and detain you because you happened to be walking down a public street in full view with a not-kicking-and-screaming-child who was clearly comfortable with you is ludicrous.

11/10/2008 05:57:00 PM
Allypsa said…

The suspicion was based on your gender, not your race.

11/12/2008 01:52:00 PM

The best comment of all, to the point. Remarkably by a woman, as women in general have no illusion about the actuality of the misandric mindset which has become the cultural rule. And will say so if they have nothing to loose. And will deny it categorically if they do profit from it.

RobertB said…

100+ comments down the page is a tough place to add useful content, but I just ran across this entry from the Daddy Types blog: If You See Something, Say Something. In 2007, the state of Virginia ran billboards showing a man holding a child’s hand, and the tagline “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together”. The blogger, who like most dads holds his children’s hands all the time, sees this as an egregious case of guilt by association.

The blog post references a Wall Street Journal article, Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men?, that quotes John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”) as comparing men with dangerous dogs — you shouldn’t let a child near either one. I honestly sympathize with Walsh, and his unspeakable anguish over the loss of his son. But his pain is no excuse for taking away my childrens’ innocence and replacing it with fear.

That said, I tend towards cooperation instead of confrontation. I appreciate the stand you took, though, and I will keep those hard-earned lessons in mind.

11/12/2008 04:31:00 PM said…

While I agree with your outrage, I think you’ve missed an important point here:You were also babysitting while **male** which is much more dangerous than being white.

Every body knows, of course, that males are the only species of committing kidnapping, murder, rape, or violence of any sort.

11/25/2008 09:13:00 AM
Another Austin Dad said…

I had a similar experience at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo. At that time, I had a four year old black foster daughter. I had her and two of my own kids with me that day.

By the end of the day my foster daughter was tired of walking and stressed over missing her mother. She was crying and saying “I want my mommy!” over and over. In the parking area, another family nervously inquired if she was alright. I said that she would be okay, that she just missed her mother.

After buckling up the kiddos and following the guidance of the parking helpers, I was directed to the side, where I was questioned by a DPS officer. He uncomfortably explained that he had “received a call” and so he just had to “check things out.” I told him she was my foster daughter and that yes she is sad and misses her mother.

That seemed to satisfy him, and he made some conciliatory comment about having to make the inquiry. I said “Well, sure, I mean we don’t exactly match.” He got a very startled look on his face when I said that and quickly waved me on to leave.

It would seem that stopping a man with a child that might not be his is a perfectly acceptable imposition, but stopping someone on a racial basis was a dangerous thing for him to admit to. It’s okay to assume that a man is dangerous to children on the basis of his gender, but it isn’t okay to pull somebody over on the basis of race. We have a prejudice in this country, a prejudice that dare not speak its name, and it is called misandry.

11/25/2008 11:11:00 AM

Comments 2012

Anonymous said…

It was the citizen who called in a kidnapping that started this. APD isn’t perfect but they are better than other counties in Texas and other regions in the US. Remember the 90s when every male adult who looked at a child was prosecuted for molestation? The cops respond to the will of the idiots citizens like the posters here. You asked for it and you got it. Race issues make it more noticeable but it is really about gender.

2/12/2012 08:21:00 AM
Anonymous said…

T think it is another case of ‘Babysitting While Male’ more than
‘Babysitting While White’. There are progressively more and more absurd restrictions limiting the interaction of men with children in our society.

2/12/2012 12:19:00 PM
Anonymous said…

I see a large amount of idiocy and ignorance being posted here. While the entire situation was unfortunate, allow me to shed a little light on it as I was working that night. First, the call came in to the dispatcher that a little girl was screaming, crying, and yelling for help, and struggling against a man who seemed intent on walking away with her. Second, the employee at the rec center that called it in said 5 employees were chasing the little girl and older male. It therefore came in as a high priority call, and if it HAD been legit, I know that any parent or grandparent would want as many Officers there as possible to make sure their kid is safe.

Second, some of these “arm chair lawyers” need to realize the difference between a detainment and an arrest. Both can involve handcuffs, and both cane be done for safety. Frankly, most people commenting need to chill and maybe salute the boys in blue instead of posting their usual ignorant drivel with little to no basis in reality.

I am glad you and the girl are safe. Maybe you should be thankful that just the POSSIBILITY it was a kidnapping warranted a strong and immediate response. I’m sure if it had been actual, and only two cops responded (since everyone seems so focused on the number there), you might have an issue with that.

2/12/2012 03:31:00 PM
Gritsforbreakfast said…

Holy crap, there were maybe a dozen comments when I last looked on here!!

I can’t respond to all this, but I’m fascinated by 3:31’s comment who said “I was working that night.” That person says:

“the call came in to the dispatcher that a little girl was screaming, crying, and yelling for help, and struggling against a man who seemed intent on walking away with her. Second, the employee at the rec center that called it in said 5 employees were chasing the little girl and older male.”

Maybe that’s what the dispatcher said, but all of that is a lie. No screaming kid, no struggling, no five employees chasing – even the constable seemed tentative and walked instead of running after us. Certainly CCTV at the rec center would back me up. I wasn’t planning on asking APD for more detail about the incident, but now I think I will if only to find out if that piece of anonymous BS is true.

That said, to be honest, I doubt filing a complaint would do any good because I don’t think they broke any rules. In this neighborhood APD responds to nearly every incident with overwhelming force. They had the right to do it so they did, and under the law my role is supposed to be to shut up and take it, at least until the incident is over and I get back to my computer.

Also, those who say the person calling in was to blame are right on the money – especially if the bogus story mentioned above is what was called in (somehow I doubt it, though – anonymous commenters aren’t the most reliable source). A flaky, a-hole accuser was an element in the first instance, too. Last year the crackhead who’d reported my first “babysitting while white” offense came up to me to apologize and said she was the one who’d called the cops me and Ty back in 2008. My response can’t be published in a family setting, but suffice it to say I blame ALL the various fools whose leaping to assumptions contributed to this, whether they were wearing a uniform or not. Law enforcement is at its worst when it’s an agent of the mob.

To those who think I should have given more information to the constable, if she thought I was a danger to the kid she could have detained me. I left with her permission; if she had detained me I’d have complied.

I forwarded the post to Chief Art Acevedo, and I’ll post his reply, which just came in, as an update to the post.

2/12/2012 05:31:00 PM
Marina said…

My dad is obviously Mexican, and I look very white. I remember quite a few well intentioned strangers trying to ‘rescue’ me from my own father when I was a kid. They would always get offended when I wouldn’t interact with them. Child logic is simple: you’re a stranger, this is my dad. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers, leave me alone.

2/13/2012 10:39:00 AM
Anonymous said…

I agree that Babysitting While Male could just as easily be the cause of this terrible encounter. I belong to a babysitting co-op. (Parents earn and use points babysitting friends’ kids and having friends babysit.) In researching how to set up our group, we looked at other groups’ bylaws. Some of them specifically prohibited fathers from babysitting. Not just any man, but the fathers of other kids in the group–they couldn’t be trusted to babysit because they were men. Crazy!

2/13/2012 11:20:00 AM
Anonymous said…

Police departments are dominated by the feminist religion of man-hate. Men are presumed perpetrators, women are presumed victims, and children are a convenient excuse for law enforcement to approach men like Gestapo thugs.

2/14/2012 07:28:00 AM
Skyfire said…

My niece is a nanny to two black children, and she gets a lot of terrible looks from people who assume that she’s their mother and that’s a bad thing. No one has tried to arrest her, though, and I think part of that is that she’s a woman. My husband gets crap when he’s out with our daughter, even though she looks just like him. Babysitting while looking different from your charge and babysitting while male are things society doesn’t seem to trust. *shakes head*

2/14/2012 08:41:00 AM

Comments from Daily Mail

I’m male, middle aged. I was driving along one day when I saw a little girl about three years old walk out of a driveway, and along the road. I thought she was far too young to be out alone, stopped my car, but as I went to go back to speak to her it occurred to me how it could be misunderstood. I was torn, but then a woman came out of the house and I asked her if she knew the little girl. She raced after her, brought her back, and I was awkwardly trying to explain I hadn’t known what to do for the best when she said “I understand exactly how you felt, you’re a lovely man – thank you”. We both had tears in our eyes and I realised just how much those peoplen who prey on children have changed our daily lives. I had actually hesitated in securing the safety of a child.

– Sdemnips, Birmingham, 14/2/2012 14:49

This has happened to me, but opposite. I am black, with a white mother. I am a senior citizen. I was walking with my neice, white, on the campus of UC Berkeley. My neice was visiting from Ft. Wayne. These two women ran up to me and my neice, screaming at me”let her go””are you safe child?” “Where is he taking you” fortunatelky the cop that responded was one of my former students. He told the women they were committing battery.- Marty , Oakland, California, 13/2/2012 2:43

I would suggest Brad Pitt & his kids don’t go for a mini-break in Austin. I would say the same for the likes of Madonna, but the fact is that this would never happen to a woman out with a child of a different race.

– Dr Dave, Living in the past (it’s more fun!), 13/2/2012 1:58

(…) I went to the shopping mall with some friends, and we saw a white man holding the hand of a little black girl who was happily skipping along next to him. My friends did double takes, and were really concerned because they thought it “didn’t look right”, and because “you never know”. They really meant well, but I was really surprised at how quickly they jumped to that thought. The adults carrying screaming toddlers (who bore enough resemblance) were not a problem though…- Mel, the capital, USA, 13/2/2012 2:59

People are looking at this from a skin colour perspective which is fine but if this had been a white women walking with a black child then people wouldn’t have cared because after all every man is a pedophile.

– John , London, 13/2/2012 20:51

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