Man kicked out of bookstore children’s section

for being there without a child. This sort of thing strikes me as one of the most pernicious ways gender roles are reinforced. A friend who is a father told me that when he is with his child at a play ground, he has to stick with the child at all times in order not to be kicked out, unlike the mothers who can sit on a bench while their child plays. Women are simply accepted in child-oriented places, while men are viewed with suspicion.

Thanks, S!

12 thoughts on “Man kicked out of bookstore children’s section

  1. Oh yes. I have had that experience in playgrounds. I sometimes go there in parks to read because the playgrounds are the only areas without vicious dogs running around.

    I am also often eyed suspiciously when I am in the children’s section of public libraries, picking up books for my wife who is an illustrator for children’s books.

  2. Unfortunately, the response to this sort of thing is always very much in the “men’s rights” mode (e.g., Amin’s angry response: “This is an insult to all men not just to me.”) Maybe that’s true, but I sure wish these guys could ever reflect on the situation and see that parenting isn’t just a privilege that they’re being denied, and that the more substantive privilege is their freedom to opt out. This is so much more a feminist issue than an insult-to-men issue, and I want to tear my hair out at all the self-righteously aggrieved responses to these situations.

    Like “dads are the second sex of parenting” (which) never mentions De Beavoir!?) or this

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and male resentment will be the source of real change.

  3. As someone who use to work in a bookstore, I find this controversey fascinating on so many levels. To the best of my knowledge (which is anecdotal), I don’t think anyone in the store I worked at would have kicked a man out for being there without a child.

    At the same time though, I’ve always found it interesting how the store layout was designed in such a way as to segregate men from women. That is, that sections that are traditionally male (ie. Sci-fi, non fiction) were placed on one side of the store, whereas on the other side of the store was traditionally female section, (children’s/YA, romance, autobiography, mysteries).

    That plus our highly gender based marketing schemes (father’s day displays would have ‘books for him’ which would include things like science books, car guides, horror and Cussleresque novels; contrasted with mother’s day displays which had ‘books for her’ which included Sophie Kinsella’s books, Tina Fey’s book, and of course new age and beauty books) made working there a very depressing sight.

  4. Being kicked out of B&N for “shopping while male” is bad enough, but I strongly suspect that here in ye olde Arid-zona the actual “crime” was “shopping while non-white male of middle eastern descent.” That he was talking on his cell phone when the incident occurred seems relevant for several reasons. First, who knows what language he was using, but his English is heavily accented. And if he was speaking Arabic, I doubt the average person here would recognize it as such, but it would be more than enough to trigger a xenophobic response. Second, taking a cell phone call is not exactly the way to lure small children in to your pedophilic clutches if that’s your intent. Nothing about his behavior was creepy. I don’t doubt that the woman felt threatened, and perhaps convinced herself that it was due to pedophile threat, but I find it hard to believe that his ethnicity didn’t play a role in her perception of him as “creepy”.

  5. I have the same experience as Andreas in parks.

    I generally smile at the mothers there and in general try to communicate through body language and facial expressions that I am innocuous.

  6. Reblogged this on By The Pin and commented:
    I am a part time, stay-at-home dad, and I know many other full time SAH dads. Men enjoy a lot of privilege, but this sort of thing is real.

  7. @Tyler

    Surely one can get angry about the enforcement of male gender roles without being branded an MRA*! The dichotomy you seem to be advancing here is that one must either be a feminist OR care about men’s issues, but I have no idea why you think this is the case.

    It is entirely consistent to hold all of the following:
    1) men are stereotyped in their parenting roles
    2) women are even more stereotyped in their parenting roles
    3) women are one of the oppressed sexes in society (see also: intersexed people etc)

    You might even hold (as many do!) that feminism can explain why men are held to these standards (while acknowledging that women are held to worse standards!). Patriarchy hurts everyone.Trying to pressure males who are dehumanized by patriarchy to stay quiet for fear of being branded an MRA is pretty fucked up on my view.

    I was in a children’s literature course last semester and only 3/30 of the people were men. I do not think this is “natural”. I just want dudes to be happy being the people they really are.

    *Who are rightfully known as terrible human beings

  8. I wonder if there at basis a faulty ‘sense’ of statistics that leads to this phenomon of worrying about men alone. E.g., almost all the pedophiles we hear about are men, so a man may well be a pedophile.

    Most unfortunately, it could be beneficial to have such a quirk in reasoning. Having a lot of false positives (suspected predator but isn’t really) probably doesn’t hurt mum much. So even if there’s only one predator among her 50 suspects, if she’s acted on all of them, she’s save her child.

    The downside is not directly hers.

    I’m not denying the downside is huge for others.

  9. @Jarrod: I agree with everything you say. My point is that the response always *is* MRA-ish. Like, for instance, writing that “men are the second sex of parenting” without it even occurring to the author that woman=mother is this whole major part of the original idea of “the second sex” in the first place. It’s like complaining “men are not the victim of the species!” and then demanding that they get to be preyed on by the species too. (To riff on the SDB reference.)

    So all these men are just discovering gender boundaries all of a sudden as if they never existed before and as if women didn’t experience them every day, and their response is grievance and resentment! Of course gender roles victimize men in meaningful ways, and to some extent this is one of them. But it really does reflect a myopia on the part of these men, that they’ve never reflected on the privilege of *not* being forced into parenting and childcare and they’re so quick to jump to aggrieved anger.

    This is also just the fact of the world, and despite my sarcasm, I actually do think that this sort of silly male resentment might actually be part of a path toward more parity, as a way that certain men, finally, encounter gender as a limitation. But I also think it’s unfortunate that it’s always got to be on men’s terms and that it’s always so blind to history.

    I’m not asking men to stay quiet about this stuff. I’m suggesting that they articulate their complaints in terms that go beyond puerile self-regard. Again, I agree with everything you’re saying, wholeheartedly. I just think there’s a stronger takeaway to be had.

  10. Anne, the downside may not be the mother’s, but it is the child’s. Here in Australia it is now considered de rigeur to drive your child to school, because pedophiles loom on every corner (actually, a pedophile strikes once every 50000 child *years). This is widely believed by the medical profession to contribute to the burgeoning of childhood obesity. Yes, a quirk in statistical reasoning, and one that we have because it was once better to produce false positives than false negatives. But we no longer live in the environments for which these heuristics are well designed and now the costs are higher than the benefits.

  11. Everyone has the right to shop in the children section at any store as how else are people supposed to buy gifts for their nieces and nephews. There is ether more to the story or the manager of the bookstore is one paranoid person.

  12. Neil, this way of thinking is not only bad for children but also bad for women. For similar reasons women and girls don’t dare to (and often are advised not to) trust men and go out late at night. It is impossible to see which men can be trusted and which cannot, so it is thought that it is better to be safe than sorry.

    What to do?
    It seems a good idea that the ‘good guys’ find a way to obviously distinguish themselves from the perverts and that they actively turn themselves against any sexual exploitation by their own sex.

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