A friend recently related a story she found shocking: another mom had brought her three-year-old daughter into the bank, and the girl was naked from the waist down. “Where all those men could see her,” the woman told me.
The concern over the nakedness of a three-year-old aside, the idea that a man seeing a naked child was that much worse than a woman seemed particularly absurd.
Pedophile is a word largely used to describe a man who sexually abuses a child. But what happens when the pedophile’s female? New statistics from England released over the weekend reveal the numbers of female sex offenders are rising – and that includes those who hurt children.
Here in the states, the figures are low – less than ten percent of sex crimes are committed by women. But the rates of juvenile females convicted of sex crimes is rising. And studies have shown evidence that women’s sex crimes are under-reported. The offspring of sexism and the belief that women are better suited to nurturing and caretaking is an assumption that a woman simply does not have the drive to commit a sexual crime against a child. Also taking hold are the old-fashioned views toward a woman’s role in sexual relationships – as the submissive partner.
So ingrained are the roots of that sexism that a liberal feminist like my friend barely realized what she’d said – indeed non of us at the table did at first (we were too busy debating the real danger of a child’s nakedness in public vs. fearmongering).
It’s hard to proclaim these numbers of female assailants as a win for feminism. I’m not going to stand by a female who abuses a kid just because we share the same genitalia (anymore than I would have voted for Sarah Palin because we both happen to be babymakers – some people you just don’t claim for the team). But when people stop viewing pedophilia as a male crime, all our kids will be a little safer.
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