Tracey Spicer: Sexist, safe and men can be sorry

Perhaps you’ll remember Tracey Spicer for trying to start up a fourth wave of feminism by calling for women to wear less make-up when they go shopping. I doubt you’ll remember the fourth wave, but the level of inanity might ring a bell.

She is, of course, the same Tracey Spicer who regaled us with her letter “Dear Mr Misogynist” where she explained just how terrible sexism is.

So, you won’t be surprised when Tracey begins her latest quest for a few bucks of controversy entitled “I don’t want my kids sitting next to a man on a plane.” She begins…

I know it’s sexist.

You already know the next sentence starts with “But…”

The logic for her position on men, unaccompanied children and planes centres on a few unrelated, incorrect, and meaningless facts. The first is:

In 2001, Northwest Airlines paid a US family half a million dollars after a 10-year-old girl was molested by a 28-year-old man on a flight from Kansas to Detroit.

Ravichandra Thuluva, was flying from Kansas to Detroit as part of his journey to his home in Bombay. He was arrested and detained for at least six months because of the girl’s complaint.

What we are asked to believe here is that Mr Thuluva was travelling the skies of the world on the off-chance that he might get to sit next to an unaccompanied minor he could fondle. Yes, fondle a child on a plane with no escape route should the child cry out for help, and where he was easily identifiable from his name and other details given when purchasing his flight to Bombay.

Similarly, we are to imagine that, on a regular flight that included “10 or 11 unaccompanied minors”, according to a Judge Rosen, (and so reasonably full) that Mr Thuvula was able to molest his victim unnoticed by the other passengers or flight attendants, even though she “told the man to stop numerous times and that she slapped his hand away numerous times when he attempted to touch her” (according to CNN’s quote of her affidavit).

Don’t buy it? Neither did the Grand Jury. Mr Thuluva was acquitted of all charges.

Yes, the FBI investigated, charged the man, ran him through the courts, presented all the evidence they had, including all of the eye witnesses who were just a few feet away, and Mr Thuluva was acquitted of all charges.

Still, it doesn’t stop Spicer calling it “molested” instead of the more correct term “false accusation”.

The airline settled for a reported $500,000. When you consider that Northwest Airline at that time, according to the CNN report, was flying 100,000 unaccompanied minors across the US each year, it comes as no surprise that the airline would settle a case rather than lose business due to the publicity that the case might bring as well as the legal fees.

From a financial point of view it would have been a smart decision that saved them a lot of money.

The other “fact” Spicer relies on has to do with a peculiar manipulation of statistics. She tells us that:

Sure, almost 90 per cent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone in, or known to, the family, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Spicer’s goes on to examine that other 10 per cent.

However, stranger danger is a risk and women are perpetrators in only about 8 per cent of cases, says the ABS data.

I’ve not checked the ABS data, but I doubt that they say that “stranger danger is a risk”. They might say that in 92% of the cases of the 10% who were molested by a stranger, the perpetrator was male. They might not. But, don’t forget, these percentages are of the small percentage of people who claim they were molested as a child.

In other words, because a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people in the world are male and molest children they don’t already know, the airline should have a policy of treating all males as suspect.

However, the fact that a smaller fraction of a fraction of a fraction of people in the world are female and molest children they don’t already know, there is no reason to have a policy treating any female as suspect.

What can I say?

Spicer adds the personal touch by telling the hear-warming story of her own children flying unaccompanied in Australia.

It was a relief to see their smiling faces at the end but I was disappointed I had no choice about where they’d be sitting.

Is that true? Not really. Spicer could have bought a whole two rows of seats. That way she would have been guaranteed that no one was sitting next to her children. Or, she could have flown with them and then came back on the next return flight.

So does Spicer’s concern for her own children’s safety stop as soon as she has to put her hand in her own pocket?

But the true vapidity of the matter should become clear if you look harder at Spicer’s own statistics and use her own moral panic to judge the situation in its entirety.

If her children are more likely to be abused by someone they know than by any stranger, then surely the safest part of their lives was the couple of hours they were flying on that plane away from family and friends.

But the thing that really disturbs me about Spicer’s piece was the timing of it. Was there a incident recently that sparked this debate? No. Were new figures released on the matter of airplane molestations? No. Was there a new study recently on the issue? No.

No, Spicer seems to be stirring the gender war pot for no good reason at all. Is it spite? Bigotry? It’s certainly not to solve any real problem that’s happening in the real world, that’s for sure.

Which brings us to the advice she gives at the end of the piece: why anyone would look to Spicer for advice on anything other than how to get your facts wrong is beyond me.

She finishes off the piece:

Sure, not all men are paedophiles but offenders are predominantly male.

I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry.

She repeats the false logic as if it might stop being bigoted if it gets said enough times. So allow me to repeat my objection:  Mr Thuluva, so that others could feel safe, was detained in a foreign country for 6 months, in jail, because of a false, baseless accusation. Other than Mr Thuluva, no one else was sorry.

Is that really the kind of society that Spicer wants? In her letter to “Mr Misogynist” she complains of the harm that sexism did to her. I didn’t see any six months in jail, Tracey.

Spicer, it seems, wants the moral panic that surrounds men, unaccompanied minors and planes to continue, and perhaps even ramp up, despite the complete lack of evidence that there is any realistic risk to children outside of Spicer’s head.

To follow this logic, no Muslims should be allowed on planes (because the majority of hijackers are Muslim); no mother should have an infant (because the majority who kill their babies in the first few weeks are mothers); no human should have a pet (because the majority of those cruel to animals are human), etc., etc. In other words, I can only agree with one thing Spicer says:

Her opinion is sexist.



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