An Australian firefighter named Johnny McGirr was told to move seats on his Virgin Airlines because he'd been seated next to two unaccompanied boys. The airline's policy is reportedly that men may not be seated next to children traveling without adults, though women may be. McGirr believed the policy presumes that all men are presumed paedophiles, and wrote about it in a blog post called My Virgin experience as a Paedophile!, in which he publishes the Virgin policy provided to him by a company rep: "Unaccompanied children will have spare seats allocated next to them when they are flying. In the case of a full plane then a female will be sat next to the children."
Here's his account of how it happened:
The fasten seat belt sign was illuminated and we were clear for takeoff. Then the stewardess approached me again.
‘Sir we are going have to ask you to move’
‘Why’, I said.
‘Well, because you are male, you can’t be seated next to two unaccompanied minors’.
Shocked, I replied, ‘ Isn’t this sexist and discriminatory?’
She replied, ‘I am sorry, but that is our policy’.
I just hate this stuff. I've gotten the weird looks when I take my daughter to the playground, and I've found myself having minor anxiety when her friends fall down and need help or a hug. In situations where children and adults mix, men are often presumptive suspects (this goes double for any place where the Murdoch press has spent 20 years publishing innumerate stranger-danger scare stories that ignore the reality that most child abusers attack their own children or the children in their care). Here's Lenore "Free Range Kids" Skenazy's take on it:
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.