Just in case the British National Health Service didn’t deliver its anti-dad message loudly and clearly enough, here’s a daycare center in Birmingham (England) to do its part. Read about it here (Daily Mail, 8/7/12).
It seems that the Kids Go Wild center has declared itself off limits to men whether fathers or not. Just to make sure there aren’t any mistakes, it bans male children over the age of nine. Why? Well, according to the center’s manager, it’s located in a part of town with mostly Asian residents so….. what? Do Asian fathers not like their kids? Do their kids not like their fathers? Are Asian fathers uniquely dangerous? None of the above.
The manager of Kids Go Wild, who would not give her name, said: ‘It’s a predominantly Asian community here and we’re catering for that.
‘It’s not that men are an issue, ladies are more comfortable around women. Ladies have not questioned [the ban]. They’ve been asking for it.’
I come from the southern United States. I’m old enough to remember ‘colored’ restrooms and ‘colored’ entrances to restaurants. I’m also old enough to remember some of the patently insufficient excuses for those practices and one of those was, to paraphrase, “it’s not that blacks are an issue, whites are just more comfortable around other whites.” It was nonsense then and it’s nonsense now. It was a lame excuse for blatant discrimination then and it is now. It was done assuming certain negative characteristics to be true of members of a race of people then and it’s done now assuming certain negative characteristics to be true of members of one sex. Discrimination is discrimination. Period.
Now, someone might read the linked-to article and think “yes, it discriminates against men, but these are largely Muslim women and, in their cultures, men and women are often segregated, so why not in England?” Well, one reason is that it’s against the law. Public businesses are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, etc. But more importantly, the notion that the discrimination is based in Muslim culture is absurd. If it were really about that, would they also have banned 10 year old boys from Kids Go Wild? Do Muslim mothers pass off their boys to their fathers at age 10, never to see them again? Of course not. The ban bears a closer resemblance to those of domestic violence shelters that refuse to take boys over the age of 12, and of course their mothers too.
As to the “ladies” “asking for it,” I wonder who they are. The Daily Mail didn’t manage to find any.
Even so, yesterday Muslims in the Sparkhill suburb of Birmingham were among those who condemned the restrictions, which were advertised on a poster outside the centre.
It reads: ‘Ladies and children only. No boys over nine allowed.’
Councillor Habib Rehman, a Muslim father-of-four, said it was a ‘worrying situation’.
He added: ‘There’s something wrong when a dad can’t take his kids to a play centre.’
Ruksana Ayub, a Muslim mother-of-one, said while Muslim women may feel ‘more able to relax’ in a setting where they don’t ‘feel they have to cover up’, she thought it ‘quite shocking in this day and age that men aren’t allowed in’.
Another resident, who only gave her name as Gemma, said: ‘I have four boys, luckily all under the age of nine, but if one of them was older, I wouldn’t be able to take any of them.
‘It’s not fair to leave one of them out.’
Finally, I wonder where the manager of the center got the idea that, because the ladies “feel more comfortable” without men around, it was OK to violate the law. I can just imagine her walking into a bank with a loaded gun, walking over to the male security guard and saying “I’d feel more comfortable if you weren’t here.” Would that work? The possibilities are limitless.
As to the kids, if anyone’s interested in them, they’d be far safer with a few men present. After all, statistics year after year show that mothers are about twice as likely as fathers to abuse or neglect their children, so, independent of the mothers’ feelings, maybe the center should change its policy to require a few men to be on the premises as long as children are there.
Not wanting to rush to judgment on the subject, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has promised to look into the matter.
An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘The Equality Act does allow for some services to be just for women or men-only, but this is the exception not the norm and must pass a strict test to be justifiable.
‘We will look into why Kids Go Wild is a women-only service.’ If the commission’s lawyer considered the play centre’s policy to be discriminatory, it would ask Kids Go Wild to change it, the spokesman added.
It would ask Kids Go Wild to change it? What would the Commission do if the center refused?
Whatever the answer, the anti-father/anti male environment that pervades the UK shows no sign of abating. That’s the lesson to be learned from a daycare center to whose management it truly didn’t occur that excluding every adult member of the male sex might possibly be illegal, immoral or worst of all (since we’re talking about England) in bad taste. The contempt for fathers we see daily in family courts is just part of a larger zeitgeist that for decades has portrayed men and boys as by turns, lazy, stupid, worthless or dangerous. Until that changes, fathers who seek a relationship with their children post-divorce don’t stand a chance, whatever David Cameron might say.