Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Brothers Big Sisters--Gender Discrimination

About a year ago, I thought of filling my thirtysomething void by mentoring a child with Big Brother Big Sister. I pondered the idea for a few years. As a social worker, I worked with children in a number of settings. I put in years of service at Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and eventually worked in adolescent psychiatry.

So, after years of putting it off, I began my warm-hearted research on how to become a big brother to a child in need. I googled Big Brother Big Sister and began navigating the cheerful multicultural photos and spirited messages on how I could change the life of a child while shaping the future of America. What could be more wholesome than Big Brother Big Sister? It conjures up all things wonderful about America's family values: reaching out to others, helping, volunteerism, empowerment of the vulnerable, making a difference, gender discrimination of men. Huh? Discrimination? Well, of straight men. The cross-gender Matching Policy basically says that a woman can mentor a boy, but a man cannot be matched with or mentor a girl. The Policy continues with an odd, illogical twist in the Non-Discrimination Policy which allows homosexuals to mentor children of the same sex if the parent approves.

So does this mean a gay man can't be matched with a little girl (because he is a man) but he can be matched with a little boy? Talk about logical fallacies! Let me be clear. I am not against homosexuals mentoring children. I am for anyone loving, mentoring, and edifying a child towards great things regardless of what private parts are between their legs. I have never seen a more clear case of sexism. It is unfortunate, especially in light of the benefits little girls stand to receive from good male mentorship. Benefits that will shape their experiences with men for a lifetime. If Big Brother Big Sister is implying, concluding, perpetuating that an adult male will sexually molest a girl, they are sensationalizing a horrific act by inciting propaganda that bears the likeness and hype of shark attacks. This fear creates more alienation and weirdness between men and children in a paranoid society where men are already absent in the family photo--a family made of girls.

Personally, my heart was broken when I read the policy of Big Brother Big Sister. I always imagined mentoring a girl. My background is eclectic. I can mentor traditional and nontraditional gender roles. I grew up hunting, fishing, and playing football. I also love Broadway, ballet, and poetry. I can fix a car and decorate my house. Many of my bad experiences with women are directly related to their bad experiences with men, whether it be a ex-boyfriend, stranger, or absent father. As a male, I wanted to make a positive difference in the life of a little girl who might one day be a wife to a husband. More men might step up to the plate if we remove the bogeyman, and give men a chance.

Read the inflammatory words in the Policy of a Big Brother Big Sister regional office. Through my online research, every regional office I found follows a similar version.

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