I had the day off and had the rare ‘pleasure’ of looking after my two kids all by myself – Costa 5 and Leila 3 - due to the fact it was the
holidays and mom was working. It was summer in Perth (Australia) which only means one thing - endless days of hot sun and cloudless skies. Where
better to take them both I thought to myself but down to the beach for a few hours of relief from the relentless heat. I had also borrowed my
sister-in-law’s DSLR camera a week ago with the intention of finally updating the family album, something that was long overdue, and thought this
would be the perfect opportunity.
We hit the beach and everything was perfect. The sun was blazing, the sand so hot you barely walk on it barefoot, and the water deep blue and icy
cold. Once the kids got their swim gear on they ran off and hit the water without giving their dad any further consideration. I pulled out the large
DLSR camera, and looked at it kinda blankly for a while. It took me about 10 minutes just to work out how to turn the thing on, but finally I had it
figured and preceded to reel off a few happy snaps. The kids were slightly further down the beach from me and they splashed and ran and stomped down
each other’s sandcastles.
I was just lining up another shot when a rather rotund woman in a garish frilly purple one-piece walked past, and I swear I heard her mutter the word
“disgusting” as she attempted haul her podge through the sand behind me. I looked up and for a moment I caught a disapproving stare before she
turned away and continued down the beach. “Humph, you’re not wrong there” I thought as I watched this human walrus shuffle off across the sand,
still unsure as to where exactly the body stopped and the frills began. I thought by her comment she was referring to some of the few tattoos I have
that are visible when I have my shirt off. Being an ex-fringe dweller, this type of discrimination I was used to and had long since stopped paying it
I took a few more pictures as the kids ran around wildly, seemingly having completely forgotten I was even at the beach. It was then I started to get
some weird ‘vibes’ and turned and noticed that the large woman from earlier on was talking to 3 guys and pointing in my direction. The guys
started walking toward me and I put the camera down, not knowing quite what to expect.
“What do you think you’re doing?” said the first quite abruptly.
“Sitting here minding my own business. What exactly do you
think you’re doing?”
“We don’t appreciate perverts on our beach, taking pictures of our kids”
“They’re not our
kids, they’re my kids,” I retorted before letting fly with a number of profanities which left them in no doubt as to
what I next planned on doing with camera’s zoom lens. They mumbled something incomprehensible and wandered back to where they came from.
Thinking that was the end of it, I turned back to check on Costa and Leila. They were still running around crazy, unaware of what had just gone down.
As pissed off as I was, I decided it was probably best I discontinue taking any more photos. It was still a beautiful day and I’d probably got
enough already, so I put the previous events to the back of my mind, reapplied some more sunscreen and decided to lie back and attempt to work on my
Just as I had gotten comfortable, a shadow fell across my person. Pulling down my sunnies, I looked up to see none other than the woman in the purple
swimsuit, one of the men who had confronted me, and a lifeguard. I was stunned and opened my mouth to say something but too many expletives were
attempting to come out at once and I just looked at them gaping.
“Excuse me sir” the lifeguard began, “I’ve been informed you’ve been taking pictures of the kids. We don’t appro...”
“Look mate, they’re my god damn kids and if I want to take pictures of them I will”
“Sir, the Cottesloe City Council does not approve of people taking pictures down here. We’ve had......um......incidents before”
I was completely flabbergasted. “You’re just about to have another one you know. Look around you”. I gestured at all the other families,
complete with mothers
who were busily snapping away on their tiny little digitals. “What the hell difference is there”
“Could I just look at the pictures. How do I even know they’re your kids? They aren’t anywhere near you”.
I must have turned a deeper shade of red than I already was, for everyone suddenly took a step back. “Costa, Leila!” I yelled, “Get over
here”. They both turned and (thankfully) actually ran over to me for the first time in their lives. Probably thought we were going to get some ice
cream. Costa came in and tried to tackle me. Leila followed and simply reached up to grab my hand. “We’re leaving....” I fumed “....Now. Get
your stuff”. Probably sensing something deeper was going on, and noticing that I was angry for what was probably the first time that year, they
complied and grabbed their towels.
I noticed a look of guilt on the lifeguard’s face, who I think sensed that I was never in fact causing any harm. The other two just stood there
trying to avoid my stare.
When my wife got home from work that day I relayed the days unfortunate events to her. “Do I look like a paedophile?” I asked her “Maybe I
should have brought down grandpa’s plastic raincoat, god damn morons....”
“I'm sorry baby, I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but the fact is you do
have a dick........ No one ever trusts guys around
What kind of society do we now live in when a man is first assumed to be a sexual predator above the far more likely scenario that he is a father?
What kind of message does this send out to guys that society itself does not trust you to be in control of your own sexual urges. Does treating every
man as a potential rapist or child molester in fact exacerbate the problem? By saying that, because you are a man, because you posses a certain piece
of anatomy, we do not expect you to be able exercise any self control; are we in fact creating that which we fear the most?
Many times when I’ve entered into a ‘mother’s’ room at the local shopping centre to change a nappy, I feel the stares of other mothers boring
holes into my back. Some women look at me with intrigue that a father would actually be the one changing the nappy. Others look at me as if I just
walked into some holy female sanctum with the sole intent of ogling some flesh as they breast-feed their kids and desperately try and re-adjust their
muslin wraps. Often when I’ve changed my girl’s nappy somewhere in public, or changed her after going for a swim, I’ve noticed some (usually
older) woman staring down at me disapprovingly.
Has society become so normalised to the media’s ratings focus on tales of child sexual abuse that every male is viewed as a sexual predator just
waiting for an opportunity to strike?
edit on 4/12/2011 by 1littlewolf because: added [WTB]
edit on 5/12/11 by masqua because: Edit by author request