Sunday, August 26, 2007

Virgin Blue - Sexist Policy

I travel virgin blue quite frequently, but today on my way home from a visit to Sydney, I ran foul of one of Virgin Blue's policies that I find to be overtly sexist.

I had boarded the plane, and was sitting in the very last row, in the isle seat. I was thinking I must have been extremely lucky when it appeared as though there was going to be no-one else sitting in my row. It meant I could get out my laptop and not have to worry about bumping elbows with the person next to me as I wrote a blog post I am currently working on. Just as they were closing the doors, one of the stewards came down the back with a young boy who looked about 8 years of age, and sat him in the window seat. Still good, the middle seat was still vacant, so I would still not be bumping elbows with anyone. It appeared as though the woman who was supposed to be sitting in the middle seat had not shown up. It was at this point the stewards asked the woman sitting in front of me to change to the middle seat between me and the child. When I looked quizically at the stewardess she revealed that "it is virgin blue policy to ensure that a male is not sitting next to an unaccompanied minor". I couldn't believe it!

I was not given any reason for the policy, I can only assume that with all the media hype around child abuses that Virgin Blue management feel that it is safest to treat all men as potential child molesters, and the obvious assumption, based on a 1920's understanding of gender, is that it is better to have a female sitting next to a child, because obviously a woman would never abuse a child.

I expressed my indignation to the stewards, not that it really bothered me who I sat next to on my hour and a half flight from Sydney to Melbourne, and told them I thought it was sexist. One of the male stewards agreed with me and encouraged me to file a complaint form which I did.

When all is said and done, it may seem like a silly little thing to complain about, and not something that I should get too upset about, but what bothers me is what it says about the kind of society we are becomming. What this kind of policy does is to make males feel uncomfortable around children. We are already at a point where the first thought when an adult male hugs or shows any kind of affection towards a child in public is one of suspicion. I fear that attitudes like this will feed into the already stark gender imbalance in our education system, and into other social activities involving children meaning that a generation of children will grow up not quite knowing how to have healthy relationships with adult males.

3 comments:

  1. Omar Besiso4:43 pm

    Weird. You hear something new and disturbing every day. Welcome to the rise of civilisation.

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  2. Anonymous12:23 am

    Hey, as a flight attendant, I agree with your sentiment completely. As a male, I am allowed to take responsiblity, care for, and supervise (possibly overnight in a hotel should the flight be diverted) an unaccompanied minor. Should I purchase a ticket and travel myself, it would be against policy for me to even sit next to them?! However the rule is not limited to Virgin Blue alone. Qantas also has the same rule, as does its 'Qantas group companies' such as Jetstar and QantasLink, as do a number of other airlines. If there is a spare seat between you and the child, there was no problem (according to policy at both airlines). Furthermore, its against procedure for the Flight Attendant to tell you the truth as to why there is an issue. Insane? Yes. Unfortunately, in the last 12months, on 2 occasions on my flights alone, another passenger has innapropriately interfered (in one case with clear intention of sexually interfering - we called the feds with that one) with children in our care. Both were FEMALE! As you can appreciate, we can not be with them every second of the flight. They should not be seated next to ANYONE, or travel with direct supervision in the form of guardian or airline employee. Sorry for your experience all the same!

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  3. JP-MRA7:02 pm

    Not a "silly little thing" at all. Sexism against men is generally and readily approved. What is most infuriating is not the blatant sexism itself that we, as men, must endure, but the fact that we never see it acknowledged by society, the media, etc. Instead, all we hear about and are forced to listen to is how WOMEN are being oppressed one way after another after another after another... It just makes me cringe and want to scream "enough already!" When will these delusional feminists ever stop? Women are by far the privileged sex in Western society today. Why can't these feminists just enjoy the easy life they have secured with their puss y-passes?

    Having said that, I also feel that complaining about sexism against men too much brings us right down to the same level as feminists who incessantly blame everthing on men. I hate being told to "man-up" by others (especially by clueless feminists), but when I witness such gross injustices as the one you have detailed in this post, I tell myself to "man-up" and let it go (I am hoping that feminists who choose to use the term "man-up" intelligent enough to realize that they are implying that to do otherwise is to "woman-DOWN"). It's more noble that way, and it keeps me from whining like a feminist.

    May men one day live in a world where they are not discrimated against for being male. If not in my life time, then hopefully in those of our children.

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