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A Sign of Changing Attitudes?

This news article was interesting. It was headlined ‘Police hunt sex pest’ and described a ‘half-naked’ man aged about 20 years offering to drive a female European tourist to show her Huka Falls. (Actually, he was dressed in shorts on a very hot day”¦) He drove her instead to a nearby dam further up the Waikato River and at some stage after they both left the car he made some sexual suggestion through gesturing. According to the article, she became angry and he ‘took fright’, drove off and left her there. A nearby worker noticed her there soon thereafter and alerted police.

Now perhaps this man’s intentions were unsavoury, his behaviour dishonourable, exploitative and irresponsible. Perhaps he is a rapist-in-waiting who couldn’t quite bring himself to proceed on this occasion. But we only have her version of events that might not be entirely truthful, and even that version didn’t warrant the extreme language or jumping to conclusions that he was dangerous, a ‘sex pest’, ‘she was lucky to escape unharmed’ etc. Equally, he may have found her attractive, hoped that she was interested in a bit of nooky with him, driven her to other nearby sights to extend their time together (he may have explained this but language difficulties caused some misunderstanding), then felt so perturbed and offended by her hostile reaction to his playful sexual suggestions that he sought a quick escape. He may have been concerned for his safety if he tried to drive her back to town, and/or concerned that her unreasonable hostility predicted she might make false allegations to police when they returned to town so he’d better make himself scarce. (We all know that any such allegations will ruin a man’s life regardless of their veracity, and that nothing is needed apart from allegations to prosecute and convict a man of sexual crimes.) She may have had her own personality problems leading her to make unwise choices in the first place and affecting her subsequent interpretations and responses. He may have been aware that the power station was close by and she would easily find a ride back to town. The fact is, we simply don’t know. All we are told is he drove her near to a dam and power station, indicated he was interested in sex and quickly left when she declined in an angry manner.

The fact that police and news media alike were so quick to jump to conclusions involving male-demonizing hyperbole won’t surprise anyone here, but what was surprising were the public comments in response to this article. Nearly all were scathing of it, many recognizing accurately that the man had not committed any offence, that simply asking a woman to have sex now saw a man treated like a rapist, and that real crime was being sidelined through this manhunt for a non-offender. Several people even recognized the broader issue of feminist misandry as relevant here. Check it out; this may represent significant progress in public attitude, a refreshing intolerance towards male-bashing.