Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Protecting our daughters, part 1

Recently I read an article wherein a father told a disturbing story about allowing his daughter to be subjected to continual harassment by a drunk man on a plane. Ironically, even though the father let this man persist in his unacceptable behavior, he actually believes he was protecting his daughter!

The father is Scott Brown. His daughter is Kelly Bradrick. (She was not yet married at the time this took place.) The article appears on the Vision Forum website.

"In 2003, I took my daughter with me on a mission trip to Romania. On the plane, there was a drunken man flirting with her in a very aggressive way. Unfortunately for him, there were 535 pounds of manhood in our party ready to protect her. Believe me, we were exercising much Christian patience with this man who persisted throughout the entire flight. He did not realize that he was facing deadly force, if he persisted. He actually touched her once and was making bold advances. He even continued the pursuit after the plane landed. I am convinced that, if we had not been with her to protect her, she would have been in serious danger." (Read it in context.)
Really? This creep was "facing deadly force, if he persisted"? But this guy DID persist - even after the plane landed - and absolutely nothing happened! Are we really to believe that men who are too cowardly to intervene and protect a woman from such obnoxious behavior are suddenly going to use deadly force? After sitting there passively and allowing his daughter to be mistreated in this way, does Scott Brown honestly think he is capable of manning up if things exceeded even his tolerance? And what were these men patiently waiting for? For the man to get physically violent?

"Unfortunately for him, there were 535 pounds of manhood in our party..." Don't make me laugh. Fortunately for him (from his perspective) these men gave him full permission to persist in his harassment of this young woman. I'm sure he had a wonderful time at Kelly's expense. I can only imagine what sort of awful ordeal the flight was for her.

From this account, I cannot help but conclude the following:

1. Mr. Brown sees no need to protect his daughter from "very aggressive" drunken flirting.

2. He saw nothing wrong with allowing this behavior to continue for the entire flight.

3. He saw no reason to intervene even when this man touched his daughter.

4. His daughter's feelings in this matter were of no concern to him. Can you imagine having to endure this while your father watched passively?

5. It was more important to exercise Christian patience with a man than protect a daughter.

6. He never taught his daughter how to behave in such situations. But, wait - maybe he did: "Exercise Christian patience and do nothing. Let the man's horrible behavior continue without challenge or protest. Here, observe my example."

7. Kelly would have been no less protected if she were traveling alone. She may actually have been safer. Perhaps, in the absence of the passive "manhood" accompanying her, someone else might have intervened - offering to trade seats with her, calling the flight attendant, and/or insisting, "Back off, buddy, and leave the young lady alone!" I know we can't count on being rescued by bystanders; at the same time, in my younger years, I benefitted from men who wouldn't tolerate a woman being treated disrespectfully. In Kelly's case, onlookers must have thought, "Well, if her father is perfectly OK with how she's being treated, why should I jump in?"

The huge irony is that Mr. Brown follows his story with these words:

"Where do we get the idea of protection from the Bible? We could make a long list, but here is a short one. Godly behavior is defined by shepherds who protect their flocks. The strong should support the weak. Women are the weaker vessels. And daughters should be protected by their fathers who are commanded to give 24/7 watch care over their children (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). This is enough for me to be convinced that women should be protected by men."
Let me respond: Please spare young women from your notions of "protection". I can't imagine any man I know allowing me to be treated as your daughter was. And if they did - out of fear perhaps - they would be ashamed. And, if they wrote of it, they would describe it truthfully - not pretending it was an example of the very thing they had so grievously failed to do.



Here are my alternate versions...how I wish things had played out...



Version 1:

In 2003, I took my daughter with me on a mission trip to Romania. On the plane, there was a drunken man flirting with her in a very aggressive way. Unfortunately for him, there were 535 pounds of manhood in our party ready to protect her. Believe me, we were exercising much Christian patience with this man - apparently too much, because an elderly woman seated nearby took matters into her own hands.

"Young man!" she addressed the drunk, even though he was much older than my daughter. "I will not sit back and allow you to treat a young lady in that way. You need to stop immediately or I will ring for the stewardess! Young ladies have the right to travel alone without being molested by strangers!"

I was shamed out of my passivity. Frankly, I'd been afraid to say anything. I didn't want to cause any trouble and I'd been hoping that, if my daughter continued trying to ignore this man's bold advances, he would give up and leave her alone.

"Um..." I said, feeling my face redden, "I'm her father."

"And you see nothing wrong with this man's behavior?" The elderly woman was incredulous. "In my day, fathers protected their daughters!" She then insisted on trading seats with my daughter. The rest of the flight was peaceful...giving me plenty of time to repent and to promise to treat my daughter with far more respect in the future.

Where do we get the idea of protection from the Bible? We could make a long list, but here is a short one. Godly behavior is defined by shepherds who protect their flocks. The strong should support the weak. Women are the weaker vessels. And daughters should be protected by their fathers who are commanded to give 24/7 watch care over their children (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). This is enough for me to be convinced that women should be protected by men.

My failure to protect my daughter on the airplane was without excuse. Thank God for an old-fashioned, elderly woman who taught me by her example.



Version 2:

In 2003, I took my daughter with me on a mission trip to Romania. On the plane, there was a drunken man flirting with her in a very aggressive way. Unfortunately for him, there were 535 pounds of manhood in our party ready to protect her. Even more unfortunately for him, he had no idea who he was dealing with. Kelly turned to face him and said, calmly but firmly, "I will say this once. Leave me alone. Do not speak to me. I am not interested in anything you have to say. Stop harassing me."

He responded with something I will not repeat. Mistake number one. Then he made an even more foolish mistake: he touched my daughter.

We knew what was coming next. Only he had no idea.

She caught his hand. Her hands were moving in a subtle but effective way - we could tell by his gasp of surprise and his grimace - and she kept applying pressure while saying, at twice the volume as before, "DON'T...YOU...DARE...EVER...TOUCH...ME...AGAIN!"

Then she summoned the flight attendant and explained the situation. The man was immediately moved - and this time he was seated by another man.

"You know we were ready to jump in," I assured my daughter.

She grinned. "Yeah, but I had it under control."

"That you did," I agreed.

Sometimes the best way a father can protect his daughter is by making sure she gets excellent self-defense training. Her lessons paid off. So did the hours I let her practice on me. Remembering, I rubbed my wrists, knowing exactly what the drunken man had felt, but I didn't feel sorry for him at all.



Version 3:

In 2003, I took my daughter with me on a mission trip to Romania. On the plane, there was a drunken man flirting with her in a very aggressive way. Unfortunately for him, there were 535 pounds of manhood in our party ready to protect her. We love her too much to allow any man to treat her like that. In addition, we would have intervened even if she had been a complete stranger. But, since she is my daughter, I had zero patience with this man.

"Sir," I said. Once I got his attention, I went on, "That's my daughter. See these other guys here? We are going to make sure you leave her alone."

He sputtered something unrepeatable and I motioned to Kelly to change places with me. Once I was seated next to him, I turned to the drunk and said, "Listen carefully. You have a choice. Either you sit next to me the entire flight or I call the flight attendant and have her find you another seat. After the way you dared speak to my daughter, I think you would be much more comfortable sitting next to anyone but me."

He opted to change seats. I let the flight attendant know why.

Kelly thanked me. Honestly, until she told me how this guy had made her feel, and how much my protection meant to her, I'd been on auto-pilot and my actions seemed like no big deal. Really, all I'd done was trade seats with my daughter and ask some creep to leave her alone. Hardly worth mentioning...but that's not how Kelly saw it.

I learned something that day. It's the simple acts of fatherly protection, the things we do automatically without even thinking, that speak volumes to our daughters. When we are faithful in the little things, they have the confidence to trust us in the big things.




Obviously I prefer happy endings...especially when evil has been thwarted rather than tolerated.



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