Stereotypes swirl about our society and, despite our determined and righteous march toward equality, are often exacerbated by our incessant need for instant information. So we label without thinking. A loud, aggressive black man is called a thug. We assume a Latino is an immigrant, and possibly illegal. Any Middle-Eastern man is a potential terrorist. The list of sad, thoughtless, shameful labels goes on and on, and they unjustly victimize countless people.
And they can all cry me a fuckin’ river.
There’s a group of men who would gladly let people wonder, “Does that man have a gun? I bet he’s on crack.” A group of men who would surely prefer a person’s main concern about them be, “Is he a legal resident of this country?” There are legions of middle-aged, slightly overweight, possibly bespectacled and/or mustachioed white men with thinning hair and outdated style who, when they dare venture out alone to the grocery store or take a leisurely stroll through a neighborhood, perhaps past a park on the way to the local café, would love to have people think ANYTHING other than, “That guy looks like he fucks kids.”
There isn’t a single average-looking, middle-aged white man in the United States who hasn’t had some stranger think that about him at least once. You know Goddamn well you’ve thought it enough on your own to know this is true. Unless you, young white male reading this, end up looking like George Clooney, or at least are affluent enough to look like you can afford young BUT NOT TOO YOUNG sexual partners, it’s inevitable that it will happen to you, too.
No one in America has a worse stereotype than middle-aged white men, and it’s not even close. Granted, the actual ramifications of the aforementioned racial stereotypes are far worse, but in terms of taking said stereotypes at face value, nobody comes within a mile of middle-aged white men. It is the worst possible thing you can think about someone.
At least a lot of other stereotypes have something redeeming about them. Denzel Washington has never starred in a movie that makes a child molester look cool, after all. (But man, if anyone could do it…) Even movies that portray ACTUAL HISTORICAL child molesters as badasses totally whitewash that “footnote” from the story. In the movie 300, King Leonidas goes so far as to chastise other Greeks for banging little kids. The real Leonidas was knee-deep in boy. Enjoy your next viewing of 300, by the way.
As a future middle-aged white man — assuming alcoholism or Austin’s armada of negligent drivers don’t kill me first — I’ll gladly take a Korean grocer throwing me unwarranted shade because he assumes I’m going to steal a bag of Doritos, or a suburban Arizona housewife giving me the side-eye from her front lawn as she wonders what kind of identification I have in my wallet. Anything is better than a nervous parent telling her kid, “keep your distance Johnny, that man might very well mean to diddle you,” because some sweaty, 50-year-old man (It’s just a gland thing, dammit!) was too affable when he threw a ball back to the kid and happened to be wearing unflattering blue jeans and white New Balance sneakers.
This is a top five reason for white men to keep their wardrobe up-to-date and stay in shape. Nobody thinks the fit guy decked out in Banana Republic is taking pictures of neighborhood kids running through the sprinkler on a hot summer day. They just think he’s an asshole. WAY better.
One of the cruelest parts of the middle-aged white man pedophile stereotype is that its hot, damning spotlight shines brightest when the middle-aged men are acting their kindest. Think of the shame a poor, sweet, chubby, average-looking father feels as he goes into a candy store alone to buy a small treat for his kids. God help him if his job is in some industry that requires him to drive a van and he went straight there after work. If he’s lucky, everyone will just assume he’s a sad, old, lonely fatass buying candy for himself. If he’s lucky. Is any forty-something Joe Smith safe when he walks into a Toys “R” Us alone to buy a present for a niece? The employees probably make a game of who they think is a parent and who they think is a pedophile. I know this is a thing because it’s exactly what I would do, because I am a bastard.
Always send your wife to buy the toys and candy, man. It’s not worth it.
But you know what the worst part about the stereotype is? We did this to ourselves. Not because most middle-aged white guys molest kids, but because basically all American stereotypes originate in the minds of white people, and probably more specifically from white men. Could it really have come from anywhere else? Our hate is like a forest fire. It destroys everything. It has no goal, no direction. It just burns. Hell we probably deserve this just for that.
Oh, and our other most common stereotype is serial killer, so that’s super. It’s really exciting to know that by the time I’m 50 there’s a decent chance when people look at me they’ll assume I put on clown makeup and walk around my basement naked and erect for one of two reasons (or both!).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go for a ten-mile jog every day for the next twenty or so years, start eating any candy I buy right there in the store so everyone knows that it’s for me to eat and THAT’S IT, and open a new savings account up so I can buy a ridiculous sports car by the time I reach 40. My best-case scenario by my midlife is that people look at me and just assume I have a small penis, God willing..