What’s sex got to do with…the hot babysitter?

All of you were children yourselves at one point and a large portion will eventually adopt or have children of your own. Think back to your childhood to a time when you had a babysitter who was not a family member. What did this babysitter look like? Was this person a male or female? How old was he/she?

For most, this babysitter was a female who your parents may or may not have known beforehand. It pretty unlikely that your image of a babysitter is a male because the media and society generally portray babysitters, nannies, and other child care providers as women. Why? Are women instinctively better care providers? Is there some reason to NOT have a male babysitter?

According to this article in the Washington Post, most people are afraid to hire a male babysitter because, statistically speaking, males are more likely than females to be pedophiles. While this may be true, not ALL non-females are child abusers and some females are. Interestingly, the article never talks about men being incapable of caring for children, and suggests that this idea is a huge problem.

“Here is the real problem when we err on the side of statistics. By telling the millions of men that they cannot be trusted with children, we are reinforcing gender stereotypes at school, at home and at work.”

According to Essentialists, your sex and gender are inborn. Basically, it is a natural part of who you are and, because of this, women are born to be more caring, sensitive, emotional, and feminine while men are born to be strong, resolute, logical, and masculine. On the other hand, Constructivists say that your sexuality and characteristics are socially constructed by the culture in which you are raised. Basically, women are taught to be caring, sensitive, emotional, and feminine while men are taught to be strong, resolute, tough, logical and masculine (Seidman, 3-17).
So, which is it? Are women naturally more competent care providers? Are they trained to be care takers? Or perhaps, men and women are equally capable of caring for children, even with the very different socialization they undergo? The media tells us that men just cannot be trusted to do a good job in films like “Daddy Daycare”, “The Pacifier”, and “Mom’s Night Out” and never shows us men competently caring for children.  This sexism hast to stop.

This sexism extends far beyond child care into all aspects of society. Men are more likely to become doctors while women become nurses. Most engineers are men while most teachers are women. Even when women cross over into male dominated fields such as being a college professor, they are generally paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. Why?

2 thoughts on “What’s sex got to do with…the hot babysitter?

  1. I think that the reason that mainly women are hired as babysitters is because of the sociological concept of the “motherhood mandate,” which essentially says that women are expected to desire and be inclined towards motherhood and parenting. While this concept can without a doubt be defied, (definitely not every woman has to desire to raise children), it is something that sort of guides the way we think and live. Even in more egalitarian families with more progressive gender role ideologies, statistics show that women will do an unevenly distributed greater amount of work that revolves around childcare and housekeeping, simply because they are believed to be better at those types of tasks.


  2. First, I call bullshit on the males more likely to be pedophiles thing. I think women are more often used as baby sitters because often times it’s the mother who’s looking for the care for her child, so she uses a same-gendered person to fill her vacancy. It’s something that I feel like mothers are trying to do to ensure that their child is well taken care of. However, what’s to say a male baby sitter isn’t as nurturing or caring for the child as a female? Another thing that could come into play is the societal misnomer regarding males caring for children. The whole Mr. Mom thing gets blown out of proportion because males are viewed as something incompetent or aren’t around their kids enough to know how to care for them as a mother would, although the two different forces in the (traditional) home are of equal value to their children. But what about two husbands? Two wives? Does one step up and take on the more nurturing role or do they just hire someone else to do it?


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