Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 13, 2015

Like a girl

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

I was going to write about Frank Matarrese and his refusal to understand what the term “realistic capacity” meant in terms of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment and Housing Element.  Helpful hint Vice Mayor, I wrote about it here.   But instead I must write about the rage inducing comment made by Jim Oddie.

Here is it, verbatim:

I was one of those people that drove my kids to school.  They were girls, frankly I did not want them walking.  And I would make that decision again today if I had to make it.

No. Just no.


Look, I’m not saying that parental concern about kids’ safety is not a viable reason for feeling like you need to bundle your kids up in a car to take them to school.  Also, I can understand using your car if you’re pressed for time and figure you can get everyone there faster by motor vehicle.  I’m pretty judgmental about a lot of things, but I try not to be too judgey about how people parent their kids.  No, my issue with Jim Oddie’s rationale is that because his kids are/were girls that somehow they should be treated differently than if they had been born with a penis.

Personally his statement smacked of defensiveness in response to a public speaker pointing out that a fair amount of congestion occurs because some parents elect to drop off their kids via cars as opposed to allowing them to walk or ride a bike to school.  Was the speaker being a little judgey about parental choices, sure, but Jim Oddie could have said, “yeah, parents need to make choices to balance out safety and time when dropping and picking up kids from school” and leave it at that.   But throwing in the whole “they were girls” was so many levels of wrong.

I mean, when Michele Ellson of the Alamedan tweeted this out, I said to myself, “self, that must be wrong”

But, no, there was no miscommunication or misunderstanding. He. Said. It.


I’m not sure if “they were girls” meant that they were unable to walk by themselves because being girls meant that their limbs were too weak for physical exertion.  Maybe “they were girls” meant that their sense of direction was impaired so that they wouldn’t be able to navigate successfully to school.  Perhaps “they were girls” meant that they were more prone to be snatched by child predators.  Who knows, because Jim Oddie didn’t explain in detail, just left “they were girls” out there, hanging, as if we should all say, “ohhhhh, I know what you mean” and nod sympathetically.

And then to double down with “I’d make that decision again today.”  I just can’t.  Every time I think I’m coming around to change my opinion on Jim Oddie, he pulls some pandering out or something like this and I’m over it.



  1. Is the outrage that it is politically incorrect, or that a public official demeans the safety of our town? Just take a quick gander at any college’s on campus safety policies and you tell me whether walking home is safe when your children get to be college age. There is only a slight chance of kidnapping or molestation, but thefts, bullying, and fights are more likely then, as well as cars running stop signs(too common here) As an example, 1 in 3 children report being bullied. I don’t believe in living in a cocoon, but each parent makes the call.

    Comment by Breathless — March 13, 2015 @ 6:38 am

  2. Because it’s offensive to me as a female and a mother of a daughter. That’s why it sparks outrage. I don’t care one bit about the perception of the safety of the town and dismissing it as “political correctness” diminishes the weight of the insinuation. What I care about is the fact that an elected official implied that somehow that being female requires different treatment than being male when it comes to being schlepped off to school.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 13, 2015 @ 6:52 am

  3. Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — March 13, 2015 @ 7:39 am

  4. Get over it Lauren ! Get Real !

    I drove my daughter everyday when she was going to school at Paden and would do it again , there are no school bus , in your books a 5 to 9 years old walking across the entire island on their own is ok ? Paden to Broadway , or walking to the Pompous Montessori school before she was 5 …..would you let a child walk to school in a driving rain or when you have to crape of the ice on your windshield ?
    AFD would pick them up , with a broom and a shovel .

    I has nothing to do with gender, everything to do with safety , the situation would have been no different should we had a boy!
    I did the same when she went to Lincoln Middle school , Because crossing Broadway Is very Much Taking your life in your hand , something you only realize when you see a 16 wheeler or so laying rubber 3 houses long and not able to stop while kids are crossing the street to go or coming from school.

    By the way your Friend at both City Hall and Caltrans have been saying for years it would slow down the traffic and it is not cost effective, indeed someone life is not cost effective .
    Neighbors have been fighting for 40 years Peoples Like your Buddy Russo , not their kids ! not their life not for them to grieve and certainly not them to pay the insurance premium when car and truck speed up and down the street while vehicle crossing cannot make it fast enough ……

    Nice to leave in a semi Gated community !
    you are out of touch with reality . I would love you to trade my house for 6 months so you can enjoy what the East end life is really like .

    Good for Jim Oddie to respect Women , ISIS has not taken over the USA yet , or you would be prohibited to have a blog .

    Leave like you preach effective today no more car , they walk to school , you walk them to park street ….

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — March 13, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  5. Did you not read all of my post or simply not comprehend my issue with Jim Oddie’s statement, from my post:

    Look, I’m not saying that parental concern about kids’ safety is not a viable reason for feeling like you need to bundle your kids up in a car to take them to school. Also, I can understand using your car if you’re pressed for time and figure you can get everyone there faster by motor vehicle. I’m pretty judgmental about a lot of things, but I try not to be too judgey about how people parent their kids. No, my issue with Jim Oddie’s rationale is that because his kids are/were girls that somehow they should be treated differently than if they had been born with a penis.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 13, 2015 @ 8:15 am

  6. I used to have similar generic knee jerk reflex about treating girls different and inherently less capable..and today ive swung that complete arrogant opposite with the idea that anything a male can do a female could o better :0)…andat the same my work my perception is ive yet to see a girl come through youth and teenhood and NOT experience some form of physical Oe emotional sexual assault..a passing hand on the booback..a man in a car doing his thing..or sitting. Casually “exposing” home or much as ive dreamer of worked for and desired equality in perception of both is not. Social reality. I have entertained the idea that the great victory of girls free to wear what they please is at root victory of male dominated advertising and thus..over the long arc of the women’s movement..a victory for the continued patriarchal. Sexist society we live in and create. So much more work to do..and I support the individual parents perception. Of what needs doing. For safety of girls until they are trained to kick button. By the the ribbon cutting ceremony. For our new bike path I learnlike er Jim’s. Daughters are bike riders. Id like to say. Social ns ..the current expectation thahat kids should roam as freelike yesterday year..but the environment indeed has changed..the Savannah has predators and parents have the right a to cooed how they can best serve the safety of their own….and not just girls I would add to oddies statement..but boys and girls who are vulnerable in a culture that touted equality..but has been unable to provide safety. For the vulnerable young…from sexual attacks of all just plain old Simpson’s. MUNSON BUlling. I am doing this on kindle and cant see the results of my typing..hope my share isn’t too mangled.

    Comment by Gabrielle — March 13, 2015 @ 8:51 am

  7. I have no issue with parents like Jim Oddie who are concerned with their kids’ safety and security. But when I made my public comments–about the needless amount of traffic congestion we have in Alameda–I suggested that parents could **walk or bicycle with their kids to school** in the morning instead of driving them to school, as many Alameda parents already do.

    Walking and cycling with your kids to and from school–or making sure they walk or ride with their fellow students–accomplishes the same security objectives for the parents who are worried about their kids being snatched away or otherwise being harmed as driving them everywhere and being “helicopter” parents. (Whether the concern for kids’ safety is or is not reality-based is not the issue here, but there are differing views of how “secure” our communities and our kids really are…)

    My *real* objection to Jim Oddie’s statement is that his *default* reaction or habit seems to be to drive everywhere. This is the same mindless/autopilot thinking and action that has brought us the oft-cited “traffic congestion problem” in Alameda, and throughout the Bay Area, California, and the nation. And we can no longer afford the pollution, wasted resources, inefficiencies, expense, wasted time, or carbon emissions of that mindlessness.

    The real cause of our traffic congestion problems–Eugenie Thompson’s rants in the SUN to the contrary–is to be found in Pogo’s wise words: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 13, 2015 @ 8:53 am

  8. I am not going to read all this picky stuff. Just accept that other people have their way of doing things and saying things. Stop being so damn critical! Leave it alone.

    I feel vulnerable at times being a “girl”. No, I am not stronger than my brother or my husband. They have never been raped but I have been in unfortunate situations that have put me at risk because I am a female. Jim is a decent person; pick on someone your own size and gender!

    Comment by Elaine — March 13, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  9. I couldn’t believe Oddie’s comments either. I wondered if my opinions about “protecting the little wimminfolk” would change when I had a daughter. It has only hardened my resolve to fight these bullshit notions. Really surprised someone who holds the position he does in Bonita’s office has not figured out how damaging this attitude is. I wonder what his boss would say to that comment.

    Comment by BMac — March 13, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  10. BMac, Oddie probably doesn’t call his boss Mr. Bonita, either. I find Jim Oddie’s remark refreshingly honest and chivalrous. It is exactly what my own father would say if he were alive.

    Comment by vigi — March 13, 2015 @ 11:37 am

  11. *auto-correct sucks

    Comment by BMac — March 13, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  12. I am of somewhat mixed emotions on this one. I get the “what?” point because like a lot of women – I am sadly aware just how sexist the world remains and so much of it is just ingrained behavior – it is a pretty fine line in my mind. But words matter and if he sets them up to be considered “delicate flowers” – he may be setting them up for further acceptance of their treatment later. My father followed me to school (secretly) on my first day but he did not do it everyday. He taught me how to take care of myself and better yet- to know that I would be expected to take care of myself and that I could take care of myself. It served me well later in life.
    However, would he have said that way – if his kids were boys? Because bad things happen to children of both sexes. A point that perhaps he could think about in terms of “words matter”.
    Having said that- I am going with lack of awareness rather than overt sexism. He was speaking about his kids and when you talk about your kids- well, things can get muddled.

    Comment by librarycat — March 13, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

  13. Folks, it was about their safety as young children – not any disparagement of their abilities based on their gender. Elizabeth Smart, Polly Klaas, Christina Williams – all in the news back then. I apologize if my inarticulateness offended anyone – girls are perfectly capable of anything and my kids were raised to believe that. They were more than capable when they biked, walked, and took AC Transit to and from school when older. However, our world is not always safe and I will always worry about their safety. I worried when I learned they came home to a burglarized house one afternoon but was proud the first thing one of them did was grab a fireplace poker to defend herself. The larger point I was trying to make was let’s not blame parents who take their kids to school – for whatever their reason is – for traffic in Alameda.

    Comment by Jim Oddie — March 13, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

  14. Jim, thanks for trying to clarify your comments. So, you are saying the thought you meant to convey was “They were KIDS, frankly I did not want them walking.” ? Understandable and reasonable. On the other hand, you immediately follow up that with a reference to three high profile abductions of girls. Reasonable people might still read a gendered motive to the attitude.

    Obviously, there are much worse things in the world than being particularly protective of children because of their gender, but it isn’t irrelevant.

    Comment by BMac — March 13, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

  15. My brothers, sisters and I walked to kindergarten and elementary school without parents back in the 70’s in East Oakland without much of a problem. And no, the neighborhood reallly wasn’t much better back then than it is today. There was one major difference though: the drug dealers, prostitutes, heroin addicts and gang bangers just didnt bother young kids. It just wasn’t done. I suspect that is still mostly true (at least I hope so).

    My primary concern for my kid going to elementary was crossing Otis to get to Otis Elementary. It was and still is just plain dangerous (for adults and kids of either gender). I only let him walk, bike, razor to school on his own when I was convinced that he would always cross at the light at High Street.

    I was less concerned about him at Lincoln, even though it was further from the house, because the route to school was pretty well protected from traffic despite it involving going under a bridge.

    Comment by John — March 13, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

  16. Thanks for explaining why parents living 1 block away from Edison drive their kids to school everyday!

    Comment by Basel — March 13, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

  17. Living 1 block from Edison and walking there most mornings, and knowing a large portion of the parents you cite, I call BS on #16.

    Comment by dave — March 13, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

  18. We live on the same block as Maya Lin School. There are plenty of drop offs of kids who live less than two blocks away every morning. Not only that, the parents double park on narrow Taylor and run into the school to pick up or deliver or tell somebody something, which, with the large school busses causes all kinds of messes in the mornings. An even bigger gripe are the parents who drive vans and let the kids off on the opposite side of the school, making them run across the street in front of oncoming traffic. These very caring parents don’t seem to be very protective once the kids get to the school. Same goes for the Dance 10 parents dropping off the little tutus at 9th and Santa Clara on the wrong side of the street. I think a lot of the problem could be solved with the “walking school bus” plan where parents in a neighborhood with kids at the same school designate a parent to walk a few blocks to the school, picking up kids as they go along and chaperone them to the school safely.

    Comment by Kate Quick — March 13, 2015 @ 7:35 pm

  19. Jon, Spangler , could you re – read your post ,
    you are without knowing it agreeing with the Lady you bash with eternal consistency , Mrs Eugenie Thompson .
    We have one bridge down , the time for my commute has increased from 5 minutes to 20 , there are no public transportations .
    As a reality check it is very well known for Caltrans engineers the Webster tube will fail in a major quake they will not be able to pump the water fast enough in addition since they do close one bridge every year for a month sometimes longer , traffic will be a nightmare , you have to be prepared for the worst .
    with all due respect you are leaving in utopia .
    Make no mistake Bicycles were my primary transportation system when I was a kid , rain , heat and snow 10 miles or so for the high school , there was no plastic bag , they came later ……

    If you are all so much into bicycle , why don’t you petition the city to restrict parking 3 block around the schools , and prohibit it for City employees in the small Parking lot of City hall , and public building , might take more than an hour to get to Alameda from San Ramon or Fairfield ……With the salary they get they can pay for their own parking .

    Lauren it is always very easy for someone to issue guideline from a semi gated community and ask other to make sacrifice , kind like the UC Berkeley telling everyone to use public transportation while they are building the largest parking structure of the past 30 years in the heart of the campus . I guess they don’t believe in their preaching .

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — March 14, 2015 @ 8:20 am

  20. Joel: If you are looking for emotional satisfaction seek professional help.

    Comment by Gerard L. — March 14, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  21. I’m on a small iPad and need some help with strip and paste of links so I’ll just describe Dec. 2014 New Yorker article “The Ride of Their Lives” about children participating in rodeo, worlds most dangerous organized sport. Most New Yorker articles may have a photo or illustration but this one has several and one is of two girls about 8 years old in full rodeo get up staring back at the photographer. Hard scrabble eight year old toughs. Not passing judgement on Jim, but the author of the article alludes to a new park in his neighborhood in Park Slope Brooklyn which had some rocks. Parents lobbied to have them taken out foe safety reasons. Read another article on “free range” child rearing where a mom dropped off her nine year old to negotiate subway ride alone to teach independence. To each their own.

    Comment by MI — March 18, 2015 @ 7:56 am

  22. When each of my kids (boys and girl) reached 16 I dropped him/her off alone outside of Warner Springs down by San Diego with a canteen of water, a hunting knife and a compass with the instructions to make it to Escondido the next day if they wanted a ride home. Each of the four made it.

    Comment by jack — March 18, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  23. #22 If they kept walking from Warner Springs they would have eventually made it to Canada, Sad the resort closed. It is re-opening but won’t have the old charm.

    Comment by frank m — March 18, 2015 @ 10:29 am

  24. frank m

    This is where they were dropped off. Far as I know it’s still open.

    Camp Morena, La Posta and the Remote Training Site, Warner Springs (RTSWS).

    SERE Training Facility Warner Springs

    Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape [SERE] training is conducted at the U.S. Navy’s Training Site in Warner Springs, CA located in the Cleveland National Forest. It is in a remote area near the community of Warner Springs in the northeastern San Diego County, at an elevation of about 3200 feet. The Camp consist of a headquarters area with an administrative building, several staff barracks building, a wastewater treatment plant, and a training compound. (CAC or User Name/Password Required)

    Comment by jack — March 18, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

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