Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bad science not bad dads.

Here we find an unsympathetic review of a book entitled "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men" by one Peggy Drexler which by all accounts seems to think that fathers are a BAD IDEA. Well this particular sperm donor takes exception too.

When faced with something like this, I often find it instructive to switch noun and pronoun genders: father for mother, man for woman, etc, and vice versa, and then see how it sounds. Let's try that with a couple of quotes and paraphrases the article takes from the book (I use double quotes to indicate a modified form of the original):

""[The book] contends that mother-absent homes—particularly "single father by choice" and gay homes—are the best environments for girls."" - gosh, imagine what a furor that would cause if you said it, well, just about anywhere.


""Drexler recently told Good Morning America that girls do just fine without mums, and her "maverick dads" always seem to have a better way of handling their daughters than mum would. "" - It seems almost nonsensical doesn't it? Well why would it make any more sense the other way around?


""He personally conducted interviews of several dozen single and gay fathers and their daughters in order to examine their family lives and—no surprise—found them to his liking."" - Now that sounds sorta creepy, doesn't it? So why is it any less acceptable than Drexler's claim?

But it's a scientific study! Er, isn't it?

No, it isn't.

The families studied are self-selected. That means the single mothers involved had a conscious, vested interest in proving themselves better than the men they think they can do without. Well, more power to your elbows sistas, but why on earth do you have to suggest that men are any less capable than you are in the same situation? Well, as usual, that question's easy to answer: because it's in line with convention thinking. Dad=man=bad. But conventional thinking has a way of falling apart after a while, doesn't it?

I read this stuff and feel a close kinship with the suffragettes of times gone by. They won, eventually, or rather perhaps their children did. So might my son, if we get lucky...

Some other (unmodified) lines from the article that I particularly liked:

"Chris Rock famously noted, yes, certainly women can raise children without men, but that doesn't make it a good idea." Rock on Chris.

"Raising Boys also has serious implications for family law. The most damaging part of divorce for children is the way some custodial parents—usually the mother—cut the noncustodial parent out of their children's lives. While this is at times done out of legitimate concern for the children's well-being, too often it is brought about by anger or shortsightedness. Visitation is often interfered with, kept to a minimum, or denied altogether, and some divorcing mothers relocate not out of necessity but instead to remove fathers from their children's lives."

Personally, I think this sort of behaviour should be an a priori criminal offense with serious consequences. A mother who shuts a father out of her child's life without clear and court-supported reason ought not to have that right in the first place and on practice of the behaviour ought to be punished, and I don't mean a wet-blanket contempt-of-court charge. For heaven's sake, if you can ostracise and put a father in jail for failure to pay child support, you ought to be able to do something to those mothers who play around with an even more valuable currency - the love of their children for their father and vice versa. (Of course, for those of you who are hard of thinking, I add the obligatory disclaimer that I think this should apply to the father too in the reverse situation.)

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