Friday, March 31, 2006

Belgium leads the world.

My sources tell me that Belgium has just passed a presumptive 50/50 joint custody law and this is claimed to be the first such national-scale law in the world. I don't have any articles to point to yet, but well done to the Flems and the Walloons!

Court action as domestic abuse?

Courtesy of the Fathers Resources Blog an article from Iowa with a curious subtext. It is as much what is not said as what is said that interests me. Superficially, we have a man who has made a large number of court motions in a divorce, custody & child support case, and, surprise!, lost. A quick reading of the article and he comes across as the bad guy. But there is more going on.

Tucked away at the end of the article, we find that she "has two convictions for domestic violence involving the children and has violated probation", but he has been unable to get a hearing for a change of custody. That sounds distinctly fishy to me.

The case is so "notorious" that she cannot find a lawyer to represent her. Now why would that be? Could her behavior have something to do with it? We aren't told. We hear only that he "has abused the judicial system to the point that" she cannot find counsel. Does that make sense? Do lawyers turn down clients because they're under attack, or perhaps because they don't like what they're being asked to do...?

The finger is pointed at him for domestic abuse, apparently on the basis that he has "abused the system" which, by all appearances, we can interpret to mean "fought too hard". Like many before him, he can't win: if he fights, he's abusive, if he gives in, he abandons his children to someone who is at best suspect. If he'd won the custody, I'm sure the tale would be quite different - he would be a valiant and brave fighter for the well-being of his children. He lost, so he's a bad guy.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Protein Wisdom & Say Anything

Lots of interesting discussion on the banning of Kevin Thompson's book at Protein Wisdom.

Lots of interesting discussion on shared parenting at Say Anything.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Man On The Street

'Found a new (to me) men's rights blog

NOW and joint custody in NY

I confess that I neither live in New York State nor do I know much about the joint custody bill being considered there besides what I have read in a few news items, but this shrill, hysteria-mongering rant from Marcia Pappas of the NY NOW is so full of distortions, deceptions and self-serving rubbish, independent of the NY legislation and NOW, that I felt a little critical dissection was in order. I quote the entire article in blue italics and intersperse my comments in plain text.

The state Legislature is considering the worst joint custody bill that the National Organization for Women -- New York State has ever seen,

Has the state Legislature ever considered a joint custody bill before? This is an honest question, I don't know.

presuming joint custody in all custody cases

I have yet to see any argument anywhere that presents any kind of a case at all that this might be a bad thing, and I've read lots from both sides.

including a deceitful attempt to redefine visitation of non-custodial parents as shared parenting.

And why is this bad? Why should one parent be relegated to the status of "visitor" in his or her children's lives?

NOW NYS has always favored primary caregiver presumption legislation to ensure stability and continuity of care for children.

Uhuh. And is that what it acheives? The words sound good, but what is the reality? What is there about having as near as possible equal access to both parents that represents instability or discontinuity to the children? Their inheritence is constituted by both parents, not just one of them.

How do you know that the custodial parent can provide stability and continuity? These days the majority of divorces are instigated by the woman, there's at least a partial argument that the unilateral act of ending the marriage can be seen as an unwillingness to seek stability and continuity for the children. This is not a "conservative" opinion, it is simple logic.

If a person is not involved in the lives of his or her children during the marriage, why would that involvement increase after divorce?

For many (most?) fathers and mothers, every other weekend plus Wednesday evenings is an appalling decrease in parental involvement and yet that is precisely the most common award to the non-custodial parent in the aftermath of a divorce.

Therefore, we oppose court-mandated joint custody and oppose changing the terminology to shared parenting.

This is a non-sequiteur. A "therefore" implies a preceding statement of factual grounds leading to a conclusion, and there is none. I don't think you have a coherent reason for your position except you want custodial parents to retain a total and totally unfair power over the non-custodial parents through their children. The fact that the National Organization of Women feels so strongly about this reflects who it is who possesses that power and who stands to "lose" (i.e. not the children and not the fathers).

Primary caregiver presumption would cut down on the abusive practice by the moneyed spouse (usually the husband) of coercing the non-moneyed spouse (usually the wife) to make monetary concessions rather than risk a custody battle before a biased court.

Since the court's bias is, in fact, very much towards awarding custody to the mother, this sentence should read: a presumption of shared parenting would cut down on the abusive practice by the spouse in control of the children (usually the wife) of coercing the non-custodial spouse (usually the husband) to make concessions of parenting time and money rather than risk a custody battle before a biased court.

This threat of a fight for custody is the fear factor that leads mothers to make financial concessions in exchange for the chance to give her children a stable life.

The threat of a fight for custody is the fear factor that leads fathers to accept disenfranchisment in exchange for financial survival. The father who fights for his and his children's rights is far more likely to end up a penniless loser than the mother he faces.

One attorney has acknowledged that he often gave that advice to male clients. When he became chief justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals in West Virginia, he was responsible for the passage of a primary caregiver bill.

Many attorneys have been known advise female clients to accuse their ex's of abuse to gain an upper hand in a divorce settlement, whether it included a custody battle or not. A presumption of joint custody in which the accuser has to prove any such abuse would drastically reduce the incidence of this disgusting practice. Furthermore, an attorney who routinely advises male clients to sue for custody to get a better financial deal knows that he's lining his own pockets quite nicely.

NOW NYS would like to set the record straight. It is a lie that mothers are awarded custody in 95 percent of divorce cases, as fathers rights advocates would have the public believe.

I would like to set the record straight that I have never known any fathers rights advocate claim that mothers are awarded custody in 95 percent of cases. The highest I have heard is 80% and I have never heard of anything close to parity. Therefore, you use the underhanded and deceitful debating technique of putting your own lie into the mouths of those who would advocate fathers' rights simply so that you can call them liars.

Only 1 percent of cases are litigated so mothers get custody by agreement of the parties, whether or not the agreement is coerced as we describe.

If there is "agreement of the parties" doesn't that imply the case is not litigated? What does this sentence mean?

Let us learn from the experience of others. In California, a report prepared 15 years after divorce reform legislation, found that one-third of joint-physical custody arrangements were indistinguishable in practice from the sole-custody visitation arrangements.

Which implies that TWO-THIRDS, 67%, a clear majority, were different! And yet large parts of this article argue that joint-custody is simply a change of terminology...?

After seeing the harmful effects on children by court-ordered joint custody, California ended its presumption in favor of joint custody awards in 1989.

What harmful effects? As opposed to the harmful effects of fatherlessness on a generation of children?

Joint custody establishes rights without responsibilities.

Primary caregiver establishes rights without responsibilities. Complete rights.

There is no way under current law to enforce visitation.

The currently legal ways to enforce visitation are unenforcible.

There are no penalties for failure to visit.

There are rarely any penalties for failure to comply with visitation.

There is nothing in this bill, or any other joint custody or shared parenting bill, to enforce compliance with a parenting plan. The term parenting time suggests that all non-custodial parents take an active, positive role in their children's lives. Reality shows us that many parents who are granted visitation choose not to be involved in their children's lives.

Reality also shows that many parents are frustrated in their desires to be involved in their children's lives by the paltry visitation awards that are made.

Change in terminology does nothing to enforce parental responsibility or involvement. Opponents feel that the term visitation carries a negative connotation with respect to non-custodial parents, stating that visitation is associated with visiting relatives in prison.

It is certainly demeaning.

This is clearly a ridiculous argument.

Try it. Really, give it a go. You try trying to think of something special and fun to do in the insufficient few hours you have on Wednesday evenings, every Wednesday evening. You try spending every other weekend intensively keeping the company of your children while simulatenously trying not to crowd them. You try creating something like a normal family life in which you can all relax when all you've got is 14% of the time. You try reassuring your kids as the time approaches for them to return while you yourself are anxious to get there on time because if you aren't both you and they will suffer. You try enduring that hour or two wasted at the beginning of each visit while you get to know eachother again. You try answering court questions over homework that the children didn't do while in your company, homework that neither you nor they knew anything about. Seriously, try it.

People visit family members and other people in many and varied relationships.

This is disingenuous. I visit aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents from time to time, but my relationship with them is fundamentally different to that I have (or would like to have) with my children. To be made to "visit" one's children is a humiliation. For many the humiliation is so unbearable that they back off, becoming fodder for your canon into which you load accusations of delinquency, further humiliating them.

If parents want to take an active role in their child's life, why would terminology make a difference? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

If "shared parenting" is in reality no different from "visitation", then why are you all so worked up?

NOW NYS believes the actual motivation for this change in terminology is to require the court to equate the parenting plan or schedule with actual parenting responsibilities, financial and otherwise.

Yes, and?

Arguments have been made by non-custodial parents that the costs of spending time with their children should be deducted from their child support obligations, ignoring the fact that it is the primary caregiver who is responsible for the day-to-day expenses of the children.

Many non-custodial parents would be grateful for the responsibility for the day-to-day expenses of children, directly, as opposed to through the custodial parents' proxy and disposed of as she chooses.

This newly proposed legislation lays the dangerous groundwork for the courts to decrease child support awards based on a change of terminology.

This newly proposed legislation lays the welcome groundwork for the courts to increase the involvement of many disenfranchised parents in their chilren's lives.

It is an erroneous implication that the caregiver and the non-custodial parent carry the same load and devote the same time to their children.

That is precisely the point, they don't, and many want to but are stymied by the false assumption that they aren't interested, which turns into their disenfranchisement which, with Pavlovian inevitability, demoralizes and demotivates them.

The basis for this strong battle of the fathers' rights groups is totally financial.

No, it is not, any more than the NOW's motivation is total domination of the country's policy on children. Hmmm. Now that I come to say it....

It is frequently reported by school guidance counselors that a common complaint of children of divorce is that they don't see their fathers,

Because the courts and their mothers don't want them to.

and it is not unusual for children to complain about the inequities of material advantages they often observe when their father acquires his new family.

In which he often acquires new expenses and therefore such "inequalities of material advantages" are a lie that you put into the mouths of the children.

This bill establishes the pretext of a continuing relationship between children and non-custodial parents,

With this line, you neatly expose the real problem, that a continuing relationship between children and non-custodial parents is a pretext, a fraud, a sham. You admit, in fact, that the current system erodes and destroys the relationship between children and non-custodial parents, that simply being a non-custodial parent implies the lack of a proper relationship with your child. And yet, the law and custodial parents take that destruction and blames it on the non-custodial parents. In fact, what it does, is blame the victim for the crime. Now where have we heard that before?

This pretext should be eradicated by legislation which encourages that relationship to be real, legislation which recognises that both parents are of value to the children, and that the destruction of the relationship between the children and one parent or the other is inherently detrimental to the child.

and falsely legislates in the best interest of the child.

This is only true if it is in the "best interests of the child" to undergo a parentectomy. "The best interest of the child" has been reduced to a political canard which reflects the underlying tendency to use the children to obtain unreasonable control over the non-custodial parent, both financial and emotional.

As Adolf Hitler said: "Society will tolerate almost any injustice so long as you tell them it is for the children."

The reality is that it does nothing to advance the welfare of the children of New York.

The reality is that the welfare of the children anywhere has very little to do with what NOW wants. It is a National Organization of Women not a National Organization of Children. To equate the two implies that women and, in particular, the women of NOW, have a monopoly on the knowledge of what is best for children and that is not true.

A little more exploring and I find that Albany Times Union includes this story from Mike McCormick and Glenn Sacks back to back with the above febrile incoherency from NOW which neaty and gracefully puts the lie to their position.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

That's a confession.

It seems to me that a court which had no fear of accusations of corruption should have no need to use its powers to gag those who moot such accusations.

Who's your Daddy?

It never ceases to amaze to what lengths some parents will go to disrupt their children's relationship with the other. This woman spent two years on the lam, using several identies, including that of her ex-husband. The children, now 6 and 8, believed she was their Daddy when she was finally caught.

Update: "she and another woman were living together as the children's father and mother". "She is 5-foot-9 and 280 pounds, wears her hair closely cropped and has a slight mustache and stubble". Come again? "She blamed the facial hair on a hormone disorder. White said she had considered a sex-change operation, but decided against it because of the cost and denied it was part of any scheme to avoid police." Er, yeah, OK.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Don't ask, don't tell?

In yet another example of its wierd idea of balanced reporting, "all this week, the BBC is asking women in various countries how they feel about being asked to have more babies" in response to Europe-wide low birth rates. Sigh. Once again, men and fathers are not relevant (until it's time to foot the bill) and I don't suppose Auntie Beeb will stop to ask even herself, let alone any men, if that very irrelevance might be any kind of a factor. (Even if it isn't, they might at least show us the respect of asking the question.)

Einstein's Wife, parental alienator

In Mileva Marić: Einstein’s Wife, Allen Esterson does a magnificent job of skewering PBS's revisionist feminist history of the 20th century's greatest acts of genius, but what is not widely known is that Mileva Maric was an alienating parent. For several years after their separation, Maric worked to obstruct Einstein's relationship with their two sons, both directly by refusing to allow them to visit him and indirectly by pressuring the children. The effects manifested in Hans Albert in particular, who became hostile, refused communication and cancelled vacations.

"I am writing to you now for the third time without receiving a reply from you. Don't you remember your father anymore? Are we never going to see eachother again?" -- Albert Einstein to Hans Albert, Sept 26, 1916.

This caused Einstein himself considerable distress, ultimately to the point of physical and nervous collapse, at a time when he was in the heat of working on his theory of General Relativity (around 1915 and after).

For more information see, in particular, The Private Lives of Albert Einstein by Highfield & Carter.

News at 11: Woman Defends Man

In the Dallas Morning News, Mary Jacobs joins the ranks of women taking up the pen in defense of men:

"...maleness isn't a pathology that needs to be medicated, ... testosterone isn't a poison that fuels all of the world's ills."

Thanks Mary, and don't get me wrong, but once again I have to ask, where are all the men?

Time off to have kids

The Observer (London) carries an article today examining Alison Wolf's idea that "a new generation of bright, rich professionals [women] have broken through the glass ceiling and have nothing to fear from the men around them" has "diverted the most talented away from the caring professions such as teaching, stopped them volunteering, is in danger of ending the notion of 'female altruism', has turned many women off having children - and has effectively killed off feminism."

That final conclusion notwithstanding, much of the article is inevitably about feminists' reactions to the implied criticism and the conflict between equality in the workplace and the need to take time off for childbearing. Of course, no male opinions on the issue are presented (well, except for the usual sexist remark included to show how dense men are (look for the "diplomat")).

At the end of the article, we find a number of famous feminist quotes (but not "all sex is rape" thank God). The first one is "Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it." Personally, I don't think that has ever been completely true, and the quote is also dated 1914, i.e. nearly 100 years ago. (Remember the line: "100 years later: all different people"?) The article itself, however, reflects a very different circumstance and today, in many arenas, it would not be at all unfair to say women are making the moral code and they expect men to accept it.

The overall tone of the article is an example of exactly this. The claim is that in certain "elite" circles, at least (uh, banking in The City appears to be about it), there is equality between men and women as long as women are prepared to work as hard as men. Well and good, you say? No, not really, because women have to take time off to have kids. Solution?

  • "We will not close the pay gap until men take time out to look after children."

  • "More leave for new fathers could address the imbalance."

  • "'Women are given up to a year off in maternity leave and men are given two weeks - that is intrinsically discriminatory, and an assumption that women should stay at home. I believe it should say men and women can take the same leave, so it is a true choice that we face.'"

  • "the ideal would be a husband in a more flexible job who would be prepared to take on above average responsibilities. 'But does such a man exist?' she said."

I might counter that last question with: if one did, would you want him, miss high-flown city woman? But that aside, it does rather sound like the suggestion is that men should work less in order to let the women keep up. Let's make men take the same amount of time off when they have kids as do women. Faced with that choice, a suitably ambitious man is just not going to have kids. That is, levelling the playing field simply encourages the declining birth rates that concerned Ms. Wolf. Moreover, it deselects for any genetic trait that encourages ambition. Competitive work environments become sterile enviroments, and sterile environments die. Oh dear, what to do?

Well, I don't know, but it does rather look like there is a price to pay for equality, no matter which way you cut it.

There was one breath of fresh air in the article: "this whole debate about work and family is no longer only about women and these days involves, for example, fathers' increasing desire to be more involved at home." That desire will not turn into action unless the corresponding sacrifice at work is supported by appropriate protections, not just at work, but in the home as well. No man will trade security at work for a part in a home in which he has no rights. Think about it. Would you?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

He wouldn't call her "Daddy".

Well, I thought yesterday's news item was pretty twisted, but this takes the biscuit: a four-year-old boy wouldn't call his lesbian mother's lover "Daddy" and paid with his life.

Besides a speechless horror at the whole thing - he sustained a fractured skull, brain damage, broken legs, collarbone, hands and pelvis; he was 4 years old - several thoughts occur:

What was wrong with the woman that a) she needed to be called Daddy, b) that she could not just be angered by a 4 year old's refusal to do so but to the extent that c) she beat him to death?

We already know that mothers & step-fathers are more likely to commit child abuse than fathers, where does this one fit?

I guess we could possibly understand the mother's failure to act in his defense and her subsequent lying to a doctor to defend her partner ("he slipped in the bath") in terms of "battered wives syndrome", but there is no mention of domestic violence between the two women, both of whom have been found guilty of the boy's murder.

What will the gender feminists have to say?

It seems sacreligiously trivial to note that even a 4-year-old boy knows a woman can't be a Daddy. Unto death.

Update: The judge, at least, came out with a father-friendly comment: "She could have called the child's father for help but she failed to do so. She did nothing to protect her own child."

Friday, March 24, 2006

An archetype of bullying

A man and his wife babysit a 5-year-old boy, by way of entertainment they tell their 3-year-old daughter to "knock the victim down, kick him and hit him in the face. The girl follows her father's instructions as the boy cries and pleads for her to stop". Once done, the daughter is declared the winner and it is demanded of the boy as to why he didn't defend himself. All this takes place in front of a video camera.

It's a nasty little story, I hope the adults get what they deserve and the children are not permanently scarred.

I wouldn't write it up here, but for the fact that it struck me as a very clean archetypal microcosm of bullying. It has all the necessary components - the bully (dad), watched by the dumb crowd (mum) doesn't actually soil his own hands, but gets some easily manipulated sidekick (daughter) to do the dirty work, then harrasses the victim (boy) for losing a fight he can't win. Ths revolting scene plays out day after day in playgrounds, households, workplaces and courtrooms.

Crowd, bully, sidekick, victim.

In particular, consider the hostile, wife-initiated divorce in our modern climate. The mother, gazing on, is the mob, not daring to get involved, but unable to look away, silently complicit. The bully is "the system", wherein lies the brute power, and a few stirrers. The little girl is wifey(*), egged on to lay into little boy hubby for all she's worth while fear of her, the bully and the crowd keeps him in line. Then he gets cleaned out anyway when he loses a fight he can't win.

Sometimes I can barely stomach the human animal. I hope both the adults get jail time, but I know they won't.

(*) To be fair, occasionally you could swap wifey for hubby and vice versa, it depends on who has a line in to the bully's power which is usually had through the sympathies of the crowd.

Positive discrimination can work both ways

Dr. Helen says pretty much all of it in "What Goes Around, Comes Around" discussing an article in the NYT on the consequences of the academic over-success of women. It seems it's getting easier for men to get into college now than it is for women. I have to admit that although it does indeed seem like an ironic justice, I have never been a fan of "affirmative action" of any form, preferring to use the oxymoronic form "positive discrimination".


This link comes with a nudity warning, but there are no genitalia to see, which is precisely the point. If ever we needed metrosexuality defined, this'd be close...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Now this really is tragic

The death of Abigail Rae is certainly tragic. This beautiful two year old wandered away from her playgroup, unseen, and drowned in a pond. The jury ruled it neglect, which seems very likely, but what struck me was this:

"the court heard how a bricklayer had passed a toddler, believed to be Abigail, walking alone near the nursery.

But he did not stop to help in case he was suspected of abducting her."

The worst of it is, his failure to act is entirely understandable in this age of knee-jerk misandry. This bricklayer has spent years, like many of us, hearing how awful men are, the horrible things they do to children - the last thing he wants is to find himself under suspicion himself and he knows good intentions won't help. Better to let some woman deal with it. But no-one did, and the child died. It would be easy to condemn him for his irresponsibility, and I'm sure many do. But it wasn't irresponsibility, it was a small cowardice in the face of a world that could easily turn on him, desperate for evidence of its paranoia. The consequences of this small, everyday cowardice were enormous and they reflect the dangers of dissuading men of their value to children. I feel sorry for him, he's likely condemning himself with no need for others to do it for him.

Update: Wendy McElroy's take and, in a related case some poor sod gets a record as a sex offender for scolding a stupid teenager.


"Tragic"? That's not the word I'd use.

OK, so a wealthy, 72 year old man visits a massage parlor, loses what remains of his sense and marries a 27 year old Estonian hooker. She then gets pissed when he won't buy her breast implants, her own hair salon, a GBP 3,000 necklace, a new house, nor a car for her family. Unconsoled by the money sent to her family, holidays abroad and GBP 1,200 of hair appointments in 6 months she eventually pig-sticks him with a kitchen knife.

The BBC calls this "tragic". It's not tragic, it's bloody sordid! The BBC contorts itself horribly in its efforts to show the murderess in some sort of positive light - her photograph is anything but "stunning". She was "disillusioned" and "bored" with his ordinary life, the poor thing. Oh, and of course, she's the real victim having, she claims, been "drugged, raped and forced into the sex trade after dropping out of university." "Forced"? The article finishes up with her admission that she had doubts about quitting that trade to marry the poor sap she offed.

Update: The jury found her guilty, and the judge said: "the only sentence he could pass was life imprisonment but he would not do so until Friday."

Update: The judge sends her down for life, which means 12 years, minimum.

"We don't get the kids, we get stuck with the kids"

You know, I'd like to lay into Georgie Binks for her article on the CBC website where she puts the blame for absent fathers at the feet of the fathers themselves. This may be true in many cases, but Canada is no great shakes at protecting fathers' rights and allows custodial mothers to mess with them no end. Ms. Binks might want to consider how a seperated father views his chances of maintaining a place in the lives of his children that is at least partially on his own terms rather than those entirely dictated by his ex. (On top of that, she doesn't seem to be able to write - I noted at least two serious grammatical errors.)

But it is the letter at the bottom which really got to me. This is from a man who claims to have been "Family Life Director for the Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown" and it confuses me. I'm not sure if he's asking challenging questions to provoke what he sees as apathetic men into action or if he is trying to claim that men are not relevant to children except as a source of funds. He asks: why fathers? He asks why "writers like Georgie Binks feel that fatherlessness is a problem?" He doesn't offer an answer of his own, but rather only that of a priest friend of his and which is really rather pathetic. What would a Catholic priest really know of a father's role anyway?

The more I read his letter, study its equivocations, its failures of reasoning (fer crissakes, the only thing that men have in common with cheetahs is that they are both mammals!), its overall failure to take a stand at all, the more I develop a strong suspicion that Mr. Trainor is an excellent candidate for the title "mangina". I sure hope that his is the only letter CBC have received in response to Binks' article or else they demonstrate a feminist bias to put that other bastion of state owned broadcasting, the BBC, well and truly in the shade.

Between them, Binks and Trainor encapsulate a revolting example of the kind of incoherent and dismissive feminist misandry which has destroyed many good fathers and dissuaded many weaker men from even trying.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is fatherhood a right-wing concept?

I have spent much of my life largely avoiding politics. As a younger man, I got incensed at one or two issues of the time but my voting was always pretty middle-of-the-road, perhaps slightly leftish, when that option was available. In that vein, I always thought equality was a jolly good idea - Oh, I was vaguely worried, from time to time, that it seemed largely a one way street, but the ladies girls women always seemed to have such good points and we men were supposed to have all the advantages so mostly I just kept my mouth shut.

But since my life was torn to shreds, I have been increasingly finding myself reading conservative tracts with wide-eyed agreement, most especially on the issues of fatherhood and its decline. It seems that it is only the right wing that is prepared to defend fatherhood, the lefties seem to have little or nothing to say about it except when it comes to the usual bleatings about domestic violence and how awful it is for women. Yes, it is awful for women, and it's awful for men too, but what's that got to do with a man's right to raise his children and a child's right to know his or her father? I shall certainly never understand how one can attack arguments that "the system" is biased against men in certain ways with the claim that it is biased against women in others. Justice is not constructed from opposing injustices.

But I digress. What brought me to this reverie was the discovery of yet another article in the conservative website with which I whole heartedly and unequivocally agree. In Deleting Dad Kathleen Parker discusses the necessity of men in the the context of the several articles in the New York Times over the past week. She too sees the many and blatant contradictions presented by the inseminating women, although apparently does not see it as quite the creepily funny mix of science fiction dystopia and high farce that I do. I hadn't encountered the mother who married and conceived a child by an encarcerated murderer and then skipped out, but it doesn't surprise me. I had heard of the idea of virtual visitation which, I suppose, is better than nothing, if nothing is the alternative. But, as if it wasn't obvious from the title, Parker's overall thrust is at the death (or is it murder?) of fatherhood. Her last two paragraphs sum things up nicely:

There's something terribly wrong with this picture, and it is this: These are sad stories that reveal symptoms of a diseased culture in which human relationships have no moral content and children are treated as accessories to adult lives. Yet, these trends are portrayed as the latest gosh-gee fashions.

A society in which women are alone, men are lonely, and children don't have fathers is nothing to celebrate. And a future world filled with fatherless children - bereft of half their identity and robbed of a father's love, discipline and authority - won't likely be a pleasant place to live.

I would probably have left out the "discipline and authority" as minor compared to the "love", but she's a conservative, so I guess it's de riguer.

Another thought occurs to me: why are so many of these articles not just written by conservatives, but by women? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to them, but I'd be happier to see more men defending their right to be fathers...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Patriarchy as survival trait

Phillip Longman presents a treatise in Foreign Policy in which he discusses patriarchy as a survival trait. Those who have a shallow and reflex reaction to the word "patriarchy" may have some difficulty understanding what he has written. Any attempting it should note that Longman's attitude towards patriarchy is carefully neutral, as is proper for any scholar making an objective examination of any phenomenon. This is not ideological rhetoric nor a trivial attempt to freak out blinkered feminists with one of their favorite bugaboos. Longman presents and discusses many of patriarchy's pros and cons for men and for women without value judgement either way and with a view to analyzing its effect on whole nations. His definition of patriarchy is much more subtle than simple male domination; indeed, the picture he paints is that men are subjugated as well as women, although differently. He also recognizes that patriarchy is not always a successful social system, and perversions are inevitable. The essay begins in the context of the falling birthrates of many countries today where patriarchy is no longer a dominant social force and ends with a prediction that these societies will return to patriarchy after their collapse as world forces. The result is a fairly convincing argument that the play off of patriarchy against other social systems naturally generates rises and falls in populations up to and including the production and destruction of civilizations.

A couple of excerpts:

The notion that legitimate children belong to their fathers’ family, and not to their mothers’, which has no basis in biology, gives many men powerful emotional reasons to want children, and to want their children to succeed in passing on their legacy.

Under a true patriarchal system, such as in early Rome or 17th-century Protestant Europe, fathers have strong reason to take an active interest in the children their wives bear. That is because, when men come to see themselves, and are seen by others, as upholders of a patriarchal line, how those children turn out directly affects their own rank and honor.

Men = Slackers

Glenn Sacks hits another nail on the head.


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than three million workers a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for occupational injuries—the vast majority of them suffered by men. Nearly 100,000 American workers have died from job-related injuries over the past decade and a half, 95% of them men. Of the 25 most dangerous jobs listed by the U.S. Department of Labor, all of them are between 90 percent and 100 percent male.


Feminists’ persistent criticism of men has combined with women’s traditional expectations of their husbands to place men in a double bind. A man may be a devoted caretaker of his children or a talented cook, but if he is unable to provide for his family, he is not respected. Yet when a man works long hours to fulfill the breadwinner role which he is still expected to perform, he is blamed for not contributing as much at home as his wife does.

Bush = Man = Bad

Oh good grief! Apparently Bush is bad because he's a man.

Sires, dams and the pop culture of insemination

I couldn't make this stuff up, I really couldn't. It's high farce.

Here's a a popular sperm donor. With 11 foals to his name, sire 401 (as he's called) "is 6 foot 4, of German heritage, has a master's degree, is athletic and is very close to his mother". That last bit is apparently one of those things that "most women couldn't walk away from" which, of course, presumes that "most women" are profoundly superficial, but otherwise, doesn't one get nasty flashes of phrases like "master race"? I bet he's blonde.

The article finishes up observing that the "mothers are in touch by phone and e-mail and hope to have a grand reunion someday with all the siblings. They post baby pictures on a private message board and recently have begun posting health developments and histories of the kids for reference."

This sire has a harem! Can't you just imagine it? A room full of women and children of various ages. The children all look eerily alike and are vaguely wary of each other as they're all each other's half brothers and sisters, but none of them know their common father. And the mothers, what will they talk about? The only thing they'll have in common is their "independence" which will doubtless be ferociously and mutually defended. Irony doesn't even begin to describe it.

But "They also want to make it very clear that in signing up on the site, they were not looking for a husband or a relationship, and they are not romanticizing about the donor." In which case, why do they feel the need to make their own little community?

Hmmm. Come to think of it, if I were "401" I'd be worried, a gaggle of women like that are bound to have their curiosity take over their sense at some point and with the increasing prevelance of DNA testing, I'm sure it'll not take long to find him. Run, sire 401! Run!

I swear, I couldn't make this stuff up!

(It'd be the icing on the cake if "401" were in fact short, swarthy and hated his mom!)


I find myself still musing on the article I commented on yesterday - the profound superficiality and selfishness it portrays in these "inseminating" women. For much of my life, I've not been one to argue for "traditional values", mostly because the idea is primarily a political canard, but now, cheated of my fatherhood, I look around and have to wonder.

How can fatherhood be protected for my own son in the face of the way the world is changing around us? Can it? Will he end up just a drone, useful only for his ability to make money and sperm? Even for the latter, he'll have to look good in a catalog photograph so that one of these inseminating women will be driven to nudge their girlfriend, point out his image, declare him to be "the one", stick his photo on the wall for a few days to see if they are comfortable with it (it, not him), then decide whether or not to "use" him as a "donor". If he's lucky, perhaps he'll be popular and, like a thoroughbred he'll "sire" many children as he becomes flavor-of-the-month on the mailing lists. Perhaps his sperm will change hands for ever-higher quantities of money and his 15 minutes of fame won't be his at all, but those of his sperm.

As for his ability to make money, well someone, somehow will have to pay for these kids. I wonder what schemes and procedures they'll come up with to extract the money from him and feed it to all the dams?

How too will they cope with all the psychological problems exhibited by the children? We already know that children from families without fathers are more likely to go to jail, commit suicide, drop out of school, become drug addicts, etc, etc...

I keep coming back to the image of the dam weeping over the water-damaged photograph of her donor. That is all she, and her child, have of the father.

How desperately sad.

Monday, March 20, 2006

R.I.P Fatherhood

Quite apart from the total disregard of fatherhood exhibited by this article in the NY Times about single mothers who use(*) sperm donors, perhaps what I find freakiest is that these mothers select the fathers of their children on the basis of the kinds of things you would learn from a first date, and nothing else. One young woman's distress when her donor's history and photograph were water damaged is painfully ironic. After all, that's all she's got of him...

The language is bizarre: "she inseminated", "he sired", "the donor was out of stock". People as farm animals...? The whole thing reads like something that could have been written by Aldous Huxley. Fer Crissakes, pass the soma.

* There's no doubting it, these mothers use men.

You don't envy my penis and I won't envy your parturition, OK?

Many will be familiar with the idea of a "pregnant father" - a man who experiences some of the symptoms of pregnancy while his partner gestates his children. Not many will know that this has a name: The Couvade. Of course, in our modern age, so careless of fatherhood, it is often shrugged off with a wry smile as "psychosomatic". That gets a little harder to swallow when you learn that researchers estimate that it affects from 11 to 65 percent of expectant fathers, but there's always someone to come out with a string of jargon to explain it away: "somatized anxiety, psuedo-sibling rivalry, identification with the fetus, ambivalence about fatherhood or parturition envy."

"Parturition envy"? I tell you what, you don't envy my penis and I won't envy your parturition, OK?

Then there's the New Age waffle: "I firmly believe that these 'symptoms' were the result of something a little more spiritual. A kind of symbiotic connection that she and I felt not only toward each other, but to our little girl growing inside of her."

Er, yeah, OK, if you say so.

But there is another possibility - what if it were an evolutionary adaptation? A survival trait?

A what? Well, a survival trait is some aspect of genetically inherited phsyiology or behavior which enhances an organism's ability to survive in the face of the deadly onslaught of daily life. The dinosaurs ran out of survival traits, and died. So did the dodos - being big, fat, meaty and slow just didn't hack it when hungry colonials showed up. Cockroaches and rats obviously have a lot of very good survival traits within our environment as they are just about impossible to kill off. I have heard it argued that intelligence must be a survival trait. Well, as long as we haven't killed ourselves off yet, I guess that might be true, but I reserve judgement for a few millenia.

So how could sympathetic pregnancy be a survival trait? If it contributed to the survivability of the children, that's how.

Let's say, for giggles and grins, that you are a male creature whose instincts dictate that you spend a lot of time looking after your young once they're borne. We don't have to go as far as the sea horse whose female buggers off and leaves the kids with dad, but how about marmosets and tamarins (they're monkeys, folks) the male of which species spends a lot of time looking after the young. It's called parental investment and biologists in their boring white jackets put a lot of store in that and which parent exhibits how much. It turns out that the male mamoset or tamarin spends so much time and effort doing this that he has to prepare for their birth by gaining weight.

Really, male New World monkeys gain weight when their female partners have a bun in the oven. Check it out, and here. It'd be kind of hard to put that down to psychobabble or New Agey crap, wouldn't it?

'Funny thing is, human males do the same thing.

My God! That'd actually make it a good thing, a bona fide, objective even scientific reason to think well of fatherhood! Imagine, men have actually evolved instinctive behaviors with accompanying physiological changes to enhance their paternal investment in the children. That would make it a biological imperative that he help look after the kids. (Conversely, not that I'm one to be melodramatic about it, but it would make obstructing that drive a, er, "perversion of nature", wouldn't it?)

Screw your prejudices and ideologies, I'll go with what nature demands any time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"At the end of her tether"

The wisdom of jailing parents of truants notwithstanding (i.e. go to jail for the bad behavior of another person), it is not particularly interesting to me that "Mrs. P." got off on appeal, rather that she was found guilty in the first place because she hadn't done everything she could by failing to enlist the help of the boy's father. What a novelty, eh? A court considering the need for a father's input.

Then she was cleared on appeal with the judge effectively stating that the first court had required her to prove her own innocence rather than starting with that presumption. If that is indeed the case, then I'm all for the decision - with the reservation that she should have called on the father - and for the extension of such clear thinking into accusations of domestic violence; but I won't hold my breath.

But then, we hear "Mr Justice Collins said there was no evidence that the father was 'someone who would have been of any assistance in that regard'." and now I am forced to follow the logic through and play spot the double standard. The point of the presumption of innocence is that someone is a presumed to be a normal, upstanding citizen until proven otherwise. It is appropriate to ask if there is evidence to the effect that he would not have been of assistance. It is not appropriate to dismiss the father on the basis that no-one's shown he's any use.

In the Guardian, we hear:

"This mother told the court she was at the end of her tether"

Oh, well that's alright then. The good old "end of tether" defense. (Only women need apply.)

"She had tried every which way to get her son back to school, including going to the social services and an outreach project, and didn't have a clue what to do next. "

Did anyone in social services or outreach (whatever the hell that means) tell her to CALL THE BOY'S FATHER!?

"The local authority decided to prosecute but took no steps to assist her whatsoever, even though it has far more services than a parent available to it."

Hmm, now where've I heard that before? A system which could help, but would rather make things worse. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lock 'em up, it's the only way to be sure.

A child bringing a lawsuit is always fodder for bored journalists, but in this case, the litigant is 17, so calling him a child is perhaps not according him the appropriate respect. But it was this that really astonished me:

"the American system of school rules seems designed to penalise boys, who must obtain a pass before being allowed to walk the corridors during lessons, while girls are allowed to walk around freely."

The rules seem sexist? 'Sounds pretty black and white to me.

The article finishes up giving voice to some narrow-minded oaf: "Perhaps if Mr. Anglin spent more time teaching his son how to sit down and complete his academic tasks and listen to his teacher, and less time helping him file lawsuits, Doug would perform better in school." It seems to me that in lawyer-happy America, courtroom experience before graduating high school can only be an advantage. They should put it on the curriculum.

Be a man?

Over at Divorce and Child Custody, Meg has many excellent opinions and posts. Here she discusses "Roe vs Wade for Men" and I agree with much of what she writes. However, she finishes with:

I hate to say it this way but be a man, make the adult decision and ALWAYS, ALWAYS PROTECT YOURSELF.

While she "hate[s] to say it this way", I am still bothered that she should feel the need to tell us "be a man". It wasn't so very long ago that many in the western world were fighting the notions that contraception is her responsibility and the consequences of failure hers to worry about. Hand in hand with that argument came the reality that should she get pregnant, her choices were limited and her physical, financial and social vulnerability high.

Now she and her choices are protected in a number of ways (morning after pill, legal abortion, adoption, family court, child support), but he and his choices are not. As Chris Rock put it (and I paraphrase), the choices a man has when she tells him she's pregnant amount to "Oh, Honey, that's wonderful, this is the happiest day of my life!" and "So, er, what'ya gonna do?". So now the tables are turned: his choices are limited and his vulnerability is high. Telling him to "be a man" amounts to the same thing, for him, as blaming an unwanted pregnancy on her. (Not only that, but it seeks the best of both worlds by appealing to a suspect idea of machismo.)

Taking this ad absurdum, I am given to wonder if we won't some day be in such an inverted society that men are kept indoors and those that have sex out of wedlock considered sluts who get what they deserve (18+ yrs of mother support) while women can have sex with whatever man they can seduce without fear for the consequences.

There has never been an easy solution to this question, on either side, and there never will be. The fact is that it is (still) impossible to guarantee protection against pregnancy resulting from sex between two suitably fertile people. The only acceptable attitude is to expect them both to shoulder responsibility equally. As far as choice goes, there is one which is absolutely equal on both sides - to abstain or not.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stupidity is a choice, not a duty.

I found this quote: "Staying stupid is a perfectly valid choice, so long as it’s not a government-enforced status quo" on Barely a Blog. Beautifully pithy. Ilana Mercer has a lot more to say, too, not much of it on feminism (she says "women are not my thing") but "Shafting Boys" is a good example of a growing genre - an intelligent women of letters speaking up to defend the second-class sex.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Military Intelligence

Well I never, for once, military intelligence seems not to be an oxymoron. The US army is now teaching its troops how to avoid making at least some of the bigger mistakes in choosing a life partner. Such as:

" a partner's F.A.C.E.S. - family background, attitudes, compatibility, experiences in previous relationships, and skills they'd bring to the union."


"It teaches the lovestruck to pace themselves with a R.A.M. chart - the Relationship Attachment Model - which basically says don't let your sexual involvement exceed your level of commitment or level of knowledge about the other person."

Who'd 'a thunk it?

International Women's Day

Intrigued by the article's reference to "International Women's Day", 8th March in my previous post, I did some investigation. The Wikipedia has much that is interesting to say about it. Apparently, its origins are American and socialist - the first was observed on 28 Feb 1909 in the US after its declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Demonstrations marking the day are said to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is recognized in a large part of the world, particularly the former Soviet bloc.

By contrast, Wikipedia does list an International Men's Day, November 19th. It began in 1999 and is recognized in Trinidad & Tobago, Malta (as Feb 7th), Brazil (as July 15th), Ukraine (Feb 23rd), India (Sept 29) and part of Romania (March 9th). Haleluliah.

"Gender gap"? Which gender gap?

Here's a beauty from the BBC - the "gender gap is still wide open". Which gender gap? The financial one, of course. To bolster the case, good old Auntie Beeb points out a different gender gap - that more women complete secondary school than men and there are more female university students than male. This latter gender gap gets no more than a brief mention at the beginning of the article followed by a torrent of information, including three fancy graphs, to show that women still earn less than men and are less likely to be managers. What are we to conclude? Fairly clearly that since women do better in school it is all the more unjust that they are paid less and seem to have fewer chances of being in charge. The logic, or lack thereof, seems to be something like "because we have this injustice here, that injustice there, in the opposite direction, is all the worse". What a wonderful piece of reasoning.

Is it relevant that the educational gender gap has been present for a very short time and that the educational lifetime from, let's say, a couple of years before leaving secondary school to graduating with a degree is about 5-6 years, whereas the workplace lifetime is more like 45 years or more? Of course it is, but Auntie Beeb wouldn't know. If these educational factoids are true and we have overshot parity in school, then reason dictates we should expect it to take several decades until it is reflected in the workplace, not be indignant that it hasn't happened overnight. Some concern at this overshoot from the BBC would also be refreshing, but, again, I hope too much.

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