Saturday, May 13, 2006

Patriphobia, n., an irrational dislike of fathers.

I do believe that I have coined a new word. I have for a while been at a loss to find quite the right word to describe the point of view in our modern age that is so averse to fathers. For men in general, the word "misandry" is growing in its use as the appropriate mirror term to misogyny, although many more know and use the latter than the former. To describe a person who practises misandry, we have a misandrist just as we have a misogynist. Less well known are androphobia and gynophobia for morbid fears of men and women respectively, and with their forms androphobe and gynophobe for particular sufferers.

But where are the equivalent terms for the hatred or fear of fathers? They don't seem to exist, but if they did, I believe that they should be something like "mispatria" and "patriphobia". I'm not a lexicologist, and I'm not sure about "mispatria", but I think I rather like patriphobia. I would use the term rather as we use "homophobia" to describe someone (the vast majority of the time, a man) who doesn't like homosexuals. That is, a patriphobe ought to mean someone with an irrational dislike of fathers.

Three rather obvious examples are Liz Richards, Marcia Pappas, and Mo Hannah, all of whom seem to think that fathers who want something to do with their kids in the face of a mother who doesn't must perforce be abusers. This is rather reminiscent to me of the homophobe's common association of homosexuality with pederasty.

Today I found what I believe to be a more subtle example of the patriphobe in the person of Stephan Poulter. This gentleman has written a book called "The Father Factor" in which he divides fathers up into five types - super-achieving, time bomb, passive, absent and compassionate/mentor - and purports to analyse the effects of each on the careers of their children. Dividing people up into categories seems to be his specialty - his previous book "Mending the Broken Bough" presents six "mothering styles" and offers ways to mend relationships between mothers and daughters.

Why do I think he's a patriphobe? It is the discussion on the absent father that did that:

'"A lot of people say, 'I never knew my dad,'" he said. But, he added: "You knew the myth, you knew your mother's hatred, you knew your anger, you knew your dad was a loser. Trust me, you knew your dad."'

Do you see the equation? Dad's not around. Mom hates him. You're angry too. Therefore Dad must be a loser. Well, yes, Dad lost his kids, but that doesn't make him a "loser" given the odds, these days. Given that Poulter's a psychologist, such an inuendo is at the very least irresponsible.

Most tellingly, the article ends with:

'Poulter, by the way, describes his own father as the absent type. After this book, he said, "my dad won't even talk to me."'

Well, if your father was absent, Mr. Poulter, and you think absent fathers are "losers", then who's really surprised?

Actually, I think this case is quite probably fairly sad. It seems reasonable to guess that Poulter's experience of his absent father is conditioned by a mother who hated him and perhaps to suggest that his book is a rather roundabout, spiteful and apparently successful way to attack his father. It looks like a bona fide case of Parental Alienation to me.

I could be wrong, but I think he's a patriphobe, although if he goes on to publish a book on repairing damaged father and son relationships, I'd be prepared to back down and might even warm to him.

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MisAnDrope said...

Thanks for coining 'Patriphobia'. You really are a bright light in the men's rights universe.

Fred X said...

I like your site

I'll link you to mine

It is always good to spread around as much traffic as possible, and, if you could do the same for me that would be most kind

Fred X

Iguana said...

Patriphobia it shall be!

Unknown said...

Hey--I'm in the middle of writing a paper on a completely unrelated topic and, for my own purposes, wondered if "patriphobia" was a recognized word. Found my way to your page and just want to say--you're a good writer!-- remarkably cogent for the blogosphere, and on a topic in which I maintain an interest. Well done, and keep up the good work.

Kevin Flick said...


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