Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nothing to do with fathers' rights

Over at Gonzo's bar and grill, I found that The Gonzman is all worked up about some woman. Intrigued, I went and looked. Hmmm. Here we have a woman who thinks she's a catch. Well, good for her. Her criteria are that (she says) she's slim, attractive, young, intelligent, educated, solvent, horny and likes things that men like. Really, that's what she says. Hmmm. She preceded this list with an acknowledgement that what she says sounds arrogant and continues her post with a lot of things that are arrogant with, for example, the suggestion that any men pursuing her that she considers out of her league should go and find a fat single mother to date, or even a woman from a third world country. Charming.

Hmmm. Charming. Now there's an interesting word. There's nothing charming about her post, and yet I would have considered that fairly high on the list of characteristics for someone that I wanted to spend time with, that they could be charming. Indeed, personality is generally fairly important to consider when selecting company, I guess we're supposed to figure that she's absolutely loaded with personality from the general content of her post. Well, I guess, then, that I should be more specific about what I mean about desirable personality.

The real reason for her post, however, is not anything to do with dating tips as it pretends to be, but is to be found here. That is, it is cheap sensationalism. She reminds me of that slinky blond loonie-right-winger who thinks Intelligent Design is an intelligent option. She doesn't really have much to say. Indeed, she doesn't really believe what she says, but she wants as many people as possible to read it. And here I am linking to it. Sigh.

Sometimes, I get depressed at my relatively low traffic count (but I'm actually not doing all that badly compared with Ms Mackie, Paisley, Passey, whatever, before this stunt). Maybe I have to write something irritating and superficial to get the hits up. Er, er, er, damn, I can't think of anything. Too interesting and profound for my own good, I guess...

Monday, August 28, 2006

So you don't like my art, eh?

OK guys, if you see a photograph of a small, naked child in obvious distress, how does it make you feel? If it upsets you, and if you complain, Jill Greenberg thinks it means you're projecting your own desires into the image and you sublimate this obviously unacceptable reaction into anger at the photographer.

Read that again and think about what it implies.

Jill Greenberg is this photographer who undresses small children, makes them cry, then photographs them and applies a little photoshop. She thinks it's art. Moreover, she thinks it's art of a political bent because she interprets the children's distress in terms of her own distress at George W. Bush (who was it that was doing the projecting?) She's horrified that some people don't like this. I won't link to any examples from here, you can find them yourselves, they make me at best unhappy. But The Sunday Times (London) saw fit to put them on the front cover of its magazine and report:

Greenberg is appalled that some people even saw a sexual context to the pictures. “It didn’t even occur to me that people might think that. A lot of the people who’ve been upset are men. I don’t know if it’s because they project their own desires on these images and they don’t know what to do with them and blame me.”

I mean, wow. Some people should be banned from practising armchair psychology in public, especially "artists". The Times goes on:

So what’s next? Photographs of bears, she says. “I think bears can represent all the anger and scariness out there”.

Oh boy, so what are we going to get? Yogi Bear with an uzi? Winnie the Pooh raping piglet?

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

How to destroy a man.

In today's Observer (Manchester Guardian's Sunday edition), coverage of "the only family court in Britain dealing exclusively with children and their families". It's not all bad news and worth a read, but of course the usual claim of no bias against fathers followed by woe-is-me hand-wringing over those mothers who "are frequently guilty of implacable and unscrupulous hostility towards former partners."

But this case particularly struck me:

The case involved a mother who abandoned her husband and two young boys. The father gave up his career to care for his sons only for her to reappear two years later and demand custody. Reluctantly the father agreed, only for her to stop all contact between him and the children a few months later. 'The arguments between them in court raged for days when, suddenly, the mother looked straight at her former partner and told him the youngest boy wasn't his,' says Crichton. DNA tests proved this was correct. Back in court, however, the father insisted that he still loved the younger boy and wanted contact with him.

'Then the mother leaned forward a second time and revealed that the oldest son wasn't his either. I had never seen a man collapse from the inside-out before, but that's what happened: it was like he had been hollowed out. He was a husk of the man he had been just seconds before.'

I can't think of a word to describe the mother that I'd feel happy repeating in good company.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Suicide is painless (but what about breast augmentation?)

CNN appear to be fascinated by the news that breast implants correlate with suicidal tendencies. 

Pop quiz:

Do you think that, despite not being in any way deformed, having a need to modify your physical appearance via a painful and risky surgical procedure in order to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex would also mean that:
a) you might be less inclined to have such a poor self image that you are an increased suicide risk?
b) this need and one's psychological state are not relevant to one another?
c) you would indeed be more likely to have such a poor self image that you are an increased suicide risk?

Personally, I don't think it takes a rocket scientist nor a "large Canadian survey" to realize what the correct answer might be and I wonder that this actually makes news, never mind the headline.  That said, on reading the article, I'm mildly surprised that the increased suicide risk is quite low, body modification fans being only 73% more likely to top themselves than their more personally comfortable neighbors.

On the other hand one wonders what CNN would make of a much more common life experience than breast augmentation which actually tripled the risk of suicide.  One wonders what they would make of it if the risk for men was not affected at all by the same experience.  This is exactly what happens in the aftermath of divorce, only it's men's suicide risk which increases, not women's. That's one every 35 minutes in the USA, only slightly longer than your typical sitcom.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Children of Sperm Donors Want to Know More.

In the UK, project Donorlink is uniting the children of sperm donors with their fathers, insofar as that is possible. I cite this here not for any personal problem that I have with sperm donorship, but for the insight that it gives into the needs of the children so produced and for the sense of responsibility of one donor father. The article provides no words from any mother.

Will Calder, is a donor father who "had witnessed the pain of infertility experienced by some family friends." doesn't want to actually meet any of his children "because his partner has reservations - but he wants to help any young people who need information about their biological father." He says: "This is not about what I want out of the game."

Louise Jameson is a child of a sperm donor now in her early 30s. When she found out: "All of a sudden who I thought I was, I wasn't. I cried a lot. It was just completely and utterly destabilising."

"I had a deep conviction that it was simply not right to create people, to hold information about the origins of those people and withhold that information from them. It was basically immoral,"

On acquiring a photograph of her now dead father: "I felt shame just come off me - and I never knew that I felt ashamed. It was literally like something physical leaving me. I just felt I was holding my head up higher."

Some of these women working their way through catalogs of donors might want to think about these sorts of consequences, especially if they plan on bringing up the child alone. In fact, anyone keeping their children in the dark about their father might want to think about it, assuming that their motivations aren't entirely selfish.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

DesertLight Journal loses the plot.

I'm disappointed with DesertLight Journal. Trudy Schuett makes some valid points about the probable futility of John Murtari's hunger strike over his combined disenfranchisement from his son, impoverishment and incarceration. Nevertheless, many will recognize his desperation and will realize that, for him personally, it may well be that there is no option. I don't buy the argument that a father who doesn't look after his own health as being "irresponsible". The system all too often reduces him to a financial, physical and emotional wreck already, fighting it at all leaves you open to that criticism. "You're going to lose anyway, why fight it." Sheesh. And who is to tell any parent how to be responsible when it comes to defending their own child? Leave it out Trudy, it's not like you're ever going to suffer anything similar after all, at least respect the man for fighting the fight as he sees fit instead of rolling over and donning the yoke as so many men do.

Finally: the comparison with Irish protesters is simply insulting.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feminist-bashing, a rant

A nod to Pook's Mill who points us at Katherine Rake's article in The Manchester Guardian (UK) whose rallying cry to feminists is more of a tired rehash of the reasons why feminism is earning itself a bad rap.

People will stop "feminist-bashing" when feminism isn't deserving of a bashing. When it develops a sense of honesty and egalitarianism, when it stops portraying the few women who are victims as representative of all women, when it stops portraying the few men who are privileged as representative of all men. When it recognizes women's advantages over men and shows a willingness to redress those imbalances as well as those that do not work in women's favor. The "mythological figure of the dungaree-clad, scary, hairy and humourless feminist" will disappear when her obnoxious female-supremicist opinions are not held up as representative of what feminism wants. When it stops defining dissenting opinions as misogyny when from a man, and stupidity when from a woman.

Comparing modern feminism to the suffragettes of 100 years ago is disingenuous and disrespectful of the women who had something to fight for, but weren't intent on destruction in order to get it. I feel quite sure that many of the suffragettes would be embarrassed to be associated with modern feminism. Fighting to close the "pay gap" is all very well, but should one pay a person who is not committed to the long term development of a career in order to safeguard their future, their employer's future and the security of their family the same as one who is? It is right that "rape within marriage" should be illegal, but does that mean one should lift the safeguards that prevent false accusations or that one should consider all sex to be rape? No-one in this day and age thinks that feminism is about clothes and makeup, increasingly those of us out here in the real world think it is about oppressing us and forcing us, men and women, to be something that we aren't.

It is easy to say "violence against women is at crisis levels" and a little harder to quantify it with real data which compare men and women as equals, especially if one defines "crisis level" as any violence at all when it comes to women, and simultaneously blinds oneself to violence against men. If anything, "women's caring roles" are often over-valued. Oh, I don't mean, for example, in the hospitals among the nurses who, as far as I can see, get a lot more positive attention (if not pay) than the stereotyped arrogant male doctor who doesn't seem to care about his patients (which would make one wonder why he became a doctor in the first place, especially given the many years of hard work it took to do so). No, I mean in the court rooms where a mother's "caring role" is a trump card to any rights that the father might want to have when it comes to his own children, I mean in the schools where a man who wants to teach is an object of suspicion.

Picking and choosing and exaggerating the elements of life that they want is seen as the modus operandi of feminism, not its detractors. It is a direct result of there not being any one definition of feminism because this allows feminism's own predators to don the sheep's clothing of a "good cause" while undermining coherent discourse and the seeking of equality for all.

The question as to why "feminism [has] always provoked such hostility?" is trivially answered. It is a political movement. All political movements provoke hostility from their opponents, the more extreme the movement -- all sex is rape, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" -- the greater the hostility. What's laughable is the rank hypocrisy of so many of feminism's stalwarts - the originator of "a woman needs a man..." is now married, "The Vagina Monologues" promotes statutory rape. Women get payoffs in the millions for the kinds of treatment, albeit inappropriate, that men have withstood for generations. And you wonder why the hostility?

Your agenda not only threatens some of the few men (and, indeed, women) who are in a position of power and therefore invokes their opposition (which is really why they have the power in the first place), but it also undermines the identities and value system of normal men and women who are by and large happy with their lot and just want to live their lives in peace. Are you suprised they get upset when you tell a peaceful man he's a violent brute and a good woman she's letting down the sisterhood because she wants a family? Believe it or not, few men and women see their relationships as a power play, and they wonder at a political movement which seeks to turn them into such "not only in the public sphere, but also, much more trickily, in the private sphere". It's much more tricky because they shouldn't be trying, politics has no place dictating how men and women live together.

Who gets the top jobs in business should be dictated by who is most capable, not what is found between their legs. Who cleans the toilet is no-one's business but who owns that toilet. The fat, lazy, alcoholic husband who lolls in front of the TV while the missus does the washing, laundry, meals and cleans the toilet, is fast becoming a feminist canard with little basis in reality. The feminist reality is that both husband and wife are too exhausted at the end of their respective working days to clean the toilet and they end up arguing about it. Either that, or he comes home after too many hours at the office and she's bored and frustrated and decides to take it out on him by harping on about the stupid toilet, his frustrations had better be left at work or he's asking for the label "abuser".

As to who feels safe (as opposed to who is actually safe) walking home at night, many men don't feel safe walking into their own homes. When do we ever hear feminist condemnation of that? Moreover, it's all too easy now for those men to be victimized by the system when she finally kicks him out and claims he kicked her. He quickly finds out that the "rules of the game" aren't simply changed - for her, there are no rules and for him, if he doesn't follow every rule to the letter he becomes "the deadbeat" and quickly learns that most of his rules are predicated on the idea that he's the bad guy already. If feminists were about "caring for family and others" then why are their's the loudest contrarian voices when it comes to redressing these imbalances? It's got nothing to do with allowing women to lead the same lives that men have for many years, if that were the case, feminism would be as worried about men's shorter life span as it is about its "pay gap". Who's really being "short changed" there?

"Rape conviction levels are at their lowest ever" invites discussion on two points: what if it were at its highest ever, would you be as outraged (of course you would), and: does anyone know if this is because the meaning of the word "rape" has been rendered so broad that many accusations of rape are not actually rapes at all, but second-thoughts and hurt feelings, or, worse, deliberate attempts to destroy a man? I don't know the answer to these questions, no-one really does and very few seem to be interested to find out. It is easier to howl in vengeful rage that convictions are at their lowest ever than study real reasons why.

Feminism will gain some credibility when it recognizes the responsibility for women making their own bad choices. Some women are truly victims (as are some men), but if they are grouped with others who are choosing plastic surgery over self-betterment, and making themselves as sexually alluring as possible while simultaneously protesting attention from men they themselves are not attracted to, then what credibility can they expect? One is not simultaneously a victim and empowered, and to claim empowerment through victimhood is surely the most pernicious form of self harm.

Yes, feminism could do with a "third wave", a recognition that too much of it has not been about equality and is now being misused to gain unfair advantage in too many arenas. A wave which does not patronizingly suggest that no-one is listening, that men across the board do not understand, that many women who don't support such feminism are not somehow ignorant of reality. If feminism has become an "f-word" it is through its own hyprocisy and frequent unfairness, not because some parts of it are honest and fair, it is because it uses the blunt instruments of stereotype, misdirection, propoganda, and moral intimidation to bludgeon good people into the party line. In short, in many ways, feminism has become its own worst enemy.

The "five key freedoms: power, rights, autonomy, respect and choice" are all gender neutral words. How often does a feminist argue from that position? It is more important that women be in charge, as politicians, as managers of Premiership football teams. This last is compared to a male nursery nurse as an issue of choice as opposed to blunt appropriate reality (how many Premiership footballers are women or ever will be?) and is a prime example of the kind of surreal argumentation we have learned to expect from feminism, that men and women are equal, but only in areas where women want it.

Feminism can no more deliver this world than capitalism can make everyone rich and still provide the poor to do the hard work, that socialism can make sure everyone is protected by the state and still provide the individual freedom to seek one's own potential, which are things that many ordinary, naive men and women want to see. Sure, go ahead, reclaim the "f-word", and do it by removing the reasons why "feminist-bashing" is so easy and so inevitable, not by trying to claim that feminism has been victimized unfairly and that's just not right with a trembling lower lip.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

John Murtari

John Murtari, a disenfranchised father undergoing a hunger strike, deserves all our suppport.

Here and here.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reality takes a vacation in Michigan

This is one of those stories which has me breathless with incomprehension and outrage. It gets all the way to state supreme court where the biological father of a 7 year old child, whom he has parented for more than the first 4 years of life, is denied legal recognition of his fatherhood because the mother happened to conceive before she had divorced her former husband. The mother has spent three years and presumably a fortune obstructing this man's contact with his own child. What is wrong with her? The supreme court's decision effectively prevents him from ever seeking custody and parental rights. What is wrong with them?

It is not that the father is not to be granted custody nor that he is not to have visitation - he cannot even ask. How can there possibly be another side to this story? It is grotesque and disgusting travesty of justice. It is mind-numbing.

Can we imagine doing this to a mother?

And here's another case where two fathers (one biological, one step-) have to fight for recognition and shoulders are shrugged at the mother's duplicitous behavior.

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