Saturday, July 14, 2007

"The alternative results in me."

Yesterday's post netted an interesting comment. You can read the whole thing here, but I extract the gist and points I wish to address below.

(Let's call him) Joe was raised by his mother. He met his father twice in his life, when he was 13 and they exchanged letters for about a year. But then Dad stopped writing. Joe carried on for a while, but then stopped too. Joe is now 24, has graduated college and is building his own life. He has located his father, but is angry with him, and has not made contact.

A short digression; Joe writes: "I might not agree with your portrayal of women post-marriage (chalk it up to the innocence of the unmarried, undivorced, and single-parent raised)"

I'm not sure how to react to this except to say that if I have portrayed women post-marriage in any particular way, that is not my intention. There are good men and good women, and there are bad men and bad women. To say that women in general behave in a certain way after divorce would make me guilty of hypocrisy through my claim that the world reacts to these things with far too much prejudice already.

My beef is with the imbalance present in the law and its application (or lack thereof). The law is supposed to control injustice. If it refuses to acknowledge an injustice, it cannot control it and there are plenty of people in the world, men and women, who will take advantage of that. The definition of injustice is to treat people with prejudice, to pre-judge them based on experience of others whom they are not.

But back to Joe, who thanks me for my blog, and he is welcome.

He goes on: "I figured if the letters had stopped coming, he might have sensed what I had sensed at that first meeting at the age of 13 (but what was too young to interpret). He didn't know me in the least. All those letters prior to meeting him, and he had no idea who [was] this person who bore his blood in his veins but had grown up completely away from him."

It's not hard to imagine. For whatever reason, Dad turns up after 13 years away, completely absent from Joe's life. Who knows what he was expecting? Only Joe knows what Joe thought. They only saw each other twice, barely even scratching the surface of what would be required to get to know one another. And it's not as if a 13 year old is equipped to understand the average old fart, is it? Hell, my parents raised me together and I didn't really begin to understand either of them until I had left home and started to experience the world for myself.

What was going on with Dad? If we read carefully what Joe has written, the only clue we have is actually a projection of his own feelings. "He didn't know me in the least." 13 year old Joe eyeballed this strange guy and correctly surmised that he didn't know him from Adam. Of course, 13 year old Joe didn't know his own self. What 13 year old does? And how many 13 year olds think that anyone at all knows them? Most teenagers I've ever known (I was one myself once, I think) believe there has never been anyone on this planet less understood than they are. (What is important, of course, is that there are people around who understand them, even if they think that there aren't.) Of course Joe decided Dad didn't know him.

On the other hand, I find it a very suspect conclusion to suppose that Dad looked at Joe and saw nothing he recognized. Maybe, indeed, he saw quite a lot, which is why he wrote for a year. If he hadn't seen anything, perhaps there wouldn't even have been more than one encounter.

"Even with this glaring knowledge staring both of us in the face, I still wonder why he stopped writing. And to a smaller degree, why he started writing in the first place if he didn't intend to continue."

I doubt that anyone starts writing, and keeps it up for a year, with the intention not to continue. We don't know why he looked Joe up, we don't know why he wrote, nor why he stopped and neither will Joe unless he goes and asks.

It is easy to be angry at Dad, but we know too little. It is easy to condemn him, to write him off as a ne'er do well, but we know nothing of his struggles, his demons, his pain; except that he surely has them because he is (was?) an alcoholic. Even if he weren't an alcoholic, the emotions that likely surrounded receiving and writing those letters were unlikely to be insignificant.

If he felt nothing, I contend they'd've dried up a lot earlier. More likely, given the alcoholism, each letter represented a considerable risk and effort. Hell, maybe with each one slid through a letterbox, he fell of the wagon and went on a binge. Stopping might have been a matter of survival! (He's hardly likely to have said as much in one of those letters.)

Even if it weren't, even if everything in Dad's life was hunky dory, there's this little issue of a son long abandoned which clearly eats at him somehow, or why make the contact in the first place? Modern life is hardly conducive for a man in his (I'm guessing) forties to keep up a letter correspondence with a teenager with no other engagement. Perhaps we should blame him for not generating greater engagement (was anything done to encourage him?), but I think we'd do better to recognize him for the effort that he did make and reflect on how we might feel or behave in his shoes.

Joe says: "In closing I urge all those disenfranchised fathers who read these words to pick up a pen (or keyboard, or piece of charcoal and write to your children. Perhaps you won't send all of what you write. Hopefully you'll keep your anger from them, as it will probably only serve to confuse them. Pick up a pen and write."

These are wise words. It's tough, sometimes very tough, to do this. the longer it goes on, the harder it gets. You're supposed to move on in life from the disasters that beset you, but at the same time, against the odds, continue personal responsibilities that derive directly from the fiasco that became your marriage? That piece of charcoal can be incredibly heavy, and it takes a strong man to lift it. Joe, maybe Dad looks at that piece of charcoal every day and doesn't feel strong enough.

Joe ends with: "The alternative results in me."

OK, Joe, so now I'm going to challenge you. Who are you? What are you? What is this "result" of which you speak? Should you get off that horse and drink your milk or scurry into that mouse hole, not yet a man? Yeah, so Dad is human, that can be an unpleasant realization, and for many it is hard not to be angry with him, even if he doesn't have some very plain shortcomings. Hey, there are plenty of kids out there whose fathers could be saints and they'd still hate them.

Joe, you're a grown up now, you know how to benchpress biros! How hard can it be for you to pick up a piece of charcoal? It's risky, I know. You may not like what you learn. But you may learn something of yourself. Half your genes are his, there will be a connection. If you don't give him a chance, who will?


Anonymous said...

I support the Dad in this case.
He probably has his reasons for not wanting to be in contact with his "alleged" son.

Maybe he was never married, had a one night stand with the wrong gal that saw him as a meal ticket, as an opportunity to meet her reproductive goals, even though that was not his plan. Maybe he was offended and stunned when she stood up in court and told the jury that she intended to get pregnant and not get married, because having a family meant so much to her.

You just don't know how sickening a story this might be for Daddy-o.

Sometimes men may feel they just don't have any choice in the matter when they've been maliciously trapped by reproductive rape. I support those men.

And maybe, it is better that the kid's mom explains to him why she brought a child in to the world willingly when everybody told her that it would be the wrong thing. When all the data shows this kid is going to be in a world of hurt. So why did she do it, with ALL of the numerous options available to her, both before and after conception. Yes, really it is best if mommy explains why she did what she did. Because, after all, it is her choice and hers alone. That means she has all of the answers. And had all of the answers even before she instigated sex, knowing very well where she was in her cycle. Yes, sonny boy, go speak with your mom...if you can trust her.

Anonymous said...

I am a young man myself, age 26, and I am a father of two sons. Many of the Men in the MRM, are older men that have lost their children due to unjust circumstance. What is hardly ever mentioned in my view is Men such as myself.

I haven't seen my children, the first aged 6 and the second age 5, in almost 2 years. I considered myself a responsible father, but came to find out exactly how both replaceable and powerless I really was. Maybe your father was irresponsible, maybe not. I am paid up on my child-support, the only thing that I am considered "good" for in this hellish society in the west.

Take my advice, as a Man that has been through this soul-destroying process, YOUR father has absolutely no rights what so ever, in the area of familial law. The idea that he did or does, is a complete fallacy. It's easy to judge something, when you have never gone through it at all. I am a poor man, I make somewhere in the area of 23,000-25,000$ a year. I have barely enough to live on, while paying child support. I cannot afford to pay for a lawyer to "fight" to see my children.

Another piece of advice and one that I will be following from now on.

DON'T HAVE CHILDREN unless you yourself are willing to go through the same experience, because chances are that you will.

DON'T GET MARRIED, unless you enjoy having everything that you cherish, love, and work for taken away from you, because the chances are pretty good that you will.

DON'T BELIEVE THEM when they say things like "I would never do that" or "I don't think thats right" because even though they think such things, the reality is that they CAN AND DO NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY.

Many Men have gone through what I am going through, and I think that one must experience it first-hand before you can judge. I myself, think that I will turn out to be exactly like your father, as at every turn I have been barred from contact in seeing my children.

Anonymous said...

anonymous: a little harsh there buddy. There are two people involved in reproduction. condoms; that's all I'm gonna say about that. men have choices too.

I have two children. My son was a planned pregnancy, but when it became apparent that his father and I could not stay married to each other without one of us killing the other, I made a very difficult decision; my son was to live with his father. They were very close, and my ex had better means to provide a comfortable life for him. I pay my child-support religiously, and my son spends every other weekend with me. My daughter was not a planned pregnancy; my birth control pills failed me. I informed the father and he denied he was the father. I decided not to pursue it, but when I applied for financial aid to attend a trade school, I ended up having to prove paternity in order to get my education. Long story short; big fight ensued, he was proven to be the father (I hadn't been with anyone but him for 3 years)and he didn't even show up for court. She's 9 and a half now, and has only seen him once, at the grocery store on accident. She was 6 at the time, and I had to explain to her afterward who he was. I've contacted him over the years periodically, and it's always the same; he wishes to have no contact, and he refuses to pay support.

So this is just a mom's point of view, and I'm sure I'll get roasted for commenting on a dad's site, but my family is proof that there are always two sides to any situation.

John Doe said...

I agree, anon is too harsh, but he does present a plausible scenario, however angrily. abaddon_fff is perhaps closer to the truth and this is not merely a plausible scenario, it happens every day. Metaphysically fit should not be nailed for giving a mom's point of view on a dad's site, there are indeed two sides, but I feel bound to point out that men's choices are somewhat less extensive than are hers (which is the whole point of my blog).

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that men generally get the short end of the stick when it comes to divorce and custody issues; I'm currently married to one of those men right now. My ex-husband is most certainly in the minority.

All I meant was that before conception, we all have the same choices to make. Whether you're a man or a woman, you can choose not to share your DNA with another person. The only way to prevent pregnancy 100% is by abstaining (but how much fun is that?!) So for Women there are more forms of birth control than I can even list here; for Men, there are condoms (not such a long list for the guys, I know). My point is, Before conception, we are esomewhat equal.

As soon as conception takes place though, men are screwed (sorry 'bout the pun).

I totally get your point, John Doe, which is why I continue to read your blog. My father was disenfranchised and I only met him when I was 15 years old, which is another reason I continue reading your blog.

Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your statement that both genders have choices when it comes to reproduction. However what you fail to mention is the AMOUNT of choices on both sides.

How many different forms of birth control do women have? Somewhere in the area of 11 I think. I can name a few right off the bat. The pill, the patch, spermicide, the diapram, tied-tubes and I am sure there are several more.

Now how many choices do Men have in the area of reproduction? That would number in the area of 3. The condom, vasectomy, and abstinence. Maybe four if you count reliance upon a woman to take hers.

While I am not trying to "slam" you because you dared comment on a fathers blog, what I am trying to say is that women have more than 3 TIMES the amount of choices not to have children, and yet we seem to have people thinking that all is well in the world of reproduction. It isn't, in my view its rather slanted in a womans favor. Do you think things would change if Men had their own "pill"?

Anonymous said...

"However what you fail to mention is the AMOUNT of choices on both sides."

No she doesn't:

"So for Women there are more forms of birth control than I can even list here; for Men, there are condoms (not such a long list for the guys, I know)"

Anonymous said...

abaddon_fff: Thank you for your acknowledgment. Actually, men do have a pill of their, but it's still in the clinical trials, and awaiting funding. You can read about it here, along with other forms of male birth control being tested:

And yes, I absolutely think things will change when these tests are complete and they're released to the market. Women, in my own opinion, are generally sneaky and two-faced, and this would put a stop to a lot of what you were talking about. But regardless of gender, we all need to be more responsible.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough I missed that part, however it seems that you missed the point (or not).


I have heard of this pill and several other "theories" that scientists have to prevent male fertility. I am sure that it is lacking in funding and probably has been for some time as well. One wonders why female birth control was created over 40 years ago, yet Men have yet to recieve anything new. The only new technique is invasive surgury. Other than that we are still using what we used CENTURIES ago. Strange is it not?

I think that the social implications of a Male Birth Control pill or some other form would be immense. Personally, I think that once it comes out, the government might start paying Men to actually have kids in the future, strange as it may seem. I see the end of this whole corrupt system, in one scientific advance.

Women have long complained of carrying the "burden" of birth control, however have they ever really given some thought to what would happen if Men had as much power in that arena? I can say that there would probably be very few "unwanted" pregnancies.

No man wishes to be a slave against his will, and many including myself, view child support to be a completely lop-sided, tyrannical form of indentured servitude.