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Why There Are So Many Women in the Fathers' Movement
| June 21, 2002
| Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson
Posted on 06/21/2002 5:57:46 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
Three and a half decades after the rise of the feminist movement, American gender politics have begun to come full circle.
The feminist movement has always been aided by sympathetic men, and American women would never have come so far so fast without their support. While women still face many problems, those problems have received a fair and often extensive public hearing.
Today, men's issues--principally fathers' issues--are where many of our nation's biggest gender inequities lie. And just as many men helped the women's movement, many women are stepping forward to help fathers, forming groups like Moms for Dads and the Second Wives Crusade. Today women make up half of the membership of the fathers' movement.
Fathers' grievances include: blocked visitation and unenforced visitation orders; "move away moms," who permit or even use geography to drive fathers out of their children's lives; acceptance by the courts of false and/or uncorroborated accusations of domestic violence or child abuse as a basis for denying custody or even contact between father and child; rigid, excessive, and often punitive child support awards; a "win/lose" system which pits ex-spouses against one another by designating a custodial and a noncustodial parent; and judicial preference for mothers over fathers as custodial parents.
According to Virginia Forton, the Executive Director of Moms for Dads, "Our current system torments noncustodial parents and their children by allowing custodial parents to drive them out of their children's lives.
Children need both parents. At meetings I've seen so many fathers, with tears running down their faces, talking about the children they're no longer allowed to see. How could we, as women and as mothers, not try to help them?"
Just as male feminists have been criticized by traditionalists as dupes and opportunists, many women in the fathers' movement have been condemned by the feminist establishment. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, says that women in the fathers' movement are used by men the way "a man charged with rape will hire a woman lawyer to represent him."
In The Price of Motherhood, feminist writer Ann Crittenden portrays these women as petty and shortsighted pawns of men. Susan Faludi, author of Backlash, likens them to Uncle Toms.
In reality, many pro-father women, such as Canadian Senator Anne Cools, North America's premier pro-father public official, came from the feminist movement. Cools was one of the most effective leaders of the battered women's shelter movement during the 1970s.
Others, like Forton and Melanie Mays, a member of the advocacy group Child's Best Interest, had little interest in fathers' rights or gender politics until they came into contact with our family court system's anti-father bias and its devastating effects on the people they love.
In Mays' case, witnessing a close relative and his children being tormented by the court system spurred her to action. Other activists are grandmothers who were cut out of their grandchildren's lives when their sons were cut out of their children's lives.
At the core of the movement are second wives. Since over half of all first marriages end in divorce, and 75% of divorcees remarry, there are many second wives and second husbands who struggle with the effects of their spouse's divorces.
Many second wives who marry divorced fathers have little inkling of the maelstrom they are entering--custody disputes, access and visitation denial, sudden child support increases, and the burden of legal fees spent on fighting inequities. Some second marriages end in divorce because of these pressures. Increasingly, however, these women and others are turning to activism.
According to Mays: "The fathers' rights movement is the civil rights movement of our era. Some belittle the plight of fathers, saying 'oh, they're men, they're privileged, what have they suffered compared to other groups?'
The answer is this--whatever horrors blacks or women or other groups have endured in the past 50 years, nobody ever took their children away. What discrimination and what injustice is worse than that?"
(Glenn Sacks writes about gender issues from the male perspective. His columns have appeared in many of America's largest newspapers. Dianna Thompson is the founder and Executive Director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.)
TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
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To: Stand Watch Listen; *Fatherhood
Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, says that women in the fathers' movement are used by men the way "a man charged with rape will hire a woman lawyer to represent him."
Interesting the way this cow equates a man wanting to play a crucially important role in his childrens lives with being a rapist. Wouldnt National Organization against Men be a more apt title?
Good to see some rational and like-minded people are beginning to realize the gravity of this issue.
Guns Before Butter.
To: Stand Watch Listen
Thanks for posting this..
posted on 06/21/2002 6:42:32 AM PDT
To: Stand Watch Listen
posted on 06/21/2002 6:48:20 AM PDT
Comment #5 Removed by Moderator
To: Red Face
It goes beyond just promoting one kind of lifestyle. Their agenda is based on two things...money and control, and the children are the pawns they use to get it. They have successfully stacked the deck in the courts and legislatures. The extortionately high "child support" guidelines are used to deprive fathers of the resourses needed to challenge the all too often biased and unconstitutional court rulings and administrative mandates made against them. The guideline support amounts in no way have any bearing on what it costs to raise a child. These guidelines are "presumptively correct", meaning that the amount ordered to pay cannot be challenged unless there is a "change of circumstances" (loss of income, dissability, etc), and even then there is no gaurantee that the judge will lower the amount that the father is ordered to pay. This is a flagrant denial of due process. Mothers can pack up and move away whenever they please, knowing that it is rare for a judge to stop them. I used to work in the attourny end of the system, and it was not rare to see a judge tell someone fathers to pound sand. The worst case was of a man who's wife had just left him after he was laid off at an aluminum processing facility. He only had a 9th grade education, but managed to get a good paying job there. When he was laid off, he could not find a job that payed anywhere close to the $35,000 a year that he had been making (this was during the 92 recession). He managed to get a job driving a fork lift, which only paid $7.00 an hour. The judge ordered him to pay over $400 a month in child support, based on his old job, which was about half of his take-home pay. The judge told him that he found a way to make that much money before, he would find a way to do it again.
Worst of all, the few cases that have been appealed to higher courts have been dismissed by the courts, saying that the "best interest of the children" was reason enough to deny fathers the protection and right of due process and equal protection.
posted on 06/21/2002 7:53:50 AM PDT
To: Stand Watch Listen
To: Stand Watch Listen
And yet.... where are these father's rights groups on the issue of mandatory Joint Physical Custody?
We already know where mainstream feminists groups stand on mandatory Joint Physical Custody, they're against it. Fine that side has said what they are for and against.
Now, how about Father's rights groups? The thing is they won't say. I haven't found one yet that states flat out they are for mandatory Joint Physical Custody. (Someone correct me if there is one which does).
And where are Father's Rights on mandatory Joint Physical Custody in non-marriage situations? We don't hear a peep.
My question is, why not? Its the big elephant in the room no one will talk about.
posted on 06/21/2002 3:30:15 PM PDT
The problem is the word "mandatory". There's nothing wrong with joint physical custody but it neds to be decided on a case by case basis. What happens when the divorcees admit right up front that they will not be living in the same city? What about addicts? Abusers? Outright schmucks? Anything "mandatory" in the wild and complex world of divorce is just asking for trouble.
posted on 06/21/2002 3:35:58 PM PDT
So parental responsibilties are "optional" then? If you don't feel like living in the same city, oh well, too bad. But if you do, dammit, you want joint custody.... or do you?
Maybe you just want the legal designation of "joint custody", without the hassle of actually having to have a hands-on role in child care and child reariing. Maybe you really don't want an equal role at all .... except if you feel like it for a few weeks, but then if you don't feel like it you can dump all the child care / child rearing on the other parent ... depends on how you feel.
Oh and if the court won't let you loose from your joint custody arrangement, you could just start acting like a "schmuck" and presto-chango you're all of a sudden Non Custocial Parent ... off the hook so to speak. Back to two weekends a month if that. Whew! No more helping with homework every night. No more driving the kid to ball games and boy scout meeting, no more school plays and parent/teacher conferences. No more making dinner every night ... time to RELAX.
Have your cake and eat it too. Nice deal if you can arrange it.
posted on 06/21/2002 4:16:28 PM PDT
I didn't say parental responsibilities are optional. Don't stick words in people's mouths. I said that there are plenty of times when joint physical custody would be a very bad idea, and if it becomes mandatory then we're removing people's ability to make informed decisions on their own lives with a little help from the divorce judge.
What I want is a system that's flexible enough to say "gee, this couple is getting a divorce because person A's career is moving to one city and person B doesn't want to go there, meanwhile person A has expressed no interest in active parenting beyond visitation and child support checks; clearly this person is an idiot but it wouldn't be in the best interest of anyone, especially the child to force these people to live in the same city so that they can have a custody model none of them want." Or maybe "these people are getting divorced because person A is an unapologetic alcoholic that has admitted to having violent tendencies when drunk which is more often then not, maybe putting children in that environment even part time would be very wrong."
You see what I "want" isn't what's important. What's important is that each situation be handled individually and the people getting divorced have the flexibility to say "this is not a good way to raise kids", with the "this" in question
POSSIBLY being joint custody, or POSSIBLY being solo custody. Once you make joint custody mandatory you're removing a lot of potentially good options, you're also demanding that these people live in the same urban area until their kids are grown, and stacking up tons of other repercussions I haven't even begun to contemplate yet.
Don't be so hostile. Most of the time I actually agree with you. But if you're gonna jump down my throat like some psycho I'll be forced to reconsider those positions. And just soes you know I'm the product of not joint custody and I'm damn glad my father got to contribute so little in my raising. The only thing he had to teach me was how to be a cheap drunk and cheat on my wife. And had there been joint custody my mother would have had to continue to live in LA which she couldn't afford on her own instead of being able to move back in with her parents in Chicago while she got her life back in order. See, joint custody CAN be bad.
posted on 06/21/2002 4:29:21 PM PDT
Ok I wasn't saying you said that parenthood is optional, I'm saying that appears to be the Father's Rights groups position.
We already know what NOW's (et al) position is. They keep reiterrating that over and over ... the evil feminists blah blah blah. But WHAT is their position on JPC? They don't seem to want to say. If you visit Father's Rights websites, they don't take a clear position on this (or any position on many). What is it? Are father's important to kids or not? They say so but then I don't see much if any support for presumptive JPC.
posted on 06/22/2002 12:38:57 PM PDT
I don't see why they should take a stand. Assuming you understande the examples I've laid out then you must agree that there are circumstances where JPC is bad. I'm not even convinced it's good most of the time, I had friends who did the JPC thing and it looked pretty annoying having your life spread across two houses, kind of like being in the middle of a phased move for a decade. Once you get to a position where you agree that there is no pat answer which will be the desirable arrangement for all children of divorce the question has to be why should anybody have a "position". The only logical position is the desire to see fatherhood and motherhood treated with the courts as having the same level of sanctity and not play favorites. If both parents look to be good parents and are intending on staying in the same city, go for JPC; if you have a less than ideal situation you can't use the ideal solution.
posted on 06/22/2002 3:29:30 PM PDT
To: Stand Watch Listen
posted on 06/22/2002 3:37:11 PM PDT
I'm sorry I just don't see that. The main complaint is that there is bias in custody awarding. The only way to be fair then is joint custody, otherwise the claims of bias are ENDLESS.
The next biggest complaint is child support. But if you're not the Custodial Parent, you have to contribute something. Being a full time parent is in no way comparable to caring for the kid(s) every other weekend. There is just no comparison. The Custodial Parent has vastly less time to devote to job/career to earn money. The CP is putting in virtually all the time and effort. The non CP has some kind of obligation to the kid(s) and if its not time and direct hands-on care it has to be something comparable. What is that something? Money.
Yet another major complain of FR groups is child support. That complaint will be endless as well.
What FR groups fail to do is address the trade offs between being a hands-on full time parent and ... well .... not being around. It's the not being around part that they seem to NOT want to talk about. How can you be a father if your're not around AND you don't want to contribute in any other way.
You're either there or you aren't. If you decide to live in a different city as your kids, you've made your choice IMO. You choose not to be around for your kids. With presumptive JPC neither spouse could claim bias.
In order for their to be an unequal arrangement, there would have to be a de facto move on the part of one parent to say "I don't want custody". You would have to clearly renounce custody which would then place the burden on the renouncing parent to ante up and contribute some other way.
FR groups don't want that (IMO) because then they would have not excuse to complain about bias in custody and paying child support. Any bias would be clearly of their own doing, a clear choice (hands-on fully engaged parenting) or not, for which they don't want fathers to be held accountable if they choose not to be hands-on fully engaged parents. They want it one way but not the other.
With presumptive JPC in every case the parents would have to petition the courts for an alternative arrangement. Anything less than 50/50 care (which I agree has practical challenges) would have to be expressly requested. Then we'd know whether and imbalance in mother-custody is truly a bias of the courts or not, or if so to what degree. FR groups do not wish to acknowledge the degree to which fathers don't want be hand-on fully engaged parents. (And no one can know for sure unless we have presumptive JPC).
So until then they can claim victim status for all fathers whether they want to be fully engaged parents or not ... when perhaps it is a minority who want joint or full custody and don't get it. Under presumptive JPC those who want it will get it automatically. Those who don't will have to make a specific claim to the judge why they should be released from their presumptive obligation to equally parent their kids.
In this way we can separate the wheat from the chafe so to speak, which (IMO based on the silence of FR groups on this issue) they do not want to happen. This is why they are so vague on the issue of presumptive JPC. They don't want their position clear.
Meanwhile FR groups attack the very clear (and I believe wrong but at least it's clear) position of mainstream feminists groups. It is an underhanded diversionary tactic to attack the clearly stated position of your opponent without clearly stating your own position.
What is it FR groups want exactly? Does anyone know?
Meanwhile, either kids are better off with two fully engaged parents or they are not (excluding rare abuse situations). Which is it? FR groups need to make up their minds.
posted on 06/22/2002 4:05:18 PM PDT
I'm sorry I just don't see that. The main complaint is that there is bias in custody awarding. The only way to be fair then is joint custody,
You're wrong right there. Things can be fair without joint custody being the default. And things would be FAR less than fair if joint custody were mandatory. There's got to be a way to say JPC isn't right in a given case. If there isn't you're just replacing one problem with another. I don't care about the complaints I care about the actual problems. The actual problem is that the system favors women over men just about every step of the way. That's not a complaint that's the fact. Things are getting better though, just need to make sure they don't backslide.
posted on 06/22/2002 4:19:36 PM PDT
Huh? Of course JPC isn't right in every case. With presumptive JPC there would be a way to say joint custody isn't right on a case by case basis. Here's how it would work:
1. 50/50 JPC is the default. Everyone divorcing would know that up front. They KNOW as a given they will not get sole custody unless they can prove that they should have it for one reason or another. If they can't prove that or if they can't agree on an alternative arrangement, then it's 50/50. Period.
2. If a parent did not want 50% joint custody he/she would have to petition the court to lessen their obligation under JPC. If a parent wanted to move away from the other co-parent, he/she would have to petition the court to relinquish joint custody and to change their status BY REQUEST from shared custody to Non Custodial. There would be a clear choice made and it would be documented. ___Parent A wants to move 1,000 miles away and is petitioning the court to release him/her from the presumptive JPC order. ___ Release granted ___ Release denied. (Judge checks one).
3. If one parent was not meeting his/her joint custody obligations ie not taking responsibilty for the kids at least 50% of the time, feeding, shopping, school activities, extra curricular activities, housing etc... then the other parent has an actionable claim for compensation for his/her time aka child support.
4. Both parents would have to agree on any alternative arrangements to JPC and stick to them otherwise the default JPC would be imposed by the courts by defalut. For example, lets say they agree that the mother should have full time custody and the father pays _x_ amount in CS and gets _x_ days of visitation. Then if the mother obstructs the vistitation the father has to go to court. If they cannot reach an agreement and stick to it, then PRESTO, the father gets 50% joint custody. This give the mother incentive to meet the originally agreed upon parameters. Likewise if the father doesn't pay child support, the mother could then petition the court and if the situation was not resolved, then PRESTO, the father is required to take 50% custody (even if that means he has to move) or pay a fine. This gives the father incentive to meet the originally agreed upon parameters.
4. The thing is that parenting takes time and effort. If you do not wish to put in that time and effort, then you should have to declare that up front. You'd have to go to a court and say "I don't want 50% custody. Here are the arrangement that I want______. My co-parent either ___does or ___ does not agree. Check one. If it they don't agree, then the default 50% custody kicks in. This gives people the incentive to cooperate and meet their obligations OR ELSE the defalut kicks in, regardless of what other arrangements either parent may want. So it is in the best interest of the parents to get along and meet their obligations, otherwise the court will step in and impose things on them one or the other or both of them don't want.
Presumptive JPC would be the fairest most motivating thing anyone could come up with to stop all BS that goes on now. It makes it chrystal clear. You either want to be fair and equal in parental obligations with your co-parent or you don't. Choose one.
If you don't want if fair and equal, then we will have it on record which parent doesn't wish to play fair. Everything out in the open, no one can hide behind ambiguity and vagueness. Stand up in front of the court and state your intentions up front regarding your kids. You either want JPC or you don't.
If you'd rather move away for a job than stay and parent your kids, great. At least we have it on record. If you want full custody because you hate your ex-spouse. Fine. We have it on record that you are not agreeable to shared parenting. If you refuse to do your fair 50% hands-on parenting. Okey dokey, we'll have the notes on file that you were not available for parenting 300 days out of 365. If you want the kids only on holidays, that will be documented as well. Let's get it all out in the open, no hiding.
Yes, the system probably favors women right now. But to what degree? I want it known exactly who did what, when, where and how. I want it known who wants to be fair and who doesn't. If it turns out women are being unfair, fine, let's document that. If it turns out that more men don't want JPC or sole custody then fine, let's document that. I don't care either way except I'd like the real truth to come out. Right now all we have is finger pointing. And on that FR and NOW agree, they want the status quo to remain so they can continue to point fingers.
Presumptive JPC is the only way the truth will be known.
posted on 06/22/2002 5:03:54 PM PDT
To: discostu; Harrison Bergeron; right2parent; IronJack; Don Myers; Nick Danger; Paul Atreides; ...
Things can be fair without joint custody being the default. And things would be FAR less than fair if joint custody were mandatory.
First, there's a difference between presumptive joint physical custody and mandatory joint physical custody. The latter would seem to force it even if one parent is either unfit or just plain doesn't want it. I support a presumption of joint physical custody except where one parent can be proven unfit, defined as when a parent presents a danger of abuse or neglect. Also, should parents come to a voluntary parenting-time agreement that both agree to, that should supercede presumptive JPC.
The actual problem is that the system favors women over men just about every step of the way.
True. What no one ever talks about is that as much as feminist man-hating contributed to this, the Victorian idolatry of motherhood AND the traditionalist split of mothers and fathers into Industrial Age caregiver/provider roles contributed a lot too.
Things are getting better though, just need to make sure they don't backslide.
Exactly what on Earth do you base that mis-statement on?
Yesterday you were looking for mandatory JPC. Presumptive is fine. Mandatory is no good.
posted on 06/22/2002 7:34:29 PM PDT
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