Father's Rights and Joint Custody

Myth -- The father's rights movement is about interest in caring for children; thus it favors joint custody and "shared responsibility."

Fact: "A Canadian study of fathers' rights groups found that members of these groups expected mothers [or others] to assume primary responsibility for children, whereas fathers spoke of 'helping.' Not one father in the study talked about wanting to have the responsibility of the everyday care of his children."

The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children, Myths and Realities of Custody and Access compiled by: Margaret Denike, Vancouver Association of Women and the Law Agnes Huang, Vancouver Status of Women Patricia Kachuk, FREDA Centre, June 1998, citing Bertoia, Carl and Janice Drakich, "The Fathers' Rights Movement: Contradictions in Rhetoric and Practice," Journal of Family Issues, 14, 1993.

Fact: "Shared responsibility" is a euphemism for men's rights. While the most misogynistic branches of the father's rights movement state outright that they favor male control and father-only custody in the hopes that this will turn the clock back on women's independence (e.g. by helping to entrap women in marriages that are otherwise broken), much of the movement prefers to publicly posture in favor of the more palatable and misleading rhetoric of "shared parenting," i.e. joint custody, as a ruse to accomplish this end more indirectly, as well as to reduce or eliminate the foundations for child support payments. Ironically, frequently-quoted father's rights ideologue David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America and an originator of the National Fatherhood Initiative, actually has said -- in agreement with liz -- "to help remove child custody as a bargaining chip for divorcing couples, legislatures should adopt the 'primary caretaker' rule: a presumption in favor of granting custody to the parent who is already providing most of the day-to-day child care."

liznotes, See, for quote, Blankenhorn, Family Affairs, Winter 1994

Fact: "Men's perceptions of the divorcing procedure and postdivorce familial arrangement leave them feeling hurt, confused, vulnerable, and insecure. The men then turn to established constructions of masculinity to subdue these feelings and to redefine their position as one of lost legal rights rather than emotional trauma. In general, these efforts center around the relationship with the former wife, suggesting that the thrust of divorced men's identity establishment is focused on resistance and revenge."

Arendell, T. (1995). From abstract re former spousal relations: "War without end." In Fathers and divorce (pp. 111-140). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

You can read more at the Liz Library.

Again, I say, men really need help dealing with their emotions. That last paragraph above is excellent and is in need of primary attention. I wish I had thought of it myself.

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