Not too Responsible Fatherhood: Blaming, Shaming, and Gaming

This is in direct response to When Divorce Kills: How Gender Bias Pushes Some Men Over the Edge. You must [find it and] read it first.

In the past two weeks...? Why limit the time period. There have been more than a dozen murders since the new year began.

Ending in the deaths of "innocent children"?...There goes that catch phrase that I spoke about yesterday. Also, see how framing the "innocent children" conveniently leaves out any other victims who are adults...and also dead. I wonder how their families feel about that.

A father in distress? Many Americans are in distress right now, and always, and are not killing; but notice how the author frames it as "losing all that he held dear." if loss=the right to murder.

There is nothing "high profile" about these cases. There is an epidemic of men committing familicides and only SOME happened to make it to the main news section. Some. Within days, all is forgotten and the next murder occurs with the same sensationalism and shock. It has become a perfunctory reaction.

This doesn't stereotype fathers. What it does it make us cautious of divorcing men--men who cannot take control of their emotions so they seek control by violent means. A "malicious stereotype" would be one that specifically intends to do harm. These men are intending to do harm. These murders are premeditated. Stop playing the stereotype card and call it what it is, reality.

Good fathers are good fathers. We can recognize them. Or, hell, maybe we can't...because it seems like every time a White man commits a murder, the community wants to talk about what an upstanding, church-going, philanthropist, volunteer-coach, music-instructor, role-model he was.

We are not talking about "most fathers" when these stories hit the media. We are talking about men who use violence as solutions to their problems, and a society that is content with accepting it as is. But we must point out the common denominator in these murders: the men are killing women and children who were often times family members or [former] lovers.

Domestic violence doesn't have to be "gender specific" in order for us to notice that FACT that men are committing these types of murders. Don't try to rule out gender when it is convenient. No one doubts that women commit violence however forcing it as an issue is an attempt to neutralize the problem. Shifting the focus.

Divorce is stressful for men because they lose the control that they "held dear." The gender bias affects women because of the patriarchal structure of our society that puts women at the bottom of the totem pole, with structures in place that benefit men.

Most men do not lose their children, they give it up freely to the one who has been doing the primary caretaking--mom. A loss of custody would mean that custody was taken from someone who originally had it. A father that was a primary caretaker, that had his child "taken" away from him, would be a father who lost custody. Therefore 85% of mothers do not "win" custody, they get it. Stop framing this as a game.
Myth -- Family courts are biased against fathers in custody disputes.

Fact: "Despite the powerful stereotypes working against fathers, they are significantly more successful than is commonly believed. The Massachusetts [gender bias] task force, for example, reported that fathers receive primary or joint custody in more than 70 percent of contested cases."

Schafran, Lynn Hecht, "Gender Bias in Family Courts," American Bar Association Family Advocate, Vol. 17, No. 1, p. 26

Ruth I. Abrams & John M. Greaney, Report of the Gender Bias Study of the Supreme Judicial Court [of Massachusetts] 62-63 (1983), also citing similar finding from California and other parts of the nation.

Fact: "The various gender bias commissions found that at the trial court level in contested custody cases, fathers won more than half the time. This is especially significant in light of the fact that not only do fathers win more often in court when they take these cases to trial, but also that an overwhelmingly higher percentage of fathers gain primary custody -- by any means -- than were ever the primary caregiver of their children during marriage. Statistically, this dashes the argument that 'only the strongest cases are taken to trial,' and in fact indicates an extraordinary bias against mothers and the value of mothering and mothers' work."

liznote re the more than 40 state gender bias task force reports. Available from the National Judicial Education Program, 9 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013.

Also see: AZ Battered Mothers Testimony Project Report
And why add the piece about "divorced and separated men are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than married men"? Oh, because the part that would typically follow a statement like that is, "So let's support the natural/biological family," or "You see, the court system is killing fathers."

Yeah, whatever. How about this one?
Men with a [perceived] loss of control are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide, murder-suicide, and familicide than men who feel that they are in control.
There is no "notion" that divorced/estranged fathers don't want/need continuing contact with their children. The notion is that if you renege on your familial responsibilities (to be with your friends, or new girlfriend, leaving your children behind) you have shown that your children are not a priority. This is not meant to imply that in order to have a relationship with your children, you must be exclusive with the mother. What it means is that you establish your priorities by your actions.

A father is "estranged" because of his own behavior. A father decides when being a father is important to him and he decides this on his own time. Mothers are generally [considered] mothers 24/7. If the loss of the children is so painful, it is the father's responsibility to compensate for this--killing the children does not do so. (Also, asking the mother to patch your relationship with your children by speaking well of you, or telling lies in your favor, is not you taking responsibility.)

Good book plug.

If all these fathers need is "someone who understand," why don't father's groups promote counseling for them? Why force litigation? Who wins?

What many a father's group provide for these men, is a pep rally to talk about what a bitch his ex was and how unfair the family court system is (often time, before he even gets into the court to know for himself). Perhaps they actually rev these men up...

And now let's get to the heavy political controversy that is being swept under the rug:

Illinois, like the rest of the states, receives grants from the U.S. government, via the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), under the name of Responsible Fatherhood. This money is supposed to be used to help low-income fathers (read targeting Black men) break economic barriers so that they can make financial contributions to their children's upbringing via a relationship with the child. The grant money is also used for incarcerated fathers for re-entry into the workforce for the same reasons.
Myth -- Increasing fathers' visitation time and custody rights makes them more amenable to paying child support.

Fact: "As researchers began to stop collecting their data mainly from fathers and began to explore the relationship between visiting and paying child support in longitudinal studies, the theory that increased visitation would result in increased child support compliance began to wane. In 1993, the Office of Economic Research, U.S. Bureau of Labor undertook a study based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The NLSY is a survey of more than 12,000 men and women who are interviewed annually since 1979. The authors of this study found contrary to previous studies, increases in visitation have no effect on changes in child support."

THE LINK BETWEEN VISITATION AND SUPPORT COMPLIANCE, Laura Wish Morgan with Chuck Shively of the Department of Social & Health Services, Washington State.
In reality, some of this Responsible Fatherhood money is being used to target fathers for a custody changing scheme under the guise of access and visitation. Attorneys are provided to fathers so that they can seek custody of their children. The division of Child Support states that MORE money has been collected under this system when in fact child support arrears are being waived, and child support awards are being reduced, or eliminated.

You don't have to do a lot of digging, as the article I am calling into question, gives enough information for you to get started. Remember Blagojevich. Think about the President's agenda:
Strengthen Fatherhood and Families: Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. President Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.
Yeah right.


Is the answer to hold women hostage in marriage out of fear that their husbands may kill them and their children? Is the answer to give mentally unstable men custody of their children and access to their former spouses.

Maybe the answer is NOT restraining orders and GPS. Maybe we should create a Father's Act, to determine the psychological stability of men at the time of conception, and at divorce, as society seems exclusively and disproportionately fixated on mother-pathologies.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Australian Family [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Sent: Saturday, 27 December, 2008 6:16:28 PM
Subject: [fathers4equality] Bruce Pardo, hero

Here's a toast to Bruce Pardo. He was a man.

Many will speak badly of him.

A few will say that he was a victim.

All will say that it was an unfortunate situation.

But he was obviously a man who would not submit to injustice.

His actions bespeak a man who thought about his actions, who had things well planned including a "plan B" which eventuated with his suicide.

Bruce Pardo, you were a Man.

I salute you and raise my glass at your courage and honesty.

Hail, your Spirit, Bruce. May it energize others in your situation.

Goodbye, brother.

You can read about Bruce Pardo [and others] here.