This is a continuation of my previous post about Suzzanah Weiss’s article in which she explains where men’s rights activists go wrong in their arguments by ironically proving their arguments. Here we go:
2. Fathers Are as Important as Mothers
Another common men’s rights issue is child custody and, more generally, men’s ability to play as active a role in the family as women do.
Feminists totally agree with this as well. Everyone should have a choice regarding what role they play in the family, and their a/gender shouldn’t factor into that.
That is an interesting position given that feminists either ignore or oppose efforts to increase father’s roles in their children’s lives. For example, the National Organization for Women opposes shared parenting laws, claiming that they give abusive men access to their victims.
Feminist organizations pushed for government-funded family programs that often exclude fathers as potential beneficiaries. Family courts routinely grant custody to mothers, even in cases in which the fathers are the primary caregivers. Child support laws appear gender neutral, yet they are applied primarily to fathers. Noncustodial fathers often receive limited contact with their children, which is subject to change at the mother’s request. Yet rather than supporting fathers in their attempt to address this bias, feminists claim that the bias is a myth concocted by bitter men and sexist men’s rights activists.
In fact, having more equal households benefits people of all a/genders. In relationships between men and women, for example, women whose male partners are helping out around the house are more able to prioritize their careers.
That has nothing to do with recognizing the roles fathers play in their children’s lives. Rather, it prioritizes women’s desires over fathers’ importance. It also assumes that men do nothing in their homes or that want they do matters less than what women do.
But men’s smaller role in the household is also not evidence that they’re oppressed.
The argument about oppression does not come from men’s role in the household, but how they are treated when it comes to custody issues. Men are held financially responsible, yet treated as physically negligible regardless of the clear importance to their children’s lives. When both parents agree to a particular arrangement, say that the father will work and the mother will stay home with the children, this equal decision is flipped on men during separations or divorces and used against them. Now they can be shut out of their children’s lives, lose a significant among of their pay check, and face mounting legal bills because of the “sacrifices” the woman made to stay at home. Continue reading →