Feminist proves MRAs have a point by trying to disprove that point: Part 2

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

The consequences of suicide

Suicide is a terrible act. A person must be a dark place to even consider let alone commit it. It is a hollow act that stretches out to everyone close to its victim. Everyone feels its emptiness.

I have known three people who committed suicide. I do not take the issue lightly.

So when I read about Julie Burchill’s son committing suicide, my response was sympathy. Burchill is a well-known feminist writer in the United Kingdom. She posted about her son Jack’s suicide on Facebook.

Burchill appeared to have a adored her youngest son. According to an article about her:

She once described him as her Achilles’ heel — the one person capable of hurting her because she loved him so much.

That stands in stark contrast to how Burchill viewed her eldest son Robert. Continue reading

A Difficult Marriage

I came across an article written by a woman raised by lesbian mothers. Heather Barwick argued in her piece that while she supports the gay community, she no longer supports gay marriage. She stated:

Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

According to Barwick, her mother married her father essentially to fit in. However, Barwick’s mother eventually came out, divorced her father, and found a woman to share her life with. Barwick’s father “wasn’t a great guy” and after her mother “left him he didn’t bother coming around anymore.”

That is a poor reason for failing to support gay marriage. Continue reading

Being a Man: Fatherhood and Abuse

Originally posted on September 30, 2012

Several years ago, I wrote about my relationship with my godson:

[…] Something my godson did kind of triggered me. He is a toucher and a hugger. By that I mean you cannot be around him without him holding your hand, pulling on your arm, playing with your fingers or randomly hugging you. Usually I can deal with that well enough not feel uncomfortable. He does not mean anything by it, so I try to restrain any looks or gestures of my discontent.

Anyway, while I was sitting on the couch, he came behind me and hugged me over my shoulders. He was just by my jaw. For some reason his hair smelled like cookies. I do not know why, but I thought about my father, specifically how I used to hug him just like that. I was very young, around three or four. I think I did it because he had giant shoulders (at the time) and I wanted to see if I could get my arms around them. When I hugged my father like that, he would laugh or smile and pull me around to his front and do inappropriate things.

Thinking about that made me very uncomfortable, enough to the point where I had to stand up and walk around. My godson did not really notice my bewilderment, but I know he realized something was different. […] For the last few hours I have been wondering what it would have been like if my father had just held me instead. […] I kind of want normal memories like everyone else has. Not a ton of them. Just one or two to get me by. In a way I feel jealous of my godson since he has never—thankfully—had any of his hugs warped in that fashion.

Many male survivors experience the same thing I do, especially fathers. A new study called Child Sexual Abuse, Masculinity and Fatherhood discusses this topic. The Journal of Family Studies will publish the full study in December, but an abridged version is available online. The study’s researcher Rhys Price-Robertson concludes:

  • Many men who were sexually abused as children face unique experiences and difficulties in connection with fatherhood, including fears that they may abuse their own children, problems with physical contact or displays of affection with their children, and overprotectiveness of their children.
  • The issue of child sexual abuse impacting on men’s perceptions and experience of fatherhood remains largely excluded from both popular and professional discourses.
  • The first step towards improving policy and service responses to these male victim/survivors is to raise awareness of the difficulties they may face with regard to fatherhood.
  • As there are strong disincentives to male victim/survivors themselves revealing their difficulties with fatherhood, it is likely that service providers, practitioners and policy-makers will need to play a leadership role in promoting awareness of this issue.

This has been my experience, and it has been something many advocates for male survivors have spoken about. Price-Robertson notes there is little research on the impact that abuse has on male survivors who become fathers. Worse, the messages that society and the professional community sends puts abused fathers in a double-bind. Continue reading

Cutting out dad

I do not usually write about father’s rights issues, but this story caught my eye:

Europe’s highest court on human rights will decide if a lesbian can adopt her partner’s child, in this case stripping the father of his parental rights to his son.

The case is very simple according to Gregor Puppinck of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). “The two female partners want to oust the father and, since the law does not allow them to do so, they claim it is discriminatory,” Gregor reported in Turtle Bay and Beyond, C-FAM’s blog.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case X and others v. Austria on October 3.  Its decision will apply to all 47 countries in the Council of Europe and cannot be appealed.

Austria’s attorney has pointed out that most European countries do not allow a child to have two mothers or two fathers. A homosexual rights attorney who brought the case argued that this is sexual discrimination.

Here is the problem: the man has been a part of his son’s life from the beginning. Since 1995, the father has paid alimony to the mother and frequently visits with his son. However, now the mother and her lesbian partner want the father stripped of his rights because the pair want to be recognized as a “family”.  Continue reading

What about the boy?

Time magazine made news this week with their controversial cover. The cover features Jamie Lynn Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. The photo concerned the Time’s article about “attachment parenting,” a theory of parenting that “focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can develop with their children. That nurturing connection is viewed as the ideal way to raise secure, independent, and empathetic children. Proponents of this parenting philosophy include the well-known pediatrician William Sears, MD. They make the case that a secure, trusting attachment to parents during childhood form the basis for secure relationships and independence as adults.”

This is all well and good for the first few months of a child’s life. Yet many of those who practice “attachment parenting” refuse to stop it. Instead, they make excuses like this:

“In some ways, the photo was sensational because the child breast-feeding was so much older than the cultural norm,” said [Miranda] Hallquist, a La Leche League of Pittsburgh East leader. “In a way, I think it was good to get it into the cultural debate but people could miss the point if they wonder whether they should or should not see it or are confused by ‘Are You Mom Enough?’ “

This is not healthy cultural debate. This is issue with parents not respecting children’s boundaries.  Continue reading

Bulletin Board v77

Belgian bishop quits over child sex abuse — Belgian bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe has resigned after admitting to sexually abusing a child, a spokesman for the Brussels bishop said Friday. Vangheluwe abused a boy over a period of several years in Bruges, Belgium, said Eric de Beukelaer, the spokesman. The archbishop of Brussels and other church officials briefed reporters about the resignation on Friday. They said Vangheluwe declined interview request and that he wants to be left in peace.

Bisexual men sue gay group, claim bias — Three bisexual men are suing a national gay-athletic organization, saying they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series held in the Seattle area two years ago. The three Bay Area men say the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in essence deemed them not gay enough to participate in the series. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle accuses the alliance of violating Washington state laws barring discrimination. The alliance organizes the annual Gay Softball World Series.

Jury verdict hits Boy Scouts with $18.5 million in punitive damages — An Oregon jury on Friday found the Boy Scouts of America liable for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy more than 25 years ago, returning a verdict of $18.5 million in punitive damages. The plaintiff, Kerry Lewis, now 38, allowed his name to be used publicly during the trial, according to his attorneys. He is among six men suing the Boy Scouts over allegations of sexual abuse. Attorney Kelly Clark has said that when his clients were boys during the 1980s, the organization knew that at least one of them had been abused by former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes. The 53-year-old convicted sex offender was released from prison in 2005 and paroled until 2013. He could not be reached on Friday.

Leaders meet as Church sex abuse cases grip Chile — The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Chile have met the country’s president amid a growing sex abuse scandal involving a number of priests. Earlier this week, the Church in Chile formally apologised to abuse victims, saying nothing could justify it. Monsignor Alejandro Goic, head of the Church in Chile, said there had been 20 confirmed or alleged cases. Continue reading