Friday, September 30, 2005

'A place for parents to turn to'

I clicked on the headline 'A place for parents to turn to' for obvious reasons. It urns out to be an article about an admirable help line for those who have lost a child to death. More power to them. I wish there was such a thing for those who've lost a child to a malevolent ex.


I lament the fragmentation of father's rights groups. It is another favourite criticism that they can't stand together too long without fighting with eachother and splitting up. "Divided we fall" and all that. But then again, many causes start out as a bunch of people arguing over an issue and competing for ground, but that doesn't mean the cause will fail. Perhaps, even, fragmentation is desirable in the early days, perhaps it spreads the ideas further.

Inspiritational quote

"I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive." - Martin Luther King

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Maybe I'm wrong. In the premiere "A mother confesses to setting fire to her home while she and her children were locked inside". But maybe not: "Troublingly, most of these grisly acts are committed against women. Scary or just sick?". We shall see.

Close to Home

Well, here's one with something for everyone from CBS this winter. A conventionally beautiful aren't they all? prosecutor lawyers are sooo interesting with a perfect conviction record don't they all? against the suburban bad guys only guys are bad, never gals who commit horrible crimes queue the victim pornography and unredeemable bad guy. She's a new mom any bets she's single? and having the baby cost her a promotion of course.

I look forward to the episode where hubby is the victim of domestic violence. And the other where hubby is falsely accused of child abuse to gain advantage in a divorce. I'm actually half serious, perhaps we really will get lucky. Bruckheimer can give us unexpectedly good things. But then, I don't expect to see an episode with a street full of ordinary, good people going about their lives without killing, beating or robbing eachother. That'd just be too much like real life.

(I always thought it'd be dangerous to hang around the likes of Miss Marple, too many people die around her.)

Conspiracy theories

Many detractors of Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) seem to enjoy portraying them as paranoid conspiracy theorists, convinced that there is some sort of conscious campaign to defame, demonize and destroy men. I don't think a conspiracy theory is needed. Simple self-interest suffices. Angry Harry does a good job of outlining the problem. He doesn't mention any conspiracy theory, but then he doesn't say there isn't one, or that there doesn't need to be one and the incredulous reader might be inclined to dismiss him in these terms.

There is money to be made by putting down men in the name of empowering women. As long as it is entertaining to see a pretty woman kicking a man in the balls, or appealing to a frustrated female ego to see a man dominated (and many times I've heard this leveled criticism with the genders reversed), it will be a staple of the entertainment and advertising industries. Portraying women as the perpetual victims of dominating men will always appeal to chivalry in men and the empathy of women. These are long term, and positive, characteristics of our society. (BTW, how often do we think in terms of women being chivalrous or men being empathic?) We don't need any conspiracy theory. We don't need to hypothesize the existence of a conscious, controlling force driving this.

There isn't a room full of all-powerful people anywhere deciding how to drive men into marginality and put women to the fore. The people who make TV commercials and sitcoms aren't thinking about the social consequences of what they show us, they're just trying to make something we'll watch. As long as we'll watch, they'll make it.

The people who are trying so hard and so admirably to control violence against women aren't thinking about the negative consequences of the stereotypes they present, they're trying to do what they can to protect women. In fact, they're fighting against a stereotype they believe to be true. How often do we think about the need to protect men per se? Even the more rabid MRAs don't talk in those terms. It's just not in the mindset.

Anyone can be exploited, anyone can be denigrated and both of these are means to power over others. It is simply easier, today, to denigrate and exploit men (well, OK, it seems that way to me). If there is fertile soil for a plant to grow, then it will do so. If there is a suitable environment for a mechanism to power to develop, it will do so. However, plants that grow too big destroy their own environment and die. Likewise, power, as they say, corrupts. Corruption destroys, so there are natural limits to how far any ideology, explicit or emergent, can grow. As I wrote yesterday, I try to have faith that justice will prevail, eventually. In the meantime, we have to find and look out for who is getting hit in the crossfire.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MRA-baiting and victim cards

There is this concept, which keeps popping up, of an "MRA". I didn't know what it was at first but eventually I figured it out from context -- I never saw it explicitly explained. For those still in the dark it means Men's Rights Activist. Usually it is in the context of the opposite of, but just as loonie as, the radical feminist (or radfem to the cogniscenti). But it's new, and consequently much more fun to lampoon. Many playing that game characterize the MRA as "fascist", "whining", "loser", "pathetic", "paranoid", "delusional", etc. Wild suggestions are made as to the target's background without reading the information available.

Guy Matthew's recent stunt on the Houses of Parliament made him a prime target. Many of the complaints against him take the form of: "Why does he think that making such a spectacle of hiself will help in getting him contact with his daughter?" It doesn't seem to occur to them to consider the possibility that he may have exhausted all other options. None seem to remember Thoreau's exhortation to civil disobedience in the face of injustice.

Others claim that there is no injustice. They claim that the MRAs are making up the numbers and these can be easily refuted. I've seen no such refutation, anywhere; and I've looked. Rather, the majority of statistics presented are quoted in refutation of accepted, unsupported myths and stereotypes. Perhaps the most common example is the idea that men are by far the majority perpetrators of domestic violence, but the available studies show that both genders are approximately equally likely to engage in such behavior. I have seen no reasoned refutation of these studies, and you'd think that the feminists would have something to say. If that isn't enough, another, shining example is Drexler's book suggesting that boys are better off being raised in fatherless homes. Not only does this run in the face of very well established evidence to the contrary, but her sample itself is about as biased as it possibly could be. What honest human being could fail to be offended by that? I don't see the MRA claims being held up to contrary studies, nor gaping holes being found in the studies they are based in.

Should some poor sap stick up his head and offer personal experience, it will be immediately discounted as anecdotal and therefore irrelevant. If you want a definitive study, then yes, fine, that's true. But that doesn't render that person's experience invalid. Should said poor sap prove to be even braver, or perhaps more masochistic, and offer details of his experience, he's quite likely to be told "suck it up", "life's tough" or "quit whining". Can we imagine saying that to a deserted mother? Does that mother have to defend herself with statistical studies that people like her do indeed exist? The likely response is that the sap ducks down again and hides but some will persist. But these are bully tactics and the bully's goal is to drive his target to surrender or distraction.

The sport may yet go further and the target be accused of playing the "victim card". This is an interesting turn-around, because many of those labelled as MRAs are claiming exactly this of the opposition.

These are the defining characteristics of the victim card player:

  1. to claim to be a victim when not.

    Occasionally, someone goes to jail for a crime they didn't commit. We know this happens, it's an inevitable result of an imperfect, man-made system. We build the criminal court system to be as secure against such failures as possible, but it still happens. Those that slip through the cracks, they're still victims. By the same token, some of those men out there will have been let down by an imperfect family court system. To deny the possibility is absurd. Some men will have been unjustly removed from their children's lives, damaged by false accusations, cleaned out by child support, and face an indefinite future working to pay off lawyers and malevolent ex-wives. Any justice system must always be open to careful scrutiny to avoid becoming despotic. The inevitable existence of injustice requires that we take specific claims seriously.

  2. to ride the shirt-tails of true victims to acquire advantage for other, selfish purposes.

    History is loaded with examples of people fighting injustice towards others. Some of these people were undoubtedly in it for the power, the rush of attention and their own self-agrandizement. But does that make the cause unjust? If there are too many such people, and if the cause gathers such momentum that it crushes other, worthy causes, then its value is diminished, but it is not inevitably unjust. Are there MRAs doing this? I am quite sure that some of them are and it is a difficult point because it can undermine the case of those that are not, just as some feminists appear to have gotten carried away with their own cause and lost sight of the equality they had been seeking in the first place, as the MRAs would have us believe. But at the same time, any cause needs such people. Not all proponents of a cause will be tireless, selfless, bona fide victims. In fact, the true victims may well be unable to fight themselves, being so diminshed by their own victimization. Let us not forget that many suffragettes were not exactly society's most downtrodden and oppressed of women and I'm quite sure that some of them simply enjoyed the attention of championing a popular cause.

  3. to make oneself a victim to acquire advantages available only to victims.

    This, perhaps, is the crux of the matter. What are we to make of the man or woman who accepts injustice, possibly even generates it, in order to expose it? (Some might be drawn to what they see as martyrdom, but such people are necessarily rare to any cause.) What kind of mentality would it take to force a wife to take everything that was worked for: house, kids, money, reputation, future while simultaneously fighting with all his might to prevent it? (And how is this different from said ex-wife claiming "look what you made me do"? Should she have the right to do it?) It seems almost pathologically perverse and it gets awfully close to blaming the victim for his own misfortune -- "He was asking for it, your honor!" -- so perhaps we credit the victim with too much cleverness. In the case of men's rights, is this likely to be a common possibility? It seems unlikely, as the epithet "loser" will attest. How often do we call a woman a "loser"? It is usually reserved for men and it is the last thing most men will want to be called. Perhaps what we have instead is the tip of the iceberg, with the vast majority silently swallowing their loss rather than be seen in public to be a "loser".

Are the MRAs playing the victim card? Possibly, but overall I don't think so and even so, it doesn't make the cause any less serious. Most especially, I think it is inhumane to dismiss any particular person as playing the victim card without hearing his story and attempting to redress any true injustice.

There are screaming commonalities between the MRAs and feminists - the feminists seek, among other things, equality in the workplace. The MRAs seek, among other things, equality with respect to their children. It is a modern power struggle and, with all power struggles, some will be in it for the power, because they like to fight, because they have an ax to grind. But at the same time, others will be in it for the honorable reason, because they perceive an injustice to be redressed. Some say that if the goals of a movement are just they will prevail, if they are unjust, they will fail. This may be true, but in the meantime, as in any war, there will be shots fired and casualties taken. The question is, who are the casualties and how much damage will be done before something is worked out, before a resolution is found?

All wars have their spectators, too. The wiser of the spectators will listen carefully to each side. Others will laugh to see such fun, ignorant of the pain of the combatants and the truths that they stand to defend, but fully prepared to take a share of whatever might be the spoils. The worst, like carrion, will pick at the wounded and fallen.

Hate Male Post: How Men Are Put Down And How To Get Back Up!

A nice article offers "the bigot's attack list":

  • First attack non stop, verbally and/or physically.
  • Wait for the victim to get angry.
  • Claim the anger is evidence that the person is unstable and hates women
  • Pour guilt upon the angry victim or punish him in other ways
  • Encourage others to join the attacks on the victim by crying, looking distressed, or by claiming personal victim hood status
  • Encourage the authorities to join in the attacks.
  • Ridicule the victim into silence

This speaks to me.

Feminists are not the modern Victorians.

Personally,, I have frequently compared the plight of a father to remain a father in the face of a hostile mother to that faced by the Victorian mother in the same, but opposite context, but today we have a different level of such abuse of parenthood as this article puts it: "A century ago, when paternal custody was the norm, mothers were denied custody and separated from their children. Now long forgotten, thanks to feminism and modern male chauvinism, these mothers were also released from all continuing responsibility. That was "justice" by the male sense of fairness. Now, we have established a system in which fathers are denied access and jurisdiction and yet, still held responsible. Is that "fairness" feminist style?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pandagon: Possibly the most ineffective protest strategy ever continues

Some people just don't get it. Fathers 4 justice has been one of the most successful publicity campaigns for grass roots issues in many years. Wasn't it P. T. Barnum who said "there's no such thing as bad publicity"? The suggestion that "the irrational belief that acting foolishly on behalf of a cause that no one supports" is very reminiscent of the sort of thing that used to be said of the suffragettes...

"We are change makers", says Blair

Last night, I was watching "The West Wing" and one of the characters, opining about leadership, said something like - you're like the French radical looking at a crowd rushing past and who says "I must find out where my people are going so I can lead them". I find this an interesting comment in regard to Blair's we are the change-makers speech because I can't honestly see what changes he wants to make. The BBC summarises it as "make Britain at ease with globalisation, forge a new consensus on public services and respond to public anger about crime and anti-social behaviour". What on earth does than mean? 'Seems pretty content free to me.

On the other hand, in terms of a real change he could make, he only has to look as far as the Houses of Parliament and Guy Harrison's protest made simultaneously with his speech. Enough hot air, Mr. Blair, how about putting your party where your mouth is?

Fathers' group scales Parliament

'Looks like Fathers 4 Justice, UK are back kicking up a fuss. The official reaction is typical: whine about security breaches and avoid saying anything about the issue. I expect to see plenty of rubbish of how irresponsible it is for a father to actually complain about his extraction from his children's lives. Mr. Harrison is a modern hero.

Strange Child Support 'Reasons'

In the for "for your entertainment" category, check this out. I am unsure as to the identity of the father of my child as I was being sick out of a window when taken unexpectedly from behind...?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Is there a right to have a father?

This article makes a very good point: "If anyone has a right to anything, it is the child who has a right to be born to both parents and have a relationship with both of them. By what "right" does a woman deprive a child of his or her father?" Most reasonable people would agree with this in general, thinking of the father as a person known to the child. On the other hand this article is addressing the "right" of a lesbian to be artificially inseminated.

The other day, I was watching a TV show and a young girl was announcing to her father that she was pregnant, he, in his old fogey ways, asked who was the father. She responded that the "sperm donor" was not relevant and she planned to bring up the child on her own. It was a throw-away scene and not relevant to the rest of the story, but I felt that it reflected an attitude prevalent today which will have tragic consequences, the throw-away attitude to fatherhood we face these days. Legally speaking, the "sperm donor" is liable for child support, at the very least (she didn't go to a sperm bank). But where are his rights to be a father to the child? Where are the child's rights to know his or her father?

The article would have been better titled "Is there a right to have a father?".

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Why male victims of DV don't come forward.

This handout on domestic violence against men, along with many other such discussions of the problem asks why many male victims do not report what is happening to them. It gives a couple of answers, but leaves out one which I feel is the result of a combination of the factors involved - many victims don't even know it is happening. They simply do not think of it in those terms.

This handout points of that "the idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable to most people that many men will not even attempt to report the situation", and that "the man begins to believe that there is nothing he can do and that it may be all his fault". For many years he, like any other male in the western world, has been bombarded with the description of domestic violence as a male-on-female issue and, of course, the perpetrators are demonized just like any other criminal. Our world is very "us and them", we're not the bad guys, they are. So who are "they"? Well, those that end up in trouble for their crimes, right? DV doesn't just happen to "other people", it happens to the other sex, it isn't just perpetrated by anyone, it is perpetrated by his own sex. In the face of this, it is very difficult to make the cognitive transition necessary to realize that he, the man, is the victim and she, the woman is the perpetrator.

I like the handout's example of how DV erupts, it is quite typical, including the self-blame of the victim. What it fails to say, however, is that the fears that the man may feel, that he may lose his children or that they may become the victims, are very real. The divorce machine almost guarantees that he will be removed from their lives and an abuser will quite readily turn on the next victim in line if not caught and stopped. It is well documented that the majority of child abuse is perpetrated by the mother.

The devil's greatest trick was to convince the world he didn't exist

Found on a bulletin board, posted with the permission of the author:

The stereotype most damaging to men?

That women are helpless, innocent victims.

Why is this damaging to men? Well, read some evolutionary theory. A large fraction of evolutionary adaptation for many species is geared towards the detection of "cheats", that is those members of the species which will take advantage of altruistic tendencies in others. This, of course, extends into inter-species interaction as well but that is more to do with detecting and avoiding predators and fighting off disease. Within a species, especially one in which altruism and cooperation are well established, it is important to detect those that take but do not give.

Consider our aversion to thieves and conmen, especially the latter. A conman works by making you believe that things are a certain way, which they are not, in order to extract cooperation from you in various forms (e.g. money). To do this, they try to engage your sympathy through a feigned illness or other disadvantage of their own or they may try to offer you something you want or need but which they have no intention of delivering.

Now, there are plenty of people out there with real disadvantages who need your help and plenty with something to offer and with whom it is certainly advantageous to both to cooperate. Consider the hurricane and tsunami victims, or someone near to you who has been raped or another robbed of his children. As for people to cooperate with, that is the stuff of everyday life.

What the conman wants, therefore, is to appear to be like these people. To do that, they will take on the appearance of these people. They will find or manufacture a commonality with them and present it to you as a means to motivate you to help them. And remember, there's nothing about the word "conman" besides etymology which specifies gender.

To the point: we all want, or should want, to help a victim of an injustice. This will be reinforced by the appearance of their own innocence and helplessness. These are very powerful motivators, especially to men brought up in the time-honored, if not biologically driven, atmosphere of chivalry that even now pervades western society. What better camouflage for a predatory woman than a cultural presumption of innocence, victimhood and helplessness? Moreover, the system and society are geared completely towards supporting their cause through the incitement of bad behaviour in the guise of "empowerment" and their protection when they get into trouble or cry "wolf!" Conversely, the system and society do nothing at all towards protecting the hapless male caught up in their machinations, rather it uses him for entertainment or, as others have pointed out, a scapegoat, more often than not.

This stereotype has seriously handicapped some of our most important evolutionary faculties towards the detection of unfair advantage-taking by fully one half of the population. True feminists should be up in arms over it - the only long term consequence will be to their own discredit as they become identified with the predators (the ifeminists, at least insofar as I can tell from this site, are at least partially on board).

"Damaging"? It's murderous, literally, because it defines what can be gotten away with.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Women: The Forgotten Child Murderers

"About 1300 child murders took place in the US last year. About 500 perpetrators were non-parents, roughly divided between men and women. Of the rest, only 30 (!) were fathers. In other words, mothers were more than 25 times more likely to kill their progeny than fathers. Yet somehow, men are viewed as being more dangerous to their children than women. "

Friday, September 16, 2005

A victim's victim

Who's the victim in this case? Well, they both are, but he needn't have been if she'd told the truth. She was raped, and that was pretty horrible, but then she violated another, innocent person herself by switching her story and claiming he did it because she didn't like that he had dumped her (the assailant's skin even changed color!). This victim of the victim then spent 8 months in jail.

The victim's victim's comment says it all: "All a woman has to do nowadays is point a finger and say, 'He did it.'"

What I don't understand is how people that do this sort of thing can live with themselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 > editorial > Parental Alienation Syndrome Defined in Domestic Violence Terms

Joan Kloth writes about Parental Alienation Syndrome, but I don't need to see a technical term to know child abuse when it's described like this:

"The Alienating Parent willfully and without regard to the child(ren) or the targeted parent's welfare, or the innocent extended families welfare, continually violated their rights and disregarded their needs for a relationship. The Alienating Parent uses and exploits the children. The Alienating Parent isolates the children from a nurturing parent and family. The Alienating Parent denies the children their basic needs of love and belonging from the Targeted Parent. The Alienating Parent thus neglects the children's mental welfare. They rejected the children's and Targeted Parent's testimony of love and need for each other. The Alienating Parent terrorizes and corrupts the children. The Alienating Parent callously puts their own desires, wants and needs above those of everyone else including their own children. This all adds up to one thing, PAS is Domestic Violence in the form of Psychological Maltreatment."

This is exactly what is being done to my child. God, I hope he's OK.

British men finally get their say

Well, if the International Herald Tribune publishes an article objectively discussing men's rights in Britain without any apparent feminist bias, then things must be looking up. It cites the Neil Lyndon case as a counter example from 15 years ago when a journalist dared to challenge the derogation of men and paid for it with everything he had. I wonder if Robert Taylor of the IHT had to think very hard about submitting his article. Perhaps he has no wife, kids, money to lose. Or perhaps it's really true, the world is starting to recognise that men have a legitimate right to assert themselves even if the feminists don't like it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Are you helping to "Cure the Radical Feminist Cancer"? > editorial > How Will We Cure the Radical Feminist Cancer? says:

"Left to itself, feminism will eventually collapse under the weight of own logical inconsistencies, social intolerance, and reluctance to assure the continuation of the species. "

Oh, please, God, let it be...!

"But our generation would still have to answer to our children and grandchildren who one day will ask us, "Why did you sit by and do nothing?""

I can safely say that I'm not. Can you?

I hope I get the chance to tell my son.

Bad science not bad dads.

Here we find an unsympathetic review of a book entitled "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men" by one Peggy Drexler which by all accounts seems to think that fathers are a BAD IDEA. Well this particular sperm donor takes exception too.

When faced with something like this, I often find it instructive to switch noun and pronoun genders: father for mother, man for woman, etc, and vice versa, and then see how it sounds. Let's try that with a couple of quotes and paraphrases the article takes from the book (I use double quotes to indicate a modified form of the original):

""[The book] contends that mother-absent homes—particularly "single father by choice" and gay homes—are the best environments for girls."" - gosh, imagine what a furor that would cause if you said it, well, just about anywhere.


""Drexler recently told Good Morning America that girls do just fine without mums, and her "maverick dads" always seem to have a better way of handling their daughters than mum would. "" - It seems almost nonsensical doesn't it? Well why would it make any more sense the other way around?


""He personally conducted interviews of several dozen single and gay fathers and their daughters in order to examine their family lives and—no surprise—found them to his liking."" - Now that sounds sorta creepy, doesn't it? So why is it any less acceptable than Drexler's claim?

But it's a scientific study! Er, isn't it?

No, it isn't.

The families studied are self-selected. That means the single mothers involved had a conscious, vested interest in proving themselves better than the men they think they can do without. Well, more power to your elbows sistas, but why on earth do you have to suggest that men are any less capable than you are in the same situation? Well, as usual, that question's easy to answer: because it's in line with convention thinking. Dad=man=bad. But conventional thinking has a way of falling apart after a while, doesn't it?

I read this stuff and feel a close kinship with the suffragettes of times gone by. They won, eventually, or rather perhaps their children did. So might my son, if we get lucky...

Some other (unmodified) lines from the article that I particularly liked:

"Chris Rock famously noted, yes, certainly women can raise children without men, but that doesn't make it a good idea." Rock on Chris.

"Raising Boys also has serious implications for family law. The most damaging part of divorce for children is the way some custodial parents—usually the mother—cut the noncustodial parent out of their children's lives. While this is at times done out of legitimate concern for the children's well-being, too often it is brought about by anger or shortsightedness. Visitation is often interfered with, kept to a minimum, or denied altogether, and some divorcing mothers relocate not out of necessity but instead to remove fathers from their children's lives."

Personally, I think this sort of behaviour should be an a priori criminal offense with serious consequences. A mother who shuts a father out of her child's life without clear and court-supported reason ought not to have that right in the first place and on practice of the behaviour ought to be punished, and I don't mean a wet-blanket contempt-of-court charge. For heaven's sake, if you can ostracise and put a father in jail for failure to pay child support, you ought to be able to do something to those mothers who play around with an even more valuable currency - the love of their children for their father and vice versa. (Of course, for those of you who are hard of thinking, I add the obligatory disclaimer that I think this should apply to the father too in the reverse situation.)

Monday, September 05, 2005

anne - Another Real Life Heartless Bitch

Now here's woman I can respect.


Why isn't this hate speech? Imagine a similar article about the female counterpart (most gender stereotypes have a counterpart in the opposite sex). Do you think a male writer (or even a female one) could get away with it?

Am I bothered because perhaps I am a "whimpster"? I don't think so. I guess I could be one, but, well, so what? Nah, I'm just sick of misandry dressed up as half-jokey, half-serious crap like this. Get a life, "Ms" Elder.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Struck dumb.

Of course, there's a huge long, ugly, sordid tale behind my position. However, like many, perhaps most, fathers in my position, I am unable to say anything much to anyone for fear of prejudicing my position. (This, however, does not seem to apply to the mother who can do and say pretty much whatever she likes as long as she doesn't deal in drugs, turn hooker, get locked up or overtly harm the kids.)

Oh lord, but I wish I could unload my story, I wish I could yell it from the rooftops, I wish I could confront every bigotted, biased, or simply casually cruel player in this game.

Blog Archive