Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Irish Fathers' WRONGS and the Politics of Defending Not-Poor Men. At least some Irish men get it that these patriarchs don't deserve defending and that feminism isn't to blame for daddy's dilemmas

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 [image is from here]

[10 June 2010ECD NOTE: This post has been revised and clarified since reading Andrea's comment after the post. Thanks Andrea!]

The following CRAP-loaded statement du jour is quoted in an Irish Times article below is this:

“Systematic suppression of the facts about injustices against men in family courts has been effected by a generation of feminist-conditioned journalists.” -- John Waters

When will privileged white fathers start noting how RACIST PATRIARCHY impacts their parenting choices, and the ease with which they can blame feminists of all colors for their own personal failures?

I have had occasion, very recently, to discover that men who are fathers don't really see themselves as parents. Husband and wife wake up to a crying baby. He decides to sleep in. She is the default parent who gets up and changes THEIR baby. (He needs his sleep, you see. She? Well, he's not so concerned about that. He's the center of his world. Her baby is the center of her world because she has an infant who must be attended to, around the clock. He COULD make this infant, HIS infant, the center of his world. There is no feminist outcry that he not do so. She's fine with him stepping it up.)

HE is as stay-at-home as she is, but HE goes out to the gym, leaving HER with the baby, even though HER work is at home, at a computer (SHE is the primary wage earner). She is sitting at her computer, WAGE-WORKING when he decides to go to the gym, because, well, the baby is asleep. Never mind that the baby might wake up and need his attention. He doesn't have to worry about the baby... she's there.

He and so many het fathers who are home with their female spouses and children, view taking care of their own children as a favor they might occasionally do for their dearly beloved spouse, not a moral and social obligation because, you know, they had children. 

This is my experience: only when het men are so abusive to women that women take action to protect themselves, and any children, do fathers want rights of access. When the men are just "good guys" they take fatherhood for granted, are never as involved as are women in the raising of children, and go about their lives opting in and opting out of being a parent, depending on mood and whim, determined largely by privileges and entitlements not afforded mothers.

The men in my family, for example, can see themselves however they wish: as dedicated dads or as deadbeat dads or anything in between. They play the parts, always blaming women for their woes--she may be blamed for wanting too primary a relationship with their children, so he pouts and withdraws. She may be blamed for not attending enough to them and be portrayed by him as a neglectful parent. 

Especially fathers and other men love to blame feminists for "all that's gone wrong in heterosexual relationships, particularly with regard to something called "Father's Rights". (We may note how they don't form groups called "Father's Responsibilities".) And so too do some women blame feminists, who also think fathers are an disempowered political group. Let's keep in mind it was largely fathers who crafted all the laws they balk against when women demand scumbag abusive men not have access to their children. Let's not forget patriarchal societies determine what women will and won't do with children; how they will and won't be stigmatised, if they do have children; if they terminate a pregnancy; if they put children up for adoption; if they refuse sex; if they have too much sex... The double standards are endless and never work to secure for women the human rights and civil liberties men enjoy relative to women within most WHM supremacist-impacted cultural and ethnic groups.

What follows is an article by Sarah Carey, who makes it clear she sides with the poor beleagered fathers. Following that, I've copied and pasted some of the comments from the original site, which you can link back to by clicking on the title below. The very last comment is the one I wrote to appear in the comments list at that Irish Times website.

The Irish Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Media baulks at pursuing fathers' rights

Views have evolved but an instinctive suspicion of men as uninterested impregnators is hard to shift, writes SARAH CAREY

JOHN WATERS has a point. Last Friday he complained that although his column of the previous week had gained international attention, it was largely ignored in Ireland. In fairness, “Man fathers child with his sister” should have sparked some interest.

Apart from the Irish edition of The Daily Mail, no Irish media outlet followed up on the appalling story of a man who fell in love and had a child with a woman who turned out to be his half-sister. The disaster had occurred because his mother had lied to him about the identity of his real father, and because the courts had endorsed that lie by denying the father access to his son. Worse, though no one doubted the true paternity of the boy, his birth certificate incorrectly identified another man as the father. A clearly fraudulent document couldn’t be corrected without the consent of the mother, the perpetrator of the original lie.

If the media champions itself as a tool with which the country’s dirty little secrets might be revealed, why does it fail to pursue the issue of fathers’ rights with the same diligence with which it goes after the church or the travel expenses of peripatetic Senators?

Part of the problem, as Waters acknowledges, is that he’s writing the story. When he writes about fathers, we throw our eyes to heaven, because there he goes banging on about that issue again. Also, those other fathers who air their grievances in the media are angry, and that makes them look a bit mad. This makes us suspect there’s more to their case than they’re telling us.

The other problem is that Waters argues that the “systematic suppression of the facts about injustices against men in family courts has been effected by a generation of feminist-conditioned journalists”. When men are victims, scandals are ignored. If women are victims, their plight is well-advertised. His explanation requires his colleagues to acknowledge that they are “feminist-conditioned”. I suspect that most would either deny that this is the case, or see feminism as being so self-evidently correct that they wouldn’t accept such conditioning serves to blind them to injustice.

I don’t see myself as being implicitly conditioned by feminist ideology. I am a feminist. Not that many women are willing to admit to such a thing these days. The label conjures up Andrea Dworkin – a fat, dungaree-wearing, unwaxed lesbian who argued that all sex was rape. But to those who disown feminism, I ask: what would you give back? The vote? Equal pay? Maternity leave? The Family Home Protection Act? The pill? Feminism didn’t corrupt me. It liberated me, and frankly, I like it. I think my reaction to John’s campaign is probably common enough – I’m sympathetic, but instinctively baulk when he blames a movement that most educated people see as having a positive influence on their lives.

Having said that, I’m not yet 40, but have had enough sobering moments to realise that the Law of Unintended Consequences applies, and criticisms of the movement are valid.

It wasn’t until I felt it necessary to apologise for the fact that I liked staying at home to mind my babies that I realised how feminism had undermined motherhood. And I’m not sure when I began to feel ashamed about the time I advised a pregnant teenage friend not to name the father of her baby on the birth cert. Having a baby was bad enough. Being lumbered with the unsavoury creep who impregnated her in a stupid drunken moment would only compound the error. Fair enough, I was a teenager myself. But how did I come to believe that her child would be as well off not knowing its father?

I was reared in the relative isolation of rural Ireland in two-channel land, and knew nothing about feminism until I was in my 20s. I hadn’t been corrupted by anything but a folk fear of unfortunate girls who were locked up in those laundries, disappeared temporarily down the country to mother-and-baby homes, having lost any chance of advancement in the world while the men blithely carried on with their lives. We were reared on tales of the farmer or solicitor who couldn’t keep his hands off the domestics. Or women arriving “foal at foot” into marriages whereupon children were reared with entire communities conspiring to cover up their true parentage, and thanks to adulterous relationships in pre-divorce Ireland, muttering about there being blood between certain couples.

Subsequently, my experiences veered between bitterly discovering my gender was a handicap in my corporate career, and listening with dismay and sympathy to the stories of male friends cut out of their children’s lives. Yet, however my views evolved over time, that instinctive suspicion of men as uninterested impregnators and unwilling fathers is hard to shift.

So, even if Waters is correct that feminism conditioned us to see fathers as dispensable, I think that such conditioning succeeded because the narrative lay so neatly on top of the pre-existing reality. We already believed that fathers didn’t necessarily want to know, didn’t need to knowand perhaps were better off not knowing.

Of course, regardless of where we’ve come from, the rest of the media shouldn’t be afraid of admitting that where we are now is a place of terrible injustice. At the very least, if other people started to write about it, then Waters could stop, and for that, I’m sure he’d be grateful.


John Waters carries around a vision of Ireland in his head, that only exists in one place - John Waters's head. 

He believes that in Ireland there's a vast conspiracy of liberal intellectuals chiselling away behind the scenes, attacking the church and fomenting radical feminism.

This is not the case.

Ireland is not an intellectual country, it's an intuitive one.

John's feminist narrative is completely off. Because there just isn't the feminists. John needs his intellectual devil to blame, when the roots of the injustices are deeply ingrained in Irish culture. The fathers cut out of their children's lives, are the victims of moral relativism. But not a moral relativism that originates from an ideological text. It's a moral relativism based on social instinct. And John won't level his guns on this target because it's his beloved illiberal conservative Ireland.

the legal system is what determines fathers rights. How many women/feminists have had input into the development and evolution of the legal system. Unmarried fathers have no rights because their illegitimate children have no call on their asset/name/familial ties etc. This is the reality that Waters refuses to acknowledge.

To blame feminism, and feminised men for this state of affairs is an insult to all women and men who believe in childrens rights, and equality before the law for all. It is a frightened response to the rapid changes that Ireland is going through. The cry of a man being left behind in an Ireland he can't relate too. Fair enough, but to blame 'the feminists' for his inablility to see beyond his nose is his problem, not any one else's.

Edward Stevenson

I refer to your mention of the "Law of Unintended Consequences" and offer the following observations.

The Irish family law system, for those who are unfortunately familiar with it, relies upon an ethos that is teeming with intended and contemptible consequences. That ethos is sustained by practices which are flawed on many counts. Consequently, in far too many instances due process is knowingly discarded. Obviously, this ethos and the practices that protect it are manipulated by SOME legal professionals and witnessed by members of the judiciary.

As far back as 1996, experts were calling the system a parody of justice.

Moreover, I propose that chronic dysfunction in Irish child protection practices should be regarded as intrinsically related.

Children in this jurisdiction are regarded as chattel. Their fathers are members, first and foremost, of an economy.
Repute? an ironic spasm of consonants and vowels.

As to the valid functions of the media?

I fear, Sarah, that elites in media and law have an incestuous relationship. The in-camera rule poses less a barrier to discerning factually the injustices in the family law system, but editorial policy appears to have filled the gap. The spurious oversight of rogue legal practices generally has been and remains on the long finger under very similar circumstances.

In the spirit of the Leaving Cert I ask this: when an ethos and its systems resist more than 2 decades of heavy criticism can one logically refer to the consequences as unintended?

Julian Real submitted this comment:
"All sex is rape", "All heterosexual intercourse is rape" are mantras of misogynist men and the women who want misogynist men to love them. One of the ways many women appeal to men is by attempting to prove to them that "I'm not like THOSE feminists!" And THOSE feminists are usually lesbian and radical. So lesbians and radical thinking women get routinely tossed under the bus of patriarchal political correctness because solidarity with a few jerk men is made to seem more necessary for survival and pleasure than solidarity with the bravest thinkers of our time.

In my view, feminism isn't powerful enough, relative to the heterosexist, racist, and patriarchal forces inside the society in which feminism rises up, to be blamed for making women feel guilty about anything. Patriarchal forces, including those embedded in dominant cultural media, religion, education, insist women feel nothing but guilt about parenting... however they do it. Women are to feel guilty because, unlike fathers, mothers can never be good enough. But fathers only have to show up, not be drunks, and not rape their daughters to be considered "good fathers". A double standard? Yes, indeed. Fathers can even beat up their children's mums and still be given custody, after all. How messed up is that? 

It has always been politically (patriarchally) correct to distance oneself from militant front line feminists. (Indeed, is there any other way to be on the front line? Are militant patriarchs seen as not okay because of their militancy? Yet another double standard rears its ugly head.) Radical feminist women who gave and give all humanity a whole lot to be grateful for are not likely to be appreciated in or after their time.

One might, at least, hope for this: when referencing "those" feminists, please at least quote them in context or refer accurately to what they said and did. Please, Sarah, try not to be so disparaging against fat people and so not-so-covertly anti-lesbian in your remarks. Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, for example, deserve our gratitude for raising consciousness, with well-researched work, about the endemic problems of rape, battery, sexual harassment, and other forms of violence against women by men. It's sad to see some women to appeal to the men who hate radical feminists, as those men, when the proverbial push does become the aggressive shove, also have little to no respect for any women who stand up for themselves against the needs, wishes, fantasies, and demands of men.

See the following link for the truth behind the "all sex is rape" lie, that just won't die. I'm asking you to please not add to the chorus of those who seek to make some feminists out to be "the bad guys". There really are still too many men who are "bad guys", after all, who, as yet, remain fully unaccountable to the atrocities they perpetrate. Atrocities, in fact, that radical feminists never committed while alive, nor since being dead.