30 Jul 2004, Comments (0)


Author: Helen

Some of you will know what that acronym stand for. Others won’t.

Yesterday, a parliamentary committee handed down its recommendation for a new Families Tribunal – and I’m trying to suspend my cynicism re. the “one-stop-shop” Solution to Everything the government always seems to be pushing – but as usual, the Angry Dads organisations got their fifteen minutes of fame, to push the following memes, which they spread in internet forums and now the mainstream media:

1. All women want fathers kept away from children after separation. (We just want single motherhood with no time to ourselves, oh yeah.)
2. The Family Court “always” “favours” the woman in a custody dispute just because they are mothers and mothers are deemed “better” primary carers. Bastards!
3. This has nothing to do with women being socialised from birth to be mothers and to base their self esteem largely on their skill or lack of it as mothers.
4. (2) also has nothing to do with the fact that the mother usually has been the primary carer while the relationship was intact.
5. This has nothing to do with the fact that most couples make that decision because women, on average, earn less than men.
6. (5) has nothing to do with the fact that women have been socialised from birth to be primary carers and are seen as such (and therefore less effective in the workplace) by employers.

Yep, we just love that making-dentist-appointments and figuring-how-to-get-to-work-on-time-while-still-dropping-off-kids lifestyle so much, we just won’t give the blokes a piece of it. Woe!

Guys, you’ve just seen a typical example of PHMT, or Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. Read this classic piece, which explains what PHMT means, and stop blaming mothers for “getting” the kids (oh, and by the way – they’re not chattels).

You still have more of the power, as far as ordering the workplace and economy goes, because more of you are in management and boardrooms. Just get on with it, willya? and then you’ll have your dream to be the equal or primary carer. Just be careful what you wish for.

Comments (0)

  • jen says:

    Me and my mates haven’t got one live in dad between us. Are we happy? yes. Why? – because these dear old dads are MORE than happy to have the children while we do what we like to do. What is the problem?
    Ahhh is it that some bitter twisted mothers are deliberately witholding children, using them as weapons while they lick their wounds and open them again in a despicable display self pity? The men are right. children need to be taken away from mothers who don’t happily give them away. Now I need to go out for dinner – no daughter in sight Yessss!

  • Helen says:

    “Ahhh is it that some bitter twisted mothers are deliberately witholding children, using them as weapons while they lick their wounds and open them again in a despicable display self pity? ”
    Obviously the majority, like you, would rather let the dear old dads have the children some of the time.
    There would be a tiny minority who are sick enough to withhold contact for no good reason.
    This would come under the heading of Mental Illness and in no way would constitute the broad social movement towards wholesale rejection of fathers that the Dads groups are imagining.

    Then there’s the mums that withhold contact because they’re scared of the men. That’s a whole other ball game…

  • David Tiley says:

    Whenever I see these particular claims, I keep thinking back to fifteen or so years ago when I did some research on Family Court counsellors.

    They seemed to be smart and calm, and pretty good at keeping the cases out of the hands of adversarial lawyers.

    So many parents had backed themselves into impossible corners, in which trust and communication was no longer possible.

    I thought the implication was pretty clear – counselling was the kind of role that saved a huge amount of suffering and money, providing it was available in sufficient quantities.

    I certainly wished at the time they had been available when my own parents divorced, before Lionel Murphy’s new law. It was a completely disgusting experience which made the continuing relationships between our family members impossible under any terms.

    Half a dozen sessions with a counsellor would have made all the difference. I truly think that is all it would have taken, for all of us in the family to understand what this meant and what we could expect. Instead paranoia, helplessness and despair ran riot.

    But of course we live in a society that “can’t afford” the government to do useful things like this on the level required. Instead we fart around changing the bloody law and lawyers get fat.

    The real problem is adversarialism, not the terms of the law.

    It is very hard to make generalisations about types of divorce. Yes, I know a case in my extended family right now in which a mother is preventing and disrupting access visits but still demanding money. That’s the “bad mother” tack. I also know of men who are hopeless communicators and emotional providers, whose role in access is nasty and poisonous. The “bad father” tack. The law is too gross an instrument to create a priori positions on this sort of stuff – except to run the general principle that the children’s welfare is central.

    And so on..

  • […] Descriptive: first-/second-/third-wave – different periods of feminist activism with different priorities. An Anglo-Americocentric description of feminist history, although largely generalisable. First wave feminism : the advocacy of basic legal (de jure) equality: suffragists, property inheritance and contractual agency rights. Historically a movement for wives of the propertied classes, but a broader movement today in those countries where women are still denied de jure equality. Second wave feminism : working for the implementation/enforcement of de jure equalities but also concerned with de facto (unofficial) inequalities: finding the political in the personal and fighting for changes in long-standing sexist prejudices and traditions – socioeconomic equality not just legal equality, and for more than just the propertied classes. Third wave feminism: a challenge to essentialist views of femininity (as biologically reductive) and feminisms (as homogenously directed) combined with an emphasis on the intersectionality of oppressions. MRA – male rights activist (an extreme masculinist example) patriarchy – one of the most misunderstood critical-theory concepts ever, often wilfully misunderstood. Patriarchy is an ancient and ongoing social system based on traditions of elitism (a hierarchy of inferiorities), privilege and the subjugation of women via strict gender expectations which constrain individualist expressions. Some societies are more patriarchal than others, but patriarchal social traditions are universal in human societies. [more in the Patriarchy FAQ] “the personal is political” – a radical 1960’s concept that there is a politics of sex/gender based on power relationships in families, and that describing family power imbalances as “personal” was simply dismissive and condescending. First cited in an essay by Carol Hahnisch in 1970 defending consciousness-raising from charges that it was merely “therapy”: Hanisch states “One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time.”(the term has since been adopted by other protest movements). PHMT – Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. Men are also constrained from full individualist expression by strict gender expectations. (Corollary: FBMT – Feminism benefits men too – thanks Helen) privilege – advantages that some groups have over others in the social hierarchy. Some privileges are situational and temporary (parent over child, employer over employee) and serve a pragmatic social purpose but other privileges are societal and traditional and serve to perpetuate elitism. Some elitist privileges are de jure (e.g. South African racial apartheid, rules against the ordination of women as priests) but most are de facto (informal discrimination against “others” in the workplace, education, financial transactions (e.g. exclusionary “mates’ rates”) and social recognition/reward). [more in the Male Privilege FAQ] radfem – radical feminist rape culture – a constellation of behaviours and attitudes embedded into patriarchal society. These attitudes, socialised from birth and often wielded unconsciously, enable and encourage the subordination of women by maintaining a environment that is pervasively hostile and threatening to women. The behaviours include a spectrum of acts which function to keep women in an object role and perpetuate their fear. They include (but are not limited to) certain aspects of “chivalry”, victim-blaming, leering, intimidation, sexual harrassment and coercion, domestic violence, assault and rape. (defn from lauredhel) [more: Biting Beaver] sex-pos – sex-positive feminist strawfeminist – a false construction, created to scare people away from the juicy crops of equality, equity and the end of female subjugation (See “strawman fallacy” and our “spot the strawfeminist” category) […]

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