Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Fathers, Fortresses, Billboards and Boyfriends

Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
Feruary 24 , 2003

Dedicated in 1884, the Iowa Capitol building with its golden dome stood proudly overlooking the city. One hundred and nineteen years later, it looks out at a troubled society that has, in its hubris, redefined the values and institutions for which it once stood. Among those is the once proud American nuclear family.

On February 18th, 2003, the aging heart of that golden-domed edifice was transfused with the lifeblood of tradition and gallantry. Fifty men and women, give or take, carpooling from remote areas of Iowa, gathered in the second floor rotunda before the house and senate chambers. They were there to remind the elected occupants of those chambers that ours is a representative form of government, and that they were not being represented.

They were not burning flags, nor bras, nor waving placards. These gentlemen and ladies were, in an ordered and determined fashion, calling on individual members to commit to legislation that would restore equality within the family unit, and give fathers an equal voice in their children's lives.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of their presentation, aside from their solidarity, was their un-remarkability. These were folks from the heart of flyover country. They were short and tall, dark and light haired, younger and older, and not one monster among them. They were fathers, mothers, sisters, and second wives. One might think, given the popular feminist myth, that the rotunda would have reeked of testosterone and bullyism. To the contrary, you would have found each of these folks someone you might call friend. And that was what made them powerfully remarkable.

Standing for six or seven hours on a marble floor, making repeated earnest entreaties to dozens of legislators, is the stuff of backaches and dry throats, and at the end of the day, uncertainty and fulfillment. Each had their personal story of thousands of dollars squandered before an unhearing judiciary, the ex-spouse with a druggy boyfriend, the unjust restraining orders, the moveaways, the sabotaged relationship with their children. But despite all that pain and frustration, that isn't what they were there to talk about. They were about the business of equality in legislation, and they made their cases with dignity. And that was what made them powerfully remarkable.

Could it be coincidental that on that very same day, Senator David Miller rose before his senate colleagues to raise the alarm, and propose a "Commission on the Status of Men." Probably not. Nor did it come as a surprise that one of the feminists in residence, Senator Mary Lundby made the snotty remark "I think Senator Miller didn't get enough caffeine this morning ... men had it pretty good for centuries, welcome to the club." Reading between the lines, Sen. Lundby bared the feminist agenda, 'We've got all the power, and you can't have it back, period.'

Having had grandparents who lived within the shadow of the Capitol building, my memories of that grand old edifice were those of marvel and delight to be able to walk through its massive doors into that cavernous interior full of marble, brass and statuary, historic displays and the grand staircase. Evenings, weekends, from dawn to dark, one could freely enter and wander through that seat of representative government with nary a care.

At the dawn of the brave new twenty-first century, though, that once proud edifice now stands as a fortress against citizen entry. State government has grown so vast that citizen access requires long treks from remote parking, so that State employees may have the parking convenience once afforded the ordinary citizens who pay their bloated salaries. The electorate may only enter through nearly subterranean service entrances, empty their pockets of bits of metal and cell phones, and walk through metal detectors 'personed' by security officers. Somehow, the shift in power so valued by elected feminist representatives, seems more like a shift to fear and trembling. And the once grand Capitol building is now an effeminate analogy to a restraining order.

But, ... having spent much of the day lobbying for the controversial "boyfriend bill" or as it is officially known, HF 64, I am pleased to report that within the cohort of that day's father advocates, it was positively received and endorsed. One representative with whom I spoke, Wayne Ford advised that it was his intention to attach a caveat to that bill which would demand concrete evidence of abuse. Nodding his agreement, Rep. Ford listened to my narrative of having worked in the State prison at Fort Dodge, and my sad realization that young black men, who were 50% of that population, in majority shared another commonality besides skin color. 85% of them came from fatherless homes. I asked him, "Is that not proof in itself that single-mother homes, which are more accurately fatherless homes, are in essence abusive?" I think he heard me.

It was also my intent to drum up support for the idea of a community billboard campaign to promote a positive image of fatherhood to counter the prevalent feminist mythology of the dastardly dad. You might imagine my sense of validation when I found that same day, an Associated Press story heralding the success of a billboard campaign by two parents who had been wrongfully separated from their daughter by an allegation of abuse. In desperation, they paid for and posted their plight on three billboards. The Department of Social Services suddenly scheduled a rehearing of the case. As the parents said, "The reason publicity works so well, and the reason DSS does not want publicity, is that ... they do so many things that are illegal and underhanded and are violations of due process rights." Amen.

Oh, back to the merits of the "boyfriend bill." Blogger Angry Harry, writing in Men's News Daily, finds little merit in the legislation that has garnered national attention. His arguments are profusely these four: 1.) It would increase hostility in already contentious custody cases, were dads to challenge the presence of the live-in boyfriend. 2.) It would only afford yet another opportunity for the child abuse industry to expand its intrusive powers. 3.) Forget the relatively minor threat posed by boyfriends, it's really the mother who is most dangerous to children. 4.) Men have been betrayed by the social admonition to become more involved with their children, and they would be better off if they realized that "fighting for their rights with regard to any of their interactions with children is most likely to be a highly expensive and soul-destroying waste of time."

Well, at the risk of making him angrier, Harry missed the point. That is, for the past three or four decades, women have been given great power with little or no attendant responsibility, unlike that traditionally required of men. It's been a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too revolution. The fundamental issue here is responsibility and accountability. The boyfriend bill, for the first time in decades, publicly challenges the libertine privilege into which women have slouched, and for that reason alone merits speedy passage. Could it be the predecessor to accountability in how child support is actually invested in the children? Hmmmm.

Now, as for the four obfuscating arguments. 1.) Increased hostility? Oh please, can there be any greater hostility than the all-too-common, peremptory allegations of abuse by wives - the fin de sie'cle of contentious custody cases? 2.) Expand the State's intrusive powers? Sorry, that intrusion is already near absolute when it comes to Child Protective Services. How do you expand on that - gas chambers? 3.) Women are the most likely to abuse children? Certainly, but this is a classic non-sequitur. The fact is that fatherlessness dramatically exacerbates that risk. Let's see, men should not challenge the change of circumstances of having a live-in boyfriend because mom's going to abuse the kids anyway? And if the dad is a teatotaling, short-haired, Christian, he has no right to 'impose' those views on his children? The latter sounds eerily similar to that feminist screed, "dads are pathological bullies who abuse their children." - Letty Cottin Pogrebin 4.) Men should just walk away, because parenthood is painful? Go rent or buy the movie, City by the Sea. Then tell dads to walk away.

Harry's argument comes down to this: "But marriage is a tricky business these days - particularly for men - ... Divorced fathers could well be put through the mill twice should they, themselves, end up with new relationships that involve children - which happens often." (emphasis added) Doesn't sound like much of a relationship or involvement.

Employing Occam's razor, a shallow theme emerges: Men have been abused, so don't expect them to be noble. Men have earned the right not to be held responsible. Men resent chivalrous morality because it's restrictively judgmental. Men want to get laid, without commitment, just like women. Fatherhood has lost its meaning, so just walk away.

Yup, those are the guys I was talking about who are against the boyfriend bill, Harry. They wouldn't have liked the guys at the State Capitol; they were just traditional, remarkable Dads. And never in America's history, short of a Revolution and two World Wars, have they been more desperately needed.

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