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.

Gender War: The Joint-Custody Battle

by Stuart Miller, 8/98

   In an unusual "letter-war" that is going on in The Washington Times, between pro-family advocates and certain members of Congress, the existence of a gender war has been exposed.  But, up until now, only one side has showed up for this war -- the feminists.  Men have largely not been interested in fighting this war -- most not even recognizing its existence.  Why have men suddenly started to become vocal?

  Because feminists have been burdening men with so much false blame, unless the trend is reversed, a backlash against women, Congress, and the courts, is going to make the Civil War seem as tame as children misbehaving in a sandbox.  Men rightfully want to avert that outcome.

  The feminists, sensing the growing unrest amongst men, have gone for the jugular and are looking for a final victory: the termination of joint-custody of children.  They've already re-instituted debtor's prisons for men who fall behind in child support.  They convinced Congress to enact the Violence Against Women Act, with no reciprocal Violence Against Men Act, in spite of the fact that the 1994 Department of Justice Act report on Murder in Families shows that 54.5% of murder victims in family violence are male. 

Feminist-championed welfare programs have effectively deprived men of marriage in low-income families.  Where there is marriage, the paternalistic courts have opened up wide and profitable avenues for women to shed their husbands and remove fathers from their children's lives.  Feminists have labeled all men as child abusers, even though according to every state child abuse reporting agency, when a child is abused, 85% of the time the child is abused by its mother.  They've labeled all men as batterers in spite of the fact that an overwhelming majority of the research shows that women perpetrate as much or more domestic violence than do men.  So why then, with all of this lop-sided legislation in place favoring women over men, is elimination of joint-custody one of the final blows?

  Because it is the last hurdle that keeps women from being able to effectively reduce the role of men to only that of sperm donor and worker drone, should they so choose.  As long as the possibility of joint-custody still exists, men still might have a meaningful role in society and in the family, even if the woman doesn't so desire.  Granted, some women will not choose to go down that road, but it will be their choice and theirs alone.

  H. Con. Res. 182 introduced by Representative Constance A. Morella (R-MD), "[e]xpressing the sense of Congress with regard to child custody…" states: "[f]or purposes of determining child custody, it is not in the best interest of children to -- (A) force parents to share custody over the objection of one or both parents or when there is a history of domestic or family violence."  This seems innocent enough until you look at the definition of "family violence."  In a recent AMA study, the researchers determined that women were victims of family violence if they answered yes to the question: "Has your spouse or partner ever stormed out of the room?"  This, or even a lie that family violence had occurred, would be sufficient to eliminate a judge's option of awarding joint-custody over the mother's objections.

  In addition to encouraging states to pass laws eliminating joint-custody, H. Con. Res. 182 implies that it was never the intent of Congress to use the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act to punish mothers for kidnapping children from custodial fathers by saying "[W]hereas Congress never intended that the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act be used -- (4) as a tool to punish abused or protective parents who act to protect themselves or their children."

  Unbelievably, the implications of the elimination of joint-custody and the elimination of penalties for maternal kidnapping, pale in comparison to the outrageous feminist propaganda contained in the supporting "reasons" for this resolution.

  After a brief sentence about how harmful domestic violence is on children even if they are unaware of the occurrence of domestic violence, the resolution commences by stating "[W]hereas courts still hold women to higher standards of conduct than they do men, and goes on to state:

  "[W]hereas gender bias still exists within the courts, particularly those making and affecting child custody determinations;

  Whereas gender bias has long existed and still exists within the mental health system;

  Whereas, as a result of this gender bias, many myths are that women make false allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, and most particularly of child sexual abuse, during divorce and custody proceedings;

  Whereas false accusations by women are in fact rare, occurring no more often than do other false reports of crimes, such as bank robbery…"

  When was the last time you heard someone make a false allegation of bank robbery?  The rest is equally ludicrous, making claims that fathers get custody 40%-70% of the time, and there is no such thing as "Parental Alienation Syndrome" [where divorced mothers (or fathers) try to turn their children against the other parent] and a seemingly endless harangue about how women are so discriminated against by men, courts, mental health workers, child protective services agencies, etc., and implying that women are, in reality, the definition of purity.

  Yes, men are getting vocal now.  As well they should be.   But they should not be alone.  The rest of the voters need to get vocal, too, and throw the radical feminists and their supporters out of office.  Otherwise, the destruction of the family and the decline of our society won't be the only price they have to pay.  The next civil war might be looming just over the horizon.

The writer is the senior legislative analyst for the American Fathers Coalition in Washington DC.

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