NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

Robert FranklinJune 13, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

This 'woman manifesto' should start with what really is the issue in workplace equality: that women simply aren't doing their fair share, and that their failure to do so is resulting in a raw deal for the fathers of our children, the men we are supposed to love.

As feminists will agree, research shows when women work as much as men, families have more income and that benefits everyone, Mom, Dad and their kids.

Right at the top of this new 'woman manifesto' should be the demand for women to take a fairer share of working and earning, even if it means their time with their children has to take a hit.

This is exactly what men have had to do since they went out hunting, and women stayed at home to clean the cave. We don't live in those pre-historic times any longer.

That’s an exact quotation from this article written by Gideon Burrows that I wrote about yesterday (Huffington Post, UK, 6/11/13). Except it’s not. And my guess is that, as you read the above four short paragraphs, you felt a little shock. What is this guy saying? It’s outright heresy. Taking women to task for failing to pull their weight when it comes to paying the bills? Who’s ever seen such a thing?

But of course the “quotation” from Burrows’ HuffPo piece isn’t a quotation at all. It’s my precise copy of his work, but with the sexes reversed. The sexism is outrageous, right? Surely women should be free to make their own choices about earning and childcare.

Isn’t the same true for fathers? Burrows doesn’t think so.

Burrows excoriates men for not doing enough childrcare, but conveniently overlooks the fact that women don’t do their share of working and earning. A new manifesto for women? Any alteration of their preferred use of their time? Nope, not for Burrows. For him, it’s only men who need to change. For the 10 millionth time, we’re told that men are deficient human beings, in this case because they spend too much time working and earning. That of course is exactly what allows women to do what they choose to do across all boundaries of race, class, religion, ethnicity, educational achievement, etc. – take care of their kids.

Incredibly, Burrows’ blinkered vision allows him to see only fathers who don’t diaper enough, but not mothers who don’t earn enough.

In my last piece I pointed out that Burrows apparently hadn’t done much research on his topic, and that’s nowhere more clear than in his four paragraphs from which I took my paraphrase. Does he really not know that every database showing hours spent at paid work and domestic work reveals that women and men work the same amount of time? Men do more paid work and women do more domestic work, and when the two are aggregated, they come out the same. It’s true in the U.S. as the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows and it’s true in the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as Dr. Catherine Hakim has pointed out numerous times.

Does Burrows really not know about the numerous studies that show even the most highly educated, highly achieving women tend to drop out of the workforce to care for their kids sometimes for many years?

For that matter, does he really not know about the sex hormones that connect human mothers to their children the same way the same hormones do for every mammal species? Is it a surprise to him that women are so strongly motivated to have children and then care for them? Has he ever asked one? Or has he just read feminist tropes about those deficient humans known as men and swallowed them hook, line and sinker?

What about the studies of maternal gatekeeping, the phenomenon in which mothers move to marginalize fathers in the hands-on care of their kids? What about that, Mr. Burrows? Did your Google search turn up any of those?

If Burrows knows anything at all about the topic he wrote on, it’s not obvious. To that battle he comes armed, not with facts, not with science and certainly not with the slightest empathy for fathers. No, Burrows has but a single arrow in his quiver and that’s misandry. His sole message is that fathers are deficient and need to change. Mothers? Nope, they’re just fine as they are. Why are we not surprised?

But if the intrepid Google searcher managed to come up with no social science applicable to fathers and mothers, paid work and childcare, surely he knows about family courts, right? No, not that either.

Family laws and family courts after all are the stuff of everyday headlines. You don’t have to search, they’ll come to you. So is Burrows aware of the fact that many laws frankly discriminate against fathers? If he is, he keeps it a closely guarded secret. In the U.S. 42% of children are born to single mothers, and in the U.K. it’s slightly more than that. But by law, single mothers and single fathers are nothing like equal. Mothers have rights automatically, solely by virtue of their biological connection to the child.

Single fathers, not so much. Depending on the jurisdiction, a single father may have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to gain the right to occasionally visit with the child that, in any case, he’s made to support. But he can do that only if Mom allows it. If Mom chooses to place the child for adoption, it’s a good bet she can do so without ever notifying Dad, much less consulting him.

Is there a law anywhere in the world requiring a mother to notify a father that he has a child? There is not. The law empowers her to keep Dad’s child from him in any number of situations, no questions asked.

And of course mothers are the default position of courts everywhere when it comes to custody. The U.S. qualifies as the poster boy for fathers’ rights because dads manage to get sole or primary custody some 16% of the time. Throughout the rest of the world, it’s much less. Naturally, Burrows would say that’s all the fault of feckless fathers who don’t care enough about their children to slide a spoonful of mashed yams in their face occasionally. But that ignores the fact that time and again courts shove fit fathers to the sidelines just because of their sex.

Last post, I discussed Scott Ritchie, the Michigan dad who did essentially all the childcare for his son during the first six years of the boy’s life. No one ever questioned his fitness or the fact that the boy was raised well and was performing well in school, but the family court kicked Scott to the curb. He’s now doing his best to see the boy occasionally, following his ex around the country as she moves from job to job with his son.

But I could name countless others. Dave Schubert’s ex kidnapped their child to Australia. She’s been ordered to return the child, but ignores the order with utter impunity. Schubert wonders if he’ll ever see his little one again. Tommaso Vincenti? The Australian Government actively assisted his wife in her abduction of their children from Italy to Australia. A dad identified by the court only as “BS,” is a fit father of a daughter who had been horribly abused by her drug-addicted mother. All - mental health professionals, CPS workers, the guardian ad litem, the child herself – agreed that the child should be placed with her father, but California law didn’t permit it because, under that law, he’s not a “presumed father.” That the mother had exercised her power to make it impossible for him to achieve that lofty status makes no difference. He can’t get custody of his child and she’s stuck with either foster care or a brutal, drug-addicted mother.

I could go on indefinitely, but Burrows doesn’t know about such trivialities as laws that actively prevent father-child involvement. He knows anti-male bias and pretty much leaves it at that.

Then of course there’s pop culture that everywhere denigrates the very concept of fathers. There, dads are portrayed as anything from feckless incompetents to clueless fools to sadistic abusers. Does popular culture have an impact on how dads see themselves? It probably does. Does it influence how others, such as mothers, judges, child protective workers, guardians ad litem, etc. view fathers. It probably does that too. Has Burrows ever watched TV? A movie? Has he ever seen an advertisement?

But of course Burrows wouldn’t consider the possibility that everyday cultural messages might tend to marginalize fathers in the lives of their children. Maybe that’s because his article is part of that culture. It’s all of a piece with the popular conception of fathers as less interested in the kids than in “their careers, interests and hobbies,” in Burrows words. See? See how uncaring they are about their children? Dad would rather turn wood or collect baseball cards than care for his child. That’s what Burrows apparently thinks. Seriously.

Governmental denigration of fathers scarcely stops at the courthouse door. Surely Burrows remembers one-time “Equalities” Minister Harriet Harman informing one and all that fathers really didn’t belong in families and shouldn’t be charged with caring for children. They’re far too dangerous, you understand.

Who knows what information Burrows really has? Reading his article, we have to conclude that he’s profoundly ignorant of essentially everything that stands between fathers and their children. But in the mainstream press, there’s always room for a nice, juicy anti-dad article, particularly in the run-up to Father’s Day. After all, we wouldn’t want people concluding that fathers were valuable to children, mothers and society generally, now would we? If we did that we might then conclude that essentially everything we’re doing regarding fathers and their relationships with their kids is wrong. And if we did that we might actually start to make constructive changes.

Imagine that. Burrows doesn’t want to.

The National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

The National Parents Organization is a non-profit organization that is educating the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents and extended families. If you would like to get involved in our organization, you can do so several ways. First, we would love to have you as an official member of the National Parents Organization team. Second, the National Parents Organization is an organization that believes in the importance of using social media as a means to spread the word about shared parenting and other topics, and you can visit us on our Facebook Page to learn more about our efforts. Last, we hope you will share this article with other families using the many social networking sites so that we can bring about greater awareness of shared parenting. Thank you for your support.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn