February 11, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Over the years the brief for fathers has become ever more persuasive, so much so that we seldom read or hear anyone with the type of virulent anti-dad misandry that, just a few years ago was pretty commonplace. Although it’s taken absurdly long to do so, the notion that fathers benefit children and should be a part of their lives both before and after divorce has taken deep root in our social consciousness. Of course, many haven’t gotten the message yet, and unfortunately, they’re the very ones who most need to. I refer to people like the President of the United States, state lawmakers and family court judges. The zeitgeist has changed for the better; those in power for the most part have not.
So it’s with some shock and awe that I read this piece by someone who dubs herself Glosswitch (New Statesman, 2/9/15). It’s a combination of toxic misandry, profound ignorance and (I suppose unsurprisingly) gloss the like of which I haven’t seen in ages. It takes real chutzpah to be so publicly wrong about so much in so little space. The article is so bad it’s almost admirable.
The stimulus for it seems to have been a proposal to increase paternity leave in the U.K. to four weeks. Now, many think that’s a pretty good idea even if it comes nowhere near equalizing the rights of mothers and fathers to paid leave. But, as with most moves that seek even modestly greater equality between mothers and fathers, radical feminists like GW are thrown into a tizzy of dad-hating they usually manage to keep under tighter rein. Of course that sort of anti-father nonsense is also anti-shared parenting nonsense. It’s impossible to do one without the other.
Some of what GW wrote frankly doesn’t make any sense. Reading it, the image of chimpanzees with typewriters springs unbidden to mind, but I’ll try to deal with the parts I can figure out. Where to begin? With GW’s profound ignorance? Her misandry? Her illogic? Let’s just start at the beginning and work our way through.
She begins with the victimization of women by men, what else?
Like many women of my generation I grew up believing that feminists had already won the argument regarding housework and childcare. We’d pointed out that the current distribution of labour was unfair and no one, apart from the out-and-out sexists, had dared to disagree. None of my male peers would have dreamed of saying “a woman’s place is in the home” so I thought it fair to assume that none of them thought it, either.
Yes, that was the “current distribution of labor” that had women doing almost all the childcare and men doing essentially all the paid work. As advocates for men have pointed out, mothers who stay home with the kids are being supported by the fathers of those kids. And particularly after the children start school, caring for them takes a lot less time than does an eight-hour-a-day job plus, say, three hours of commuting time. So, as radical feminists have for decades, GW wants to complain about the “distribution of labor” but doesn’t want to look at what fathers do. You know, the little things like paying for the roof over everyone’s head, the food on the table, the schooling, the medical needs, the heating and cooling, the insurance, etc., etc.
It’s much easier to feel aggrieved if one ignores the many benefits one receives from one’s “oppressor.” But the larger point is one I’ve made before; where did anyone get the idea that parenting doesn’t include working and earning to pay the bill so that little Andy or Jenny doesn’t have to sleep under a bridge every night? That absurd claim is all of a piece with “children don’t need their fathers.” After all, if what fathers do for kids is defined as unimportant, then why would children need their dads post-divorce?
So much for GW’s first bit of misandry, now on to her profound ignorance. As GW would have it, mothers are simply champing at the bit to go to work. All they want is to leave the kids at home and get back to the plant or office where they find their true fulfillment as women.
Sadly for her “woe is us” narrative, the facts beg to differ. How many studies do we have to show her that, even the most highly-educated women in the most challenging fields routinely opt out of paid work in favor of childrearing when they get the opportunity? To name just a few, there’s the study of law graduates of the University of Michigan Law School and another of graduates of the MBA program at the University of Chicago. Multiple studies of women in STEM academic fields show the same thing. And of course more anecdotal inquiries by feminists like Judith Warner do as well.
What they show are women opting out of very high-paying careers in order to care for their kids. These are women who are neither stupid nor unmotivated as their academic credentials attest. But according to supposed women’s champion Glosswitch, they’re witless dupes of nefarious men who’ve selfishly enslaved themselves to the corporate master. Really.
Then there’s the fact that, in the United States, the Census Bureau shows there to be some six million stay-at-home mothers and about 190,000 stay-at-home dads. To GW, those women are just more witless dupes. To the rest of us they’re free women choosing what they want to do with their lives and not uncommonly having their choices validated and supported by their husbands and boyfriends. But what do we know?
Far worse is GW’s entire ignorance of the biochemistry of motherhood. As I’ve said on this site many times, when a female member of any mammalian species is pregnant, she produces a set of hormones that bond her to her offspring and produce the type of protective, nurturing behavior without which the little ones couldn’t survive to adulthood. In about 90% of mammal species, the only parent getting that spike of cortisol, prolactin, estradiol and oxytocin are females who go on to become the caregiving parents. In the other 10%, both parents experience shifts in hormone makeup that bind them to their offspring and produce parenting behavior. Human beings happen to be among those 10%. We’re a bi-parental species.
The point being that, when mothers opt to stay home with the kids, they’re obeying one of the most powerful imperatives in the whole of the natural world. That imperative is so powerful that none other than feminist Simone de Beauvoir said we should pass laws making it a criminal offense for women to stay home with their children. But why would Glosswitch know that? According to her, those women are just writhing under the thumbs of heartless lay-about dads.
The further point being that the ones making the real sacrifice here are fathers. They too are bonded biochemically to their children, but our culture ignores the fact. Countless surveys of men with children facing the twin pulls of paid work and their love for their children show that stress is actually higher in men than in women. But again, why would Glosswitch mention such an obviously relevant fact. It fails to fit her narrative of the selfish man and the victimized woman, so she prefers to keep silent on the matter.
And that, friends, is just her first paragraph.
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