January 8, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The observant Suzanne Venker struck a blow for sanity and progress with this piece this past week (Washington Examiner, 1/4/17). Her topics are shared parenting and the zeitgeist – both in family court and beyond – that actively opposes it. Unsurprisingly, she nails it.
The virulent anti-father sentiment abroad in the land of the chatterers comes in for particular criticism.
In 2010, at a press conference to promote the film "The Switch," actress Jennifer Aniston said women are realizing "that you don't have to settle, you don't have to fiddle with a man to have that child."
In a 2010 article in the Atlantic titled "Are Fathers Necessary?" New York Times editor Pamela Paul wrote, "The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there's nothing objectively essential about his contribution."
In a CNN interview with Maureen Dowd about her book, Are Men Necessary?, Dowd says, "Now that women don't need men to reproduce and refinance, the question is, will we keep you around? And the answer is, 'You know, we need you in the way we need ice cream — you'll be more ornamental.'"
Dowd of course is (was?) one of those serial opiners who’d rather be dramatic than right. Reading her was always a losing battle to avoid the conclusion that Dowd wrote whatever nonsense occurred to her at the moment she sat down at her keyboard. Plus, despite for years groveling shamelessly at the feet of Hillary Clinton, she never managed to get a job with her campaigns. ‘Twas an epic fail.
But seriously, is her brain capable of the simple task of imagining what she’d do for even a few hours if men weren’t around, just out of sight, to prop her up, to make every aspect of her life the free, easy and privileged existence it is? What does Dowd imagine she’d do if the plumbing stopped up, the water didn’t flow in the tap, the air-conditioning/heating stopped working, her computer went on the fritz, the electrical grid declined her invitation to function? For that matter, can she even grasp the fact that, in whatever structure she lives, men built it? Does she understand that in fact, essentially every single thing she takes for granted that makes her life one of ease and leisure was invented, discovered, designed, built, refined, installed, maintained, etc. by men?
As they say on social media, it takes a special kind of stupid to write what Dowd did. But of course Dowd isn’t that stupid, she was just taking advantage of the virulently misandric zeitgeist Venker is talking about. Dowd is the type of principle-free babbler who’ll say anything as long as it gets her name in print. If Idi Amin had needed a press secretary, Dowd would have been happy to do the job.
Meanwhile, Pamela Paul’s contribution smacks less of agitprop than of ignorance. After all, there’s nothing “objectively essential” about anyone’s contribution to anything, so on one hand her statement is pointless. But of course its intent was to disrespect fathers. How Paul figures women become pregnant without a man’s “essential contribution” she doesn’t explain. Oh, I know; she was talking about the brave new world of artificially produced sperm with which women everywhere would, were the stuff available, impregnate themselves in order to avoid any hateful contact with the male of the species. According to that thinking, women don’t like men or sex with them.
So yes, there was a measure of Dowd-ish agitprop in Paul’s remark, but ignorance is its real stock in trade. It seems hard to believe that Paul could have been so profoundly ignorant of the topic about which she’d chosen to write, but it looks like she was. How many decades of science on the importance of fathers to children have to pass before she manages to read something applicable to her subject? She wrote in 2010. The Internet existed. So did Google. Was it really so hard to think up a search term or two, type the letters and see what came up? It’s the sort of effort a sixth-grade teacher would routinely expect of her students, but for the likes of Paul, writing in the Atlantic magazine, it was too much to ask.
At the time, the facts about whether fathers are necessary were pretty well known. To the extent anything is “necessary,” fathers are. Did Paul really imagine that mothers are necessary? Once a child comes into the world, Dad can take care of it as well as Mom can. Indeed, in bygone eras in which maternal mortality was high, fathers did exactly that as a matter of course. Does that mean mothers aren’t “necessary?”
Not to anyone with even a casual understanding of children’s welfare. Before the dawn of our brave new world of anti-father enmity, people generally understood that kids did better with both parents present in their lives. But, over the last 40 years or so, we’ve “progressed” toward ignorance. We now have to relearn basic information previous generations would be astonished to find we don’t know.
Paul and Dowd and many others are firmly dedicated to the proposition that we shouldn’t, that not only is ignorance strength, but animosity is preferable to empathy.
Descendants of the Enlightenment shake our heads at such nonsense. We take comfort in the knowledge that the dribblings of people like Paul and Dowd will someday be consigned to the round file in favor of people who care less about making a splash and more about telling the truth about the sexes – that we’ve always been in this life together and always will be.
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