ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

find:  
 
ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials
 


A Fatherís Concern
July 2, 2002
by Guy C. Monahan

On this Fatherís Day, I thought it necessary to tell the story of fatherhood from a perspective that is very often overlooked. It is the story of divorced fathers and it is ignored because Americans generally assume that men play a disinterested, accessory role in running a home and in the rearing of children. In fact, this essay was inspired because the very same accusation was made by Ms. Coralie Chun Matayoshi, head of the Hawaii State Bar Association, in the May 29, 2002 issue of the MidWeek Newspaper. The interesting juxtaposition of Fatherís Day, a call for an audit of Family Court and the appearance of Ms. Matayoshi on the cover of MidWeek lead to putting the following thoughts and observations on paper.

The article "Raising the Bar" in Midweek starts out by inferring that there is a new social problem that needs to be corrected in the American family. Namely, that fathers need to be more proactive in helping around the house and with the kids. Now that women are in the workplace and feminists need new fodder, it is high time to once again manipulate society at the family level.

As I read, I was not at all surprised to learn that Ms. Matayoshi was educated at Berkeley and her husband is the director of Social Science at UH. The picture of her family was a typical one of smiling faces and holding hands, but the picture being drawn of this womanís educational background and intellectual environment was an unorthodox one of liberal social engineering and experimentation.

Ever so subtly, the reader was lead down the well worn path of gender inequality in the workplace. Iím sorry, but Iím getting a little nauseated over the constant whining from feminists who claim that women do not get a fair shake. Ironically, the latest gripe is brought to you courtesy of the head of the HSBA and a woman. How good does it have to get before we can acknowledge that the feminist ship has come in? Better question is: What will happen to all those advocates who make a living off of trumped-up victimization once the public notices the goods are being unloaded onto the pier? Hereís an even better question posed by Warren Farrell, a California psychologist, who at one time was a board member of the New York National Organization of Women: "If women really earned 59 cents to the dollar for the same work as men, how could a business compete with its competition by hiring men at any level?" Taking the figure thrown out by Ms. Matayoshi of $.84 to the dollar, it looks as though women are quickly gaining ground. Fortunately, given this ridiculous premise that women are a better bargain with all else being equal, itís reassuring to know that men will soon be able to compete for jobs again; at least in Hawaii.

Mr. Farrell goes on to explain in his book "Women Canít Hear What Men Donít Say" that men do earn more, but for very valid reasons. Men generally tend to work under unfavorable or dangerous working conditions and at more technical professions. Statistically, they also work longer hours and at odd times of the day or night. Men hold jobs in undesirable places overseas, they commute longer distances and they relocate more often.

The article on Ms. Matayoshi goes on giving a biography of her life. We now know her hardships in choosing her career over the less desirable choice of motherhood while shuttling her son off to daycare for 12 to 14 hours per day. Oh, the guilt of a liberal educated law professional. What a shame for her. She somehow wants to intimate that the dilemma of choosing motherhood over career should not be. Life should not burden her or her colleagues with these decisions. The rest of us should accommodate a parentís desire to have both and at any cost to business, across all industries. And although I am sympathetic to parents who have no choice in the matter and must work, creating a new government program will most certainly exacerbate the problem and create all new social ills that lawyers will gleefully covet.

But where is the focus on her son, who was cared for by people other than his own parents? Given the remote possibility that business could carry the added burden of daycare for all or of distracted parents in the workplace tending to children; what a damn shame for the kids. Having a child compete with the demands of business for attention from a parent is hardly an improvement over daycare. Iím not sure about Matayoshi, but the typical liberal feminist educated at Berkeley doesnít see anything wrong with daycare, or feminism, or social engineering, or educating boys to behave less masculine, or children with no male role model. But some fathers do; particularly, some divorced fathers, which brings me to the main subject of this essay.

Divorce is one of the tragedies of our modern day society, and everyone in a family affected by it, is a casualty. Many fathers, true to their nature, are often stoic when confronted with divorce and are therefore the forgotten casualties. And societyís hyper focus on the rights of women blurs any effort to expose the plight of divorced dads. What sets many of these fathers apart from their feminist counterparts is not concern so much over their own situations after divorce, but concern over the effects on their children. A female dominated family in the extreme, is just as dangerous as a male one. What divorced fathers fear is how the liberal cultural shift in our society, in which feminism is entrenched, has contributed to making them a divorce statistic, but more importantly, threatens to do the same to their children.

What is ideal in a family is to have a balance between masculine and feminine energies. On a larger societal scale, the best way to reach equilibrium between these energies is through a free and open society and free markets. But little in the feminist lexicon defines freedom as something that men should possess and worse, there is little in the liberal lexicon that defines freedom for anyone. And it isnít the feminist thought that currently dominates public discourse that concerns this father as it is a government dominated society whose individuals are told what behaviors, attitudes, education, ideas, and expenditures are government approved and politically correct. The fact that the feminist agenda is well established in public policy, education, the courts and the complicit media, only illustrates how our government can stagnate society and render it dysfunctional. Our children are paying the price.

An example of how feminism has run afoul of common sense has been outlined by Christina Hoff Sommers in the June 2000 issue of The American Enterprise periodical. Her article is entitled "Victims of Androgyny; How Feminist Schooling Harms Boys". In it she explains that boys and men are characteristically less apt to discuss personal feelings and relationships and that there is strong evidence that their dispositions are neurologically physical in nature. This observation nevertheless, has not stymied feminists from categorizing typical male tendencies as pathological or from influencing school curriculum on a national scale. Contrary to proven methods that work for boys, such as competitive, disciplined, structured, male oriented and all-male classroom instruction, the womenís movement in academia would like to assimilate boys into the new age of feminine perspective, role playing, personal relationships and nurturing. All the kinds of interaction that girls excel at, but that boys just donít get.

Taken one step further and not necessarily a social phenomenon that is directly attributed to feminism, Thomas W. Hazlett, an economist at the University of California at Davis, speaks volumes in a short essay about permissiveness applied to government run schools and the tragic results at Columbine. In Reason Magazineís July 1999 issue, in his brilliant article, "Hostage Rescue; Another reason to liberate the schools," Mr. Hazlett spells out the dangers of allowing government to dominate education and distort the principles of freedom. In essence, he explains that when government monopolizes education it must be all things to all children. It must be as homogenized and all-inclusive so as not to offend the sensibilities of the students or their parents to the point where they donít realize that public education is not freedom at all. In the process, family, religious, traditional and diverse values get watered down or replaced with newly accepted values that are judged benign and non-offensive to all. But usually none of the new values reign as supreme as does the absence of any principles at all. This policy protects the schools from lawsuits by the ACLU or angry parents and allows students to develop their own codes of ethics, no matter how perverse or violent they may be. Government schools have become encapsulated environments and breeding grounds for diversity without responsibility or accountability.

In other words, compulsory education defines freedom within the boundaries of its own moral vacuum, disallows the parents the choice of where their education dollars are spent or a real choice of schools, unleashes children within its walls for 6 hours per day, releases their care into the hands of sometimes disinterested union teachers and administrators, intentionally removes any moral or ethical guidance (particularly frustrating for boys) and then is surprised when students like Klebold and Harris emerge from the halls with weaponry under their coats and vicious anger in their hearts.

Here is the point, and one that critics will find contradictory until they think it through. Freedom is for adults who are supposed to be responsible and accountable. It is not for children. Government gets its authority from the consent of the governed. Outside of the basic protections of life, liberty and property, government should not be deciding how responsible and accountable parents rear their children. The argument raised by public educators and family court officials is that they must decide, since parents have failed in their duties. The question is, who has failed and are they a minority in numbers? The flip side of that coin reveals that many parents' efforts to raise and educate their children on their own, without government subsidy have been frustrated by the intrusion of government programs, education taxes, state and federal regulation and family court orders. No question, bad parents are out there, but are they the vast majority of society and why do government institutions always gear their actions to accommodate the lowest common denominator? Shouldnít good parents be at least, acknowledged and not treated as criminals in court or as children themselves when deciding how much tuition to spend and where to send their kids to school?

If parents are once again allowed their God given right to guide the fates of their progeny instead of the government, then we may not have to endure the agony of a Columbine again. The editor in chief of the American Enterprise Magazine in his opening comments that appeared in the same issue with Christina Hoff Sommersí work made this observation, "It seems obvious, for instance, that the way to convert male tendencies toward aggression into something positive is through traditionally male channels and male languages. But that will require they [boys] be exposed to more authentic masculinity, not less. The bulk of our problems with male violence today grow out of having too little masculine authority at the base of society, not too much. The most dangerous males in America are presently those raised in our inner-city matriarchies. All those rap anthems about raping and torturing women come out of a world wholly devoid of male control". Notice that he stated, "....at the base of society." He didnít mean big government. He meant fathers.

Government is not a good source for teaching ethics, morality or social behavior. Its economy of scale is too large to accommodate individual human characteristics. Parents, in most respects, are a good source. Admittedly, some parents will have very different standards than others. And some parents will fail miserably, but the vast majority will demonstrate diversity appropriate to their individuality within the context of American common law which holds life, liberty and property in esteem.

The reality is that parents do attempt to exercise individual choice in spite of government control, because the management of the physical needs of children alone is a logistics nightmare. If they werenít already doing it now on a grand scale, our society would be unrecognizable as a civilization. There is no way that government will ever be able to effectively micromanage the complications of parenting for the multitude of generations to come. Our system of government should step out of the way, at least when adults are willing and able to do the job.

Again, the question is, who has failed? The public schools have and data is out there. Family courts have too, but the data is not as readily available and the results of court action are not always measurable in human terms, but are certainly catastrophic. The story on Ms. Coralie Chun Matayoshi in Midweek is intended to give the reader a warm feeling about the Hawaii State Bar Association, its lawyers and the courts. The focus seems to divert attention from the reality of the common manís or womanís legal problems and cover up the courtís tendency toward gender bias. Feminism, right or wrong, has been extremely successful from an influential standpoint and acrimony between the sexes is good for lawyers regardless of who is pulling the political strings.

Hereís a fatherís story, my story of the workings of Family Court:

After making a legal, emotional and financial commitment to the institution of monogamy and to raising two children, my wife of 10 years decided marriage with me was unacceptable. Things happen, people change; I can understand that. Hereís the clincher, though. In our "no fault" State of Hawaii, my initial marriage contract obligated me to honor commitments implied or specified to my spouse regardless of her breach of the marriage contract. Theoretically, this applies for a woman in the same situation. However, most people would observe that courts usually act upon the assets of a man in order to be "equitable" to the woman. Given that physical custody is usually awarded to the woman with no regard for her ability to support them, a man is committing his financial and emotional future to a woman at the time of marriage irrespective of her intent or commitment. The court would argue that the subsequent and garnished child support payments that a man makes are for the children. If that is so, then why is the formulation for child support devoid of a limit on how much is reasonable for the necessities of a child? One would assume that at some point the spouse making support payments would have some control over discretionary income that is channeled to a child. And why is there no accountability required of the recipient of child support?

Much of what transpires in divorce proceedings revolves around the childrenís security. In my case, I decided early in the process not to change my childrenís lives too dramatically. The extended family that they grew up with and the house that had been their home was with my spouse. I did not fight for physical custody and my attorney, as so many will do, did not warn me of the consequences of my decision. In hindsight, most lawyers will claim that I was poorly represented and that they would have advised me not to cooperate. What a crock! Attorneys are notorious for keeping their clients in the dark. Like a doctors that think patients are too stupid to understand their own conditions, attorneys will use the same excuse to remain silent. What lawyers donít want to tell their clients is that custody is potentially the most hotly contested issue in family court and one that exposes the court, its agencies and its officers to the most liability. Judges hate making decisions, particularly on custody and attorneys will do whatever they can to appease and keep such cases from going to trial. If a client capitulates on custody, all the better and I would guess there isnít a divorce attorney in this state who will put up much of an argument. The final arrangement for my kids and me is a visitation schedule that is standard court issue. Once established, which is usually at the first hearing, it wonít change without more legal maneuvering, expense and a compelling reason for the change. By the time I discovered all the potential fallout from giving up physical custody, it was too late. I was stuck and so were my kids.

Because of my decision, I was put on the fast track to fiscal scrutiny and obligation at the hands of a very unsavory bureaucracy known as the Child Support Enforcement Agency. The argument is often made that there is recourse with the agency, but itís just not true. Ask anyone, man, woman or attorney, who has had to make adjustments to child support due to changes in income. Attorneys advise clients to go back to court if they want adjustments made in any semblance of promptness. It is an unfeeling, uncaring institution that views anyone making support payments as a potential deadbeat and recipients as automatic victims. Does that sound too extreme? Iíll paraphrase the last three sentences, two paragraphs back, again. The spouse making support payments has no control over a portion of discretionary income and the spouse receiving payments is not required to account for how the money is used. In the eyes of the system, one is a villain and deserves dominion over his children and income by the scorned and deprived spouse. The other is a victim and is beyond reproach. The Court likes to keep it simple.

The enforcement and administration of child support is even worse than what we have time for here, but suffice it to say that the policy handed-down by the Court, on its face value, is discriminatory and yet the execution of policy by its agency is indiscriminate, capricious, fiscally mismanaged and unyielding.

I discovered late in the family law game that unseen contractual commitments are far-reaching beyond anything expected form a single person or a spouse who is lucky enough to beat the odds of divorce. The problem lies in the area of divorce law that obligates a parent to provide tuition, expenses and child support to the custodial parent of a dependent child who is over 18 if that child attends an institution of higher education. No one would deny that these funds to young, adult children are important, but why have the once, parental decisions related to college bound kids become state mandates for divorced parents that can ultimately land a delinquent paying parent in jail? In my case, the system cornered me into paying for private school tuition as well. Unfortunately, the judge made no complimentary order to the public school system to return my tax money in order to make the first requirement fiscally possible.

Oh, and as Ms. Matayoshi mentioned in Midweek, my thanks to all those hard working attorneys who unselfishly devote their time to legal aid. However, I do not qualify since my gross income (much of which I do not see due to the onerous nature of child support policy created by the likes of these well intentioned attorneys) is too high. Legal aid does most working people little good until the attorney fees, ancillary professional fees, and the results of outright malfeasance on the part of the courts, its agencies and its officers have driven clients into poverty and bankruptcy.

Sadly, the real nature of system is to enrich the legal profession, as well as social workers, the guardian ad litem program, the psychiatric profession, and of course the all-powerful and dysfunctional bureaucracy that "manages" the welfare of the people.

The added benefit for the court in impoverishing as many productive people as possible is to suppress the independent members of society who are a threat to the institution's existence. Dependence breeds complacency and independence breeds competition and demands choice. An institution evolves into an oppressive bureaucracy for very important reasons, the foremost reason being to survive while the institution perpetuates its own deliquency and oligopoly. Any focus drawn upon its failures is met with vengeance in the form of court action. Threaten someone with financial ruin, jail time and/or permanent separation from their children and they will give up blowing the whistle on the system.

The suppression of competition is more than just threats in court. It is a societal conditioning that is administered by the width and breadth of government. Its specific application for Family Court works something like this:

Force everyone to work for the legal court system (taxes); require them to use only State and Bar approved attorneys (monopolistic legal fees); tie them up in a legal morass created by cronies in the legislature (bad and unconstitutional law); lump everyone into groups of victims and perpetrators (fertile ground for litigation); exaggerate the statistics of a law violation whether real or contrived (influence for public funding in order to expand the institution's power); enforce the law arbitrarily in court based on loyalties and not on the merits of a case (collusion); court order any number of services of social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, anger management classes, and guardian ad litem agents (hemorrhaging fees); remove children from their homes and separate them from loving parents through the use of Child Protective Services (unbearable emotional distress, forced child support or worse, foster care fees); target anyone who calls attention to the violations of due process (retribution); and go on inspiring fluff articles in local media to spin public opinion for those who have yet been snagged by the system. Not an honorable profession. But it is one that we give the dubious prefix of "honorable" when referring to the members of the profession who should distinguish themselves with the highest standards of honor, the judges.

The institutions of Family Court are set up to protect individuals and their welfare from family members who threaten their security. The problem is that the institutions in Hawaii have become self-serving and calloused to individual cases whereby responsible and conscientious family members are treated as criminals based upon a stereotyped bias. It is a bias rooted in a paint-by-numbers mentality that makes life easier for court workers. The people who are supposed to be served are way down the list on priorities since they, the clients, are forced to pay into the system irrespective of the level of performance. There are virtually no alternatives to the State approved legal services. And that is because licensing outlaws the offering of any form of legal advice by anyone other than an approved and licensed attorney, no matter how innocent the intent. The Court and its officers are always complaining that their case loads are too heavy and that they do not have enough time and resources, but they would never entertain giving up their stranglehold on the client base to unlicensed competition. And they wonít ever convince me that the reason is to assure that clients get the best legal service, not after what Iíve seen.

The bottom line is that what happened to me is common for many fathers of divorce. They end up struggling against a system that runs them down a track of financial hardship and separation from their children. The numbers tell a sad story of the households with children and no father. How many of those dads were driven away from there kids by a draconian system influenced by radical feminism and bureaucratic sloth? If the conclusions are true that fathers are necessary to the upbringing of well adjusted children, why wonít the government get out of the way of responsible parents? Hawaiiís divorce policy is still modeled after an outdated core belief known as "the tender years doctrine" that wrongly assumes that only mothers are essential to the early development of children. The courts, like the schools, are not accountable to the people who use their service and the government has ensured patronage by forced subscription. It is time for change in the upside down world of government control which gives children unwarranted false freedoms in the schools and treats adults with disdain and tyranny.

Granted, the past is riddled with injustices to women. It also is a history of abuse and neglect to children. As for men, they have been assigned the label of perpetrators, but realistically both sexes have members who have character flaws. Men are abused as well, but culturally they are expected not to complain or seek restitution. People will always have challenges and conflict in their lives. They can choose to manage themselves or seek government intrusion. If they seek the latter, which is necessary at times to protect that which has been narrowly defined (for the specific intent to limit government power) by the Constitution, it is important to be wary to what degree that power is extended. If it goes too far, then the cure is worse than the disease. Micro-management of daily situations is not a good place for the government, its courts or attorneys to be meddling. There are alternatives, but this is something that most attorneys and politicians would care not to address, because prudence in the area of governmental power and law negatively affects their bottom line. When they succeed with such programs and mandates as, sexual harassment and discrimination law in the workplace, government subsidized daycare, equity pay guidelines, subsidized abortions for minors without parental knowledge, affirmative action quotas, indiscriminate temporary restraining orders and court policy that statistically targets men and on and on, then incrementally all of us will lose our liberty. Attorneys and politicians will become an elitist class unto themselves even more than they are now. And the responsible men in our society who are accountable for their actions will be vilified along with men who are not living up to the expectations of fathers and husbands. Whole new legal cottage industries will blossom out of creative, but oppressive ideas that up to now have been thoughtlessly tossed around in legislatures without any regard for unintended consequences.

So what is the solution? Many of the matters involving human activity in America at one time were dealt with by individuals, families, churches, and private organizations and not by government edict. The right to free association allowed individuals an immediate resolution to conflict. Free market solutions will loosen the grip of problems that riddle the schools and hold children hostage. A whole range of schools will offer a broad range of services to the large spectrum of children if the parents are allowed to choose how their education dollars are spent. There is no good reason why schools should remain government monopolies. Even the argument of ensuring affordability for all children is easily refuted by adding up the resources that are currently generated voluntarily for education.

And to some extent, competitive forces can be infused into the court system which now complains of too many customers. Licensing requirements can be eliminated and replaced with competing legal associations that ensure the professionalism of their attorneys. Courts, family service agencies, social workers, professional family counselors can compete and be directly awarded with business based upon their attentiveness to clientsí cases and attorneyís recommendations. If they donít perform, they go out of business. No more guaranteed revenue to the court or salaries to the judges and court workers. And no more incestuous relationships between the courts, the police, family service agencies, the attorneys, the state, the legislature and HSBA. Keep them separate and accountable to the people they serve instead of to each other. Make them prove their worth everyday by tying their success or failure to some measurement and ultimately to their pay checks.

Maybe if Ms. Matayoshi spent more time cleaning up her own house down at the Hawaii State Bar Association instead of telling us about our deficiencies, life would be better. Unless, instilling professionalism and competition into her housecleaning is too demeaning for a feminist?

Iím a dad and I have thought long and hard about my kids. My concern for them will never be matched by a government worker or anyone in the legal profession. I wish they would stop telling me how to be a father.


 
ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

Join the newsletter! Get free ifeminist insiderUpdates once a week by e-mail.
Enter your address here:   [how to unsubscribe]

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is part of The Freedom Network,
made possible by support from members like you.