Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why the fathers' rights movement and the internet sucks

In my opinion, the most interesting and upsetting/disturbing article we read this week was “What’s Wrong with Fathers Rights?” by Michael Flood. Before I read this article, I had no idea how pervasive and convincing the backlash against feminism truly is. I googled ‘fathers’ rights’ to take a gander at the type of information that is available online that Flood refers to. Upon first glance, these websites appear legitimate, helpful, and even inspirational to fathers who are experiencing divorce and child-custody battles. My parents are divorced, and while reading through these websites I tried to image my dad looking up legal information regarding the right to see me. I know that my own dad was very disconcerted and emotionally/ financial drained during and after my parents’ divorce. I can imagine why a father might seek support. These websites appear to be consoling, sympathetic, and extremely helpful to fathers. This is why, I suppose, men’s and father’s rights groups are so sought out and pervasive.

However, while looking through the websites I encountered the problematic issues that Flood presents. For example, on the website I found plenty of support for men who have restraining orders against them. Victim-blaming is the most serious problem with these types of groups. This website states, “Bogus restraining order or orders of protection based on false allegations of violence and/or threat is ruining the lives of families across the country!” It goes on to state, “You will learn the real truth behind domestic violence restraining orders how to defend yourself at a restraining order hearing. You'll even learn how to respond to false allegations of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Learn how to neutralize a restraining order or order of protection. Learn what to do if the EX calls 911! Learn what to say to law enforcement if necessary.” The fact that men have legal support to refute the wives/children that they have abused is repulsive. As Flood argues, “The fathers’ rights movement tries to erode the protections available to victims of domestic violence and to boost the rights and freedoms of alleged perpetrators” (216).

We do not need to protect the rights of abusers. We need to protect the rights of domestic violence survivors. When I googled ‘fathers’ rights’, I came up with 14,200,000 results. When I googled ‘battered women's rights’ I found only 910,000 results. WTF?! Why don’t we have more support for women in domestic violence situations? It just goes to show how far feminism has to go and how much work needs to be done. This is why I so dearly appreciate Animal Safehouse and all of the people in this class who work so hard to truly help women in these types of situations. As Flood says, “men’s rights and fathers’ rights groups are hampering progress toward gender equality or pushing it backward” (218).

Violence against women is not taken seriously. While googling ‘battered women’s rights’ I stumbled upon a Female Sexist Joke Forum which provided this little ditty, “What's the first thing a woman does when she gets back from the battered women's clinic? The god damned dishes if she knows what's good for her” ( Researching the fathers’ rights movement and how it impacts the way society views domestic violence has infuriated me. So much so that I need stop typing and go find a cigarette.

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