Sunday, November 29, 2015

“What’s Wrong with Fathers Rights?”

Author Michael Flood presents his discussion, “What’s Wrong with Fathers Rights?” in Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power which was edited by Shira Tarrant. Flood speaks from an informed anti-sexist and pro-feminist position on the pitfalls of men’s rights groups. Flood explains that individual men who seek out support from a men’s rights group can be allotted into either those undergoing custody battles, are wanting more contact with their children, or are non-custodial parents seeking lessened child support. Flood approaches the controversial topic of men’s rights by relating the most pertinent facts of the men’s rights movement and it’s hindrance towards all parties involved in family disturbances. 

On the topic of how this movement is damaging progress of women, Flood states, “So, what’s wrong with men’s rights? Above all, anti-feminist men’s perspectives are based on a profound denial of the systematic gender inequalities that privilege many men and disadvantage many women” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 214). It is this inaccurate portrayal of feminists and their cause, that men’s rights movements take part in harming. Their movement offers a distorted perception of the women involved and their relation to men. Flood acknowledges the very real wrongdoings toward some men which is perpetrated by some women by stating that “such instances do not support anti-feminist men’s claim that men are the ‘new Jews’, suffering under what they call a global ‘feminazi’ regime. Men’s and fathers’ rights groups offer a bizarre and fundamentally inaccurate portrayal of feminism as anti-male and fail to see the enormous hope for and goodwill toward men which is embodies” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 215). These false claims against feminism cheat men of the true, harmonious goals of which feminists strive to achieve.

Michael Flood also argues three main affects in which the fathers’ rights movement is damaging the people who are in direct contact with the men seeking support from the men’s rights advocators. The first, and most critical happenings of the movement’s effects, Flood describes by writing, “Above all, fathers contact with children has been privileged over children’s safety from violence” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 215). Flood reveals that ex-partners and children are being subjected to further abuse from violent men as the court system is alarmingly relying on the men’s rights movement suggestion that a father – no matter their abusive tendencies – is better than no father at all. This privileged belief subjects ex-partners and children to even further unnecessary physical violence and/or psychological scarring.

The second effect of the men’s movement is described by Flood as having a “negative impact on community understandings of violence against women and children…. Father’s rights groups… claim that women routinely make up allegations of domestic violence to gain advantage in family law case and… advocates [of the men’s rights movement] encourage the mistaken belief that domestic violence is gender-equal” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 216). Flood explains through statistical research that women who do go through with a restraining order are doing so as a last-resort to safeguard from extreme violence. Furthermore, men who are the victims of domestic violence are more likely to be assaulted by other men; Flood states, a “four-year study of admissions to the Emergency Department of a Missouri hospital found… over 8000 men who had been assaulted,… only 45 men were injured by… intimate female partners… representing 0.55[%]… of male assault visits…. Boys and men are most at risk of physical harm from other boys and men” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 217).

The third impact the father’s rights movement has on violence against both men and women, is its goal to “erode the protections available to victims of domestic violence and to boost the rights and freedoms of alleged perpetrators” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 217). The movement is aiming to breakdown the public response to victims of domestic violence and reduce the readily viable options for those in need of protection and assistance from perpetrators of abuse. Father’s rights groups approach the topics of domestic and sexual violence, “the same way as actual male perpetrators: They minimize and deny the extent of this violence, blame the victim, and explain the violence as mutual or reciprocal” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 217).

Through his work, Michael Flood reveals the true nature of men’s rights and father’s rights movements which aim to “control mothers’ management of finances, parenting, and contact… [fueling] interparental conflict, leading to more problems with contact and further stress for children” (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 218). Michael Flood explains that we as a whole must help men who are facing these stress inducing situations and help them – in positive and constructive ways – maintain connection to their children as good fathers. Flood states, “We must step up efforts to engage men in positive ways, building partnerships with supportive men and men’s groups and with the women’s movements. All this is part of a broader profeminist effort, to build a world of gender justice" (Flood, ed. Tarrant, 219). 

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