The Bad Men Project: On the devaluation and disposal of fatherhood

This has been an interesting week so far. As the build up to Fathers Day begins, the Centre for Social Justice released their report on Fatherlessness yesterday. As Nick Woodall, husband of mine and co-worker, is on the Centre for Social Justice panel which is considering all things breakdown and breakup, I feel more than a little bit interested in this report, which tells us that one million children in the UK are growing up without any contact with their father.

I am also interested in the report’s criticism of the lack of investment or attention paid by government to the problem of family breakdown, something that is close to my heart given that I wasted many hours in 2011  helping the government to rethink services in this area. Co-incidentally, the CSJ report arrived in my inbox on the same day that I also received a video from the Help and Support for Separated Families initiative, funded by the DWP to support the reform of family separation services.

Comparing the criticism in the CSJ report with the outputs from the so called reforms of support for separated families, the comprehensive failure of the Coalition government to deliver on this score was starkly underlined for me. The dandy little video, came with a message from the Director of HSSF (once a manager of the Options call centre who now appears to have fashioned a role for herself as the Coalition’s family separation tzar), and features a boy growing to be a man whilst being handed between his two separated parents. The video leads us to the Sorting out Separation web application which, in our self appointed Family Separation Tzar’s words, leaves people feeling ‘upbeat and positive‘.

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that the Centre for Separated Families was heavily involved in the work of the Coalition government in the early days. This included sitting on steering groups that were supposedly set up to reform the landscape around family separation services. Our involvement included designing the logic for the Help and Support for Separated Families web application, which was then handed over to the civil servants to connect up to the available advice. The disaster that became the HSSF tool led to us refusing to host it on the Centre for Separated Families website. Primarily because, in our view, it is too poorly connected up to available and appropriate advice  to deliver consistent outcomes that promote collaboration. Which, at the end of every day, is our core concern. We don’t want to get it right for some parents, we want to get it right for every parent, because we know that family separation is appallingly painful and because we know that when we get it right, we deliver long lasting change which improves outcomes for children.

Given that the web application is itself, in my view, a comprehensive failure – being poorly linked up to advice and in some cases sending parents to inflammatory information that will make things worse, not better – I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Department for Education’s efforts to change the Children Act and Edward Timpson’s mantra ‘nothing has changed, we just want dads to think things have changed’. Producing a skippy little video that promotes the message that kids do well when both parents stay involved is all well and good. The failure to produce anything underneath that, that actually works to ensure that both parents stay involved, is what matters.

And it is this failure – to produce anything underneath the illusion – that the Centre for Social Justice report highlights. Listening and watching to the reactions to the report, yesterday, I was reminded, once again, why significant change in support to separated families is so difficult to achieve. Leaving aside the lip service, the promises of change that do not materialise and the illusions that something has changed when in reality everything remains the same, coming out of yesterdays reactions is the real reason why support to separated families remains exactly the same as it has always been. The real reason why the UK faces fatherlessness on a massive scale is because men not valued, their role as fathers is considered unnecessary and this results in discrimination against men, which is not only tolerated, it is justified by everyone from politicians to service providers.

Analysing what underpins this sorry state of affairs is not difficult. There is, in our society, a deep seated loathing and fear of men and masculinity, which has led to a collective blame culture. In essence, underneath the inability to hold views about men which are ambivalent and which recognise that men can be both good and bad, runs a cultural psychological splitting which creates the belief that men are mad, bad and dangerous, whilst women are sane, good and safe. I call it the Bad Men Project (BMP), created in the second wave liberal feminist capture of social policy in the seventies and perpetuated as a universal truth throughout the ensuing years. Men are inherently bad and women are inherently good. It underpins everything that touches our lives and no amount of platitudes, in the form of fancy little videos telling us that kids need both parents, or tweaks to the Children Act will make one jot of difference to that reality.

The BMP, which is a product of our collective psychological splitting, is evident in the reactions to the CSJ report yesterday where one and all lined up to tell us that fatherlessness is a bad thing but it’s the fault of fathers themselves that we have such a problem in our land. Even the authors of the report and the Head of the Centre for Social Justice, Christian Guy, were heard to repeat the bad men mantra. ‘We are not blaming single mothers for this problem, most of them would like the fathers to be involved in their lives’, he said, during one interview. Listening to the way in which men as fathers were repeatedly battered by perceptions which have been created in order to keep our social policies in place, I began to realise how deep seated this collective hatred and fear of men really is. And why it is proving so difficult to achieve the paradigm shift that will allow separated parents to work together in ways that benefit their children.

The BMP is exemplified by the ways in which organisations like Gingerbread (architects and purveyors of many BMP fallacies), continually focus upon child maintenance and the need to beat men into conforming to the stereotype of provider. And by Relate, who are busy delivering online services to help dads to understand how deficient they are and how to change so that collaboration is possible. And also by the Fatherhood Institute, whose silence on the matter of fatherlessness speaks far louder than any words they have ever written about whose side they are on. The BMP is a collective brainwashing of our psyche. It works to scare us, terrorise us and set the conditions that ensure that men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t and any man who challenges that can easily be picked off by an allegation of bullying or worse. In short, men, as half of the human race, have, in policy terms at least, collectively become bogeymen; many either dislocated from their own masculinity for fear of offending women or rendered impotent unless deployed as secondary resources at the behest of women.

In the real lives of men and women, however, where ambivalence is still present and each are capable of doing good and bad things, life is not so starkly split and not so haunted by the bogeyman image. Until state services step in that is. What we know, in our work, is that when families separate, if we can get to them before the institutionalised services do, we can prevent the worst of the way in which the state acts… like an incendiary bomb. When we get there too late and parents have already begun to interact with roving domestic violence workers who seem to routinely attach themselves to separating couples, or state funded services which appear to be about collaboration but which in reality are underpinned by the BMP set of beliefs, the split that has already opened up at the point of separation is widened and the rot has begun to set in. Lives which were once reviewed as being normal, not unusual, are suddenly portrayed as being peppered with violence and control and dads who were once beloved and important in children’s lives are suddenly damaging, dangerous and frankly disposable.

The interaction of the state and shared delusion that is the BMP, is a poisonous one and it is the cause of fatherlessness in generation after generation of children. The BMP is at the heart of the Lone Parent Model, which divides parents into one who cares and gets all the state support and the one who provides and gets nothing but our collective vitriol. The BMP is also at the heart of the Children Act 1989 where the ‘rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished’, is a clause much overlooked and under considered. The BMP was at the heart of Harriet Harman’s unpleasant policy paper called ‘The Family Way’ in which the role of fathers is rendered unnecessary. The BMP is present in just about every CAFCASS office and every Social Services team in the land. The BMP is a hugely successful, collective and deeply discriminatory illusion, which drives our policy, poisons our practice and even involves men themselves in its perpetuation. The notion that bad men can be made good if they conform to the required social norms set by women being pervasive across family services. The Fatherhood Institute was even, unashamedly, set up on this seductive notion – that good men do what women tell them to do, whilst all the rest are mad, bad and dangerous to know. This face of acceptable fatherhood, has contributed to keeping the status quo in place for well over a decade now and effectively strengthens the BMP, rendering dads across the land vulnerable on a daily basis to ongoing individual and collective discrimination.

For me, the Bad Men Project is something that I have worked alongside and around for many years but which I am now no longer willing to collude with or tolerate in any shape or form. My refusal to engage with the state in developing services which create an illusion of change, whilst nothing has changed, is not one that is made on any other basis than my belief that equality means treating women AND men with respect and in ways that meets their different needs at different times. I do not want to offer men happy little illusions that they are important in children’s lives via videos or web applications, whilst at the same time delivering services or signing up to policies which I know are actively pushing them out of their children’s lives. Neither do I want to be involved in keeping discriminatory practice in place whilst perpetuating the idea that no bias exists other than in the minds of fathers. And most of all, I do not want, to work with families in ways that value and exalt one parent whilst the other is demonised and disposed of. Especially when I know how dangerous this kind of deluded practice can be for children.

As we head towards Fathers Day 2013, its time that the BMP was taken on and tackled by all of us who understand what it does to dads and what it does to our society. It is not fathers who are responsible for the ‘dad deserts’ that are described by the Centre for Social Justice report, it is the Bad Men Project; a collective delusion that drives our policy and practice, without which, one million children in this land on Sunday, would able to say to the man that gave them life:

‘Happy father’s day, dad.’

89 comments

  1. Brian · June 11, 2013

    Any chance we can have a look this video from “Help and Support for Separated Families”? I really need to know how I’m meant to behave because just wanting to be a part of my children’s lives clearly isn’t enough for the courts 😉

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    • karenwoodall · June 11, 2013

      Hi Brian, you are supposed to skip happily through life, handing over your child and then receiving back your child from his mum as he grows steadily in your joint care. There are no hurdles, no barriers and no reasons why you shouldn’t be as happy as this lovely man is in this video, so please just get on, pay up your child maintenance, do your fair share and stop moaning about it. If you need help, Help and Support for Separated Families will show you what you need to do to change, well, sort of, what they will really do is lead you to another load of bananas which, if you submit yourself to it, may just, if you behave yourself properly and do as your told, grant you a short (not overnight mind) audience with your child – but only if this does not stress the mother and only if your children wish it. Got that? Now, off you go and be a happy daddy! xx

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      • Brian · June 12, 2013

        I had a look at this website http://www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk/ . I put in that I was having problems agreeing parenting time, and that I was being prevented from seeing my children. I got to a page with these three options and was told I had to select one:
        * Information about the divorce process
        * Information about dissolving a Civil Partnership
        * Information about dividing assets, debts, wills etc
        I didn’t say I had been married and didn’t specify finances as an issue. This is a load of c**p, who do I complain to?

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    • karenwoodall · June 12, 2013

      Hi Brian, you should complain to Steve Webb who is the Minister with responsibility for this initiative. Your experience is EAXCTLY what we have tried to address with DWP who wave us away with the words ‘its a work in progress’… Well not for us its not, when we give advice to separated parents it has to be bang on first time every time, we know that its a horrendous enough process without having to face ineptitude and lack of care. Thats why we wont host it, thats why I am writing about it, this is cack handed management and a massively wasted opportunity and I would rather work directly with parents than give any credence to this kind of nonsense. If enough people complain, someone will sit up and take notice. K

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    • Anonymous · June 21, 2013

      total rubbish. Any of you suffered domestic violence by a man demanding to see his children?

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      • karenwoodall · June 21, 2013

        Dear Anonymous, I am slightly confused by the total rubbish comment, it makes no sense to me, are you saying that Brian is wrong for thinking that the app is no good or wrong for thinking that dads may need help to see their children? I think anyone on here would tell you the same thing, family separation is an emotionally fraught time, if there has been violence in the family before the relationship ended, there is likely to be violence through the period afterwards and safety is paramount, for mothers and children and fathers and children because family violence is not just about men being violent towards women. If you have suffered domestic violence by your children’s father demanding to see yours and his children, then I hope that you have received the support that you need. But your personal experience does not automatically mean that every father is a potential perpetrator of violence or that wanting to have a relationship with one’s beloved children automatically makes all fathers dangerous. If you would like to expand on your original comment though you would be very welcome to and I am sure that there are many on here who would be willing to listen. Best wishes K

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      • Anonymous · June 21, 2013

        I must admit I have not suffered domestic violence at the hands of a man demanding to see his children. I have suffered domestic violence at the hands of my children’s mother who then made false allegations of domestic violence against me. My children have also suffered domestic abuse at the hands of their mother by being prevented from seeing their loving father. Domestic violence affects men, women and children. It is not only men who are perpetrators and women who are victims, but once again on this mornings BBC Breakfast program I was informed by the woman from Refuge that 2 women a week are killed by their partners, with no mention of men being victims at all. BMP strikes again.

        All credit to the woman victim they had on who pointed out that it affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men.

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  2. Tony Booth-Lydon · June 11, 2013

    Thanks for your insight Karen, I was shocked at the report as I believe one million is a gross underestimate (F4J estimate over 3 million so the reality is probably somewhere between the two). The constant attempts to pacify groups like Gingerbread such as “we’re not blaming “single Mums” makes a mockery of their own research unless it is tempered by “we are not blaming dads either, but we need to work together to find real solutions not just soundbites and platitudes”.
    I think you may have made a bit of a breakthrough though, (go with me here for a couple of seconds) just as in an exorcism it is important to know the demon that an exorcist is battling by finding out the demon’s name, you have given a name to the dark spectre that infiltrates the public consciousness and I think that giving it a name is an important step to being able to fight this particular demon.

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  3. karenwoodall · June 11, 2013

    Hi tony, do you mean the Bad Men Project label? I use it as short hand for behaviour which I recognise across policy and practice, only now I have decided to talk about it to a wider audience because it is really what is at the heart of the problem. The one million figure is the number of children without any form of relationship or contact with their father. The figure used by F4J is the number of children living in lone parent households, many of which do have a relationship of some sort with a parent. Either way, the real issue in my experience is the BMP – its a thread of consciousness which is perpetuated in so many areas. If we want to begin to tackle the issue of family separation, we have to start first with how we value men and boys, if we fail to do that, we are going to continue to fail generation after generation of children.

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  4. Paul D Manning · June 11, 2013

    Dear Karen.
    I hope this is not to far off what you are talking about in your latest posting, I know its about BMP. It’s just that I was so delighted to find the initative (below) on line, I was hoping that you might take a look at it and join with them, I am in touch with Rachel, the lady that started it all, nice to see women who support fathers. I quote:

    “Leading women for shared parenting” as made known to me by QV, to whom I am grateful.

    http://lw4sp.org/about/whyastatement/

    “A growing number of children are being raised without the benefit of meaningful engagement with both parents. As contemporary research conclusively demonstrates, a child who effectively loses one of his or her parents through a custody decision, usually the father, is a child at risk for a number of negative personal and social outcomes.

    Research also proves that, although children want a relationship with both their parents regardless of marital status, healthy bonding with a non-residential parent is impossible without a substantial amount of time spent in that parent’s physical presence.

    Consequently, LW4SP is sending our elected representatives, the judiciary and policy-makers the clear message that substantive changes in family law must be implemented: changes that will ensure children the opportunity to remain fully engaged with both their parents into adulthood.

    The women endorsing this statement know that not all children can have full access to both parents, and we know that not all parents are fit to raise their children. But we also know that far too many good, willing and fit parents are pushed to the margins of their children’s lives by unfriendly family courts, government policies and laws that undermine family integrity and autonomy.

    It should be alarming to women everywhere to know, as they look at their son’s, there is a significant likelihood our government will turn him into a visitor to his children in the event he no longer resides with his kids’ mother.

    Parental separation should not spell the end of a relationship between a child and one of its parents.

    Forced separation from one’s own flesh and blood in the absence of abuse is morally wrong and socially irresponsible. That is why LW4SP supports equally shared parenting as the default arrangement for separating parents of minor children.”

    “Leading Women for Shared Parenting was founded to dispel the widespread myth that it is only – or even mainly – disgruntled fathers with limited access to their children who promote equal shared parenting as the default model for separating parents. This is simply not the truth!

    Polls in the United States, Canada and other western countries consistently demonstrate overwhelming support in the general population for equally shared parenting. Both fair-minded men and women across all social and cultural lines understand that mothers and fathers are equally important in the lives of their children.

    For some years a number of prominent women in media and politics have been championing this issue in the public forum of ideas and in policy-making circles. Eventually they sought a common platform from which they could bring their support for equal shared parenting to effective attention and positive legislative action.

    Thus LW4SP came into being, with more than 150 influential women lending their names in support of the equal shared parenting principle.”

    Much has been written, debated, discussed and argued about the benefits of shared parenting to children and to parents. The benefits of such are obvious for all to see as listed here:

    1. It ensures continuation of family life for the child, with the advantage of nurture from both parents rather than just one.

    2. It reassures the child that he has two parents, and although they live in separate places, he definitely has a home with both of them.

    3. It dispels the notion that only one parent is “caring” and that the other is “errant” or “absent”.

    4. It ensures that one parent is not unfairly burdened with the responsibility of discipline whilst the other is relegated to (or marginalised as) the fun or contact parent.

    5. It provides the opportunity for children and parents to develop meaningful and lasting relationships – in place of the artificiality and frustrations of contact .

    6. It affirms the parents in their belief that they both have an ongoing role in their child’s life.

    7. It places both parents on an equal footing with schools, doctors and the world at large – who might otherwise only want to deal with the residential parent.

    8. It confirms that no matter what, each parent wants to, and is able to, provide a home for their child.

    9. It reassures the child that in the event of one parent dying he still has a home to go to.

    10. Without a Shared Parenting order, if one parent dies, the child would not automatically go to live with the other parent, but would be left with whomever they were living with at the time or handed over to a guardian – a poor substitute for a natural parent.

    In his article in Psychology Today , Edward Kruk, Ph.D. puts forward 16 arguments in support of shared parenting:

    1. Shared parenting preserves children’s relationships with both parents

    2. Shared parenting preserves parents’ relationships with their children

    3. Shared parenting decreases parental conflict and prevents family violence

    4. Shared parenting reflects children’s preferences and views about their needs and best interests

    5. Shared parenting reflects parents’ preferences and views about their children’s needs and best interests

    6. Shared parenting reflects child caregiving arrangements before divorce

    7. Shared parenting enhances the quality of parent-child relationships

    8. Shared parenting decreases parental focus on “mathematizing time” and reduces litigation

    9. Shared parenting provides an incentive for inter-parental negotiation, mediation and the development of parenting plans

    10. Shared parenting provides a clear and consistent guideline for judicial decision-making

    11. Shared parenting reduces the risk and incidence of parental alienation

    12. Shared parenting enables enforcement of parenting orders, as parents are more likely to abide by an equal parental responsibility order

    13. Shared parenting addresses social justice imperatives regarding protection of children’s rights

    14. Shared parenting addresses social justice imperatives regarding parental authority, autonomy, equality, rights and responsibilities

    15. The discretionary best interests of the child / sole custody model is not empirically supported

    16. A rebuttable legal presumption of shared parenting responsibility is empirically supported

    All this makes undeniable sense to any reasoning person and cannot be refuted by anyone with an ounce of sense, that the best parent is not just one… but BOTH parents ARE.

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  5. Jane Jackson · June 11, 2013

    I agree with every word, Karen.
    It is so interesting the public perception on this issue, I posted a link to the report on a forum and immediately got the responses that you describe.
    It is the Dads fault, feckless fathers etc etc.
    I love your terminology of BMP, it is just so right!
    Personally, one million, is just a number the fact remains that a whole generation of children are growing up without having a loving meaningful relationship with BOTH parents.
    I need to use your example and have the b….. to keep on repeating that men and boys are to be respected just as women. I have two grown up sons and now twin grandsons and I want them to be able to experience proper equality.
    Jane

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  6. Darryl Westell · June 11, 2013

    A stunningly accurate and quite devastatingly incisive dissection of the true horror and pure stupidity at the heart of Family law UK PLC.
    I always recall, or maybe recoil(or both) at the loathsome and hateful manner in which I was ‘presented’ in the family courts: I was rather upset at being told I couldn’t raise my own flesh and blood without the express permission of some rotund old hag who presupposed I might need supervision with my own child. I got terribly annimated, veebose and sheer spitting teeth, hopping mad, as one would. I also refused to take my medicine and thank my administerer for the poison. For this outrageous showing of emotion, this outpouring of grief and fire and passion, I was branded a monster. In other words my masculinity, my strength and my very biological hard wiring were demonised and held up as the sole reason why I should be tretated thusly: as a paedophile, as a deadbeat, as a scumbag. Being a man, in all the senses and with all the attendant qualities, weaknesses and strengths, both physically and mentally had suddenly become very bad indeed. Kind of like admitting to being a terrorist; although an open court and the presumption of innocence was a right I never ever, not once, witnessed in family court.

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    • Darryl Westell · June 11, 2013

      Correction: verbose.

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  7. Grandmani · June 12, 2013

    Thanks again Karen for this latest postiing.I so agree with Jane in concern for sons and grandsons.
    In the flurry of statistics one group of men are hit very hard -those whose ex-wife has a new partner so she is not a lone parent and the child has a new ‘dad’.The natural father is now completely redundant -A really ‘Bad Man’-He encounters double opposition in all attempts to have any contact with his child.Going to family court is futile in the face of false allegations when there is no opportunity to refute/challenge.

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  8. kat · June 12, 2013

    I am glad that you have given “the monster” a name. Somehow a monster with a name becomes more tangible and definable. Hopefully this can also be a step away from the polarised world of the good vs. the bad towards a place that looks for mutual respect. The “women are good, men are bad” shouted loudly over the barely audible squeaks of “no it is the other way around” are both equally wide of the mark.

    One example was brought to my attention recently. The NHS Pregnancy Book is naturally a book for women, the content can be guessed from the title. Nevertheless this book has a short section on couples:
    “It is quite common for couples to find themselves having arguments every now and then during pregnancy”
    “If your relationship is particularly problematic, or is abusive, do get help”
    Are these really the most important messages about being a couple to send to an expecting mother? Even before a baby is born, the focus seems to be on the father as a potential abuser.
    http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/women/maternity/documents/doh-pregnancy-book.pdf

    This is in sharp contrast to what this book looked like only 10 years ago: It had a whole chapter for men on becoming a father and how pregnancy might affect them, even if that book too could have improved by removing patronising statements such as: “He may be quite nervous of handling the baby and need encouragement. Be patient if he seems awkward at first”
    What happened in those ten years to bring this change?

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  9. andy · June 13, 2013

    Post second world war there was perceived to be a problem of large numbers of homeless and orphaned children. A lot of Dads had lost their lives. Mums had taken on roles in factories and offices and on the land, that had formerly been the jobs of men. The men who returned from war naturally wanted to resume the jobs they had left some six years previously.

    A man called Bowlby came up with a solution to this problem with a pamphlet called “Maternal Deprivation”. Subsequent work entitled “the nature of the child’s tie to his mother” helped to accentuate the childs preferrential alignment with its mother.

    This resulted in women being forced into childcare and domesticity giving little respect for their desires to have fulfilling jobs and careers. Whilst men could then resume their full-time careers, women could only expect to do part-time jobs at least till the children had all grown up and left home.

    Later in the 1960 to 1970’s Ainsworth added to this idea of separate roles for mother and father by suggesting, “children are best able to explore when they have the knowledge of a secure base” (Unfortunately it is this kind of short-sightedness that has led to the terminology………..primary carer/ secondary carer, contact parent, visitation rights, custodial parent….etc)

    Leaping into the present, about 3.15pm on a wet Thursday afternoon in June with my daughter behind me, cradling her laptop whilst studying for tomorrows Geography exam…………..

    I feel pained by the slow process of change. The literature from the last century which strangles the healthy emotional and social development of our family life today needs to be assigned to history…….but it’s not.

    On the Cafcass website they still hark back to this ancient and redundant information, (born out of orphaned children from the second world war) assigning mother to the care role and father to moneygiver. Apparently it is not necessary for father to have overnights with his child before he is two years old !!!
    ref: Research and Bulletin resources 12

    I am beginning to wonder what it will take to enlighten our well meaning care workers. Parenting in healthy families is shared. Collaboration and mutual respect are what’s missing.

    Perhaps ironically, Bowlby did say that a child could equally well attach to a father as a mother……………………..it probably says more about political engineering of the time that he focused all his work in favour of the mother/child bond, or perhaps his subjective opinion……….maybe his son, Richard could tell us?

    kind regards

    A

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  10. Brian · June 13, 2013

    Prof. Michael Rutter “Maternal Deprivation Reassessed” debunked alot of Bowlby’s research. It also said that in 30% of cases the primary attachment was formed with someone other than the primary carer. Not in print now, but I got a 2nd hand copy from amazon.

    Much of Bowlby’s research was based on children being taken into hospital and at the time the practice was not to allow the parents to see the child in hospital as it “upset” them. This is clearly not relevant to contact cases where the child is in the care of another parent, someone they are familiar and comfortable with.

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  11. andy · June 13, 2013

    Thanks for that Brian. Just goes to show that a lot of Bowlby’s stuff is irrelevant to couples separating, in this day an age……then why will somebody please tell me why he is quoted so passionately on the Cafcass website. any help gratefully received.

    Thanks once again

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  12. Harry · June 13, 2013

    Absolutely agree with the analysis of the BMP…however not forgetting the reverse side of this…the GWP (Good Woman Project, obviously!). Even today, talking with a volunteer on the FNF helpline…the assumption was that the woman concerned was good…but just perhaps completely unaware of the need for shared parenting.

    In my case, at least – that is not the situation. The woman concerned here is not good at all…and knows full well that shared parenting is essential for the childrens well being. Please, we must stop patronising these women! They are deliberately destroying contact in order to destroy both the children and the partner as a person (the impact on my physical health, and the alienated child’s emotional health is devastating) – in order to build up an ever increasing empire of matriarchal domination, which involves exploiting the children in every way possible. Their intention is for the parental alienation to be so severe that it will last for a lifetime…not just a few years…”until they are old enough to decide for themselves – as the rhetoric constantly goes”.

    This is nonsense – what we are dealing with here (at least sometimes, but perhaps quite often) are extremely mentally ill, emotionally damaged women…but who are extremely cunning in being able to present as normal – because of the GWP – which either overlooks all the faults when they do present, or even through professionals actively sabotaging opportunities for children to get into therapy which might reveal the abuse.

    This is what is angering me at the moment – the absence of the clear statement that what we are dealing with in Parental Alienation (generally speaking) is the very serious ABUSE of children by women. I suspect that the majority of these severe cases will be by women who were sexually abused as girls, some of whom may well not be aware of this (repressed memories) but have an overwhelming need to take revenge on a completely innocent male and children by assuming total control – in a neurotic reversal of the complete helplessness THEY felt as children.

    It is not their fault, but emotionally damaged women become EVIL…and it is an evil which has to be challenged in just the same way as men who have become evil, for whatever reasons, have to be.

    It is perfectly possible for evil people to become good, if they can be engaged in the right treatment, but first of all they have to be stopped in their tracks. No more pussy-footing around, please. Parenting alienation has to be recognised for what it is – severe psychological abuse…due to psychological trauma in the alienator.

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  13. karenwoodall · June 14, 2013

    Harry,, My work with alienating parents and the children who are affected by this phenomenon tells me that dads can alienate children as well as mums and that there are also issues of power and control running underneath emotional damage from childhood. This is not about evil in my experience though, it is about generational damage which has been left to fester and rot and which emerges in the parenting relationship. This is why getting help to both parents and support and services that help both parents is so important. This is why I will no longer work with any service which does not respect, value or deliver to both parents in ways that supports both parents need for help which will be different at different times in life. I will no longer be involved, at any level of my work, in any kind of splitting of men and women into good and bad people collectively, eother by association with policies or delivery of services which perpetuate this. Each and every individual family that I work with is deserving of my respect, my care and my deepest concern, even those parents who alienate children will get those basic committments from me, because I know that generational damage causes ongoing generational issues. I know that PA is abusive to children but I cannot place collective blame, I can only work to understand the dynamics at the deepest level and then treat them. Mums AND dads are involved in alienation issues, mums AND dads can be good and bad.

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    • Harry · June 14, 2013

      Hi Karen,

      Many of us whether we have been brought up in religious environments or not and even if we don’t believe in spirit beings, instinctively feel the force of exactly the “generational damage which has been left to fester and rot emerging in the parenting relationship” exactly as you relate – and we recoil…and just feel it in our guts as “evil”. It is exactly that, because not only is it the result of great damage, but it continues to do great damage, unless it is challenged.

      I don’t think we should be shy about using that word. I don’t think that evil is anything other than this, although it is frequently coupled with an element of ignorance or non-being.
      People often behave in ways which we instinctively describe as evil – when they have reached a stage of life without having developed the characteristics which we feel they ought to have developed by that age – i.e. it is a developmental failure of some kind.

      So of course, either men or women can be evil in this respect. Certainly, I am sure all of us agree that splitting men and women into either/or camps is absurd. However, under the Christian heritage of our patriarchal culture, that is exactly what happened.

      Adam was considered to have been the one spoiled by Eve – now under the matriarchy that is being implemented everywhere through the highly successful GWP & BMP (there is very little feminism!) – ‘Eve’ believes that she has to rule over ‘Adam’ …who is the one who is now considered inherently dangerous.

      You are clearly one of those women who is a true feminist, and those of us who see your work are SO grateful for this – but we have to identify the nature of the wider struggle we have on our hands. It is the task of those of us who are true feminists, male and female – to gather together and identify the twin evils of patriarchy and matriarchy, so that we can put forward the feminist alternative…which is not all that easy to identify. Surely, for example, as long as relationships are seen in terms of a dynamic between two people, straight or gay…is there not inevitably going to be a tendency for power struggle between these two, however subtle, for dominance?

      This is exactly the point of view of the matriarchs – one HAS to be dominant, they say, so it might as well be them – this time. Female dominance is ‘better’ than male dominance, they wish to claim.

      Children were almost inevitably abused (one way and another) under patriarchy – that is clear, and the same will be true under matriarchy. Both matriarchy and patriarchy gain their hold through having power over children…and then others less powerful economically, intellectually, etc – who are also treated as children in likewise manner.

      Since society is relatively sensitive to cruelty to children, I think this is the first place to start – to highlight the sadistic nature of matriarchy, as much as patriarchy. Individuals, male and female are sadistic, yes…but they are so within a collective ideological framework with which they identify.

      It is necessary to call out both aspects, individual AND collective.

      The focus on women in my original comment was because the predominant and rising power in the West is now matriarchal…and one of the main weapons being used by the matriarchs against men is to deprive them of their children. This obviously means depriving the children of their fathers, as well, which is a double whammy of sadism against both.

      Your individual work is wonderful, but this has to be somehow tackled on a VAST scale in order to turn things around – and so we have to be absolutely clear about the nature of the task ahead of us.

      Like

  14. karenwoodall · June 14, 2013

    Only two comments Harry, I am no longer a feminist, I recognise what feminism has done in poisoning the balanced minds of too many people, this is a problem with a human face in which the only way to bring about change is to support the people who are damaged and damaging in ways that feminism has prevented for too long. Healthy relationships are those where individuals are able to relate to each other as good and bad people, where ambivalence is acceptable and where each are willing to do the work of change. Longevity in relationships can be supported by or utterly destroyed by the way in which a society values relationships. For such a long time there has been no value placed on relationships other than those which are under the control of or acceptable to women. This is not, to my mind evil, it is the result of a policy environment which is out of balance and in which we have collectively dumped the ‘shadow’ or unwanted elements of relationships onto men. k

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  15. Karen Woodall · June 14, 2013

    Most of all I dont want anyone to be grateful for the work that We do, I want people to recognise it as what could have been the way that families were supported if someone like Erin Pizzey had not been so demonised by feminism, I want people to demand it as standard, nothing less will do. We work with men and women up and down this land, we support long term sustainable change that arrests generational damage and restores relationships, we are slowly increasing our reach and evaluating our success so that our evidence base is not contaminated with biased reasearch, we may not be able to expand at a rate that we know is needed but we succeed where we do reach and succeeding, for every case we ever work on is our goal. K

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    • Harry · June 14, 2013

      I hope this debate is useful for anyone else reading it. I hear your distress and disgust with what ‘feminism’ has become, and thank you for introducing me to Erin Pizzey, of whom I was not aware.

      However, the core concept of feminism – the equal value of men and women – has been and continues to be, deeply inspirational to me personally, offering a most profound sense of identity, in fact, for the last 30 years. To me, the gender conflict is the one which deeply underlies every other conflict – if only we could understand its subterranean currents – and we will need to know what is involved, in order to have any chance of resolving it.

      Humanism for me is too bland a term…feminism works better because it describes a quality of human nature – its softness, as opposed to the unfeeling robotic hardness which have historically been at the heart of the cult of masculinity. The women you describe have been seduced into becoming more like this…when what was needed was for more men to both realize their vulnerability, and also find power in a maleness that was interested in love – not domination. When faced with a more genuinely hard object like a knife, bullet or rock…both genders are effectively equally soft. Biologically speaking, man are just a variation on the female – just specialized NOT to give birth.

      Therefore feminism remains the most useful term we have in outlining the critical qualities that the genders have in common, and all it takes is for men and women to stand up and reclaim the term together from those who are quite easily identified as not feminists at all…but matriarchs, as my last post makes clear.

      In this we are aligning ourselves not only with feminists of the 60’s such as Betty Friedan and Germain Greer, but also respecting the newer voices such as Kathleen Parker (Save The Males) & Cathy Young (Ceasefire) who are fiercely critical of what might be termed ‘radical feminism’ – but remain determined that theirs is the true understanding of feminism, and refuse to allow it to be hijacked by people who are simply female chauvinists – and whose ‘feminist’ perspective needs to be exposed as the fake one that it is…or at least, it is time for them to decide where they stand.

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      • alcockell · March 2, 2015

        Germaine Greer is a TERF – she also went public at Femifest 2014 as saying that “equality was always a lie” – she is a female supremacist along with Gloria Steinem. It was their camp that froze Christina Hoff-Sommers out of the academic side of the feminist push.

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      • Woodman59 · March 3, 2015

        Oh dear – I’d like to know more if possible! We do know that both of these women were very wounded by the absence of fatherhood. And what is a TERF?

        You prompted me to go do a little more searching on Christina, and found this AVFM feature on her.

        http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/why-still-a-feminist-a-question-for-christina-hoff-sommers/

        & then an interview for an all-female forum based on that Fact-Fem video

        http://www.ravishly.com/ladies-we-love/christina-sommers-author-who-stole-feminism

        Christina obviously had an overwhelmingly better relationship with her father when growing up. The type of feminism that emerges in an individual seems profoundly influenced by the relationship which they had with their parents – especially their father, it would appear.

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      • alcockell · March 3, 2015

        Yup. Pretty much the TERF lot had “I hate daddy” pushed through “make personal political

        Like

  16. KAren Woodall · June 15, 2013

    Harry, for me the space we are discussing is beyond the isms, it is beyond feminism, it is beyond humanism, it is truly about what men and women, in all of their glorious difference, can achieve when they work together. This is what I am interested in. Stand point feminists like Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer were arguing only for the liberation of one side of the human race and those who moved the feminist debate on wanted that side to become dominant and for all people to be encouraged to be more feminine, more soft, and less male. The demonisation of masculinity is an utter tragedy in my experience, it has robbed men of their sense of self, turned boys into confused, vulnerable and lost people and lauded women and girls as the only acceptable people. The truth of the matter is that men are more vulnerable than women to many things, early death, being mugged, suicide, self harm, being attacked by strangers and more, but the fact is we ignore that and focus only upon women as being the people who need help. We have got things wildly out of balance and no amount of feminism is going to put the balance back in our lives. I have a step son and a grandson, I want to leave behind, for them, a better world in which their masculinity is embraced, understood and valued, when it is, the appalling crimes against men as fathers, which are made possible by the current climate, will end. Until then, I continue to work directly with families, using an equalities based perspective that recognises that men and women can be good and bad and that helping both parents be the best they can be for their children is what brings about generational change. Hope that explains it more for you. K

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    • andy · June 15, 2013

      “Our involvement included designing the logic for the Help and Support for Separated Families web application, which was then handed over to the civil servants to connect up to the available advice. The disaster that became the HSSF tool led to us refusing to host it on the Centre for Separated Families website. Primarily because, in our view, it is too poorly connected up to available and appropriate advice to deliver consistent outcomes that promote collaboration. Which, at the end of every day, is our core concern. We don’t want to get it right for some parents, we want to get it right for every parent, because we know that family separation is appallingly painfuland because we know that when we get it right, we deliver long lasting change which improves outcomes for children”.

      Karen, I have extracted this from yor Blog. Forgiving my ignorance, what would you have liked the website to look like?

      Can you put your ideas on a website and run a pilot scheme?

      I would like to see your positive projections of what keeps a family ticking along, post-separation.

      Is there any reason why you can’t signpost to the best facilities available that promote collaboration?

      I can’t help but think solutions will be found in spite of these government bodies, and then adopted by them at a later date.

      Kind regards

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    • Harry · June 16, 2013

      Karen, I don’t understand how we can possibly move beyond ‘isms’. Isms are simply groups of ideas that need to be explored for their value. All we can ever do – is decide which are the most useful.

      As far as I can see, both Germaine and Betty were examples of feminists (despite their personal idiosyncrasies) whose perspective revolved around liberation for women – in ORDER for men and women to really start to achieve things together.

      Speaking as a man, the feminist argument that masculinity became associated with oppression is correct. But it is necessary to rescue the ‘baby’ from the ‘bathwater’. Feminist masculinity is very different from the patriarchal kind. What we all long for is to be understood. A man who understands women because he is aware that he is like them in his most fundamental respects – will be very attractive to them in a sexual capacity. It is this VERY attractiveness – that is the problem to be overcome in the new era that you are describing. How can such a man be available…to only one woman? It just does not make sense.

      Likewise, as long as women maintain the absurd fiction that – in complete contrast to the pathetic men who are totally ruled by their reproductive equipment – they will only ever be sexually interested in one person at a time, be they male or female, we will get nowhere fast.

      As long as, in couple counselling, for example – we dance around these issues in fright…condemning such honesty as the most cardinal sin that could ever be committed, then we will continue to wallow in a relationship system that fails to meet our fundamental needs – and all the terrible consequences you describe will continue unabated.

      We cannot go back to the past. The deficiencies that the feminist movement pointed out about that are correct – the only problem is that instead of nurturing a new man…they have chosen instead to NEUTER him, instead, as you describe.

      Both men and women are sexual creatures. We either celebrate that sexuality…or end up in an orgy of hatred instead.

      Which is where we are at right now.

      Like

  17. Jane Jackson · June 15, 2013

    Karen as I suspected your article has evoked all sorts of reactions.
    I am going to stick my neck out, as a woman I hate what feminism has become. Its origins have become lost and has been hijacked by women who feel the need to discredit men at every opportunity. We can package it up anyway we like, but at the grand old age of 60 I have watched with horror as feminism has done a huge disservice to women as a whole.
    I know I shall get rebuked for my next comment, so I need to hang on, why are we now so afraid to say actually men and women are different, and celebrate that fact.
    Of course equality means just that, men and women to be treated equally, but we all know that the pendulum has swung to far.
    I was sitting minding my own business this week having a coffee, and I was sitting next to four young mothers, their conversation made me feel ashamed to be a female. They continually spoke of the men in their lives in a degrading, dismissive way, with distain. I wondered why on earth they had entered their relationships if it meant so little to them.
    This particular group were mums at home looking after the children, their partners were out working, long hours but were expected when they got home to take over the child care. Expected to get up at night to see to the children and get them up in the morning, my question is how can dads be expected to do both?
    I have purposely used the word expected.
    I know from my own experience, my OH, worked 15 hours a day, going to work before the children were awake and arrived home when they were asleep, it never actually entered my head that he could deal with the children if they woke up, is it because I am so old?
    I am so fearful for the children in these sorts of relationships, listening to my neighbour talking in the garden to her children about their father is so disturbing. The youngest daughter said the other day to her dad, “Now you know if I tell mum, you know what she will do to you!” Good grief, and so the behaviour continues.
    So for this old woman, I shall be thinking of all you dads who will not be able to see your children tomorrow, women look to yourselves for making changes.

    Like

  18. Grandmani · June 15, 2013

    Interested in mention of Erin Pizzey!I note that she is a member of the Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP) group mentioned by Paul Manning in an earlier post.They have a great policy statement -have they had any progress.

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    • Harry · June 15, 2013

      Jane & Grandmani, thank you for your thoughts today – I certainly am in that alienation situation at the moment…and knowing that so much damage is taking place only a short distance from where I am…and can do nothing about it – except keep trying to draw attention to it.

      Karen mentions that she feels that Families Need Fathers with their Shared Parenting initiative has largely run aground. I’m still in the process of finding out about this, but suspect this will be because (a) it isn’t practical in most cases – wherever one party will have considerably more resources than the other (b) the children don’t want to be based in two locations(c) the resident parent takes a ‘winner takes all’ perspective – based on the adversarial political perspective, and so will do everything they can to undermine court judgements which try to move towards shared parenting.

      The situation doesn’t look good at all, I would suggest – without a phenomenal cultural change happening. I am working hard on this – which I believe could come about through the use of therapeutic music at a community level. I honestly think that only something like this, which is a profoundly emotional environment which can start to address some of the damage that Karen has spoken of, on a larger scale…has the potential to bring about significant change in the Zeitgeist.

      Like

  19. andy · June 16, 2013

    Hi Harry

    You are never alone. Families Need Fathers is alive and kicking. If you go to their website you can find out where the nearest one to you is. Most groups meet monthly. I help run the Sheffield group and there are also groups nearby in Leeds, Nottingham, Selby, and Scarborough that I know of. I have recently spoken to John who coordinates FNF in the north-east.

    I advise you to call the appropriate phone number before attending the meeting, then you will be able to talk about your particular case. Bring with you any relevant documentation to the meeting. It is always good to come with a parenting plan of your own so that you have something to work towards. Everybody’s case is different but we all share a deep desire to continue parenting our children. There are many impediments to recovering a relationship with our children but it is never beyond the realms of distinct possibility. Come with an open mind and be prepared to empathise with your children. Whether the law fails you or not, you will always be left with the task of using your mind to re-assert your rightful position as co-parent to your children. As soon as possible I suggest you read the book by Richard Warshak, Divorce Poison and practice some of the techniques (a friend may be willing to take the part of your children in some of the exercises). You sound like a strong, determined and fearless character. These traits will hold you in good stead while you work on getting back with your children.

    Look forward to hearing about your first meeting.

    Kind regards

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    • Harry · June 16, 2013

      Hi Andy,

      I don’t know if any other Dads feel this too, but my problem is that the whole of my parenting revolves around the family home…i.e. time spent in the family home (I call it this even though it is a Council house) in the company of the children doing the normal things they do, i.e. their world revolves around their family home – and NOT around my need to be a Dad to them.

      In fact, though extremely effective in the home; outside of it – because of financial AND health difficulties…my role as a father is EXTREMELY limited. I am fortunate to have a flat…but it simply serves as an area to study and write…as if I were at work. The children have either no or very little interest – in being there.

      So my wife…by forcing me away from the home…is effectively destroying the fatherhood role altogether.

      I did once go to a FNF meeting in my area and the lawyer there felt that the ONLY way to develop this type of contact that I need – would be to work on it informally through family and friends etc. However, all these people have let me down…and it seems that the courts are looming.

      What I need the court to do, is to recognize that the only way I can be a father is in the home…and that is what would overwhelmingly be in the children’s interest, and the only way to actually meet their needs.

      But everything that has been said so far suggests to me that in Courtspeak…the “child’s best interests” is nothing like that at all – but simply an Orwellian euphemism for the “the mother’s wishes” – as if THIS is what constitutes the child’s needs.

      In practice, the court seems to be treating the mother as some kind owner of the children as if they were livestock. If they are disabled, especially, the children can bring the mother quite a good income…which she will often conveniently treat as her own compensation money, for having had children with a degree of disability.

      In fact, I believe that my wife – by removing me from my children’s lives, as well the way that she runs their lives…is a very serious abuser. But she can both look good, and present herself very well as a victim.

      I have very little faith that the court will be able to recognize that the primary and overwhelming responsibility of parents is to get on with each other – and that this comes way before any of the so-called “rights” of independence that mighted be claimed…and therefore firmly apply the necessary pressure on any party unwilling to accept the relationship counselling required.

      I think one year of intensive counselling (unless there has been clear evidence of violence or other substantive abuse) should be mandatory before divorce or separation is allowed. Only after this length of time, and if the party that wishes the break up of the family…is able to reasonably justify it to the counsellor – should this be considered acceptable.

      Within this one year timetable, the counsellor would help to either enable continuation of the relationship, or failing that, then at least prepare the couple in order to have as much of a shared parenting arrangement as possible, and ensure that parental alienation is not going to be able to take place, as far as can be foreseen.

      Parental alienation should be illegal, categorized as hate crime – and dealt with in a similar fashion.

      Until and unless the courts have teeth to deal with parents who are trying to avoid their moral responsibility to their children, and are not afraid to use those powers…the problem of family breakdown will continue to escalate.

      Women overwhelmingly see the courts, not as representing law and order…but rather as a supremely powerful weapon in their war against men…in relegating them to an entirely subservient existence – with their either accepting a role as slaves…or to be banished entirely from the scene.

      Unless FNF can effect this change, it is going to be something of an irrelevance.

      Like

      • alcockell · December 25, 2014

        One other direct impact is how the TERF contingent within radical feminism explicitly said that disabled children should be aborted as it’s harder on the mother.

        As an autistic man – this terrifies me.
        As a male survivor of female-perpetrated sexual abuse by peers in school – this also frightens me.

        I am erased.

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  20. John Havelock · June 16, 2013

    Karen, as usual, you are right on the money. It’s not the figures, it’s not the statistics, it’s not domestic violence, it’s not whether girls are better than boys, it’s this vile state-sponsored, media-pushed agenda which is the real cancer.

    Like

  21. andy · June 17, 2013

    Hi Harry

    I empathise with your predicament and appreciate you taking time to tell something of your situation. You havn’t been to Court but you are trying to make things better. Being a father to your children in the home is what you feel comfortable with but you have reservations/restrictions as to what you can do with the children outside the home?
    I have similar financial problems and can despair when faced with what I feel is my responsibility. (In fact something that has always niggled me is the perception that one parent is responsible for financial support and the other for care of the children).

    You are aware of the cruel desire of the adult ego which tries to convince the children that the other parent is not fit for purpose and I too panicked when my daughter told me that I didn’t love her any more, but thankfully that time has passed and no court in this land will take credit for changing my daughters opinion. (that was me with a lot of help from others who cared). It is possible to counter the tendency for either parent to control the children. A lot of the answers can be found in the book I recommended. Karen does a wonderful job too.
    If you do attend FNF meetings you will meet people in similar predicaments all looking for answers. Some of us, five or so years post-separation have improved our positions immeasureably, though life is never perfect. Anything is possible.

    Kind regards

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  22. ThreefoldDisappointed · June 17, 2013

    It is interesting to think of how the BMP works. I think if you asked children to identify the one responsible for the breakdown of their parent’s relationship, they would invariably say dad. If they don’t know the reasons for this, they will even go so far as to invent them, based on any of the several stereotypes out there. It would be an interesting experiment. The BMP is therefore already at work in the mind from a very young age, shaping the perception of boys and girls alike. It is not until the point of divorce, that the boy who has now turned man begins to get any sense of the BMP and how thoroughly rotten it is. Before that, it is just something that is accepted (like everything else, it must be that way for a very good reason). I think that is why a lot men are so collusive in it. Fortunately for blood ties, the BMP doesn’t entirely destroy father-child relationships, only makes them fraught at times, and makes it easier to side with moms in just about everything.

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  23. karenwoodall · June 17, 2013

    Chaps, whilst I have no problem with my site becoming an open counselling clinic, can I suggest Andy that if you feel FNF is the answer for people that you open an FNF site for these kind of discussions to take place. I personally feel that FNF does a great job at the grass roots, the interpersonal support is invaluable for many parents and that is something that I would always send people to. But the longer term unpicking, of personal and wider socio-political matters, the likes of which Harry is discussing, is not going to be resolved by sending people to self help groups. Neither is the impact on men of the BMP going to be resolved by trying to tackle it by locating it inside of men and changing it that way. No amount of self help books or self correction programmes are going to change the fact that the BMP is a deliberately inculcated, shame inducing, strike against the heart of what it is to be a man in our culture. This is what I am trying to tackle on this site and this is what we could be collectively working around.

    Harry, the history of feminism is a twisted and warped path in which the very worst of humanity resides alongside the very best of it. It is as dangerous to believe the illusion that women are somehow more evolved humans than men as it was to believe that they were deficient in some way when the so called ‘patriarchy’ was supposedly dominant in our culture.

    I have read today some appalling words about boys, written by radical feminist women who would like, if they could, to have boys killed at birth. You may consider this to be merely rhetoric, however, on the safe sounding ‘mumsnet’ where radical feminism is alive and well, a child care worker who identifies as a radical feminist speaks about the boys she is working with as ‘potential rapists’ and the girls as ‘potential harrassement victims. She calls boys ‘little fuckers’ and goes on to say that she does not know why she is giving energy to them because they should not receive care and nurture. That is one of the faces of feminism. Gender hatred and a hate crime as far as I am concerned, but allowed to be seen by one and all on mumsnet. Now, you tell me, is that a more evolved form of humanity, or is it simply women venting their personal vitriol on young, defenceless children? That is why the kind of psychological splitting which is induced by beliefs in feminism is so dangerous in our world. If we really do believe, in our hearts and souls that feminism is a more evolved, kind and caring form of humanity, then we are going to allow this to go on and our boys will continue to be subjected to the spectrum of views that includes the idea that preventing boys from becoming rapists is about killing them at birth.

    The truth is that women can be as vicious, wicked and unpleasant as men and they can also be kind, good and caring. The next truth is that men and women are different, we were born biologically different, the neuroscience shows that this means different things. Being a man means being washed in testosterone, a hormone which produces powerful outcomes. Being a women means that our hormone balance is different and this produces different outcomes. If we try, to make boys into girls, we do them a massive disservice. Studies show that boys who are considered good at school are those who sit still and quiet as girls can do for long periods of time. But boys are not built for sitting still and quiet, they need the physical rough and tumble of play to enable them to let off steam and do the work of growing. If we label those boys dysfunctional we label their very maleness dysfunctional. Feminism, it has a lot to answer for and not too much of it good.

    When we reach a place where men and boys are understood, valued and welcomed on the planet for who they are and what they bring to our world, then we will move on. It is, I believe, the responsibility of those who can see beyond the isms to say it, live it and do whatever we can to bring about the conditions in which we can be different to each other but equal always. K

    Like

    • Harry · June 17, 2013

      Karen,

      Thank you for validating my sociological contribution. I had already bought the ‘divorce poison’ book, in fact…but not got around to reading it yet. Many other important books also in the queue. Despite being a Utopian Socialist…I have to admit most of the sense being talked about in relation to family issues is coming more from the right – than the left, at the moment.

      Nevertheless, as you can see – I’m not interested in turning the clock back, but rather reaching forward to a progressive future which incorporates all the contributions that each gender has to make – full and free and without compromise.

      By the same token we need to recognise that children need continuity and consistency in their relationships with us…for the rest of their lives…once they are here.

      Children need to be protected from adults of either gender who put their own compulsions way beyond the needs of the children, or who use the children for their own purposes, or as instruments of torture against their partners.

      These are manifestations of both individual mental illness, and also delusional ideas which develop in a sociopathic manner among groups – collective madnesses.

      As someone who has been developing as a healer for the last 30 years, I cam promise you that this is what we are dealing with. What you are describing is evidence of individual and collective disturbances coming together.

      I think this is sociological aspect what we need to concentrate on. I’m not so convinced about the biological arguments. I am as testosterone filled – as the next guy, I would say! But I have never been interested in many typically male interests, such as sport, or drinking…although I am very much so, in others, such as woodworking, computers, and drumming. I am enthusiastic, innovative, creative – driving forward ideas…have penetrating insight, absolute determination, endless optimism etc.

      My wife once told me at the start of our relationship “I like you because you are a man who says ‘no’…”. I.e. – I could not be wound round her little finger like pretty much everyone else she encounters – male or female.

      Does that sound male enough for you?

      Yet at the same time I have levels of compassion and gentleness, that a previous female partner refused to classify me as a man. Sex with every other man had proved physically tortuous – with me she felt no pain at all. In fact, in my work as a healer I frequently find myself take on a womb-like function…sheltering and nurturing closely for a certain period, in order to help resolve the failings of the maternal experience that women, in particular, have had…but who feel more comfortable relating to men in that kind of intimate capacity.

      Finally, a less personal example. Anthropologists have described situations where there have been dramatic shifts in behaviour within the same social group, over time. For example, I remember hearing about tribal groups which at one time were known for their ferocious warlike behaviour…yet only a few generations later, their masculine prowess is now expressed through poetry and song…and they are completely rejecting their powerful previous cultural trait.

      I can’t imagine that it is the testosterone levels there, that will have changed.

      At the same time, I’m not ignoring the biological factor – I have a son who is quite severely autistic, and can express the raw force of nature at times…but still at other moments seems intuitively capable of sensing areas of pain in other peoples bodies…and tries, and is able, to relieve it – just through touch.

      The women who are causing the problems often also display some pronounced typically male characteristics…I even suspect autism in some cases…with the tendency toward deception and a high degree inability to recognize standard moral boundaries and precepts. The neighbour described my wife as being “beyond selfish”. Yes, I began to realize…she’s autistic. Far more boys, than girls, are considered autistic. I have heard of autism described as an extreme form of maleness…a consequence of the existence of the gender differentiation that you speak of.

      Male characteristics can obviously emerge within women, and female ones within men.

      We are surely a complex mix?

      Like

      • karenwoodall · June 18, 2013

        Oh we are a complex mix Harry but, the very things that you write about as being male, autism as an extreme form of maleness for example, a tribe, once full of warriors who then express their maleness in poetry and song, speaks to me of your inculcated notions that soft and gentle is better than powerful and strong and focused. Do we not need the power of masculinity? The focus that enables planes to fly in the sky, the courage that has brought us electricity, telephones, travel, the brute strength that dug the rail tracks, built the roads, the willingness to do the dirty work, the cleaning of drains, the dredging of rivers, the bravery that it takes to climb into a burning building, the dedication and absolute focus it takes to perform brain surgery? Are all those things not the most wonderful, marvellous, fantastic gifts given to humanity, by men? Now I know that there will be those who say that women, if they were free enough to could do just as well, maybe so, but the reality is that men did those things, men created those things, men gave their hearts and souls to bring us here, do we not value that, not for anything other than it is a wonderful marvellous miraculous thing?

        I used to read feminist literature where the idea that men create things outside of themselves was because they could not bring about life, they could only give the seed that started life. This was used to denigrate all of those things that men did. Well back in those days maybe it was necessary for women to do some reclaiming, some determining their own path, some celebrating of the wonderful things that they do. But has it not gone too far when the very thing that makes one a man is not to be celebrated, when being a man means being more eschewing all of those fantastic things that men have done and that men do, all those selfless, courageous things that no-one very much talks about.

        I understand how it was back then. I watched a tv programme last night about women forced to give up children for adoption and the power of fathers over the family that caused that to happen. Of course no-one wishes to go back there, that is where the pendulum had swung so far that oppression was real, but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction in my view and men are, in so many ways, as oppressed in their very masculinity as women were back then.

        I am looking for balance. I am looking for a place where we can deliver support to separating families in ways that honours the masculinity and the femininity that mothers and fathers bring to childrens lives. I don’t want to force men to be more gentle and soft if that is not who they are, sure they need to understand how to be themselves in a separated family situation and understand that some of that may need to be tempered because it can be too stark a difference for children living in family separation to cope with. And mothers too have to learn how they need to temper their natural styles so that the child feels held in a mix of parenting styles and approaches that meets their needs. But we won’t get there by making all men into women and we won’t do our children any service whatsoever if we fail to celebrate the wonder of masculinity and everything it has done for the world that we live in. Me, I marvel in it. Every time I sit on a plane, every time I ride on a train, I marvel at the dedication, the obsession, the focus, the sheer grit and power of what the masculine can do and I am thankful for it.

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      • Harry · June 18, 2013

        Hi Karen,

        Do not be concerned – I too, am in love with the masculine principle, as much as the feminine one. I am a creative, and have tremendously enjoyed doing engineering work which is related to woodworking – and can also do both interior design, and the refurbishment work from plumbing to some electrical, pretty much on my own.

        I also was interested in organic growing in the 70’s – before the general public were aware of it, and ran an allotment for 10 years, as well as being a keen musician.

        However, for various reasons, my most important contribution has been as a healer. My aim is to be able to resolve many of the physical conditions that medicine in general cannot.

        Is this a masculine…or feminine endeavour – the answer has to be that it is both.

        It takes tremendous psychic strength…but is that a male or female characteristic – I would it is both, if anything.

        One blends into the other, really…it is hardly possible to separate the two.

        Set against all this creative activity, the ordinary looking after children can seem quite humdrum in comparison…and sometimes I struggle to be motivated – as I am sure a lot of us adults are quite often if we are truthful. But if we were to do things more communally, I’m sure even that would become much more interesting and stimulating, as we inspire each other to do things, and have the added adult element to relate to.

        That’s my argument, really – in all things related to children, we have become far to isolated.
        All the years that I did it I would be just about the only Dad being with my children in the playgroups and other children’s activities.

        Even now, I find that if I am friendly to another man that I should happen to meet – even if there is good conversation…there is almost inevitably the suspicion on his part that I am trying to pick him up – when that is not remotely on my horizon at all.

        We men are great at doing things – but generally lousy at relating to each other, especially. Even in conversation with long time me friends we have a tendency to talk at each other, rather than with each other, and as soon as discussions of emotional experiences and feelings come up, it gets really awkward. Women are streets ahead in this regard, most of the time. We men are hugely at a disadvantage here, in terms of being able to organise against the BMP and the GWP.

        I’m not saying that men should stop being productive – just that they need to develop this more empathic side. Men are not really much harder than women…just a little firmer, that is all. It’s not that much of a difference, surely?

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      • Kat · June 18, 2013

        To me what is interesting about these great scientific and engineering achievements is that they are achievements by individuals. Let us not fall into the stereotype that men are good at science, women are good at soft, nurturing jobs. There are plenty of males and females who do not fit those roles. I also do not hold that one is better than the other, as a society we need both. Yes on average probably more men are interested in science and engineering than women are, does that make it a male pursuit? There are of course great scientific discoveries made by women (maybe not quite so well known) such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Leonora Menten (the latter had to move abroad to be allowed to work in science, as it was not allowed for women to do so in her home country). I like to view those as achievements by individuals too, rather than female contributions to science.

        That said, science is an example of an area where there is still real discrimination against women. It is being addressed and a lot of effort is being put into changing this, but as we find here, it is window dressing most of it, no one dares to grasp the nettle by the root and change the fundamental structures that bring this about. Blaming “the patriachy” is in my view a simplification that fails to grasp the problem.

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      • Harry · June 18, 2013

        Hi Kat – I’m not quite sure from your comment what you think is the problematic fundamental structure.

        In my experience, in the social environment I am in, in London – women may often want a piece of all this exciting opportunity that men have had…but most often they are mainly focussing on the money that men have traditionally had.

        In contrast with either, doing creative work, or spending the money – child care is seen as relatively boring…and neither men or women want to do it that much (obviously, there are exceptions, but am speaking in general terms).

        The solution, is to make child care interesting!

        In my opinion, we could do this by making child care a really sexy place where men and women could give their best to children but at the same time be meeting and engaging with each other.

        I can promise you, that we are a million miles away from this at the moment. The women involved in child care, most of them…might as well be walking around with a ball and chain around their feet. If they are flirtatious…if they are provocative in their dress, for example (which they may well be) that simply makes the matter worse. There is almost guaranteed to be a jealous male in the background somewhere (or it could be a jealous female, perhaps).

        To me it is the limitations of the nuclear family structure, or any of its variations, which are the real problem – it is a very poor arrangement for everyone concerned.

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      • Karen Woodall · June 18, 2013

        Well yes Kat, I completely understand about the women who achieve and the women who are not in science but thats not exactly the point I am making here. I am not stereotyping and saying masculinity is ONLY about scientific success, I am asking why we are not actually celebrating scientific success by men and the power of maculinity that leads to that. Our brains are different, the neuroscience tells us that, why then do we not celebrate the wonder of that difference, ensuring that those who succeed, at the peak of their powers, are thanked for what they do, why do we, constantly, have to hold up examples of women who do this or that and explain why women have not done this or that. Why is it that we cannot, for example appeciate the utter splendour of the achievements of say Isambard Kingdom Brunel, just for the sake of it. Or give thanks for the madness and the courage and the sheer downright tenacity of the Wright brothers. Or for Sigmund Freud, or for any of the heroes who have shaped our lives. Why not? Why do we always always always have to either reduce it to a non gendered issue or immediately list women who have achieved things too? Its an absolute condundrum to my mind, that liberation of women creates the conditions of oppression and dismissal of men. Why can we not celebrate the wonderful, marvellous, magical things that men and women are in their different ways, different strengths, different achievements. I am reminded always of the tyranny of the weak when we discuss these things, always we are so afraid to appreciate openly success, in case we offend or overlook someone. I try to appreciate every day the greatest achievements that men and women have brought to my world and the difference between them. K

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      • Kat · June 18, 2013

        I really do think that gender should be an irrelevance when celebrating human achievements. The fact that women might not have had the opportunity does not in my mind detract from or add anything to the achievements of the great male scientists and engineers of our past. They are just as wonderful. However, if we say that scientific success is a result of the power of masculinity, rather than a result of individual achievement to me that looks like stereotyping. If it is a masculine trait to be a successful scientist, are female scientist then not as feminine as women who become midwives? And likewise are men who chose to become primary school teachers not as masculine as engineers? I hope for equal opportunity for individuals to make choises regardless of their gender (race etc.), by all means with an acceptance that on average men and women will make different choices. On average men and women are different, on average their brains are different, (as a simple example various brain functions are directly linked to testosterone levels), but the average is a poor descriptor of the individual.

        Harry, the structures of scientific research that lead to discrimination of women in science are probably a little too specialised for this forum. My point was realy only my amusement that the same old simplification of men suppressing women is so often used to describe it. I do simply not believe that the average man wants to suppress women, it goes against my personal experience (but maybe I have just been lucky!)

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      • karenwoodall · June 18, 2013

        working with equalities as I do, it is the difference and the right to be different to each other that is the key focus Kat. Why is it not OK to simply celebrate the difference between us and what that has done for the world and humanity? I am really quite interested in that as a question.

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      • kat · June 18, 2013

        I just prefer to celebrate the differences between us and what they have done for the world and humanity on the basis of us being different human beings rather than different male or female human beings.

        Like

      • Harry · June 18, 2013

        Kat and Karen,

        I’m trying to make creative contribution to the discussion as to how to get over the BMP and GWP, which I feel is being ignored.

        Instead we are talking one moment about let’s celebrate the differences, and big that up – and the next minute, to ignore any differences in gender at all!

        I can see the point of both perspectives…to some extent, but to me we are swinging to either side of the pendulum here. The main concentration should be in the middle, as to what both genders have in common. Basically, we have more in common than we do not – and that should be the basis of feminism.

        Anything that promotes the superiority or advantage of one gender over another – is simply NOT feminism…even if the people involved call it that. They need to be confronted with that…and made to admit that they are chauvinists of either stripe – that is…either patriarchs or matriarchs in orientation.

        The women concerned need to be challenged about that – what right do they have to call themselves feminists – if they do not believe in Feminism?

        Let’s have a proper debate about this!

        But those of us who believe in women and men working cooperatively together as equals…which those of us here obviously do – hallelujah for that! – surely need to get our act together about what we believe…or the matriarchs will p… all over us!

        Patriarchs are just put in for technical purposes. They are largely redundant for policy purposes. The battle lines are between matriarchy and feminism.

        If we can’t see that then we are just like proverbial ostriches sticking our heads in the sand.

        Also, there has been a stunning silence about anything to do with sexuality.

        Let’s just face it – men and women getting on together, is just plain sexy. It has to be much more than the sexuality of the past – it has to be something new…for a start it has to embrace the rise of the gay issue…and also, that a significant proportion of the population will actually be bi-sexual in orientation.

        It is ridiculous that every bi person is faced with the choice of either/or…even if they have the freedom to choose either.

        The only real choice is to have both.

        Please, let’s grow up and tackle these subjects. In over thirty years of counselling experience these subjects are always there under the surface, needing to be addressed – and yet not a peep on it in this extremely important forum.

        It is the issue at the absolute heart of resolving the ‘Bad Man’ & ‘Good Woman’ Projects.

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      • Karen Woodall · June 18, 2013

        Harry, not sure I am with you when you talk about one’s sexuality not being mentioned on here, I can’t see how it is at the heart of the issue of family separation (other than same sex couples separate and same sex parents also have difficulties in post separation parenting). And difference, between straight/gay/bi is interesting but not necessarily impactful on the issues we are discussing. Kat and I are talking about whether we celebrate gender difference or just people difference, I can see that gender issues are part of that, how people identify as one gender or another for example but I dont go post modern post binary simply because I am currently mostly interested in the demolition of the masculine in its unreconstructed definition. I am interested when you say that the issues of sexuality are there under the surface, In my work with families, gay and straight, the issue of sexuality is less visible then the constraints of gender expectations. But if you want to expand do feel free. K

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      • Harry · June 18, 2013

        Hi Karen,

        I think that the other side of the devaluation of men (The BMP is a brilliant summation) is the elevation of women.

        You recently seem to be emphasizing this as well, as something you are pointing out of concern to me – when it was precisely the point I was originally trying to make to you.

        Anyway – if we are now in agreement about that…what are we going to do about it? – as parental alienation can only take place because one party feels superior, as much as the other…is deemed to be inferior.

        We have to address the problem from BOTH sides.

        You’ve noticed, no doubt – how I often extrapolate from personal to collective observations.

        In my own case, my wife, the alienator, is, I’m convinced – the one struggling with a tremendous inferiority complex.

        She, because of being so hugely emotionally damaged…has very little capacity for love. Consequently, her relationship with the children is based on instilling fear in order to have power over them.

        Because I am not emotionally damaged in the same way (though still with my burden of pain, of course) my relationship with them IS based on love.

        Over time, she has become more and more incendiary about this – hating me (and perhaps herself) for my success in regard to this in comparison to herself.

        The hatred is so extreme that she physically wishes me dead as the only way to eliminate the problem from her life.

        However, it would never work – would it? Even should I die, my children would still love me, and not her, even if they might feign to do so, for survival needs. Dependence is not the same as love.

        But in her attempt to win the children’s love, she has to elevate herself to a godlike status…and to present me as a demonic one – the cause of all the problems in the family.

        I think that likewise, wittingly or unwittingly, you have put your finger on a key element in the gender relations issue. Women have had a huge jealousy over the male contribution to society, and so a phenomenal refusal to acknowledge the masculine role for what it has been, because doing so would awaken their enormous feeling of insecurity and lack of self worth.

        I think this is why I have spent so much time going on about men intimately embracing the female personal nurturing roles, so as to powerfully acknowledge them as having as much value as those of industrial technological/artistic creation and exploration of the physical and intellectual universe.

        However, amongst those who are caught up in the concept of rigid role mates, rather than flexible soul mates (after Stephen Farrell, who I am just discovering) this engenders yet ANOTHER fury…which is of a man who appears to be seeking to invade female space…suggesting that he is more capable than her in that (as WELL as in the technosphere) and even further exposing their sense of inferiority).

        I suspect that this is why there is such female reluctance to acknowledge the wider contribution of men that you have described so powerfully, and also the corresponding defence of the nurturing of the young as defiantly female territory – which CANNOT be acknowledged as belonging to men…hence the current epidemic reactionary drive to exclude men from children’s lives.

        I hope that this analysis helps to delineate the current arena in which we have to struggle…which I am certain will be showing up in the lives of the families you have to deal with on a day to day basis.

        I am currently the subject of an attempted non-molestation order…but as indicated – this is simply the consequence, not of my FAILURE as a father, but of my very SUCCESS in this role.

        However, I don’t know how you will feel about this. Does this sound a warning that men’s and women’s roles should forever stay distinct and separate…or is it that the birth pangs of ‘fluidity of gender roles’ – needs to have some mid-wifely attention?

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  24. andy · June 17, 2013

    Humble apologies for using this opportunity to promote one of the things that FNF do. This is not the place to do that, but thanks for saying positive things about what we do for individuals (mothers and fathers) on a personal level. Harry, perhaps you can communicate with me further via my e mail address if you want to.

    The socio-political solutions to opposing the bad man image could be redressed on a personal level. It is the very nature of the way we oppose individuals that determines the extent to which we influence their opinion.

    It’s important to remember, nobody ever changed an opinion by condemning it.

    Politicians become powerful because they shake more sweaty palms and profess more support for “causes” they know very little about, than anyone else.

    Thanks Karen for your perceptions and care.

    Kind regards

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 18, 2013

      Andy, do not be humble and do not apologise, I am very interested in the things that you say about opposition, being naturally an oppositional defiant it is very useful to me to listen to your words.

      K

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  25. bartholomew · June 18, 2013

    FNF is not far off the Fatherhood Institute actually, and I think it is a valid point of discussion here. The experience of many is that it is run by mckenzies that profit off of the status quo, much like lawyers. It even hosts solicitors clinics in which it invites lawyers to advise on how to protract litigation. Like most charities, it’s funding depends on the maintenance of lies, and on the worst kind of feeblemindedness with respect to the government on which its funding depends. It’s rapidly becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.

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  26. bartholomew · June 18, 2013

    That is not to say that FNF does not help dads through the emotional turmoil, or that it couldn’t be a more responsible charity by cleaning up its corruption and doing more to challenge the politics.

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  27. Brian · June 18, 2013

    bartholomew – as far as I am aware FNF has lost its government funding, so suggestions that it maintains lies as a result of government funding has no basis in fact. I would challenge the assertion that it’s run by mckenzies who are profiting of the status quo, in my experience that is not the case. The advice I’ve had from mckenzies has been far better and far cheaper than anything from a solicitor. Very often they have been through the family courts themselves and take up the role of mckenzie to try to help others.

    FNF is a charity made up of its members. I think you do the members of FNF a disservice by suggesting they are working to maintain the status quo.

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  28. Bartholomew · June 18, 2013

    Perhaps you are right Brian. I was speaking as one of several who quickly became exhausted with how ineffective FNF was in the area of politics. To not challenge the status quo is essentially to maintain it. And it just seemed to me after a while that there were many within the bureaucracy who enjoyed business as usual.

    Back on topic, though, one example of what Karen calls the BMP that I have come across recently is the NSPCC’s door to door campaign to get people to report on their neighbors. The examples they give are exclusively dads that are simply raising their voice. To add to the sexism, the organizers of this campaign mixed it up with a heavy dose of racism, identifying the ‘abusers’ with male African and Pakistani names.

    Sexism and racism are okay then if they are put in the service of this highly spurious thing called child protection? It seems to me that child protection of late has simply become a tool in the hands of those wanting to preempt any fatherly involvement with children.

    Where is FNF when we need them to challenge this father bashing that is done right out in the open and which is highly effective? Answer that and I may change my opinion.

    Like

  29. Brian · June 18, 2013

    If you can point me at the NSPCC’s literature, I would be happy to complain as I do wherever I see bias against fathers.

    Like

    • Karen Woodall · June 18, 2013

      The power of FNF lies in its self help and mutual interest model, i hope that the loss of government funding is, as I suspect it may be, the remaking of it. As for tackling things with policy makers, you can wheedle your way in, cosy up and say the words they want to hear but you may still be evicted from the party if they decide you are not needed anymore, or, you can say it as it is, show them how to do it differently and still be evicted from the party when they decide you are not needed anymore. Government will do its own thing and chew up and spit out anything that does not fit. FNF is better off where it currently is in my view, it will change more lives that way than it has done in recent years.

      Like

  30. Brian · June 18, 2013

    Oxytocin – empathy in a bottle. Trust men to solve a problem with science;)

    Like

    • Karen Woodall · June 18, 2013

      Quick, where can I buy some, I read recently that therapy with couples who take a drop or two during sessions leads to some fantastic outcomes. Seriously. And why not, whatever works to ease things for children I am up for.

      Like

      • Brian · June 18, 2013

        ebay or amazon. Between £25 and £60, but I don’t think it’s legal to force a dose on your children’s other parent!

        Like

      • karenwoodall · June 18, 2013

        shame! We could single handedly solve the problem of family separation, a good dose of the feel good hormone and we’ll all be ok!!!!

        Like

  31. andy · June 19, 2013

    Sometimes I think there are two very distinct battles.

    One is the personal struggle we go through to re-evaluate and make the necessary self-adjustments to continue co-parenting in a childcare environment which is distinctly father fearful.

    The other is the political struggle which fires our desire to correct what we perceive to be the mis-conceptions of others. There are as many people in the world as there are different opinions, so the race to the finish-post becomes fraught with anxiety and disagreement inevitably leading to compromise.

    It is this political struggle which will never be resolved, but can be compromised in such a way that accomodates a sense of respect and well being. I value your observations Karen which continue to identify grievious and sometimes malicious anti-father talk.

    My current interest lies in “behaviour and change”. Throughout history important life-changes have been made by two people meeting up and listening respectfully to one another, each seeing the others point of view and the contestant proclaiming to their adversary whom they wish to influence that they be a good and worthy person who is noted for their generosity of thought.

    The objective of this exercise is to encourage the person whom you wish to influence to change their mind, or at least ameliorate a harsh point of view, which you desire to change. It is an effective tool because we all possess ego’s, we love to be flattered and warm to one another when metaphorically stroked.

    Do you remember when MP Gordon Brown conceded to Joanna Lumley that Gurhkas who had served in the British army could settle in Britain. That was a brilliant piece of diplomacy. Instead of criticising Mr Brown for what she thought was unfair treatment of the Gurkhas, she stood outside Parliament and told the press what a difficult task the Prime Minister had and what a good job he was doing………essentially she boosted the man’s ego. She made it very difficult for Mr Brown to refuse any request she might make……………….. This is human nature, and as individuals we are all capable of influencing our adversaries in such a way

    kind regards

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    • Harry · June 19, 2013

      Hmm, yes…haven’t yet experienced court room – have that joy to come…so obviously concerned about what I have heard, as with Brian and Bart.

      It is true…I have always wanted to congratulate as much as possible – and it makes sense to have this very much in mind, to use to facilitate progress wherever this can happen. However, I agree that it is a strategy which only seems to work when there is a certain level of mutual recognition in place.

      My experience when that reality is NOT in place, is that any congratulation whatsoever of the woman…is then seen by her as all-round total vindication of whatever action and attitude she is taking – while even the slightest possibility of criticism of myself, is seen as overwhelming vindication of whatever action and attitude she is taking…

      When is the time to just “say it like it is” – and when is the time to be “diplomatic” – to hold one’s tongue?

      While I have tried to keep things out of court for as long as possible – my wife is absolutely dying to get in there.

      That seems to suggest that both of us suspect the same thing very strongly – as to who’s advantage the court system is arranged.

      Yes, to me the BMP and the GWP seem to have almost total influence, everywhere.
      I was listening to the Oxford Union debate on feminism held earlier this year, I think;

      and it was interesting that no-one there, however distinguished, was able to distinguish between feminism and matriarchy. The penny just does not seemed to have dropped yet, as to why the court system, and so much else affecting gender relations, is the way it is.

      Like

  32. Bartholomew · June 19, 2013

    That’s a beautiful dream, and works in some cases Andy, for instance when you are not talking to a robot; but I have yet to see my fellow human beings pull their socks up and become the human beings that you seem to be talking about. In the courtroom, and with all the institutions and organizations that profit from this industry, you are not dealing with humanity, only with rigid inflexible policies and laws that suit one group and demonize the other.

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  33. Brian · June 19, 2013

    The policies and law are anything but rigid and inflexible. I have often heard said that there is no law in Family Law. Discretion rules and none of the procedures or practice directions are rigidly adhered to, they are bend and broken to suit the people who benefit most. Take the SRA for instance, the body responsible for regulating solicitors professional behaviour, given proof of unprofessional conduct, what do they do? Nothing!

    Like

  34. andy · June 20, 2013

    Hi Harry

    “My experience when that reality is NOT in place, is that any congratulation whatsoever of the woman…is then seen by her as all-round total vindication of whatever action and attitude she is taking – while even the slightest possibility of criticism of myself, is seen as overwhelming vindication of whatever action and attitude she is taking”…

    That suggests to me that your former partner wishes to impress upon you her point of view which she has justified in her own mind as the correct one… Nevertheless she will have heard your intention is to be reasonable and sensitive to her opinion. She will not be able to escape from that thought no matter what she is telling you. What she has stated is an opinion of which their are many.

    If you choose to oppose her opinion with what you percieve as logic she will become more entrenched in her opinion because it is human nature to, “save face”. If you continue to massage her ego their are possibilities for growth of mutual respect in what you are both trying to achieve.

    Kind regards

    Like

    • Harry · June 20, 2013

      Thank you Andy. Yes, a woman who is extremely proud…and insists that she “HAS to be dominant” – is constantly in an extreme ‘face saving’ situation.

      Some how or other, she manages to intimidate everyone who encounters her that it is impossible to confront her with any truth…otherwise she will dismiss them and break off any possibility of relationship.

      No-one seems to see past her bluff…and realize that yes, by being firm…she might well carry out her threat, and break off relations, but that there is also every possibility that she might, in time, be able to swallow her pride and return to the conversation.

      Because this is also a woman, who for example…has been able to recognise, on at least one occasion…the potential for this, admitting, “well, if you don’t tell me I am wrong, How will I know”?…and “it’s good our problems are out in the open…because lot’s of other people have problems too, but cover them up”.

      This is actually a woman who has variously admitted to…and then denied…having schizophrenic tendencies.

      However my experience is that this type of schizophrenia is very common indeed, and evident in many professional people. A significant percentage of the population have suffered sufficient emotional trauma in their early lives for this to be a feature later on, even if they have managed to survive to become educated and hold down responsible jobs.

      Partially they are desperate for the truth to be told…equally, they are desperate to avoid it at all costs.

      So it’s a tricky one!

      I’m trying to develop a healing paradigm through music which completely bypasses the intellectual defence system which is in place…and is extremely difficult to get around, at least initially, with any other type of strategy.

      Once this has been achieved, and there has been an emotional release – THEN the talk therapy techniques can start to be effective.

      Like

  35. Grandmani · June 20, 2013

    Harry –Can you direct us to more info about your ‘healing paradigm through music’
    I also believe in the healing power of music.My son since his divorce and since he was denied contact over 2 years ago has been supported and helped by his music connections – truly life-saving!

    Like

    • Harry · June 21, 2013

      Hi Grandmani,

      Thank you for giving me an opportunity to elaborate. The outpouring of hate that we are seeing upon innocent men and children from women comes from the decades and even centuries of pain – inflicted on innocent women and children under patriarchy.

      The women that have become radicalized in this way still go under the name of feminism, but this is a complete Orwellian misnomer, and they are in fact COMPLETELY unconvinced by feminism. In reality, they are matriarchs. They do not believe that there is any point in trying to achieve any gender equality – they believe it is simply not possible…that anything like will be a smokescreen for the continuation of more subtle forms of patriarchy.

      They are usually unconvinced by the feminist argument because they themselves are in considerable psychic pain. All women feel this pain to some extent, because all women or their forebears have been oppressed, to some extent. Obviously, you know that…but it is just said here so that you can know that a man can recognize that too.

      I not only recognize that, but have given the last thirty years especially to the cause of trying to heal women who have been damaged by the patriarchy in the form of sexual abuse as girls. These especially damaged women will have mental health needs that demand both revenge and also the need to establish such levels of control over men that the kind of abuse that they experienced could never happen again.

      It is very difficult…well impossible, by definition – to reason…with madness.

      So all the pleas for mediation, counselling and any type of talk therapy which might be advocated are going to have huge resistance from such quarters.

      Men also, have been hugely brutalized by the patriarchy over the generations, as well as often in their own lives. So all these folk, men and women, are highly resistant to all the “talking cures” that might be deployed. Even when they aren’t – the traumas often run so deep, that we can generally only scratch the surface of the emotional pain involved.

      I am so glad that your son has found music as a coping mechanism – but we need it to be much, much more than that.

      What we need to do is have an outpouring of all this terrible negative emotion – but in a SAFE way.

      This safe way…is natures own release mechanism – tears.

      However, often, we are not talking about just little tears, here…but convulsive heart rending sobbing, as there is SO MUCH pain inside to be released, all at once.

      But it is not just this intensive crying that is needed – it is a response. Crying is a social signal that we need assistance. So this crying has to be in public – not in private. The crying has to elicit a compassionate response from those around about, or it will not be properly cathartic. It is not necessary to understand the tears – merely to identify a common humanity with those who are shedding them.

      Once this is done…men AND women, and children, together…there will be a release, obviously, but also…THEN it is possible to start talking about, exploring what may have happened. The necessary memories will be able to come to the surface from their suppressed state…because they have been released from the worst of the psychic pain which otherwise locked them in.

      However, I do not believe that a massive quantity of therapists have to be put through extensive formal training to cope with this. This simply would not be possible, anyway.

      Instead, the entire thing could happen on a peer to peer basis…by ordinary folk who are simply there to listen…and not to try and solve other peoples problems. As the pain is released, people will find the capacity to solve their own problems, and the barriers they have put in the way of that – will fade away.

      OK – this is what needs to happen, then. My suggestion is that the best way this could happen – is through music – emotional music. The popular music of the last 60 years or so has accompanied us through our lives, and can easily evoke the sadness inside us…even if we have no idea what it is and where it derives from.

      It is as simple as that – if we have community music concerts which allow all this to take place.

      Not that it need be all weepy stuff! Once we have released some of our tears, it is possible to experience an element of joyfulness, and we can sing celebratory songs, and reflective songs – and maximum participation, in terms of hand drums and percussion etc, is to be encouraged. With the sadness – is obviously a lot of anger. It is good to be able to legitimately hit something!

      If we want gender relations to be transformed – if we want to be able to explore a truly feministic era, rather than one of fearful domination from either side – then I believe not only that this is the way to go, but I am not convinced that we have anything else which could achieve it.

      I am currently looking for sponsors to set up the first of these “Community Sound” concerts in South East London, and would value all the supportive comments possible so that we can get the ball rolling.

      But the idea is given freely – anyone could do this anywhere if they had the courage to do it, and some experience in the kind of informal counselling follow up required. However, this does require some well thought through support structures to be in place.

      I am happy to share further details of this if anyone is interested.

      Like

  36. Paul D Manning · June 20, 2013

    It is vital that you all take a look at this video (link below) to really get to know what is taking place in our unjust courts and to fathers. It is of Aimee Nicholls, daughter of Pete Nicholls, who I know very well. Aimee is sincerely talking about what the courts did to her in taking away her father for years and taking away her sister too who she is very close to. She speaks with great power and sincerity and it is so obvious that she is still greiving over the mental abuse she received at the hands of the courts.

    At the age of nearly sixteen she come before a judge to appeal to him to let her see her loving father, but the judge dismisses her plea and informs her that she is not old enough to make such a decision, and yet just 4 weeks later she is indeed free to choose, but at this point in time it is to no avail. Aimee decides to vote with her feet and is now living with her father in spite of the cruel judges wishes that she is not to. It is all to plain to see from Aimee’s experience that the courts are doing much damage to the lives of children and fathers, but they will continue heartlessly to make court orders that cut off fathers from their children, even when their children are screaming out to see their dads.

    I have nothing but contempt for the secret family courts, for their lack of compassion and conscience. Surely they must know by now that they are harming thousands of children and destroying the lives of countless fathers, just like they have destroyed mine, I have a complete broken heart, but what do the courts care about that, after all I am just a father? Thanks for your help Karen.

    Like

    • Harry · June 21, 2013

      Very powerful, very moving, heart-rending testimony, indeed – I will be forwarding this to a reasonably sympathetic district judge \i have just encountered…who will hopefully share it with others.

      Like

      • Paul D Manning · June 21, 2013

        Thanks Harry.

        I truly hope that all look at this film and share it far and wide. It is the truth of the emense pain our family court are inflicting on countless children such as Aimee, who after all, just wanted to see her father, why didn’t the courts let her? What reason could they possibly have in trying to destroy a loving relationship? For Gods sake I just don’t get it! Are these toffs that crazy that they are prepared to destroy the lives of future generations the very basis of any good society, the family unit? I Guess it must be me, perhaps I’m that one that is crazy, but I don’t think so somehow.

        Like

      • Harry · June 21, 2013

        Hi Paul,

        Throughout this discussion I have repeatedly and patiently explained exactly what is happening, and why. However, even in this enlightened forum, there has not been any recognition of this.

        The old toffs you refer to are pretty much dinosaurs, but still useful to the matriarchs who have otherwise largely taken over – because it is…(a) effectively rather difficult for a patriarch to challenge a matriarch…because they are the mirror image of each other…so they would just be criticising themselves – which is the one thing a patriarch finds most difficult, and (b) because the patriarchs hate feminists (true feminists, that is) as much as the matriarchs do, and (c) as long as they are in place…how can the Family Law setup…be seen as profoundly anti-men, as it actually is.

        The old toffs therefore provide a useful function…and maybe younger toffs have to be groomed to take their place.

        The family unit the matriarchs are putting in place – is one controlled by them…yes…it WILL be a disaster if they are allowed to go ahead with it – but they just cannot see it.

        The matriarchy is highly fascistic in its style – it has to be, to achieve it’s aims. As we know, quite a large proportion of men are attracted to this. The matriarchs are highly seductive and skilled at using divide and rule tactics. They will offer compliant men the earth – and the men will fall for it. However, the moment these men have fulfilled their destructive function – they are dismissed.

        The matriarchs are also highly deceptive…pretending to be feminists they will co-opt the most liberal of men…who are lead to believe they are following a true feminist agenda. But a crucial stage in the game, the gloves will come off…and the real matriarchal agenda is laid bare.

        Sometimes the liberal man will then find himself fatally compromised between his principles – and the need to maintain the quality of life he has come to depend on for himself and his family.

        This really is very treacherous waters for us guys…very easy to get wrecked trying to navigate through all it all…and we cannot do it alone – or without true feminist women to help guide us.

        These ‘pilots’ are exceptionally precious.

        Like

  37. kat · June 21, 2013

    One of the problems with the BMP is that it introduces bias, it becomes far too easy to fit any situation to the given formula, bad dad, good mum, rather than spending time and effort trying to get to the bottom of what is happening in every single case. There was a phone-in about domestic violence on Radio 5 live the other day and a man phoned in telling his story of his ex’s violence. In this case the mother was eventually convicted of assault against one of the children. Even then the court decided to give her six weeks to move out of the family home. Compare that to fathers, where there is little or no evidence of violence and certainly no convictions, who get served with occupation orders obtained ex-parte and have to move out the same day.

    On the issue of male victims of domestic violence, men like women exciting coercive controlling relationships are vulnerable. Women in this situation have plenty of help available to them. Men have to fight to be taken seriously. A father in this situation, whom I know, applied for residence after his ex disappeared leaving the children behind, not for the first time. The motivation was clearly to provide a more stable home for the children, however the CAFCASS officer conducting the interview was very clear in her opinions and told him directly that there is only ever one reason why dads apply for residence and that is to get more money. At the time of the interview mum’s location was unknown and the children living with dad. Where was the advice and help he needed to recover from the abuse, he had suffered and gain the confidence to challenge this? Where was the training that CAFCASS officer should have had on domestic abuse, equality etc.? Mum returned, and dad dropped his application, as it would not be supported by CAFCASS. Today he sees little of his children, who have been alienated from him.

    Until we open up the court and start producing some kind of statistics on what kind of recommendations CAFCASS makes, what kind of orders the courts make and on what basis, these stories remain anecdotal evidence and therefore easily dismissed. Secrecy never serves justice.

    Like

  38. andy · June 21, 2013

    Hi Kat

    There are some 1700 or so Social workers employed by Cafcass and they are trying to do a very difficult job in challenging social situations, so it’s up to us to help them come to the best solutions for everyone concerned. These people have been trained by academics and it is their mantra that forms the backbone of Cafcass policy. Go to Cafcass website, information “Research and Resources, Bulletin 12”. There you will see various research papers quoted. In my opinion I am not surprised Cafcass work the way they do if these are the sort of papers on which they base their working practices. e.g Single parentism is viewed as OK. We are told it is possible for a single parent to bring up a child. We are also told, “the parent needs a secure base”. With these kind of philosophies/ideas emblazoned on our Cafcass workers T’shirts it is hardly surprising we have a society that actively encourages Single parenting mothers. Another “gem” of a paper you may like on this list explains how it isn’t necessary for a father to stay overnights with his children, they think its best he has generous amounts of daytime contact………………….this sort of information helps us understand why Cafcass behave in such anti-family ways. And then they say that they are following the “paramountcy principle”, which means “this what we think is best for the kids”
    So we need to tackle the academics. The next seminar is at Sheffield. called “Fathers and Families in Europe: Insights and Policy changes. They need good family loving people to go there and tell them what families need and how to respect the relationships. Hope to see you there.

    Kind regards

    Like

  39. Claire Contino · June 22, 2013

    When I did my law degree back in 1994, the statistics on children losing contact with their fathers within 5 years of divorce, was 3%. Reasons given for this were primarily given as financial, hostility from the mother, and “absenteeism”. Nowadays thanks to work of such as Karen Woodall, we know better, as the lid is being lifted on the process of alienation.
    It was a commonplace occurrence that many dads just “dropped out” of the picture after a divorce, in fact, it was not common to find a dad who was actually enjoying uncomplicated contact arrangements.
    There was a lot of publicity last week on the issue of absent dads, but very little understanding of the process by which one parent (of either sex but usually fathers) are excluded either deliberately or unconsciously by the parent with custody, care and control.
    An article by psychologist and divorce therapist Adriana Summers, states that “current official UK statistics anticipate 75% of our children will live in more than one form of family grouping within their childhood. So many children will start with their original biological family, then move into alternative situations such as single parent set ups and/or a step family arrangements and possibly back to single family set ups as the complexity of their parents lives unfold.
    She calls this “a ticking time bomb”, the ‘victims’ being, not the single mothers or fathers struggling to bring up children alone, but the children, powerless to stop the disintegration of the family system they were born into.
    She continues; ”We also have to realise the power involved in one person saying “I want to dissociate myself from you” Given that 70% of people filing for divorce are women they don’t fall neatly into The Prime Minister’s notion of being victims”. I reproduce some of her article here as I think it says an awful lot.
    She described the early years of family disintegration and re-alignment as a significant and challenging transition period where parents struggle to parent whilst still wrestling with their own anger, grief and shattered dreams of stable family environment. Whilst some are emotionally grounded enough to manage the transition with care and in ways that do not exacerbate the damage for all concerned, many are unable to deal with the distress which they experience. Science can now confirm that during the stress of relationship breakdown, all kinds of psychological, hormonal and endocrine responses are at play which may render parents physically incapable at times of stress, of maturely handling encounters with ex-partners and children.
    Summer states that “although some fathers stop seeing their children without conflict arising, statistics show, conflict between separating parents, makes children more likely to lose their fathers within the first two years. Many mothers witnessing their children’s pain are devastated. However, while much is made of mothers being left to pick up the pieces once a family breaks down, little public debate is aired around those mothers whose anger and disappointment towards their ex partner is so extreme, they do not promote an environment to enlist their ex partner to fulfil an active role in their children’s lives.”
    Contemporary discussions fail to explore or value the feelings of fathers having to rebuild lives whilst contact with their children, and their role as fathers is compromised. Summers cites stories of fathers “emotionally steeling themselves to go back to what was their family home; collecting children in unwelcoming surroundings, to take them for tea or overnight, or, if they’re lucky, they’ll have 48 hours before steeling themselves again, as they drop their children back to their mothers. This constant walking in and out leaves fathers feeling powerless and marginalised in their children’s wellbeing. Some despair, others are enraged. They believe they have one of two options, either to stand and fight for their children’s rights to have a meaningful relationship with them, (which risks reinforcing a mother’s view that her ex partner is unreasonable), or to flee and cut themselves off totally, thereby burying their pain (ostrich like) by not looking back emotionally or financially.” She believes such intense and enduring conflict can be responsible for fathers ceasing to maintain contact with their children. In such circumstances, it is the children who suffer, who have no idea of the emotional processes which both their parents are suffering, and who generally blame themselves.
    In 2011 Summers called for government support for both parents after separation, pointing out that this would be more in depth and educative than mediation. The long term benefits would be a small price to pay for freeing children from carrying their parents emotional baggage through to the following generation. Such measures would surely be cost effective in comparison with the high costs of contested divorce, contact proceedings, expert witnesses, Cafcass officers and court time.
    As a collaborative family lawyer I would like to see more support for both parents ongoing but we don’t live in a perfect world. However, I believe that there is a clear call for enhanced awareness of what absent fathers are dealing with and support for them in managing their own process in divorce. The cost to a child of losing contact with a loving and supportive parent and role model is incalculable. It is of course, variable from child to child, from family to family, but it should not be ignored as these children currently trying to negotiate through familial transitions, often more than once, are the parents of the future, and if they are damaged the continuum goes on.

    Like

    • Harry · June 23, 2013

      Hi Claire,

      Thank you for letting us know about Adriana Summers – there seems to be the vaguest hints here of someone starting to articulate evidence of the matriarchal agenda at work.

      What is the reluctance with being honest here?

      Everything I have talked about I have learned from my wife…either listening to or observing her.

      There are times when a ‘coal seam’, for example, that runs deep – emerges at the surface, and so can be more easily accessed, and revealing what is in this case a widespread social phenomenon but which is otherwise disguised through the layers of politeness and discrete obfuscation.

      My feeling is that the rise of single parenthood often sets back the feminist agenda. When we rule the roost on our own, we no longer have the fundamental challenge of having to engage sensitively with another parent in order to give our children the best of each of us separately as well as achieving as synthesis which is greater than the sum of the separate parts.

      Single fatherhood (to the extent that this exists) is no different in this respect. It may allow for the re-emergence of a patriarchal agenda…which is surely not what is required?

      For either parent, when they separate…the matriarchal or patriarchal agenda may also be given added impetus even when new partners are involved, as the biological parent can be the one to claim a dominant role over the child. Admittedly, the new partner may try to even up the power balance by introducing a new child, or through bringing in an existing child, or both…but this may simply throw into the mix new matriarchal/patriarchal tendencies.

      There is no guarantee that the original conflicts may not be reproduced all over again – and they often are.

      As a male feminist, I want us to really engage in the critical relationship issues – separation just tends to avoid them.

      Like

  40. Bartholomew · June 22, 2013

    I don’t mean to pick on you Andy, as I think you say some very important things, but I really don’t think you will get anywhere talking about the “family” with people who have wanted it abolished as a patriarchal institution for the longest time.

    Where you will make progress is in exposing the serious long-term damage done to children by anyone and everyone who would deny them two residences. At present, there are several charities that claim to be working on behalf of children, yet they are all quiet on this issue; in fact, they are not just quiet, as their silence is a form of complicity with the very kind of abuse they claim to denounce. In addition to the government and its slavishly propagandistic media (be it the Guardian or BBC), which exploits the BMP rhetoric in order to enforce a heteronormative status quo, it is these charities that need to be called to account for their hypocrisy.

    Also, it’s not just the family policy mafia that you are up against; much of the problem is the inflexibility of bureaucracy – the census, tax credits, paternity leave, employment, all of these things would have to be restructured to accommodate the idea of a child continuing to have two fully active parents after divorce. The government is just not up to this; in fact, it’s not up to anything good at the moment.

    Like

    • Harry · June 22, 2013

      Hi Bart,

      I’m fully supportive of the two fully active parents after divorce scenario…it is POSSIBLY an option that might work for me, but there are problems with it as well.

      I’m in receipt of benefit at the moment…(trying to get off – but that is a long story!) and in order to separately co-parent these children, I would have to have the same facility that my wife has…which is a Council house with a decently sized garden.

      It would be difficult…but possibly within the bounds of possibility to arrange this for my three children…but possibly not, given the overall housing situation.

      However, as a broader political thinker…would this be a JUST solution? Would it be possible for every dad in my position (and the way things are going there are likely to be more and more of us) to be able to have such a three bedroom house? Obviously not – it is clearly not a sustainable equable policy that could be available for all the larger families, in particular.

      Secondly, I would have serious opposition from the more right-wing, tax payer constituency among my own siblings and quite possibly my parents, too. OK – I could tell them I was going to go ahead and do it anyway, but it would certainly cause considerable tensions, which would not be good for my children either.

      Thirdly, this scenario is not really what my children want. I appreciate that this is not everyone’s situation…but my children all really want me to be part of their world with their Mum…and for us to get on. There are very important things that they only get when the two of us are like this. Of course, the person who is being difficult about that is their Mum…but if we are truly taking a child centred approach then the wishes of three children who wish to retain a unity of the family should carry more weight…than that of the adult who is being uncooperative and unwilling to put the responsibilities of bringing three children into the world – in front of personal selfish desires.

      Obviously, this means that some pressure has to be applied to an uncooperative partner in this scenario. The use of any kind of coercion seems initially uncomfortable for our individualistic society, however, in practice the current situation is that the official line IS to sanction brute force in order to separate and even break up families…and these seemingly liberal individuals have no problem with that at all! However, bringing the slightest pressure to bear towards preserving the family unit for the sake of all concerned – is somehow totally unacceptable?

      Yes…you can’t make a horse drink…of course that is so. But you can insist that it have the opportunity…to do so. Even if it is eventually decided that the reluctant individual can’t and won’t ‘drink’, as it were – then the chances are that much may have been learned in the process which will make the separated parent scenario, if that does prove to the only option, after all – MUCH less fraught.

      Would it be possible to pursue this twin-track approach?

      Would having the two tracks – make each more successful? One the one hand, is it more likely to be a realistic approach, given the housing scenario? On the other hand, are there serious advantages for children – when their parents are given help and support, albeit with some background pressure…to make a serious effort to RESOLVE difficulties – rather than just avoiding this process.

      The consequences of long term failure of parents to learn to resolve conflict can be disastrous for the children. Parents can divorce each other – but not their children. Children are for life – not just a few months or years.

      Maybe we need to start thinking more in terms of the group – the family…rather than just the individuals within it.

      Just a thought.

      Like

  41. Bartholomew · June 24, 2013

    Hi Harry

    The family is history. The police, solicitors, the DV lobby, CAFCASS and so on have all made it known that the family basically equals a relationship between an abuser (always male) and an abused (always female). Whether that is the reality makes no difference. This is now “fact,” and the Guardian and BBC have proven it in countless articles. You really will not get anywhere talking about the family.

    Where you will get somewhere is in putting the focus on the children, because there are people who will agree with you here that children want their fathers. Nobody can deny that because it is sort of common sense, and anyone with a grain of feeling in them will understand this to be irrefutable.

    Yes, there are lots of individual cases in which two homes will not be possible. That is not the point actually. The point is that there needs to be a presumption in place so that when it is possible, it is the option that is on the table first, rather than something that is not an option because one party knows that all they have to do is accuse the other of something, have him arrested (which works conveniently well for all of the above people identified in my first sentence, and especially the police because the more arrests made, the more funding that the police get from government), and then cut him down to a fortnightly deadbeat dad.

    Basically what I am saying is that if this country has decided that one way of diverting attention from the crimes of government is to criminalize the populace, and if one of the ways of criminalizing the populace is by making just about every form of parental discipline a crime, then this can be used to expose the hypocrisy of all those organizations that would seek to deny children of the love of their own father.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 24, 2013

      But there is no presumption in the proposals B, all that has happened is that a few words have been rearranged in the Children Act…can you explain to us how exactly this is going to change anything because i cannot see it at all…anyone who alleges DV or makes up any allegations will be treated in exactly the same way and cases will still be stopped in their tracks in the same way as before…there are no enforcement measures to support the making of child arrangement orders and the only thing the government are funding to deal with any of this is mediation, mediation and more mediation. How will mediation help? Am very interested in thoughts in this whole arena. K

      Like

    • Harry · June 25, 2013

      Hi Bart,

      Thank you so much for sharing this point of view. As a male feminist, I’ve wanted the patriarchal family to end. But nature abhors a vacuum – and something…SOME kind of new family structure has to take its place.

      The only question is what.

      My own family situation shows what the two choices are.

      When I met my wife I clearly outlined to her my radical feminist vision of what I wished our family to be – part of what I would call the “Community Family”…an outward looking multi-ethnic extended fully polyamorous family concept which would aim to incorporate all the people who need to belong to a family but don’t have one to relate to – while embracing the complete range of healthy sexuality needs, as well as enabling and promoting human development in every aspect possible – and she understood and agreed to that.

      However, very quickly she began doing everything that she could to undermine that concept and replace it with her own vision of a family structure.

      This was pretty much the opposite of that described just now – i.e. a largely narrowly ethnically based biological family based around her as a domineering, controlling figure based on her ability to extract money in any way of several means possible (though initially through the State) via her children. She pretty much openly declared that wished to create an ever-increasing empire of influence based around her own dominating personality. Clearly the place of men in this would be extremely subservient – and in fact demonstrably of a sado-masochistic kind.

      So the family as such, is not dead – it is just that we have two alternative visions of what it could be, to decide between.

      Obviously, this is a difficult one for my own traditional family to decide. I read out your piece to my elderly parents prior to showing them the Aimee Nicholls video.

      It definitely helped them to understand the video…and I carefully watched the response of my father and mother to your words…the father who has been so dominating throughout their marriage…my mother so dominated. There was a lot for each of them to take in.

      My father wishing to hang on to his exalted position…my mother so anxious about challenging it with a more productive role of her own. It is by far easier for her to take revenge now by dominating him in turn through her illness…yet hating the price of this in her own body and the way this position makes her feel.

      The battle for dominance in relationships or not affects us all – younger and older.

      This is a unique moment in history when we have the ability to shape our destiny like never before. All we have to do is to understand the options and make some real choices.

      Like

  42. Bartholomew · June 25, 2013

    Yes, alongside the presumption of shared parenting, you’d also have to dispose of all the double standards that excuse mothers for false allegations, perjury and abuse (with the usual excuse that they are just emotional and irrational and don’t know any better or cannot help it because they are closer to animals) and start treating them with same high standards expected of men, by imprisoning them in the same way that dads would be imprisoned for such behavior. Family law, and all the deranged persons and organizations that prop it up, needs to stop imposing its degrading gender stereotypes on men and women alike; it really is so entrenched in the dark ages. Only when these actions are taken, and when both parents are treated and respected as adults rather than neanderthal-like children or criminals, could you have a level playing field in which mediation might begin to work, and yes for a change, finally, in the interests of children. Pouring money into mediation when there is no need for one party to behave in the interests of the children is at present just a big waste of money. But I think we all suspect that the emphasis on mediation is just a way of duping the public into believing that progress is being made.

    Like

    • Harry · June 25, 2013

      Absolutely – but if mediation had some teeth…just as false allegations, perjury and parental alienation are now starting to have penal consequences in some countries – ahh, then we would have a new situation.

      Women like my wife coming from abroad despise our system as far too soft…but are willing to take full advantage of it.

      I will be pressing for firmness but fairness on the basis of the right of the child and the moral responsibility of parents to make a convincing effort in the eyes of the community – once they have brought children into the world.

      Like

  43. Torn 2 Peaces · March 10, 2014

    As soon as my abusive husband decided to go after a married woman with plans to marry her and I found out about his porn obsession and other deviant behaviors and lies about his past, I filed for divorce. I did not tell our daughter what all I uncovered. I bought her a cell phone so she could have free access to receive and make calls to her dad without going through me. Before long, while he was married after his 5th wife, he decided to go after my daughter along with child support. He could have simply asked, but he made up allegations that contradicted evidence as well as what he himself had previously stated. His 5th wife had never laid eyes on me in spite of my efforts to include her in my daughter’s piano recitals. Even so, she testified against me. With 5 months after my daughter had no contact with me and the rest of the family, my daughter was in a behavioral health hospital and put on two medications for depression and anxiety. She has been in the emergency room for at-risk behavior no less than six times since she’s been in his “care.” Because I also furnish the health insurance (my ex, who owns his own businesses, hides his income), I am privy to this information as well as the information I receive from witnesses of the neglect. For example, my daughter does not have a curfew. She can stay out all night whenever, with whoever, and wherever despite the fact that her choices are disturbing as evidenced on her Facebook and Youtube (which includes a video of a male friend of hers “raping a teddy bear”). Parental Alienation should never be about men vs. women — that only creates division & is not a solution. I speak of what I’ve witnessed, & I don’t go looking for statistics to support a dislike for men, who are just as necessary in a child’s life (as long as they’re not sick abusers).

    Like

  44. SEO · March 12, 2014

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people for this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

    Like

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