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08/11/2002 Archived Entry: ""
My ostensibly long silence (in blog-time) has been due to deleted entries that proved too controversial to maintain online. In response to a protest by Glenn Sacks, I removed the references. Afterward, I didn't feel much like writing. I think I have downplayed in my mind -- not intentionally! -- any damage that father's rights might inflict on the equal, reasonable rights of women. But the support of prominent father's rights adovcate Dianna Thompson for an injunction against a pregnant woman who was planning to abort a trimester pregnancy -- an injunction brought at the behest of the ex-boyfriend/biological "father" -- and a recent Florida law has left me stunned with doubt. The law requires mothers who don't know who fathered their children to detail their sexual past in newspaper notices before they can put the children up for adoption. The law seeks to protect father's rights but it goes too far. It goes beyond the reasonable demand for notification into placing a public "Scarlet A" on women, who are much more likely to opt for abortion as a result. Father's rights shouldn't mean women's oppression.
Brad and I just heard from an old friend who got divorced a few years back, and with whom we'd lost touch for a while. As Brad wrote on the ifeminists.com Bulletin Board, "My friend is a loving father who paid his child support until he lost his job. He's been unable to find work because his ex trashed his credit history. He and his new family are homeless. His ex is denying him visitation and is telling his kids that their father doesn't love them because he's not meeting his support payments."
I receive letters every week from alienated fathers who sound suicidal because they have been assessed almost as much as their take-home pay in child support/alimony without receiving any corresponding right to see the children they love. They are homeless (writing from a computer in a library with a hotmail account, as Brad's friend does) or staying in cheap dumps, living in despair, being scorned as a dead-beat dad. I find it impossible to ignore such emails, just as I can't ignore the women who write to me who have been raped. I wish I had not begun to fear that my desire to correct what is a clear injustice against such men might strengthen a drive to harm the equal rights of women.
People have asked where I stand on the subject of father's rights. Here is as clear a statement as I know how to make. Before birth and in the absence of a contract/agreement covering pregnancy, the woman has the legal right to renounce her parental status through abortion. The man has no legal right to prevent her from exercising control over her own body. But he has an equal right to renounce parental status by advocating for abortion, thus releasing himself from parental responsibilities should she decide to continue the pregnancy. If he wishes to maintain parental status, he also assumes parental responsibilities -- BUT ONLY if and to the extent that his parental rights are recognized. For example, joint custody and visitation. I oppose welfare for single mothers because it is just another way to make men (and women) pay for the choices of the single mom.
Well...in the spirit of putting up a blog -- any blog is better than no blog ;-) -- I thought I would explain my silence and collectively answer some of the emails I've received on the "deleted" entry.