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Thu May 29, 2014, 10:40 AM

Men [View all]

There are certain topics that never seem to go well on DU. The reality of sexist influences in our culture is one of them. Indeed, the ugliness of the 2008 presidential primaries pales in comparison -- at least to the extent that such debates did not include attributing Senator Obama’s victory over Senator Clinton in a male vs. female context.

The recent tragic mass-murder would seem to provide common ground. The killer was a freak. His primary target for his hatred was women. In reading the shit head’s manifesto, the rage that he aimed towards women is the most outstanding feature. Without that hatred towards all women, his rant would simply be a pathetic example of self-pity. In my opinion, but for that hatred of women, it seems unlikely he would have ever killed anyone.

That he had extremely little contact with girls while growing up, and almost none with women as he reached adulthood, did not keep him from defining females into a “one size fits all” group: the enemy. In particular, his perverse and inadequate ideas about sex made him dangerous to women -- for he convinced himself that women owed him sexual gratification. Thus, he was exactly the type of creep who, had he ever dated, would be at high risk to react violently if a woman told him “no.”

The fact that he had some connection to a “men’s rights” group has been mentioned as evidence that he hated women. Indeed, considering that he was never involved in a relation with a women -- except his mother and step-mother -- raises the obvious question: what “right” did he believe he was being denied? One that never existed. He wanted sex. And he wanted to be seen, on the beach or in a college classroom, holding hands with a beautiful woman. So yes, his hatred of women was his sole reason for relating to any men’s right group.

Yet, this in no way provides proof positive that men’s rights groups are bad. The fact that we are a patriarchal society, where maleness provides many advantages, does not mean that all men’s groups are focused on denying women equal rights. Surely, many such groups are not seeking equality, just as some of the members are flaming assholes. However, men do not have a monopoly on being scoundrels, and the number one focus of men’s rights groups is the area in our society where women, as a group, have long held an unfair advantage.

I live in New York, and hence what I have to say here applies to this state. However, it has been the general case in other states, as well. In the context of Family Court, where issues such as separation, child custody, divorce, support, and dividing assets, fathers have not found a level playing field. I’m friends with a number of the lawyers in my region (and a few judges), both male and female. They all say that women have had an advantage in this context.

Adults who are involved in divorces, especially where children are involved, do funny things. That includes men and women. The process sometimes involves two adults who are able to objectively put the well-being of their children first. But such cases do not end up being fought bitterly in court. Even if one parent is capable of putting their children’s needs first, it can end up in ugly court hearings, which tend to continue until the youngest child reaches maturity. And that still leaves many, many cases where both parents, to some degree, view the court as a competition, in which one side “wins” the children, property, income, and other resources.

The main focus that I had was my two little boys, ages three and six. In court, I got custody, and their mother got visitation. However, she also got the house, two of three automobiles, and support -- even though her income was more than mine. I told my attorney that I did not think this was fair. He said it wasn’t fair, but that I had gotten what was most important to me.

After I moved into an apartment, I found that two other guys living there had similar stories -- although neither had custody of their children. At first, we discussed this informally. Soon, we all began inviting other men to our discussions. Thus began a men’s rights group.

It is important to note that it wasn’t simply an organized meeting to trash women. To be fair, there were times when that took place, per an individual woman. But the primary focus was on father’s rights, how to navigate the family court system, and the responsibilities of fatherhood.

New York had changed some of the rules in family court, to make it fairer for men who wanted to be active participants in their children’s lives, back in the early 1970s. I was aware of this, because Governor Rockefeller had pushed the issue, largely at the request of the man who headed his security detail -- one of my uncles.

Our group approached one lawyer in each of the three surrounding counties. These gentlemen, who did not like to be involved in divorce/custody hearings, for the same reasons that many police do not enjoy being called to “domestic disputes,” were open to providing general information to our group. A couple were also willing to reduce their fees, if I prepared all of the paperwork needed for court. I’ve authored the appropriate paperwork in a couple dozen cases in the quarter century since then, and have “won” every case thus far.

Word spreads quickly. Soon, men who had no interest in being responsible parents came to us, seeking assistance. This included men who despised women. A few of them bragged about being able to intimidate the mothers of their children. One was mighty proud that he had hurt his wife, as if that was something to brag about.

In each and every instance, our group moved to kick that type of thug out of our meetings. We would try, as a group, to confront the guys that they were creating problems for themselves, and their children. Very few were willing to recognize the role they played. Instead, they became angry with the group. And, no surprise, one fellow mistakenly believed he could change our minds by threatening the two group leaders (which included me). That was a serious error on his part: he suffered the consequences.

Being pro-fathers’ rights does not translate to being anti-woman. Earlier tonight, I spoke with a woman from across the country, who leads a group of women who had the misfortune to marry psychopaths. I serve as a volunteer for that group. My tasks include assisting these ladies in how to best present the information they have, first to their lawyer, and then in court. I also spend time talking to individual group members, to help them win back the self-respect and dignity that has been stolen from them by ruthless thugs. The woman that leads this group is in the medical profession; she married a doctor, who turned out to be a snake. She and I have been friends since grade school. She knows that I try to help men going through divorce. But that doesn’t impact her trusting me to help the women in her group. The only thing that I ask in return, is that these people try to be the best parents that they can be.

Being the best parents we can be should be the focus of both men and women who are dealing with the family court system. And that’s not pro- or anti- either sex. If our society could come to terms with that aspect, we might be better equipped to deal with the numerous other problems that are caused by sexism in America.

Today, I am pretty good friends with my ex-wife. She is the mother of our two boys. And neither of us is the same person we were when we split. We enjoy each other’s company at family events. My daughters both are good friends with their brothers’ mom.

Life is a process.

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