I would like to begin an open discussion about something I hear bantered about, but infrequently examined: That is the bias against men in general,
and specifically fathers in the divorce court.
I'll start with the assumption that men and woman are the victims of domestic violence at equal rates.
* In a 1995-1996 study conducted in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or
physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime
In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner.
84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives
were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.
These statistics clearly show that woman are more frequently victimized by domestic abuse, yet many argue that the statistics are unreliable because
men are equally victimized, but do not report their abuse.
I highly doubt that this is the case, but it is, then it is not wholly the fault of the female that the abuse against men continues. They are only
harming themselves with their conspiracy of silence. For those that argue that those who do complain are not taken seriously, remember that abuse
against females was not given proper attention until the social awareness was raised in the first place.
Then there are those men who are convicted of domestic abuse and when questioned will say something along the lines of, "She hit me for years but
when I got fed up with it and hit her in order to stop her from hitting me, the vindictive woman called the police!" Please. First of all, that man
is doing a disservice to himself by staying in the relationship, and second of all, her physical abuse does not lessen the fact that he chose to go
down to her level and also engange in such behaviors.
The most frustrating place I encounter this is in the arena of family court. Primarily they feel that they are as a whole discriminated against
because courts tend to primarily place children with the mother as the sole custodial parent.
I beleive that this is how it should be. Children are by nature emotional, and a mother will be more attuned to this. She will be better able to
understand their needs when they can't express them well verbally.
Of course there are bad apples in the spectrum of woman, who may be unfit to have custody, or even any contact at all, with the children. However--if
this is the case, the burden of proof lays upon the father. I have known a few men who felt that the courts should have given them sole custody
because the mother drank/drugged/whatever, but went in with nothing to substantiate this. Therefore they were not taken seriously, and did not have
the outcome they desired. My observation has been that it isn't so much that the courts are biased when taking information regargind abuse comes into
play, but that the woman are much, much, more proactive in gathering the evidence and presenting it.
Another thing that annoys me is fathers complaining about the support they have to pay. It is rarely set at more than 25%, which is paltry compared to
the 75% or more that would have, in some way, gone directly to the child's welfare before the divorce. While I do think that it shoudl be adjusted
and be in some way proportional to how much the noncustodial parent sees the child, I would say that it only sends a message to the child that they
are unworthy of fiancial support, let alone love, if the father complains.
I have heard too often men use the excuse of "I'm not a deadbeat, but she wouldn't let me know where to send the check!" That is no excuse. In
most places the state forwards the check to the mother.
And, beleive it or not, mothers are often just as guilty, and convicted, of deadbeatism.
My biggest beef is with the "Father's Rights" groups which advocate the courts giving the father at least 50% custody, by default. They make no
attempt to investigate the abuse charges levied against the men that they assist, and advocate kidnapping charges for mothers who would leave with the
children, even in cases where this was done to escape abuse. While this may seem noble at first glance, in practice it would be insideous: In many
cases The courts would, in order to promote "equality," force contact between an abuse parent and the children. They would escape only to find that
in the process of legalizign that "escape," they were required to continue the relationship. I beleive that these groups are attempting to undermine
the efforts of woman who truly wish to be good mothers.
Family court is never going to be a smooth, well oiled machine, and someone is always going to come out of it feeling shmucked, but I am so tired of
hearing about this bias against fathers.