Minding the gap: gender blind practice in family services

Heading towards Autumn and I am engrossed once again in the issue of gender blind practice in family services.  Another Local Authority, another case of assumptions based upon the idea that mums are the ‘proper’ carers for children whilst dad is at best an add on and at worst a threat to the very existence of mum and her children.  Another long drawn out battle to get someone, somewhere, to listen to the fact that mum is quite possibly the danger to her children in this family.  More children failed by social workers who are riddled with the feminist ideology that appears to create a gap in awareness that mothers as well as fathers can be dangerous to their children. A young man of 17 who is now in long term psychotherapy because he was physically and mentally abused by his mother after the father was evicted from the home when he was nine years old, aided and abetted by the local domestic violence family support worker. A young man who was beaten regularly by his mother, left alone to bring himself up and given drugs to sell to feed himself.

Gender blind practice, it leads to distress, damage and in some cases, death. And in too many cases it is not men who become family annihalators.

Daniel Pelka was four years old when he was killed by his mother and his step father.  He was starved, beaten and suffered months of  ‘incomprehensible cruelty’ at the hands of his mother Magdelena Luczak and stepfather Marius Krezolek.  Like Baby P, this case hits our consciousness square between the eyes and much time is spent agonising in the media about how such a thing could possibly happen.  My question is, how does it not happen, given the kind of institutionalised practice which leads to such devastating outcomes for children.

Looking at these cases of mothers who abuse or kill their children, through a feminist lens, the responsibility is almost always shifted to a man, in these kinds of cases, step fathers.  Through a feminist lens, women cannot be perpetrators and are quite simply, also the victims, usually of a man who is controlling and abusive.  Similarly, when women kill themselves and their children, the background to the case is either that the woman has a mental health problem or that they are being driven to escape from a controlling and abusive man.  Never, ever, is the situation analysed in terms of the responsibility of the woman for failing to do whatever it takes to ensure that she does not put her children at risk.

I have even heard this feminist analysis applied by the fathers rights group Families need Fathers.  The argument being that step fathers are more dangerous to children than biological fathers.  This disengenuous attempt to align with the feminist argument, that women should never be blamed, misses the point that step fathers can also be biological fathers and vice versa.  And it overlooks the reality, which is that mothers and fathers, be they biological or step parents, can each, in different circumstances, pose great dangers to their children.  To miss this point is to create a lethal gap in practice around the separated family, which can lead to tragic consequences.

This is not to say that separated families are automatically dysfuncational, they are emphatically not, by default, problem families and we should not approach them as if they are.  Most separated families get on and do what they have to to create safety and security for children and most parents bear the brunt of the pain so that their children do not have to.  But in some families, the separation itself cracks open a fault line which brings with it the risk of serious dysfunction and it is this fault line which we must examine, with gender aware and not gender blind practice, if we are going to properly protect children over the longer term.

Gender blind practice is rife in family services in my experience, it is present across social work, housing, health services and CAFCASS.  Gender blind practice means understanding the family from a basic level analysis, which, in the past forty years, has been underpinned by feminist teachings.

I recently heard that a very senior social worker referred to social work as being a ‘feminist industry.’  This astonishing admission, was followed by the most lucid critical analysis of social work in the UK, in which the issue of fatherlessness was pinned down with such absolute accuracy that anyone who regularly reads this blog would be heartened.

Why then, I wonder, do we continue to experience the consistent choking of such analysis and silencing of those voices which express concern at the way that feminism strangles the life out of reality based practice around the family?

The same reason, I guess, that it takes over fifteen years of persistent and determined unpicking of gender bias, to uncover the kind of discriminatory practice that leads to fathers being routinely blamed for being domestically violent, simply for wanting to have a relationship with their children after separation.

Little wonder it takes that long, when the leading Domestic Violence Charity writes on its FAQ information sheet –

Unfortunately, even after separating from their abusers, many mothers find it extremely difficult to protect their children from ongoing abuse as a result of the requirement to comply with contact orders made by the family courts.  (Women’s Aid FAQ – 2013)

The last paragraph needs explaining a little because to the uninitiated, the statement by Women’s Aid can be quite discomforting and it can be difficult to see how it leads to the ‘routine assumption that fathers are domestically violent simply for wanting to have a relationship with their children after separation.’

Feminist practice in social work starts from the premise that women live and work in a patriarchal society.  In this society (the same one that you and I live in), women are always oppressed and men are always the oppressors.  This derives from a belief that men have access to money, control and power, simply because they are born male.  Women, in this patriarchal society, have no access to money, control and power, simply for being born female.  In a patriarchal society, the role of feminism is to even up the power balance and ensure that women are not oppressed by their lack of money, control and power.  This is achieved by ensuring that women can be supported financially by the state and not dependent upon men for money if they wish to leave a relationship and by ensuring that women have control over where their children live.  In this patriarchal society therefore, any man who seeks to prevent a woman from leaving a relationship and taking the children with her, to be cared for as she determines, is considered to be controlling and abusive.  Fathers who wish to have a shared care arrangement so that they can participate in the upbringing of their children, are, in this patriarchal society, considered to be abusive and are often thought to be attempting to continuing to control the mother through the children.

There is no place for a father who simply loves his children and does not wish to be removed from their lives in this patriarchal society, apart from the role which is considered to be properly his, which is in paying his child maintenance.

Simply writing those paragraphs leaves me shaking my head in disbelief that our practice around fragile families is underpinned by this blanket nonsensical approach.  And I am left again, wondering, not how these tragedies in families happen, but why they do not happen more often.  The gender blind feminist approach to supporting the family seems to me to be so far away from the reality of what is actually needed that I am surprised that tragedies are not occuring on a daily basis.

And then I remember.  They are.  Only society does not pay attention to them because they are not happening to women.  They are happening to men and their children and men don’t count as victims, EVER, in this patriarchal society we are told we live in.  And, neither, it seems to me, do children.

The tragedies we don’t hear about are the children who are abused and damaged on a routine basis by their mothers, (the NSPCC’s own figures showing that mothers are are equally likely to be involved in mal treatment and murder of their own children as fathers) and the men who suffer domestic abuse (the Home Office statistics show that 40% of victims are men) and the reason we do not hear about these tragedies?  Let me introduce you to domestic violence against men, the Women’s Aid way.

On the Women’s Aid website there are pages and pages of information, statistics, research and ‘evidence.’  Evidence like this –

Research in Scotland, re-tracing men who were counted as victims in the Scottish Crime Survey, found that a majority of the men who said that they were victims of domestic violence, were also perpetrators of violence (13 of 22). A significant number of the men re-interviewed (13 out of 46) later said they had actually never experienced any form of domestic abuse (Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2002). Other evidence also confirms that men who report that they are victims of domestic violence have mostly had different experiences from women victims/survivors and require a different response.

(Coulter 2007; Robinson and Rowland, 2007).

Which is pretty much the only information for or about male victims of domestic violence you will find on the Women’s Aid site.  This would not be a problem, it is, after all, Women’s Aid, who are a women’s rights organisation.  Except that the inclusion of ‘research’ which concludes that most male victims are actually perpetrators speaks volumes, especially to the men who are in the 40% of victims that the Home Office tell us exist.

This ‘patriarchal’ society that we live in has no male victims and when men say they are victims, they are usually lying and when someone raises the issue of violence against men, they are usually ‘apologists’ for violent men. This circular argument, which is underpinned by the notion that women cannot, do not,  and will not  do anything wrong, (unless they are coerced into it by a man), ignores completely the way in which women can, do and will, harm others, including their own children, and it prevents the kind of interventions that safeguard children on an ongoing basis.

Gender aware practice holds men AND women responsible for the damage they do.

Gender blind feminist based practice, silences victims, prevents debate and creates a lethal gap into which children can fall whilst we are all to busy looking the wrong way to notice that women as well as men can be dangerous to their children.

One leads to the kind of whole family practice that prevents tragedy, the other allows tragedy and then seeks to find a man to blame for it.

Those who suffer most are our children.

Isn’t it time we took the blinkers off?

19 Comments

  1. The little boy, Daniel Pelka, was tortured to death for NOTHING by his natural mother and her pig partner! I cried all that day thinking about this little angel and what he went through, (yes I have a heart like many goof fathers, we are not all monsters) but I haven’t stopped thinking about Daniel, and I just can’t. What the hell is going on when Daniel’s Polish father, Eryk Pelka, was kept out of his son’s life, by the courts, and had to move back to Poland in 2008, leaving his son in the care of the drug addicted mother, AND she was given full custody? Coventry Social Services were informed of Daniel’s plight way back in 2011, teachers and paediatricians were visiting him at home, even the police were tipped off that this lad was at risk, AND YET NOTHING AT ALL WAS DONE! Now Daniel is dead, murdered by his own mother, and yet the ones complicit in his death are the blind idiots at the SS who were to stupid to notice the obvious, because they were probably to busy stealing children from innocent parents instead! I am angry and heartbroken for this little boy, but it will happen again, I just know it! And here am I a good father screaming out to see Elliott who I couldn’t harm a hair on his head and yet the crooked system has snatched him from my care! Daniel would still be here alive today had he been in the care of his FATHER, that is for sure! This will haunt me for the rest of my days. Poor boy, poor Daniel Pelka, God bless you innocent child.

    And to address Karen’s main point, “mother gender bias in the system”, you need look no further than the following proof. “Critique of the NAPO ‘Anti-sexism’ Policy”. Its long, so stay with it, but shockingly feminist:

    1. Critique of the NAPO ‘Anti-sexism’ Policy
    Introduction

    The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) is a major trade union and professional body of probation officers and Court Welfare Officers (CWOs). CAFCASS
    The role of Court Welfare Officers in disputed children’s cases after separation and divorce is very significant, as it is they who produce ‘impartial’ reports for the court in Section 8 cases under the Children Act 1989 i.e. for contested residence and contact cases. The reports often contain a recommendation, even though the welfare officer’s role is essentially to collect information about each side of the case, and not to act as a judge, in what is a very important and sensitive area of the parties’ lives. It is unusual for a judge to go against a recommendation made in such a report.

    Court Welfare Officers are indirectly employed by the public to provide a service to the parties and to the courts, and therefore fall within the sex equality provisions of SIII of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA75).
    NAPO policy
    In NAPO’s policy document Equal Rights / Anti-sexism of September 1996 [2] we find, in the section on ‘Policy Objectives and Targets for the Family Court System’, the following :
    a) To develop and promote policies and strategies which strengthen and enhance the ability of women to make and carry out choices within separating families.
    b) To develop and implement policies and strategies which challenge the experience of oppression of women in separating families.
    c) To support the rights of lesbians as mothers and carers.
    d) To develop policies and strategies which challenge the discrimination against women in contested residence and contact decisions.

    e) To develop and promote training strategies which strengthen the anti-discriminatory perspective of family court work.
    A critique of the policy
    The bias in welfare reports is well documented [1], but what is not so well known is the official approval given to this.
    The courts do not receive accurate and balanced information on which to base a judgement which is meant to be in the children’s best interests, so the objective needs of children in this are almost entirely overlooked, and children are quite simply treated as the property of the mother.
    The NAPO policy describes the “experience of oppression of women in separating families” and the “discrimination against women in contested residence and contact decisions”, and nowhere in the 15 pages of the policy is the interests of fathers and their children mentioned even once!
    Part I Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 in stating that “the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration” requires the children’s interests to be given priority. The NAPO policy therefore contravenes the spirit and letter of the law under which CWOs operate and for which reports are produced.
    Lack of public knowledge of this policy
    In correspondence with The Cheltenham Group [3], NAPO has stated that “the publication [i.e. containing the policy] is a members’ document and therefore is not available for sale or for wide circulation to non-members”.
    This implies that NAPO members, who come into the homes of the public and very significantly order and re-order the lives of the public, are operating under a policy which, by their own statement, is not to become widely known to the public i.e. it is to be a concealed policy.
    But the public are entitled, and have every right, to know what policies are applied by Court Welfare Officers, as this determines the most basic rights over one’s children, home and finances etc. in matrimonial cases.
    Conclusions
    There are two aspects of the NAPO policy in contested children’s issues which we wish to have addressed :
    1) the damaging effect of such a policy on the lives of fathers and their children;
    2) the clear flouting of the provisions of the Children Act 1989.
    The Children Act 1989 concerns itself with the principle that “the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration” (Part I Section 1(1) of the Act). This principle is used to deny fathers reasonable rights. But further than this, a judge and court must have objective, accurate and balanced information on which to base a decision if this principle is to be applied in practice. However, it cannot be possible for any judge or court determining an issue about children under the Children Act 1989, and relying on a welfare report produced by a NAPO member who applies the policy, to know that this is the case. The NAPO policy is clearly capable of, and we believe does, infringe the Children Act principle.
    Based on the evidence, presented below, of the responses to our submissions to the responsible authorities, there appears to be no way of remedying this situation.
    References
    1. The Emperor’s New Clothes : Divorce Process and Consequence, The Cheltenham Group, October 1996, ISBN 1 900080 04 4.
    2. Equal Rights / Anti-sexism, National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), 4 Chivalry Road, London, SW11 1HT, September 1996.
    3. Letter, from Gaenor Kyffin of NAPO Administration, 4 Chivalry Road, London SW11 1HT, 23 April 1997.

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  2. Once again, a deeply moving piece…powerful and hard hitting.

    However, can I put in a plea for us guys whose fundamental identity has actually been as feminists – in the sense of wanting a world of equality of power between genders?

    We don’t wish to have a male dominant (patriarchal) society, any more than women might.

    Those of us guys who have grown up with patriarchal fathers have often suffered considerably, and therefore have no wish for anyone else, female OR male – to experience the same.

    How are we to describe the position we need to take?

    Is there an important line to be drawn perhaps, between two opposite forms of feminism – ‘gender aware’, and ‘gender blind’? Perhaps all feminists don’t want to be tarred with the same brush? Perhaps there are feminists (the majority, even?) whose perspective will NOT be…that women are inevitably and completely victims, simply by virtue of being born female – or that men are all perpetrators – simply by virtue of being born male?

    Perhaps those who advocate this kind of “blanket nonsensical approach” Karen describes so keenly, are actually a minority, if truth be told? Perhaps they have got carried away with the rhetoric, and are just speaking out of personal pain or despair about what has happened to them, rather than from a place of reason?

    Most importantly, is there is there a feminism we CAN all gather around and promote and celebrate together…or are feminists and feminism endlessly to be bashed as the villains of the piece?

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  3. well they should add my 31 incidents of violence that I had filmed and reported and ignored. The stats are wrong and not worth quoting. Mine were films of the violence not allegations. pretty much proof but not even an interview or arrest. mindblowing. There are no woman abusers or male victims and no support for my child involved and crucially no help for the abuser to schange.

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    1. The kind of feminism Karen is talking about is, I think, really a mirror image of the patriarchy that existed much more widely in the past…at that time it WAS the women who were overwhelmingly the victims and the men did largely get away with it.

      Sadly, the problem does still remain, here and there…giving the majority of us guys a bad name…but the difference is that the Law does catch up with these guys a hell of a lot more than it did before…I do respect the fact that they can still do a LOT of damage in-between.

      However, since the majority of us have a changed style from that of our fathers and grandfathers – it would only be right for the women to take that account. In my experience the type of feminism Karen is talking about is about a generalized REVENGE for past wrongs…taking place on innocent guys like yourself acting as scapegoats. The scape goat, if that is what you are, is always innocent…has to be – to perform that function.

      Even though I’ve suggested it, in the greatest sympathy with Karen’s position – to me the problem is that trying to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of feminism, is going to be difficult for most. To me, what these ‘problematic feminists’ are really about is advocating rule by women over men (generally by stealth…though occasionally openly) and in my book that has to be called matriarchy, not feminism, at all…if we are going to put a name to it?

      There ARE apparently some scholars who have advocated matriarchy as an entirely peaceful concept completely respectful of men…and so who would greatly object to its use in this way – but so far, interestingly, I have not heard any comment from them about the reality about this huge undercurrent of violence…physical, emotional and structural, towards men – that our experience is part of…or what that violence SHOULD then be called?

      Naming things correctly – is surely VERY important?

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  4. I am not sure what to call it, it is called feminism by the women who practice it and as the senior social worker said, social work is a feminist industry. The key issue for me is the analysis of everything using the idea that our society is patriarchal and that women are always disadvantaged in it which encourages the belief that women cannot be wrong or do wrong.

    I am not saying that men are not dangerous, I am simply saying that women are too and the statistics bear that out but we do not ever pay attention to this, we simply ignore it. Look at the way we fund services for those suffering domestic violence. Despite the fact that our Home Office statistics show that 40% of those who suffer from DV are men, 90 percent and more of the funding goes to services for women. Despite the fact that women and men are EQUALLY likely to harm their children according to NSPCC statistics, it is only men who have to pass scrutiny in terms of their relationships with children after family separation.

    Feminist based practice, in my view, puts children at risk because it seeks to uphold the rights of women over and above everything else, including the needs of children, which are viewed as indivisible from those of their mother.

    What I know, from the past three years, is that feminism has been at the heart of every single area of family policy that we have attempted to change to bring about better outcomes for children. The powerful, massively funded women’s rights lobby groups have managed to defeat and turn the tide on every single effort to shift practice towards whole family and father inclusive practice.

    This is not about equality in any shape or form, it is about women’s rights and if we were honest about that then we could perhaps deal with its impact, instead it is dressed up as being in the best interests of children, which it is, in my view, emphatically not.

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    1. Some definitions of feminism I just found.

      1: The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes (Merriam-Webster)
      2: The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. (Dictionary.Com)
      3: Feminism, as a movement, is about women living on equal terms with men–and not pushed down, by law or by culture, into a subservient role. (Tom Head)
      4: Feminism asks the world to recognize at long last that women are just as deserving of rights and opportunities, just as capable of participating in the worlds events, as the other half. (Susan Faludi)

      However, as Gabi Chepurny in PolicyMic, suggests…

      “alas, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. The outliers, the extremists, the loudest and most attention getting of any group are what earn it its definition and reputation”.

      To my reckoning – by challenging those who have distorted feminism away from its true meaning into a matriarchal nightmare – it is Karen who now stands as the UK’s leading feminist. We cannot afford for feminism to be hijacked any longer by those who have abandoned its core principles – for female chauvinism – but still call it feminism!

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  5. I am interested Woodman in your desire to hang on to the word feminism. Is that because you are afraid that to let go of that word puts you at risk of being seen to be amongst those who are anti feminism, or is it because your upbringing has taught you that feminism rescues you from patriarchy? I understand the need to hang on to the word feminism, I hung on to it for years because I was afraid that letting go of it somehow put me in another camp, an anti woman camp.

    When I did let go of feminism as a label that I wanted to wear visibly, I realised that the wearing of that label had been because I was afraid of what would happen to me if I did not wear it. Firstly I was afraid that what I had been taught, that I was always in danger of being tricked by the patriarchy, would come true, secondly I was afraid that I would not be accepted and acceptable amongst other people who also wore the label.

    The second part of what I was afraid of was partly true. Since I publicly let go of the need to wear the feminist label I have been rejected, lambasted, ridiculed and accused of being dangerous to families by other feminists. I have faced some pretty horrendous things in fact and all for taking off the label feminist. I view those things that I have faced as evidence of the collective bullying that goes on to keep people wearing those labels. Think about it. If feminism stands for equality, between men and women, why would it require collective bullying to keep people wearing that label, surely they would wear it proudly? What I have faced is unpleasant but it will not stop me speaking what I believe to be the truth, that feminism is not about equality in the way that it is practiced in family services, it is about female supremacy and about ensuring women’s rights take precedence over those of men and as a by product of children.

    The first part of what I feared has not come true in any shape or form. Far from being tricked by some masked and mysterious patriarchy, having removed the label and taken off the blinkers I have finally realised that the patriarchy does not exist and therefore cannot trick, harm or come to get me. Inequality exists across the world and that I wish to see put right still, women are still disadvantaged and are still in places of not having power just as men are, but this is not about patriarchy, it is about humanity and the lack of equality. Patriarchy is simply a made up concept which was used to explain inequality and to indoctrinate women and men who had suffered inequality into fighting for the cause of women’s rights. That indoctrination involves creating suspicion, fear and anti male feelings and is also used to instill the idea that women can do no wrong.

    I don’t want to wear the feminist label anymore, feminism did nothing for me other than indoctrinate me to believe things about people that are not true. At its best, which I see you seeking, feminism should have the aspiration to bring about equality for all, for men, women and children, I see nothing of that in how feminism plays out in our culture and particularly in our family services. I want to change that because I consider it to be at the heart of the loss and sorrow of generations of children and their relationships with their fathers as well as their mothers (because the skewing of relationships after separation, between mothers and children, put those relationships at enormous risk later in children’s lives as children themselves come to realise that their relationships with their fathers were removed from them). Feminist social work practice and domestic violence workers may feel that they are upholding women’s rights at the point of separation and may fight for the right for women to control their lives post separation, but we know, from our own work and from research from around the world, that that leaves women vulnerable to fractured family relationships later in life and that, in my book, is not about equality, its not about supporting the family and it is most definitely not in the best interests of either men OR women OR children.

    So what do we call our work for equality between men and women in family based practice? We call it whole family work, others call it equalism, the best label I can think of, it I wanted to wear one is human. Best Wishes Karen

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    1. Hi Karen – this is an absolutely fascinating dilemma to probe. I feel as if I should try to write a longer piece trying to set out my perspective as a feminist – and I will certainly ponder the points you have made.

      I am no expert on feminism, but my perception is that there was a marked tension in the 60’s & 70’s (the second wave) between what would loosely be called Liberal feminists (who constituted perhaps the majority of feminists at that time) who might be fiercely critical of men…but wanted very much to continue to try and engage with men on equal terms – and the Radical feminists i.e. those who found that notion unrealistic and even repulsive (perhaps the minority at that time) and that men in general could NEVER be persuaded to step away from a position of what was perceived as dominance.

      There were often feminists, I sense, who were somewhat undecided or ambivalent between the two perspectives, but hopefully this would be an accurate picture.

      There was therefore a power struggle within the movement – as to WHICH of these two perspectives essentially defined feminism. I haven’t yet come across any writing which charts this process, but however it has happened – the popular perception is that the Radical feminists seem to have won the day…so that Liberal feminists have been largely alienated from the movement. This apparent success is reflected in the fact that in popular parlance the term “feminist” – has become equated with “man-hater”…and almost as much, but not quite (because of the acknowledgement of an element of bi-sexuality)…”lesbian”.

      As you identify, the family system has become dominated by women (and sometimes men) who have been consciously or unconsciously influenced by this process. The feeling here…that may be articulated…but is most often NOT – is that the only way that women can free themselves from what is perceived as male domination – is for WOMEN to become dominant – to reign supreme. Attack – as the best form of defence.

      It is interesting that you feel now – that the concept of patriarchal oppression is actually a false consciousness that you were tricked into. I find that a little hard to believe…it sounds more like a bit of a “rationalization” going on over the loss of the argument within feminism for the soul of the movement. In my experience many, many women – the vast majority…have felt oppressed by men at some level…and even if themselves not SO MUCH – HAVE perhaps felt it on behalf of mothers and grandmothers – in which case the lure of having power over men…the part of all of us which can be drawn towards revenge, or evening the score, “rough justice” or whatever, kicks in on an unconscious level, if not a conscious one – and can be WIDELY SEDUCTIVE.

      The level of protection against this…or else the vulnerability to it – will depend, presumably, on the quality of relationship a woman will have had, or not – with their own father, in particular…and subsequent men in her life.

      Similarly, for us guys..the perception of patriarchy that we have – will I suspect, depend upon whether we variously identify with, or react against…the type of fathering we did or did not receive, as well as the quality of relationship we saw (or did not see) from our father towards our mother.

      But by abandoning (being forced to abandon?) the term, feminism – I feel we have fallen into a vacuum in which we find ourselves struggling to convincingly identify the nature of the struggle we now face. Female supremacists, chauvinists, matriarchs, fascists…these are the ACCURATE kinds of terms for those who generally call themselves feminists, these days – though it is usually all done VERY subtly…with loads of words to disguise what is going on.

      It don’t think it helps to “beat around the bush” in this regard!

      At present I feel that only the Liberal feminist agenda both identifies the problem (which I will hope to explore from the male perspective in future) AND reaches out for a solution to cross the gender divide.

      “Whole Family Work” – is brilliant!

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      1. with a smile in my eyes Woodman I have to ask ‘who are you to question my lived experience!’ I smile because its one of the feminist tactics that is used to stop anyone who disagrees from going further. Seriously, I no longer believe in patriarchy, its a trick, a con, a nonsense which was cooked up to keep me in a state of fear. I believe that the world is unequal and I believe that there are power imbalances but I do not believe in patriarchy anymore than I believe in father Christmas. Its just not real, its a theory, a conspiracy theory at that. We all fell for it and made the personal political and now no-one can challenge anything subjective in case someone, somewhere gets offended by that. I stopped being offended when I took off the blinkers, now I find myself so much more willing and open to listen and learn and discuss and debate and think, with all of my mind, not just half of it. K

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    2. Hi Karen,

      I very much appreciate your giving your time to this issue. I hope I am not alone in feeling challenged by your perception.

      In a way, I am VERY much encouraged by account of the non-issue of patriarchy in your own direct experience. It would seem to speak a lot about the very balanced parenting experience you must have had within your family when growing up – which perhaps has been in place for quite some generations back?

      However, are you generalizing from that…that patriarchy has never existed at all – for any body…ever?

      Or if it has existed…when did it end, then?

      What about my own experience of a domineering father…who has gained his rationale for this…from the multiple generations of religiosity which insisted on the presence…of a domineering Almighty Heavenly Father – the “respond to my love-or I will destroy you”, scenario?

      What about my struggle to reject this long assumed domineering stance…and to root out the traces of it remaining, which may still emerge from time to time within my own psyche?

      My own feeling is that patriarchal attitudes in general ARE losing their hold, now – but they are still taking a long time to go…and still have a long way to go. Perhaps they have hung on much more in the kind of religious environments I have been speaking about – but these still have a significant impact on society, worldwide.

      I myself have now taken an atheistic position…but I don’t know any of my compatriots who have.

      The end phase of patriarchy (if it exists!) presents us with challenges, I feel. The patriarchal attitudes that remain will generally be less obviously so – more subtle in their expression. I feel that they often occur in conjunction with matriarchal power…men using the positions given to them by female – rather than male managers…to put down other men.

      Finally – the current rise of matriarchal culture…doesn’t seem to me to be very convincing as a response to an illusion? I would very much agree that there may have frequently been competing matriarchal and patriarchal strands throughout most, if not all, societies.

      For me personally, the feminist project is about getting past the ‘sex war’, and arriving at a place where neither of the genders has the slightest wish to dominate the other…and where each feels that they are fully appreciated by the other.

      At the moment, I do not of any other word which expresses that wish more succinctly – which is why I believe that we should keep it, and reaffirm this as its meaning!

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    1. yes I deliberately missed that one el dermo, what despair do we have to be driven to before someone somewhere has that light bulb moment I wonder.

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    2. I very much appreciate your giving the link. I wish we could have some film-making which starts to explore more fully the REASONS for relationship break-down.

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      1. Woodman59, i apologise, i could only read so much of the above without thinking it would be far better just to point you in a particular direction. If you spend time viewing these videos(i suggest start at the beginning…go back to her first videos and watch from there) then if you have lightbulbs to be lit and you wish there to be light in areas cloaked in darkness and shadow then here be enough electricity to light up the Vegas Strip, ten times over. She may well knock your noggin off.

        youtube… Karen Straughan, who is also known as girlwriteswhat

        Her videos go to great length and depth to explore and explain many of the factors and forces and reasons for relationship break-down, quite hard to watch and hear if one would define themselves as a feminist, there are lots of videos by Karen and the ones you ought to view have a picture of her face on and she is sat in her kitchen and they usually run for around the half hour mark give or take ten minutes. Such topics covered are hypergamy, disposablity of males, feminism, gender empathy gap, neoteny, mens rights, censorship, media and politics etc. Hours of viewing, every minute worthwhile.

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      2. Carl – many thanks…will do as you you suggest. It has been fantastic listening so far to this critique of “feminism”. I appreciate that these theories being criticized…go under the banner of “feminism” – but seem in fact…to consist of matriarchy – the advocacy of the superiority and therefore the rule of, women over men.

        It is necessary to find terms for the kind of gender relations that we DO want – and those we do NOT.

        That is the task…to either fully bury the term feminism…or else to dig it out of the matriarchal rubble that surrounds it.

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  6. I currently need a child psychologist for the ongoing court case I have to get contact with my alienated children…..I think u should do it….? If only eh, if only the people in power paid attention and gave a monkeys about this twisted system!

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  7. http://www.igroops.com/members/fightingfathers/comm/READ/00001222/My-Dad-Is-The-Best.html

    One for all the dads. Those who see them. Those who struggle to see them. Those who do not see them.

    Its a long hard road.

    Few will understand.

    The few who do will always be there for you.

    Your children will if not now then in time return.

    An Irish Catholic pugilist priest? I thought their day had gone with “On The Waterfront”?

    My old man was from the loyalist heartland and was often reminded that his children had taken another faith. It was a way of punishing him and distancing him from us i suppose. Our own little family dynamic being played out in the then global capital of conflict.

    I remember how he loved to take us to Mass. I would be bored and play up and he would sit there…listening to the sermon. he was as smart and pristine as a Guardsman always will be. He was as proud as punch. One day the padre stood up and said “We are all free when i don’t have anything that they can take from me…i don’t have anything that they can give to me…and i am afraid only of God and the judgement day”

    One year later we went to Dublin. He loved it as rugby was devoid of the sectarianism that he had grown with and led to so much suffering and pain. We stayed at a B and B where the owner was enjoying his liberation from spousal supervision. It was surreal. The place was littered with pictures of the owner at the great wall of China.That’s Dublin for you?
    His first comment as we crossed the thresh hold was “Your a soldier?” He pointed at my fathers shoes. I love the town.

    One day we went to Mass and were stopped by his supposed tribe. A man in balaclava stuck his head in the window. “where are you going to?” he said. My father replied “I am taking my family to Mass.” The Catholic church was the only one for miles.
    In my fathers jacket i could see the lump of a pistol. He had discarded a traditional holster and had it held on a dog lead looped into his trouser belt loop.
    I learned later a 9mm Browning.

    There was a silence and unease for seconds but then the faceless man said “carry on”. “Bloody Cowboys” he muttered as we drove through the broken glass and barricade.

    My son aged 9 presented me with a birthday card he had written at school. “You are my warrior and you will always protect me.” There is a picture of a Spartan warrior and ten kisses at the foot of it. Over the page he had hand drawn a warrior with “me” written underneath. The Guardian reader dad is now Bruce with extra testosterone?

    It would mean little to Trinder et al. They will get their way in the grand hall. Our call is from a higher station. Ours is the small steps in the human heart. The priest who cares for the homeless and oppressed. The dad who travels those miles and who does not see them. The Grandparents who have an empty slide and swing that once echoed with the innocence of childhood laughter.

    Your day will come.
    The “auld fella” would play “Panis Angelicus” on a Sunday morning, Irish tenors would fill that space while he cleaned the house. I would groan in my teenage slumber but what i would give to hear those songs again drifting through my half sleep.
    Sometimes i hear them now. I can smell him too. When i am caught between the slumber and the awakening.

    On his sick bed he told me “I dreamt of you son”. Well now perhaps i dream of him?
    A father that leaves you never leaves you.

    Like

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