The Return of Gender Wars: The Politics of Family Separation UK

If you watched the Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday you would be forgiven for thinking that we were back to the turn of the century in the UK on the topic of fatherhood after family separation.

The storyline is ‘contact at all costs’ and the aim is to pull the debate about children’s relationships with their parents after family separation, back into the political football match of gender, in which fathers are always considered advantaged, dangerous and a risk to their children.

I felt sorry for Sarah Parsons of CAFCASS, the body charged with looking after children’s welfare after family separation. She was the person holding the parcel when the music stopped yesterday and her discomfort showed.  When faced with a mostly female panel of crusading gender activists, the reality of what is happening to children after family separation is never going to be debated fairly.

Victoria Derbyshire has presided over programmes about parental alienation and so she should recognise that this issue is particularly important to tease apart and discuss in a balanced and dispassionate manner.  Unfortunately, flanked as she was by a woman whose children were tragically killed in a house fire by their father and Jess Phillips – she of the snorting, sneering, self righteous wing of feminism, Victoria upped the ante in what I can only call a bear baiting approach to asking questions of the men on the panel.

Tim Loughton MP spoke lucidly and was courageous in getting across the message that actually in the UK more children are killed by their mothers (and at times their new partners) than are killed in contact with a father after family separation. Jess Phillips however, scenting an opportunity to blame men further, pointed out that the new partner is almost certainly a man and so there you have it, wherever children are killed, a man is involved.

This kind of debate is what feminists are trained for and the make-up of the panel being largely female including the presence of a mother whose children were killed by their father and a self proclaimed feminist lawyer who told us how domestic violence is minimised by judges, provided the perfect platform for the domestic violence lobby to re-establish control over this issue.

Who can argue rationally in the face of all of that emotive and tragic background?  As Victoria Derbyshire told us, doesn’t matter how many kids are seeing or not seeing their dads, we are not interested in that, we are only interested in the four children killed by their fathers and anyone who argues differently is inhuman.

The problem with the issue of children’s relationships with their parents after family separation is that for five decades it has been portrayed solely as a mother’s rights/father’s rights issue with children being deemed as having rights which are inextricably linked with the rights of their mother.  This is why organisations like Families need Fathers struggle so hard when they try to represent the issue of parental alienation, they are being dragged into fighting about it as if it is a parental rights argument when it is not.

Neither, in reality, is the issue of children being killed in contact with a father. This extreme violence is not about parental or children’s rights it is, like parental alienation, a mental health issue and the safeguarding procedures of all family courts and all people involved in the family courts is where the focus should lie.

The women’s rights lobby however do not want the issue of domestic abuse to fall within an argument about mental health because that would take us out of the political stand point approach of patriarchy which is the construct used by feminists to gain and maintain control in the gender war this creates.

Is there such a thing as patriarchy?  Are all men inherently advantaged over women? I walk in the streets of London and see the homeless, almost all men and I know that the construct is not based in reality. Life isn’t as easy to analyse as the gender warriors want us to believe it is.  Children’s relationships with their parents after family separation are not part of a gender war and the idea that all men are a risk to their children until proven otherwise, which still runs underneath all debates such as the one seen yesterday on the BBC, is a product of a gender war we need to move beyond.

The issue in fact is not a rights based issue at all, it is a socio-mental health issue in which the whole family requires support through the transition caused by separation and beyond.

Our focus in working with separate families should be on safeguarding, triage and differentiation of cases in the family courts and the mental health of the families involved. Family separation, like bereavement, brings immense stress and suffering and the risks inherent in that should be understood and the needs of families properly met.

Children’s relationships with parents after family separation do not belong in the parental rights arena or the political construct of patriarchy but in mental health and that is where the debate has been shifting in recent months.

When the issue is properly located in mental health, all of the issues around children’s wellbeing can be evaluated and the way in which families respond to those needs can be properly understood and supported.

He said/she said, simply takes us back to the turn of the century and watching the Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday, that is where it felt we had returned.

Family separation is a mental health issue not a parental rights fight, for five decades we have ignored it, time now to turn the page and do what works for children of divorce and separation.



  1. Nailed it again Karen. I dont want my children not to see their mother and I also dont want me or my children to be party to the divide and conquer of feminism. I want my (our) children to be free to become independent adults with a thorough and rounded education. Not party to scheming and influencing, dumbed down and taught to hate or use people. But I want them to be allowed the chance to be children first and foremost. Hopefully the day is nearing where this is beginning to change.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Watch this morning. There is going to be a follow up & after speaking to the producer yesterday, I hope it’s going to he far more gender balanced! I was about to complain to BBC about the clear gender bias & found out their ‘research’ & contributors had actually come from feedback from viewers after an interview they did with Sammy Woodhouse, the CSE/grooming victim when her child’s father wanted contact. This is quite a specific case, and I argued their request for contributors to the debate of DA & the Family Courts should have been wider. Lucy Reed is appearing on the programme today (Thur 16/5/19) & there should also be other contributors’ stories too.


  3. I was initially disappointed and surprised that you weren’t on the panel however as the programme unfolded I could see why you were either not invited to participate, or why you had the good sense to swerve it.
    Not that you require validation but I do at times and the hour watching Victoria Derbyshire provided it. A 60 minute polarisation of the space you work in and the space I’m inadvertently embroiled in as an alienated parent. Poor helpless children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI David, we were invited to be on it but we know to keep well away from the polarised debate of parental rights because it muddies the water when it comes to parental alienation which is a mental health issue not a parental rights fight. The space you are dragged into is absolutely swamped with gender politics which is why we have struggled to move on from the women’s rights debates when it comes to PA. This campaign is straight out of the gender politics strategy book and actually has nothing to do with children’s needs if you pick it apart, it is all about giving mothers control over what happens after family separation. All harm to everyone before during and after family separation is simply wrong but the gender political fight won’t make it better sadly.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Karen
    The strategy of conflating WA interests with children is worn and tired. Sir James Munby was actually wise to it. When the new PD12 J was published he mentioned how other plans, which started life at the same time, had fallen by the wayside. Furthermore, that is where they remain.

    It seems they still call for ‘women and children first’, but when the lifeboat is full they bung the kids overboard to make way for their jewellery. This is exactly what is happening here.
    Sir James was quoted earlier by the BBC. In a printed report he’s quoted as saying:

    “The only way we are going to get to the bottom of this once and for all is if there is a detailed independent analysis by reputable academic researchers.”

    On the Victoria Debyshire show he was quoted as having said that independent research was needed:

    “Independent …of the judiciary, Whitehall, and of all pressure groups and other third parties. It would be vital that the research be published, whatever the conclusions.”

    I was encouraged by the second version because, taken literally, that would preclude the Trinders, Oxflap and the rest of the mob that recently signed the letter to influence the inclusion of PA ICD 11. They are a millstone around the neck of the family justice system nad have effectively thwarted any attempts to make constructive changes. A fresh set of eyes from outside the existing echo chamber and coterie would be a breath of fresh air but I will not be holding my breath.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I had recorded it but I don’t think I’ll watch it now. I too believe it’s a mental health issue – I’m certain that it was a ‘mental health’ problem that caused my husband to act the way he did and I believe it all stemmed from his very odd childhood!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Why were no Father Activists or lobby groups invited? The toxic feminists are hypocrites to the bone.

    To be fair it is a war between these so called Feminists as they see men as subjugators who have to be defeated. Warped by their bad experiences they are trying to hijack the political agenda. As if all men are deviant misogynist children killers.

    Rachel William’s had tickets but she was only handing them out to people who represented the feminist perspective and her own interests is Victioria Derbyshire on line social media?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shaun, FNF were there but were not allowed to truly speak freely and clearly although Michael Lewkowicz tried valiantly to do so and also made mention of the fact that there are many mothers who are also alienated when the solicitor next to him tried to rubbish pa as nefarious nonsense used to rubbish women who speak of abuse.


  7. I was thinking maybe we need to expose the gender war again so that we can finally burst the bubble.

    If we can see what damage the gendered model of family law is doing, then we can replace it with the model that sees break-up as a mental health issue.

    It is mental health week is it not?


  8. Karen, I applaud your thoughts, they were also mine!
    The more I learn of my own situation the more I see the mental health issues and how they have been played by various parties!
    This should never have become a political issue but it was always going to be so.
    Sadly, Victoria Derbyshire fell foul to appeasing a slew of feminists without balance and I felt very sad to see that she had been ‘hoodwinked’ in this way. Michael Lewkowicz tried valiantly to put across the PA side of things and the fact that it happens to both genders as did Tim Loughton MP. The arrogance of the family law solicitor in writing off pa as nefarious and all about men rubbishing women was so very distasteful. I think you were wise to give this such a wide berth.


    1. Actually “berksgrandparents”, Victoria Derbyshire did not fall foul to appeasing a slew of feminists; she is already one of them. This can be clearly seen in her most recent and appalling interview (though I hesitate to call it an interview) with Carl Benjamin in which she attempts to defend M.P. Jess Phillips’ dismissal of male suicide. As you pointed out, the family law solicitor’s entirely bigoted sexist viewpoint couldn’t fail to misrepresent parental alienation as a gendered occurrence, skewing the focus away from the critical mental health aspects, and don’t tell me Ms. Derbyshire had no influence on the guest list! So, Karen, I think you gauged this one spot on. The political environment within which the family courts operate is an area in which you have consistently shown yourself to be very well versed. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Karen,
    I found your comments really interesting as the emerging literature on parental alienation acknowledges that there is no gender bias in who is an alienator, Both Mums and Dad’s alienate and there is no statistical sway to one gender. but the research shows there is a difference in the tactics used by a Mother versus a Father alienator. Literature has shown the Mothers show more enmeshing behaviours, boundary-blurring and more psychological tactics and often only become alienators at the time of divorce and separation. Fathers tactics are more aggressive and more often coercive and controlling throughout the marriage and continue this post-separation. I found this to be really interesting.


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