Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The reasons that men, especially fathers vying for child custody, should be supporting feminism

There is a virulent strain of demagogues that have been attacking the progress of women towards self-empowerment and equality. These wolves have attempted to takeover and discredit feminism by cloaking it as what I will call “Gender Victimization.” They demean and belittle enlightened women and seek to enslave them and return them to a time when they were subservient. Feminism in contemporary times can be seen by some as a pejorative term. This is because it has been corrupted by those subversives who oppose the foundational principles of feminism which, in my opinion, should be embraced by all especially fathers who are non custodial parents.

First in an analysis of whether one should support feminism is to perform a historical examination of feminism and define what it is, or rather, was. One could go back to Hetaera of Athens or even the matriarchal divine feminine among which most ancient religious and spiritual orders were based before the emergence of the male dominated cults gained favour among the governments and other bastions of power. In particular the Abrahamic cults provided support for the subordination and control of women, particularly the promotion of rape.[fn1] In more contemporary times the emergence of modern feminism evolved primarily in France with publications such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which was written in the wake of the French Revolution. In France feminism referred far more often to the "rights of women" than to "rights equal to those of men." This is a subtle but profound distinction.

It may be beneficial to begin with a dictionary type definition of feminism as follows: a theory and/or movement concerned with advancing the position of women through such means as achieving political, legal, and economic rights equal to those granted men.

For the purpose of child custody considerations in statutory and caselaw it would be best to examine feminism as it arose in the context of industrial society guided by liberal politics. As such it was connected to both the liberal women’s rights movement and early socialist feminism in the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States and Europe. Feminism in this context – as an established political movement – sought access and equal opportunities for women. Much of the agenda was outlined by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the The Seneca Falls Declaration. Feminists sought to remove gender or birth sex differentiation in such areas as religion, politics – particularly suffrage – and business transactions. To a lesser extent feminism was preoccupied with equal opportunity in employment which was generally within the realm of the pro-communism movement all while little attention was given to matters of family.

A shift in the perception of feminism has occurred as the elements that have taken over the feminist agenda no longer seek to ingratiate women to the male dominated roles of the western industrial revolution society but now seek to portray men as ignominious and of undeserving of notice. By refocusing to the core of feminism it becomes apparent that men as well as women should be supporting feminism although some women now shun the label “feminist.”

Feminism sought to create parity in opportunity and responsibility for people regardless of birth sex. Opponents of the feminist doctrine have perpetuated a patriarchal power structure largely through the guise of an appealing Gender Victimization model. Feminists were essentially 'bought off' from pursuing the feminist agenda. In the realm of child custody and child support policy the patriarchal approach dominated for quite sometime. The “maternal preference” standard which was pervasive in culture, rule and law held that children should, by nature, be placed in the care and control of the mother following divorce. This standard, established prior to no-fault divorce, was rooted in anti-feminism. The primary objective was to keep women out of the workplace – from invading the sanctity of the male dominated business, political, and legal culture. Thus, “spousal maintenance,” high child support payment orders, and custody awards were liberally granted to women.

A secondary purpose was to protect women from having to demonstrate fitness of character to maintain custody of children. The anti-feminism perspective held that women were too feeble of mind to be attendant to all the duties of child-care and maintaining a household not just performing the perfunctory duties of daily maintenance. Thus, women were absolved from demonstrating fitness.

A new wave of feminism lashed back against the undermining of the feminist agenda by attacking the double standards that had been applied up to the 1960's - 1970's era. Preferential standards and laws began to be eroded during this period. It was also at this time that subversives to the feminist movement entrenched themselves within the movement and promoted an agenda toward segregation of women from the existing culture rather than integration.

Rather than be engaged with and received in equity with men as their partners, the feminazi movement seeks to elevate women above men is cultural and legal stature. This is evident in popular movements like breast cancer as a “women's issue” although cancer of the breast attacks both men and women. While their predecessors had a generation earlier burner bras, protested the Miss American Pageant, and decried the cosmetic industry as a patriarchal institution the feminazi wants legal superiority and to enhance certain patriarchal practices. Headline feminists once decried the Freudian theory of women’s “natural” dependency and sexual frigidity only to have it then later re-articulated by the feminazi fringe.

Feminism as perverted by the feminazielement is crumbling under the hypocrisy, lies, and militant anti-male/anti-child agenda that pervades the political discussion of feminism in modern society. When the perpetual lie about rates of pay for women being only 77% that of men is easily debunked by the common person who reads the want ads, which state the rate of pay being equal for both, undermines the true credibility of feminism.

The subversive element of feminism, those who promote the concept of gender victimization, paradoxically perpetuate the notion of women's natural dependency. Like gay rights activists who have attempted to secure superior rights for homosexuals perpetuate heterosexuality as the norm, these subversives to feminism do the same when they seek superior rights for women. Essentially, reinforcing a belief that women are incapable of achieving parity without special accommodations. Thus, identity politics unintentionally supports a hegemonic concept of woman.

Karen Offen has recently reiterated the core belief of feminism in stating, “Feminism raises issues that concern personal autonomy or freedom-with constant reference to basic issues of societal organization, which center, in Western societies, on the long-standing debate over the family and its relationship to the state, and on the historically inequitable distribution of political, social, and economic power between the sexes that underlies this debate. Feminism opposes women's subordination to men in the family and society, along with men's claims to define what is best for women without consulting them.”[fn2] The very terms “women's rights,” “feminists,” or “feminism” have been used by many parties polemically, as epithets.

Feminism was refined following the women's liberation movement that evolved in the 1960's - 1970's. “Gyno-criticism,” a method first developed by Elaine Showalter in A Literature of Their Own followed a new interest in women’s lives and voices, becoming more empirical and historical, and more mythical and spiritual.

While women's liberation is a concept that may be embodied in the origins of feminism it is entirely another much broader concept. Feminism sought to establish parity between men and women for those organizational opportunities in a society built upon a male-centrist view. Particular to this is the notion of representative democracy, free markets and capitalism. Women's liberation to the contrary sought to extricate women from the patriarchal constructs of society and instead embraced Marxist philosophies and a self-centered ideology which included abandoning the role of motherhood. This principle was extolled by such female superiority advocates like Ellen Key who demanded government subsidies for all mothers, including the unmarried. Richard Stites has suggested for Russia that feminism is merely one component of "women's liberation."

As with every word in the English language each has its individual definition, tone, and nuance of usage that distinguishes it from synonyms. So it is with feminism which is not synonymous with the status of women, female supremacy, distinguishing female traits, female political action or other issues surrounding women that are not part of the scheme to establish equity in opportunity and responsibility for women within established institutions. Likewise the contemporary “identity movement” is not feminism in disguise or even a branch of feminism. Rather the identity movement seeks to extricate both men and women from the institutions to which feminists have gained access for women but are mutually destructive to both men and women.

Objection to treating women as sex objects may come from a wide swatch of people who include feminists, but it is not fundamental to feminism – political, educational, business, and economic equity for women. While I feel that women who engage in the masquerade of adornment of the flesh such as through the cosmetics industry are cheapening women and detracting from their potential to significantly contribute to the institutions sought to be opened by feminism that in and of itself is not feminism.

When "the woman question" came upon the nineteenth century political landscape it was in the context of interposing the political, social, and economic feminist ideas into the organization of societies. This brings me back to the basis of why it is imperative that we all support feminism. The political and societal framework based upon the female dependency model places an undue burden upon men and deprives children of their necessary contact and interaction with fathers. While women's suffrage is universal throughout western culture and anti-discrimination laws cover other aspects of female engagement in society there still exist a cultural bias, oft perpetuated by the anti-feminist, that women still must be provided with a subsidy by men.

Embracing feminism includes placing the responsibilities on women commensurate with the parity in rights that they have attained. That is, they must demonstrate their fitness of character for having parenting time with or legal custody of the children. Likewise, true feminism obliterates the myth that women get paid at a lower rate than men but if they don't then that difference is entirely their responsibility. Hence, the imposition of a financial subsidy disappears. Ironically though if the feminists claims are fully realized and embraced then there does exist the possibility that value for women in sexual distinctions may be negated. This then requires a conscious recognition of the unique values that both mothers and fathers contribute to the well-being of their children while still maintaining parity in opportunities within the realm of the feminist dynamics.

[1] Deuteronomy 21:11 provides that men may rape women captured in war.
[2] Offen, Karen. Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach, 2012. Institute for Research on Women and Gender Stanford University

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2014 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

No comments: