Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Week After Single Parent's Day, Single Parents Continue To Get Scorn From the Right and the Left

Listening to: Charlie Parker, Bird: The Savoy Recodings, Vol. I

Since I started this little blog, I've had several offers to join "father's rights" groups, invitations that I have sneeringly rejected. Once I looked into the missions of those groups, I saw that these groups were rabidly anti-woman and beholding to extremist "family values" organizations. As the father of two daughters intent on raising those daughters to believe they can be whatever they want to be, it's appalling to think there are men advocating for their right to "slap my bitch up" as some kind of religious dictate.

As you may have read in the article about me for Single Parents Day, a local school official favored "traditional two-parent families" over single-parent families. My response in the article to that statement was I thought it was complete bullshit.
“The traditional makeup is worthless unless there’s an emotionally stable and loving environment involved,” he said. “I think they’re better off in a household where there’s peace and consistency rather than the chaos of a marriage that’s crumbling.”

There's no doubt that single mothers have been the target of vicious and unfair enmity from the religious right. Fathers have been spared that bile mostly because we've been ignored but also because, I think, it's easier for a patriarchal society to kick women than men. It pisses me off that small-minded social conservatives choose to attack single moms rather than consider the welfare of the children. A woman getting out of an abusive or unhealthy marriage is not "selfish" but doing the sane thing - and doing what's best for her children.

However, when I read certain feminist perspectives on the issue of single parenting and those perspectives diminish the role of fathers, I get just as pissed off as I do by the medieval mutterings of right-wing mullahs. I was prompted to compose this rant by this particularly repulsive anti-fatherhood post by Amanda of at Pandagon because it makes me ask "Why?" I'm all for supporting single mothers against attacks by the stupidity and simplicity of so-called "family values" types but why does it have to be done at the expense of fathers? It seems to me that feminists like this indulge in the same kind of hate rhetoric (just a different flavor) that the drooling neanderthals on the right practice. Defending mothers by attacking fathers does nothing in the service of sane and compassionate dialogue.

Go read Amanda's article over at Pandagon and let me know if I'm off base. By no means do I consider myself one the anti-feminist rightards trolling her article at the moment but I find the anti-father slant sexist. And I'm pissed.


Miss Education said...

Amanda is by no means anti-father, she is simply trying to refute the "fatherlessness" mythologies that have come into play during this discussion on single mothers. She's trying to refute the idea that there is one way to parent, one way to grow up, and that all other ways are disastrous. Unfortunately this doesn't come across in the stats she listed, but I think clues to her viewpoint are elsewhere in the post. She has addressed this specifically elsewhere, in addition to indicating the same in the comments of a related post I made a couple of days ago.

Sorry to overwhelm your comments here, but I wanted you to know she is an ally.

Chip said...

Yeah, I read that Pandagon post and have very mixed feelings. On the one hand I agree with her point that the fundies and other conservatives are vilifying single moms in a way that shows how clueless they are about reality, and that their motivation is not in any way about what's best for the kids.

But I too was somewhat troubled by the tone, which seemed to say fathers are expendable, and came across as almost anti-father.

Now I'm with you on the whole "fathers' rights" groups, they seem to be whacked out right wingers whose goal is to bash women and put dad back on top in the most retrogressive way.

But on the other hand, I obviously think that fathers can play an important role in their kids' lives, and that many fathers want to do so for the best of reasons.

But on the third hand I know plenty of kids with two moms who are getting along very well in a loving family without a dad, or kids in single-mom families who have large extended social networks, etc. So I don't want to say that having a father present is the only way kids can come out healthy...

Taking into account the above comment by Lauren, maybe Amanda was writing from her perspective, in response to the crazies, and didn't think about how people like us would read it. Not sure.

Nino the Mindboggler said...

Lauren is probably right but obviously Amanda has not made an important distinction in her post.

I have been guilty of posting (more times than I care to admit) from a purely emotional place and then had to go back and appologize for for ill-considered remarks.

I'll stand by this post's contention that Amanda's post was "anti-father" in tone and content. I'm confident that Amanda had good intentions but when the result bashes fathers, those good intentions carry no weight.

Heather said...

Personally I think it should be less about who parents and more about the peace in the home. Kids just need to feel loved and secure, no matter the sex of the parent. Do I think kids would be better in a home with two loving parents? Absolutely, but not if their love for the children is polluted by animosity for one another. Children simply need a loving, peaceful environment where they feel safe to grow and explore. What that looks like is different for every family. Generalizations only succeed in alienating.

Rolo said...

Found a lot of useful info on your site about single parenting - thank you. Haven't finished reading it yet but have bookmarked it so I don't lose it. I've just started a single parenting blog myself if you'd like to stop by