Letters brain

Child psychologist Penelope Leach says sleepovers at dad’s “may damage brain”

To begin, from my previous articles I have received feedback that I am not exactly a stickler for providing support for my claims. I respect that, so one of my goals in this article is to be 100% factual. Citations. Notations. Look here to find this. Look there to find that. I’m going to do it right and from a certain perspective: this entire article is about how we support our claims and where we find support for our cause.

Bestselling author and “child psychologist” Penelope Leach made statements to the effect that a child’s separation from their mother (i.e., by allowing a child to sleep over at their father’s house in cases of shared custody) could lead to the child experiencing permanent brain damage and psychological issues. This was reported in both the Independent and here:

Child psychologist Penelope Leach says sleepovers at dad’s ‘may damage brain’.

Oliver James, another “child psychologist” and TV presenter, supported Leach’s claims by adding, “[I]n most cases, you should do nothing to disrupt the relationship with the primary caregiver. To do so can affect the child’s brain development.… After the age of three, it becomes more debatable about whether children will be damaged by living between two homes and by the age of about six, I don’t think it’s a problem.” These quotes can be found in the article referenced above.

While James is saying that the issue is loss of contact with the primary caregiver, the title of the article is “Child psychologist Penelope Leach says sleepovers at dad’s ‘may damage brain.’” That’s the claim being made here: contact with dad causes brain damage. If that wasn’t the claim and it was simply a matter of loss of contact with a primary caregiver, then we could say that having a nanny or dropping the baby off at your parents’ house for a night away or any loss of contact with a young child causes brain damage. These statements and that article, however, were about none of those scenarios.

The fact that James (in his uncited claim) added that by the age of six it doesn’t matter may appear conciliatory; he’s essentially saying that contact with dad, after the most important developmental years, is possibly okay. By then the brain is well-formed enough to defend itself from whatever damaging impact a father’s contact can bring to bear.

Since Penelope Leach and Oliver James provide no supporting evidence to these claims—not a single study—I thought I would take it upon myself to interview some people who never had to suffer through brain-damaging contact with fathers in their early youth.

Where would I find a group of such people who would be easily accessible, willing to talk to me, and all contained within a small area? According to a number of different studies: prisons. According to the statistical study “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” the likelihood of being incarcerated is a fairly simple formula. Fatherless + not rich = imprisoned and angry.1

So if I wanted to find a large group of people who never had their brains damaged by contact with their fathers in order to find for Penelope Leach and Oliver James the real-world, stringent academic data that would support their claims, prison would be the best place to go. That’s where I went.

It was a clear summer day, and the sun sparkled off of the newly built county prison’s brick walls. The first thing that struck me was how aesthetically pleasing and modern this relatively small prison seemed in comparison to most of the other buildings and houses in this economically depressed area. Strange, since the road leading to it was lined on both sides by old, boarded-up buildings crumbling into nothing, as though this was a wasteland in which the only shining tower was a monument to incarceration surrounded by the relics of a past-gone era of industry and involvement. But enough of that. I was on a mission to speak with as many people not suffering from father-induced brain damage as I could find.

I knocked on the front door to the prison, it opened, and I asked the guard: “Is there anyone in here who never had contact with their father?”

I noticed in his eyes the weariness of a man trapped in a job he didn’t really care for, in a world he didn’t really care for, suffering from the exhaustion of not knowing how to change it.

“Take your pick,” he said. “None of these people had fathers.”

“Citation, please,” I said. “Do you have evidence to support that claim?”

“Do you want to talk to someone or not, asshole,” he replied.

We went to lockup, and through a thick bulletproof window I selected my test subject like a young princess selecting a bright, shiny new car.

I spotted one—scars, tattoos, and an aggressive, violent manner that screamed, “I do not suffer from father-induced brain damage.”

“I want to talk to that one,” I told the guard. He went about arranging it.

Twenty minutes later I sat in a small, concrete-walled room painted a dull yellow. A guard stood behind me, a thick pane of glass in front of me and beyond it, the young man’s angry scowl staring back.

“Hello,” I said.

“Fuck you,” he said.

“My name is Jack.”

“Razor Blade.”


“My name is Razor Blade, motherfucker,” he said.

“Oh. Hello, Razor Blade. Let’s just jump into this. According to Penelope Leach and Oliver James, in situations where parents are not living under the same roof, early childhood contact with fathers leads to, what I have termed, father-induced brain damage. Am I correct in assuming you never had any contact with your father?”

“Fuck you.”

“Yes, fuck me, Razor Blade, but can we continue with my study?”

“You know what I would do to you if you were in here?” Razor Blade said, moving closer to the glass.

“Well, you wouldn’t rape me because according to feminists, men don’t have to worry about that,” I said. “Or anything else, for that matter. But seriously, Razor Blade, I’m here to talk about you, not me. Can I assume you never had contact with your biological father?”

“Fuck you.”

“Does that mean yes?”

“Fuck YOU!”

“I think that means yes. As an aside, I find it fascinating that you are able to communicate using only two words. So, obviously, you do not suffer from father-induced brain damage. Can you tell me about all of the positive aspects of not suffering from this ailment?”

“I run cell block D. I have my pick of the bitches in here.”

“By bitches I assume you mean men who have been overtly feminized through the course of living in a hyper-violent, anxiety-ridden environment. Strangely enough, at the same time, you as well have been feminized by that same environment, though you don’t realize it. This feminization has pushed you into filling an overtly and unrealistically dominant, violent, and rage-driven role. I also imagine that you, not suffering from brain damage, understand that this situation is only possible in a culture where healthy, productive relationships between men and other men, as well as men and children, have been deemed unnecessary, damaging, and even pedophilic. The situation you are in is not entirely but to no small part the end product of a culture that holds little value for men beyond a number associated with a bank account, their willingness to equate being a man with doing anything that a woman asks, and, if not that, quietly accepting a legal system that seeks to rob or incarcerate them and does so more successfully and in greater numbers than any other culture in the world. Razor Blade, you are the monster that feminists scream about when they cry, “RAPE,” and they made you by destroying the influence that fathers have in the lives of their children. But I have to admit, I’m not seeing brain damage here. I’m seeing soul damage. What do you think about that?”

“Citation please,” he said.

“You got me there, Razor Blade, “ I said. Just as I had looked into the guard’s eyes, I looked into Razor Blade’s—there was the weariness of a man trapped in a cage and a role he didn’t really care for, in a world he didn’t really care for, suffering from the exhaustion of not knowing how to change it.

That’s when I abandoned my efforts to find the evidence to support Penelope Leach and Oliver James’s comments because even if spending time with a father leads to this mysterious ailment of father-induced brain damage, it is a good thing.

As I drove through the wasteland surrounding that shiny prison back to my home, I felt fantastic. This forty-year feminist-launched attack on men and reality has led to so much dust and decay, so many shiny prisons, so much fatherless-induced soul damage. I felt fantastic because I had found my citation and study in the dust of the crumbling city and along with it a chance to rebuild and redefine. In the dust is a chance to create better relationships between men and women. In what has been broken is the chance to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a man beyond the insane notion that this is found at the end of a leash attached to an unreasonable feminist’s hand. If women would hope for a greater love and appreciation from the men in their lives, maybe they’ll look into the dust of their broken relationships and have the courage to see that this love and appreciation ultimately comes from that father-induced brain damage. It’s a man’s thing, and there simply needs to be some change to secure it. I just wish Razor Blade and that guard could have come with me. The answers are not in that prison, but in the dust.

And for anyone that would like to read some studies that directly counter Penelope Leach’s and Oliver James’s comments, see the list below:

A father’s involvement improves verbal skills:
Radin, N., 1982, “Primary Caregiving and Role-Sharing Fathers,” in Non-Traditional Families: Parenting and Child Development, edited by M. Lamb, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 173–204.Father’s involvement reduces behavior problems in school:
Amato, P. R., and Rivera, F., 1999, “Paternal Involvement and Children’s Behavior Problems,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 375–384.

Father’s involvement improves math skills (especially for girls):
Radin, N., and Russell, G., 1983, “Increased Father Participation and Child Development Outcomes,” in Fatherhood and Family Policy, edited by M. E. Lamb and A. Sagi, Hillside, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 191–218.

Father’s involvement improves school testing results for children:
Biller, H. B., 1993, Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development, Westport, CT: Auburn House.

Father’s involvement increases childhood curiosity in very young children, which then translates into the pursuit of personally fulfilling work as an adult:
Pruett, Kyle D., 2000, Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, New York: Free Press.

Father’s involvement increases motor and impulse control:
Abramovitch, H., 1997, Images of the “Father” in The Role of the Father in Child Development. M. E. Lamb, Ed., New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Father’s involvement after divorce shows a causal relationship with their child’s grades:
National Center for Education Statistics, October 1997, Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools; National Household Education Survey. NCES 98-091R2. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

Father’s involvement in very early childhood (even as a non-custodial father) shows marked improvement in a child literacy and reading skills:
Bredekamp, S., and Copple, C., 1997, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.


[1] Cynthia Harper, University of Pennsylvania, and Sara S. McLanahan, Princeton University, cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.

About Jack Goodfellow

Jack Goodfellow was born and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Armchair philosopher and author, his focus in the Men's Rights Movement is in reversing the impact that political feminists have had on the erosion of civil rights for men and women. More of his work can be found at his blog, www.Feminismishate.com.

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  • http://www.avoiceformen.com/ Dean Esmay

    And they say misandry isn’t real.

    • ThirdOfOctober

      Of course it’s not real!




  • Not buying it

    Way , you misogynistic , women hating , number crunching , facts checking , unpleasant truth telling yahooo , leave the poor woman/ victim , alone ( sarcasm ) , ideology trumps fact and reality in there world Sir.

    • Rob

      do you think they will drag out that woman who was crying in an online video to leave brittany spears alone for a second turn “leave the women.. sob sob sob”

      • Not buying it

        That person crying in the video is actually a teenage male with gender identity issues , meaning he is androgynous person so far , until he makes a choice , at that time at least .

  • Bev
    • http://www.stgeorgewest.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelo

      Thanks for the link!

    • crydiego

      Yeah sure, but maybe all 110 of these child physiologist did sleep overs with their dads and are brain damaged. It is becoming clear to me that if you don’t believe feminist wooze, well, you’re brain damaged.
      Of course You can’t take my word for it because I’m potentially brain damaged.

      • Lucian Vâlsan

        Not really a shock. Same shit, different cover.

        Just 25 years ago friends of mine were deemed “brain damaged” for disagreeing with another wooze -> Marxist-Leninism.

  • Victor Zen

    The jump to blame fathers is just dumb. The thesis could just as easily have been “Babies get brain damage if left in cribs.” Why not? The mother sleeps in another room sometimes, right?

    The baby drain bamage argument is so flexible that you could say just about anything damages a baby. In which case, no shit Sherlock, they’re babies. But out of all of the things they could point out to be a threat, it’s not unattended stovetops, nor is it the abusive mothers no one talks about. No, it’s Daddy.

    Psychology is going down the toilet. Or sleeping over at dad’s house. Fuck, I don’t know.

    • ExpatMatt

      I must be totally fucked. My dad’s a psychologist.

    • OldandNavy

      It just occurred to me that I suffer from massive, massive father-induced brain damage.

      I was raised, prepared and then turned out into the world where I shortly found myself standing in a room, naked, and realizing that the clothes i had just thrown into the trashcan had been my only worldly possessions.

      I, through my history of toxic exposure to real men being real role models, realized that if i wanted anything more than that I was going to have to earn it. … and I then hiked on my issued undies and got my career started.

      Man. .. Who could have known how much damage had really been done.

      Pheh. Just to think how much damage these quacks do when they swap ideology for professionalism and present it from behind an expensive degree.

    • ComradePrescott

      Never in my whole life have I ever valued or respected the field of psychology. Really, how can anyone trust these lunatics?

  • ExpatMatt

    I love that women being primary caregivers is unquestionable…right up until feminists need it to be evidence of misogyny. Or is it the other way around? So hard to keep track…

    First dads were vaguely benign. Then they were tolerable. Then it was wondering “if the presence of fathers is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion.” Now it’s sleepovers with dad–not the secondary parent, mind you, but *dad*–damage baby brains.

    Next up: male cooties cause childhood leukemia, juvenile diabetes, and poor posture.

    • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

      Yet the child is more likely to experience violence from its mother than its father. Must be so liberating to go through life with a “Blame Men” card. They probably get air miles with those too.

      • ExpatMatt

        I wish there was a “LOL” button as well as a like button. Air miles! Fuckin’ classic.

      • ThirdOfOctober

        “Must be so liberating to go through life with a “Blame Men” card. They probably get air miles with those too.”

        It’s more than you’ll ever get with the Patriarchy Express card.

  • 2cyar

    “…there was the weariness of a man trapped in a cage and a role he didn’t
    really care for, in a world he didn’t really care for, suffering from
    the exhaustion of not knowing how to change it.”

    Bears repeating

    Only now, there is a little hope.

    • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

      That’s a great quote. Where is it from???

      • 2cyar

        It’s from this article.

        • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

          For some reason it sounded like something “from the ages”

  • Fatherless

    Wish I was a little more brain damaged.

  • Roby 83

    Another reference: R.A. Warshak, “Social science and parenting plans for young children: A consensus report”, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 20 (2014), 46 (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/law/20/1/46)

  • Aimee McGee

    WTF is there this assumption that women are always the primary caregivers? Or that children can’t bond to more than one adult.
    I am sitting alongside my partner Earl Grey at the moment. He does far more parenting of his girls than his now ex wife did. By a huge margin. Oh and he also was employed and she was not. Kind of begs the question what she did…fuck all.
    Citations please: Attendance records, communication with the school, the fact his girls actually talk to him about emotional stuff.

  • Ted Harrold

    Beautiful work!

  • Andrew Ulrich

    What. The. Fuck.

    Every time I see something hateful written about men, I always think “well, it can’t get any worse, right?”

    I’m always proven wrong.

    • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

      I wonder if Penelope’s Dad (or mother) touched her somewhere inappropriately, and then caused these bizarre theories.

  • Gerald Vrooman

    Child psychologists like Penelope Leach do more to damage children’s brains than sleepovers with Dad do.

    • mike gibbs

      Of course!
      Jesus christ! the whacked out feminist’s want to raise a generation of white-knights, manginas and other serfs for thier pleasure, amusement, violence by proxy, hard & dirty work etc.
      We simply must bring them down before it’s too late.

      • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

        It’s already started. Post anything that is even vaguely critical or questioning of women in the comments section of YouTube videos and you are just as likely to get attacked by a mangina than a feminist.

  • http://www.stgeorgewest.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelo

    Fatherless Induced Soul Damage. :'(

  • http://www.stgeorgewest.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelo

    Sleep overs at dad’s are obviously invariably beneficial in and of themselves, it will be surrounding vitriol that is likely to have an effect on the child and that is another matter.

    Just from casual observation of the gentle nature of the vast majority of men towards women and children would lead to the logical likelihood that this damaging attitude will be largely of the mothers instigation and that is my experience. We walk on egg shells whilst they throw their first class citizenship weight around. We must study this further in a scientific manner to thoroughly discredit this nonsense.

    • Rob

      I just wanted to add a possible spanner in the works with regards to this silly idea of only the mother.

      what happens when the family employs an au pair or nanny to look after the children( happens a lot in expat families) the child will form an attachment to them( more so if they live in). My daugther formed some sort of a bond with our fillipino cleaner( even though I was the primary carer) which i was more than happy to encourage.

      • http://www.stgeorgewest.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelo

        Sorry for the late reply… Not sure what you mean Rob. …’this silly idea of only the mother’? Wider attachments? I am not sure how your comment interacts with my statement above.

        • Rob

          the silly idea of the mother is the idea that only the mother can form the only suitable relatiosnhip with the child hence no father should have overnight stay and hence the mothers are the one who instigate this idea enabled by so called experts like penelope.

          i gave the example of expat familes working overseas ( and often rich families at home whose parents are working a lot of hours) whereby the childs forms a relationship with another carer/staff such as cleaners, maids, nannies au pairs etc. this alone would prove that the idea of only the mother is suitable doesn’t work or makes senses. I gave this example in support of your point.

          My own wife resented the bond between myself and our daugther since i was the at home dad whilst the wife was the expat lawyer, so the idea of mother only is debunked in my own experience. in fairness to penelope she did in a guardian article state that if the father was the sole custodian then sleepover at mums is not acceptable under the same premise, but this was a backpedalling response from penelope hidden away when she was challenged on her flawed research. and obvious bias.

          • http://www.stgeorgewest.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelo

            Thank you for the clarification. 😉

  • craichead

    During one of the conference presentations – Stefan’s I think – there was a question regarding Dr Sears and Attachment Parenting. This kind of stuff is the result of the rise of that kind of thinking.

    Sears advocates that very young children bond only with one primary caregiver (guess who that is) and that the role of fathers when children are very young is to provide support for the mother. Sure he can do some hands on stuff, but at the core of the philosophy is that having more than one primary caregiver confuses children and is bad for them.

    It’s funny this modern idea we have of how fragile small children are emotionally and developmentally. They just aren’t. It’s all the rise of what Philip Wylie called “momism” back in 1942 (and received death threats for that by the way).

    • Gerald Vrooman

      According to Hillary Clinton it takes a whole village to raise a child. That would seem to contradict the attachment parenting idea.

  • Jesse James

    Hahahahahaha, I loved the conversation. That wasn’t real was it?

    I bet “Razor Blade” is a real hit on marrythyprisonconvict.com that all of those wonderful gems of women go to to find their a$$ poundiing….er..I mean totally fulfilling relationship. Replete with conjugal visits where of course they are orrpesse…er…I mean in a happy two way relationship….

    “%^&*” me.

  • http://womenandmenlivingtogether.blogspot.ca Joe Wilson

    Okay, I’ve never done this before but does someone want to take a crack at criticizing this misandrist? Widipedia appears to be asking for someone to write something? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penelope_Leach

    • Rob

      you mean inthe blank Criticism section?

      go ahead and click on it.

      it might be removed later if you are not objective

      also might be better if you create an account and use that to edit the Criticism

  • Rob

    1. penelope leach has been debunked as out of date.
    2. to throw a spanner in the works for ms leach, I got to ask how does she feel when daddy is the primary carer of a child such as I was ,so that my former wife could have her glittering legal career( well I couldn’t work because that same person would not let me work unless my job gave me a multiple exit visa — this is qatar where we were living and I was threatened with deportation if I did not comply!). anyway we even had the advice of the doctors and specialist that daddy was the better parent for out daugther becuase we both shared the same disabilty which i fully understood and she… well just went into denial.
    3 add to this, if the child is a girl then the physcologists will then step in and tell you that daddy is very important( doesn’t mean mother isn’t as she has the role with her sons) fathers are the male role model for which most girls is their first. Daddy is the one who makes the girls tougher and more resilient etc.
    4. Pyshcologists have already appeared on TV/media etc and specifically stated that children ( even very young children are very resilient to moving back and forth between the father and mother and that a sleep over will not cause any issues). what will cause issue is when a very young child is deprived of one parent ( be it mother or father) as in cases of divorce. My own daugther has lived in two countries before the age of two and visited four countries before she was one year old.
    5 penelope would be better focusing on the issues affecting children in regards to PAS, legal system gender bias over parenting andbeing subjected to the fallout of abusive behaviour by one parent to another such as witnessing abusive and violent behaviour against one parent.

    penelope is debunk

  • http://mgtow1.blogspot.ca/ Freddy Mgtow

    I think this child psychologist just gave me cancer. I’ve only been officially MGTOW for approx 100 days, but I have seen so many articles that there is no going back to the blue pill world. Our society is even more screwed up than I ever imagined.

  • Mike Brentnall

    Brain damage from a sleep-over at dad’s place? Like when the child is…mostly sleeping?
    Or would the brain damage -emotional upheaval – occur from childhood confusion resulting from suddenly being shunted from one parent to the other once or twice a month for a few conscious hours because of court ordered family separation?

    Following Miss Penelope’s fateful advice of strict maternal dominance (matriarchy), if stunted cognitive development from a brief encounter with a father is such a concern consider what occurs in the minds of children while in daycare 8-10 hours 5 days per week when separated from mom.

    For 50+ years, detrimental social developments effect children through father absence have been observed by credibly trained individuals, yet courts forcefully remove fathers from the lives of many children through spousal separation.
    But, then, placing infants to six year old children in their formative tender years in the hands of strangers away from any caregiver blood parent for a considerable time is regarded as progressive.

    Furthermore, public grant monies given to feminist lobbying for both father absence and daycare policies are currently state mandated and all three, and more, are funded mostly by the male-majority taxpayer. Legions of men contributing to their own eventual social demise. State funded feminism and the individuals who comprise these various groups have a lot to answer for – and coming soon to a region near you.

  • ThirdOfOctober

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and speculate that Leach and James have daddy issues, and instead of coming to terms with it, choose to deny it instead.

    “I can’t possibly have suffered through lack of paternal contact! It’s impossible!”

  • LikkiCurry

    I feel personally offended right now, on many levels. Curse the proffession I chose…

  • axia777


    I’m sorry, I didn’t get past the first paragraph. I’m new to this website. I stumbled across this article while searching the internet. Why did I not get past the first paragraph? Because from my perspective Penelope Leach’s statements are utterly full of sh*t. I am a single father. I have been a single father since my daughter was 7. Her mom is nuts. I won’t get into dirty fine details. No one wants to hear that.

    Needless to say I have raise a female human being by myself. She has lived with me non-stop for going on eight years now, She is my pride and joy. She was an honor student at her middle school and is moving on to high school. She has taken two years of Chinese and two years of orchestra violin. She wants to own her own business some day. That or go into science, specifically biology. She can’t decide yet. All of her teachers have loved her since kindergarten. She has many friends and is socially active. She is an artist as well. Does that sound mentally damaged to you? You decide.

    This Penelope Leach is a wach job. All it takes it one good parent, man or woman, to make a difference. People like her spread misinformation.

  • Nunya Bidness

    Well, take the sentence you quoted and just think of what it says:

    “All the evidence suggests that younger children should not be separated
    from their primary caregiver who, in the vast majority of cases, is the

    Same words, slight rearrangement:

    “All the evidence suggests that younger children should not be separated
    from their mother who, in the vast majority of cases, is (THIS MEANS EQUALS) the
    primary care giver.”

    You see, the last part of the sentence is equivocating ‘Mother,’ with, ‘Primary Care Giver.” This isn’t some of the time or every so often – to quote, “the vast majority of cases.” She explicitly makes the words interchangeable.

    In this sentence, Mother = Primary Care Giver.

    If Penelope Leach wants to remove that part of her claim and replace it with a statement to the effect of: This brain damage is recognizable regardless of the sex of the Primary Caregiver – then it wouldn’t be flat out hatred of fathers.

    Also, I think you need to look beyond what is clearly being said to what is being advocated. One, “Child Psychologist,” is saying that that child shouldn’t visit with a non custodial parent overnight, another chimes in and says it’s okay after age 6 (when the main development stage is over – at which point, what difference does it make, the kid doesn’t know that non custodial parent at all),

    They are advocating, under a very thin veil of science, that non custodial parents (who, based on what Leach explicitly said, would be fathers) have only short term visitation (a few hours), most preferably in the company of the Primary Caregiver (mom – or maybe someone else, let’s be honest, as long as it is a woman), lest their little brains be damaged.

    You can deconstruct the language all you want, it’s very clear what she is advocating. It is outright hatred of fathers and junk-science in support of parental alientation, pure and simple.

  • Nunya Bidness

    Refer to previous post – she writes that this is in most instances fathers…misandric….