Kevin Rudd’s gave a speech on February 13, 2008 when he apologized on behalf of the nation for what has become known as the Stolen Generations (Rudd, 2008). This national apology is colloquially known as Sorry Day.
From the early 1900s through to the seventies there were Federal and State government policies that removed so-called mixed-blood children from aboriginal communities. This removal included taking the children from their parents.
Rudd’s speech was hailed at the time as a momentous occasion and was broadcast live from Parliament House. Yet, in a 2011 article entitled “The National Apology Three Years Later”, Gay McAuley of the University of Sydney complained that the “euphoria and hope that accompanied the apology… has not translated into significant changes (McAuley, 2011).”
No, the symbolic moment held no real substance, and not just for the Aboriginal community. In his address, Rudd said:
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And yet, as the words were leaving his lips, the Family Law Courts were, routinely restricting and banning fathers from their children’s lives for ideological reasons.
They still are.
When the justice of this is questioned, the dreadful spectre of domestic violence is invoked.
By that, of course, we all know that I really mean violence against women. We know this because the Australian government, in their National Plan, tells us that there is no other kind of domestic violence (every now and then there might be some mention in brackets, or a little footnote at the bottom of the page, that domestic violence against males exists, but it is so rare that we don’t really need to bother about it) (Australian Government, 2009).
Donald Dutton, a Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Katherine White, paint a very different picture in their article “Male Victims of Domestic Violence”, which appeared in the latest issue of the New Male Studies academic journal (Dutton & White, 2013).
They outline how “gender ideologues” have corrupted the debate on domestic violence.
This is nothing new. In 2007, Murray Straus, a Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, wrote a scathing article on the methods feminist scholars used to “conceal, deny, and distort the evidence” that is inconsistent with feminist theories (Straus, 2007).
These theories rely on the stereotypical view of big, strong men bullying small, helpless women.
Dutton and White say the evidence based on unbiased research over some forty years is compelling. The most common form of domestic violence is when they are both violent. To be clear, this is not women reacting in self-defence. This is where both parties are guilty of instigating violence. The next most common form is females being violent to a non-violent male partner.
The least common is where men bully women.
This faulty research has been filtered down in academe for decades. Dutton and White inform us that most professionals, such as psychologists, now have an in-built bias, thanks to their education, that assumes women get hit and men do the hitting.
It is Straus’ view that feminist scholars take this dim view of men because that is where government funding lies. Thus a vicious circle has been going for decades now, with each generation of graduates being employed in positions of influence. They push for more funding for more feminist projects as the theories of Patriarchy become more of a reality in their collective minds. Each cycle seeing men painted more and more as the bad guy.
Back in the real world, domestic violence is not restricted to the couples either. In fact, when it comes to physical abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment of their children, biological mothers are the worst offenders, Dutton and White claim.
In other words, if the justification for the Australian government and the Family Court is that they want to default to the statistically safest person, then they’re giving the children to the wrong parent.
So, is it just the case that feminist scholars have fooled the legal sector? Consider another, more compelling, motive:
More women than men instigate divorce proceedings, making them the biggest customer. Many of these are also the best kind of customer: they don’t care about the price. Either the (soon to be) ex-husband pays, if he is rich enough, or the state does through legal aid.
It is this risk-free, to hell with the cost, kinda gal that makes the money go round. The result is the kind of story that you couldn’t possibly make up.
Last year, Magistrate Tom Altobelli famously wrote to two children asking them to see the father that he had just banned from seeing them (Muldoon, 2012). In this case the mother had been warned by a psychic that the father would abuse the children.
The experts agreed that the child had not been harmed by anyone, and there was no risk from the father. However, the mother simply refused him access no matter what the experts or the court orders said.
Altobelli knew she would defy any new court orders, regardless of any threat. She said so in court. Had he given the children to the husband, then the wife would have won on appeal. There are too many precedents to think otherwise.
So, Altobelli caved in to the mother and banned the father.
This father would have paid tens of thousands, maybe even upwards of a hundred grand, for hearing after hearing. Whether it was he or the state that paid hers we’ll never know, but her occupation was “home duties”.
That’s a lot of money for a case that should have been stopped on day one. Had the woman gone to jail for a even a day, she might have rethought her strategy. But then, a lot of money would have stayed in the father’s pocket and the state coffers.
Fathers are routinely faced with this choice in the Family Court: agree to her demands, or pay even more legal fees until you meet her demands.
It is a recipe for financial success. The father who wants to see his children will fight. The father who resents this treatment will fight. Even fathers with little cash will sell their home, and anything else, so they can fight.
Money, money, money.
Some fathers see the children being harmed by the court process and do “the noble thing” and withdraw. Some run out of money. In both situations, the court records orders “by consent” so they can pretend the process is not adversarial.
Some take the bait and get angry, which the court readily accepts as confirmation that the father is a thug.
The “abuse card” leverages more than just custody. It also justifies a better settlement so she can “rebuild” her family at his expense.
It also paints the father into a corner with his own children. As soon as he is accused, the father is immediately restricted to supervised access. Quite often, the children see this as abandonment by the father. They would have no understanding of the options available in the court process. They’ll just know that he stopped seeing them.
It also shows the children that the mother is seen as being “right” by the authorities.
The court, after a few years of costly hearings, calls this arrangement “the new status quo” which they are suddenly reluctant to change.
They refuse to accept their own responsibility in this. Whether or not the parents understand this at the outset of the supervised regime, the court knows full well what the most likely outcome is the moment the father’s access is restricted.
Game, set and match for the mother.
But is she really the victor? Maybe she gets some extra cash, even after legal fees. A little extra “Spousal maintenance” (it’s not alimony, you know).
But what then?
Consider this insight from Joseph Campo who runs St Francis House in New York, a home for young adult men who have fallen through the cracks of society, when discussing the young men who come to his facility:
“Some come for economic reasons, others have been involved with drugs and alcohol, while others are homeless. But the one thing that each one of them has in common is that there was no father in his life. (Campo, 2013)”
The more she “wins”, the more likely the children will grow up to be dysfunctional.
She will get to deal with the drug use, the failing at school, and perhaps even the suicide attempts. All are more likely with the absence of their father.
The Family Court hides behind that meaningless phrase “In the best interest of the children.” The truth is, this system just makes it more likely that the children will be future customers. For that, of course, we’ll need more courts, more lawyers.
One of the sops often offered to fathers is “when they are old enough, they can come to you and have a relationship if they want.” This is probably said to salve the conscience of the court.
There is no substitute for being with family day in, day out. This is what made the stolen generation such a crime. The racial element is awful indeed. But, irrespective of colour or creed, it is still a real crime when real people grow up not knowing their real parents so that phoney bureaucrats can make a dollar.
It’s also worthy of note just how demeaning this is for the father. He will have a relationship if someone grants him one. The mother, the court, or the adult child will decide if he is allowed one.
But not him. It is simply assumed that he will take whatever second or third rate relationship is on offer.
Should father and child really meet many years down the track? Would that do either of them any good, or would it just be rubbing it in their faces what damage was done?
They will never have the familiarity that can only come with living together for years. Both parent and child will have experiences and people, important in their own lives, that will have no meaning for the other.
In many cases, the child will grow up with a distorted view of the father that comes directly from the mother. Why would a father want a relationship with anyone with that view of himself? Would it be good for his sanity?
And what of the child who is now an adult? Do they want to revisit, as they must, a hurtful past they don’t really remember? Will this reunion upset their relationships with their mother, or siblings?
Can they have respect, never mind love, for someone who was not there when it mattered most? Even if they understand, and are forgiving of, the absence, they are still faced with someone whom they know as their father because the paperwork, not their lived experience, tells them so.
Meeting the father will not undo all of the damage that his absence caused. The dysfunctional will not magically become the functional.
There is no doubt that children are better off with a father who is an active part of their lives. So is the father.
So, in years to come, more studies like Dutton and White’s, more studies by the likes of Straus, will show more and more that which we already know from our own experiences.
The assumption that the children are safer with their mother is bigoted, arrant nonsense. The assumption that men, as a group, beat women in order to assert their dominance is bigoted, arrant nonsense.
Money still makes the world go round. The Family Court and attendant lawyers, like the feminist scholars, have no one’s interests at heart other than their own.
The fathers suffer, the children suffer, and in the long term even the mothers suffer.
One day, truth will have to be faced as it always does. Yet another Prime Minister will have yet another “Live Broadcast Event” with yet another Sorry Day speech. It will be equally as meaningless as Rudd’s if those who knowingly allowed this happen are not brought to justice.
Australian Government. (2009). The National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children. Retrieved January 31, 2013, from Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs : http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/national_plan.pdf
Campo, J. (2013, January). St Francis House: Mentoring young men in a fatherless society. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from New Male Studies: http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/article/view/63/63
Dutton, D., & White, K. (2013, January). Male Victims of Domestic Violence. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from New Male Studies: http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/article/view/59/59
McAuley, G. (2011, May 29). Australian Studies Vol 3 (2011). Retrieved February 9, 2013, from National Library of Australia: http://www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/australian-studies/article/view/2101
Muldoon, J. (2012, June 24). Altobelli’s Dilemma: The Failure of Australian Family Law. Retrieved December 1, 2012, from A Voice for Men: http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/family-courts/altobellis-dilemma-the-failure-of-australian-family-law/
Rudd, K. (2008, February 13). Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Speech. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from The Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/02/13/1202760379056.html
Straus, M. A. (2007, July 14). How feminists corrupt DV research. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from A Voice for Men: http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/how-feminists-corrupt-dv-research/