The Genderisation of Partner Violence
After reading other members’ contributions I thought you might like to read a presentation I gave at work about what I perceive as a bigotted and sexist attitude towards family violence with social service agencies, the media and society in general.
There appears to be a disturbing trend where males are typecast as the perpetrators of family violence and women are typecast as the victim. This typecast is so embedded into the modern culture of western society, and backed up by pop psychology, that people succumb to it without realising. There are several example of this inaccurate typecast. One example is where a Physiotherapist was totally shocked to hear that the incidence of partner violence is equal between men and women. I have heard a comment at a team meeting stating that women in relationships get violent only to defend themselves. I have heard a Social Worker mention that male on female violence is worse than female on male violence. Bob Geldof on the What About Me CD talks about how men are vilified in society and how it is a great shame.
So what are the facts about partner violence? Nigel Latta in his book “Fathers Raising Daughters’ talks about gender differences, or more accurately gender similarities. He surmises that males and females are actually more alike then different. There are differences at the extreme ends in categories but for the most part it is the similarities that are dominant. Nigel states that whilst males are more violent when it comes to relationships the genders are equal. The equality pertains not only to frequency but also to the severity of the violence.
To back this up he cites a study by Janet Shibley Hyde from the University of Wisconsin (for gender similarities), the Dunedin Study, the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, (for partner violence), the Christchurch Health and Disability Study and a personal experience he had when he was an ambulance officer during the 1980s in Oamaru. He was called out to a partner violence incidence where a male was hit in the head by a plate and received a very bad cut. All the way into hospital in the ambulance his female partner was very angry and abusive towards him and at the hospital. Nothing was done to protect the “victim’ or to report the perpetrator to the rightful authorities.
My experience as a Social Worker was at Waikato Hospital where the New Born Unit team were very proactive on partner violence even wanting me to intervene on gossip about a family. However, when it was a male who disclosed to me that he could no longer take the abuse from his female partner I was left unsupported to assist him. This was very worrying as partner violence is seen as a form of child abuse yet there was no support. The Child Youth and Family Service made it clear that a referral to them would not be a high priority. All I could do was hope that if he ever hit back that he would not be typecast as the partner violence perpetrator. Incidentally it was more her rage at him rather than the hitting that got him most.
Rates of Partner Violence Committed by Women and Men
Verbal aggression 94.6 85.8
Minor physical violence 35.8 21.8
Severe physical violence 18.6 5.7
Any physical violence 37.2 21.8
Source: L Magdal et al (1997). Gender differences in partner violence in birth cohort of 21-year-olds: bridging the gap between clinical and epideminological approaches. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 65(1), 68-78. As cited in Fathers Raising Daughters by Nigel Latta.
Reasons for Gender Bias in Acknowledging Partner Violence
So if it is granted that partner violence is equal amongst males and females with frequency and severity then why is there such as gender bias against male victims. This bias is evident with screening for women only and there being a Womens’ Refuge and not a Men’s’ Refuge. I believe the reasons are as follows:
There are television shows that depict female on male violence as humour. I remember an episode of Ally McBeal where a man had to see his partner wearing a box so he wouldn’t get hit in the genitals again. He was hit after a minor indiscretion. I doubt very much whether the show would depict the female as having to wear protection when with her boyfriend so as not to be very seriously hurt. The incident of wearing protection was shown as comedy.
My daughters like to watch the programme iCarly on the Disney Channel’ which is the USA’s most popular children’s comedy television show, and there have been numerous occasions where I have had to turn it off. There is a female character there named Sam who is 15 years old and she beats up on Freddie who is 15 year old male. I remember one scene where Sam is dragging Freddie along the ground and jumping on him and hitting him and he is screaming for help and for it to stop. There is laughter in the background as it is seen as comedy. Again I wonder whether the programme would show a scene where the roles were reversed. I wonder what the public reaction would be if it was?
Unfortunately I also personally know of women who have been violent towards their partners and seem oblivious to the fact that it is spousal abuse. Some of them also try to maintain the typecast that as women they are the victims in society and are very critical of male behaviour.
Another part of popular culture is the television campaigns against family violence which depict men as the perpetrators and women as the victims. I may be wrong but I have yet to see an advertisement depicting the male as needing help and the support of the community. Even brochures about family violence have pictures of women and children looking sad. White Ribbon Day was solely interested in violence against women. If campaigns are used to portray an inaccurate image isn’t that classed as propaganda?
I remember reading somewhere a quote that stated that every ideology has a scapegoat. For example the Socialists have the wealthy and the Feminists have males. I believe that there is such a culture of victimhood with women that it has blinded society to the abuse that some women inflict on others.
Dr Laura Schlesinger is an American radio advice show host as well as a best selling novelist who is a self described reformed feminist. She believes that the feminist movement has eroded the image of males to such an extent that many men live unhappy lives and in “fear of their womenfolk”. She believes that feminism has belittled men’s needs and portrayed a stereotype that women’s’ needs are more important and therefore require more attention. I believe the gender bias in partner violence supports this social observation. Dr Laura is regularly vilified in the USA by feminist groups and much misinformation is distributed about her. Ironically she argues that by attending to men’s needs, which she describes as very basic, it actually gives women real power in their relationship as men will be do anything for them when their needs are met.
When I was studying I interviewed a counsellor who specialised in counselling men. He stated to me that he guarantees that all men who abuse women have been abused by a significant woman in their younger life. I was shocked to hear this and stated that there is so much information that it is a power and control issue that men wish to have over women and of a hatred towards women and he replied that that is what the feminist critique states.
The Toxic Trio
In his book “Emotional Bullshit’ Carl Alasko talks about how every person on a subconscious level has learnt a behavioural pattern called the toxic trio. He believes that people want to avoid the emotions of anger, anxiety, pain and fear and they turn to the toxic trio to protect themselves. The first part of the toxic trio is denial. This is where a person believes something that isn’t true or denies a truth. Then born out of that is delusion. This is where the person gets a warped view of the world through their denial of truth. Lastly comes blame where the person blames exterior factors for the situation. This toxic trio happens at the micro as well as macro level.
An example at the micro level is addictions like alcoholism. The person denies that they have a drinking problem, then is delusional about how their drinking is impacting on themselves and others, and lastly blame others when confronted about their drinking like people just have it in for them.
An example at the macro level is the Vietnam War. American policy advisors did not believe the intensity in which the North Vietnamese would go to as it was a war of independence for them (denial); they believed that their superior firepower would win the war for them (delusional); and they blame the American government for not giving them a “free hand’ to do what was needed (i.e. more bombing – even though more bombs were dropped on Vietnam than the whole of World War two).
How does this fit into the partner violence gender bias. I believe that at the macro level it is due to this. Society has a stereotype of women as the role of caregiver and nurturer and is too scared to accept that some women are violent (denial). This leads to thinking that somehow by concentrating on male violence it will lessen partner violence (delusional). This then leads onto blame e.g. male power over women and the family violence wheel of “male privilege’. After all if female violence is far more acceptable then who really has the privilege?
On the micro level women who are violent may believe (I know many who do) that because they are women then it is not partner violence (denial); therefore do not take their actions as seriously as they should (delusional); and then find excuses to blame their partner for their actions. The early example with Nigel Latta in the ambulance the woman was upset about her partner mentioning an ex-boyfriend and she felt it excused/justified her rage.
On the micro level for men I believe that it is due to not being able to face the pain of shame. They minimise the behaviour towards them (denial); pretend that nothing is happening or making excuses (delusional); and probably blame themselves for not being manly enough by being hurt by the actions towards them. I watched a British programme on the documentary channel and a young man was killed by his girlfriend because he felt too ashamed to admit the situation or ask for help.
On Nigel Latta’s programme “Into the Darklands’ there was an episode about a woman who murdered an older person and when Nigel explored her background she had a history of partner violence. When interviewing an ex-partner he disclosed that she attacked him with a large kitchen knife just missing him. He laughed when he recalled the incident and I believe that it was very scary for him but as a male he cannot express fear of a woman. Again this is the toxic trio working with influences both micro and macro.
Professional Psychology also falls prey to the toxic trio. Nigel Latta in Fathers Raising Daughters talks about how during the 1990s the political correctness meant men were classified as the offender/perpetrators and women as the victims. He states that “To say anything else was tantamount to heresy” (p.178). He attended many conferences where men were told to take responsibility for their violence and to do this under the “watchful eye of the sisterhood’. Ironically most of this was said by males. He goes on to say that the politics of “family violence’ has ignored female violence (denial); portrayed it as self defense or inconsequential (delusional); and that male violence is much more serious (blame). He also stated that if he said that male violence was “inconsequential’ he would have been “hung, drawn and quatered’.
Ongoing Effects On Society
This genderisation, or gender bias, of partner violence is to who’s benefit. Whilst on one level I believe it is used as a tool of control of women over men in that women are legitimising behaviour from women that is unacceptable from men. I believe it is actually, ironically, making it worse for women.
I believe that all violence does is begat more violence and if violence is allowed to be perpetrated to a certain demographic group then all that is going to do is entrench violent behaviour from that demographic group. Therefore by typecasting men as the violent perpetrators and not protecting their victim status when apt then as a society we are breeding violent males. Clearly when it comes to family violence for some there are agendas, or toxic trios, at play rather than a genuine concern for family violence.
I believe that if society were truly concerned about male violence then society would be just as concerned about violence towards males. After all to have zero tolerance of violence from males you have to have zero tolerance of violence towards males. Until this is done then I believe that all the family violence measures and public awareness campaigns are only going to maintain the current situation or make it worse as it is not tackling the real issues. If zero tolerance of violence towards males were to be done then I truly believe that life would greatly improve for both male and female victims/survivors/conquerors of family violence.
Thank-you very much for sharing this and doing what you do. Were you nervous? My voice shakes when in front of a crowd.
I agree with the similarities. I have been a victim AND a perpetrator which makes me feel somewhat privileged because I can empathise with both sides. I have looked up at another in fear and I’ve looked down at another in fear of me.
I don’t beleive you can justify men = perpetrator and women = victim, well, actually, I know that’s crap. It’s not that simple.
What I think happens is one person gains power and power corrupts absolutely. You have to be very careful when you hold power IMO, and those accepting another to have power have the responsibility to make sure boundaries are in place AND the right to have them respected. It’s very difficult for anyone with power if they don’t know where the boundaries are, IMO and once power is corrupted, it’s very, very hard to stop abuse.
I’d like to add one thing to your presentation.
Lesbians and gays have domestic violence too which scraps the idea women are all things nice and men are violent beasts. It is normal for them to have what they call, “A top and bottom” where one lesbian is over powering another woman and one gay is overpowering another man. It’s not that equality doesn’t work – it’s that non-equality works for the majority of people or ‘Equal but different’. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses and they’re similar like our emotions, thoughts and feelings.
Anyways, the point I’m wanting to make is that IMO, it’s best to teach both men and women, girls and boys the same under the truth they’re both capable of atrocities and kind acts.
I agree with your thoughts around this Phil267. 🙂
Great stuff! What was the response from your audience?
As a “layperson” (as in I mean I work in the business world, and I am not involved in this area at all) my perception of family violence would be an assumption that around 90% of it is perpetrated by males.
I can only surmise that it is the portayal of the mdeia and society in general that has lead me to believe this, when it appears that the statistics tell a different story. Are there any more recent stats available?
I feel I need to adjust my perception of reality based on that….thanks for the info.
Thank you for that and sharing about yourself. I was nervous as my presentation was to Social Workers and there is a pro-feminism element there. I could not include gay and lesbian couples because I had no stats about that but I am aware of partner violence in those demographic groups and thanks for the link. I agree very much with your last statement that males and females are both capable of atrocities and kind acts. Situations have to be assessed on an individual basis and not by theoretical or gender shaped perspectives.
Thank you. The response from the audience in a word was disappointing. Many seemed to look at faults rather than the validity of the argument. Some said that I was laying blame whereas I argued it was a social critique and I believe it to be not nearly as radical or blameful as feminist critiques I have read. One person even brought up the plight of women in Arab countries which seemed inappropriate and some seemed to take it personally. It was deemed that since it took a radical feminist to stand up about violence towards women then men must take a stand for themselves. I thought that that was a cop out because family violence is suppose to be seen as a community problem and not just a male or female problem and with things like White Ribbon Day and psychology professing that men are to stand up against violence by men towards women then women should also stand up with men about violence towards men. Social Work is suppose to be about equality and social justice but I believe many felt they had to defend feminism and themselves.
You’re welcome. The statistics are from Nigel Latta’s book and what makes them unique is that they come from a multi-disciplinary study and not just a sociological/psychological study. Nigel Latta argues that because the study was done by scientists the stats are very different due to not having gender politics involved. The stats are from the facts correlated. There will be newer stats from other sources but they may very well be gender biased. I don’t know if there are any further stats from that source.
I want to say it was one of sons who feared me that moment.
Not quite. In fact power attracts the corruptable. Not all those with power are, or will become, corrupt.
You’re starting to get it julie. Power is not a privilege. It is a responsibility, an obligation, a duty. I did have something of a privileged upbringing in that I had constant, close up exposure to all the movers and shakers in my region. I grew up in amongst the heartland of the patriarchy. Notwithstanding any amount of feminist ranting about that patriarchy the enduring lesson I learned from those men was that one is obliged to use one’s gifts for others. It was an absolute constant among all of them.
Fundamentally if I am fortunate enough to have skills or knowledge or abilities others lack it is my obligation to share the value of those qualities.
Feminism demonstrates absolutely no understanding of how power works. For decades it has demanded that men empower women without understanding that this requires men to remain the source of power.
Nothing ever changes. Only the window dressing varies.
Ultimately the only way to stop violence is with more violence. Fundamental to the white ribbon is the expectation that men act to protect women. I continue to argue that it is merely the demon spawn of the white feather. Men must protect women at whatever cost to themselves. Even their own lives. It tells us all, particularly boys, that male lives have less value than those of women. Most of all it carries with it the very seeds of violence. At it’s most basic level it is a demand that men be capable of violence.
The more that women demand men protect them the more men will act to prove they can. And given how little mens’ physical being is valued it will continue to be mostly among themselves.
I believe that the issue of power with family violence with the perpetrator is their perceived lack of power with aspects of their lives and needing to get it from elsewhere. I spoke with a counselor specialising in abusive males and he guaranteed to me that every man who abuses women were abused themselves by a significant female authority figure in their life/childhood. I certainly don’t condone abuse of any kind to anyone but it is interesting to see the trends in order to break the cycle as it helps to explain the abuse cycle in how they are trying to regain that sense of lost power inappropriately in adult relationships. I imagine that people who are in abusive relationships must find it extremely difficult not to want to get their power back from other vulnerable members of the family and good on those who break that cycle as it takes real courage to do that. At the end of the day those who have appropriate control over their lives and are respected for their contribution do not need to over power others.
I like your comment Gwallan – very much so.
Phil267, with due respect, I get sick of the blame game that goes back and forward between men and women. (the experts word, not yours) It’s optional to pass your pain onto others – it’s optional to do unto others what was done to you, but at the same time I see ‘lack of power’ there in the moment. I think violence can also be a ‘lash out’ of a boundary.
Feminists made it so women are told they will ‘murder’ a man because [IF] they have been harmed badly by one. It’s sooo, soooo wrong to put that on a woman, soooo, soooo wrong to put that in a young girl’s mind [in particular] and then expect her to go through life carrying such a burden. I’d hate to see men do the same to other men. If instead you let them know it’s optional and most who have been harmed in life find other ways to cope, you’ll empower them [instead]IMO.
Also, about mothers and abuse – since the 70’s, IMO, mothers have been fighting the system for telling all children they’re damaged because women aren’t perfect. Fathers cop it too, it’s just that they haven’t yet put enough pressure on the system IMO. It’s wrong to tell children crap like this, it destroys them before they’ve even had a chance to make something of themselves.
I’d like to see something supporting young men going through pregnancy because I see their lack of power especially to women’s last trimester when their hormones are all over the place and they have ‘little control’ over their mood swings. Instead of being an ambulance at the bottom of the hill – men are arrested and women gain more funding for women, somewhere along the line someone has to put 2 and 2 together and decide we can stop abuse if we support the men [mostly young men just starting out in relationships] by 1) showing them what’s going on for the women, and 2) giving them a hotline like the women have – to speak to someone so they can gain power.
Angry Harry has an excellent article showing from the 70’s violence against men [from women] has decreased because women have hotlines and refuges while violence against women has increased because men are told to shut up, not complain, be strong, think the idea a prison sentence over their head is enough to empower them.
Other than that, I agree with you – I just don’t like where the thinking leads.
Well done Phil267. A brave and significant thing for a social worker to speak to colleagues about gender issues in a way other than what the feminists prefer. Your exploration of power in relationships is welcome too. All people work to establish and protect some sense of power and control (actually, a sense of security about being able to meet their needs and wishes) in their lives, relationships and surroundings; this is probably instinctual. But feminists have captured and distorted this idea for their own ideological purposes, denying women’s power tactics and promoting the propaganda that only men’s efforts to seek power and control are problematic. Ironically, this has served to maintain key aspects of the archaic male:female roles that feminism so objected to. Failing to hold women fully accountable for their lives and misbehaviour is really just a more abstract version of having doors opened for women, seats given up for women and chivalrous coats laid over puddles. Similarly patronizing privileges are now accorded women by the state rather than individual men (who came to be pilloried for such gestures), and to that extent we are witnessing a giant fraud.
It must be remembered however that in the past economic and attitudinal customs did provide men with too much opportunity to abuse power. For example, it was economically almost impossible for women to escape violent marriages. While the vast majority of men prioritized the welfare of their wives and children, a small proportion did not for various reasons often including alcohol abuse.
My understanding of the research into partner violence is that most of the scientifically rigorous, independent studies show rates of physically violent initiations to be approximately equal between men and women but the seriousness of injuries caused by men’s violence remains, on average, much greater (three or four times greater) than that caused by women’s violence. The gender imabalance in partner homicide rates appears to give a reasonable indication of gender difference in seriousness of partner physical violence generally. I have long urged men to remain true to the facts as best they can discern them. But that is not to say that partner violence against men should be disregarded as irrelevant, or that the much greater level of violence directed at men than women in society generally should be denied, ignored or conveniently blamed on victims.
Thanks for that. I agree that the feminist ideology has corrupted the definitions of power to suit their needs. All my family violence training has been about male privilege and control so that the interview with the counselor was eye opening. According to the stats provided by Nigel Latta the severity is also the same and that it was due to a scientific rather than sociological study which makes a difference.
Thanks Julie. I hope you don’t think the counselor or myself were ‘blaming’ anyone. We both have a zero tolerance to violence from anyone. I had been taught that family violence is due to male privilege and control. I believe the reality to be very different and that as a society we are not battling family violence correctly.
I asked for your email address and hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I like what you’ve done [re: presentation].
Thank you Phil267.
Some years ago I used to run workshops to educate people in much the same way as you recount.
Those workshops provided lots of information that was directly contrary to feminist demonizing of men and boys.
I can appreciate it is a courageous thing you have done.
Psychology informs us that the scariest thing a person can face is being ostracized and that’s the risk you take when you go out on a limb and challenge the status quo however deluded that is.
You have done a very bold and noble thing.
The domestic violence too many men in NZ live with every day.
But you won’t see it acknowledged in the hubris and ‘statistics’ feminists like Neville Robertson tout in order to sweep it under the carpet so they can drum up business for themselves –
I’ve been a victim of domestic violence, so was my 5 year daughter at the time. I called the police. Their response? According to my ex-wife, they didn’t even give her a warning but gave her advice of how to apply for a protection order! This is for the same woman who left my son home alone on another time, the same woman who mentally abuses him too – oh, but I’m told that mental abuse is not a crime here in NZ.. wonderful place!
Oh, and I’m still fighting in the family court about the lies the government agencies have made. Almost 3 years there to date. The winners ? Judges and lawyers who are greedy foul pigs, the losers; the children.
Just had a little dip into some more of the views of Neville Robertson.
What an eye opener!
The only man chosen by a bunch of hard line feminists
(Ruth Busch, Radha D’Souza, Fiona Lam Sheung,
Reynu Anand, Roma Balzer, Ariana Simpson and Dulcie Painato) be included in the piecing together of a report commissioned by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Surprise, surprise. More taxpayer funded misandry.
That’s quite a gig.
Apparently come to some some truly breathtaking conclusions regarding the use of protection orders in the dramatically entitled ‘Living at the cutting edge’ too.
It’s quite a lengthy read, so I won’t put readers through it.
Conclusions of the report are the cherry on the cake though.
Apparently what it boils down to is that he EXPECTS judges without so much as seeing a guy in person to automatically, and wait for it here’s another kick in the crotch EVERY TIME instantly issue a protection order against the guy. Period.
That’s it. I kid ye not.
“Due process?” did I hear you say.
What? No corroborative evidence that the guy ever did anything?” you say.
“What if she’s a false accuser?” you sensibly say.
Tough shit in femiNazziland would be the answer apparently.
Oh, and sneaky attempt at guilt tripping judges for having the audacity to do something as unreasonable as take a daily tea break like the rest of us!
You think that’s bad readers?
Sorry to say there’s worse still though I’m afraid.
Apparently our feminist hit squad advocate that cops arrest men on mere suspicion of one of these dubiously obtained protection orders.
That’s right! you read that correctly.
On mere suspicion alone!
No actual proof needed.
So a cop only has to think maybe you committed DV and that’s it, handcuffs on, booted to the floor if there’s any resistance, and off to the cell with you.
Gender Nazism. Gulp.
Be afraid people.
Be very afraid.
My apology for a small mistake.
I should have written –
Apparently our feminist hit squad advocate that cops arrest men on mere suspicion of breaking one of these dubiously obtained protection orders.
Thanks for that Skeptic and thanks for your kind words before. When I compiled and gave my presentation I thought I was alone in thinking that way and I am glad to find this website to see I am not, and that, by reading the threads, there are people much more knowledgeable than I about the issues which is helpful. I would like to know more about the workshops you use to run. Whatever happened to innocent before proven guilty? It appears that men are seen as inherently ‘bad’ and are therefore stripped of their basic legal rights.
Thanks for sharing and I hope this year is more successful for you and your daughter.
Your welcome any time phil267.
Indeed what did happen to innocence until proven guilty?
Thank goodness there are some cops who see through the feminist crap advocated by NR and his PC cronies.
The workshops were to help people challenge misandry, although we didn’t have a term for it in those days.
A lot of the better material came from Warren Farrel who is in my view a social scientist par excellence because he writes in both brilliantly researched and highly accessible manner.
In case you hadn’t come across him before I suggest he’s well worth googling for.
One of his (mine too these days) favorite expressions is people don’t hear what men don’t say.
Wonderful to have you along.
Please keep speaking out so boldly.
Thanks for that information Skeptic. I do recall commenting on the myopic, totalitarian recommendations in that report when it came out. Amazingly brazen for it to go on about “natural justice” for applicants when the current DVA has all but abandoned any concern about natural justice for respondents (read “men”) and its recoommendations sought to render it even more devoid.
You’re welcome Hans.
I’m still absolutely flabbergasted that Neville Robertson advocates for men to be arrested without evidence of committing a crime, but on mere suspicion.
It reminds me of the dreadfully despotic ‘suss’ laws that were brought in by margaret Thatcher’s government in UK(and thankfully subsequently repealed).
Those laws were exactly the same in essence. Whereby people could be arrested on mere suspicion of having done something unlawful, no actual evidence needed.
In the case of what Neville Robertson is asking for it seems clear to me it amounts to gender terrorism.
Men being held indefinitely without trial?
Special camps set up for ‘outspoken’ males?
(In case you’re reading this Mr Robertson, don’t for a moment think I’m being flippant with those questions as I’m very aware that Nazzi Germany started with laws with were pernicious before growing more and more so as time went by until the ovens of bigotry were stoked literally)
I’m beginning to think more than ever that it’s true what some folks have been saying.
Fascism (of whatever ilk) is something that requires eternal vigilance to avoid it’s ever reoccurring.
Heil Neville! Heil! Heil! Heil!
Herr Gruppenfuhrer offen das Sisterland – NewZZiland!
Article below from http://www.fathersandfamilies.org
Thanks for all your help – as goes NZ, goes the world.
In New Zealand, Widespread Discontent with Child Support Laws
January 3rd, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Does anyone anywhere get child support right? I’ll hazard a ‘no’ answer to that question.
This article and this one are about New Zealand’s child support system, but with a minor tweak here are there, they could be about any state in the United States (Southland Times, 12/30/10) (Southland Times, 1/3/11).
The problems with the system are familiar, and in New Zealand, in some ways worse than in the U.S, but no one who’s familiar with child support issues in this country will be confused about what’s going on in New Zealand.
That’s because what’s going on there is the same as it is here – fathers are widely assumed to be deadbeats whose sole motivation is to avoid contact with and responsibility for the children they help produce. Of course those assumptions are dead wrong in the vast majority of cases, but much public policy considers them the Gospel.
So the news is trumpeted that NZ Southlanders owe some $22 million in unpaid child support and that there are more non-custodial parents in arrears than there are who are paid up. But little attention is paid to the fact that less than one-third of that arrearage is actual support; the rest is penalties and interest.
I could say the same about any state in the United States that charges interest on unpaid child support.
Then there’s the fact that the vast majority of non-custodial parents are fathers. And, as in the U.S., the most draconian measures are taken to enforce the payment of support but custodial mothers aren’t required to honor visitation schedules ordered by the court. Tough luck, Dad.
And apparently, upward modifications of support are done with surprising ease, but when Dad hits a bad patch economically, he can’t seem to get anyone to listen to him.
For example, one father reports receiving 10 increases in his support level over a 14-month period. Many of those reflected not lasting salary increases, but occasional overtime. What happened in the months when he didn’t work the overtime? You don’t need to ask. Nothing happened; his support level, that reflected previous overtime, remained the same.
Stock roles in the drama are the Bureaucracy That Doesn’t Care and the Mother Who Controls the System.
Fathers complain about a computer system that routinely fails to consider their parenting time or the extras they pay. And if that means dads actually have to go into debt to make their payments, that too is just their tough luck. They are in fact, just a wallet and wallets do one thing only – pay. Sound familiar?
One father mentions the fact that he and his wife had a 50/50 parenting arrangement that she decided to report to the Inland Revenue Department as one in which she did all the parenting and Dad did none.
What did IRD agents do? They took her at her word, the court order notwithstanding. He had to get letters and affidavits from attorneys and others to convince the IRD that the court order really meant what it said. That took three months during which time he had to pay far more than should have been required.
Was she held to account in some way for lying to the IRD? Please.
Another dad reported that his ex decided to have another child. That meant that she took maternity leave which increased his support level. His question is a good one – why is her decision to have another child my responsibility?
Then there’s the guy who paid for 13 years for a child who wasn’t his. It seems that the mom has to agree for DNA testing to be done. That allows her to decide which guy she wants to tag with child support obligations.
Those who defend the system say ‘take responsibility for your children.’ But they suddenly go silent about the same system that demands that one man take responsibility for a child who’s not his while the actual father pays not a cent. Responsibility? It looks more like they’re defending maternal power than promoting paternal responsibility.
What’s different about New Zealand is that it’s reevaluating its child support system. The government quit taking comments on the current system at the end of October of 2010, so presumably recommendations for change will come soon, but as yet, we don’t know what they’ll be.
Chief among the changes desired by non-custodial dads is that child support be based on factors other than solely income. That is, support levels should be based on what it costs to raise a child as well as Dad’s ability to pay that amount.
In New Zealand, anger at the system stems partly from its unfairness, its bureaucratic disdain for real-world issues faced by non-custodial parents and, above all, from the fact that dads have little or no say about any of it. I’m convinced that it’s that powerlessness that is at the root of most of child support’s problems.
Allow dads the ability to modify child support downward to reflect changed circumstances as easily as it’s raised and there’ll be a lot less complaining. Empower non-custodial parents to enforce visitation orders and you’ll see less still. Or so I predict.
My guess is that fathers’ lack of power to assert their own legitimate rights and interests is at the heart of most of the dissatisfaction about family law and family courts.
And that’s true pretty much wherever you go, be it New Zealand or the U.S.
This may interest you as well as others too.
Thanks for the links Skeptik. They are very interesting and informative.
Here’s another link which may prove useful.
I really liked how the video spoke about how powerlessness was the cause of domestic violence by men rather than the feminist ideology of male domination. The stats shown that lesbian relationships have a four times higher rate than heterosexual couples reveals a great deal. It was also very interesting how the video explained how the media shows domestic violence as a male problem and that people believe it even though they ‘know’ differently. The power of propaganda.
A voice for men Radio.
This week the episode is focused on Violent Women and Government
It’s wonderful to see men working together on projects like this. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes from it after 40 years – I hope I’m still alive then. 🙂
Actually, it’s going to be interesting to see what comes from it after 5 years. 😉
Great stuff. Good on you for promoting it Skeptic.
Hi Darryl and Allan, Alistair’s an awesome man – Soooo much positive energy and knowledge.
It seems Stuff NZ are up to their old tricks again – this time demonizing men by spreading the local rehash of the feminist American Superbowl myth.
Some senior police seem duped by the BS too.
The journalist in question Michael Fox didn’t have the decency to interview anyone who might have a dissenting view, but gave several pro women’s shelter movement types a soapbox. Silly man. I hope he doesn’t end up a victim of his own daft spreading of man hate.
Until, like thousands of others, actually go throu the system as “criminals”, they will never understand we are just as innocent as them. Showing them isnt enough, they need to go through due process.
@Julie #33. Isn’t amazing the difference a few months makes. I wonder would she still say it?