Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Why men refuse to marry
George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne may have all taken the plunge recently — but they are a diminishing band of brothers, for the number of men marrying in the West has plunged in recent decades.
The state of matrimony is not just ailing. It is dying out faster than a mobile phone battery.
According to the Office for National Statistics, marriage in Britain is at its lowest level since 1895. In 2011, there were just 286,634 ceremonies — a 41 per cent free fall from 1972, when 480,285 couples tied the knot.
For an army of women, Mr Right is simply not there, no matter how hard they look for him. And the reason? When it comes to marriage, men are on strike.
Why? Because the rewards are far less than they used to be, while the cost and dangers it presents are far greater.
‘Ultimately, men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,’ says Dr Helen Smith, a lecturer at the University of Tennessee and author of Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood And The American Dream.
‘They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.
‘Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.’
When British businessman Alan Miller married his first wife, Melissa, in 2003, he thought it was for ever. She immediately decided to give up work, including her £85,000 salary, to become what is known as a ‘Harvey Nichols wife’ — spending her time shopping and lunching.
When they separated just two years and nine months later, he was forced to pay her a £5million divorce settlement, which included his £2.3million home in Chelsea and a £2.7million lump sum — despite the fact they did not have children. That’s £5,000 a day of marriage. Ker-ching!
Or take former Arsenal footballer Ray Parlour. When he wed girlfriend Karen in 1998, it all started out rosy. But by the time the relationship fell apart in 2004, the former optician’s nurse didn’t just get two mortgage-free houses, £38,500 in annual support for their three children and a £250,000 tax-free lump sum...
Oh no. She also got personal maintenance of £406,500 a year from her ex’s future earnings. This, she said, was because she had ‘encouraged’ him to be a good midfielder.
This is precisely why the WAG culture rages through our country like an aggressive disease. Girls of 16 aspire to be glamorous girlfriends because it’s an easy life — not because they love the game or even the men playing it.
Young women who wear so much make-up they have to tip their heads back to get their eyes open are encouraged to hunt in packs until they snag a rich footballer.
Why? Because it beats getting up at 7am, doing the daily commute and actually thinking about something other than themselves.
And then, when the marriage is over, it’s time for the wife to make what Mayfair-based divorce lawyer Camilla Baldwin calls ‘some real money — more than the average person ever dreams of’. Especially as some judges, particularly those in London, are renowned for favouring the wife in the division of assets.
So, what’s a man to do? ‘If he’s determined to get married, then he must get a pre-nuptial agreement,’ says Baldwin. ‘Otherwise steer clear altogether. ‘Be in a relationship, even live together. But don’t get married. Especially if you have any prospect of making money.’
American social commentator Suzanne Venker agrees. The problem with divorce settlements, she says, is women want to have their cake and eat it.
‘We messed with the old marriage structure and now it’s broken,’ she says. ‘Back in the old days, stay-at-home mothers got a financial reward because child-rearing doesn’t pay cash. ‘Now we want total independence from men, but if we divorce — even without having children — we expect to get alimony for ever. We can’t have it both ways.’
Along with the prospect of endless domestic criticism, this is why men are saying ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I do’. Men need marriage like a fish needs a bicycle.
‘Many women have been raised to think of men as the enemy,’ says Venker. ‘It’s precisely this dynamic — women good, men bad — that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes.
‘After decades of browbeating, men are tired. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s their fault. The rise of women has not threatened men. It has just irritated them.’
But by far the most negative aspect of marriage is the likelihood of being edited out of your children’s lives — if it all goes pear-shaped — by a state that has relegated the role of father to its lowest point ever.
It wasn’t always this way. In the 1800s, men typically got custody of the children in the event of a split — not as a result of privilege, but because they were solely financially responsible for them.
They got the children, but they also got the bill. Benefits Britain didn’t exist, encouraging single mums to go it alone.
Now, 200 years on, women get the children, but men still get the bill. Sometimes, men even pay for children who aren’t theirs.
The Child Support Agency has 500 cases of paternity fraud a year, where a mother names a man as the biological father of her child, even when she has a good idea he isn’t. And that’s just the cases we know about. According to a YouGov study, 1.2 million men doubt they are the fathers of their partners’ children.
The recent case of Steven Carter, from Devon, is not unusual. The CSA deducted £50,000 from his bank account between 2007 and 2014, even though a DNA test later proved the child in question wasn’t his.
They acknowledged this, but the Department of Work and Pensions still will not refund him because the ‘child’ is now 22, thus an adult, and so the case is officially closed.
Then there’s Mark Webb, who raised his ‘daughter’ for 17 years, only to discover she was not biologically related to him. When he sued his former wife for compensation, county and appeal court judges denied his damages claim, brushing it off as ‘a man’s obligation’. To this day, no British woman has been convicted of paternity fraud.
This set-up is no accident, though. Since Harriet Harman and her pals entered politics, the laws that govern family life have been re-jigged to put women on top and men on the back foot.
They decided that families aren’t society’s natural, balanced building block, but a cunning plot to oppress mothers while placing men in undeserving positions of power (when many men were breaking their backs in jobs they hated to keep everything ticking over).
To avenge this, they squeezed men from the home and hit them where it hurts: the heart.
Don’t believe me? The Children Act of 1989 specifically declares: ‘The rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished.’
A year later, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research called The Family Way saw Harman declare: ‘It cannot be assumed men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion.’
Even now, the Children and Families Act of 2014 doesn’t mention the word ‘father’ once. Not once.
Sir Bob Geldof was one of the first high-profile men to challenge the legislation after losing access to his daughters Peaches, Pixie and Fifi when Paula Yates left him in 1995.
‘It was beyond expensive,’ he told me. ‘I had to borrow money and was close to losing it all. In the end, my circumstances changed, but it could have been very different.
‘Men still spend thousands getting court orders that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The whole system is disgusting.
‘I remember a court clerk telling me: “Whatever you do, don’t say you love your children. Family courts consider men who articulate this as extreme.” It was madness.’
According to the Office for National Statistics, one in three youngsters have no access to their fathers, which equates to four million children in the UK.
But there is a ray of hope, says Dr Craig Pickering, from the charity Families Need Fathers. ‘The Children and Families Act says, for the first time in English law, that both parents should be involved in a child’s life after divorce,’ he says.
‘The trouble is that its effectiveness depends on what the judges make of it. It wouldn’t be the first time that they came up with their own bizarre interpretation of something straightforward.’
Pickering says sanctions should be imposed on mothers who fail to co-operate, such as passports and driving licences being confiscated.
‘The Government consulted on this, but stopped mid-way through,’ he says. ‘We don’t know why.’
I put this to Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families. Eventually, I was told by the Ministry of Justice: ‘The consultation concluded we should not introduce further punitive enforcement elements. There are already punishments available.’
Hmm. Perhaps someone needs to tell them they don’t work.
Considering that the annual cost of family breakdown is reportedly £44billion — that’s more than the defence budget — you’d think curing fatherlessness would be a priority for a country haemorrhaging money. But it isn’t.
Instead, everyone is petrified of inadvertently apportioning blame to single mothers, even though it’s not about them. Only recently, in a bid to woo the female vote, David Cameron said deadbeat dads ‘should be looked at like drink drivers’, yet said nothing about the mothers who deliberately steer them off the road.
Here we had the head of the Government telling men to raise children properly, yet offering a law that actively keeps children and fathers apart as the solution. So much for family values.
Meanwhile, single-parent organisations such as Gingerbread — supported by children’s author J. K. Rowling of all people — casually dismiss studies that suggest a lack of male role models at home increases the likelihood of crime and mental illness.
This is despite a study conducted by Oxford University, which followed 20,000 children from 1958 and found those with a father were far less likely to break the law or suffer from psychological issues. Young boys with involved fathers also performed better at school.
Dr Paul Ramchandani, of Imperial College London, conducted a study that found ‘disengaged and remote father-child interactions as early as the third month of life’ often lead to behaviour problems in children when they are older.
The logic is simple — not having a father leaves a hole in the soul. A void that young people frequently fill with drugs, alcohol or intimacy. This might not sit well in the feminist family framework, but sometimes the truth hurts.
In 2012, the substance misuse charity Addaction published a report that proved father deficit to be real, causing anger, self-loathing, addiction and identity issues. It saw young men compensate with a ‘counterfeit masculinity’ of strength, anger and violence, often combined with sexual prowess.
Meanwhile, young women ‘act out a skewed version of femininity that prioritises the use of sex and relationships with men above all else’.
Cruelly, this creates the cycle all over again, with teenagers jumping into bed with each other without a thought for the consequences.
The Trust for the Study of Adolescence recently proved scores of teenage girls in Britain are deliberately becoming young mothers as a career move because, with the state and the father contributing, it offers more guaranteed security than a job.
Even 13-year-old girls admitted this, which might explain why Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, at an annual government cost of nearly £63million.
Perhaps the law-makers need to think about radical action to break the cycle. Maybe men could be allowed to have a financial abortion from a child to which they didn’t pre-consent.
In a specified time — say, legal abortion guidelines — men could be allowed to formally relinquish all monetary obligations, rights and responsibilities if duped into fatherhood. The woman still wants to proceed? Fine, that’s her choice. But not on his salary.
Controversial? Yes. But overnight we would see fewer acts of conception by deception. And that can only be a good thing — for men and for society.
The Scottish Nasty Party and how its growing intimidation and intolerance of dissent reeks of fascism
The windows of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party offices in Aberdeen have been spray-painted with the word 'scum' and the unmistakable sign of the swastika.
The front door has been similarly defaced with a giant letter Q, for Quisling: that is, traitor. Labour Party offices half a mile away were also daubed with similar abuse.
A local Conservative councillor, Ross Thomson, described this as 'the ugly face of nationalism'. This showed restraint on his part.
In his place, I might have pointed out that the political party that actually used the swastika as its emblem was the Nazi party: short for National Socialist.
And I would have added that supporters of the Scottish National Party — which claims to be to the left of Labour and which is undeniably Nationalist — is increasingly engaged in the kind of street-by-street intimidation of opponents that we would more normally associate with fascists.
I gained some impression of this phenomenon when I spent time in Glasgow during the referendum campaign: but it has got much worse.
SNP activists openly describe how they have been 'hunting' Labour's shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran, by stalking her and then yelling abuse as she tries to talk to electors on the doorstep.
When this was put to the rival SNP candidate in the constituency, Natalie McGarry, she claimed Mrs Curran was a 'fair target for community justice'.
This sinister phrase is nothing less than a defence of the mob.
The BBC in Scotland is wearily familiar with similar intimidation — co-ordinated action by so-called cybernats has made the job of its journalists increasingly unenviable.
Its correspondent James Cook complained of the 'vicious abuse' he received, merely for reporting the civil service leak of a memo which had suggested that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon would prefer David Cameron to Ed Miliband as prime minister.
And many other BBC reporters have been targeted, but not complained.
The head of the BBC in Scotland, Donalda MacKinnon, described the cybernat campaign of abuse as 'completely unacceptable'.
'Our journalists are entitled to carry on their work without the threat of unwarranted personal attacks online. The safety of our staff is of paramount concern to us and we are doing everything in our power to ensure they can carry out their work helping to inform our audiences without intimidation and abuse.'
The SNP is not a normal political party. It is more like a cult - and intolerance is one of the chief characteristics of all cults
Yet if the SNP had its way, there would be no political independence for the BBC — or any other broadcaster north of what it wants to make a real border.
During the referendum campaign, the then SNP leader Alex Salmond declared: 'I don't think the broadcasting issue in terms of how it treats Scotland will be properly resolved till we have broadcasting under the democratic parliament of Scotland.'
The political control of broadcasters is one of the hallmarks of a dictatorship, whether fascist or communist. Salmond is neither of those: just a consummate opportunist — the hallmark of ultra-nationalist politicians throughout the past century.
Down south, we have not seen Mr Salmond much lately on our TV screens. But he is at least standing for Parliament in the General Election. Not so his successor as First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
It is almost incredible how much broadcast airtime she is receiving — there can be no complaint by cybernats about the BBC on that score — given that she is not even standing in the election.
No one can vote for her on May 7 and yet she has been the dominant figure, by some accounts, in the various television leaders' debates in the past fortnight.
That, at least, was the praise accorded her performance by Conservative spin doctors and ministers, after her debating encounters with Ed Miliband.
I can see why Conservatives should want to describe Ms Sturgeon as the tail wagging the Labour Party dog — it fits in with their posters showing a large Ms Sturgeon dangling wires controlling the movements of a tiny Mr Miliband.
But the Tories are playing with fire — indeed, playing games with the Union itself — by making a giant out of someone who, even on the present opinion polls, speaks for barely 4 per cent of the total British electorate.
They could, instead, point out the many ways in which public services — such as education and health — under devolved SNP control in the Scottish parliament have been less successful than under the Conservative-led Government in Westminster.
But Cameron refused to make any such criticism in his one multi-party debating encounter with Ms Sturgeon, because he really wants as many SNP MPs as possible to replace Labour ones in Scotland.
What sort of MPs would they be?
On the current polls, which indicate an almost clean sweep by the SNP, the Labour election campaign co-ordinator and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander will lose his Renfrewshire seat to a 20-year-old SNP candidate, Mhairi Black.
Ms Black seems an appropriate representative for the cybernats, at least. Among recent tweets she revealed how she fantasised about 'putting the nut' on Labour councillors and posted how she 'woke up beside half a can of Tennent's and a full pizza and more money than I came out with. I call that a success!'
Perhaps with such candidates it is not so surprising that the SNP last month passed what has been described as a 'Stalinist' amendment to the party's standing orders.
It states: 'No Member shall, within or without Parliament, publicly criticise a Group decision, policy, or another member of the Group.'
Can you imagine what would be said if the Conservative or Labour Party imposed such a draconian code on its parliamentary candidates?
They would rightly be accused of the most outrageous constraints on the individual conscience of Members of Parliament and an assault on what it means to be a politician in a democracy.
Yet the SNP is not a normal political party. It is more like a cult — and intolerance is one of the chief characteristics of all cults. Naturally, it is as entitled as any other party to be respected for its support among the population: and it clearly has the backing of about 45 per cent of all voting Scots — mirroring the scale of the separatist vote in the referendum campaign.
The people I feel sympathy for are not the English, who might resent the influence of a triumphalist SNP contingent at Westminster. No, the real victims are the majority of Scots who don't agree with them, but are increasingly intimidated into silence by the Scottish Nasty Party.
Son of medical marijuana activist taken by child protective services after the 11-year-old spoke out to disagree with an anti-drug presentation at his school
A Kansas mother who uses marijuana to treat a debilitating disease is now fighting for custody of her child after the 11-year-old boy disagreed with an anti-drug presentation at his school.
Shona Banda, 37, who published a book about how she uses a liquid form of cannabis as therapy for Crohn's disease, has a custody hearing Monday in Garden City, Kansas.
Her boy was taken by authorities on March 24 after officials at his school reported comments he made about marijuana to child protection services.
The Department of Children and Families in the small Midwestern town then contacted police who went to Banda's home, according to the Garden City Telegram.
She did not give authorities consent to search her home, but they returned several hours later with a warrant and discovered marijuana in plant, oil, joint, gel and capsule form along with paraphernalia for the drug.
Two ounces of cannabis in plant form and one ounce of oil were reportedly seized.
Video supposedly of the incident posted on Youtube shows officers arriving at Banda's house without a warrant, standing in her backyard and refusing to let the woman enter her house for fear that she could disturb evidence.
'It is not public property, you don’t have a warrant,' Banda is heard telling the police of her backyard, but a sergeant responds that it 'doesn’t matter'.
The boy was given temporarily to his father, who is separated from Banda, but returned to state custody on Thursday ahead of the hearing. No charges have yet been filed against the mother.
'For him to have spoken up in class I can’t be upset about because he hears me daily on the phone talking with people, encouraging people to speak up and speak out,' she told Ben Swann of her son.
'My son says different things like, ‘My mom calls it cannabis and not marijuana,’ Banda said.
The mother, who was diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's in the early 2000s, said that she had been losing weight and was 'on her death bed' before she began using cannabis oil in 2009.
Crohn's, where the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal system, causes pain, diarrhea, menstrual problems, lack of appetite and fatigue.
Banda said that the marijuana worked much better than any medicines that had been prescribed for her and she was soon able to walk without a cane, she said in a YouTube video.
She says that her son was pulled out of school and interrogated by police without her.
A Go Fund Me page has raised more than $20,000 for Banda's legal defense.
Supporters plan on rallying outside the courthouse when the author goes in for her custody hearing on Monday.
Air Force veteran is arrested for taking on protesters who were trampling on US flag
An Air Force veteran and former Playboy model was arrested for taking an American flag from campus protesters who were trampling on it.
Michelle Manhart, 38, was handcuffed by police at Valdosta State University, Georgia, and driven off in a patrol car after grabbing the Stars and Stripes and refusing to return it to the student demonstrators.
Video footage of the event, on Friday, shows Manhart struggling with officers, who force her to the ground after she refuses to let the flag go.
It shows her surrounded by protesters on the campus, who demand their property be returned. In response, Manhart says the flag belongs to 'the entire United States'.
Campus police try to convince her to drop the flag, but Manhart, a former training sergeant who served in Kuwait, refuses.
Speaking to the Valdosta Daily Times about her intervention, she said: 'I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it.
'I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.'
She continued: 'If your cause is racism then find some white people and walk on them.
'But to walk on the flag is walking on our symbol of freedom. You have the freedom to do what you are doing because of it. I’m not fighting against them. I’m fighting against the way they are going about it.'
It is not clear what the demonstrators were rallying against. They did not answer reporters' questions about what their cause was.
According to the Daily Times, the group didn't want to press charges against Manhart. However, police gave her a trespass warning, which bans her from the campus.
The Daily Times reported that Manhart now intends to hold a pro-military counter-demonstration in the town on Wednesday.
In response to the incident, the university's president says he disapproves of the flag-trampling protest, but recognizes their right to express themselves that way if they choose.
Dr William McKinney said: 'The American flag represents everything that is best about our country. As the Supreme Court has held, one of those things is the right to free speech, which includes the right to disrespect even the symbol of our country.
'While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.