Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Post lifted from Dumb Democrat

It is oddly and disturbingly true that among American's liberal college and university elite, heterosexuality is now considered sexist. After all they claim, if you discriminate against a particular gender when picking a lover it is certainly sexist, i,e., a choice based purely on gender. I learned this new liberal truth when I asked a very dear, although sometimes misguided, friend who is a tenured liberal arts professor at a very large well know middle American university, how one selects a lover. She insisted that the choice should not be sexually discriminatory, but rather it should be based on the person.

I guess it's not hard to figure how we got to this point given that 35 years ago Gloria Steinem famously promised to revolutionize gender when she said "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." This of course was before she wrestled the demons of an abusive father to the ground, led generations of women astray, was responsible for million of divorces, 10s of millions of kids growing up in poverty, fell in love with and married a man, and before she and her colleagues convinced much of American's professoriate that the stuff about women and fish was largely correct.

As the years went by though, the professors mellowed realizing that while men may not really be needed they were, nevertheless, here, at least until biological science could find a better way to produce sperm. So, rather than treating men adventitiously (the way our gov't is treating the Sunni population of Iraq) it was better, they reasoned, to count them as in the human race (I for one am very thankful), and even worthy of love, so long as they were cooperative and it was a gender neutral love. Anything other than "neutral" was wholly unacceptable of course, because that was, of course, exactly what had led to centuries and centuries of subjugation and male domination.

In practice though most of the professors do sheepishly and eventually revert to heterosexual mating patterns that evolved over million and million of years, but they do, nevertheless, feel a solemn intellectual obligation to prove their "street creds", sisterhood, and egalitarian ideals by having a lesbian affair or two along the way. If they were children you'd write it all off to youthful indiscretion, but they are adults; adults who teach our children. They have brave and bold new ideas but manage to get themselves all confused with their mighty IQs. But that is a huge part of what liberalism is: a belief that if your huge ego can conjure it up, it ought to be reality. Sadly, all the liberal realities are very different, contradictory, and often very deadly. If we look at the great liberals of recent history: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hussein, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, and Robert Mugabe we see very clearly that the more rapid and profound change these vast egos wanted the more millions wound up dead.

Were it not for conservative libertarian Republicans and their respect for conserving history, can anyone say how far our American liberals would go? They now have a huge gov't in place that delivers far more than the American Socialist Party of the 1920s every dreamed possible in a free country, and yet they still stand for nothing each and every election cycle but more and more concentrated power in Washington with no end in sight. They want the liberal machinery of power in place; they are psychotically attracted to it beyond all sanity simply because they perceive it as a manifestation of their huge egos. They pray one day it can be used as the vehicle or mechanism through which they can bring about the rapid and probably deadly change their massive egos compel them to seek. They are compelled to seek a comprehensive new social formula the way Einstein was compelled to seek a comprehensive new unified theory of the universe.

Lost on them are the 10 years of depression and 5 years of world war that our big gov't blundered into. Lost on them are the lies that powerful American Presidents told for the privilege of fighting in Vietnam and Iraq. Lost on them are the social welfare programs of the 60's that amounted to near genocide against the Black population they were supposed to serve. Lost on them is the Social Security program that steals 13% from every working American but gives them back far less than would have by simply putting the money in their mattresses. But, hey, that's what liberalism is: blind and huge ego totally oblivious to history. And, isn't it an odd thing in a country specifically designed by Jefferson to be free of gov't rather than to embrace an ever more powerful gov't capable of ever more deadly liberalism?


Paul Black is not the sort of bloke to take to the streets in protest. But this week he did something atypical: fuelled by intense feelings of frustration, he got in his car and made the long trip from Mulgrave to Canberra to attend a two-day conference of the Lone Fathers Association. "I don't see myself as a radical, I'm not the sort who wants to go ripping out letterboxes or shouting slogans," says this new recruit to the men's movement. "But the inequalities that were there for women 20, 30 years ago are now there for men. The pendulum has swung from too many opportunities for men to too many opportunities for women."

Black has entered the organised men's movement along a well-worn path: relationship breakdown. There are up to 200 men's groups in Australia, according to estimates - and many could be called estranged fathers' groups. They bear names from Dads in Distress to the cuddly sounding Fatherhood Foundation, and typically attract men in midlife. While the groups claim a growing membership, the extent of their support is unknown. The Lone Fathers Association says it helps 30,000 men a year, but their paid-up membership is 9000 nationally. However, La Trobe University researcher Michael Flood says the number actively agitating in the men's movement would be no more than 2000.

What makes them remarkable is that they subvert the traditional paradigm of social activism in that they represent the interests of the dominant group in society. Or do they? The argument these men's groups mount, with growing political muscle, is that they are getting an unfair deal, not only when it comes to family law issues but in other areas such as men's health. There is a growing lobby for free prostate screening, boys' education - crystallised in a federal push for more male primary teachers - and even domestic violence.

In Canberra, over two days of sometimes torrid testimonials, Black, 39, took heart from the shared experiences of men who, like him, had undergone unexpected separation from their spouses. Two years ago, Black returned from work one evening to find his de facto partner had left home with their baby daughter. "She was just six months old," he says forlornly. As he clutches a "showbag" stamped with the logo of the Child Support Agency (it contained pen, pad and instructive government literature), he reveals the source of his feeling of powerlessness: "I've only seen my daughter five times since then."

Back in session, Barry Williams, the president and founder of the Lone Fathers Association, prosecutes some of the familiar themes of the men's rights movement in a mild tone sometimes at odds with the strength of his rhetoric. "Both men and women are, in fact, equally likely to be perpetrators of violence in relationships, although women are somewhat more likely to be seriously injured," he declares. He warns his membership to be on guard against "further development of an ideologically based domestic-violence industry funded by the taxpayer". "There is a very serious issue of discrimination here," he says.

It's these sorts of arguments that bother researcher Michael Flood about the growing influence of groups such as the Lone Fathers, a peak body formed 32 years ago around the time the Family Law Act was established. The group is now federally funded.

This week's conference attracted two federal cabinet ministers - Family Services Minister Kay Patterson and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock - to Wednesday's opening. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward spoke the next day.

Flood does not dismiss serious issues men contend with: old certainties have been swept away as women's roles have changed. He has researched the intensity of the loneliness felt by many men. The loneliest men of all, a survey published this year concludes, are sole fathers rearing children. More generally, when males hit midlife they feel most isolated, especially if they live alone. Yet Flood believes a more nuanced approach is needed than simply railing against domestic-violence programs. "We need to address men's pain in these areas, but without blaming women or putting children at risk," he says. "Yes, men can now cry on TV, but the institutionalised power relations between and among men and women have hardly gone away."

Eva Cox, who was at the barricades as a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby, believes men's rights groups are making the mistake of using some of the oppositional "victim strategies" that women once deployed but which, in retrospect, did not necessarily serve them well. "They are blaming a lot of what's going wrong on women for taking things away," she says. "But we are not running the world, sorry. Where are the female law partners? Where are the female senior surgeons? . . . If you are looking for men in primary schools, tip them all out of the principals' offices." While citing the continuing disparity between men and women's pay - for every dollar men earn in full-time work, full-time women earn 85 cents - Cox is not unsympathetic to the plight of low-skilled men, many of whom have lost the opportunity to do their fathers' and grandfathers' jobs.

Economist Bob Gregory has tracked the impact of the decline in manufacturing on men's income. In 1982, about 500,000 men of working age were on welfare. Now, there are about a million men on benefits and the job boom over a period of apparently unprecedented prosperity has barely reached them.

Monash University demographer Bob Birrell, who conducted a study of the clients of the Child Support Agency - which has 90 per cent of Australia's separated parents on its register - concludes that most separated fathers come from the ranks of the poor and low-paid. "Marriage is closely associated with the resources men can bring into a relationship," he says. In a separate study on partnering, Birrell found the greatest decline in partnering rates in Australia was among low-income men. "Blokes in their 30s and 40s who are on low incomes and are not partnered are in a diabolical situation," he says.

Paul Black, who made the lonely journey back from Canberra yesterday, counts himself luckier than some of his contemporaries. He has a stable trade as a plumber, but the loss of his daughter and relationship has left him deeply confused. "Towards the end, we were fighting about the housework," he says. "But I thought there were two roles there: she didn't work, so she was the homemaker and mother. I was supposed to be the provider and father."


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