Monday, October 28, 2013

THE FEMALE PRIVILEGE IS ALIVE AND KICKING



A while ago one of my classmates shared it on Facebook and the expectation was clear: As a fellow future counselor I was supposed to like it.

And as it frequently happens to me these days, I didn’t.

Now, I’m not saying that The Male Privilege Checklist doesn’t make any good points, because it totally does. But it also makes some that are questionable at least. And the main issue I have with it is that in its quest to convince the public about how oppressed women in America still are, it chooses to ignore many areas in which women are in fact the privileged ones. Because a very few things in this world are black or white; mostly we are looking at fifty or so shades of gray…

If you are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I have one specific female privilege in mind, which is one of the rare examples valid not only in the United States, but also in Czech Republic. It’s one that I feel VERY strongly about, having been once a victim of it myself (so the answer is yes, I AM biased).

But see for yourself: In the case of parents getting a divorce, it’s still extremely difficult for the father to get full custody of his children, even in a case when he is clearly a better parent than his soon-to-be ex-spouse.

When I came to the United States, I expected things to be different, because I soon noticed how much more were American fathers involved in care of their children. You have to understand - when I was growing up, it was virtually unheard of for a dad to change a diaper! I remember how shocked I was back in elementary school when one of my teachers told us about her neighbor, who despite of being male went on a paternity leave and not only cared for the baby, but even cooked dinner every night. My classmates and I were staring at each other in amazement because none of us has ever heard about such a thing before. And I also remember, God help me, telling my friends during the recess that “I would never want a husband like that because men who do these things cannot be normal.”

Yeah, I know :(

Anyway, the fact that women were the primary caregivers was supposed to be the reason why they were automatically granted full custody after the divorce. Naturally, when I saw men in the U.S. changing, feeding, and playing with their babies, I assumed that fathers had more rights here.

Apparently not.

I will never forget babysitting for a divorced dad who spent several years (and all his savings) fighting in court for a full custody. While he was a hard-working, tax-paying citizen with a clean record, whose only “crime” was sleeping with a wrong person in the wrong time (he married her when she became pregnant because he wanted to do right by her); his ex was both alcohol and cocaine addict with multiple DUI’s, unable to hold a job for more than several months, and a mother of two other children (each with a different partner) whom she was unable to support. Yet even the dad’s own lawyer was skeptical and warned his client that in the state of Illinois “they would have to find her half-comatose with the needle still in her arm to MAYBE  convince the judge that she is an unfit mother.” The only reason why the dad eventually won the case was that his ex was so fucked up that she failed to appear in the court so many times that eventually the judge lost his patience. And that makes the dad one of the few lucky ones.

So I’m asking – where is male privilege when you need one!?

Same situation, different country: My dad just recently told me on the phone about his friend who is going through the same thing. He had many people from his community testifying in court that his ex was indeed an unfit mother (when she was still living in his house, he would often find her so drunk that she didn’t wake up when the baby was screaming right next to her with hunger and he had to undress her and put the baby to her breast – and that’s just one example out of many). The result? Children belong to their mother, the judge said firmly. (And I’m sure that the fact that the judge was herself a divorced forty-something female had absolutely NOTHING to do with her decision.)

Strangely enough, the Male Privilege Checklist doesn’t bother to mention this HUGE advantage that women have over men in this matter. If you are a father who happens to love his children very much and if your bitchy ex is the one who won full custody, I can guarantee you that SHE is the one who has you by your balls, checklist or not.

And speaking of which, neither have I recently seen feminists addressing issues like using children as pawns to get more money from the ex-husband, or – and I consider this especially disgusting – false accusations of sexual molestation, which are apparently becoming increasingly popular in our society. If you are interested in this topic, check out for example http://www.innocentdads.org/ for some heartbreaking stories.

So – the point of my column is not to convince everyone that oppression of women doesn’t exist in our society; it does. But I believe that it’s important to be aware that oppression of men exists as well. Our society is very complex and with so many societal “rules” changing every day it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up and mainly, to see the big picture. There are multiple factors that determine who has the power and I think that there is enough evidence out there to indicate that it’s NOT necessarily always the person who has a penis.


3 comments:

Elisa said...

As always, well written. Although I agree with you that men still have the upper hand, you point out a glaring hole in an established "given". Thank you for that.

This is happening to my cousin with his ex and their twins, and it's heart-breaking to see. She's not a druggy or anything, but she's a horrid and spoiled woman. She yells so much that when they were babies, they would cry all the time. When we had a family gathering, they were calmer when she wasn't around. Then she'd see that they were calm, go "check on them" (aka, get them riled up -- I'm pretty sure on purpose), and then blame it on him. She lies to him about where and when they are supposed to meet to exchange custody and then tells the judge that he didn't show. He is trying so hard to get more than just one weekend per month, and he has left a very lucrative travelling job to re-locate near them, trying to convince the judge that his home would be better. But he has a really nice girl-friend who sometimes stays the night, and the mother argues that this is exposing her children to some sort of indecency. And of course, that must be right, because she's the mother, and he's an evil, evil man.

Can you see I'm just a little upset here? I can't even list these thoughts straight.

So yeah, you bring up a good point.

Chad Russell said...

For many decent fathers, it's a hopeless situation for them to assume full or even 50% custody. My ex livs with a man who averages $80,000 per year as a contractor for a construction company.

She isn't married to him, because she can benefit from various state/federal boons as a single mother of three children (my son + two kids from two other dads).

In court, she poses as a single mother with no help, thereby needing and being awarded the very most in support/medical coverage/etc.

In life, her one time visit to a psychiatrist ended with her being diagnosed as bipolar with narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

She texts me about how our son is an asshole, or how she hates him. The next minute she's squeezing cash from her boyfriend for (insert something expensive) for him.

She intentionally ridicules him with her boyfriend and her sister in regards to when he's on the phone with me for homework help (because she and her constituents are unable to assist him with 6th grade work).

On most nights, they sit smoking pot, leaving paraphernalia and even a few bags of weed here and there around the house.

She especially hates our son when he expresses his upset when trying to do his homework and having to deal with interruptions and cat calls.

It's a horrible situation. I am powerless.

Global Chick said...

Chad Russel and Elisa: Your comments are breaking my heart - and making me glad that I decided to write this column! Because this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about... When it comes to their own children, most men are POWERLESS in your society. And if the mother sucks, it's a tragedy not only for the dad, but mainly for the children. Yet everybody keeps yakking about stupid shit about whether men are even allowed to look at women's breasts anymore, and no one seems to care about this injustice that has been around forever and clearly isn't going to change any time soon. It seriously disturbs me... Thank you both for being so brave and putting your personal experiences out there :)