Here and here are two videos that are well worth watching (Sun News Network, 10/7/11), (Sun News Network, 9/29/11). They’re interviews, one with Canadian family court reform activist Kris Titus and the other with Ross Virgin, who also battles for fathers in family courts.
Both are longtime activists, Titus for 12 years, Virgin for 39 years. And both bring an uplifting passion to their calling. Into the bargain, the interviewer, Michael Coren, is not only sympathetic, but fairly knowledgeable about the subject of divorce, custody and domestic violence laws.
Indeed, Coren describes what is very familiar to many advocates for fathers’ rights, i.e. his own experience of revelation about fathers and what faces them when they try to get or enforce even minimal rights to their children. It seems Coren was asked years ago to write a “men’s column” for the Globe and Mail. He says he didn’t have much to say on the subject and pretty much bought the standard cultural mythology – men aren’t interested in their children, they’re dangerous to them and they’re deadbeats. Coren’s astonishment at finding out how utterly wrong that mythology is, comes through clearly. He’s still shocked at how little he knew.
With Titus, Coren plays the devil’s advocate to good effect. Titus explains that her own attraction to the fathers’ rights movement occurred for three reasons – she was raised without a father, she saw how courts dealt with her own divorce and she’s now married to a divorced father without custody.
To that Coren takes the expected line “don’t those first two make you angry at men?” Titus’ response is telling. “Not at all.” She’s seen the radical injustice and unfairness meted out by family courts and she’s seen how it affects fathers, including her own husband.
Perhaps more importantly, her experience of growing up without a father is one of the main factors making her fight for fathers’ rights. That stands in sharp contrast to the usual media-nourished narrative of uncaring fathers who want nothing more than to avoid their children at all costs. Why? Because in fact Titus describes herself as being born into the first radical feminist generation that told all who would listen that everyone was better off without men – and particularly fathers – in their lives.
Clearly, that was a searing experience for Titus growing up. It was so important that she’s devoted much of her adult life to fighting for fathers in family courts.
Coren’s interview with Titus covers much of what fathers’ rights advocates deal with every day. Principally, Coren recounts the experience of a father he knows whose ex-wife routinely refused to comply with his visitation order – the standard every-other-weekend-plus-one-night one.
And the mother was blatant about it. The dad would come to her door at the appointed date and time and she’d say “(the child) doesn’t want to go with you.” In the background, he’d hear the girl crying to go with Daddy. So one time, when the mother refused to even answer the door, he banged on it with his fists and then kicked it.
We all know what happened then; she called the police and he spent the night in jail.
To which Titus aptly replies “He got off easy.” She points out that domestic violence laws and the use by family courts of even the thinnest allegations of abuse create clear incentives for mothers to charge fathers with abuse irrespective of the facts. Sole custody, years of child support and spousal support, all paid by the dad but without his annoying demands to actually see his child for two days out of fourteen, make false allegations all but inevitable.
And as Ross Virgin points out, the frank misandry of police and family court practices is something that often blindsides fathers. Virgin recounts the utter disbelief on the faces of fathers he’s known when they finally understand that the court order they have in their hand allowing them to see their children for a short period of time every two weeks won’t be enforced by the police or by the court.
She shuts the door in his face, he calls the cops who come out and look at his court order and say “there’s nothing we can do.” But let him violate her order to pay support, and it’s off to jail for him. The police and courts and prosecutors have no problem at all enforcing her order.
Even if the dad eventually wins he loses. He loses time with his child and he loses money that went to pay a lawyer solely because courts regularly refuse to enforce orders for access, 84% (90% in Canada) of them in the hands of fathers.
Tellingly, Coren asks Titus an interesting question. She’s a woman after all, so Coren wants to know if she doesn’t get a lot of grief from other women basically calling her a turncoat, a traitor to the cause of women.
Titus, who’s been a prominent advocate for fathers for 12 years says “no.” In fact, although some women challenge her on her facts and figures, “far, far more women have come forward to say ‘thank God someone’s speaking common sense.'”
And it’s information like that that makes me think our direction is the direction of history. Karl Marx believed that human history moved according to a dialectical dynamic in which conditions at any given time tend to produce their opposites. That is, whatever is the status quo tends to produce its own enemies who eventually bring it down.
I’d say that’s happening. The radical abuses of fathers by family courts is producing not only activist fathers, but women like Titus who see with their own eyes how courts abuse the most decent and loving of dads. “Second wives” have always been one of the greatest resources of our movement.
Likewise, the radical feminist claim that the home was the seat of oppression of women, that husbands and fathers were its instrument and that the only thing to do was dispense with fathers altogether in favor of state-subsidized daycare has created a generation of young adults who loathe the very idea of fatherlessness.
Thanks to Paulette for the heads-up.