Disunity in the fathers-rights movement matters. Over the years I subscribed to a few formal and informal fathers-rights mailing lists. The comments presented in this posting relate to a trend that recently emerged in all of those mailing lists. The trend relates to discussions in which general dissatisfaction is being expressed about the lack of unification in the men’s-rights and fathers-rights movements.
The dissatisfaction that receives so much attention right now is well-justified. There is no unity in the fathers-rights movement. The reasons for that are complicated and take too long to express in this posting. Let’s just accept the dissatisfaction as a fact, a fact that has been around for decades and periodically gains the focus of attention in the fathers-rights “community”.
It has been close to 30 years now that I have been active in the fathers-rights movement, and at intervals I observed and participated in the waxing and waning of expression of concerns about, and of proposals and even implementations of remedies (always failing) to solve, the lack of unity.
All of that matters very little. What matters is that not even the repetitive discussions of the problem of lack of unity of the fathers-rights movement are united or take place in a unified forum. Disunity in the fathers-rights movement matters.
I had hoped that the blog of Fathers for Life would help to bring about unification. It has no more done that than any of the other many blogs or mailing lists in the fathers-rights movements did or do so.
The examples of expressions of concern about the disunity that are shown below are fairly representative of many; my comments are not. Not only are my comments politically incorrect, they don’t meet the standard for political correctness in the “community” of fathers-rights activists.
To summarize my opinions on the issues: it does not matter right now whether there is disunity or not. What matters is that a critical mass of people (yes, people, not just men or fathers) understands and agrees on what the problem is that needs to be solved. Unless that understanding and the required agreement exist it is not possible for a unified fathers-rights movement to emerge.
My take is that no formal, unified fathers rights movement can come into existence unless at the grass roots there is a wish to have one; and by “grass roots” I don’t mean fathers-rights activists but the people that wish to have fathers-rights activists represent them.
Here now are some examples of the problem symptoms that have recently been described, as well as what I think about them. It is not important that many fathers-rights activists read them and agree with them. It is important than many people are aware of them and that they want to participate in finding solutions.
Fathers-rights activists by themselves will not be able to define and implement solutions unless they have the support of a critical mass of the people.
This letter is intended to begin a broad discussion on the future not only of ACFC but of the entire fatherhood/family/shared parenting movement. The opening and closing lines are not fluff. I really do have the highest respect for David Roberts and ACFC, but as many of you have complained, it has long been immobile. This is not an attempt to tear down ACFC but to make it better. That is only possible by involving you, our membership and constituency.
We cannot win this fight without an effective broad-based, mass membership organization. That was what I envisioned when I became president of ACFC, and I am still committed to it. But for ACFC to work, we need active involvement from people like you. Please join ACFC and make your voice heard. You might begin by leaving a comment at MensNewsDaily , where this is published: http://mensnewsdaily.com/2007/09/07/serious-problems-at-acfc-an-open-letter-to-the-board/.
Comments by Fathers for Life
The problems and issues identified by Stephen Baskerville are and always have been endemic in the fathers-rights movement, and especially in any attempts to bring about national or international unification of the fathers-rights movement and -organizations.
For example, just a few days ago I received a complaint by a European fathers-rights activist. The FR activist (falsely labelled by a rivalling FR organization “a woman hater”) became so frustrated, discouraged and depressed on account of the false accusations made against him by the rivalling organization comprised of feminist men, that he announced his withdrawal from the FR rights movement in his country of origin.
Similar circumstances came about in 1994 in Canada for similar reasons as a result of the active sabotage of the Canadian efforts to unite the Canadian FR organizations under the auspices of the National Shared Parenting Association. Danny Guspy and a few collaborators attempted to gain control of those unification efforts, for the purpose of establishing a franchised legal services network. When their attempt to gain control failed, they engaged on a course of active sabotage of unification. Thirteen years later, the Canadian efforts to establish unification have not yet recovered from its 1994 destruction. So, yes, disunity in the fathers-rights movement matters.
Perhaps Stephen Baskerville and others may be able to consider some of what my message to the complaining European FR activist states. At the very least, we all know that some of the dissidents identified by Stephen Baskerville that dropped out of ACFC and other organizations over the years were moved to drop out by pressure to make them act and speak in a politically-correct (i. e.: feminist) fashion. It may well be worth the effort to unite those dissidents in a separate organization. Anyway, here is what I think of the roots of dishonesty and political correctness in the FR movement:
To a Fathers-Rights Activist in Europe:
Sorry to hear of your decision, but before you make it reality, consider this:
- The parent-child group that opposes and vilifies you is a feminist organization;
- The vast majority of so-called men’s rights activists and fathers-rights activists are feminists, but they do not speak for the majority of normal men and women;
- You can’t make omelets without breaking eggs;
- When you stir up a hornets’ nest, you may get stung;
- You don’t need to get along with feminists to be able to make progress;
- Progress is made with the masses, not with individuals whose ideology so firmly constricts the blood-flow to and dominates their brains that no facts can possibly confuse them;
- In the early 1990s, my experiences were very similar to yours. Nevertheless, I found comfort in the fact that – increasingly – many prominent fathers rights activists in the world who definitely have no feminist leanings at all totally agree with my views – and I with theirs;
- Social evolution is gradually evolving away from feminist ideology, doctrine and dialectics (it actually is beginning to reject them), and towards acceptance and re-introduction of the concept of the traditional nuclear family, and that
- You invested an enormous amount of time and effort into what you believe in, the restoration of the respect society once had for men and fathers. That should not be wasted.
The war against fathers and against the family is a long way from being over. It will probably be 50 to 70 years before that war will be won by people like you. I most definitely will not be around to see the end, while you quite likely have a chance of seeing that our side is winning.
On the other hand, I can assure you that you will not have a good feeling 40 to 50 years from now when it is certain that our side is winning and all you will be able to say is: “I am proud to have been part of that war, once, for a couple of years or so — many years ago.”
After I had run into problems similar to yours I began work on Fathers for Life. If before that, when I had the sort of opposition you experience now, I had said “Not everyone agrees with me. I can’t take that anymore, therefore I have had enough of it and will quit,” Fathers for Life would never have come into existence. Instead, without any assistance by the dissenters and feminist men (in fact, despite of those men), Fathers for Life now exists and thrives. It has had a total of close to 5 million visitors, with an annual average growth in website traffic of around 17 percent. While in 1994 I thought that I would do well to attract 30,000 visitors by the end of the year to the website, the website now has had 2,178,622 visitors during the last year.
Fathers for Life has become somewhat of a social influence that it would never have become if I would have continued wasting my time trying to convert feminist men to more conservative views on the role of families and fathers.
Having slugging matches with feminist men may give you public exposure through the newspapers, but is has consequences that you obviously don’t like. Stop wasting your time by trying in vain to work with feminist men. Instead, work with the masses of the public. Then the politically-correct, feminist men will eventually adapt to what the masses want, without you having to do a thing to make them change those feminist men’s minds.
The public is in the majority anti-feminist. Keep working with the public. However, network in the background with pro-male and pro-family fathers rights activists, so as to stay ideologically connected. You will soon find that you get a lot more work done and that you will make much, much more progress with changing society to a system that functions again.
Liberate yourself from feminist men. They are a serious handicap. It is not likely that you will be able to soar like an eagle as long as you are amongst turkeys that drag you down.
It would be a shame if you, just because in one little skirmish of the big war that needs to be fought some feminist men said “Boo!”, you were to run away and hide from the war against the family. You are too smart for that.
Accept this saying by children, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Still, I often felt that I didn’t need any of the aggravation that fathers-rights activism brings about. Often I became seriously frustrated and even depressed on account of all of the misery I see happening, but time and again I looked at the progress being made and took new courage.
Thirty years ago we thought it was a major event when an article critical of feminism appeared in the media. That happened then about three times a year in all of the major daily papers in the world.
Today there are every day so many articles critical of feminism and its ravages that it is no longer possible to keep up with and read all of them.
Moreover, feminist websites, especially those by radical feminists (also known as Marxist feminists or socialist feminists), have for the last four years seen a serious and lasting decline in traffic. You may wish to examine that trend by visiting Alexa.com through this link.
The statistics shown at that URL are for the [US] National Organization for Women (NOW). In the 2002 – 2003 time frame, now.org was in between 60,000th and 80,000th place in traffic ranking. Today, 2007 09 08, the website ranks in 278,697th place, just slightly ahead of fathersforlife.org (316,310th place) and way behind mensnewsdaily.com (142,490th place). [Update 2007 09 14: As of today, now.org ranks 294,00th, mensnewsdaily.com 148,321th and fathersforlife.org 297,000th place, but short-term fluctuations in a trend line are not good indicators of a long-term trend.]
You can vary the results by replacing the domain name “now.org” in that string with the domain name of another feminist website of your choice. They all exhibit similar traffic-volume trends.
A piece of cowboy logic goes: “Always drink up-stream from the herd.”
You are far from fighting a losing battle! Don’t drop out, just get away from those turkeys and soar like an eagle.