Like most, I got involved in the “Fathers Rights” movement way back in 1995 after getting dragged into family court myself. As AL Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet fathers had to get together in person and meet about the issues. The meetings had three main components to them. First was the “pity party”, that being where everyone would share their horror stories of abuse at the hands of the courts. Second was the “Pro Se” discussion which centered around men who had exhausted all financial resources and were fighting the court as their own attorney. The third component was the discussion, “What are we going to do to change the system and make it fair.”
When it came to the what are we going to do to change the system ideas abounded, “dismantle family court”, “fire all the lawyers” and other ideas which would immediately make it all better were bandied about. Even “if the legislature just passed shared parenting” was put forth as the end all for injustices in family court. Yes, “if” this happens it will all end. I’m sorry to say, that just isn’t so.
For many of us, the assault on parental rights opened our eyes to other injustices. When we began to look at these issues in depth we learned that there were injustice a plenty. The assault on parental rights, fathers, and men all occurred at the same time. And the issues have been building since the 1970’s, fostered by policies, laws and practices put into place by both Democratic and Republican Administrations in all levels of government in all branches of government.
The issues are many and complicated. I would direct you to the website http://www.trueequality.com/booklet/ for a nice overview of the advocacy areas we need to address. If you review all of the issues (Mens health, Circumcision, Domestic Violence, Paternity Fraud, Selective Service, Family Courts, Education, Criminal Bias, False Accusations, Reproductive Rights and the Wage Gap Myth) you will see that the one theme that abounds is that the bulk of the problems caused for men and boys is the result of government interference in our lives unnecessarily and also with bias towards us as men.
And so here I am, 20 year an advocate for change. I am often confronted by people going through the injustices of family court and they look at me and say, “what have you done, what have you accomplished?” But the reality is that I, and many others advocates for families, fathers and men have actually done a lot. Yes, it did used to be worse, and yes we are making headway daily. Not by leaps and bounds, but by small incremental steps. There are many who are looking for change for their own circumstance, but that isn’t how it works. There is nothing that will fix it now, there is no slam dunk that will make it all good, right and proper.
So if you joined in the fight for a slam dunk, hope I “win” and my case is fixed, you are bound to be disappointed. But if you are interested in equal and just laws, rules and regulations applied to all persons then you are in the right movement. There will be no slam dunk, just a bunch of hard working, giving advocates who day in and day out work to make things better for people in little ways.
Next up, “What will be effective?”