Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Different Kind of Fatherlessness

I intimately know a woman who has been divorced for four years, whose ex still uses the family courts to act out his anger towards her, who is not interested in paying child support, who freely avails himself of thousands and thousands of dollars of his family's money to carry out his legal bullying, who completely ignores his ex's pleas to stop and use more peaceful, alternative methods for problem-solving and collaboration. Unfortunately, she is not the only one in this situation, for it is a sad consequence of our judicial structure that this kind of abuse is absolutely legal.
I speak out about the grandiose man today, not the good fathers, the sincere fathers. Not the men who abhor demeaning behavior and do not abide by systemic disrespect of a woman. Not the non-sexist men (like good men project or NOMAS types of men) No, I am calling out the bullies...the irresponsible...the overly superior. I am calling out the ones who use the court system to bully, the ones who refuse to pay child support or be a co-parent, the ones who treat the mother of their children as an object...as less than human.
Terry Real says that grandiosity will impair a man's judgment . When a man is addicted to his own sense of superiority, he is going to make decisions that adversely affect others, and in reality, are destructive to that man as well.
When,and where, did fathering get conflated with oppression of mothers in the minds of some?
This is the heart of fatherlessness because the man is not giving his children the kind of father they deserve: one who models more than superficial respect for their mother, one who has no interest in bullying, one who moves heaven and earth to give his children a good life everywhere they live. It is fatherlessness because it is conspicuous in its absence of the moral principles of mutuality, support, kindness, respect, coherence between words and actions, and in the end, love. Love, too is absent, and even though he might profess to love his children, his love is all too often replaced by a compulsion to control...a tainted judgment...impaired by superiority. This is no way to keep the hearts and experiences of his children as his top priority. This is a worse kind of abandonment than actual physical abandonment. This is an abandonment of soul, the erection of an impenetrable wall, the shutting out of another's humanity while staying in open proximity.
This ultimately creates an atmosphere of oppression of the mother, and that is an injury that is far-reaching for a child. A man engrossed in his own superiority teaches, by example, that women are objects subject to paternalistic control. Women are not allowed to have a voice. The contribution of mothers is inconsequential. The life in the home of the mother is not important. In the extreme, the mother is made to be unnecessary. Father knows best, women know nothing. The children's take-away from their father: women don't count.
When did fathering get conflated with oppression of mothers?
Sons learn they are superior, and that their value is only found in a one-or-more-up position over women. Or really, over anyone who dares to defy innate white male authority. They learn that women are their domain, that mothers are unimportant, that you must deny your own vulnerability and need, deny building morality and self-worth, deny the circumstances of your own heart, and tie engagement in the world with those male paths to relational unhappiness: competition and dominance. Daughters learn that you'd better watch out...you too might be oppressed if you don't shut up and put up. They learn that their role as a woman is not important. Or that it is only important to the degree they comply and agree with him.
This is not just fatherlessness, this is also patriarchy, and to me, it is the same thing. It is injurious to women and men. This oppression of the mother is all too often supported by bystanders who tend to believe the good father act he puts on. They believe the superficial over reality. Just like a recent article described Trump: Appearance: caring leader. Reality: unempathetic bully.
When did good fathering get conflated with oppression of mothers in the minds of anyone?
You see, patriarchy...fatherlessness...places a man so high that he cannot be reached, cannot be touched, and certainly wouldn't dare to dirty his hands with woman-think, woman-speak, or woman-need. Someone who has put themselves in a grandiose position has taken themselves out of the relationship, any relationship. It is impossible to be grandiose/superior and in rightful relationship at the same time since one person is subjugated and has no rights/voice in the relationship. This is not true relationship. It is dominance.
And how can any man build real esteem for himself if he gets ahead through bullying? This only makes him a bully, not a man. It is not manhood or fatherhood at all; it is grade-school pettiness.
The sad state of family court is that this nonsense is perpetuated. It is sad that families are allowed to use their resources not for the children, but to serve the interests of a bully, who benefits from wearing down the targeted party. This is not the kind of man who invests himself in peacemaking, repairing bridges, personal responsibility, mutual respect, or thinking about the children's highest regard. Children are not immune to the severe contempt hurled toward their mother. They sense it and feel it. They don't need words or overt action. They see how she is shunned. They experience it in the tension and anger that hangs between parents. They even innately sense that one person is responsible for the conflict, and that one person could change but chooses not to.
Can the heart-ears-mind of a man practicing this kind of fatherlessness be reached? My experience is a hopeless no, they are unreachable. Family, judicial, and social constructs all too often enable a man to carry out his grandiosity. And he would never admit his true motivations, as he is deeply in love with his own fakery. As long as we do not acknowledge the problem this covert association of fathering with oppression of mothers, we will continue to enable it. In a divorce, it continues to be male against female, winner against loser, oppressor against oppressed, and abuser against abused. And it's all so forgetful of the children.
Making peace with fathers and fatherhood in our culture means that we deal with this covert fatherlessness head-on, and recognize that a man who is practicing superiority and grandiosity is not being a good person, much less a good father. Giving fatherhood its rightful place means we do not allow it to be tainted by the act of oppressing mothers.
When did good fathering get conflated with oppressing mothers, anyway?
It is time for a sea change.

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