Father's Day is the annual celebration of men's fertility. It is not a celebration of "good fathers" but, rather, any man who contributes sperm to create a child. We have arrived at a point in our culture where violent men are considered "good enough" fathers. We are in the midst of a crisis in masculinity where male violence is excused and normalised. The media writes stories of men, like Andrew Parsons, who brutally murder their partners but who are still classed as "good fathers". The losers in our culture are women and their children.
There is no birth control that is 100% effective. Women know that every time they have vaginal intercourse, they are risking pregnancy. We have sex because we enjoy it, despite the knowledge of all the possible lifetime consequences. We know the difficulties of choosing whether or not to continue a pregnancy. We know that many women do not have a choice, whether it is because there is no access to abortion in their area or poverty forcing a "choice" on them. We know what pregnancy can do to our bodies in a "normal healthy" pregnancy; never mind one in which we could potentially have SPD, anaemia, gestational diabetes, hyperemesis, or preeclampsia. We know the all the possible consequences of giving birth: vaginally or via caesarean. We know the possibilities of post-natal depression, tearing and even the fact that domestic violence frequently starts or gets more severe during pregnancy. We know the statistics because we know the realities. We see them every day in our families and our friends.
This Father's Day, we should examine the realities faced by women and children in our capitalist-patriarchal culture. Why do so many men assume that they should face no consequences for fathering a child? And, why does the government support the right of these men to fuck women with impunity whilst "slut-shaming" those women for having sex? Why are women the only ones who have to take responsibility for the consequences of having sex? Why does the government think it should punish some women for withholding contact from abusive men without punishing those same men for the abuse or their failure to pay maintenance? Why do men get to do whatever they want whenever they want with no legal or moral requirement for them to act like an adult?
Men who withhold maintenance to punish the mother are committing child abuse and should be held legally accountable. If the primary carer, who is almost always the mother, could go to prison for child neglect for failing to adequately feed and clothe their child, then why shouldn't the erstwhile "father"? These men aren't "good fathers" and the pretence that they are actively harms children. According to the charity Gingerbread, £3.837 billion is the current sum of unpaid child maintenance in the UK. In 2012, over 70% of claims registered with the Child Support Agency were in arrears.
Children live in poverty because their fathers refuse to take responsibility for them. Fathers are responsible for the feminisation of poverty in the UK. They are the reason our old government had to subsidise single mothers through tax credits and income support. They are the reason that these same women will be pushed further into poverty by our current government. These men are the people who are destroying our families; not single mothers who are desperately trying to feed and clothe their children whilst dealing with abusive men in a society that doesn't think men should be held responsible for anything. Ever.
We need to take a real stand against abusive men and start forcing men to take responsibility for where they decide to ejaculate.
This Father's Day, let's start a campaign to celebrate real fathers instead of pretending to that donating sperm automatically makes one a "good enough" father
Here are a couple of tips for men on Father's Day:
Stand up and actually be a father.
Do 50% of the parenting.
Do 50% of the shit work.
Get up in the middle of the night with your sick kids.
Take the day off work when your kids are sick.
You don't 'baby-sit' your kids. You are a parent.
You don't get rewards for acting like an adult. You shouldn't get one for being a parent.
If you can't name your child's teacher, best friend or medication, you need to re-examine your priorities.
If you can't name your child's favourite toy, you need to re-examine your priorities.
If you need to be told what time your child's school starts or the names of their after-school activities, you need to re-examine your priorities.
The following should go without saying but a surprising number of men seem confused about them:
Pay maintenance. Not paying maintenance is child neglect.
Show up for contact. There is nothing more important than your children. Do not cancel to attend a football match.
Domestic violence makes you a bad father.
Abusing your partner in front of your children is child abuse.
Good fathers do not kill the mother of their children.
Violent men who assault or murder their partners do not deserve contact with their children.
Good fathers do not murder their children to punish the children's mother.
Parenting is a 24/7 job with no breaks or overtime. If you don't understand that, then do not have vaginal intercourse with women.