Jonathan Bornstein tells his story at A Voice for Men.
I am coming out of the closet. Yep. Like many, it took me a long time to come to peace with it, years of soul-searching and introspection. But now I have come out to myself and to the world, and I feel like a weight has been taken off my chest. I am a men’s rights activist.
Growing up in the cradle of western feminism, the Upper West Side of New York City, and attending enlightened and well-funded public schools (where as kids we labored over the guilt-inducing importance of the failed Equal Rights Amendment), I was raised to be a feminist. A full-blown—male—feminist.
While I never advocated a policy of feminism, I am indeed the product of it. A complete product of it. I had brilliant female teachers who advocated feminism. I shared co-ed classrooms with brilliant young girls whom I admired, whose intelligence I wished I could emulate.
We wrote papers on the first female Supreme Court Jurist, Sandra Day O’Connor. While Dad turned me on to the Yankees, Mom took me to the ballet and exposed me to her interests: The Met, Lincoln Center, refined stuff, etc. Mom worked; she was an accomplished full-time educator raising two boys along with my father in our nuclear family. Our synagogues were egalitarian.
Never was I exposed to any messages that specifically reduced women or girls. That was just philistine! Any suggestion that women were on their own merits inferior to men would have been met with rejection and ridicule. Looking back on this indoctrination now, I see a lot of mixed messages.
See, radical feminism exploits the natural confidence of young boys. It seizes boys’ engrained disposition that girls are separate and it guilts them. Yes, girls are separate from boys, aren’t they? Us boys are taught from a young age that girls are indeed separate. We are taught to be gentle with girls, not rough-house with them, to treat them as ladies, to defer to their feelings, to please them.
Young boys are taught to exalt girls. Boys are the dirty ones who ride bikes and fight over a touchdown. Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. Then, BAM! We enter adolescence and we are told that girls are oppressed, sidelined, overlook, victimized by some boogie-man patriarchy. What the hell just happened? First I was trained to separate and elevate them, to regard them as fully equals. Now they are ringing the bell of cosmic victimization. Did I miss something?
I finally became acquainted with radical feminist policy when my role as a father was legally shattered. Enter adultery by my wife, followed by an allegation of invisible domestic violence. Jon’s life, over. No proof of a crime. Whatever one thinks of my character, (fine, I am obviously scum), let’s assume the worst of me, for argument’s sake. The crucial point is that without a shred of proof, but with complaints spoken by an admitted and exposed adulterer, my life was ruined. Where are the witnesses? The hospital record? The photos? The police reports? None to be found.
This low threshold of “proof” raises the obvious constitutional question about the role of the state. Should the state be so reactive that fathers are removed from children because of the words of a hysterical and adulterous woman who, as a person with the sudden liability of abandoning the marriage, has an interest in my removal? I cannot think of a more tragic sexist policy. And with this I was removed from my children, my home, my clothes, my heirlooms, my photos, my books. My whole life.
The state’s mobilization to remove me was the result of the Radical Feminist Legal Complex.
Look, I get it. If a dude hits his wife, charge him. Take him down. Felony. Existing statutes provide for this. But this dilemma is far more insidious. Apparently, New York operates along the thought-crime-likepremise that domestic violence need not be “violent”—a concept at war with language and reason, as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently wrote. New York entertains something called implied violence. It is absurdia infinitum. My adulterous wife conveniently claimed fear of me. This is violence to New York.
Since that day in September 2010, I have been to hell and back. Every participant in the systemic process has responded to my pleas with an apathy the likes of which I never thought could exist in a government to which I paid taxed, that once employed me, whose military I was prepared to join, whose public universities educated me. I am viewed differently now. As farm dung that fertilizes a massive—MASSIVE!—governmental process. There is an unmatched zeal “to get me”: law enforcement, DAs, judges, court-appointed psychologists, attorneys ad litim—all shielded with immunity.
Today I have a new education to boast. I now know of VAWA, child support, orders of protection available like condoms at the health center, the Duluth model of domestic violence re-education theories, a complicit legal guild, Title IX, Title IV-D, university sexism, a consumer culture that mocks dads, prison, etc. There is an endless horizon of sexual-politics, radical-feminism policies that are reshaping every sense about manhood and fatherhood with which I was raised to see as proper and good. And took as holy. How stupid, right?
And I also learned something else: I am hated. Hated. Yes. I am hated. I get no presumption of favor—ever. The more I seek to remain a dad, the more I am told I am “angry” and thus unfit. The state is deaf to me and to what it does to me. I am also painfully alone.
I have tried to get my story out to every media outlet I can think of. I have found no support anywhere in my fight to be a father. Seems only fellow dads care about dads. Lawyers want money. Cops sneer or arrest. Legislatures are insanely politicized, as are judiciaries. Most dads’ groups are seen as “reactive” and “unfocused.” The silence of unavailable resources tortures me.
All of this is the result of a social/legal policy informed by vengeful radical feminist ideology, one that seeks to swing with a hammer than to extract with a tweezer.
Look, I am a lot of things: a loving father is paramount. The last thing I wanted is to be “that guy,” embittered and ranting about feminism. I just cannot figure out when I became such a bad guy.
So why am I now a men’s rights activist? My children. These policies keep me from them. I love them. They need me. And I need them. If this is a bad impulse, I am nothing.