“All papas are not rolling stones.”

Kevin Noble Maillard, a law professor at Syracuse University, writes in The New York Times about father’s rights.

“Fathers’ rights” as a civil liberties issue seems like a laughable bemoaning of one’s patriarchal privilege. It appears anti-feminist: It’s mostly men who run the world, no matter what Beyoncé sings.

But despite male dominance of government and business, disparities in pay and household responsibility and even continued risk of sexual assault, real examples of male inequality should not be dismissed.

Unmarried men have little security in child rearing decisions and custody outcomes. Legally, the extent of unmarried men’s decisions about reproduction and children stops at the sexual act. Beyond that, the mother has the most leverage to make decisions about visitation and possible adoption. Why? Because law and social practice assume that unmarried men in intimate relationships have no interest in commitment, stability or responsibility.

Of course, individuals and institutions have stories and numbers to “prove” that fathers should be treated differently than mothers because they’re irresponsible. Or absent. Or abusive. Old laws are illustrative of these assumptions: Unmarried fathers would lose custody of their children upon the death of their mother because the law deemed them inherently unfit, incapable and unstable.

And our new laws have similar outlooks. In a majority of states, adoptions can proceed even without the knowledge of the birth father, unless they can miraculously register as a putative father in advance of the birth.

But is it fair to characterize all unmarried men as deadbeats, just because they are not married, and to stack laws against them that mistrust their motives and capabilities? If men want fair treatment, this doesn’t inherently mean they oppose women’s equality or advancement.

There are always going to be bad examples of fed up, angry, bitter men that spout invectives at feminists, their ex-wives and all women in general. But all papas are not rolling stones. These are just regular, earnest, nice guys that want simple due process rights as men and partners.

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19 Responses to “All papas are not rolling stones.”

  1. Dennis says:

    The comments to the article are breath-takingly sexist. A typical leftwing orgy of female hypo-agency and presumptions that only men can do wrong.

  2. Juan Pablo says:

    male privilege exists and males have enough rights in the past males when their children were born owned the child and mothers had no say, laws shifted and so did society and we have those laws in place so that ill-treatment towards women doesn’t happen again. MEN ARE NOT OPPRESSED.

    • rendarsmith says:

      Prove that male privilege exists. Name one right that men have that women don’t. I can name plenty that women have that men don’t.

      Women were never oppressed. It’s all a big fairy tale. Sorry to burst your little bubble. Good luck getting laid.

      • Juan Pablo says:

        if the prerequisite is only to name one right, men earn more than women, so the right to equal pay.

    • Sam says:

      “Men are not oppressed”.
      Remember to keep telling yourself that when while you sit in “family court” and have your children taken from you.

    • Grendelssohn says:

      Earning more than women is a right?! Damn! I need to sue my employer, there are tons of women around here who earn more than I do! Had I know it was my RIGHT as a man to earn more than women, I’d have taken this to court years ago! My wife and kids sure would have benefited…

      • Juan Pablo says:

        here is a video that will explain everything to you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

      • Grendelssohn says:

        I must admit that I have neither the time nor the interest to invest in your video that you claim will “explain everything” to me (a bold claim). But perhaps you would be willing to do me the the favor of summarizing it by answering this simple and straightforward question; Is this video really going to tell me that I have the RIGHT (that is a legally understood term) as a man to earn more than women? Because that IS the claim you are making, and I honestly do not believe that is true.

      • Juan Pablo says:

        EQUAL pay means to earn the SAME amount of money, please watch the video.

      • Lila Smence says:

        Juan Pablo, I think Grendelssohn believes that willingly remaining ignorant and ignoring your side of the discussion is a good tactic for winning an argument. If he doesn’t know the information, he can’t be proven wrong, right?

    • Lila Smence says:

      I agree that, overall, men are not oppressed. However, men also deal with sexism and are stereotyped. I think looking into possible double standards that unfairly affect our laws is worth looking into.

  3. Dennis says:

    So you’re saying only males are capable of abusing the system? Jesus Christ, how does such blatant bigotry get a pass. Was the Rwanda genocide just to ensure “ill-treatment of Hutus doesn’t happen again?”

    • Lila Smence says:

      I don’t think that’s what he is saying. I think he is pointing out that women were prevalently given second-class treatment by the law throughout history in a way that many men were not.

      Since ancient times, men could divorce their wives for any number of reasons, but women could not divorce their husbands unless they could prove he was guilty of pedophilia, necrophilia, or other intense crimes. Women often had to undergo investigations that men did not, and would be killed if they were found wayward. A women never got the children, never got a chance to gain custody of the children. Unmarried women were unprotected by the law, and unmarried women had little to no economic opportunities to provide for themselves.

      I think it’s fair to investigate double standards that exist in the laws today, and to certainly acknowledge that people of all types are capable of abusing the system, but you can’t claim that what men go through today equates to what women went through throughout history–that is essentially what Juan Pablo was saying by my interpretation.

  4. Lastango says:

    “There are always going to be bad examples of fed up, angry, bitter men that spout invectives at feminists”

    There are plenty of good reasons to be angry, bitter, and spouting invectives at feminists. For example, feminists support and promote the social, financial, and legal exploitation and oppression of men by family courts, law enforcement agencies, social welfare agencies, and universities.

    Frankly, I’ve really had it up to here with these careerist straddles… defending human rights for men on one hand, while also standing up for feminists.

    • Lila Smence says:

      Women more, not men less.

      • Lila Smence says:

        I agree that, overall, men are not oppressed. However, men also deal with sexism and are stereotyped. I think looking into possible double standards that unfairly affect our laws is worth looking into.

      • Lila Smence says:

        Shoot. This got all messed up.

        One, the quote I was actually going for is “Not boys less, but girls more”–Anna Julia Cooper. Essentially the same thing, it’s nice to have the actual quote.

        Two, the second comment isn’t meant to be a reply to you, but to another person. Sorry about that.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I know this law professor is attempting to speak out for equal rights but tossing around tired cliches like “patriarchy” and “anti-feminist” and “Beyonce”- well, I guess it just proves that the guy lives and works on an American college campus. It’s so sad that this is what passes for keen analysis in the press these days (if he’d somehow worked the word “racist” into the piece he’d probably get a Pulitzer!) He didn’t even give any anecdotal evidence about how or why America is patriarchial and how men run the world- nor did he offer a reason why anyone should care about irritating “feminists”. He didn’t even write “women” which I guess was pretty keen to discern that the majority of “women” would’t mind learning about the issue of father’s rights, but narrow minded feminists might.

    Here is my little anecdote about the way that women “run the world” (whatever that actually means…). I was talking to a guy from Saudi Arabia the other day. He moved to the Bronx when he was about 12. Since I’ve never been anywhere in the Middle East I immidiately quized him on how shocked he must have been when he moved here. At first I pretended that the snow must have been the biggest adjustment- which he agreed with. Then I blurted out- and what about the women! You must have been stunned just to walk down the street and see women wearing whatever they wanted! He was so non shalant on this and said that he wasn’t. He maintained that not all women were covered up all the time- they had a choice (news to me). Finally I asked him why he even moved in the first place- did his dad get a job here or something? In fact, he said his mother, a nurse, came home one day and said she had gotten a job in New York and they were all moving. A few months later they did, children and father included. I had to laugh since a Bulgarian friend told me the SAME story about how his family ended up in the U.S. Instant resolution- what the mother/wife said went. His mother was also a nurse and apparantly in both households (and I imagine in several others around the world) what the woman says often goes. Wouldn’t have belived it about Saudi Arabia if I hadn’t heard it myself. Better alert the NY Times to the matriarchy so clearly at work in Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria!

    • Lila Smence says:

      I didn’t notice any inclusion of Beyoncé… As the article is about a gender issue, I think it is appropriate that Maillard used the terms such as “patriarchy,” “anti-feminism,” and “feminism” as those concepts are an important part of the conversation.
      He probably didn’t go into a long anecdote of why patriarchy exists 1) because his article wasn’t about whether or not patriarchy exists and 2) due to the disproportionate number of males who are in control of money and politics versus women most people are well aware that patriarchy exists around the world. Indeed a whole other article could be written on that subject. I wrote a ten page paper on it a couple years ago.

      Your anecdote hardly proves anything. It’s an isolated account! Furthermore, how old was this guy? Because Afghanistan is a very different place now than it used to be. The Taliban regime invaded Afghanistan in the mid-90s. Also, I fail to understand why two instances when a family moved because the mother got a job somewhere proves much of anything. What, because these two women probably were the main providers for their household or maybe because there was political upheaval happening in their countries (depending on when the move happened), they “rule the world?” Oh please. This does indicate a shift towards more egalitarian standards, but by no means indicates a women-run world.

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