J. Soltys's Weblog

June 27, 2008

Fathers, daughters, fishing, and Patsy Cline

I went out of town for a few days with a friend to a small lake for some fishing and some R&R.
It gave my friend and I a chance to talk guy talk – the talk that is mostly of nothing important, but at the same time, has those moments when men leave open the door of vulnerability, and proceed to express/share a thought/feeling with another man. Men are usually risk takers, but this is the kind of risk most men will take to see if another man agrees with him – an emotional risk – stretching his normal emotional boundaries to clarify or define his normalcy or manhood. When this happens, a man will look to another man, or other men, to see if these men feel the same way. If the other man/men agree, he knows he and his manhood are safe. If the reaction is one of, “You’re not serious dude – are you!”, he knows to keep those feelings to himself for the rest of his life.

I can clarify this by sharing a story that seems to be pretty common among men at some point in their life. I have experienced it, and have heard the story repeated by other men. It usually involves close friends, a late night card game, and alcohol.

At some point late in the evening, one man, usually the host walks over to the stereo to change the music. He decides to play a song that he enjoys, one that moves him emotionally, but hesitates because he knows the other men might spend the rest of the night humiliating him for the selection. But he says screw it, and takes the risk.
He puts the CD in, finds the track he wants to play, and the music begins to fill the air.

The card game stops as every man turns towards the stereo with an expression of disbelief. At that moment, the poor soul that took the risk knows his reputation, manhood, and status is balancing on a fine thread.
Then in a shocking moment of male bonding, all the men in the room say,

“F**cking “A” dude. Turn it up.”

The card game comes to a complete standstill while everyman soaks up the emotions and bliss the song evokes.

The man who played the song has not only maintained his manhood and status among his close male friends, but has in fact elevated it, because he had the balls to play the song around a bunch of men and admit that he likes the song. The other men in the room secretly liked the song also, but may have been afraid to admit it. Therefore, the “real man” of the group is the one showed courage for taking the risk and playing the questionable song.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I find most men can recount a moment like this, recalling it usually took place sometime in their early twenties.

While there are many different songs, there is usually one particular song that is common. So what is that song? “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.

So while sitting in the boat this past weekend, the sun going down, a beer in my hand, a fishing pole in the other (ditto for my friend who I’ll call Tim) and a small radio playing in the background, Tim says,

“Can I tell you about my Fathers Day?”

“Of course,” I say.

But before Tim speaks, here is some background that is meaningful to the story.

About ten years ago Tim went through a contentious divorce. His ex was awarded custody of their only child, a daughter.
At first, Tim experienced no problems with his daughter, the ex, or his visitations. But after about a year, he noticed his daughter, now entering her teen years, began putting distance between them. She was no longer excited to spend time with him, and Tim noticed she began making statements and comments that implied he was not a good father.
Tim talked to his ex about the situation. She seemed quick to blame Tim, and he sensed she also wanted the relationship between him and his daughter to end. She told Tim their daughter was old enough to make her own decisions about whether she wanted to have a relationship with him, so let it be. Tim suspected his ex was influencing their daughter.

Overtime Tim learned his daughter was being fed a consistent flow of negative comments about him by his ex-wife. Her comments did so much damage, that at one point when Tim ran into his daughter at a neighborhood social event, she ran away from him in fear.
I remember how affected Tim was by this. He told me,

“The only hope I have is that as she gets older she will recognize everything her mother told her about me is false. I hope as she matures and begins dealing with serious relationships herself, she will recognize how emotional they can be, and how people will do things to try and seriously hurt others out of spite. I can only hope she will recognize this, and put two and two together, so I can salvage a relationship with her after missing out on so much of her life.”

Then about two years ago Tim’s daughter called asking for money to put towards college expenses.

“How typical” Tim thought. “She only wants contact with me now because she needs something.”

So Tim said he would give her the money if she agreed to sit down and have a talk with him.
She agreed.

Tim figured he had one chance to set things straight, so he was going to tell like it is and keep his fingers crossed.
To summarize a lengthy conversation, Tim told his daughter that he knows he’s not a perfect man, not a perfect father, and will never achieve either. But the one thing he assured her is that he has always tried very hard to be both, not just for himself, but for her also, because he has always loved her and never stopped loving her. He said,

“I could sit here and rip your mother apart for the lies she has told you about me. I could spend hours talking about how she has destroyed our relationship and how I will never get those years back – they are lost. But I won’t do that. I feel you need to see for yourself how your mother has damaged our relationship. And the only way you can see that is by letting me back into your life so you can determine for yourself if I am this terrible person your mothers says I am. Give me this one chance, and I promise you, you will not be disappointed.”

His daughter agreed, and surprisingly confessed that overtime she had become more aware of mom’s bitters towards him, and began to question if everything mom said about dad was true.

Today, Tim enjoys a great relationship with his daughter. In fact, his daughter spends more time with him than she does her mother, and their relationship has blossomed, as both have discovered how much they have in common, particularly their same sense of humor.

Back on the boat, Tim tells me how his daughter came over this past Fathers Day, and they spent the day doing a variety of things together, going from one place to another until evening came, when they decided to stop for ice cream before heading home.
When they got back to Tim’s, they both began to watch TV and eat their ice cream. At this point Tim was starting to feel guilty. He had just spent the whole day with his daughter and they never talked about anything on an intimate level. All conversations were spoken in generalities. Remembering how much time was lost between him and his daughter, and trying to be an open, compassionate, and an involved father, Tim decided to ask her if their was anything she wanted to talk about.

She responded, “Like what?”

Tim began to tell her how he felt uncomfortable going the whole day without having a serious, or deep conversation concerning her, him, her life, his life, or their relationship, as a few examples. Tim said I feel that in order to be a good father, I should be having these conversations with you. I should be more involved emotionally with you.

She replied,

“You are dad. Just by being with you, spending this time with you, and just knowing you are always there for me, I get all the emotional comfort I need.”

Back on the boat there was a pause.

Tim then turned to me and said, “You’re a father. Doesn’t that make you want to cry?”

I said, “Yeah, It sure does.”

There was a moment of silence on the entire lake.

I then turned to Tim, and with a lump in my throat said, “Is that Patsy Cline I hear on the radio?”

Contact:

soltys.joe@gmail.com
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June 19, 2008

Obama “Irresponsible” in Fathers Day Speech

Well I noticed a shift this year. After years of men complaining about the negative portrayal of fathers around Fathers Day, it seemed this year many media outlets were steering away from negative stories and images of fathers, but there were still those that did, and I was glad to find their comments sections filled with men (and women) who challenged these negative perceptions.
It appears people are starting to realize the tremendous difference in the way we honor mothers on Mothers Day, and the way we “honor” fathers on Fathers Day.

So let’s look at the biggest offenders of fathers on Fathers Day.

Barack Obama showed his overt discrimination against fathers – again – on Fathers day.
While calling on black fathers to take responsibility for the numerous fatherless homes in the African-American communities, he also extended his venom towards all fathers.
He told a Fathers Day crowd this about black men,

“They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men.

He also told the crowd with an austere lip,

“we need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.”

He even scolded those fathers who are present in their children’s lives, implying they are lazy and uninvolved:

“It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch ‘SportsCenter’ all weekend long.”

He concluded that,

“What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — any fool can have a child,” he said, to applause. “That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

His cure for this problem is the co-sponsoring of a bill with Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, which would increase enforcement of child support payments, and increase services for domestic violence programs.

Sorry, but Barack is showing how immature he is to handle the responsibility of the most influential and most powerful job in the world. His solution to put more fathers into homes across the nation is to enact legislation that will put more fathers in jail. Current domestic violence laws, along with child support enforcement policies have been known to not just put troubled fathers in jail, but to also have put many innocent and law abiding fathers in prison too. Both of these social ills, and the laws enacted to combat them, have been fraught with innocent men winding up in jail on fraudulent charges. If Barack Obama really knew the issue as he claims, he would know by strengthening these programs without correcting them first will do the exact opposite of what he desires – it will REMOVE more fathers from their children, and lead to more men frustrated and angry with a system that is quick to persecute first and ask questions later.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s pause to look at the tone of language and imagery used by Barack Obama on Fathers Day towards fathers:

“lazy; uninvolved; not man enough; a fool; lacking courage; and irresponsible”

Now let’s take a look at Barack Obama’s speech to mothers’s on Mothers Day taken from his own website:

Senator Obama’s Mother’s Day Statement
Chicago, IL | May 11, 2008
This Mother’s Day, I’ll be doing what so many other Americans are doing – spending time with my family and thinking about the mothers in my life. My mother, Ann Dunham, was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and what is best in me, I owe to her. My grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, helped raise me, sacrificed again and again for me, and loves me as much as she loves anything in this world. And the mother of my daughters Sasha and Malia – my wife Michelle – is the rock of the Obama family and a woman who continues to make me a better person. We couldn’t have done this year without my mother-in-law Marian Robinson, who stays with our girls while Michelle and I are on the campaign trail. And my two sisters, Auma and Maya, each the mother to young daughters, are not only my family, but my dear friends. So to the mothers in my life and to the mothers in all our lives, Happy Mother’s Day.

Is it just me or is his imagery and tone towards mothers completely different?
In his Mothers Day speech, these are the words and imagery created:

“thinking about mom; kind, generous; the best for me; owe a lot; sacrifices for me; loves me immensely; rock of the family; make a better person”

I’ve always admitted that maybe I’m not always right, but this is definitely one of those times when I know I’m not wrong – Barack Obama is obviously anti-father.
On Mothers Day, Obama refused to say anything negative about mothers, which in turn, displays an egregious discriminatory attitude towards fathers.

While the problem with absent fathers is real, particularly in the black community, let’s not forget ALL reasons why fathers may not be present in the home. If Obama is truly serious about tackling this problem, he must be ready to address the uncomfortable realities of why fathers may be absent, which means extending his criticisms towards women and others:

  • Is Obama ready to make substantial changes to the family court systems across the country that favor mothers over fathers, awarding custody to mothers in approximately 70% of all custody cases?
  • On Mothers Day, is Obama ready to address the serious problem of women using false allegations of abuse and violence which lead to orders of protection being issued as a cautionary measure in the absence of any substantial evidence, which in turn, forces the father from his home and separates him from his children?
  • On Mothers Day, is Obama willing to scold women – along with the men – who choose to have numerous children by numerous partners?
  • Is Obama willing to address the fact that men have no reproductive rights, meaning that the number of absent fathers will always be greater than absent mothers due to abortion?
    Over three thousand children are killed each day in this country as a form of birth control; the feminine path to avoid parental responsibility.
    And abortion laws afford only the female to make the difficult decision as to whether she is mentally, emotionally, and financially ready to be a parent. Fathers are not given the choice. After conception, they only have two dark choices: adhere unconditionally to a frightening, life-altering decision made for them by someone else, or run from the situation, which will lead to being ostracized and vilified at best, or spending time in jail at its worse. Is Obama ready to address this disparity?
  • African-American men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than any other group. This is found to a major component in father absenteeism. And in most cases, these fathers are still responsible for child support payments while imprisoned. Most will fall into the “deadbeat” dad list.
    Also, when these men get out of prison, most will not be able to land a job due to the rise of employers using extensive background checks for all new applicants. Most employers will not hire convicted criminals. How is Barack going to address the problem of a men wanting to work, capable of working, but finding no employer will hire them? At the same time, their court ordered child support payments go unpaid. This will lead them back to prison, and out of their children’s lives again, and leave mom raising the kids alone.
    Tightening child support enforcement without addressing this paradox will only cause more difficulties for them, and raise the potential that these fathers will run away to escape this vicious cycle.
  • Also, death rates for young African-American men are greater for this group than any other group. So how is Barack going to tackle this cycle of violence that leaves many children without fathers?

So as one can see, there are many COMPLEX reasons why African-American fathers (as well as other fathers) are not present in the home. To just blame fathers, calling them immature, irresponsible, and lazy is actually more indicative of Obama’s own emotional immaturity. It also is a display of his own irresponsibility, by speaking on this issue in a narrow-minded manner, and shows HIS lack of courage to hold others accountable who also contribute to the dilemma of absent fathers, particularly women and other politicians, because he is fearful of upsetting these people, and losing their support and their votes.

I feel it is obvious Barack Obama is not emotionally interested in fathers, only his chance at the presidency. While some of the comments he made about fathers were inspiring, the majority of it was negative. And while he addressed the problems black fathers face, it sounded no different than any other election year rhetoric – he offered only what has been promised before.
So at this point I would like to elaborate using words from his speech:

“Any fool can say what they want to get elected, but it takes a real man, and a real leader to implement real change. Let us realize that when it comes to addressing fathers that are absent in homes across this country, we shouldn’t send a boy to do a man’s job.”

(Note: Syndicated writer Kathleen Parker covers this same topic in her most recent article titled, “Calling all fathers, and mothers too”)

Other negatives on Fathers Day

When Mom and Dad Share It All – This article appeared in the New York Times on Fathers Day. Written by female writer Lisa Belkin, it is an extensive, 10 page feature article covering the disparity in housework between men and women, with extensive stats that keep reiterating how men fail at helping out at home. While some sections of the article defended men,

“Many women will also admit to the frisson of superiority, of a particular form of gratification, when they are the more competent parent, the one who can better soothe the tears in the middle of the night.”

its core message was obvious – family management is unequal and men are to blame.

It’s no coincidence that the New York Times ran this piece on Fathers Day. The NYT has always been supportive of feminism and its causes. And it’s disturbing to realize that it could have used 364 other days to run this piece, but it chose Fathers Day to intentionally damage the only day of the year set aside to honor good men and fathers. Think they would do that on Mothers Day?

But many female bloggers who read the article felt vindicated by it. Here are some responses:

“good for the Times staff to stick this around Father’s Day and I’m thrilled a few hairs were ruffled”

“my husband and I were surprised and, I admit, somewhat amused to hear that some readers took offense to the piece as somehow man-hating or anti-fathers”

“The article was challenging Dads on their special day to be better fathers – and not to just rest on their laurels”

It’s good to see these women found time to write their thoughts in between insulating the attic, changing the hot water heater, up on the roof cleaning leaves out of the gutters, and putting in a new sump pump.
Oh, I forgot. That’s men’s work!

Dads who grew up without fathers find their own way – This article is written by a woman named Carroll Cradock who is the director of Behavioral Health Services at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Her discrimination of fathers is a little more insidious. On the surface it appears to be written to honor those men who grew up in a fatherless home, but unlike their fathers, chose to embrace the responsibility of fatherhood when they had children.
It appears to be a compassionate piece, stating,

“Many people have the mistaken idea that a man can’t be a good man — let alone a good father — if he didn’t have a dad of his own to show him how.”

How true. But then the writer throws a curve ball, saying,

“Despite such pessimism, these boys have good reason to believe they can become strong fathers. Although boys from homes without fathers dominate troubled groups while they are young, the majority do not fall to the wayside.”

This is the exact kind of paradox I’ve written about before, how society demands men understand the importance of their role in a child’s life, but at the same time, men are consistently reminded how unimportant their role is when all things are considered.

She goes on to say she has met or helped many men who were determined to become good fathers, in spite of the lack of a fatherly role model in their own life. She says these men did it by being persistent in asking others for help and guidance as they navigated the unfamiliar task of fatherhood.
Sounds great until she writes this:

“Other fathers I interviewed said they learned the most from their mothers, grandparents and the mothers of their own children.
Maybe it has always taken a village to raise a father. Maybe we’ve lost sight of the fact that uncles, mothers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends have always had a hand in mentoring men into fatherhood.”

Again we see the image of mother/female superiority over the father/male. Men are flawed creatures, always needing the guidance of women to help them navigate through life. Ironically, I have never read an article on Mothers Day – or any other day for that matter – that postulated that the best mothers are not those guided only by the wisdom of other women, but those who received relentless doses of male wisdom from the men in their lives.

She goes back to what I’ll call the fatherhood paradox by saying,

“It may be the case that future fathers and children most at risk are not those without a father in the home, but those living in communities with few adults willing and capable of putting the needs of children first.”

So again, if I’m reading it right, it is not that an absent father is actually a problem, but rather the community of adults who refuse to step up and mentor the fatherless child.
This reeks of the “children do not need a father, they just need a male role model” ideology, which is a component of feminist thinking. You will never hear someone say a child does not need a mother, that the role of motherhood is easily interchangeable with a part-time female role model. (To read another man’s point of view on this topic, go to Sweating Through the Fog)

My final thoughts: So are fathers important, or are they expendable?  And if fathers are important, why do we openly discriminate against them? Is this the gender equality feminist are fighting for, to discriminate against fathers on Fathers Day, but not mothers on Mothers Day? Why aren’t they speaking out against this gender inequality?

And lastly, when did the venture into motherhood automatically proclaim women infallible?

Now just the good news

The only way this discrimination is going to end is to start protesting it, without letting up. Some men have already begun the process. This is what took place on Friday:

Fathers 4 Justice, Los Angeles (F4JLA) and the National Coalition For Men, Los Angeles (NCFMLA) stood front and center this morning at the entrance to a downtown Los Angeles Courthouse. The corner of 1st St. and Hill St. is always a bustling intersection and this morning it was a little busier than usual. All across America, today is Fatherless Day, and folks are taking to the streets to call attention to the way family law and family law courts mistreat Fathers.
Story and pictures here.

And here is another example of how things are beginning to change as more fathers protest their discriminatory treatment:

Fathers sleep a lot, and they snore loudly. When they’re awake, they like to fish or golf, but they’re comically bad at both. They drink so much beer they’re practically alcoholics, and they’re complete couch potatoes, always watching television and hogging the remote. At least, that’s the less-than-favorable image of Dad on Father’s Day greeting cards. It’s a striking contrast to the poetic praise often expressed at Mother’s Day. Many men say they are tired of the “put-down” cards and would like some affirmation for a change — and at least one greeting-card company is listening.

The company is Hallmark – read it here.

Contact:

soltys.joe@gmail.com
https://jsoltys.wordpress.com

June 15, 2008

HAPPY FATHERS DAY! – and some great father stories.

Happy Fathers Day to all Dad’s, from one continent to another.

Today I’ll share some stories with my reader that portray what I feel is a more realistic image of fathers as compared to the negative images portrayed by the media and feminist leaning thinkers.

  • Sadly, Tim Russert died this week of a heart attack at the young age of 58. Tim was best known as the host of the successful political show “Meet the Press”. But Tim is also known for writing a best selling book about his father titled Big Russ and Me, and another book about fathers called Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons, which is composed of positive stories from sons and daughters about their fathers.
    Glenn Sacks has covered the passing of Tim, and his legacy to fathers extensively at his website. To read more click here.
  • In a 2004 interview, Tim discusses his book Big Russ and Me, his father, and fatherhood with Neil Cavuto from Fox News. To listen, click here.
  • This next story is one that defies the general perception of fathers being lazy. Instead it shows how fathers have the capacity to love, care for, nurture, stabilize, and extend themselves beyond average parental responsibilities when it comes to their children.
    Paul Goncalves is a truck driver who’s son has a condition called hydrocephalus, which causes an accumulation of spinal fluid on the brain. His son requires round the clock care that Paul’s wife cannot manage because she has severe depression. So Paul takes his son on the road, turning his cab into a mobile care center.
    This is just one incredible father. Hat’s of to you Paul!
    Have brain-fluid shunt, will travel
  • This story is about Mark Harris, and how he will celebrate this Fathers Day. Mark will spend it protesting the biased family court system in England. You see Mark is a member of the father’s rights group Fathers 4 Justice.
    If you have ever wondered why father’s rights groups are needed, read how Mark was consistently denied the right to see his children for a number of years due to frivolous accusations and a biased court system that keeps good fathers from their children. It becomes clear why men like Mark do what they do.
    Justice 4 my father, says daughter of rooftop protester
  • Here is a heart warming story about a father and his son who has Down syndrome. Mike and Casey Deegan do everything together, at that includes spending Fathers Day doing what most people would never expect – skydiving!
    Read Mike and Casey’s story, and see how this father and son appear just as normal as any other father and son team.
    Despite Down Syndome, Son Jumps at Any Chance to Follow His Dad
  • This next article comes from a woman named Lizabetta who has her own blog detailing her life as a once single mother. In this article, she uses her blog to eloquently convey the appreciation she has for her husband, not just as a spouse, but as a loving, caring father.
    However, I have to note that I am partial to her writings. She is a visitor to my blog, appreciates my writing, and I have corresponded with her in the past. But even with that being said, it does not take away the beauty or sincerity of her article.
    Fathers Day Reflections

 

Again, Happy Fathers Day to All!

Contact:           

soltys.joe@gmail.com
https://jsoltys.wordpress.com
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June 12, 2008

Answering My Critics

After I wrote my two part article on why sexism was not a reason Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for president, it was picked up by Fox News. This sent my average daily blog numbers skyrocketing. In its wake, I was left with many negative comments, most of them coming in the e-mail form rather than being posted in the comment section at the end of the article. I guess people do not like to see their darker side displayed in a public forum. It seems it is so much easier to write, “J. Soltys, Fuck You!” in a private e-mail instead of displaying it in a public forum in order to protect one’s “good girl” image.

But I promise not to let myself get sidetracked to often on differences of opinion like this. What I mean is that I have a personal rule I follow when posting an article. And that is to let comments that are posted in response to my articles go without debate by me.
The main reason I do this is out of respect for fairness and true equality. I reason that if I have the opportunity to write my thoughts, feelings, and opinions in this forum, then I must honor those that either agree or disagree, and allow their thoughts and opinions to be expressed without interference. I have the power to block or remove any comment, but I choose not to do so unless it is filled with vulgarity, or links to what I feel are disturbing websites.
The exception to my interference would be if an individual placed misleading or inaccurate information about a topic that I felt needed a rebuttal. Then I would challenge something that is posted in the comments section.
E-mails sent to me I assume are meant to be private conversation between me and that person. However, anything that comes into my mailbox is essentially my property and I have a right to use it if I feel it is worth sharing. In most cases however, I will not.

Another reason I do not respond to countering opinions on my blog is because I’ve seen on other bloggers get easily trapped into a “pissing contest” with some people. It consumes most of the bloggers time, and in the end, the blog suffers because of it. I’ve never seen a good outcome for either the instigator or the blogger. Therefore I take a casual approach, and let others have their say, and leave it to the reader make up his or her opinion.

This is one of those times when I am going to break my own rule. Some of the criticism I received was way out of line, and I feel it needs serious rebuttal. In fact, I’m wondering if some actually read what I wrote because it appears their criticism contradicts what I wrote.

Most of the harshest criticism of me and my article came in the e-mail form. And most of it can be summed up this way:
You are:
sexist, misogynist, hypocrite, women hater, caveman, idiot, jerk, stupid, asshole, just like all the rest, no better, etc., etc., etc.
In response to those people, yes. At times I have been accused of all those things, but the charges never seem to stick.

Now that the easy part is out of the way, let’s get to those that actually put some serious thought into their responses and tried to argue that I was somehow missing the bigger picture.

This response was from Dee in the comments section:

I am no hillary, fan, but I am a black american and it really pains me to read the hate trash that people like you write. As a woman I would think that you do not owe hillary anything but as a woman you do owe the gender a little respect when someone is doing their best. No hillary is not perfect, but I have never read or heard her speak so negatatively and hateful against another woman as you and the media and other bloggers trying to make a name for him or herself regardless of whom is hurt.

Thanks for your opinion Dee, but I’m sure you realize I will have to disagree.
To sum up your response: I wrote something really offensive, not just about Hillary but about the female gender in general. And in doing so, I disrespected women. You also say Hillary is not perfect, just human, and that I’m just trying to make a name for myself.

First, let me talk about my ego and trying to make a name for myself. I started writing about gender issues from the male perspective about one year ago. At that time I had my own website, but chose this platform for convenience. After a year of doing this, I can tell you that it is not a path to fame and fortune. If I wanted fame and fortune, I would have tried out for the television show American Idol or Apprentice, or have stayed up late one night and had my choice of choosing what program I was going to use to “make a million dollars in one month with no money down” from the many late night infomercials. I can assure you those paths seem an easier road to fame and fortune rather than writing about gender issues on a blog.
I do this because I believe I have an opinion to offer. Not always the right opinion, but not always the wrong one either. I offer an opinion from the male perspective on gender issues because feminism has generated many unjustified and unqualified negative perceptions of men and masculinity. The negative image of men and fathers has been entrenched in society for some time now; some of it is understandable, but a good portion is also just irresponsible. If the genders were reversed, these irresponsible images and portrayals would cause outrage from coast to coast. But since the negative images are of men and fathers, nobody really cares. However, a small band of brothers like myself have taken to writing about these negative stereotypes, the contradictions, and the hypocrisies displayed by feminism and society, and offer a countering opinion to the general public.

I had no intention of writing about Hillary’s loss. As I mentioned in the article, I wrote about her last year, but what I didn’t mention was that I promised not to write about her anymore. The reason being; I didn’t want to seem like I was piling on her as she began stumbling more and more in the presidential race. I chose to let Hillary and her actions stand alone, for better or for worse, so she could have the decency to be judge the same as anybody else.
And I want to note that during my podcasts at the beginnings of the primary race, both my partner Jim (a staunch conservative) and me, pointed out how we felt Hillary was the strongest candidate and deserved the nomination. We also acknowledged the few times when we thought Hillary was facing criticism that WAS related to her gender.

With that being said, the only reason I wrote about Hillary’s loss NOW, is because SHE and her supporters chose to blame sexism and a misogynist society for her loss. It is at this point that Hillary and her supporters brought the criticism upon themselves. As I mentioned before, I do not have to go out looking for a battle, but it sure seems to me, as a writer of gender issues from a male perspective, that I do not have to wait long before somebody wants to blame men or fathers for events that may well be caused their own irresponsibility. When this happens, and I find it irresponsible, I will challenge it. And this is one of those cases.

You say I owe the female gender a little respect. I never attacked women as a gender anywhere in the articles. But if you want to make a case that I did, then the argument is thrown back at you: Where is the respect for men as a gender when Hillary and her supporters choose to blame men for all her failures? In the name of equality, don’t women need to offer men the same respect in return? As a man, are you saying I owe women unconditional respect, but women do not have to offer men the same in return? Women can place blame, hate, and scorn upon men without any criticism, and men should just stay silent and not speak up? Are you asking me to do what numerous women were subjected to under historical patriarchy? Are you asking me to do what you and millions of other women would never do – stay silent? I thought the women’s movement made it clear this behavior is extremely sexists?
If these are the rules, then I’ll be breaking them quite often, because I refuse to remain silent.

Another point: I personally did treat Hillary as an individual. As I mentioned earlier, when she began stumbling in the race, I backed off my criticism and let her stand on her own. But here’s my thought: If treating people as individuals is important, then why can’t you and her supporters do the same for men? If there were individual men who treated her with disrespect, then why lump them together with all men and use blanket statements such as “misogynist” and “sexism” that generalize men and society as inherently evil? Will this behavior help break down negative stereotypes and breed the individualism you seek? Of course not. It only makes it worse.

And I’m still not sure where I wrote hateful trash. Asking a presidential candidate to take responsibility for his/her contradiction, lies, or other failures is hateful? What male presidential candidate – or seated president – hasn’t been challenged the same way? President Bush deals with it every day.
And why is my challenging Hillary’s perceptions, and those of her supporters, that sexism and misogyny are probably not the main reasons she lost – using accurate and credible information – hateful trash? Are you saying because I’m a man, and her being a woman, I do not get to challenge what I felt were female sexist comments? Have we just encountered an evolving “female privilege” in society?

And finally, how have I deployed hatred by writing that in spite of Hillary’s missteps, she still secured the popular vote, showing how this country is actually not as sexist as some people have vocalized (Note: This fact itself greatly diminishes the validity of their sexism argument.), but more importantly, Hillary’s bid left an unequivocal positive mark by showing how far women and our nation have come by concluding this country is ready for a female president. This was hateful? Why, because I felt Hillary will not be the one?
Thanks for writing Dee, but as I said previously, I will have to agree to disagree with you.

Then there was Bob. He agreed with me about Hillary’s screw ups, but he became angry at my linking her irresponsibility to feminism. He wrote:

You’re very clear on the things Clinton has done wrong. But what do you mean by feminism? How are you possibly linking Clinton’s actions with actions of any feminist? Are you referring to French feminism and it’s concentration on how language promotes sexism? Or maybe you’re referring to Post Colonial feminism? Or maybe you really don’t know anything about feminism and instead are creating a definition based on popular ideas you were too lazy to research? Maybe you should start with Wikipedia and find out what feminism is really about.

He then goes on to say I really don’t know what the hell I’m talking about (Re:Full of shit).
Well Bob got part of it right. I knew when I wrote the article I was writing it from a perspective that would have needed another page to explain why I feel her blaming others is typical of feminism. But since I write to a particular audience that is familiar with my work, I chose to ignore an in-depth analysis. So when Fox News highlighted my article, it became a problem, since all these new readers were not familiar with my opinions.

But, since you asked Bob, let me explain.
First, yes I have read Wikipedia’s definition for “feminism”. As a matter of fact, I’ve read many articles on feminism, women, men, and genders over the last 10 years.
I was actually at one time a supporter of women’s rights and feminism. I even had a long term relationship with a woman who was a member of NOW. But over the years I came to find the writings, research, and opinions of feminist to be contradictory, hateful, blaming, distorted, and heavily biased.
And sadly, these distorted perceptions became very influential. I wish I had a dollar for every woman who has said she is not a feminist but then rattled off an opinion that came straight from feminist ideology.
So you are right that I may not know in explicit detail what feminism is, but it is dangerous to say that I cannot express my personal experiences concerning how I feel feminism has affected myself and others. If you really believe that one cannot express their thoughts without explicit and unequivocal objectivity, then feminism itself would not exist, for women would have been banned from expressing how the patriarchy subjugated them without first having an intense academic study in the understanding of men and masculinity. That would be nearly impossible for the average woman to achieve. And the civil rights movement would not have progressed to where it has today because African-Americans would not have been able to speak out about white privileged unless they possessed a PhD in the study of “Caucasians”.
Neither group needed such an intense pedagogy, nor winded exegesis of the masses, to personally express and instigate a correction to what they felt was the devaluing of their humanity. My blog is nothing more than my expression of my experiences with men, women, and gender, and the ability to share theses thoughts with a larger community. I’m sorry you came to my blog expecting to find a documentary of intense and unequivocal verity. I usually read blogs for what they are meant to be – opinions.

As for why I feel feminism is contradictory, and blaming of others? It is a belief I’ve developed after reading numerous feminists writings and research. If you spent some time reading this literature, it becomes apparent that when given similar circumstances, men have nobody to blame but themselves, while women have the freedom to blame anyone else, most often men and the patriarchy. Hillary’s allegation was a prime example.
Here are some quick examples of what I’m talking about:

  • Feminist abhor male violence, particularly men’s obsession with war. They vehemently detest the killing of so many innocent lives, and label it as probably one of the most irresponsible acts of masculinity. However, under the guidance of femininity, abortion and the killing of over 3000 innocent children a day is protected and held in adulation as one of the defining moments and an important fundamental of a woman’s right. However, in feminist writings, I have found numerous references that women would not need abortion if “men could keep it in their pants”. In other words, it’s not really a woman’s fault she became pregnant and needed and abortion; it’s really the man’s fault. Or another argument is that if men didn’t run from their responsibilities and leave women to raise children alone, then abortion would not be needed. And it is this argument that carries more weight than others, and addresses a serious problem of some men who abandon their parental responsibilities. But there is an ugly flaw in this argument. It implies that when men refuse to accept the responsibility of fatherhood, it usually involves abandoning their children, but leaves evidence to the fact that at least the child is given a chance at life. Consequently, research shows that the majority of women who choose abortion, do so to escape the responsibility of parenthood, deciding that killing the child to avoid this responsibility is the best option.
    My point is not to debate whether abortion should remain legal or not, but instead, I bring it up to show the different perceptions concerning the responsibility towards male and female killing of innocent lives, and the responsibility towards pregnancy and parental responsibility through the eyes of feminist. When men and women are found in similar situations, men are easily blamed without discourse, while immediate discourse emerges to explain why women should not be blamed. As one writer put it, “Women are diagnosed, men are demonized.”
  • Feminist have contended that when ever a woman is charged with domestic violence, it is only because she was defending herself from her abuser.
    More and more research is now showing women instigate violence in a relationship as much as men, so it disturbs me to find feminist still rushing in to blame the man when a woman is charged with domestic violence, in spite of this evidence. And more importantly, feminists have assiduously demanded that blaming the victim is an abhorrent practice and should be stopped. So why are they so comfortable engaging in this practice themselves? Are they saying to blame the victim is wrong when the victim is a woman, but acceptable when the victim is a man? Again we see blame and responsibility disseminated by feminist in a discriminating manner.
  • Back in the 1990’s, feminist reported that females were struggling in our schools due to sexist and discriminatory practices. It was reported that girls suffered terribly from self-esteem problems due to these practices, and this effected how they performed in school. In other words, old man patriarchy (men) was to blame.
    Later it was discovered their research was extremely flawed, and it was actually males performing worse than the girls except in the areas of math and science. And it was discovered self-esteem does not have a powerful effect on scholastic performance as believed. Black males report the highest ratings of self-esteem, yet are some of the nation’s weakest scholastic performers.
    So how have some feminist reacted to these findings? First, they have offered no apologies for their lack of honesty, and second, quite a few have shrugged off poor male performance as not a serious issue needing to be addressed, citing inherent male laziness as the problem.
    So the situation started with feminist blaming males, and then upon further inspection, it was found they lied, and they responded to their indiscretions not by apologizing, but by blaming males again!

I could go on, there is plenty more, but I hope you get the point Bob. If not, stick around. I’ll be doing this for a while, in spite of the fact you think I’m full of shit.

As I said before, I may not always be right, but I’m not always wrong either. As humans we are naturally flawed. This means that what ever we construct, it will be embedded with these flaws. Men are flawed, just as much as women are. The patriarchy has been proven to be flawed by feminist and others, so I’m not sure why feminist have demanded the belief that their movement is free from mistakes and injustices. To believe otherwise is not just illogical, but it also implies superiority over men. That in itself is sexist, along with the idea that men cannot challenge the thoughts and opinions of feminism and find its flaws.

Since I’ve been accused of not having a true understanding of feminism, let me offer an opinion by somebody who does.
Rebecca Walker is the founder of the Third Wave Foundation, a feminist group that works nationally to support young women and transgender activists. She had this to say in her article at CNN:

Obama has gracefully accepted the victory banner, and a lot of Hillary supporters, especially women, are walking off the field as if they’ve lost a war. I understand their frustration, but the truth is they didn’t lose, not by a long shot. Their candidate is stronger than ever, with 17 million votes under her belt, and the public discussion about the role of gender is more nuanced and compelling than it has been in decades.
It is time to turn the page on myopic gender-based Feminism and concede that while patriarchy is real, so is female greed, dishonesty and corruptibility. It’s time to empower the feminisms embodied by millions of women and men who care about everyone, including, but not limited to, women.

Not much difference between my thoughts and hers. And as I have done often, I highlight feminist thoughts and opinions I think are fair and balanced.

I stand by what I wrote. I’m done with this debate.

June 7, 2008

At CNN, Moms More Important As Fathers Day Approaches

Recently I wrote an article explaining how if history repeats itself, the approaching Fathers Day weekend should be imbedded with negative stories and events about fatherhood, displaying a completely opposite trend when compared to mothers. As Mothers Day weekend approaches, we graciously overlook all of “mom’s” failures and indiscretions she has committed, and instead, honor her for all her wonderful attributes and sacrifices. For fathers, we ALWAYS find room to let them know how they have failed us, and how they can do better in the future. (Mothers Day Has Passed. Prepare for the Assualt on Fathers Day!)

Well, I have now found another discreet form of parental discrimination as Fathers Day quickly approaches. It appears CNN is running a special segment within their website which contains numerous articles about motherhood and the hardships working mothers face today. The segment is called “Busy Moms – Staying Afloat” and features such articles as “How CNN moms balance work and family”, “8 things no one tells you about being a mom”, ” ‘Soccer moms’ juggle motherhood and sports”, and “What working moms miss and wish for”.
Maybe I’m letting my adversarial side get the best of me, but why is CNN running a special segment about the joys and stresses of motherhood a week before Fathers Day? In a society that continually preaches the importance of fathers, and stresses the need to find ways to keep children and fathers connected, why spend so much effort on mothers as Fathers Day approaches? And what’s worse, the stories themselves are filled with selfish victimhood – treating some family events and issues as if only working mothers experience them, ignoring the similar impact on working fathers in similar situations.
In all, I find it discriminating and misleading.

For instance, in the article “What working moms miss and wish for” it states:

CareerBuilder.com’s annual Mother’s Day survey finds that working mothers are eager to trade the office for family time if only it were financially feasible.

FYI: Same with men. One of many studies showing men trend towards the same feeling is a study of men ages 20-35 by the Radcliffe Public Policy Center at Harvard University which showed:

82% put family time at the top of their list, keeping pace with 85 percent of women in those age groups. Breaking ranks with their fathers and grandfathers on the important issue of work-family integration, 71 percent of men 21-39 said they would give up some of their pay for more time with their families.

Another part of the CNN article states:

Finding the time to do their job and still be involved parents is a daily struggle for today’s working mothers. Late nights in the office can mean missing a family dinner, a teacher conference or baby’s first words.

And how many fathers over numerous generations have experienced this painful reality as the sole bread winners in the family? But now that mothers are beginning to face this reality, it’s suddenly a terrible tragedy. Should I assume we place more value on a mother’s loss than a father’s?

Seventeen percent of surveyed mothers have missed three or more significant events in their children’s life in the last year. In fact, 34 percent of mothers admit to spending less than three hours each day with their children.

Same again. But this time, let’s consider numerous studies that have shown fathers spend less time with their children than mothers. Every time one of those studies is released, negative criticism is assiduously applied to fathers. It is assumed the data represents that fathers are trying to abdicate from their parental responsibilities. Years ago I remember women advocating men spend “quality” time with their children, and becoming frustrated and angry with them if they didn’t. This was in response to studies at that time which showed how little time men spent with their children. Society and the media echoed this “stand up and be a real man” movement.
But now that women are found to be in a similar situation, compassion and understanding are given in copious amounts.
What a considerable difference in approach and acknowledgement of the same findings. A mother spending less time with her children due to the demands of her career is neither less a mother or a woman. But a man who spends less time with his children is met with skepticism as it relates to being a good father, and is perceived as less of a man because of it.

One common way mothers attempt to balance their workload and their families is to bring work home with them, which can help advance their careers but also damage their personal relationships.

Am I missing something here? If you want to meet the archetypes of bringing work home from the office to balance work and family, it is fathers. They invented, cultivated, and refined the “bringing work home” strategy, staying up late at night in order to spend quality time with the family after work.

Although your family is the most important thing in your life, you might forget to show it. Devote your weekends and any free weekday evenings to family activities. Even if you can’t plan a mid-week activity, make a quick phone call to your children to see how their school day went.

Again, the best consultant for this type of behavior is dad. He has been at it much longer than mom. I’m sure he’d be willing to give out a few pointers.

I’m not sure what CNN was thinking by running this special before Fathers Day. And as I pointed out, these struggles between work and family are more familiar to dads than they are to moms. So why not run a similar special about fathers, and the corresponding joys and stresses of fatherhood? I feel this would have been more appropriate and productive for families at this time.
But as I have written before, fathers are treated as second class parents who expected to quietly perform first class responsibilities with little or no argument. So to find CNN running a segment on the trial and tribulations of motherhood right before Fathers Day validates those feelings of discrimination that I have.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in my next post.

June 4, 2008

Hillary Doing What Feminist Do Best – Blame Others

    (Part 2)

Previously I wrote how Hillary Clinton is blaming sexism and misogyny within the media and society for her decline from top presidential candidate hopeful to presidential candidate in despair.

I found her excuse typical of a person who has proselytized the feminist ideology which Hillary has confidently vocalized. Therefore, her beliefs and actions within any given situation will be filled with contradictions, hypocrisy, and blaming others for her own failures. While these behaviors may be found in any politician, one that claims adherence to feminist ideology will procure them with greater intensity than that of a non-feminist politician.
As a writer of gender issues from a male perspective, it was expected – yet still disturbing – to hear Clinton blame others for her failures when the evidenced clearly shows Hillary can only blame herself. She has shown repeatedly she cannot refrain from distorting the truth, creating a perception that misleading the public is a comfortable way of life for her.

So on the day after Barack Ombama has layed claimed to the Democratic presidential nomination, let me continue with more events that took place during the Clinton campaign which led to her downfall:

— Back in November of last year, Clinton’s staff was caught planting questions within the crowds that showed up at her speeches. It seems her staff would immerse themselves in the crowd before hand looking for individuals who would ask questions that Hillary and her staff had already prepared eloquent answers for. Those individuals would then be singled out when audience question and answer segments would take place, thus making Hillary look like a solid, informative, and unwavering candidate.

— While Hillary wants to blame the media for her failures, the evidence proves otherwise. Hillary recently stated in a Washington Post interview,
“[The] intensity of my support” was rarely reported, adding, “I think that is a disservice because we have broad coalitions of voters who have voted for me who make up the base of a winning campaign in November that I think want to see this end up with my being nominated.”

This claim is filled with half-truths and contradictions. Let’s take a look:

— Until Hillary lost the first primary election in Iowa, she and her staff treated the press as a nuisance, rarely giving them time for questions and interviews. Howard Kurtz wrote in the Washington Post:

Her campaign can still be inconsiderate toward reporters, sometimes not sending out the next day’s  schedule until 2 a.m., making it impossible even to plan what time to get up.”

“On her campaign plane, Clinton started coming back to the press section for off-the-record chats, usually harmless but sometimes including comments that contradicted what she was saying publicly, according to participants. Two weeks ago part of the media contingent revolted, saying the conversations did them no good if they couldn’t use the information.”

Only after her loss in Iowa did she open up to the press.
This decision for a presidential candidate and her staff to implement a strategy to ostracize the press for a long period of time and then complain later that the press was limited in the coverage of her campaign borders on childish behavior.

— Saying that the press has not acknowledged her broad coalition of voters is somewhat valid. But Clinton’s campaign strategy has been widely known to be overwhelmingly committed to harnessing women voters – historically the larger voting block between men and women. So why scold and blame the press for not reporting the diversity of Clinton’s voting bloc? The media is only reporting the results of the behavior, actions, and strategy put forth by Hillary and her staff.

— In killing two birds with one stone: First, Hillary claims the media did not report her broad coalition of support; second, this was the result of sexism in the media and society.
Let’s look deeper at these two accusations.
First, the media did report frequently on male support for Hillary Clinton. Fox News reported that in a Gallup poll completed at the being of the race, almost 49% of men were favoring Clinton and that male support fell very little, to just under 40% during March and April.
It was widely reported that Clinton easily had the vote of white male union workers in strong union states, and those predictions turned out to be true.
Second, while it was reported her support from the working-class white males has been weak, it should be noted that Obama has suffered the same dilemma. And it should be noted history shows John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, and Jimmy Carter -all white male Democratic politicians – also struggled to capture the votes of the white working class male in their bids for the presidency.
With this information, where is the sexism in society she talks about? The rejection of Clinton as a white Democrat by the white working-class male is business as usual in American politics.
Third, Clinton has been trying to stay alive in her nomination by pointing out that she exceeds Obama in popular vote. This time she is telling the truth. However, it’s contradictory to say “The majority of the population wants me as their candidate”, while at the same time complaining that sexism within that same population has diminished her chance for a presidential nomination.
So under scrutiny, her argument that her campaign was hurt by a biased media and a sexist society turns out to be completely false.

Further charges of sexism addressed by Clinton and her supporters can also be challenged as fatuous, and more importantly, show Hillary and her supporters are actually sexist themselves. For instance:

— One story that is used by Clinton and her supporters to validate the charges of sexism in the race is the repeated telling of an incident where a couple of men yelled out to Hillary “Iron my shirt!”
First, her supporters never mention that this was a stunt staged by a shock jock at a local radio station to gather publicity and ratings for his show.
Second, it is hard to imagine the “women’s work” statement is so offensive and sexist when Hillary has used the same image of women’s work around the house as a platform in a majority of her campaign speeches. She has repeatedly told female dominated audiences that it is time to “clean up” the White House. She uses the analogy that women must get out their brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners, and brushes because only a woman/women can clean up the mess in the White House that the men have created.
Not only is it sexist to imply that a women’s greatest asset is her homemaking skills, but it is also sexist to men, implying the ugly gender stereotype that all men are lazy and irresponsible.
Mysteriously, her supporters had no qualm about Hillary using humiliating, negative stereotypes about women on the campaign trail -they have only become upset when men have used them.

— When her husband Bill started causing controversy on the campaign trail for Hillary, she was asked by ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden during ABC News’ Nightline, “Can you control him?”
“Oh of course,” she replied with confidence.
Now change the genders. A male presidential candidate is asked if he can control his wife. He responds, “Oh of course.”
It would be the end of his career, an image from which he could never recover. But for a female candidate, saying you can “control” your husband brings no condemnation from feminist, women rights, and gender equality advocates – it brings empowerment.

— When asked by talk show host Ellen Degeneres whether Bill helped out around the house, Hillary said he does, usually by rearranging bookshelves and cleaning the kitchen. Then in a condescending manner she said, “He’s pretty handy to have around, actually.”
Imagine a male candidate speaking with such apathy about his wife, only seeing her contributions in their marriage as some low priority afterthought. Do think it would go unnoticed? Of course not.

— Another alleged example of the sexism Hillary faced on the campaign trail, which has been repeated by her supporters, involves a comment made to Republican candidate John McCain during a campaign stop. Someone asked McCain, “How do we beat the bitch?”
Also, CNN commentator Alex Castellanos said during a CNN telecast that Clinton deserves to be called a “bitch.”
I would find these comments offensive and sexist myself, however, I can’t. The fact is, Hillary’s supporters used the same term themselves during her campaign.
When Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live showed her support for Hillary by exclaiming “bitches get stuff done” during the shows Weekend Update segment, Hillary’s own husband called Tina to say THANK YOU! And Hillary’s supporters loved the comment so much they began making T-shirts that mocked Fey’s comments.
And when Elton John offered to perform a concert to raise funds for Hillary’s campaign, the printed invites mailed out to supporters ended with the saying “The bitch is back!”

I could go on and on – sadly there is still more – but I think I’ve made my point: Hillary Clinton did not lose the race for presidential nomination because of a sexist media or sexist society. The blame for her failed nomination rest squarely on the shoulders of herself, her advisors, her staff, and her supporters. And by blaming others for her failures, in my opinion, she has essentially ruined any chance of being president of this country. Nobody wants a “victim” as president. If one cannot triumph over personal adversity – real or perceived – how will one lead a nation through never ending and ever changing adversity?

Judging by how effective Hillary’s run for president was inspite of shooting herself in the foot over and over, gives validity that sexism will not play a role in the future of electing a woman as president. A more valid argument is that Hillary’s success has proven that the time is actually ripe for our nation to elect its first woman president.
Unfortunately, Hillary is just not that woman.

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