“Fathers’ Rights” and the Realities of Men’s Family Labor

politics-of-masculinities-1“Fathers’ rights activists, who are predominately white and middle- or working-class, tend to ignore how work and family institutional relations benefit them, both before and after divorces. Instead, they focus entirely on the economic and emotional costs that are attached to these masculine privileges–among them, the common legal assumption after a divorce, that children are better off spending the majority of their time with their mothers. Whereas very few of these fathers ever contributed anywhere near 50% of the child care before the divorce, they passionately argue for the right to joint custody–or, in some cases, sole custody–of their children after the divorce (Coltrane & Hickman, 1992). Bertoia and Drakich (1995) conclude from their interviews with fathers’ rights activists that “the rhetoric of fathers’ rights gives the illusion of equality, but in essence, the demands are to continue the practice of inequality in postdivorce but now with legal sanction” (p. 252).”

Page 47 in Messner, Michael A. 2000. Politics of Masculinities: Men in Movements. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

[Emphasis in original. From Chapter 3, The Limits of “The Male Sex Role”: The Men’s Liberation and Men’s Rights Movements, pp. 36-48;
Section,  The Men’s Rights Movement, pp. 41-48;
Subsection, “Fathers’
Rights” and the Realities of Men’s Family Labor, pp. 44-48.
References below from the original, with links added:]

Coltrane, S., & Hickman, N. (1992). The Rhetoric of Rights and Needs: Moral Discourse in the Reform of Child Custody and Child Support Laws. Social Problems, 39, 400-420.

Bertoia, C. E., & Drakich, J. (1995). The Fathers’ Rights Movement: Contradictions in Rhetoric and Practice. In W. Marsiglio (Ed.), Fatherhood: Contemporary theory, research, and social policy (pp. 230-254). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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