Men: The New Victim Group
Book Review - Kathleen Parker, Save the Males: Why Men Matter. Why Women Should Care
Human Events, vol. 64, no 41 (24 November 2008).
STEPHEN BASKERVILLE, 11-24-08
"The last thing we need in America is yet another victim group," writes columnist John Leo, "this one made up of seriously aggrieved males." Yet he devotes the column to the dangers of male-bashing.
Men seldom complain about negative "stereotypes," from fear of appearing petty. So Kathleen Parker has performed a valuable service in her fine book about the increasingly male-hostile culture created by extreme feminism. The relentless venom against males and masculinity-and its impact on women and girls-is presented in readable prose with vivid, often humorous anecdotes. In popular culture, men are portrayed as bumblers, deadbeats, pedophiles, rapists, and batterers. Even boys are deprecated beyond a joke, with feminist teachers declaring, "I don't like boys" and feminist curricula trying to make them girls, plus Tshirts urging that they be pelted with rocks.
The consequences reach beyond New Age Men in aprons and Lamaze classes. By far the most serious fallout is the systematic destruction of fatherhood-"patriarchy" in feminist jargon. Single motherhood is more than celebrated in the popular culture; it is enforced in the courts. Public ridicule may be sufficient for public figures like former Vice President Dan Quayle, who do not subscribe to the fashionable orthodoxy that children can be raised just fine without fathers, but handcuffs and jail cells are available for private men who refuse to accept that their own children are just fine without them.
Parker shows how families with fathers are more than a cultural ideal and social necessity: They also "keep government in its place." She exposes repressive measures against "deadbeat dads," including privacy and constitutional rights violations of "Americans accused of nothing," and how this dishonest campaign is actually causing the problem it is supposed to be addressing. While Parker's emphasis is on culture, she transcends the trendy but superficial "he said/she said" approach and highlights government power: How easily "stereotypes" result in not merely unfairness but incarceration.
To appreciate why this book is more than the mirror image of feminist "whining" requires recognizing a fundamental distinction between unfairness and injustice. It may be unfair that a woman can decide to abort a child or not and that a man with no "choice" about the child he fathered must then pay child support. But (even aside from the immorality of abortion) it is not necessarily unjust, and it does not in itself threaten a free society. Criminalizing innocent fathers by seizing and holding their children through divorce laws that allow them to the "treated like criminals by family court," leveling false charges of ill-defined "abuse," confiscating their homes, gagging their voices, forcing them to confess to crimes they did not commit, demanding that they pay for it all under the guise of "child support"-and all this on pain of incarceration without trial-constitutes government repression. It threatens not only the families and social order but the privacy and freedom of us all.
Though sugar-coated on Oprah and Dr. Phil, what this book exposes are the consequences of a political ideology that, like most ideologies, promotes hate. Not only has this permeated every corner of our society and culture; its ideologues are now set to assume unprecedented political power. Save the Males offers an important contribution to understanding what we may expect.
Mr. Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).