ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

Dissing Dads
February 25, 2004
by Carey Roberts

Why do Americans refer to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as our Founding Fathers? When Christians recite the Lord's Prayer, why does the phrase, "Our Father" immediately tumble out? Why did a generation of Americans grow up watching the TV series, Father Knows Best?

In days past, "father" evoked notions of goodness, wisdom, steadfastness, and self-sacrifice. And with good reason.

According to the Father Facts report from the National Fatherhood Initiative, children with involved dads get better grades in school, have fewer emotional problems, enjoy better physical health, and are less likely to live in poverty -- it's an impressive inventory.

When the Industrial Revolution swept through the United States, fathers left the farm to work in the factories, the steel mills, and later the corporate highrises. A void was created, which was soon filled by their wives.

Even though Dad continued as the titular head of the family, the reins of the daily operations of the house rested firmly in the hands of the wife. But that common-sense division of labor didn't satisfy the radical feminist agenda.

Beginning in the 1970s, feminists launched a ruthless campaign against the family and fathers. Maybe you're asking, What's wrong with the family? And why would they target fathers?

To answer those two questions, we must turn back the hands of time to exactly 120 years ago.

In his 1884 classic, the Origin of the Family, Frederick Engels wrote: "The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male."

This passage, and others like it, were used by Lenin and his minions to convince impressionable women that they would be better off leaving their families and taking up the hammer and the sickle.

But fem-socialists knew better than to wage a frontal assault on fatherhood. They would have to find a new boogeyman.

Soon after Lenin seized power in 1917, he set out to destroy religious belief and practices. To do this, Lenin banned and humiliated the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church.

So when the Sisterhood decided to put fathers in their crosshairs, it's no surprise that they seized upon the "patriarchy" as the historically-convenient scapegoat.

It was Kate Millett's 1970 book, Sexual Politics, that gave the green light to the onslaught. The book is replete with hateful calumnies about men. Millett offers this pithy paraphrase of Frederick Engels earlier indictment of fathers: "Patriarchy's chief institution is the family."

No one could really define patriarchy. But patriarchy became an oft-repeated epithet that soon evolved into a circular argument: patriarchy was bad because it caused the oppression of women. And women's oppression was self-evident because of the existence of patriarchy.

The feminist assault on fatherhood harnessed the mass media to disseminate their destructive message. Feminists portrayed fathers as deadbeats and abusers. And single moms became, well, chic.

This campaign was remarkably successful in dismantling the cultural authority of fatherhood.

By 1992, it was acceptable for TV sitcom character Murphy Brown to have a child out of wedlock. So commendable, in fact, that when Vice President Quayle chided Brown for "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone," Quayle was the one who endured the firestorm of criticism.

Three years later, a stunned David Blankenhorn was compelled to write in his book Fatherless America, "The most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States...is the re-creation of fatherhood as a vital social role for men. At stake is nothing less than the success of the American experiment."

The deconstruction of fatherhood continues to this day. Turn on your TV and you will see the sitcoms and advertisements that portray dads as speechless dolts in the face of the superior wisdom of their wives and 11-year-old children.

So when feminists attack the institution of fatherhood, they are rending the very fabric of families, and of Nationhood itself.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.