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The M.O.M. Squad Capers
February 22, 2006
by Carey Roberts

All Points Bulletin: M.O.M.s are on the loose. They're armed and dangerous. Be forewarned, M.O.M.s - Mothers Opposed to Men - wield a formidable array of fake statistics, sob stories, and old-fashioned propaganda.

I admit, sometimes I feel a bit silly trying to answer their preposterous charges. But since the M.O.M.s keep saying this stuff, maybe it's time to put the kibosh on the whole thing. So here goes:

First, the M.O.M. Squad claims that divorcing fathers gain child custody 70% of the time, citing Phyllis Chesler's 1986 book, Mothers on Trial. But Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young calls Chesler's claim a contender for the Phony Statistics Hall of Fame.

Fact: Fathers win child custody only 15% of the time.

Second, the M.O.M.s say that male violence against women is all-pervasive. Here's feminist icon Catherine MacKinnon at her level-headed best: "Just like terrorist attacks, acts of violence against women are carefully planned, targeted at civilians, and driven by ideology."

Fact: Women are just as likely as men to assault their partners. If you don't want to look up the research, just ask Indianapolis Colts cornerback Nick Harper, whose wife Daniell spent a couple days in the slammer last month after stabbing him with a kitchen knife.

Third, the M.O.M.s claim fathers commonly abuse their children. Like the child custody canard, that statement is the exact opposite of the truth.

Fact: Women represent the majority of child abusers. According to the federal Administration for Children and Families, "In 2003, 58.2% of child abuse and neglect perpetrators were females and 41.8% were males." The ACF also reveals that in 30% of child fatalities, the perpetrator is the mother is acting alone, while in 18% of cases, it's the father acting alone.

Are you ready for the latest bombshell?

This one concerns fathers who find they must go to court in an often futile effort to gain joint custody of their children. This whopper made its way into the recent PBS program, Breaking the Silence: "Numerous studies have confirmed that approximately 75% [of fathers seeking custody] involve a history of violence."

Fact: This defamatory statement is akin to the claim that Jews were wrecking the German economy. Look beyond the histrionics of the PBS claim and you can't help but notice that "The references cited by the film's supporters in most cases are a round-robin of assertions, in which the same pool of authors repeatedly cites each other's opinions, without supporting data," as one critic put it.

Broadcast of Breaking the Silence this past October shifted the M.O.M.'s campaign into high gear. But their agitprop suffered a setback when the program drew flack from thousands of PBS viewers and producer Dominique Lasseur was grounded by PBS ombudsman Michael Getler.

The Mothers Opposed to Men used to hang out at a website known as the Mothers' Research and Resource Center, but then columnist Wendy McElroy outed them. Within days they yanked the incriminating evidence - but not before a copy was made.

So why on earth are the M.O.M.s engaged in this anti-family campaign?

Twenty years ago, divorcing mothers were the beneficiaries of a legal system that reflexively awarded them child custody. But fathers said that wasn't fair, that gender equality is supposed to apply to men, too. Plus, research shows kids with hands-on fathers do far better in school and are less likely to get into trouble with the law - think of dads as the social equivalent of Wonder Bread.

So in many states fathers pushed for laws that say child custody should be shared between dad and mom, assuming both parents are fit. That common-sense approach is called a legal presumption of joint custody.

Most would say that arrangement is good for all parties: kids, mom, and dad. And it doesn't cost the taxpayer a flat dime. But the M.O.M.s were not pleased, because they view joint custody as a capitulation to the dreaded patriarchy.

So now they're going around the country and meeting behind closed doors with judges and lawmakers, spreading their anti-father calumnies. Their aim is to stampede them into passing laws based on the premise that dads are dangerous, so we'd be better off if they were all locked up somewhere.

Look out for the M.O.M. Squad, coming to a legislature near you.

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