Archive for gender differences

Stereotypes and Equal Parenting Laws


The above link takes one to an impressive 13 minute video which shows how our stereotypes can lead to both Parental Alienation Syndrome and holding back the passage of equal parenting laws.


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Black History Month & Family Court Part I

Three years ago I wrote an article comparing US Family Court and South Africa’s now-defunct Apartheid system. I’m including it here as part one of the theme and in part two next week I’ll have a very personal essay on the relation between the two.

Family Court as the New Apartheid

Last week as I was strolling along the beach here in beautiful San Diego I wondered how many of my fellow citizens realize the origin of our state’s name.  Stumped right?  I’d guess that only a tiny percentage of Californians know that it comes from a novel “Califa”, published in Spain 600 years ago.  It was set in a mythical island in the Pacific that was populated and ruled by black women.  So, in the month after the most hyperbolic presidential election campaign by an incumbent since 1800 (one based almost entirely on the Identity Politics strategy of diving by race, gender and income), it behooves us to expand the same small percentage of people who realize the havoc wreaked by family courts, the modern day “Temple of Califa”.

While some may be offended by my comparison of these courts to South Africa’s now-defunct apartheid system, there are a couple of parallels: the most obvious being that it separates people based on gender, instead of race.  A second it that is has “court orders” in the place of the infamous “pass laws” which dictated when and where a person could be on a given day and time.

Apartheid took root in the early 20th century and many historians believe that it was an outgrowth of the Boer War of independence against the British circa 1900. It was a bitter and bloody war in which the British introduced the concept of “concentration camps” to the world.  The Boers were descendants of 17th century Dutch settlers and were put in these camps when captured by the Brits.  Once the South africans declared independence in 1908, the Boers took out their wrath on the native African population.

In much the same way, feminists harkened back to their long struggle for equal rights by taking over large parts of our governmental, educational and judicial systems.  Family Court is merely the most blatant example of one of the many systems in which the rights of males are given short shrift.  If a father decides to fight for custody of his children after a divorce he has only a 15% chance of success, a fact which would seem to fly in the face of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Apartheid finally expired in 1994 but the oppression of dads in family court looks set for a long run, given the fact that the issue is almost totally ignored by the media.  One of the most insightful media observers, Bernie Goldgerg, has a book titled “Crazies to the Left of me, Wimps on the Right” which could be a good summary itself of media’s coverage of the fathers’ rights issue, when it is covered at all.

On the left, pundits and politicians seek more and more money for governmental programs to undue the damage done by their existing programs, family court in particular.  It is as if one group of lefties is busy tossing kids into a raging river and a mile downstream another group of lefties is arguing over how to shake down more people to start a new program to rescue the few that have survived the last harrowing stretch of white water.

On the right, they lament the fact that 50% of Hispanic and 70% of black babies are born to single mothers without connecting the dots by noting that a dad may as well abandon ship early rather than face the odds of a 15% chance of gaining custody later on.  Having read dozens of books with a conservative critique of societal trends, I can only say that ironically it is a woman who has done the most for equality of parenting after a divorce.

The great Phyllis Shlafly in “The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It” states “Most of our societal problems are caused by the 40% of our nation’s children who grow up in homes without their own father: drug abuse, illicit sexual activity, unwed pregnancies, youth suicide, high school dropouts, joblessness, runaways and crime.  The best interest of the child rule, which typically eliminates both the authority and the presence of the father is now doing to the middle class what the mistaken welfare policy has already done to the welfare class.”

Just as it finally took a white man, DeClerk, to finally drive a stake through the heart of apartheid in South Africa, we look to a woman in leading us in overthrowing the new apartheid of family court.

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Parenting and Football Part V: Domestic Violence

I. Spouse/Partner Abuse: “The Cleveland Curse”

I am using this subtitle because the most publicized cases seems to come from the Cleveland Browns and their successors, the Baltimore Ravens.  The Browns won three NFL championships in the early 1950’s and totally embarrassed my beloved Baltimore Colts in the 1964 championship game 27-0.  Unfortunately for Browns fans it was to be their last championship but they could console themselves with the fact that they had the player who was the consensus MVP of his era, Jim Brown.  Brown’s success on the playing field, however did not carry over to his relationships in that he had three different domestic violence charges against him in the decades that followed.  In all three cases the women later withdrew the charges.  In the third case, Brown was convicted of vandalizing his wife’s car in 1999 and served four months in jail for refusing to carry out his counseling and community service.  The other Browns player is the quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has had a couple of suspected incidents with the police in Dallas seemingly ready to press charges after the lat.  Just this week he was dropped by the Browns due to the alleged assaults and what seems to be serious substance abuse and mental health issues with Manziel, who’s had little success as a pro after winning the Heisman trophy with Texas A & M.

Just as Jim Brown had his first incident shortly after winning the NFL championship, so too with the Ravens, who moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996.  The Ravens won the Superbowl in 2001 and again in 2013.  Shortly after the 2013 title game, two of the Ravens’ role players received one and two-game suspensions (without pay) for domestic violence.  The first really prominent domestic violence incident for any US athlete occurred in early 2014.  Ray Rice, the Ravens’ star running back, was celebrating in an Atlantic City hotel with his fiancee, when an argument erupted and Rice struck her severely in the face.  In May, Rice was allowed to enter a counseling and diversion program, a lenient sentence that is given to only one percent of those convicted of domestic violence in New Jersey.  In July Rice was given a two game suspension by the NFL.  Shortly after that the TV network TMZ released a videotape of Rice’s assault in a now-famous elevator and he was immediately released by the Ravens.  Rice is still not back in the NFL, most likely because he is over 30, long in the tooth for an NFL running back.

II. Child Abuse: The Adrian Peterson case

Peterson in some ways is the reincarnation of Jim Brown in that he has been the NFL’s leading running back in the past five years.  As many experts in the field confirm, the perpetrators behavior can usually be traced to his/her own childhood.  In Peterson’s case he was one of 10 children and had a harsh, almost Dickensian childhood.  At age seven he saw his beloved nine year brother die in his arms after being knocked off his bicycle by a drunk driver.  At age 13, Peterson’s father was sent to prison for laundering drug money.  Peterson’s dad had been a noted college basketball player and was very active in developing his son’s athletic talent.   They talked nightly by phone and Adrian visited him regularly but it certainly was a lonely high school experience for him.  At age 18, Peterson was considered one of the top recruits in the nation but only the Oklahoma University coach was able to be admitted to the prison and talk with dad before the prison changed its policy to ward off the hordes of college coaches hungry to land a national-class running back.  After an all-American stint at Oklahoma, Peterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.  Adrian, like his dad, sired several children (seven) but in his case it was with various women.  One of the kids died at the hand of a stepdad, to add to Adrian’s baleful biography.  The case against Peterson began in May, 2014.  He had swatted one of his sons (who lives mostly with his mother) with a thin branch that Peterson, like many from small-town Texas, calls a switch. The boy was left with bruises, welts and cuts on his legs, back, arms, buttocks and scrotum.

On September 17, the NFL, no doubt reacting to the storm of derision it received after dithering over the Ray Rice case, suspended Peterson(who’d played only one game) for the remainder of the 2014 season.  In November Peterson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge; he was ordered to undergo counseling, pay a $4,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service.  The greatest penalty of course was loss of almost a full year’s salary, about $15 million in Peterson’s case. During his suspension Peterson married the mother of one of his sons and soon to be two.  They visited his hometown, Palestine, Texas and the small town of 13, 000 in East Texas turn out for a parade in his honor and hundreds stood in line for over an hour to shake his hand and give him support: a truly Texas vs. the world occasion.   Peterson says that through counseling he was able to learn other methods of discipline.  He was also able to gather strength from his Christian faith, reunite with many friends and family members(including his father,who was finally released from prison) and be reinstated by the NFL for the 2015 season and resume his dazzling career.

III. Historical, Ethnic and Gender Issues

I can remember hearing years ago that “rule of thumb” referred to the diameter of a stick that was the permissible size for a man to use on his spouse or child.  After recent research it seems that was an apocryphal word origin: it was never the law itself but it was referred to in both English and early American courts.  Another old saw relevant to DV is “spare the rod and spoil the child”.  I came from an Irish Catholic family who definitely followed that adage, although not to an extreme degree.  Those extreme measures fell to the nuns in my parochial school.    I vividly recall an 8th grade experience in which a very elderly nun snuck up behind me as I was whispering to a classmate(a mortal sin there!) and implanted a ball point pen in my cranium.  Today, that would surely be cause for the nun’s dismissal but it was de rigeur in the 1960’s!  This also happened to be in Oklahoma, where corporal punishment hung on longer than anywhere else in the US.  Peterson’s behavior probably never would have happened had he grown up in the Northeast or Northwest.

Woman As Aggressor: The Unspoken Truth Of Domestic Violence

As for gender issues, see the observations of an MD in the above link.  He cites a UK study in which 40% of the domestic violence there is perpetrated by females.  American professional football players, having reached Brobdignagian proportions in the last generation, have little fear for their physical safety in any reciprocal encounters (most DV is reciprocal and of those, the doctor finds that most are initiated by women), but that’s not true for most males, particularly kids.



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What’s the Matter With Boys? A review Of Leonard Sax’s “Boys Adrift”

The issue of male underperformance in the past generation has been explored by prominent cultural critics Charles Murray, Philip Zimbardo and Christine Hoff Sommers.
Dr. Sax, following up his best-selling “Gender Matters”, seems to have devoted his career to the issue and is certainly considered a global expert on the subject.

Ch. 1 Sax notes that the greatest gender disparity has occurred at universities: in 1950 70% of students were males, whereas it is only about 40% today.
Ch. 2 Quoting recent developmental brain research he says, “Trying to teach five year old boys to read and write may be just as inappropriate as it would be to try to teach three year old girls to do so.”
Ch. 3 Sax believes that excess time on video games is behind the fact that that 12 year old boys now perform only as well on real-world science and math tests as did eight-to nine-year olds in 1976.
Ch. 4 Dr. Sax notes that children in the US (usually boys) are three times as likely to be on psychiatric medications as are children in any European country.
Ch. 5 This may be his most controversial chapter: “…the very same endochrine-disrupting chemicals that accelerate puberty in girls may delay or disrupt the process of puberty in boys.”
Ch. 6 He explores the “Failure to Launch” phenomenon: in much of the US 25% or more of males 30 to 54 are neither working nor looking for work.
Ch. 7 Sax notes that in the past 50 years homicide rates among US youth have risen by more than 130 percent, while suicide rates have risen by almost 140 percent.
Ch. 8 In this summary chapter, Dr. Sax makes a compelling case for single-sex education, especially in a society in which almost 50% of boys grow up in fatherless homes.

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Review of “Why Gender Matters” by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD

The Zeitgeist of 2015 includes the high-water mark for “social constructionism”, the belief that male-female differences derive exclusively from social expectations with little or no input from biology- witness the SCOTUS legalization of gay marriage, the media obsession with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Target’s recent decision to remove all references to gender in their toy departments.
As one who has had three decades of experience as a single parent, roughly the same time with a son as with a daughter, I believe I’m in good position to evaluate Dr. Sax’s contentions.

Ch. 1 Sax maintains the now-controversial view that boys have a hearing deficit and that many referrals for boys as having ADHD are based on the widespread ignorance of this deficit among classroom teachers.
Ch. 2 He did an extensive review of relevant research to conclude that male-female brain differences are more fundamental than gay-straight ones, even in the areas of sexual attraction and behavior.  A decade ago Larry Summers resigned from the Harvard University presidency due to the outrage over his referring to these well-established brain differences.
Ch. 3 He shows that boys have a far greater risk tolerance than girls, which is also clearly evident in primate species such as monkeys, baboons and chimpanzees.
Ch. 4 He cites the CDC to show that boys today are four times more likely to be overweight than they were 40 years ago and recommends steering boys toward active and aggressive sports such as soccer, football and hockey.
Ch. 5 He finds that sex differences are acute when it comes to handling stress: girls prefer to be with others while boys prefer to be alone.
Ch. 6 He notes that girls often drop out of sports because they feel that they are being stared at by boys (and even men), so this may be a good reason to establish girls-only sports and PE classes.
Ch. 7 He makes the strong case that eating supper with one’s kids promotes stronger bonds and helps both boys and girls avoid the peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
Ch. 8 He contends that it is important for parents to be authority figures and not merely friends with their kids: this is particularly true for girls 12 and under and boys 14 and under.
Ch. 9 He refers to the “anomalous male syndrome” and states that much of their behavior can be traced to having an over-protective parent. This becomes even more important because 40% of American kids (50% of Hispanic and 72% of black ones) are born into single-parent homes.
Ch. 10 He quotes psychologist Jean Twengy: ” Kids today are significantly more depressed than kids were in the 50’s and 60’s: in fact, the average child today is more anxious than the typical child referred to a psychiatrist in the 1950’s.” Sax feels that this is partly due to today’s gender-confusion as evidenced by Facebook’s choice of over 50 “genders” one can choose to identify with.

In conclusion, Sax states that “trying to understand a child without understanding the role of gender is like trying to understand a child’s behavior without knowing their age.”

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