“Brainwashed by propaganda and gender bias.”

That’s to what Jeffery M. Leving, a Chicago attorney who specializes in men's rights and authored the book Fathers' Rights attributes inmates’ belief that it is their children’s best interest to not see them while they’re in jail. I’m not sure what he would use to explain that same belief held by many female inmates, too, but I suspect the reality is that most of the inmates who feel that way are motivated by a sense of shame, and perhaps an unwillingness to subject their children to the scary experience of visiting a parent in jail. Some of them may even be respecting their children’s wishes to not see them; I had a friend in high school whose father was in jail for murder, and the last thing in the world he wanted to do was visit him in prison.

But why let the facts get in the way of a little feminist-bashing?

In a case in my neck of the woods, fathers’ rights advocates are making noise about the visitation rights of incarcerated fathers. And if there’s any lingering doubt that far too many of these advocates have woven an anti-woman agenda into their advocacy, check out the facts of this case: The father is in jail for raping the mother.

Linetty tells of the attack -- how he wrestled her to the ground, punched her in the head, pulled down her pants and raped her, covering her mouth and threatening death during the assault.

Finally, Linetty recalls, her eyes unblinking and her voice clear but delicate, how the police knocked on the door and the whole episode ended as quickly as it began…
The thing about this case is that the fathers’ right advocates have selected it specifically because the case is unusual in that the father has raped the mother, because if the father is denied visitation, it’s that much easier to claim it’s because of gender bias, as opposed to a case in which the father is in prison for theft, or even murder. Their entire premise is rooted in the notion that feminism and gender bias have rendered the legal system prejudiced against men, and so they have glommed on to this family, where that refrain makes the most sense, to make their case for incarcerated fathers’ rights.

Linetty does not want to take her three children to see their father, in spite of a court order to do so. Her 13-year-old daughter has written a letter to the judge saying “she does not want visitation.” Her 10-year-old daughter has “not spoken up in favor of seeing her dad.” Her 8-year-old son is in therapy to deal with the situation. The fathers’ rights advocates, who insist that this is about what’s best for the children, in spite of the children’s wishes and lingering trauma, have now stepped in on the father’s behalf.

Fathers' rights advocates counter Linetty's anti-visitation stance by arguing that children need their father in their lives even if he is incarcerated for a crime against their mother.

Children who do not have contact with their father have an increased chance of ending up in prison themselves, lower self-esteem, higher suicide rates and a greater chance of alcohol and drug abuse than kids who see their dads, fathers' rights advocates say.

"The court has determined that it is in the best interest of the children that they visit their father," said Jeffery M. Leving, a prominent Chicago attorney who concentrates on men's rights and author of the book "Fathers' Rights."

"In part, it's about the right of fathers, but the real focus is children's rights," Leving said.
Note that there is no distinction made between children who want to see their fathers and those who don’t. Also note that Leving fails to mention that the father, Henry Weldy, was not involved in his children’s lives before he went to prison, and that he isn’t commenting on the case.

"You don't deny children the right to see their parents based on issues between the parents," said Mike McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, based in Washington.

"I'm in no way downplaying the seriousness of the fact that he is convicted of raping her, but that consideration is separate and distinct from the issue of the child maintaining a relationship with their father, even in circumstances of incarceration," McCormick said.
Love it. He reduces a father brutally raping a mother to an “issue between the parents,” then immediately claims he’s not “downplaying the seriousness of the fact that he is convicted of raping her.” He's also attempting to cast this as an issue with Linetty "denying" her children's "right" to see their parent, implying it's because of that little "issue" between her and the father, even though the children don't want to see him.

Barry Nothstine, spokesman for the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, said the facility follows court orders for inmates' visitation with their children, unless the inmate has been convicted of child molestation or prison officials have reason to believe the inmate would harm the child.
Physically harm the child only, of course. That a daughter, or a son, whose father is a convicted felon (no less convicted of having raped their primary caregiver) might be emotionally traumatized by being forced to see him against her/his will makes no difference, apparently. (And, as an aside, “children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point.” So I’m not sure that a conviction for child molestation ought to be the only reason to believe an inmate, of either gender, with a history of spousal abuse would be predisposed to hurting a child.)

What pisses me off to no end about this case is that the fathers’ rights advocates claim it’s about the children’s rights, but they aren’t paying any attention to what the children want. I don’t give a flippity shit whether this a man in jail for raping his children’s mother, or a woman in jail for murdering her children’s father; I would make precisely the same argument if the genders were reversed. I care about the rights of those kids to not be turned into pawns of gender crusaders, and their rights to not forcibly be made to spend time with the person who raped their mother, even if he is their father. Why don’t the fathers’ rights advocates have the same concern, if this is really about the children’s rights and not about their anti-feminist agenda? To them, it's apparently inconceivable that these children might have genuine reasons for not wanting to see their father; it must just be because of their mother's interest in denying the father his right to see his children.

Worse yet, Linetty says the children don’t know the specifics of the case, except that their father hurt their mother, but considering that since the fathers’ rights advocates have come on the scene and it’s getting more press, it’s highly unlikely that they will remain ignorant for long. In using this case for their own crusade, the fathers’ rights brigade will inevitably reveal to the children that their father is a rapist. How does that serve the children’s best interest, no less the father’s? They don’t care about anything but their own agenda, least of all the people they purport to help.

(More from Trish Wilson, Pinko Feminist Hellcat, and Jessica.)

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