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DC Festival 2008
Festival or facade?
Joan Dawson (joanied40)     Print Article 
Published 2008-08-19 10:03 (KST)   

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DC Festival 2008 took place at Upper Senate Park on Aug. 15 and 16.
©2008 Joan Dawson
Having written several articles about the Father's Rights Movement, I took the opportunity yesterday to attend DC Festival 2008, hailed as a shared parenting event.

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Like most people, I think the idea of fathers spending more time with their children is a wonderful idea. I support shared parenting for couples with low or no conflict and who can make it work.

On the surface, it all sounds great. However, when one starts to research the Fathers Rights Movement and starts visiting their websites and forums, one is in for some jaw-dropping woman-bashing and ideological half-truths and un-truths. Yesterday's festival was no exception.

From my count, they had about 75 people turn out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. They were located at Upper Senate Park. Most visitors yesterday seemed more interested in the pro-life group down on the National Mall called The Call. (It was a good day for anti-feminists, lucky me.)

About 75 people were in attendance.
©2008 Joan Dawson
DC Festival offered only two tables of information: Media RADAR and the Equal Justice Foundation. They were staffed by two people and, during my time there, had no visitors.

www.dvmen.org is a typical Father's Rights Web site.
©2008 Joan Dawson
Media RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) claims to provide accurate information on family violence. No information on the founder of the site, or his /her credentials, exists. Exploring the site will quickly reveal their ideology, though. They claim the domestic violence industry is full of "lies" and "myths" ("pregnancy murder myth," for example). This "industry" undermines the family, harms children and ignores men. (Of course, on their site, you'll find plenty of information on women's violence towards men and hardly any on men's violence, although it is more prevalent.)

Despite their professed desire to fix things, they are against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), believe there are too many restraining orders and think too many false allegations are made. Not surprisingly, they are against the American Bar Association, Amnesty International and the United Nations because they believe these organizations propagate domestic violence myths and discriminate against men.

The flyer Media RADAR distributed at the festival had at least two quotes taken out of context:

1) "We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women." -- Angela Moore Parmley, PhD, Department of Justice

I contacted Dr. Parmley and she told me this quote was indeed taken out of context and she sent me the whole document (Violence Against Women Research Post VAWA Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going? P. 1424). Following this quote, the document reads: "However, over time we may find that specific VAWA-funded initiatives reduced men's propensity to perpetrate violence against women." In her conclusion, she states: "Few pieces of legislation have sparked such controversy yet hold so much promise as the VAWA. If successful, the Act could lead to a major transformation in the way women are treated in this country."

2) "Involvement with the criminal legal system has not been a positive or helpful experience; ...some women are actively harmed." Ms. Foundation for Women (Under the heading, "Women's Groups Criticize VAWA")

In fact, this document calls VAWA a "landmark" act and says, "The success is real, but is simply a drop in the bucket in addressing violence against women."

Perhaps Media RADAR should change its name to Respecting Fallacy in Domestic Abuse Reporting.

The other table at the festival has a Web site, too (www.dvmen.org). Wow! I dare anyone to look at their site. Many of the Father's Rights sites were like this in the past, but they got wise and toned down their language to make them appear 'legitimate.' They were, after all, trying to reform family court and you can't win people over with misogyny (or can you?)

Here are a few quotes from the Equal Justice Foundation (www.dvmen.org):

"Naturally, the feminist dogma is that it's always his fault. Such an irrational response is very dangerous and a likely cause for many assaults on women."

"The lesson is that it isn't safe for anyone to provoke a human male for any reason at any time."

"Controlled, disciplined violence is essential to the maintenance and preservation of any human society."

"The "father figure" must enforce sufficient discipline, including controlled violence, to keep the "mother" and the children safe from external dangers and internal strife. If the authority of the "father figure" is undermined in either a government or a family, chaos ensues, often with death and destruction following."

"Some of the many faces of Eve are described by words like fishwife, slattern, virago, vixen, termagant, shrew, scold, harpy, harridan, tart, doxy, and floozy, to say nothing of ever-popular terms like slut, whore, bitch, and cunt. That such terms have evolved, and are generally in common usage, is strong evidence that these are general behavior patterns of human females that are readily recognized by men."

I have been reading similar statements on web sites and forums promoting fathers rights for nearly two years now. I have read biased research, select pieces of text or data taken out of context, myths, lies and harsh and demeaning words for women in general and feminists in particular from these "loving dads" that just want fairness and equality from the family court. (For this reason, I continue to write about them and for this reason you will soon see a slew of comments attacking my article and credentials.)

"Alienation" is problematic because it masks child abuse.
©2008 Joan Dawson
Certainly, the signs they carried or propped up contained no such overt slander of women. As expected, they had signs about parental alienation syndrome. This, they claim, is when a parent (usually the evil mother) "alienates" a child from the other. The American Psychological Association has noted the "lack of data to support the so-called "parental alienation syndrome" (PAS). Newsweek had an article ("Fighting Over the Kids -- Battered Spouses Take Aim at a Controversial Custody Strategy" by Sarah Childress, 9-25-2006) that stated this:

"...according to one 2004 survey in Massachusetts by Harvard's Jay Silverman, 54 percent of custody cases involving documented spousal abuse were decided in favor of the alleged batterers. Parental alienation was used as an argument in nearly every case.

This year the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges denounced the theory as "junk science," and at least four states have passed legislation to curtail its use in custody cases involving allegations of domestic violence."

One attorney interviewed called PAS a "cancer" that has made it difficult for parents to protect their kids. Most experts agree: PAS masks child abuse and paints the protective parent as a vindictive liar.

Drumming up sympathy for 'victims' of family court.
©2008 Joan Dawson
Equal parenting empowers parents more than it empowers kids.
©2008 Joan Dawson
©2008 Joan Dawson
This event was supposed to help people appreciate families and to raise awareness of the harm done in divorce. Again, on the surface, most of us agree with this. At this point in time, though, I cannot even fathom the harm we will be causing children when they are split in two and are jostled from home to home, when they have visitation or custody with abusive parents, when they have been sexually abused yet see no justice in court. Or the harm done to women when they are repeatedly called malicious liars, not believed in court, and are further controlled by abusive husbands in joint custody situations.

Women in the movement are often second wives or from conservative or right wing groups.
©2008 Joan Dawson
The festival drew a small crowd, but there are 100s of Father's Rights groups around the world, advocating and lobbying for "justice." Not all fatherhood groups are misogynist in nature, many are considered pro-feminist and/or legitimate (for this reason, FR groups like to loudly proclaim they have female members or founders -- to add a sense of legitimacy and "prove" they aren't misogynist). Certainly, society wants fathers to take a more active role in parenting, both during marriage and after divorce; however, we must be very careful in balancing fathers' rights with women and children's credibility and safety. Fathers' rights do not trump women's and children's human rights.

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Joan Dawson

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