Fathers' Rights Activists in America
Publication Year: 2008
All across America, angry fathers are demanding rights. These men claim that since the breakdown of their own families, they have been deprived of access to their children. Joining together to form fathers' rights groups, the mostly white, middle-class men meet in small venues to speak their minds about the state of the American family and, more specifically, to talk about the problems they personally face, for which they blame current child support and child custody policies. Dissatisfied with these systems, fathers' rights groups advocate on behalf of legal reforms that will lower their child support payments and help them obtain automatic joint custody of their children.
In Defiant Dads, Jocelyn Elise Crowley offers a balanced examination of these groups in order to understand why they object to the current child support and child custody systems; what their political agenda, if enacted, would mean for their members' children or children's mothers; and how well they deal with their members' interpersonal issues concerning their ex-partners and their role as parents. Based on interviews with more than 150 fathers' rights group leaders and members, as well as close observation of group meetings and analysis of their rhetoric and advocacy literature, this important book is the first extensive, in-depth account of the emergence of fathers' rights groups in the United States. A nuanced and timely look at an emerging social movement, Defiant Dads is a revealing investigation into the changing dynamics of both the American family and gender relations in American society.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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This project would not have been possible without the assistance of many different people. For all of their time and insights, I fi rst must thank my interview respondents and those whom I observed while con-ducting this research. Family dissolution is a diffi cult process, and all of the people who participated in this project generously provided me ...
1A Coming Revolution in Fathers’ Rights?
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A local fathers’ rights group, Superdads, is meeting in a business offi ce in a relatively highly populated city in the West.1 It is around 8:00 p.m., and the offi ce’s employees have long since left. Juan, a middle-aged man with a broad smile and intense eyes, is the char-ismatic leader of this group. A total of eight racially diverse people, ...
2The Origins of Fathers’ Rights Groupsin the United States
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The eight people belonging to the local fathers’ rights group Dads For-ever are sitting in a small, windowless offi ce in a southern city. The racially diverse group is cramped around a tiny table when they hear a voice from the adjoining hallway yelling out, “Make way for the televi-sion and the VCR.” At this request, everyone shuffl es his chair slightly ...
3Membership Dynamics inFathers’ Rights Groups
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It’s 7:00 p.m. and Bruce, the leader of Dads Unite for Kids, has been at the meeting location for more than thirty minutes. In the corner of the room, a small group of people who are already members are gathered around an attorney, who is doling out advice about their upcoming cus-It has been a hot day, and Bruce looks tired. Dads Unite for Kids has ...
4Becoming the Chief
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The setting is a donated space provided by a Protestant church in the Southwest. Even though the room is currently being used by the fa-thers’ rights group Proud Parents for Justice, an atmosphere of religios-ity remains in the air. The chairs, on which twenty men, three women (one of whom has brought her children), and the leader sit, are arranged ...
5Money Changes Everything, or AmericanChild Support Policy
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Gathered on this cool fall day in an urban center on the West Coast are the two leaders of Dads Love Their Kids, Jasper and Veronica, and fourteen racially diverse members, of whom only one, besides Veron-ica, is a woman. The room in the YMCA where the group is meeting is obviously used to teach young children about important personal val-...
6The Custody Wars
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The local fathers’ rights group, Papas for Participation, tries to cre-ate a warm, inviting atmosphere when it meets every month. A small Golden Retriever puppy dashes among the ten round tables that are set up in the expansive room donated by the Lutheran Church in a suburban northeastern town. As his owner tries to gain control over ...
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The leader of Fathers for Kids, Sarah, is a middle-age, white woman who married a man with considerable experience battling the family court system. The meeting is at Sarah’s home, located in a small town in the South, and members gradually trickle in one by one. Everyone traverses through the garage littered with campaign signs to congre-...
8The Ties That Bind
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Ten people—eight men and two women—are gathered in a small class-room at a Christian college in the Northeast. Two of the eight men in this group, called Kids Need Dads, are black; the rest of the participants are white. The room is clearly used to teach religion to small children on the weekends. Paper chains with children’s names decorate the room, ...
9“Crooked Trees,” Activism, and Healingin Dissolved Families
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Researcher: “Just so I have an understanding of your family situa-tion . . . I always like to draw a family tree for all individuals partici-The fathers who are the subject of this book had complex stories to tell about their family lives. Many were understandably angry that their adult relationships had fallen apart. Many were also sad and depressed that ...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2008