Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Melanie Phillips line-by-line...

Melanie Phillips is a genius. When you're faced with a real problem often there are different choices about the best way to tackle it. Different approaches may have different merits associated with them. It takes a real genius though to come up with a suggestion that has no merits whatsoever and is so terrifyingly awful that no-one would dream of taking it seriously. Here's what I mean...

Here's my radical cure for the epidemic of single mothers... pay men to commit to their families

Yes lets pay men to do something they should be doing anyway. Why not pay men to shave and have a wank too!

"Once again, the alarm is being sounded over family disintegration and the apparently unstoppable rise of lone parenthood and mass fatherlessness. Support for marriage looks set to become an election issue."

Yes the alarm bell is being sounded Melanie - by you. Everyone else is a bit more concerned about the illegal wars we're in, the recession, poverty...

"The Catholic Church is publishing a report this week urging people to consider marriage and the family when deciding where to place their vote. The issue could not be more urgent."

Melanie this is not a Catholic country. If we are to follow the Catholic Church's teachings we will also have to, as a nation, accept transubstantiation. I am out of this move.

"Devastating new research by sociologist Geoff Dench shows that not only is one in four mothers single, but more than half of such mothers have never lived with a man at all and are choosing to live alone on state benefits."

How does never having lived with a man show that a mother is choosing to live on state benefits? What it shows is that the father of her child has never lived with her. Maybe she was raped. Should she then have moved in with the rapist? Maybe she is a lesbian. Are lesbians forbidden from getting pregnant in your world? Actually don't answer that.... Maybe she prefersto live alone because she doesn't know any suitable, available men who she thinks would be a positive influence on her child. Some of these teenage mothers are actually too young to legally move in with a guy anyway!

"They believe they have no need for a man in their life and that their children have no need for a father."

Perhaps they're right. Where is the evidence that children "need" a man living in the house? I've seen evidence that two-parent families offer greater financial stability to a child (obviously, given how paltry single parent benefits are) but the only parenting evidence seems to suggest the best model (only by a fraction) is lesbian partners.

"The founding premise of the Government's £280million sex education strategy - that young mums get pregnant through ignorance - is thus very far from the truth."

I don't remember the government saying this but I know teenage mums who got pregnant because they didn't think contraception worked. I personally think a far bigger problem is lack of opportunities. We need to give young women living in poverty the opportunity to go to college. Like cutting tuition fees and quality access programmes.

"It is, therefore, hardly surprising that Britain still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe."

We also have (second to Poland) the least amount of compulsory sex ed in schools. Co-incidence? No.

"In the light of this deeply troubling record, eyebrows were raised at the weekend by prize-winning author Hilary Mantel, who claimed that girls are ready to have babies when they are 14 years old."

Well biologically THEY ARE. I think some teenage girls are surprisingly smart and sensible. But if we think teenage girls aren't ready for children we should (a) enforce the law on statutory rape - someone is fucking our kids!! and (b) make contraception and abortion widely and easily available to young girls so they have the freedom to choose not to be mothers if they don't want to.

"With so much flailing around over the family, I have a modest proposal to help break through the confusion. It is that the Government should introduce a Man Benefit."

So which societal group spends the most on drink, drugs, gambling, prostitution and abandoning their family to go off and watch football? Lets give them more money... that'll help the family. Also poking this pen in my eye will probably cure my short-sightedness right?

"Before people assume that I have confused today's date with this time next month, let me say that my somewhat light-hearted proposal is based on a deeper point that I believe has been generally overlooked."

No confusion here Melanie, if it was a joke it would be funny.

"This is that the most important force behind elective lone parenthood is not ' feckless' men, but the attitude of women and girls."

'Elective' lone parenthood is a pretty meaningless concept. I think most people would like to share their life and family with another person provided that person was the right person. Those who chose to parent alone are in my experience exclusively those who don't know such a person. So if you don't want to live with an abuser or a rapist - is that elective? What if you don't want to live with an alcohol or drug abuser who you fear may turn violent? What if you don't want to live with someone who is involved in crime? Or someone who is prone to anger and shouting or to belittling you and behaving unreasonably, someone who refuses to do their share as a parent, someone who spends more time out with their mates than with the family, someone who tries to indoctrinate your child with views you don't share or who insists you send the child to a school or church of their choosing... Who exactly is electing and who exactly is choosing "no partner" rather than "unsuitable partner"?

"It is the way they think about their interests which drives the pattern of relationships between the sexes. And they have simply changed their opinion of where their interests lie. "

Really - better tell that to the two women a week killed by their intimate partners. guess they must be thinking about their interest wrong huh?

"Back in the mists of time before the Pill, all-women short-lists and Harriet Harman, relationships between men and women were based on a bargain between the sexes which, although never stated openly, everyone accepted as a given."

Back in the mists of time women were considered the chattels (property) of their husbands, 'witches' were burnt at the stake and half the country had the plague. This doesn't mean it was good.

"Women realised they needed the father of their children to stick around to help bring them up."

Actually it's more like the mothers of illegitimate children were persecuted to the point of death in many cases.

"In turn, men committed themselves to the mothers of their children on the basis that they could trust they were indeed the father because the woman was sexually faithful."

Yes Harriet Harman invented infidelity. The 21st century is THE FIRST time in the history of humanity that a man can actually be 100% certain that a child is his. Few men seem in a hurry to prove they are fathers - many more are in a hurry to prove they're not and thus shake off the responsibility involved.

"Today, this bargain has been all but destroyed. A number of factors have conspired to make women and girls think they can go it alone without men. The first has been that so many women work and are therefore economically independent."

Ah that's it - women working - that's the root of all evil isn't it? Did Harriet Harman invent that too?

"Next was the sexual revolution which saw women becoming as sexually free as men."

Men cannot EVER have been having more sex than women unless they were all gay.

"In short order, any stigma over having babies out of wedlock was abolished."

Yes there's no stigma left about illegitimate children is there - except of course the stuff coming out of your mouth Melanie.

"Then there was the collapse of manufacturing industry, which deprived many boys of the job prospects which once made them an attractive, marriageable proposition."

And it was only men who worked in manufacturing? Nothing turns me on like a guy saying "I screw the lids on toothpaste jars all day".

"Finally, the coup de grace was administered by welfare benefits to single mothers which enabled them to live without the support of their babies' fathers."

Yes we should have just left single mothers to die on the street, shouldn't we?

"The result of all this was that many women and girls decided they no longer needed their children's fathers to be part of the family unit."

Great - they no longer NEEDED these men there, which meant they could still CHOOSE to have these men around. Also it meant that those women whose partners left them and their children didn't die of starvation.

"Today, this bargain has been all but destroyed. A number of factors have conspired to make women and girls think they can go it alone without men. This has given rise to an increasing number of women-only households where fathers have been written out of the family script for three or four generations or more."

It wasn't a bargain, it was women being held hostage by financial circumstances to stay with men whether they liked them or not and even whether their own lives and those of their children were put at risk by them or not.

"The consequences of such family disintegration - as is now indisputable - are in general catastrophic for both individuals and for society."

Show me one piece of evidence that shows that the benefits of a two-parent family cannot be largely explained financially? And how exactly is forcing women to live with guys they don't want to good for society? Is the worth of a society directly proportional to female misery?

"This problem will not be cracked, however, unless women come to believe once again that their interests lie in attracting one man to father their children and then stick with them. Which is where my proposal of a Man Benefit comes in."

I think to convince women that their interests lie in living with a guy we should maybe start by tackling domestic violence...

"At a meeting last week of the Centre for Policy Studies to discuss Dench's research, the veteran anti-poverty campaigner Frank Field came up with an inventive suggestion to counter the catastrophic impact of joblessness among young men at the bottom of the heap."

How about creating more jobs? Seems like an obvious choice...

"He suggested that the state should pay a dowry to couples who undertook to stay together, and that this dowry should be paid to the girl in such a relationship."

Lets bribe people to stay in relationships that aren't working. This will not have any negative consequences...

"It seemed to me, though, that girls already have a kind of dowry in the form of Child Benefit, paid to mothers on the birth of every child - a dowry with a destructive effect. For the great unsayable is that Child Benefit acts as a huge incentive to have children outside marriage."

Actually child benefit is paid to the parent who takes responsibility for the child. If should act as an incentive to encourage people to take care of their children. Actually very very rude here to ignore the many men who do raise children alone.

"When it was introduced in the Seventies, it replaced child tax allowances, which were set against the earned income of fathers. It was, therefore, hailed as a transfer of family income 'from wallet to purse'."

It was about getting the money where it was most likely to directly benefit the child - major research showed giving it to the primary caregiver was the best option. Where is the research showing this is no longer true? Or did you make it up Melanie?

"This was considered a great advance, on the grounds that men were universally irresponsible and would spend any welfare money on drink, while women were entirely responsible and would spend it as intended on the needs of their children. But the greatest need children have is for their two parents to bring them up."

Yes the number one thing kids need is a drunk bloke stumbling in at 2am and passing out on the kitchen floor. This is well known.

"And what few anticipated was that, along with the impact of all the other social and economic changes, some women used Child Benefit to help junk men altogether as superfluous to requirements."

Child benefit in case anyone was wondering isn't actually the same as being added to the civil list. No-one chooses to live on child benefit unless the other options are seriously undesirable. So this in fact means only that women who really don't want to remain with their partners are able to leave. As such it's vital to society. Yes society, Melanie, the thing the rest of us live in.

"Since marriage has always helped turn young men into responsible adults..."

Sadly not responsible enough to stop them murdering their partners twice a week. And anyway when exactly did it become the job of women to render men "responsible". Sort yourself out assholes and call us when you're done.

"... this marginalisation gave them a green light to be as irresponsible as they wanted - thus creating a vicious circle in which girls would dismiss these wastrel youths as a 'waste of space'."

So these dreadful girls would describe "wastrels" as a "waste of space". Isn't that the definition of wastrel?

"What's needed, therefore, is to help turn men once again into an attractive, marriageable proposition."

Sounds like a job for Gok Wan!

"The most important thing they need is, of course, a job - which is why the policy of pushing lone mothers out to work is actually disastrous, particularly in areas of high unemployment."

Yes lets have mothers stuck home in poverty and give men access to subsidised jobs so they can choose whether to bring the money home to their families or to spend it on booze and gambling. How is this better than just giving the money direct to the people actually looking after the children?

"But welfare must stop reinforcing the idea that men are dispensable. The best way of underpinning marriage is probably through transferable tax allowances for married couples."

Darling, I've been meaning to ask you for some time. Would you consider sharing a transferrable tax allowance with me? This will SO work Melanie...

"But in addition, my modest proposal is that men who marry for the first time might be given a state 'dowry' to increase their worth to women."

Ha ha ha. Bring in dowries for men. It is April Fool's right? The next line is... Also when women die can we have their husbands burnt alive on a funeral pyre? That would help me to understand how firmly committed to their families these men are. It might also reduce the two women a week killed by their intimate partners sinc ethese would now effectively be suicide attacks.

"Such a Man Benefit would also send a powerful signal that men are not worthless creeps but are essential to family life - which would in turn help address their demoralisation and consequent irresponsible behaviour."

Yes if you had to pay me to marry a guy I'd think he was clearly a brilliant individual...

"The undoubted expense of such measures would be more than offset by reducing the astronomical cost to this country of family breakdown."

Any evidence for this? What about the increased cost of medical bills for all those women forced back to live with a guy whose violent to them? The extra murder enquiries - it could all add up.

"By themselves, of course, any such financial initiatives wouldn't stop the rot."

The rot?!! The rot!! What about the 6% rape conviction rate? The fact that 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence in her life? How about stopping that "rot"?!

"The main drivers of family breakdown are cultural, not economic; they emanate, moreover, from the intelligentsia at the very top of society even though their worst victims are at the very bottom. It is those limousine liberals who developed the core idea behind the recalibration of women's interests - that equality meant women should behave in exactly the same way as men."

Yes ever since feminism I do piss standing up. Equality means women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. We are far from achieving it and yet what is evident is that even given those rights and opportunities women do not on the whole behave like men. We continue to dedicate more time to family and caring, we start less wars, we commit much much less crime...

"This would have appalled the earliest feminists..."

As would your article/career/existance...

"...who fought for votes for women on the basis that women stood for moral constraints that would civilise the public sphere."

No the sufragettes wanted votes for women because it was right and just.

"The irony is that, as a result of modern notions of gender equality, it is men who now need special help to restore the sexual bargain that will not just benefit the male sex but stop the degradation of women and family life that so threatens us all."

Poor poor men. All they've got is 19 out of 23 cabinet member, nearly half as much pay again, a fraction of the unpaid work, a 6% conviction rate if they rape. Yes they probably need government hand-outs right? How will we pay for these extra manefits? How about a special vagina tax...? Long live equality!



Yes Melanie where is the evidence children need fathers? What female and male children require is a parent(s) who care, nurture and model to the child what being human means. Being male alone is not the primary requisite - being non-violent, non-coercive, non-male supremacist are the primary factors. Which is why so many mothers do not want any contact with violent and abusive ex-male partners.

Teenage girls do not become pregnant by themselves unless Melanie you have proof 'virgin births are the norm!' Teen boys and adult men play a central role in impregnating teenage girls - often forcibly impregnating these girls. So, Melanie why are you not telling teen boys and adult men to keep their pants zipped up and thereby reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Melanie says "In turn, men committed themselves to the mothers of their children on the basis that they could trust they were indeed the father because the woman was sexually faithful.'

Melanie - men do not create children and neither are children men's personal property. Have you not heard that women play a central role in the reproductive process but patriarchy still proclaims the myth men create childen and women's only role is to be passive receptors of men's children. Furthermore all foetuses begin as female and it is not until later in the reproductive process do some foetuses become male. Therefore in the reproductive process the default is female not male.

Likewise Melanie women who have children commonly do so on the understanding the male will remain sexually faithful to her, since he is the father of her child.

Guess what Melanie - boys at increasing younger ages are biologically capable of impregnating females - so what - does this mean male sexual violence against teenage girls is non-existent?

Guess what Melanie - women have always worked but our male supremcist society have always devalued women's paid work and ensured that male wages were and continue to be much higher than women's paid wages. This is why so many women have not been able to escape violent male partners - because if they do, women know their chances of finding work which pays them a living wage, as well as enabling them to take care of their children is almost non-existent.

Our male supremacist is set up to ensure that women who have children remain economically dependent on men. This means women who want to leave their violent male partners find it almost impossible given society still views women as men's adjuncts not autonomous beings.

Feminism Melanie was never about 'fitting women into male-defined culture' but rather ending our male supremacist society and ensuring that both women' and men's needs are equally met - rather than defining men's need as the default system.

Gappy said...

I can come to only one conclusion, and that is that she is joking.

Because I just find it impossible to believe that any woman can look back and sigh at what she feels are those halcyon days where women had no option but to devote all their energies into getting and keeping a man.

Then staying with him come what may, because if she didn't she and her children would no longer have a roof over their heads or food to eat.

I would like her to come to my work place and see for herself the devastating effect domestic abuse has on children and their mothers. To witness the emotional abuse, financial abuse, and isolation of their mother affects children deeply, and that's even before physical abuse comes into the equation. Lots of families are better off without the father around.

Sorry, waffle waffle, but her attitude makes me so angry. She hasn't got a clue.

Proud Maisie said...

Melanie Phillips has not brightened up my night, but this post certainly has... Point well made, and in hilarious enough fashion to have me laughing and spluttering all over the laptop. A pretty sight indeed.

Chitra said...

I'm sorry, did she really compare child benefit to a dowry? She's used that term in so many (wrong) contexts that she doesn't seem to know what it actually means...

Cruella said...

Yes, she also thinks dowries are something that is paid by the government...

rafszul said...
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rafszul said...
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Cruella said...

rafzul I've deleted your comments for your own benefit really as you clearly haven't actually read my post. You're arguing with things I've said sarcastically and you're claiming I haven't backed things up when I've been pretty clear in doing so. Do add another comment when you've actually read what I've written - I'm quite happy to debate the issues raised but I don't want my blog derailed into a petty argument because you can't be bothered to actually read what is said.

rafszul said...
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rafszul said...
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rafszul said...

kate, i appreciate and respect your decision. however i cannot understand how constructive and sarcastic criticism of your sarcastic criticism could be regarded as petty argument. what i find quite upsetting is your claim that i "can't be bothered to actually read" what you said. i understand that it is hard for you as an author to read critique of your text but you could at least come up with some more original reasons for rejecting my comment.
interestingly, i do not agree with Melanie Phillips proposals and my personal views are probably closer to yours than to hers, for this reason i find it even more upsetting that your blog turned out to be yet another echo chamber which rejects by default any form of criticism. thus, i would be surprised to see this comment published on your blog. thanx

Cruella said...

If you look around this blog you will see on hundreds of occassiona I have acceted comments disagreeing with me, debate has raged and sometimes opinions, including mine, have changed.

Your comments were just stupid though. For instance you angrily rejected the notion of a link between rape and pregnancy. It's really not my job to explain that one. Ask your parents...

rafszul said...

i don't quite understand how can you use a word "angrily" when you refer to what i have written. what is more, i did not reject "the notion of a link between rape and pregnancy" but merely pointed out (in a sarcastic manner) that explaining the number of teenage pregnancies by statutory rape could be reasonably regarded as a little bit of a stretch. moreover, even less understandable is your use of the word "stupid" considering that most of my comments were pointing to very basic logical fallacies in your critique with so called "red herring fallacy" being the most prevalent. in any case i do not see much of a point in arguing about these matters now after you have decided to censor my critique. however, judging on what you have written it seems to me that it is you who have not read or understood my writing rather than the other way around. thanks for your patronising comment anyway.

Cruella said...

Mmm yes - but as I said actually read my post and you'll notice I didn't claim that all teenage pregnancies could be explained by rape, or indeed statutory rape. Just read my post.

I did read your comments and I only wish I could reclaim those ten minutes of my life.

rafszul said...
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rafszul said...

dear kate, i am sorry that i took this ten minutes of your life .... no wait, actually the greatest part of my post were quotations from your post, in other words most of this time you spent reading your own words.
anyway, since this quarrel slowly turns into a "petty argument" and knowing that the very reason for you censuring my comment was to make sure that this would not happen, i decided to publish my commentary in full somewhere else. in this way integrity and purity of your blog will remain intact while i will not have to respond to "arguments" based on misrepresentation of my words. you can find my original critique of your post here: http://cruellacritique.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/melanie-phillips-line-by-line-almost-line-by-line.
i allowed myself to add numbers to each paragraph so it is easier for you to point out sheer stupidity of my arguments. i look forward to reading your insightful comments.

Ronan said...

Wow, Mel Pips, Cruella, and then this mentalist rafzul. Is it a full moon?

BethSF said...

In addition I'd just like to take apart this paragraph a little more:

"Devastating new research by sociologist Geoff Dench shows that not only is one in four mothers single, but more than half of such mothers have never lived with a man at all and are choosing to live alone on state benefits. They believe they have no need for a man in their life and that their children have no need for a father. The founding premise of the Government's £280million sex education strategy - that young mums get pregnant through ignorance - is thus very far from the truth."

Er, WHAT? That's a really dazzling series on non-sequiturs.

- Mothers never having lived with a man at all IS NOT PROOF either that they chose this situation, nor that benefits are even involved (unless she's harping on about child benefit, which goes to ALL families single-parent or not). Maybe it's something to do with the vast numbers of fathers that bugger off, during pregnancy or after the child's birth? Surely that's responsible for a far greater number of single mothers than anything else?

- Even supposing that they are choosing not to live with the father of their child, this IS NOT PROOF that they don't think children need fathers, just that they don't want to live with him, for any of numerous reasons. Thousands of women face an uphil struggle to get absent fathers to spend time with their kids, precisely because they consider that relationship important.

-None of this PROVES that women get pregnant intending to be single parents, putting aside whether or not that is a valid choice.

Who's talking about "young" mums anyway? I didn't see anything about age, but heaven forfend that the DM should miss a chance to slag off young people.

ishouldbeworking said...
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