Sunday the 8th March was the day on which my daughter returned from three years in Ghana, and very happy we were to see her back for good. It was also International Women’s Day, and here in London there was a march, no doubt with a lot of shouting by the same Feministas who were baying for my blood the other week, and who are now baying for somebody else’s blood.
There were a few snippets of interest from the gels. Emily Watkins, the child star of the Hogwash series where most of the kids fly around on broomsticks, was seething with rage over threats to release naked photos of her even though apparently there were no photos to release, so I struggled to follow the story or the point of it all. Then there was Nicky Morgan, a female politician, who objected to being called ‘love’ by a male politician. Come on love, you could have been called a lot worse, and probably have been in your time!
Being sexually correct is like tiptoeing through a minefield. No matter what you say or how you say it, if you’re a red bloodied male, some woman is going to take offence. A few examples will suffice: you can’t call a woman a lady any more, it’s condescending and stereotypical. If you are in the arts, especially if you tread the boards, you are not an actress but an actor. Make of that what you will. If you give up your seat for a lady, sorry, I mean woman, you do so at your peril, and the same applies to holding open a door, or standing up when a lady, sorry I mean woman, enters the room. By the same token, you do not stand behind her chair to help her sit down.
So what about us red bloodied blokes? Do we have an International Day? No we do not! This surely is blatant sexual discrimination!
On a more serious note, I have been exercised recently on divorce and the impact this has on the children of a broken marriage. Where agreement on child support cannot be reached between the parents, the government provides its own service in the form of the Child Support Agency. I will not begin to burden you with the twists and turns of the legislation which crystallised around the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008, save only to say that a new independent corporate body called the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (‘CMEC’) was set up with responsibility for running the statutory child support scheme from the Secretary of State (i.e. the CSA) from 1 November 2008. Quite what the Government hoped to achieve by this move was never entirely clear. However, whatever it was, it did not happen. On 31 July 2012, CMEC was abolished, and the responsibility went back to the Secretary of State (in the guise of the Child Support Agency). This had no effect whatsoever on any cases that were ongoing. Indeed, users of the service may have been blissfully unaware of all these changes, as throughout the CMEC period, the CMEC continued to refer to itself as the Child Support Agency in its letters to service users, explaining that this was its ‘operating name’.
So there you have it, or not, as the case may be. But what is clear in the great sexual discrimination debate, the government, and those who administer the child support scheme by whatever name they choose to be known, is that the mother is favoured at the expense of the father, and for no good reason.
Where there is a clear case of the absent father not shouldering responsibility for his child, it is perfectly right and proper to favour the mother with whom the child lives. But where the child divides his time equally between his parents, and where the parents make an equal contribution to the child’s welfare and support, there is still an inbuilt prejudice against the father. It is a prejudice that dare not speak its name, but it is there nonetheless, and causes unfairness and at times distress where a more sympathetic approach could reap dividends.
In the final analysis, it is the child’s best interests that should prevail, and this prejudice and imbalance against the father is not only unfair, it is also counterproductive.