This Idea that You Don’t Have to Do Anything and Things Go Your Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole slew of “protect us from the women” bills before the state legislature, everything from “presumption of joint custody” to “manditory DNA testing before a birth certificate is signed.”  And I still remain somewhat baffled by all this because nothing is stopping men now from doing these things.  You can right now petition the court for joint custody.  You can right now demand a DNA test before you agree to be placed on a birth certificate.  You can right now terminate your parental rights and let some other guy (who may even be the biological father) adopt your children.

So why do there need to be laws?

It would seem like the answer might be “Because most men don’t do these things and they should.”  But, most men don’t do these things and most men don’t need to.  Most men are actually raising kids that are theirs.  And so forth.  So the “and they should” part isn’t really true.  Most men don’t need the State to force this stuff.  In fact, almost all men don’t need the State to force this stuff, if they’re willing to push the issue.

And that’s what I’m hung up on–you can do all this stuff now, if you’re willing to make some effort.

Now, some guys do get dicked over by the system.  But none of this legislation seems to me to actually be geniuinely helpful to the truly dicked over.  Even Campfield’s legislation that gets men out of paying child support on kids that aren’t biologically theirs only seems to take effect if there’s some other man already in the picture willing to support the child.  So, it does nothing for the guy who’s been lied to if there’s no other guy to step up.

So, if this isn’t about helping the truly dicked over, one wonders, “What is it for?”

And, frankly, I think it’s for codifying male privilege.  Yes, I’m doing that crazy feminist talk again.  But what I mean is that some guys seem to have this idea that they get to move through life with things magically happening to their benefit.  It doesn’t matter that they make unwise choices about who they get into relationships with, it will never come back to bite them in the butt.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t bother to make an effort to secure their rights to their children, their children will always be available to them.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  The world is theirs to glide through.

And this legislation all seems designed to preserve that illusion.  You can continue to make no real effort.  You don’t have to get to know the women you sleep with in order to figure out if they’re lying, scheming gold-diggers who are sleeping with your best friend behind your back, because, if they are, the State will catch them.  You don’t have to say to your lawyer or stand up in front of a judge and say “I want joint custody of my kids” because the State will smooth the way for you.  You don’t have to say to your wife “I don’t trust you and I refuse to let you put my name on that birth certificate until I have some genetic proof that kid is mine,” because the State will just treat all women like liars.

The truth is that this model of manhood treats men like they’re emotionally stunted idiots who need the State to preserve their manhood.  You would think that most men, especially most conservative men, would find this kind of legislation insulting–like you aren’t man enough to step up and do what needs to be done.  But I think that men in our society get conditioned from the time they’re very young to believe that they and other men are emotionally stunted idiots who must always get their way but who can’t be seen actually working or struggling at making their way in the world, lest they be seen as losers and pussies.  Rather than being seen as losers or pussies who express needs and get them filled, they need the State to move behind the scenes to make this stuff happen for them so that they can have it without seeming to exert any effort.

It’s a strange situation, where men must be constantly presumed to be manly above all else, in a cool and effortless way, able to bring things together for themselves while they are treated like feral children.

Someday, I hope, this is rightfully seen as the insult it is.

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18 thoughts on “This Idea that You Don’t Have to Do Anything and Things Go Your Way

  1. Pingback: Codifying Male Privilege : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  2. “The truth is that this model of manhood treats men like they’re emotionally stunted idiots who need the State to preserve their manhood.”

    Keep in mind, I say this as a man. At the risk of being branded a traitor by my sex, most of us ARE emotionally stunted idiots who need someone to preserve our manhood.

  3. Well, Scott, yeah, but that’s not who you are inherently.

    It’s who you and other men yourselves by reinforcing to each other that this is how you should be, and if you aren’t the other guys will beat you up. It’s all about bullying, and as we all know, there’s no bigger coward than a bully.

  4. Besides which, I call bullshit on Scott. I know enough men to be aware that, while a lot of you are emotionally stunted idiots,* an equal or greater number of you aren’t. Falling back on that old stereotype is just laziness, plain and simple.

    *So are a lot of us women. It’s not like men are specially, tenderly, vulnerably idiotic in ways that women aren’t, or specially needy in some way available only to those with penises.

  5. But honestly, think about this for a minute. What else is the State (as in, a collection of highly privileged people deploying collective power to protect some interests and thwart others) doing in Tennessee that would make the vast majority of men say “hey, yeah, that’s helping me!”

    Is the State making health care more affordable? No. Is it attracting high-wage jobs to the area so that workers can raise their standard of living? No. Is the State dedicating itself to providing a high-quality education to its citizens so that anyone (whether he lives in downtown Memphis or bumfuck Nowhere) can send kids to schools and know that they’ll emerge literate, math-competent, and ready to build Tennessee’s future. Uh, that would be a big no.

    What it’s doing is trying to say “men, don’t abandon us. We know you are economically battered, that your wages are so low that the traditional wage gap between men and women is starting to close a little(not because women are gaining, but because y’all are losing) right at the time that you’re more dependent than ever on dual wage-earning. We know that we are doing nothing that speaks to your family’s interest and indeed are actively harming the women that in many cases are supporting your asses…but don’t think about it like that. Women are the enemy. Not us. It’s not us that have created a screwed set of public policies that have left the average Tennessee resident without any reason to support either party and indeed should prompt them to revolt entirely. No, if only traditional moral order were restored, you’d at least have male privilege to keep you warm…”

    It’s the onesie-twosie. Race-baiting and bolstering control over of the intimate property of wives and kids — gives poor white guys some reason to cozy up to the elite white guys who need their votes. This is a classic play in US politics.

  6. And that’s what I’m hung up on–you can do all this stuff now, if you’re willing to make some effort.

    I look forward to your newfound libertarian ideal being applied to other topics in the future.

  7. Just an awesome post…

    The truth is that this model of manhood treats men like they’re emotionally stunted idiots who need the State to preserve their manhood.


  8. You can continue to make no real effort. You don’t have to get to know the women you sleep with in order to figure out if they’re lying, scheming gold-diggers who are sleeping with your best friend behind your back, because, if they are, the State will catch them.

    Are women who ask the state to handle their child support collections just avoiding the real effort of getting to know the men they sleep with to figure out if they’re irresponsible types who will run off and not take care of the kids?

  9. Robert, god damn it. If you can’t apply basic reading skills and logic, I don’t even know what to say to you. But we will all weep a thousand tears for all the men in Tennessee who have to pay money for their children when they don’t want to. Oh the terrible burden it must be.

    I’m always curious why you guys who don’t want to support your children piss and moan TO WOMEN about it. Is it because you’re afraid that if you tell men this, you might be saying it to a guy who gladly works hard to ensure his kids have food and clothing and when he realizes what a fucker you are, he might punch you? Or what?

  10. I have no objection to supporting my kids; it strikes me as a fundamental moral duty. Nor am I weeping for men who disagree with me; shame on them.

    I just see a double standard being applied here. How come it’s a sign of loser-hood for men to seek the support of the state in their family arrangements, but not for women to do the same?

  11. Robert, please. Stop being disingenuous. It doesn’t suit you and it means we can’t have an honest conversation. I support any parent, regardless of gender, who is raising children and finds that the other parent is not paying his or her portion and who would like the State to step in and make that happen.

    I consider anyone who has been ordered by the court to pay child support and who does not, regardless of gender, to be a loser.

    As it happens, though, as the legislators who put forth this legislation will happily tell you over and over again, 95% of the time, it’s women who have custody of the children, which therefore means, most of the time, when there’s a problem, it is men who have succumbed to loserdom.

    You ask me why there’s a double standard. I don’t know. You’d have to ask the legislators who made this a gendered issue from the get-go.

  12. Not trying to be disingenuous, sorry.

    I wasn’t referring to a double standard on the part of the legislature, but to the one you seem to be maintaining.

    Both men and women need to be responsible and mature in their reproductive behavior. When people fail to be responsible or to behave maturely, it often becomes the state’s responsibility to cover their slack or compel them to behave appropriately. I perceive requiring child support to be paid, and requiring both parents to recognize the other parent’s custodial rights, to be on the same level. YMMV.

  13. Uh, you can’t legislate both parents recognizing the other’s parental rights. You can legislate the courts recognizing both parents’ rights. But, at the end of the day, you won’t be holding one parent in contempt of court for saying, e.g. “These are my children, Other Parent had nothing to do with them, and if I have anything to say about it, they’ll never see them again.”

    If that were possible, then you could legislate “requiring both parents to recognize the other parent’s custodial rights.” That day will never come, I hope.

    Until then, let’s be honest about what’s going on here.

  14. The State is also overlooking the fact that lots of men agree to have their names on a child’s birth certificate knowing that the child is not biologically theirs. Parenthood isn’t just about biology, it’s about who raises the child. When my friend got pregnant as the result of a rape, she and her boyfriend put his name on the child’s birth certificate because he thinks of the child as his own, regardless of biology, and he cares for his daughter despite the fact that she came from some other guy’s sperm.

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