On Father's Day,
Americans should ponder the appalling
fact that an estimated 40 percent
of our nation's children are living
in homes without their own father.
Most of our social problems are caused
by kids who grow up in homes without
their own fathers: drug abuse, illicit
sexual activity, unwed pregnancies,
youth suicide, high school dropouts,
runaways, and crime.
Where have all the fathers gone? Some
men are irresponsible slobs, but no
evidence exists that nearly half of
American children were voluntarily
abandoned by their own fathers; there
must be other explanations.
For 30 years, feminist organizations
and writers have propagated the myth
that women are victims of an oppressive
patriarchal society and that marriage
is an inherently abusive institution
that makes wives second-class citizens.
Feminists made divorce a major component
of women's liberation and their political
For three decades, feminists have
toyed with the question that Maureen
Dowd chose as the title of her forthcoming
book, Are Men Necessary? That's just
the latest version of Gloria Steinem's
famous line, "A woman without
a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
College textbooks portray marriage
as especially bleak and dreary for
women. Assigned readings are preoccupied
with domestic violence, battering,
abuse, marital rape, and divorce.
During the Clinton Administration,
the feminists parlayed their hysteria
that domestic violence is a national
epidemic into the passage of the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA). This created
a gigantic gravy train of taxpayers'
money, known as feminist pork, that
empowers pro-divorce, anti-male activism.
Not satisfied with several billions
from the U.S. Treasury, 67 feminist
and liberal organizations supported
a lawsuit to try to get private allegations
of domestic abuse heard in federal
courts so they could collect civil
damages against men and institutions
with deep pockets. Fortunately, the
Supreme Court, in Brzonkala v. Morrison
(2000), declared unconstitutional
VAWA's section that might have permitted
that additional mischief.
However, VAWA's billions of dollars
continue to finance the domestic-violence
lobby, and there is a deafening silence
from conservatives who pretend to
be guardians against federal takeovers
of problems that are none of the federal
government's business. Local crimes
and marital disputes should not be
subjects of federal law or spending.
Billions of dollars have flowed from
VAWA to the states to finance private
victim-advocacy organizations, private
domestic-violence coalitions, and
the training of judges, prosecutors
and police. This tax-funded network
is, of course, staffed by radical
feminists who teach the presumption
of father guilt.
Legislating a special category of
domestic violence is very much like
legislating a special category of
hate crimes. Both create a new level
of crimes for which punishment is
based on who you are rather than what
acts you commit, and the "who"
in the view of VAWA and the domestic-violence
lobby is the husband and father.
A Justice Department-funded document
published by the National Victim Assistance
Academy established a widely accepted
definition of "violence"
that includes such non-criminal acts
as "degradation and humiliation"
and "name-calling and constant
criticizing." The acts need not
be illegal, physical, violent, or
threatening; "domestic violence"
becomes whatever the woman says it
The Final Report of the Child Custody
and Visitation Focus Group of the
National Council of Juvenile and Family
Court Judges admitted that "usually
judges are not required to make a
finding of domestic violence in civil
protection order cases." In other
words, judges saddle fathers with
restraining orders on the wife's say-so
without any investigation as to whether
it is true or false.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN),
a big advocate of VAWA, admitted that
"up to 75 percent of all domestic
assaults reported to law enforcement
agencies were inflicted after the
separation of the couple." Most
allegations of domestic violence are
made for the purpose of taking the
custody of children away from their
The June issue of the Illinois Bar
Journal explains how women use court-issued
restraining orders (which Illinois
calls Orders of Protection) as a tool
for the mother to get sole child custody
and even bar the father from visitation.
In big type, the magazine proclaims:
"Orders of protection are designed
to prevent domestic violence, but
they can also become part of the gamesmanship
The "game" is that mothers
can assert falsehoods or trivial marital
complaints and thereby get sole custody
orders that deprive children of their
fathers. This "game" is
based on the presumption (popularized
by VAWA and the domestic-violence
lobby) that fathers are inherently
guilty and dangerous.
Congress should not be spending taxpayers'
money to deal with marital disputes,
and courts should not deprive children
of their fathers on a presumption
that fathers are dangerous. Congress
can help us celebrate Father's Day
this year by refusing to reauthorize
the costly VAWA boondoggle.
Mrs. Schlafly is the author of the
new book The Supremacists: The Tyranny
of Judges and How to Stop It (Spence