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A Christmas Letter for Fathers Alienated from their Children

25 Dec

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet has been in the news lately, threatening to sue Fathers4Justice over an ad campaign criticizing comments she made in the media indicating she does not believe in shared parenting.

None of this 50/50 time with the mums and dads – my children live with me; that is it.

The comments appeared in Vogue magazine, and Ms. Winslet does not deny that she uttered them.

Winslet, who has three children by three different fathers, may or may not be handling her family dynamics well, ensuring that her children continue to enjoy the undeniable benefits of a continued relationship with their fathers. That is a moot point. Winslet’s personal circumstances are irrelevant. What IS relevant is her assertion that shared parenting, this “50/50 time with mums and dads” – is negative and detrimental to children’s well-being.

“Oh, my God! Those poor children! They must have gone through so much”.

Says who? They’ve always been with me. They don’t go from pillar to post; they’re not flown here and there with nannies.

Winslet’s first husband, Jim Threapleton, agrees with Fathers4Justice, and said he went months without seeing their daughter, Mia, but even so, the point is not how Winslet is managing her own circumstances – the point is that as a public figure, she is explicitly encouraging custodial parents to reject shared parenting.

And for that, she deserves to be called out.

Winslet makes her living as a public figure. Her words were not taken from a private conversation she had with friends. She made her statement in Vogue magazine, which she clearly understands will be read by millions of magazine subscribers and buyers. Total average circulation for Vogue magazine is 1.2 million, which only includes direct purchases. The number of shared reads (you read my copy) increases the circulation number even further. Indeed, that is the point of appearing in Vogue: it keeps her in the public eye and bolsters her value as a performer and public figure, allowing her to charge high prices for her services.

No one cast Winslet as a vindictive, alienating shrew. She did it to herself, so crying foul now is a bit rich.

The simple fact is that divorce, and separation from children is a critical public health issue. Divorced men are 39% more likely to commit suicide when they are separated from their children. The complete article is behind a paywall, but here is the citation:

Daniel S. Felix, W. David Robinson, and Kimberly J. Jarzynka. The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health Journal of Men’s Health. September 2013, 10(1): 3-7. doi:10.1016/j.jomh.2012.09.002.

It is unconscionable that Winslet would promote separation as being good for her children, or good for her ex-husbands. She deserves every ounce of opprobrium she has generated.

I am the adult survivor of parental alienation following divorce, and I would like to spend the rest of this article addressing fathers who find themselves in this terrible situation. You can read the story of how the alienation played out here.

Christmas was always the worst time of year. My father was rarely a full participant in the celebrations, but he would drop off gifts, or have them mailed to us, and then be on his way. We had no idea at the time that he was in violation of court orders when he showed up, and that my mother would only permit him to stay for a few minutes. He considered himself lucky to have even that.

We hated him for thinking that being a father meant spending some money and then taking off at the earliest opportunity. Whatever presents or gifts he brought, it was never enough. We showed no gratitude. The words “thank you” were never uttered. We glared at him sullenly and perhaps begrudgingly conceded that some presents were “okay”.

We were utterly miserable and angry and ungrateful and terrible to him.

We had no idea that everything my mother had told us was a lie. I feel so wretched now, as an adult, looking back at how my brothers and I behaved towards my father, who, bless his courage and strength, never lashed out at us, and never gave up. I have no idea where he found the heart, but he did.

My father was no angel. He embraced a particularly violent form of Christianity that encouraged, interesting, shall we say, disciplinary techniques. He believed in the value of physical labor, and took that to extremes, sometimes. He believed in the character building value of hardship. He was not always the best father.

From those flaws, my mother built a careful psychological cage around her children and taught us to hate him. Not just dislike, but to actively despise and hate him. And she succeeded. He faced that hatred and never wavered. It is often said that women grow up to marry men who remind them of their fathers, and I have often said in the past that I am so glad I married a man nothing like my father.

The poison runs deep, and bleeding it out takes a long time.

The truth is that I married a man who has all the strength and character and goodness of my father. His cheerfulness is exactly like my father’s unwillingness to ever abandon hope. They are both relentlessly optimistic that things will work out, eventually. I was blind to that for a very long time.

I cannot imagine the pain I have caused my father, and I take some responsibility for that. As I child, I was more or less helpless against the lies my mother told. I could not understand how I was being manipulated, and I therefore could not resist. As an adult, I have fewer excuses. My father was the one who reached out to me. I cannot say if the day would ever have come that I would have looked for him. The truth about my childhood came as a complete shock, and yet, once I knew, it was all so obvious.

This is the hardest part. All across the world, there are countless fathers, facing down a Christmas season with children who hate them. Who resent them. Who are ungrateful, unappreciative, sullen, unpleasant and just generally unlikeable.

Their minds have been poisoned. They have been subjected to a kind of psychological torture called “parental alienation”. It is an extreme form of child abuse and the goal is to deprive both the children and the alienated parent of love.

And it works.

Oh, how it works.

But not forever. Resisting parental alienation as it is happening is incredibly difficult. I wish I could offer some happy solution. Here are a few success stories to consider. And a few more.

It is bitterly unfair that both the alienated parent and the alienated children are condemned to missing one another’s lives while the children are young and being subjected to extreme brainwashing. And the devastating truth is that the effects can last long after childhood.

In most cases of parental alienation, it is fathers and children who are victims of vindictive mothers – women who are fully prepared to destroy their children psychologically for their own twisted desires.

I am by no means suggesting that alienated parents give up the fight to have their children rescued from the psychological abuse that is parental alienation. Absolutely not. This is an issue that must be understood as deeply harmful abuse with long lasting effects.

I’ve lived through both physical and psychological abuse – the psychological was far more difficult to overcome.

And that is the heart of my message. My father was not perfect. And neither was I. I held on to my irrational anger for a long time. Much longer than I should have. I know that. My unwillingness to confront the truth means I lost my father for ten years. Ten years I should have had, but didn’t, because I was not willing to see the truth.

And believe me, this is no attempt to garner sympathy – “oh, no, JB, you were just a child, it isn’t your fault”. That’s bullshit. It violates the central maxim of my life: you don’t get to choose your childhood, but you do get to choose how you respond to it.

I chose badly.

My children have an adoring grandfather, my husband has a father-in-law he loves, my neighbors have a man who can fix almost anything mechanical, my friends have a conduit into my past and the stories that made me who I am, my community has a watcher who keeps an eye on the pets and children – and I have my father back.

Not because of anything I did.

Because my father never gave up hope.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

Agnes Pharo

To every Daddy without his babies this Christmas season: Our hearts are with you.

stock-footage-father-helping-son-decorate-christmas-tree

May that give you the strength to never lose hope.

Merry Christmas.

All the love,

JB

It never rains, but it pours…..

22 Oct

Dear lovely readers,

I have some fabulous news to share with you. But first, I’m gonna whine about my white lady problems.

So, the reality of the PhD is kicking in, and I am coming to understand exactly how much work this stupid degree will entail. I spent the entire fucking day today filling in the most rage-inducing bureaucratic clusterfuck of paperwork otherwise known as a “grant-application”, a process which apparently employs every pinhead fucktard on the planet. Seriously, who designs these applications?

paperwork

I have also begun the process of tracking all the literature that describes an actual, quantifiable benefit arising from big data analytics across five sectors of the global economy, a document that will constitute the bulk of my literature review and that I will, with any luck, publish as a separate paper.

It’s a shit ton of work.

Hitting my research goal today, and filling in the grant application made it impossible for me to post earlier than this.

Now, in addition to the PhD and the blog, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel.

novel

And true to form, I didn’t just write a novel – I was a complete asshole about it. I have combined present perfect and simple past tenses in a way that makes grammar Nazis go full bore Third Reich, but that perfectly imitates the way the tenses are used in spoken English. It’s in the first person, with multiple narrators and a fractured narrative. Sometimes the narrators change from one sentence to the next, and the narrative fractures from one paragraph to the next. My main protagonists are both men, and the story is set during wartime. Oh yeah, I have an omniscient narrator, too.

soldier

What do I know about men in combat? Men facing down an enemy? Men being the enemy? Men who face the choice between killing and being killed? Men who experience all the horror and joy and exhilaration and boredom and fear and courage and despair and invincibility and utter vulnerability of being at war?

What do I know about that?

Fuck all. But I know men. I begin with the assumption that every emotion, every feeling, every response, every reaction is a part of who they are as human beings.

So I did what few women do: I wrote a story with a male protagonist, set during war.

Think about that. When men write, they very commonly write female protagonists. From Anna Karenina to Madame Bovary to Lispeth Salander to Hester Prynne, men have always written deeply nuanced, fully realized, fully human women.

lis

Women tend to write other women. Outside of genre fiction, they rarely write male protagonists.

So it’s unusual to have a woman write not just one, but two male protagonists.

Here’s my wonderful news: I have been accepted for representation by a literary agent in New York with a client list of some very big, prize-winning authors.

PhD

Book

Blog

Three children

Husband

Home

I simply can’t do it all. Something has to give. The work we are doing here is far too important for me to give up entirely, so here is what’s going to happen.

avfm

All future work (I’m aiming for every Friday) will appear exclusively at A Voice for Men. I’m working under the direction of the editorial team there, who will assign me topics and issues, and I will continue to lend my voice to the most important civil rights movement in the culture. This blog will remain up, and I will post links to articles as they appear at AVfM.

But my daily rants are over for the time being, as I chase after my dreams.

It’s scary, dear readers, but as the saying goes:

scare

Wish me luck, and I’ll see you at AVfM!

Lots of love,

JB

Ten Rules for Managing Your Vagina

8 Aug

SOME IMAGES ARE A BIT RACY – POSSIBLY NSFW

Following Suzanne Moore’s excellent and very informative article for men on how to manage their penises, published in the Guardian, I thought I would do all the ladies a favor and offer some suggestions on how to manage their vaginas.

suzanne moore

This is Suzanne, by the way.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/07/10-rules-managing-penis-sexting-wine-toaster

Let’s recap Suzanne’s article quickly.  The very definition of delightful, no?

phallic

How to Manage Your Penis

 

1.            Don’t take pictures of your penis and don’t share them 

2.            Wash your filthy penis, please

3.            Do not use small appliances on your penis

4.            Do not urinate in public.  Gross!

5.            Don’t forget not to rape anybody with your penis

6.            Do not name your penis

7.            Do not share your penis with other men

8.            Do not decorate your penis

9.            Do not attempt to change the natural shape of your penis

10.          Do not mistake your penis for your brain

Excellent advice, Suzanne.  You really have a handle on the psychology of the average male.  The love just shines through!  A rainbow of affection for a dreary day!

rainbow

How unfair of you to leave the ladies out, though.  Surely, some vagina love is in order, to complement this Ode to LoveRockets?

Let me help you out.  Here are Ten Rules to Manage Your Vagina.

1.            Don’t take pictures of your vagina and don’t share them 

And if you plan to ignore this excellent advice, try to find out whether the recipient of your largess would care to see your vagina in the first place.  Don’t be this girl, sexting members of her high school lacrosse team, who didn’t particularly care to go visually spelunking through the lady cave of their friend, and had her, oops!  Expelled!

http://jezebel.com/girl-sends-sext-gets-kicked-out-of-school-lacrosse-pl-471285308

See?  Bad things can happen if you sext your muffin to guys who have already had lunch, thanks.

Never worry, though.  You have Feminists™ to come to your defence and wonder why the BOYS didn’t get expelled for failing to worship the Kodak Yoni.

calvin

Ha ha!  Silly vagina owner.  Not everyone wants to see it.  Keep in it your Calvin Kleins.

Oh, oops. My bad.  She only sent pictures of her boobies.  No naughtybit shots. Well, let’s try this one, then.  Let’s try all of these!

http://jezebel.com/5057511/revenge-porn-hard-to-prosecute-harder-on-the-psyche

You see, ladies, when you take explicit pictures of your naked body and send them to people, they are no longer your private property, and if you happen to go full bore cunt on the lucky recipient, plan on seeing your bits plastered far and wide on the internet.

Oh, boo hoo.  You want to shame, humiliate, mock, deride and snicker at MEN who have made the mistake of sharing their XXX camera roll, but when it happens to YOU, that’s a felony?

http://www.salon.com/2013/04/07/criminalizing_revenge_porn/

Bullshit.

pot

Pot, let me introduce you to kettle.

There is one surefire way for BOTH men and women to ensure they are not publicly exposed by their own selfies – don’t take them.  If you can’t abide that, then accept you are taking a risk.  YOU took the shot!  YOU pressed send.

And you will face whatever consequences there are as a result of YOUR own decisions.  Welcome to being a grown-up.

2.            Wash your filthy vagina, please

Sweaty, bloody, occasionally yeasty, and dripping wet when aroused – ladies, please take some steps to keep your vagina clean.  You know, a daily shower should do it.  A bit of hygiene after a loo run.

blood

You know, Suzanne, this is just gross.  Any attempt to make genitals seem dirty and filthy by the simple act of being genitals reeks of some pretty serious psychological disturbance, to me.  There is even a name for it – a bunch of names, actually.

phobia

Phallophobia is the abnormal and persistent fear of a penis, especially if it’s erect.   Those who suffer from this phobia are afraid to look at or touch a penis.  This even includes pictures of penises.  Phallophobia is similar to Medorthophobia, the fear of an erect penis and Ithyphallophobia, the fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis.

A phobia is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities or persons.  The main symptom is an excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. Other phobia symptoms include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and an overall feeling of dread.  Phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorders.

http://constantfear.blogspot.ca/2013/06/phallophobia-fear-of-penis.html#.UgOqYdKR-So

Now, spiders I can understand. Spiders are terrible.  Really, really awful.

spider

But penises?

I really think you need to look into whatever is causing you to believe male genitals are dirty, Suzanne.  It’s kind of not very normal.

3.            Do not use small appliances on your vagina

Especially not any of these small appliances!

vibrators

Holy Joy Nazi!  Welcome to Suzanne’s world.  The Mayor of NoFunsVille herself.  I think Suzanne should begin an immediate program of applying a LOT of small appliances to her vagina. Okay, technically, not her vagina.  But let’s not get fussed.  It’s in the ballpark. She’ll figure it out. She might feel a lot better, too.

4.            Do not urinate in public.  Gross!

pee 2

pee 1

pee 3

Nuff said.

5.            Don’t forget not to rape anybody with your vagina

top

And while you’re at it, try to remember not to accuse people of raping you with their penis when that isn’t true. It’s a very nasty thing to do. And after you do it, oh, eleven times or so, you might even go to jail.  I guess the message is that ONE or TWO accusations is okay, but don’t get carried away with it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284677/Compulsive-liar-Elizabeth-Jones-cried-rape-11-times-jailed.html

Now, now. Don’t get hysterical. I’m not saying NO false accusations.  Moderation, ladies!  Just a little restraint.

6.            Do not name your vagina

hand

Enough with the “Ladybits” and “Pandora’s Box” and “Honeypot” nonsense.  Vagina.  There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. Needing to name your “Midnight Garden” is just immature and off-putting.

http://jezebel.com/5927490/honeypot-flaps-twat-nicknaming-a-vagina-is-tricky-business

Grow up fellow “Yorkshire Pudding” owners!

7.            Do not share your vagina with other women

flag

Uhm, I don’t even know what to do with this one.  Throw in homophobia as a bit of satire?  For what purpose? To highlight the fact that Suzanne’s entire article is a steaming pile of hateful bile?

Well, okay.  I personally don’t care who you issue entrance passes to, but we can play along.

No dykes!  No sharing your vagina with other women!

8.            Do not decorate your vagina

jazzle

No grooming! And vajazzling? Forget it.  No piercing, tattooing or accessorizing.

9.            Do not attempt to change the natural shape of your vagina

Obviously, actual mutilation during childhood is utterly forbidden. For vaginas.  Penises we don’t care much about.  Mutilating baby boys is okie-dokie, but once that initial butchery is done, never, ever try any other enhancements.

boy

Ladies, stop doing those Kegels this instant.  Nobody cares about a tight vagina anyways. And no post-birth reconstructive surgeries, either.  No rejuvenations!  Fourth degree tearing during a particularly tough labor?  Too bad!

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/25/us-usa-health-gynecology-idUSBRE87O05520120825?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

10.          Do not mistake your vagina for your brain

This will be the tough one.  Stop thinking with your crotches, ladies.  There is more to life than cultivating your LadyGarden.  More to your existence than ploughing the fields and planting seeds.  Of course, if you forgo planting, you will probably starve, but that’s neither here nor there.

empty

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2386400/Kate-Spicer-Any-woman-says-shes-happy-childless-liar-fool.html

Ladies, you need to think with your heads, not your ovaries!  Just think where we could be as a human species if more women focused on their education and careers and contributions than on the occupational status of their wombs.

latte

More Barista of Arts, summa cum latte!

http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/whatsitworth-complete.pdf

secretary

More secretaries!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/top-job-for-women-secretary-same-as-1950_n_2599560.html

alone

More elderly women alone with no one to care for them!

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/29/single-childless-and-downright-terrified/?_r=0

More of everything we need, no?

In a way, Suzanne’s article is very instructive. The denigration of men and their filthy, rapey minds and penises used to be rather subtle. A little unpacking was in order.  That is no longer true.  If you look at the comments at the Guardian, even average readers seem to be able to detect the scent of desperation.  The rhetoric against men is escalating because the fog is slowly lifting.

How much longer will the Guardian, and other news sources be able to get away with this campaign?  Yesterday’s discussion was kind of interesting.  Is critiquing Cathy Young fair? Does she have a legitimate complaint that the rhetoric of those who speak out in favor of human rights for everyone is just a bit too aggressive, crass, brash, antagonistic?

Maybe?

Complaining about dirty penises in a national newspaper hardly fits the bill for polite, civil conversation, if you ask me.

Maybe we are a bit crass.  A bit belligerent.  A bit over the top.  So what?

maggie

We were told our campaign wasn’t sufficiently slick. We regard that as a compliment.

Margaret Thatcher

Fuck all the slick campaigns.  Dirty fights are dirty.

And there’s nothing wrong with getting a little dirty now and then.

Lots of love,

JB

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