Magazine article Insight on the News

Fathers Know Best: Men: The Men's Rights Movement Is Gaining Momentum in the Nineties by Extolling the Virtues and Rewards of Marriage, Fatherhood and Responsibility

Magazine article Insight on the News

Fathers Know Best: Men: The Men's Rights Movement Is Gaining Momentum in the Nineties by Extolling the Virtues and Rewards of Marriage, Fatherhood and Responsibility

Article excerpt

The men's-rights movement is gaining momentum in the nineties by extolling the virtues and rewards of marriage, fatherhood and responsibility.

Richard Doyle, who in 1971 founded the Men's Defense Association, or MDA, says "for years we kept a sad-stories file" until it got too unwieldy. Its contents, he adds "would have sobered a judge."

Doyle had undergone a bitter divorce and lost custody of his three children to his former wife. That's what led him to create the MDA, which he still heads, and take up the cause of men's rights. His group is now the "oldest men's-movement organization in America," the retired air-traffic controller says, somewhat amazed.

The sad stories contained in his file were tales of marital woe involving fathers separated from their sons and daughters by court order, similar to Doyle's own story They were proof of the deep "antimale prejudice" of American courts and society, according to Doyle -- prejudice the MDA hopes to turn around and which he sees as a root cause of America's social problems, from high teenage crime to the disappearance of the nuclear family as society's basic unit.

The Minnesota-based MDA is not alone. Other groups, including Men International, headquartered in Florida, and the New York City-based National Organization of Men, among others, devote themselves to what Doyle calls a fair shake for men -- "real equality with women" -- in a society they think systematically denies them that equality.

Why do judges regularly turn custody of children over to mothers, whatever that mother's character might be? asks Doyle. He calls it a "perversion of chivalry" in which judges suffer from a "Galahad complex" that assumes, out of gallantry, that a woman never could do anything that should separate her from her children. What this misplaced gallantry does, however, is encourage women to seek divorce since they know the courts will side with them. And it keeps from their kids those fathers who are more worthy to parent than the mothers.

But Doyle cautions that the men's movement seeks more than reform of the courts. His group -- which has counseled more than 10,000 men since its founding -- seeks "to restore the dignity of males" and "enhance marriage and the family," subjects Doyle speaks about with a passion similar to the tens of thousands of fathers who regularly attend the mass meetings of the Promise Keepers (or last year's Million Man March in Washington) to extol fatherhood and male responsibility. …

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