A Tug-of-War over Custody
Fathers Deprived of their Rights in America's "Covert Matriarchy"
by Rich Zubaty
Chicago Sun-Times Commentary, October 29, 1994
*(reproduced by permission of the author)
Women own 84 percent of America's wealth. Women live eight years longer
than men. Men are 20 times more likely than women to end up in jail. It
is a crime to steal a car, but was not a crime to deny an ex-husband
visitation with his children until Illinois became the first state in the
union to pass the Unlawlful Visitation Interference Statute.
More women than men enter college and master's programs. Women can vote,
but they are not obligated to defend their right to vote by registering
for the Selective Service. Women are not a minority, but a majority.
The great majority of men who run our society are what I have called
"manholes" -- the opposite of whole men -- men who got what they got by
defending female values. The words gushing out of the mouths of the men
who appear to run our government, media, schools, businesses and religious
institutions are words designed not to offend women. What will it take
for us to wake up from this nightmare, this hall of mirrors? What will it
take for us to realize we are living in a covert matriarchy?
It is clear to me that feminism has one opportunity before it to prove
that it is indeed interested in equality and not simply obsessed with
gaining ever more power for women. Feminist leaders must immediately,
unequivocally and wholeheartedly come out in favor of and fully support
equal parenting rights for fathers. If they want men to take their equal
jobs/equal pay stance seriously, women must take our equal parenting
rights seriously. American men want automatic joint custody of their
Instead, what do we find? Whereas 90 percent of the children of divorce
automatically end up in the custody of the mother, of the remaining 10
percent, six out of 10 (6 percent of the total) wind up in the custody of
their fathers. And the feminist leadership is contesting this imbalance
favoring men in contested custody cases.
I speak for a lot of men when I tell the story of how, when I sat down
with my divorce attorney for the very first meeting, he told me, "Unless
you have $200,000 in disposable income, don't even think about going after
custody of your kids. And even then, chances are you won't get it."
Is it any wonder that most men do not push the custody issue? The courts
are stacked against us. We inhabit a social milieu that claims that women
are morally superior to men.
Feminists in Illinois are mounting an effort to repeal the Unlawful
Visitation Interference Statute that was passed Jan. 1. Let's take a
look at what is at stake here.
Until the passage of this statute, every time a man was being denied
access to his estranged children, he had to hire a lawyer and take his
case to civil court where, typically, the ex-wife would be scolded by the
judge and told not to do that again.
There was no retribution, no penalty, the guy was out a few hundred bucks
and a few months later, if she felt like it, she could just withhold
But now we are entering a brave new era. The word "visitation" is out.
The words "father's rights to see their kids" are in. No longer will men
be induced to believe they have a "privilege" to "visit" their children.
From now on, we want it known we have a "right" to "raise" our children.
Under the Unlawful Visitation Interference Statute, instead of men having
to cough up money every time they want to see their estranged kids, they
can simply present their court-ordered visitation documents to a police
officer and that police officer will serve a summons to the offending
ex-wife to appear in Criminal Court.
Criminal Court is free. Civil court costs money. That is one of the
quirks of our legal system. Women have been able to get free help
tracking down dads who are behind in child-support payments. And now,
finally, dads can get free help to see their kids. We have achieved some
kind of balance, fairness and justice.
Children socialize their fathers. They make them honorable and
clean-spoken and ethical and consistent. Kids bring out their dads' warm
sides and soft sides. How can our society possibly ignore the
overwhelming significance of this social dynamic? Men without kids are
responsible for no one but themselves. Men with kids have a job to do --
So let's keep dads in the picture. Let's keep the Unlawful Visitation
Interference Statute on the books. Let's work out the glitches in court
administration. Let's do it for the dads, and for the kids.