Ask Dr. Helen: Should Men Get Married?

"It has become a kind of religion that you can't criticise because then you become a traitor to the great cause, which I am not.

"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests.

"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

--Guardian "Nobel Prize Winning Novelist Doris Lessing

A reader writes in:

Dear Dr. Helen:

After reading your last column on men's rights, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on whether or not men should get married?

Dear Reader:

Wow, that is a tough question. Let me start by saying that many of you emailed me about my last column on men's rights to say that I was wrong to blame men for "not showing up" to fight against the courts and laws that treat them worse than common criminals--without due process, constitutional rights or any say in government intervention into their private lives. But it seems that women are getting ahead in the workplace (in NYC and other large cities, they earn more than men) but men are falling behind in the domestic realm which includes marriage. I understand that many of you feel that I am "blaming the victim"--in this case men--but I will use in my defense the refrain preached by Martin Luther King: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed."

This quote was one that I found in a new book by professor Stephen Baskerville entitled Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family.

In this book, Baskerville describes some horrific situations where men are called deadbeat dads and jailed (pdf file), fathers have their children taken away, false abuse charges ruin reputations and men lose their very lives by committing suicide after divorce decisions that leave them feeling impotent, destitute or without the people they love the most: their children. On the topic of marriage, Baskerville says:

There is mounting evidence that as men discover the terms of marriage and divorce today, they are engaging in a marriage boycott or marriage "strike": refusing to marry or start families, knowing they can be criminalized if their wife walks out and how attractive the divorce industry has made it easy for her to do so. .... Sonja Hastings of Fathers-4-Equality says that "no matter how decent, hardworking, and caring you may be as a father, that in the event of separation, you will more than likely not get custody of your child, you will lose up to 80% of all of your assets, you will have to pay up to five times the cost of raising a child, and most importantly you could never see your child again." In Britain a fathers' rights group tours university campuses warning young men not to start families. Even one attorney writes a book concluding that the only effective protection for men to avoid losing their children is not to start a family in the first place.