"the most fundamental thing one can state about Davis’ article is that it demonstrates the centrality of fundamental incompetence in legal thinking in New Zealand today. This incompetence has to do with knowledge of what the Law actually is, and with knowledge of the fact that statements need to be supported by evidence. Her article exhibits gross deficiencies in these two basic types of knowledge.
The most striking aspect of her article, which laments the political influence that fathers’ rights groups have gained in New Zealand and elsewhere, is the fact that the excerpt which was reproduced in a large, bolded and italicised font and placed in a box for emphasis has nothing to do with the Family Court or the Law as it is today, but a lot to do with political ideology, unsupported by evidence. The excerpt in question states the following:
Gender bias can prejudice both women and men, but it is not symmetrical. Unlike gender bias against men, gender bias against women occurs in the context of women’s generally disadvantaged position in society and, historically, under the law.
In a journal which is purportedly about Family Law, it is nothing short of incompetence for such a passage even to appear – let alone to be highlighted as the main message of the article. What is even worse is that this sort of incompetence is the norm in the culture of Family Law theory and practice in the Western World today. The word law occurs in this excerpt only in a historical context, which is irrelevant to an article about the law as it is today. The rest of the passage is a claim about women’s allegedly disadvantaged position in society, which is a political, rather than a legal claim. Not only is it political, but it is ideological, because it relies on this catechism having been instilled into us with our mothers’ milk, absolving the author and publisher from the need to provide one shred of evidence – either for the claim about legal history or for the claim about women’s current position.
Legal issues involving sexual bias, fathers’ rights, domestic violence and the Family Court can only be rationally discussed in a context which is free of the guilt-feelings which some stakeholders expect males to feel with respect to historical or non-legal matters.
Moreover, the excerpt from Davis’ article that is quoted above is incoherent and arguably false. It is incoherent to mention “women’s generally disadvantaged position in society” without including the implied phrase “by comparison with men’s position”. It makes no sense to claim that women are disadvantaged without claiming that men are less disadvantaged – yet men are routinely not mentioned in such statements. If men were mentioned, that would naturally open the door to asking what disadvantages men suffer from, and then one might mention their life-span, conscription, workplace accidents, imprisonment rate, suicide rate, health care, and so on and so forth. In terms of legal history, as well, one might want to mention the ways in which women have been free of many of the legal liabilities that men have had to bear.
A good case could be made that men are and have been just as disadvantaged as women both under the Law and generally in society, but I do not want to make that case here, because this issue is not relevant, as I have already pointed out. The interested reader is referred to my book, Sex, Lies & Feminism , and to the plethora of other books on the subject. Moreover, the rise of the Men’s/Fathers’ Movement must surely be an indication that this particular emperor might have no clothes.
It is simplistic to assume, without proof, that the fact that men occupy/occupied most positions of power results/resulted in more discrimination against women than against men. Chivalry has been a powerful influence in favour of women and detrimental to men’s interests. Paradoxically, it is arguably precisely this simplistic assumption, combined with traditional male chivalry, which produces the bias against men in the Family Court that men have been protesting about."