In the UK, where the traditional, working-class family has been all but annihilated by the feminist onslaught, Conservatives have warned that marriage is in danger of becoming a “middle class institution.” It is important to note that middle class means something different in Britain; in America pretty much everyone who has a job a cut above the level of burger flipping and a place to live calls themselves middle class, whereas in Britain it is a more exclusive club requiring a higher level of education and income, often professional level.
The behavior of the working class in Britain has become absolutely atrocious in recent years, with illegitimacy and delinquency skyrocketing over the last few decades. In a way, working class Americans – particularly the white working class – behave more like the British middle class in regards to marriage and social responsibility, although this is changing rapidly in the younger generation.
Sensing an issue upon which they might be able to capitalize, Conservatives have finally begun to echo the pleas of Britain’s infamous Fathers for Justice father’s rights organization. David Willets, the shadow cabinet member responsible for the family, even made a reference to the group, saying “you don’t have to dress up in a Batman’s costume outside Buckingham Palace (F4Justice members often dress up as superheroes to draw attention to themselves and their cause) to think there are circumstances where law and practice lag way behind the reality” in regards to including fathers in the lives of their children.
Willets proposes a number of programs to turn things around, such as providing more help for fathers and offering relationship guidance. He also suggests having new mothers attend relationship classes. It sounds good, I suppose, and that’s really all that counts for politicians. Unfortunately, it will fail, as all government-backed social programs inevitably do. For one thing, who does he suppose will be conducting the relationship guidance and teaching the classes? Of course it will be the exact same social worker types who are already fouling up marriages and communities, and who would be doing more good for society if they were paid to sit at home and watch TV all day.
Despite his stated desire to help fathers, Willets says there’s nothing he can do to change the laws surrounding marriage. What that means is that, actually, he intends to do nothing, and this is all hot air. Without changes to the law there will be absolutely no change in behavior on the part of mothers. They will continue to run off with the kids and there will be nothing the children’s fathers can do about it. It is no secret that the most effective way to reduce divorce would be to reverse custody preference so that men become custodial parents the majority of the time. That would reduce the incentive to divorce on both sides, and significantly lessen the appeal of the kind of behavior that leads to marital dissolution. What Willets is really saying is that he does not intend to fix the problem, but he will talk about it to get votes.
The only consolation men should take from this is that Conservatives are not proposing to punish men, as they usually do whenever government policy creates social problems. This does suggest a political shift, but it hasn’t gone so far as to translate into real help, and we shouldn’t expect it to. In fact, if there is anything men should have learned from the lessons of the past half-century or so, it is that in the absence of vigilance and stern oversight, government and politicians can only be counted on to betray us.