Mike Murphy, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
From The Sunday Times
May 31, 2009
Copyright 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Musings and Sometimes Rants about the non-equal status of Fathers in Family Law and Parenting. Additionally periodic comparisons to the treatment of men compared to women in other areas including health care.
Mike Murphy, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
Caroline Overington | May 30, 2009
THE Family Court has at last recognised the "agony" children suffer during divorce by forcing their warring parents to live close to each other, says a campaigner for the reform introduced by the Howard government.
Michael Green QC, a family law expert who campaigned for the shared parenting amendment enacted in 2006, said yesterday recent decisions proved that the right of a child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents after separation was being taken seriously by the court.
The Australian reported yesterday on the case of Rosa and Rosa, in which a couple moved with their four-year-old daughter to a remote town in northwest Queensland, so the husband could take up a job as a mining engineer.
The marriage broke up six months later. The wife wanted to move back to Sydney, where their daughter was born and had lived four of her five years. She was lonely in the mining town, and living in a caravan, unable to afford anything better.
But the Family Court, and the full bench on appeal, said she could not take her child to Sydney because the reform required judges to presume the best interests of the child were served by having a relationship with both parents.
"I know there are many women associated with the more radical feminist groups who like to underplay the damage done by separation, on children of any age," Mr Green said.
"But in fact the loss, the agony, the child experiences when it loses regular contact with a parent is significant."
Retired Family Court judge Tim Carmody said "it used to be that the mother's right to move with her children was generally seen as compatible with what was in a child's best interests.
"That's no longer necessarily so. The best interests of the child is now seen as being served by having a meaningful relationship with both parents. But what kind of relationship? And at what cost?"
Mr Carmody's decision to leave the Family Court coincided with the reform, and he believes his concern about the ways it would work is now justified, "especially in this situation, where you have a parent condemned to live somewhere they've never really lived, for who knows how long".
Kathryn McMillan SC, a Brisbane family law expert who will speak on the subject at a forum next month, said "relocation cases are always difficult, because it tends to be all or nothing.
"Somebody wants to move, and that means that somebody else is going to lose time with their children.
"One of the questions the judge will sometimes ask is, if I don't allow you to move, will you go without the child?
"Most parents will say, no, of course I won't move without the child.
"And in a sense that means they are damned if they do and damned if they don't, because if they won't move without the child, the judge can make orders that there should be shared parenting, which means they get stuck."
Jacky Campbell of Forte Family Lawyers in Brisbane said the "shared parenting laws are being imposed on people who are not co-operating at all, and the outcome is often poor".
In Rosa and Rosa, the wife's parents, sister and other family members had nothing good to say about her husband, and that played against her because the court thought they wouldn't encourage her to keep the child in contact with her father.
The educational achievements of New Zealand boys may be falling victim to the soaring divorce rate, according to experts.
The connection has been made as a new report confirms that boys are lagging behind girls at secondary school, with the gap greater in New Zealand than any other developed country.
The findings come in a report by the 30-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which compared achievement by 15-year-old boys and girls in 40 countries.
"There are significant gender differences in educational outcomes, and these appear as students grow older," the report said.
Last year's National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results, released this month, showed girls outperforming boys by wider margins as pupils got older.
St Bede's College rector Justin Boyle pointed to boys' education suffering when parents divorced.
"Invariably, we find if mum and dad have split they (boys) have not had the male role model in their lives to encourage them in a holistic way about how they get educated."
Divorce statistics released this month showed about one-third of New Zealanders who married in 1983 had divorced before their 25th wedding anniversary.
Education consultant Joseph Driessen said children who came from broken homes were typically 25 per cent behind other children in achievement.
"Boys are affected by divorce very deeply because 85 per cent of custody goes to the mother and guys just disappear. That needs to change," he told The Press.
"We need to have a family split-up philosophy where we realise that sons need their fathers. All custody and access should be 50-50." Mr Boyle said boys' schools could help form well-rounded men. "We are in a good position in a boys' school to look at particularly boys' issues and address them head-on," he said.
The OECD report said single-sex schools in New Zealand were more effective for girls than for boys.
A Ministry of Education report released yesterday showed boys outnumbered girls by more than two to one in needing specialist literacy teacher help.
Job loss is traumatic. So is financial anxiety. But hands-on fathers who can juggle bath-time, playground jaunts and laundry duty are better equipped to deal with those than earlier generations of men, says the author of a new book on fatherhood.
In Daddy Shift, to be released next month, Jeremy Adam Smith explores how fathers' growing participation in childrearing and domestic duties is transforming modern families.
He says when dads are willing to embrace that, it helps parents and kids cope with the stress of a layoff or reduced work hours – especially at a time when men are harder hit by job losses than women.
"Something good has happened the last few decades and men now have the capacity to take care of their kids when women are in a position to be the breadwinners," Smith, 39, said in a phone interview from his San Francisco home. "If they can focus on that, it will help them to survive unemployment and it will help their families."
Smith's book, which reviews the history, economics and science of male caregiving, comes amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Statistics Canada reported earlier this year that two-thirds of those laid off in Canada were men. At the same time, more men have been taking parental leave following the birth of children and opting for fewer hours at work and more time with the kids.
Smith notes that in previous generations a male breadwinner who lost his job would likely withdraw from the family, his identity and self-worth shaken. "It would destroy him, he would actually spend less time around the house, less time with the children," says Smith.
While work is still at the core of most fathers' identity, more men are recognizing the importance and rewards of caring for kids.
"Today if the mother has the capacity (to earn) and the father is thrown into the role of being home, they are more likely to take that responsibility. They won't do it the way mothers do, but they'll do it."
Smith, a magazine editor and writer, became a stay-at-home dad for a year when his son Liko was age 1. He knows what it's like to do dishes with a fussy toddler in the backpack, crave adult company and never have a minute to himself.
He became a dad without a clue how to bathe or change a diaper. He became a primary caregiver while his wife was working full-time just because it was the best arrangement for the family at the time.
"At first I saw only the negative aspects: no regular work, no free time, no adult companionship, no respect ... this was not a role I embraced self-consciously," he writes in Daddy Shift.
But he soon marvelled at the bond he developed with his son and the sense of confidence and competence he gained as a parent. It changed him profoundly. And he thinks more men need to hear from fathers like him.
"My experience as a stay-at-home dad was a growing sense of power as a parent and as a man," he says. Guilt and blame are often used to motivate men to step up with childcare and chores, but Smith says the power angle is a better pitch.
"I think that's how you have to sell it to guys," he laughs. His book signals a shift in the discourse about fatherhood: one that encourages father involvement for the sake of men and their children – not just to help out mothers.
Liko, now 4, is in preschool and Smith and his wife, like a small but growing number of families, have alternated roles over the years. Daddy Shift is not about pitting one family's choices against another. It is more of a call-to-arms for this generation of fathers to be flexible and open-minded about their evolving roles.
Smith stresses that fathers aren't the only ones changing. Mothers have to be willing to let go of the reins and respect that fact that men look after kids differently, he says. In other words, don't judge fathers through the maternal lens.
Studies show men tend to be more comfortable with risk-taking by their offspring and less inclined to introduce toys or mediate a child's independent play.
Daddy Shift was written as a result of Smith's experiences and the dialogue with other parents on his blog Daddy Dialectic. Smith also cites leading Canadian research on fatherhood, including work by Ottawa professor Andrea Doucet and Kerry Daly of Guelph University, who runs the Fatherhood Involvement Research Alliance.
Smith says while there's no ideal formula for dividing and sharing parental roles, the key for the 21st century family is having the flexibility to cope with an unstable economy and an information age that has changed the rules of the working world.
"We haven't achieved economic equality between men and women but the equation has changed and men are changing in response. The question is are we going to embrace that?"
Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Thursday, May 28, 2009
There can be few more intimate familial acts than donating a life-saving kidney to a sick child or parent, but in close to 3% of father-child organ donations, routine testing reveals there is no actual biological relationship between the two family members, a new Canadian study has concluded.
Patients, donors and medical staff surveyed by researchers at the University of Western Ontario were divided on whether transplant programs should disclose such potentially explosive information to the families.
The authors stress that "misattributed paternity" is still relatively uncommon and should not deter people from participating in living donations, a crucial resource in the organ-starved transplant system. But they say hospitals ought to discuss the topic and consider developing policies on when or if to impart the information to donors and recipients. "It's a rare issue, but it can happen and when it does happen it can bring up very big problems," said Ann Young, the doctoral student at Western who led the study, just published in the journal Transplantation.
"You don't know what the outcome is going to be in terms of family dynamics.... Whether it causes family tensions, it definitely causes tension in the transplant centre, debates about what to do."
One Toronto hospital agonized over the question a few years ago when it discovered a young woman about to donate a kidney to her father was not related to him by blood.
The University Health Network's Toronto General eventually decided to inform the pair, partly because it felt the knowledge might affect their decisions to donate, and receive, the organ, said Linda Wright, the network's director of bioethics.
"You could say that you're breaking trust by informing patients of this and maybe blowing their family out of the water," she said. "On the other hand, people come to us and expect us to be truthful.... We sort of felt that to withhold this information would not be right."
The 18-year-old daughter and her 48-year-old father reacted with "shock and distress" but decided to go ahead with the organ donation, said a 2002 article on the case in the journal Seminars in Dialysis. In fact, the daughter said she would have "hated" Toronto General if she had discovered the truth years later and realized the transplant staff had kept it from her.
Although the majority of kidneys transplanted in Canada come from people who have just died, a significant number - 474 out of 1,177 in 2008 - are harvested from relatives or other living donors, according to statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Living kidney donations also tend to have better success.
Among the battery of screening conducted to determine compatibility is the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) test, a genetic study. If a father and child do not share at least one set of HLA genes along a chromosome, it means they are not biologically related, though it usually says nothing about whether their organs are compatible.
Ms. Young's team at Western and London's Health Sciences Centre analyzed records from kidney-transplant centres across Canada and the United States. Based on the HLA test results, it identified 40 cases of mistaken paternity in Canada between 1992 and 2006, or close to 6% of the father-child pairings. When estimated data error was factored in, though, the rate was lowered to about 2.5%, compared to 1% in the United States.
The 102 doctors, nurses and potential donors and recipients surveyed by the researchers were about evenly split on whether the father-child pairs should be told.
The authors also talked to 13 Canadian transplant programs, discovering only one had a formal policy on how to handle the dilemma. Another centre described using a case-by-case approach, while a third said it would never share such information, as it was not medically relevant.
The Toronto UHN has a policy, and now asks father-child donors and recipients ahead of time whether they would want to know if the test revealed they were not blood relatives, Ms. Wright said.
A BAN on media coverage of family law cases could be circumvented if the reporting was carried out by qualified solicitors or barristers, according to a high-ranking committee of the Court Service Board.
At present, the media are banned from reporting any family law proceedings under the in camera rule.
In a report presented to the board of the Courts Service this week, the Family Law Reporting Project Committee found there was no obstacle preventing a barrister or solicitor employed by a media organisation from reporting on family law cases.
The report also recommended that eight additional judges be appointed to the Circuit Court and District Court immediately to help deal with delays.
The committee was established to consider the recommendations of a report from Dr Carol Coulter on the Family Law Reporting Pilot Project.
Its members included the President of the Law Reform Commission and former judge of the Supreme Court, Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns of the Supreme Court, who chaired the committee, Mr Justice Abbott of the High Court, Judge Michael White of the Circuit Court and Judge Ger Furlong of the District Court.
Ms Coulter had recommended that clarification be sought as to who may attend and report on family law proceedings under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. The Act specifies that solicitors and barristers could attend and that others could be specified in regulations. When the regulations were introduced they did not include journalists.
In his foreword to the report, Mr Justice Kearns said the committee “was left in no doubt” that past restrictions on the reporting of family law had led to significant levels of suspicion and resentment, by men in particular.
“The provision of information about family law cases on an ongoing basis is essential,” he said.
The report said the committee “sees no obstacle to a barrister or solicitor, whether employed by a media organisation or operating independently, reporting proceedings for publication in a newspaper or other media”. It did not recommend a change in the law to allow unqualified reporters to attend.
The report also found people could wait for a divorce case for three months or two years on average, depending on which circuit court the case was to be heard in. It recommended three additional judges with support staff be appointed to the Circuit Court immediately, with three more to be appointed as soon as possible. And five additional judges should be appointed to the District Courts, it said.
The Kearns report also recommended a central register be established for joint guardianship agreements. The statutory declarations, made by a child’s unmarried parents state who its guardians are. They are witnessed by peace commissioners, but there is no facility to record them. A central register would provide proof of the existence of the declaration should the original be lost or destroyed, the report said.
The report also recommended compulsory information sessions for people involved in marriage break-up to make them aware of alternative dispute resolution models.
It recommended the introduction of clear procedures for judges who decide to take direct evidence from children in divorce cases.
Caroline Overington | May 29, 2009
WIVES who follow their husbands to remote corners of Australia in search of work may find themselves stuck in their new home town, unable to leave with the children.
The Family Court has ruled that new shared-parenting laws, brought in by the Howard government in 2006, mean that the right of a child to have a relationship with both parents trumps the right of a mother to return to her home state, even if she has lived in the new location for less than a year.
In the most recent case, the court ruled that a 34-year-old mother could not leave an "isolated" town in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter after her marriage broke down, because it would rupture the close relationship the girl had with her father.
The case has prompted concern among family law experts that the shared-parenting law is effectively forcing people "back into failed relationships".
Elspeth McInnes, a researcher in family law at the University of South Australia, cited research by the Family Law Council that suggested the right of women to relocate after divorce had essentially been lost, under the amendments to the Family Law Act.
"Previously, judges were prepared to consider the idea that women or mums could go where there is extended family support for them and their children," Ms McInnes said.
"Under the new laws, the meaningful relationship with both parents has moved up (to take greater priority).
"There are still ways to say the child is better served by returning to the town where she was born but basically, judges are telling resident parents, mainly women, that they have to stay put.
"They subordinate women's time with their children around a husband's work demands."
The mother in the northwest Queensland case, known in court transcripts as Mrs Rosa, got married in 2000 and had her child in 2002.
She lived with her husband in Sydney until 2007, when he got a job as a mining engineer in a remote part of Queensland. The town is not named in the transcript, but is described as "isolated".
The Rosas moved up as a family, but after eight months, the husband told the wife that the marriage was over, put her possessions in boxes, and put them on the deck.
Mrs Rosa, 34, took their daughter back to her mother's house in Sydney but the father petitioned the Family Court for their return, saying he wanted to maintain a relationship with his child.
During court proceedings, the mother argued that the father could quit his job and return to Sydney and share custody of their daughter in their home town.
He declined, saying his job had become important and was "interesting".
Under changes to the Family Law Act (1975) adopted by the Howard government in 2006, the Family Court is required to apply the presumption that shared parenting is in a child's best interests, except where there is violence.
The court ruled that the mother could not leave northwest Queensland with the child. She argued that she was isolated and impoverished. She lives in a caravan, because it is the only accommodation she can afford. She appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court, which upheld the decision on May 15.
The federal magistrate said the mother's plan to move would have a "most serious and detrimental effect upon the very close and important relationship that exists (between the daughter and her Dad)".
"In my assessment, the only means by which there can be a proper and appropriate relationship facilitated between this child and both parents is for the child to remain in northwest Queensland," he said.
He accepted the mother's "feelings of isolation and feeling of depression" about being stuck in the town where her marriage ended with little support. She said she would never leave without her daughter.
The federal magistrate had doubts about the mother's willingness to foster a relationship between the father and the child.
Family law academic Barbara Biggs, who last month organised a series of protests in major capital cities to highlight problems with the new Family Law Act, said the shared parenting laws presume that the parents "can co-operate, and get on".
"In many cases, these are couples that can't co-operate over what shelf to put the milk," Ms Biggs said. "It's a dreadful situation, to force a woman to live in a town where she has no family and no work, and to say that's the only way the child can be raised."
This was written a few years ago to educate men on the wiles of the feminist movement and their techniques to emasculate men. Many of you have experienced this if you are involved in a Family Law proceeding and you have definitely experienced it if you are a Father's Rights Advocate.
By Fatimah Ali
Philadelphia Daily News
JUST WHEN I thought TV couldn't sink any lower with some of its toxic programming, yet another new reality show is poised to hit the lineup - "Deadbeat Dads" on Lifetime.
The show targets fathers who refuse to pay child support, and features businessman Jim Durham's collection agency, called National Child Support.
My first "primal thought" was darn, they got here 15 years too late to help me. But my more spiritually evolved side knows better, and I realize those evil thoughts are just wrong. Durham and the Lifetime producers who created the show are the ones who should be flogged - for using the woes of single mothers and their children to boost ratings.
Unfortunately, my evil twin rears her ugly head from time to time, and recaps the unpleasant memories of what it was like not getting child support from my ex-husband. When I was a single mother, he accrued more than $150,000 in unpaid court-ordered child support, which kept me in a tizzy for years.
He made enough money, yet he neglected his obligations because he was angry at me, not because he didn't love our kids.
Despite the fact that I worked two jobs, my children and I were always struggling without his contribution. But I was a wimp and never petitioned the courts to issue an arrest warrant for his blatant disregard of our children's needs. His sudden demise made the judge's order moot. It can be almost impossible to collect back support from a dead man with a tangled-up life.
While he was still alive, the reasons I didn't want him imprisoned were simple, as well as selfish. I didn't want to have to take our children to visit him in jail because I knew it would be traumatic. But mostly I realized that having him arrested would prevent him from working and put yet another stigma on our already challenged life.
Two decades later, I still feel just as strongly that throwing deadbeat parents in jail is a stupid idea. And it definitely shouldn't be televised. This only causes. more problems in a child's life. The residual effects that deadbeat parents have on kids are way deeper than the unpaid money and leave deep psychological scars.
While researching the effects absentee fathers have on their offspring, I came across a publication called "The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man, the Annual Public Costs of Father Absence." Written by professors Stephen Nock and Christopher Einolf, of the University of Virginia and St. Paul University, respectively, their research shows that fatherless households cost U.S. taxpayers $98.9 billion a year. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of the many problems that female-headed households face.
Their findings also show that children of single parents are more likely to do poorly in school and drop out of college and are at greater risk of being incarcerated or on drugs than children who have both parents in the home.
Just a year ago, President Obama caught flak for telling black fathers to take more responsibility for their children during a speech at a Chicago church. With Father's Day just around the corner, I anticipate that his message this year will have a much wider reach than just for African-Americans.
The issue of absentee fathers isn't just a black problem, it's now an American one. And it touches nearly every community and crosses all racial and socio-economic barriers. I also think many women must share some of the blame for deciding that we can go it alone. Ladies, we've screwed up royally and our children are suffering because of it.
Feminists will probably jump all over me, but here's the real deal.
Many of us joined the women's movement decades ago without looking ahead to see what repercussions our actions would have on both our families and the economy. Now, most of us have to work, which leaves our husbands and children angry because no one is at home tending the hearth.
Our choice to be independent of men financially and of the family structure creates a wide range of problems in our children. And many men feel displaced and angry now because women are competing with them at work.
Far too many women are willing to go it alone and risk poverty and instability for shallow reasons of "self-empowerment" rather than trying to work out their marital challenges. Families need both parents in the household - not just economically but also spiritually and morally.
The whole idea of a "Deadbeat Dads" show is ludicrous. The creators are using the program to exploit what is really a much larger social problem - America's broken families. *
Fatimah Ali is a journalist, media consultant and an associate member of the Daily News editorial board.
Updated at 8:12 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cleveland mother faces child-endangering charges after police said she left her 2-year-old home alone hooked up to an empty feeding tube.
Valencia Davis, 28, left her daughter alone Tuesday afternoon with a tube running from her stomach to an empty plastic bag hanging on a wall in an East 84th Street house, according to a police report. The girl suffers from a brain condition and cerebral palsy, Davis told police.
The toddler's father called police after he visited the house to check on her. The man, who also is the father of one of the woman's two other children, told police he was barred from the home by a temporary protection order but feared for the safety of the children and went inside. Officers found the 2-year-old unresponsive, with dried mucus on her face, and living in filthy conditions, the report said. Police called an ambulance.
Before paramedics arrived, Davis returned home with the two other children and screamed at the man for having called police. Davis told police she was the real victim and that it was not wrong to leave the 2-year-old alone, according to the report.
Officers searched the house and did not find any food, except for cereal strewn on the floor.
The 2-year-old was in stable condition Wednesday at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
Davis was in City Jail and could not be reached for comment.
A Philadelphia man who was thrown in the Dauphin County Prison four times for failing to pay support for someone else's child has filed a federal lawsuit.
In his suit, Walter Andre Sharpe charges that officials tampered with his personal information to make him appear to be the father.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. Middle District Court comes on the heels of Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr.'s announcement that no criminal charges would be filed in the case.
Sharpe's attorney, Spero T. Lappas, said the lawsuit might change his outlook.
"Maybe after he reviews the information we assembled during our investigation of the lawsuit, he might want to reconsider his position," Lappas said.
The lawsuit says domestic relations officials in Montgomery County changed Sharpe's name in their computer system because he at one time used his mother's maiden name. Changes were also made in Dauphin County's systems and in a statewide computer network in 1999.
The changes in the system forced Walter Sharpe to pay $12,000 in support for another man's child and landed him in the Dauphin County Prison four times for not keeping up with the payments.
The problems began when Sharpe signed for a certified letter in 2001 addressed to Andre Sharpe, the real father. Walter Sharpe ignored the letter, thinking it was a mistake.
A county judge ruled Walter Sharpe was the father and the Domestic Relations office ordered him to pay $447 a month support, along with $5,730 in back payments.
The suit says employees of Dauphin County Domestic Relations changed his information and fought his attempts to prove he was not the father.
It took The Patriot-News less than a hour to find the real father, who said he had custody of the child.
The agency has declined to comment on the case. Officials from Montgomery County Domestic Relations have not returned phone calls.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for civil rights violations.
The four year saga pitting the courts against "Robin" aka the man who scaled the Jacques Cartier Bridge- is over.
And our wannabe crimefighter has discovered his fate.
In our last episode, mild-mannered engineer Benoit Leroux was ready to defend his request for an unconditional discharge after being found guilty of mischief and conspiracy for dressing up as Batman's sidekick Robin and scaling the Jacques Cartier Bridge four years ago to bring attention to the rights of single dads in custody cases.
But Judge Gilles Cadieux says they have to send a message of dissuasion to the public so he gave him a conditional discharge including 180 hours of community work and two years probation, assuring Leroux the discharge meant no criminal record, so no problems travelling to the U.S. to work or to see his young daughter there.
Leroux looked and sounded tired and somewhat defeated but he is satisfied and content the four year battle is over and he can hang up his cape for good.
"It feels really well. It's a weight on my shoulders (that) is lifted even though I have to make a lot of hours of community work."
By Sara Olkon
1:58 PM CDT, May 27, 2009
A group of University of Chicago students think it's time the campus focused more on its men.
A third-year student from Lake Bluff has formed Men in Power, a student organization that promises to help men get ahead professionally. But the group's emergence has been controversial, with some critics charging that its premise is misogynistic.
Others say it's about time men are championed, noting that recent job losses hit men harder and that women earn far more bachelor's and master's degrees than do men.
"It's an enormous disparity now," said Warren Farrell, author of "The Myth of Male Power" and former board member of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. He noted, among other things, an imbalance in government and private initiatives that advance the interests of women and girls.
Further, Farrell said, just because some men are doing well is hardly a reason not to applaud efforts to boost the careers of other men.
"It's like saying 'is it OK for the Yankees to keep recruiting new players because the Chicago Cubs have not won as often?' "
Steve Saltarelli, the president of Men in Power, wrote a satirical column in March in which he suggested forming such a group. "Anyone with an interest in both studying and learning from men in powerful positions, as well as issues involved with reverse sexism, may become a member of MiP," he wrote.
Shortly after the column ran, Saltarelli started getting e-mail messages from men eager to join.
"Mainly people are just excited about the idea that men can have a group as well," Saltarelli explained.
Sharlene Holly, associate dean of students and the director of student activities, said the University of Chicago has approximately nine women's advocacy groups on campus; this group would be the first male advocacy group.
Saltarelli said some 125 students -- including a few women -- have joined the group via its Facebook page. He said the group would host pre-professional groups in law, medicine and business, foster ties with alumni, bring in speakers to discuss masculinity and mentor local middle school students as part of its "Little Men in Power" program.
Holly said she expected to approve the organization's application this week. As a registered student organization, Men in Power could then apply for event funding. The group plans to hold its first event, a student panel discussion titled "Gender and Media: Trespassing the Taboo," on June 2.
Saltarelli, who plans to attend law school, said the emergence of Men in Power has angered some students, especially "people very set in their ways."
To be sure, its title attracts attention.
"The name implies some things that I don't love," said Liz Scoggin, a third-year student who joined the group a couple of weeks ago and now heads its outreach efforts. "I feel like it implies there aren't enough men in power or that kind of thing."
But Scoggin, who is close friends with Saltarelli, said she joined after learning more about the group's aims and after she felt assured that the organization would not pursue a sexist agenda.
Jessica Pan, president of Women in Business and a fourth-year student, questioned whether Men in Power's goals were being met by existing student groups.
"I'm not sure we really need another student organization that focuses on pre-professional development for men," Pan said, noting that, in just the area of business, there were five or six students groups that were gender-neutral.
Similarly, Ali Feenstra, a third-year student and a member of the Feminist Majority, questioned Men in Power's utility.
"It's like starting 'white men in business' -- there's not really any purpose," she said.
Fred Hayward, founder of Men's Rights Inc., would disagree.
Hayward, who is based in Sacramento, Calif., started his men's group in 1977. Then and now, he said, women have not paid enough attention to what it means to be a man in modern society.
Hayward said one of the biggest myths borne of the women's movement was that men like to help each other out.
"We are competing directly for access to women and jobs," he said.
The group's birth comes at a time when the recessionary ax has fallen especially hard on men. In February, the national unemployment rate for men was 8.8 percent, compared with 7.3 percent for women.
Future employment is also an issue, some experts say. Since 1981, women have collected 135 for every 100 bachelor's degrees awarded to men, according to Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan in Flint. The gap is even wider at the master's level, with women trumping men 150 to 100, he said.
Saltarelli hopes Men in Power will help more men get ahead while raising awareness of the male experience.
"If we have good men in our society, everyone benefits," he said.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune