Excuses, excuses, excuses….

Can gender bias lead you to kill the ones you love?

Would losing custody of your children lead you to murder them, or their mother?

Would wanting, no needing to continue your involvement in their lives make you beat or asphyxiate them?

Well, this is what Jeffrey Leving would have us believe in When Divorce Kills: How Gender Bias Pushes Some Men Over the Edge.

Two weeks ago, two Illinois boys and their father, Michael Connolly, were found dead in an apparent case of murder-suicide. Last week, James Harrison, a father in Washington, allegedly shot to death his five children before killing himself. On Monday, an Alabama man, Kevin Garner, allegedly killed his estranged wife, their daughter and two other relatives before committing suicide. A common factor in these three cases is divorce: a father in distress probably because he was losing all that he held dear.

So, if the father fears losing “all he holds dear,” he kills the very people he holds dear? I just don’t get that “logic.” When I hold people dear to my heart, I cherish them. I don’t kill them. I will never understand how you can kill people you “hold dear.” No. I think if the father believes he can’t have the family, no one else can. Possession. Vengeance. These are the words that come to mind. Not dear.

Domestic violence agencies and statistics all point to the fact that separation poses the greatest risk for women – whether they are married or not, whether they have children or not. Being held “dear” by a man is *not* a risk factor for domestic homicide.  

 I regret that these high-profile cases are reinforcing the malicious stereotype of the brutal father, a stereotype that sabotages the efforts of many good fathers who love their children.

Hmmm. I’ve never heard of the stereotype of the “brutal father.” In fact, OJ got custody of his kids. Scott Peterson got mail from women all over the country. Drew Peterson is engaged again. It seems to me, these guys lives don’t change very much after they murder their wife and/or kids.

Now, I can think of plenty of stereotypes for mothers: crack whore, baby’s mama, welfare mom, unwed mother, unfit mother, “malicious mother” (fathers rights groups, like Leving hangs with, promote that one)….

If gender bias or stereotypes made people commit murder, I think most women would be in jail by now.

Most divorced men lose custody of their children, and have to pay substantial and sometimes onerous child support. This bias is evident when examining the raw numbers of custody rulings from jurisdictions across the United States. Mothers win 85 percent of all such disputes.

Actually, 80 to 85% of couples make their own parenting plans. The rest go to family court. Fifty to 75% of couples that use family court – surprise, surprise – have had some form of domestic violence (see: ABA). Studies show that up to 70% of men that SEEK custody, GET IT. And, that violent men more so than non-violent men seek custody….and get it (see: Leadership Council on Child Abuse; Stop Family Violence).  And when women do get custody it’s usually because they’ve done the majority of the care-taking.

These fathers rights guys promote shared parenting at divorce. (My question is, why don’t they promote shared parenting at birth???) Nothing is stopping couples from having shared parenting, yet they want to replace “best interest of the child” with presumptive joint custody. Parents rights don’t trump children’s rights and safety – yet courts seem to think they do. These days decisions are more about fathers rights rather than children’s safety and well-being. The Leadership Council estimates that more than 58,000 children go into unsupervised visistation or custody with abusers each year — this is when we see abuse perpetrated or these high-profile murder/murder-suicides committed.

And, no, I don’t believe for a minute it’s because the man is losing “all he holds dear.”   

Child support should not even be mentioned in an article about murder-suicides. Women support children too and, as we all know, some men don’t pay their support. Women, then, are paying anywhere from 50 to 100% of the children’s expenses. Perhaps these men hold their wallets “dear,” but according to government sources, child support for a non-custodial parent never exceeds 50%. Not so for for custodial parents – most often women.


2 comments on “Excuses, excuses, excuses….

  1. Rj says:

    this is also a great question

    Would wanting, no needing to continue your involvement in their lives make you beat or asphyxiate them?

    How do they explain this?

    I have actually seen a “study” that said that men “needed” to be part of their children’s lives for their own sake…


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