An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Saturday, April 17, 2004  

More fathers

Gerry from Dublin writes: (praise omitted as questions are pertinent)

"What is your latest piece about? Absent fathers? Single fathers?...Is this crisis an accepted fact now? I didn't realise. And why don't they have positive role models? Are all men now officially crap? And who is poor, men? Why are men poor and not women? .....this is just a stew of feminist cliche, sociological assumptions and knee-jerk prejudices. Why are the kids fat? "

I think it's fair to say that mid-rant I did mix up two categories. The middle class separated or divorced father and the under-class (a label I've decided to use since the term working class is so woefully ironic). I'm primarily referring to the latter where fathers really are absent: the poor areas with high teenage pregnancy rates. Part of the reason teenage pregnancies are so high in poor areas is because motherhood is the only status achievable for young women. It's either that or shelf stacking. But, thanks to government supports for single mothers (which are not huge, but enough to just about survive on), the men are really only required for conception and sort-of-hanging-around. John Lonergan, the governor of Mountjoy jail will tell you that he is now seeing 3rd generation heroin addicts in his jail.

If you're born in a certain area of Dublin, chances are you won't know anyone who has a stable job and if you're literate when you leave primary school you'll be lucky. This means that boys grow up not knowing any man who lives in the home, goes out to work, provides a disciplinary force and brings his sons to play sports.

However you can see that this problem is twofold. Firstly, men have been written out of the equation. But that's because in these same communities, traditional structures like the extended family (destroyed under council relocation programmes e.g. inner city to Tallaght) and religious influence have collapsed. In the absence of a moral force, they (men) simply abandoned their responsibilities, treated the women like shit and left. Women found they could cope quite well without them and over the last 25 years it is quite normal to have a single mother household OR the mother and the granny (who'll be quite young herself) running the house. Meanwhile the guys are getting pissed in the pub watching The Premiership on Sky. Now, this would not necessarily mean doom for the next generation if the second problem, poverty, was properly tackled by the government. Because it's poverty which keeps people down and destined to simply form the next generation of the socially excluded. I've always argued that it's so simple to solve this without wasting billions in various social welfare payments. Primary schools. Just pore millions into primary schools. There should be hot breakfasts, lunches, good pupil/teacher ratios, free books, after school supervision, sports facilities. The schools should be havens of excellence and luxury. Instead they are rat infested and neglected while rich people don't have to pay university fees. Thanks to the Labour party for that one.....

As we all know the reason Dublin is full of middle class successful people with relations in the country is because the peasants got free secondary education and made the best of it.

However, onto the middle classes. The separated/divorced lot. Their treatment of women, whilst not in the beating category, has earned them their isolation. Crippled with status anxiety they earned enough money to keep their wives at home and then lost all respect for them. Took them for granted while they headed for the golf course feeling smug as the women dropped the girls at ballet practice and the boys at soccer in SUVs. Then the equally educated women said, screw this, kicked them out, got jobs, and childcare and the Dad's show up on Saturday with the latest Playstation and bring the kids to......McDonalds!! If these Dads want to stay Dads they should get out of the office and spend their weekends with their children instead of indulging themselves and snogging their secretaries at Christmas parties.

In conclusion, I think poor men can choose to stay and get a job and rich men can choose to interest themselves in domestic life. And the rich kids are fat because they eat too much and the poor kids are fat because they eat cheap food like chips.

On the teacher front here are some stats:

In the voluntary secondary schools the ratio of male to female principals is two to one.

In the community and comprehensive schools sector 72pc of male teachers hold a promotional post but only 40pc of female teachers do and they are most likely at the lower rungs of the ladder.

Last year 81pc of principalships were held by men, down 4pc on the previous year while 58pc of deputy principalships were held by men, up 2pc.

Figures from the Department also showed that 54pc of assistant principal posts were held by men last year, down 4 pc while the percentage of special duties posts held by men was up 4pc to 46pc.

Last year there were only 17 female principals of community and comprehensive schools, up four in a year. There were 37 deputy female principals, up five.

posted by Sarah | 11:53 0 comments
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