Defiant Dads: Fathers' Rights Activists in America

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Overview

All across America, angry fathers are demanding rights. These men claim that since the breakdown of their own families, they have been deprived of access to their children. Joining together to form fathers' rights groups, the mostly white, middle-class men meet in small venues to speak their minds about the state of the American family and, more specifically, to talk about the problems they personally face, for which they blame current child support and child custody policies. Dissatisfied with these systems, fathers' rights groups advocate on behalf of legal reforms that will lower their child support payments and help them obtain automatic joint custody of their children.

In Defiant Dads, Jocelyn Elise Crowley offers a balanced examination of these groups in order to understand why they object to the current child support and child custody systems; what their political agenda, if enacted, would mean for their members' children or children's mothers; and how well they deal with their members' interpersonal issues concerning their ex-partners and their role as parents. Based on interviews with more than 150 fathers' rights group leaders and members, as well as close observation of group meetings and analysis of their rhetoric and advocacy literature, this important book is the first extensive, in-depth account of the emergence of fathers' rights groups in the United States. A nuanced and timely look at an emerging social movement, Defiant Dads is a revealing investigation into the changing dynamics of both the American family and gender relations in American society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Crowley has written a thorough, evenhanded account of the fathers' rights movement in the United States. To her credit, she conducted in-depth interviews with participants in these groups and observed them in action, as well as reviewed research studies. After reciting the history of such groups, the author analyzes their structure from a sociological perspective. In succeeding chapters, discussing child support laws, custody rules, and post-divorce family dynamics, she marshals statistics and anecdotes to address points made by fathers' rights advocates. While critical of the groups' political goals, which call for less state involvement in custody and child support, she defends their personal goal of more involvement by fathers with their children."—Library Journal, Febraury 2009

"Crowley has written an important, theoretically rich book that empirically examines the fathers' rights movement and engages a wide range of scholarship, including scholarship on family law and policy, feminism, social movements, and ideology and public policy. In examining the movement, she finds important positive aspects, such as its emphasis on responsible fatherhood, but she also notes the pervasive antifeminist and neoconservative-influenced antistatism of the movement. These are barriers to the movement's growth and effectiveness. Crowley importantly notes the problems with completely neutral approaches to issues of equality, particularly in the context of the movement's call for 50-50 arrangements in child custody and child support. This, of course, ignores the difficulties and burdens that mothers still face in the workforce, especially with continued child care expectations and employment discrimination. As a result, Crowley is rightly skeptical of the policy agenda of the movement for ignoring these continuing realities. Also interesting is the insight that the movement is still a genuine grassroots movement, having avoided the professionalization and elite dominance common to so many contemporary social movements. Summing Up: Highly recommended."—Choice, June 2009

"Defiant Dads contributes important new perspectives to the lively body of scholarship seeking to understand the gendering of politics; much of this work focuses on states' potential 'woman-friendliness,' while Crowley explores the strong antistate orientation of fathers' rights groups, grounded in tensions between these men's gendered understandings and the interventions of judges, child support officials, and legislatures in families."—Ann Shola Orloff, Northwestern University

"With the stroke of a pen granting divorce or custody, thousands of doting daddies turn into furious fathers who feel aggrieved by a process that deprives them of the kind of access to their children to which they feel entitled. Jocelyn Elise Crowley's strength as a researcher is that she gets inside these grievances. Her gift as a writer is that she explains these fathers' positions with neither caustic dismissal nor pandering acquiescence. A landmark study!"—Michael Kimmel, Stony Brook University, author of Manhood in America

"In Defiant Dads, Jocelyn Elise Crowley addresses an important and controversial set of questions about modern divorce parenthood and a key political movement related to family law. In offering an empirical study of the fathers' rights movement, Crowley makes a significant and original contribution. No other such works exist in the United States or elsewhere in terms of the numbers of groups, leaders, and members interviewed and studied."—Susan B. Boyd, University of British Columbia

Library Journal

Crowley (public policy, Rutgers Univ.) has written a thorough, evenhanded account of the fathers' rights movement in the United States. To her credit, she conducted in-depth interviews with participants in these groups and observed them in action, as well as reviewed research studies. After reciting the history of such groups, the author analyzes their structure from a sociological perspective. In succeeding chapters, discussing child support laws, custody rules, and post-divorce family dynamics, she marshals statistics and anecdotes to address points made by fathers' rights advocates. While critical of the groups' political goals, which call for less state involvement in custody and child support, she defends their personal goal of more involvement by fathers with their children. For a more polemical and pro-fathers' rights account, compare Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family by Stephen Baskerville. For specialized collections.
—Harry Charles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801446900
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 994,762
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jocelyn Elise Crowley is Professor of Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, as well as a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Political Science and Affiliated Faculty Member of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. She is the author of Defiant Dads: Fathers' Rights Activists in America and Mothers Unite!: Organizing for Workplace Flexibility and the Transformation of Family Life, both from Cornell, as well as The Politics of Child Support in America. Visit her website at jocelyncrowley.com.

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Table of Contents

1 A Coming Revolution in Fathers' Rights? 1

2 The Origins of Fathers' Rights Groups in the United States 14

3 Membership Dynamics in Fathers' Rights Groups 39

4 Becoming the Chief: Patterns of Leadership and Governance in Fathers' Rights Groups 76

5 Money Changes Everything, or American Child Support Policy 107

6 The Custody Wars 145

7 Frayed Ties: Fathers' Relationships with Mothers 174

8 The Ties That Bind: Fathers' Relationships with Their Children 212

9 "Crooked Trees," Activism, and Healing in Dissolved Families 247

Appendix A Research Methodology 271

Appendix B Unstructured Interview Guide 276

Appendix C No-Fault Divorce Legislation Dates, by State 279

Appendix D Number, Rate, and Percent of Births to Unmarried Women and Birthrate for Married Women: United States, 1950-2003 280

References 283

Index 301

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 20, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Feminist Hatchet Job

    Crowley is a professor of Women's Studies, so it's not unexpected that she wrote a hatchet job on fathers rights activists. She interviewed 150 fathers, then set about to denigrate all their concerns and belittle the groups they formed. Many of her cites are questionable, many are her own writings, and many appear to originate from a gender driven agenda. However, other cites support the fathers contentions, making her conclusions hypocritical. <BR/>Overall, the book is a sham, appearing to have been written in support of a feminist, anti-male agenda. Many of her own statements support that premise quite clearly. It's too bad she had to deceive the fathers she interviewed about the intent of the book. Readers interested in fathers'rights would be wise to avoid this book in favor of several recommendations which are much more truthful and straightforward.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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