Wednesday, December 03, 2008

21 Reasons Why Gender Matters: Footnote 1

Well, this is going to get old really quickly, but I said I'd do it. I'm going to attempt to go through each footnote of the pamphlet 21 reasons why gender matters and check their validity. Having already seen 1 outright lie buried in footnote 82, I'd like to go through as many as I can for as long as I can. Can I do all 178? Probably not, but I'll attempt it.

To start with, Footnote 1: used to support the claim that "The great majority of single-parent families are fatherless". The footnote reads "In 2006, 87% of one-parent families with children under 15 years were headed by mothers. “Australian Social Trends, 2007: One Parent Families.” Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007."

Original source is here. The footnote's characterisation of the data is accurate.

However, the main text of the pamphlet's characterisation of this data is not. Note that the claim is that children in these families "grow up fatherless". However, according the ABS study quoted, the majority of single-parent families are created from divorce. A further substantial proportion are created from the break-up of de facto couples. Therefore the children from these families have had fathers in the lives, and in some cases may still do so, albeit only in the form of the father's visitation rights. They are not "fatherless" in the alarmist sense that the pamphlet claims.

This is not the evidence of masculinity in crisis that the pamphlet authors claim it is. It is evidence of the unfortunate prevalence of divorce, and possibly an argument that courts in custody battles side with the mother of a child much more than the father (a VERY common complaint of fathers in custody battles, by the way). But the conclusions drawn by this pamphlet here are misleading.

Verdict on Footnote 1: HALF-TRUTH


Kevin said...

I think your comment on footnote 1 is a bit of nit picking. On page 2The booklet states "The great majority of single-parent households are
fatherless." Footnote 1 says that the figure is 87%. Are you saying that this is not true? The comment about children growing up fatherless does not seem to be connected to footnote 1 and in fact does not apear until page 6. It sounds like you are just as bigoted in expressing your opinionyour opinion.

Z said...

"Footnote 1 says that the figure is 87%"

No, the original source does not say that 87% of such families are "fatherless". It says that the 87% figure represents the number of single-parent households that are headed by women. This is not the same thing as saying they are "fatherless", as some such families can and do have fathers who can visit their children, albeit not as much as they would do if the families had not divorced.

I'm sorry that you think that pointing out the problem with the Fatherhood Foundation's unjustifiably loose interpretation of this statistic is "nitpicking". I do not think that it is.

"Are you saying that this is not true?"

I already said it was a half-truth, as you could easily see if you'd actually read the analysis, instead of reading only enough to find an excuse to toss the "bigot" label at me.

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