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Has bias pendulum
swung against men?

WASHINGTON – Watch network sitcoms and you will find the dolts are usually men.

In TV commercials, it’s always the kids or the mothers who know the real score, not the fathers.

Affirmative-action programs by definition mean women get preference in hiring, school admissions, contracts and promotions.

While some social scientists may see these facts as harmless – or possibly even necessary reconditioning of society to correct past injustices against women – others are beginning to conclude that men are the real victims of discrimination so virulent it is shortening their life spans, causing them to be self-destructive and suicidal, crippling their educational opportunities and destroying a generation of fatherless children.

Here are some sobering facts:

Those are just a few of the findings of a report of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men, one of several state panels convened to re-evaluate assumptions about the role of men in society.

“That men would need help by way of a chartered commission to improve their status seemed counterintuitive given the popular image of men as independent, self-sufficient survivors, able to overcome the most difficult of life’s challenges on their own,” said the commission in its report issued in November. “Modern pressures, however, find men and their families experiencing significant difficulties due to evolving values, health problems, growing educational deficiencies and new socio-economic family standards.”

The commission found the school drop-out rates of boys much higher than for girls. It found men treated unfairly by the family court system. It found men often falsely accused of domestic violence not getting due process. It found government programs for women getting far more funding than programs for men.

In matters of health, for instance, breast cancer, a threat to women, receives far more government funding for prevention and research than does prostate cancer, a threat to men.

Nationwide, about 9 percent more men develop prostate cancer than women develop breast cancer. Yet the federal government spends approximately seven times more on breast cancer research ($550 million) than it does on prostate cancer research ($80 million).

In fact mortality rates from all causes – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, injuries, suicide – are significantly higher for men than women. The New Hampshire commission found men are more than five times more likely to kill themselves than women.

Perhaps nowhere is the bias against men so obvious than in matters of child custody and support, the panel found. Fathers get custody of children in uncontested cases only 10 percent of the time and 15 percent of the time in contested cases. Women get sole custody 66 percent of the time in uncontested cases and 75 percent of the time in contested cases.

This might make sense, the commissioners suggested, in a society in which the workforce was dominated by men. However, according to the latest statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, women now make up 47 percent of the total labor force.

“Given the plethora of evidence documenting the benefits of involved fathers with their children, and the present rate of female participation in the workforce, the custody imbalance between fathers and mothers seems difficult to justify,” concluded the commission. “This commission suggests that the governor of New Hampshire issue a proclamation declaring that both parents are equally important for their children.”

But the bias against men in the family courts is not limited to custody cases, according to the commission.

“Men came forward during our public meetings to allege unfair treatment in family court domestic violence proceedings and to allege that unsubstantiated charges of domestic violence were being improperly used as tools to place them at a distinct disadvantage in civil matters before family court,” the New Hampshire commissioners reported.

The word on the street, the commissioners learned, was that a woman could readily gain immediate possession of children, home and other assets by filing an “emergency” ex-parte domestic violence petition, claiming to be in fear of her safety. The accused would then have an immediate restraining order placed against him on a “temporary” basis without any hearing or defense.

The commission also cited studies that show more than half of all domestic violence is actually directed against men. It points out that the American Judges Association website notes solemnly: “Every 15 seconds a women is battered somewhere in the United States.” What the website doesn’t mention is that every 14 seconds women batter their partners.

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