FEMFACTS
19 Apr 2019

Let's talk about the real victims of radical feminism -- children

Spanish online journal "Actuall" claims that children are “victims of feminism” and that mothers are out to “destroy the paternal figure”.  

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Madrid-based website “Actuall” is one part of a wide network of cyber-activists with a conservative and ultra-Catholic agenda opposed to women’s and LGBT+ people’s rights. Recently it published an article titled "Why isn’t anybody talking about children, the real victims of radical feminism?

Looking back at the general strike which took place in Spain on International Women’s Day, “Actuall” claims that it should rather be children protesting for their rights, because feminism, the “demonization of men” and the crisis of masculinity are endangering their education and development. We took a look at some of the claims “Actuall” has made to portray feminism as detrimental to children and families.

WHAT ARE THE CLAIMS?

For a start, article’s author Alfonso Basallo claims that Spain has more single mothers with children than families with both parents. The claim was based on a statement by a representative of the Association of Single Parent Families of La Rioja (Asociación de Familias Monoparentales de La Rioja) given to Cadena SER, one of the oldest Spanish radio stations.

“In Spain, there are more single mother families than families with both parents. This is information that nobody talks about, although it could have dramatic consequences, since it means that the figure of the father has disappeared from the map. There are more and more single mothers with children throughout the West.

Bassalo continues to claim that even in the case of households with both parents, the families have become “matrifocal”, which means that the father has lost his role in the children’s upbringing, becoming just a passive spectator. This situation, he concludes, is disastrous for the children who become “functional orphans”, unable to achieve maturity due to the lack of an authoritative father figure.

What is most disturbing is that, besides these single mother households, there are more and more households that do have a father, but he has become a “jar”. He is only a decoration. And, sometimes, he just gets in the way. These are called "matri-focal" households. 

The result of the pressure from radical feminism and also from the crisis of masculinity in the West, is that the man has been reduced to a distant and benevolent spectator...a breeding horse... They are not single mother families, that’s true, there is a father, but he is diminished. Toppled from his pedestal of authority that was indisputable in the past, having lost his educational scepter, the head of the household has practically been eliminated.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

The claim that single-parent homes outnumber those with two parents is simply not true. According to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2018 there were 6,298,200 couples with children and 1,878,500 single-parent households. The number of single-parent households has increased by 2% compared to 2017, which is certainly not a radical change. Moreover, the number of single fathers has increased by 8,9% while the number of single mothers has grown by only 0.5%, which goes against the core of Bassalo’s claims about men being reduced to “breeding horses”.

Even if it is true that the majority of monoparental families are still composed of a mother and her children, 41.1% of such cases are those of women whose husbands or partners have died, so this does not reflect any personal choice. What is more, EUROSTAT statistics for marriage and divorce rates show that over the past few years in Spain, the marriage rate has risen and the divorce rate declined. 

Concerning the exclusion of the father from his child’s education, the data shows that men are in fact more involved in child rearing and housework than they used to be. For instance, data provided by the INE concerning the use of leisure time show that between 2002-2003 and 2009-2010 (when the last survey was done) the trend has been changing, given that the time spent by men with the family and doing the house work has increased, while the time spent by women has decreased: in 2009-2010, on average, men spent 20 minutes more and women 20 minutes less doing these activities.

If the fathers are not as involved as mothers in the process of the children’s education, it’s not because the women are “demonizing” them. Women still do undertake the majority of child-rearing, but one of the contributing factors for that is the disproportionate division of parental leave from work. Before 2016, the parental leave for men in Spain was 2 weeks, compared to 16 weeks for the mothers.

Starting from January 2017, the paternal leave was doubled to 4 weeks, in July 2015 it gained another week and the current government is planning to progressively equalize paternity leave with maternity leave by 2021. Therefore, it is clear that there is a general tendency towards even more involvement of the father with child rearing and, furthermore, this measure is typically advocated by feminists and not by the conservative groups like the one which runs “Actuall”.  

WHERE DO THESE CLAIMS COME FROM?

To understand the raison d'etre behind such unsubstantiated claims, we should take a look at “Actuall” and its connections with broader movements aiming to curb women’s reproductive rights and rights of LGBT persons.

Actuall was launched in 2015 by HazteOir.org (HO), a Spanish NGO founded by Ignacio Arsuaga Rato in 2001 with the aim of hosting online petitions based on their conservative and ultra-catholic vision of family and education. On the same year, Arsuaga registered addresses for four more websites with the same name, on national web domains of USA, Mexico, Italy and Peru. All four websites are defunct and based on the available data it seems that the domains were never activated.

Source: Domaintools (“Reverse WHOIS” record)

HazteOir’s server hosts more than thirty other domains, some no longer active, all dedicated to religious fundamentalist agendas (usually described as “religious freedoms” by their activists). These point to their strong connections with anti-abortion and anti-LGBT groups beyond Spain, such as the World Congress of Families, an international organization that promotes the values of conservative Christianity: fighting against abortion, divorce, gay marriage and pornography. HazteOir also hosted the website for 2012 World Congress of Families which took place in Madrid.

Some of their websites have names associated with maternal care, such as Clinica Mujer (Women’s clinic), previously Ginecólogos DAV (short for “Gynecologists for the right to live”). The acronym DAR stands for Derecho a vivir (Right to live) and leads to one more website, Borra el aborto (Abolish abortion). These websites flash messages such as “Pregnant? We can help!” and advertise something called “Ambulancia Vida”, described as follows:

Ultrasounds are the most effective instrument to prevent abortion. Ambulancia Vida is a vehicle equipped with an ultrasound scanner and assisted by health professionals and volunteers, which has been set up to collaborate in rescues and help women who are preparing for an abortion at the doors of the abortion facility Dator. Thanks to Ambulance Life pregnant women who are going to the abortion can get a free ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat of their children before making their decision.

The website, ¿Y si lo dejas? (And if you leave it?), described as “an initiative created by health professionals to help workers in abortion clinics to leave their jobs”, is also registered on their server. It lists its location as Olcott, USA.

Another online “incarnation” of HazteOir one is #WeAreN, short for “We are against Christian persecution” (registered also as Mas Libres), once a hub for international conferences with themes such as “Christianophobia”, which “WeAreN” claims to be pervasive in Spain. Several other domains lead to the same personal website of Ignacio Arsuaga.

Among their most famous platforms are various incarnations of CitizenGO, created in 2013, an international petitioning platform which is currently active in 50 countries.

In May 2013, HO was declared an “association of public interest” in Spain, which gave them financial and economical benefits, but the government revoked this condition on the March 22, 2019 because of some aggressive campaigns against gay people and women’s rights groups (dubbed by HO as “Feminazis”) that the NGO undertook in 2017.

In 2017, HO was absorbed by CitizenGO in order to escape a brand crisis since the organization was associated with the Mexican secret society El Yunque.

Translation: “Little boys have a penis. Little girls have a vulva. Don’t let them fool you. If you were born a man, you are a man. If you are a woman, you will keep being a woman.” (source)

Translation: “This is not gender violence. It is domestic violence. The gender laws discriminate against the man. Casado, Rivera, Abascal: repeal the gender law!” #StopFeminazis (source)

The themes covered by campaigns across these platforms also feature prominently in this article. For example, the legal battle against family violence is described as follows:

At a time when man is demonized and even placed under suspicion -- by the law on gender violence -- it is more necessary than ever to remember that a child needs sexual otherness for an adequate physical and emotional development.

Male violence against women is presented as largely non-existent problem, counterposed to a stereotyped and misleading vision of family and education, where the “authority” is placed in the figure of the father, implicitly related to violence as a form of discipline:

But the child will not mature without the demanding and disruptive stimulus of the male -- 'the great obstacle'. To educate means to frustrate and the child has the right to frustration: to be told "No" and to be confronted to real life, which implies distress, pain, work, sacrifice and has nothing to do with the intrauterine Paradise.

Needless to say, the law against gender violence is not hindering the proper development of the child and it is not aiming to “demonize” men. On the contrary, it is ensuring the legal framework for a safer environment for both the mother and the child in case of domestic violence. This is, however, presented as yet another “attack against men” leading to improper child development.

CONCLUSION

The claims about single and two parent families stated in the article is a clear example of fake news. Claims about men as sole “authority figures” in the family are an example of biological determinism based on the idea that parental roles are fixed and solely based on gender. The article’s overall narrative about feminist attack against men to the detriment of children and families - just like the overall activities of HazteOir, Actuall and their related “acts” -- we also rate as antifeminist backlash.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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