Here’s a little post that has been sitting in draft for a little while. I shelved it, took a few deep breaths and instead published The Caucus Race. I thought it’s moment had passed, but on the other hand perhaps it has some relevance in light of the ongoing campaigning activity of F4J (summary: Matt O’Connor casts off his M&S kecks to make the girls at Mumsnet cry), if nothing else because it tells you what my heartfelt first response was as compared to my more considered published one. I was pretty angry when I wrote it. References to “this week” are obviously out of date and there is of course some duplication with other subsequent posts. My views on how best to react have developed, as you can see from subsequent posts. It wasn’t really a finished post, but I am publishing as is without tinkering because some of it feels as if it may have some currency: the phrase “the tyranny of the victim” has been bandied about a lot lately – re-reading this post and thinking about some of the public behaviour that has been acted out since has made me ponder whether that label might be a rather apt one after all – because actually it is very often fathers rights groups who now enlist the power of the victim and wield it with naked aggression.
So, the post:
I’m often asked by colleagues why I bother blogging. I don’t often give them the full explanation because it’s complex. But at least one big part of the reason is that I want to inform, to debate and to learn. There is a transparency gap in family justice and it breeds misinformation. I want to help people better understand it, to remove some of the fear, to help the different groups and individuals who work in it and have their lives decided in it communicate better. Not that I’m enough of an egomaniac to think I can make much difference, but I just feel someone should be doing it. And I can. So I must. Continue Reading…
I’ve been silenced this week on two levels. First by a particularly evil throat bug which has rendered me speechless and unable to eat for several days. And secondly by a hosting switcheroony which took a little longer than planned to pull off (owing to the website guru being redeployed as looker afterer for sick me and 2 sick children), thereby depriving the world of its dose of daily pinkness for two whole days. I gather that the world has kept turning in my absence, but I’m not quite ready to make up for my enforced silence by blathering on in a lengthy post tonight. Too much thinking makes me woozy still. And typing makes my throat hurt.
To those who have emailed me concerned that Pink Tape may have been “brought down” by F4J, presumably in some kind of cyber sabotage – don’t panic. 2 and 2 do not make 5 and such a fate has not befallen me. We’ve just had other things to battle in our germ infested household this week. Pink Tape may be croaky, but it has not croaked.
And to those whose comments were stuck in limbo for a couple of days – my apologies.
And whilst you’re waiting for something more substantial to be posted I will just report that I’ve had a really encouraging response to my post calling for people to tell their stories – as soon as I am able to find the time I will get this rolling.
I’m despondent. Not because of my recent first hand experience of cyber nastiness, but because the prospects of having any real debate, and of finding new ways to improve the lot of children and parents caught up in the family justice system are receding ever further into the distance. Or so it seems. There are moments when it seems as if we are communicating, learning, listening. But they always seem to be fleeting. And almost in the same breath that something sensible is said somebody gets ornery.
i hate you cake, thanks to kayepants
There is a lot wrong with the system, notwithstanding the efforts of those who work within it to make the best of limited resources in the face of hostility from government, press and large chunks of the public. It is right that the system should be criticized and it is right that those within the system should hear that criticism. We can learn from it.
But we can’t do that by shouting at one another and by engaging in endless circular “discussions” about how “I’m right” and “you’re wrong”. That’s a waste of everyone’s energy and a source of yet more frustration – for practitioners who feel under fire, and for fathers (and mothers) who feel they have been ignored and done over by a failing system.
No, what we NEED is dialogue, not a playing out of competing cases in adversarial style. It’s like an intractable contact dispute. Neither side really wants to engage. It’s all about their issues and not a lot about seeing it from the perspective of the other. It’s all about blaming the mendacious, malicious other side. Neither can conceive that the other could be motivated by anything but selfishness. Sound familiar?
And so. There are two separate conversations going on – the one amongst professionals: how can we make things work better, cut delay, focus on the needs of children, divert cases from court etc? And the one amongst the disgruntled public, mainly fathers: how can we make them listen? How can we expose the system for what it is?
But actually, what we desperately need is to pool our knowledge, skill and experience.
The blame does not lie with one side. It lies with both.