I’ve been reluctant to blog about this, because anything that attracts MRA attention is really bad, bad, bad—like letting the boyfriend who beats you and you’re trying to break up with come over “just” to “have a talk”. But it’s an important issue, and god knows that bunch of anti-feminist clowns don’t actually give a flying fuck about making inroads against truly oppressive laws that hurt men, so I’m forced to say something. As a general rule, I think deadbeat dads should be forced to pay child support. Women aren’t allowed to just abandon their children willy-nilly, and any man who thinks that his support for his children should be dependent on whether their mother is draining his balls regularly is an asshole and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.*
But throwing men in jail for not paying child support is just stupid. Charging men who are in prison and literally cannot make the money to pay child support for child support is just stupid. These are policies that not only hurt men that might very well intend to pay child support but can’t, but it doesn’t actually do anything to get the child support paid. Men who can’t make money can’t pay child support, and being behind bars pretty much means you can’t hold a job.
I realize MRA fuckwads blame feminists for this, but it’s worth pointing out these backwards, punitive laws tend to be in place in anti-feminist, conservative states. The reason behind them isn’t “feminazis out to get paid”. It’s actually because conservatives believe that mothers are on public assistance not because they’re poor, but because they’re not married. They still subscribe to this ridiculous notion that Mom + Dad + Baby = No Problems Ever Again, and figure that if people are struggling financially, it’s because they’re sexual deviants. And so their child support laws are geared not towards making sure men pay for their children so much as punishing people for not being married, and punishing people for being poor. It’s no good for the mothers, either, because they’re often expected to go to great lengths to try to get the money from the fathers before they’re permitted to get public assistance to feed their children. This is all rooted in a highly punitive view of gender roles and responsibilities, and no one benefits from it.
Not that I’m against the state getting child support out of those who can pay it. They should do that! But we already have a method that works just fine: wage garnishment. The only drawback to wage garnishment is that you can’t do it to men who aren’t drawing wages. And that’s fine by me. People who can’t afford to pay their child support aren’t going to magically be able to if you throw them in jail. Inability to cover expenses is why we have public assistance. Men who are in dire financial circumstances aren’t going to get out of them by having the state force them into ever more desperate situations. The children will be much better off in the long run if men have a road out of poverty. Once they actually start drawing wages, then it’s fine by me to garnish them, though I’m a little wary of charging them back child support on money they weren’t even making. Again, the state should be helping people out instead of just piling more and more penalties on people who can’t afford to pay in the first place.
*And don’t try to distract the issue with hypothetical situations of women steal sperm to get on that, um, gravy train of child support that often doesn’t cover even a quarter of expenses. Most child support dodgers were eager to have children, and are only reneging now that the relationship is over.