SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Fathers’ ad campaign is completely ill-conceived

SO Bus Éireann is going to run an ad campaign on the side of their buses for the pressure group Fathers 4 Justice, riffing on the Dog’s Trust slogan: “A father is for life, not just for conception.”

Repeal the 8th has been rephrased by Fathers 4 Justice to ‘Change the 8th’, suggesting that a woman cannot terminate an unwanted pregnancy without the consent of the man who made her pregnant.

Just to be super, crystal, see-through clear here — this man is not a ‘father’. Nor is a woman with an unwanted pregnancy a ‘mother’.

They are not a ‘family’. All have potential to become all of these things, but only if this is the decision of the woman.

The woman, the woman, the woman. The one who will carry the zygote into babyhood inside her body and out, and who will look after it forever. This is the person who gets to decide. Not the person she had sex with.

Yet Bus Éireann has deemed it appropriate, in a country where women’s reproductive autonomy is so non-existent that Amnesty International has termed the situation an abuse of human rights, to run these ads.

Fathers’ ad campaign is completely ill-conceived

Here’s the thing. Being a lone parent is knackering, all consuming. It means never being able to turn your phone off, ever.

What woman on earth would turn down shared childcare with the other parent?

Why would any woman not want her children to spend time with their father?

Let me tell you who these women are: These are the women whose children have been left waiting at the window for dad to turn up, then let down over and over again; the women whose ex-partners have used access to their children to try to retain coercive control over them; the fathers who are prone to violence, or ill with active addiction. The fathers who are subject to barring orders and restraints.

The ones who are unfit parents.

The idea that there are legions of women out there who won’t let their exes see their kids is risible.

While there may be a tiny handful of vindictives, the vast majority of one parent families headed by women — who make up 90% of one parent families, by the way — would relish shared childcare. Think we don’t want a day off?

So, Fathers 4 Justice, rather than haranguing women about their reproductive choices, how about considering this — if a woman doesn’t want to start a family with you, it might not be just that she isn’t ready. It might be that she doesn’t want to start a family with YOU.

Stop acting out your private psychodramas on the side of our public buses.

As for Bus Éireann — in 2016, you really ought to know better.


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