I have become familiar with the maxim the world has passed me by. I am not sure where the world is going, but that certainly has become the case. I know that I have not grown a dependency on the electronic appendage of a smart phone. I did relent and get one, when necessity required it. I did adapt by devoting a block of my time to computer usage each day. The difference is that it does not travel with me. When I get up from my desk, I am no longer connected. I know that this might amount to trauma for some, but I have always smiled in condescension and continued on my way content in my sporadic connectivity.
I felt that the world caught up to my generation when it came to civil rights. I applauded the introduction of laws allowing for the reality of gay marriage. I do not feel like I am the bearer of white racism, even though I have not been penalized by the pigment of my skin. I do believe in a social safety net. I do believe in voting rights and the democratic rule of law. In this regard, we are all thrown into the struggle for America, even if we do not choose to admit our investment.
I have watched the progress of the people who wish to defend the planet from those who are blinded by the profits that come from destroying it. I am both frightened by and stand in awe of the implications of genetic science. I have studied with the groups of people who mapped the human genome, and see only a fragment of the immense value for learning and understanding. I am eternally curious about the workings of the brain and all of its awesome implications.
Then, I witnessed the “cancel culture” and the “me too” movement. While I understood the need to have a cogent voice to explain the tragedies of history, I cringed at the proposed solutions. I recalled how the statues of the favored were erected then erased in other cultures. I thought about Ozymandias and laughed at the antiquity and obscurity of my metaphors. I thought to every season.
I cringed again when I heard stories about the denial of free speech on college campuses. I see the confusion of free speech and hate speech and do not know exactly where to draw the line between them, except to know that what I believed was right had not really changed. But what I felt was right might become a story that was no longer told.
I applauded the taking down of moguls like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. I was far less energetic about its use against Al Franken. Did that mean that I had a sense of discrimination, or a political blind eye? Are there not degrees of offense? I recall from my reading that there was one penalty for crime in early Japan, death. Was I now to adopt a version of that philosophy in order to keep up with the times?
I began to ask myself if an accusation was enough to enact a penalty. I was dismayed by the hypocrisy of the answers that I got. What are our new measuring sticks? Has it come to the sensitivities of the crowd vs. the rule of law? I decided to put my faith in the rule of law and thought that I was on firm footing, until I was confronted with instances of the involvement of the rule of law. Here is one that I saw and felt.
Domestic abuse is a wide-ranging topic. One would think that because of the damage it inflicts, that the laws would be quite clear. They are as clear as their enforcement. There seems to be a decided reluctance for family court to address domestic abuse. Unless the damage is physical and egregious and attended by sustained police corroboration, it isn’t addressed if the abused party just agrees to dissolve the union.
What becomes of the children in such a domestically abusive situation? After the separation has been adjudicated, what prevents the abuser from using the court and, in the name of “father’s rights,” continuing the abuse? What safeguards and laws have we put in place?
New Jersey is a progressive state when it comes to instances of domestic abuse. In 1990, it passed the Domestic Violence Act. Harassment and terroristic threats are against the law, but is this law enforceable?
In particular with regard to custody disputes, will the court entertain the application of this law in its renderings? Or is the court swayed by New Jersey’s efforts to ensure fathers’ rights?
Will lawyers refuse to take this kind of case because it is not clear cut? There are no hospital records or photos and even if there are old examples of the abuse, the court seems to look askance at their use. So, I wonder in this brave new world of Wokeness, how the abused spouse is to proceed? Should the abused party keep records? But what if the people involved are not interested in the documentation because it is messy? Do the records indicate a level of paranoia on the part of the abused party?
What is the court’s wisdom when it comes to helping the other victims of this abuse, namely the children? Well the court might appoint a guardian ad litem. The court might also appoint a parenting coordinator. But what agendas do these people come with? And what is the agenda of the family court judge? Does our new-found wokeness provide guidance in these circumstances?
In some counties in New Jersey, judges all begin as family court judges. This seems to indicate that those with the least amount of experience and those most wanting of advancement are placed in these courts. It would then be natural to see what judges normally do in order to achieve their advancement and how this correlates to their decisions when it comes to cases? There are few such studies.
So let’s focus on the child for a moment. Let’s say a child was witness to the repeated trauma of abuse, when it was physical, and as it continues as verbal and emotional abuse. The child watches how the adults handle the situation and takes cues from that.
Do the parents continue to act in the best interests of the child, or does the animosity felt for the other partner cloud judgement and make this very difficult? Suppose the abused parent has finally gotten up the courage to get help from an abused women’s therapist. Might the parenting coordinator deem that having one parent cast in the light of being abusive creates an unfair prejudice against the allegedly abusive parent? Might this court appointed lawyer require counselling to stop or no longer involve the child?
What message does this send to the child? Is the message that it is really OK for Daddy to do what he does to Mommy? Is the child supposed to navigate this complex set of understandings alone or will the court provide counseling? What will be the nature of this counselling? Will the counselors have an agenda if they are court appointed? What is the role of the parents during this counselling?
This is clearly uncharted territory, or at least I have not discovered the guidelines that have been charted. I would like to know what guidelines are followed to ensure the oft mentioned best interests of the child. What is the scope of the information considered?
Now let’s follow this child as the pitfalls that have been placed in front of him or her are confronted. One parent sets no rules and showers the child with gifts. This parent makes no complaints about behaviors and surely does not involve the court. The other dutifully reports, attempts to parent by establishing limits and providing a healthy environment. Not only will the child find the showering parent better, but the court seems to rather the showering of gifts to the squeaky wheel parent who continues to point out her abuse. Whatever documentation there can be of emotional or verbal abuse, is often dismissed as being not pertinent to the “well-being of the child.” How then is this “well-being” achieved without the acquiescence of the parents?
Now let’s shift back to the perspective of the child. Perhaps in times of parental stress, the child has been blamed as being the reason for the lack or harmony between the parents. Perhaps the child has been weaponized to the point that any expression which does not go along with the supervising parent’s wishes, results in bad experiences for the child. The message is clear that the kid should shut up and go along. The child has no power. Let’s further assume the child is ten years old and this kind of conflict is all that is in the child’s memory banks. What does the court suggest? How does it provide guidance? Does the child have any rights other than the well-being that is mouthed with frequency and unaccompanied by clear action?
The child’s natural response is withdrawal and a search for avenues of escape. Enter the wild hair of gender dysphoria. Suppose all of a sudden, with no inkling of warning and contrary signs of natural development, the child now declares “I am a member of the opposite gender.”
Surely, an announcement like that would be met with surprise and a need for explanation, would it not? Surely the child would be recommended for help to address this brand new response.
Not in New Jersey. In New Jersey it is necessary to “affirm” the child’s decision. It is mandated that if either parent is not totally supportive of the child’s declaration, that parent is considered “transphobic.” The court becomes highly interested in affirming the child’s new gender because it aligns with the LGBTQI+ community’s advocacy. The voracity of the decision becomes secondary to its affirmation. Not unlike the Me Too or Woke communities, there is a single penalty: one is labeled trans-phobic if there is any questioning.
The world has passed me by. I was born into a world with two genders. Now I am told that there are at least 33 and perhaps as many as 35 genders if one counts those who say their gender is the moon. I am not employing hyperbole. There is a current group petitioning for the moon to be a gender.
It is not considered Woke to apply scientific logic to this, because it is based on the feelings of those who make these declarations. They may well be real, but they may be made for other reasons. There are currently no contingencies for they may not be real. Only the expression of a very young person who is looking desperately for escape and some sense of control over life.
The child is has now shifted to a 2-2-5 parenting schedule based on the guardian ad litem’s recommendation. A confused child who now is not sure which night provides lodging where and is now spending massive amounts of time being transported to and from, because her father decided to move over an hour away. Two Two Five, as it is called, gives each parent a guaranteed two nights a week with alternating weekends.
The child speaks of suicide but only with the abused parent. The father contends the mother is the cause and threatens to sue for further custody, which has now been reduced to 50/50 by the guardian ad litem’s recommendation and the judge going along. The father has remarried. He bribes the child with a dog that the child can only have at Daddy’s house.
The mother continues to struggle on her own. His new wife files complaints of child abuse. All of which are dropped but all of which are cited as evidence by the father’s lawyer.
Food disorders were born of the same logic, except the affirmation that starving one’s self received, was not as praiseworthy as what happens to the self-declared gender dysphoric child. Yes, there was the adage that one can never be too thin, and there was the fashion industry touting the emaciated look, but people who pointed out the unhealthy aspects of the condition were non considered “thin-phobic.”
I realize that an eating disorder is not comparable to exhibiting gender dysphoria. Dysphoria is defined as a form of dissatisfaction. From where does this dissatisfaction emanate? Is it not a feeling that something is wrong inside with who you are? Is it the result of biological miss assignment or are there other related reasons?
Now let’s return to our warring ex-spouses. What will they do when confronted with this new reality?
The parent close enough to understand that there were no hints of this inclination in the past and, in fact, there was a decided prejudice in favor of one’s natal gender is viewed as transphobic, while the less involved parent who sees this as a way to make points and a way to continue to torment the abused spouse, might have no questions at all. Why question a new weapon before you see what it can do?
This becomes a quagmire of wokeness. The Woke, for example, are not unaware of the dangers caused by extreme use of cell phones. They choose to disregard them because they feel that they cannot live without that appendage.
The Civil Rights movement, by and large, walks hand in hand with LGBTQI+ community and blissfully dismisses and difficult questions that their stances may render.
But we are left, in this case with a child who found an avenue of escape from the ongoing tension of conflict and could not now voice feelings to the contrary without incurring everyone’s wrath.
Has this child been Woke?