We live in the era of so-called “women’s rights”. I am not sure that women’s rights could only have been interpreted in a way that has weakened the traditional family. But that is the situation that now obtains in England today. My interest lies not in opposing women’s rights, as far as the latter is a self-sustaining ideological movement and not achieved via state fiat, but rather in the traditional family, and, in particular, in the role that it has in supporting the social fabric.
While I do believe that, ideally, all children should be brought up by parents who are committed to each other and to their children, I don’t see that the state can mandate the traditional family as the sole household arrangement. However, by the same token, it should not be funding the breakdown of the family either. It is simply anti-social for the state to allow single mothers to apply for and get social housing. The result has been an upsurge in the numbers of women who see single parenthood as a career choice.
I should add that I do not agree there should be any social housing available at all. Social housing distorts the property market, and allows large numbers of people to live essentially parasitical lifestyles. The recently leaked US embassy cable referring to the fact that 28% of Muslims present in the UK live in social housing also highlights the fact that social housing is being used to promote the government’s anti-British demographic objectives.
I would like to see all social housing privatised and all levels of government withdraw from housing policy. As a libertarian society would scale down (and ultimately eliminate) social security, one feasible way of withdrawing from social housing and slashing social welfare payments would be to give all present social housing to their present occupants, giving them a safety net in life, but being accompanied by a large cut in social welfare payments too. I would strongly support this in the case where social housing is inhabited by people of British or Irish descent; in other cases, social housing could be sold in job lots to private landlords, thus allowing the state to withdraw from the sector.
This would mean there was no social housing for single mothers—which is how it should be. No single mother should be able to casually assume that the broad mass of the population wished to fund her parasitical lifestyle. But the other aspect of this moral/social question I wish to comment on is relations between the sexes, and in particular the impact on the fathers of the children being brought up by mothers outside wedlock of the mothers’ decisions to proceed with the pregnancies.
While I do not necessarily approve of abortion—and serial abortion as a means of contraception is even more repugnant to me—there is an interesting social question regarding who makes the decision to proceed with an unplanned pregnancy. At present, the decision is 100% the woman’s to make—not unreasonably considering the fact that an operation on her own body would be required to accomplish an abortion—and yet the man is left in the situation where he will be called upon financially for 16 years thereafter if the woman decides to proceed, regardless of whether he wants the child or not.
This is manifestly unjust. The Child Support Agency is also a manifestly unjust organisation that doesn’t even ensure that the monies it garners from the fathers are given to the mothers/families involved. Quite simply, if a man has not entered into a legal agreement to support a woman and any children she bears—and this is the definition of “wedlock”—it is unjust for him to be required to financially support the upbringing of children who do not live with him and whose birth he did not agree to. A thirty-minute liaison after a drunken night out does not create an agreement of lifelong commitment to the woman—or to her future children. While people will say that a man has to honour his responsibilities, he is not involved in the decision whether to proceed with the pregnancy or not. He therefore has no responsibilities in the matter.
Why would any man want to pay for children who don’t live with him and with whose mother he has never entered into any agreement of commitment? A glance at The Jeremy Kyle Show on ITV shows that most working-class men who are interested in their children want the mother and the children as a package—and where he wishes to have a relationship with the woman, but she doesn’t reciprocate, he rarely wants to fund the lifestyles of either the mother or the children. Most of the DNA testing done on that show relates to the idea that a man has a responsibility to fund the upbringing of children who are genetically his, but who he may not even know, or with whom he is allowed only brief and supervised contact, and who are often the results of only a thirty-minute relationship with the mother.
The Child Support Agency should be closed down. Where children are born out of wedlock, and bearing in mind that the mother’s decision to proceed with the pregnancy is final, there should be no legally enforceable obligations on the father. In such circumstances, and given that I support the withdrawal of all benefits to unmarried mothers, the woman could only proceed with the pregnancy had she a private income or where her parents were happy to help to finance the child’s upbringing. The father might be prepared to help out, but given that he was under no moral or legal commitment (i.e., “no bond of wedlock”), it would be his free choice whether to do so or not.
Of course, a decision to proceed with a pregnancy is irrevocable once the child is born. It should be possible for parents who are not married to agree that the pregnancy go ahead, with the man signing a legal contract agreeing to take on the obligation of supporting a child born to a mother to whom he is not married. Such a legal agreement would give a cast-iron guarantee to the mother that she could proceed with the pregnancy and would be able to sue the father for maintenance were he to go back on the agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, she would not be able to look to the father or to the state for help. (Were it later shown via DNA testing that the child was not his, this could create a legal justification for his backing out of the agreement; ultimately, a mother does know if she has been having sex with numerous men and she has to take responsibility for herself too.)
This policy would lead to a large reduction in unmarried motherhood, with positive implications for crime, delinquency, child abuse and the quality of child rearing. It would create a situation of genuine equality between the sexes, which is after all what the rhetoric surrounding women’s rights is all about.