£4 BILLION – the current outstanding child maintenance bill

£4 billion.

This is the outstanding arrears of child maintenance owed in England and Wales. According to a report by the charity Gingerbread called Missing Maintenance, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) estimates that only £467 million will ever be recovered.This leaves nearly one half of single parent families, the vast majority headed by women, living in poverty.

The current Conservative government is in the process of closing the Child Support Agency (CSA) to replace it with the Child Maintenance Service, which charges women £20 for the privilege of opening a file and then a sum each month if some semblance of the maintenance is actually paid. The new vaunted system has seen only 53% of the families registered receiving maintenance with 90 000 people having not paid during one three month period. There is already nearly £53 million in unpaid maintenance. Many of the families will receive only negligible amounts of money, as the DWP does not require the full maintenance to be paid in order for the account to be registered as compliant. Realistically, a father of 4 earning £70 000 a year can pay only £5 a month and still be included within the 53% statistic.

Equally problematic is the fact that the Child Maintenances Service is actively writing to the primary caregivers to request they ‘forgive’ the debt owed by non-paying fathers – as though the primary caregivers of children, who are overwhelmingly women, can neglect to pay rent, council tax and the credit card debts they rack up buying groceries knowing these debts will be ‘forgiven’. As Polly Toynbee makes clear,

Some 90% of CSA cases have now been transferred over to the CMS, but only 13% of mothers affected have decided to pay the new fees and apply to the CMS: the DWP must be pleased, as it had publicly estimated that 63% would pursue their claims. All the pressure in official letters is to deter mothers. The £20 fee may be a mild block, along with charging fathers 4%, but the evidence suggests mothers just give up when prodded by these letters.

Charging mothers to use the Child Maintenance Service is simply a way for the government to abdicate responsibility. They are very clear that the sole purpose is to force more parents into dealing with child maintenance themselves. In doing so, they have refused to recognise the reason why men, and it is overwhelmingly men, refuse to pay maintenance: it is both a punishment and a form of control over their former partners. This is male entitlement writ large by men who do not care about the welfare of their children.

We need to start calling the refusal to pay maintenance what it really is: financial child abuse. Forcing your children to live in poverty because you cannot be bothered to support them or refusing to punish the mother are not the signs of ‘good fathers’. It is the hallmark of an abusive father.

It is not difficult to implement child maintenance policies that are effective and ensure that men cannot hide their assets. Placing the Child Maintenance Service under the heading of HM Revenue & Customs so that child maintenance is garnished directly from the salary of the non-resident parent. This coupled with actual punitive policies for those who refuse to pay, such as a fee for every missed payment, interest accrued on outstanding payments, and the use of enforcement agents (bailiffs) to confiscate personal property, and, potentially, criminal proceedings would see an immediate increase in the number of men who start to pay their maintenance. Canada’s maintenance enforcement program has the right to suspend the driver’s licenses and passports of men who are in arrears recognising that the legal obligation to pay maintenance being higher than the desire to vacation in Hawaii.

There is a quote bandied about in discussions of child contact and child maintenance that says ‘children aren’t pay per view’, as though children were nothing more than a possession to be passed about. As with Women’s Aid campaign, Child First: Safe Contact Saves Lives, we need to stop talking about children as possessions and start talking about children’s rights.[7] Children have the right to live free from violence. Children also have the right to live outwith poverty.

The erasure of men’s financial responsibility for their children, supported by government policy, is an absolute disgrace. It is, simply, state sanctioned child abuse.


Gingerbread’s Missing Maintenance Report

Child First: Safe Contact Saves Lives Petition



Language Does Matter: FGM is not “cissexist”

These four tweets have been appearing in my TL for days.

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The term FGM is not cissexist. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organisation,

“includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. … FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

This definition does not even begin to describe the actual practise and consequences of female genital mutilation. The long-term consequences of FGM includes: sterility, difficulty urinating, increased infant and maternal mortality, fistulas, bleeding, and infections. As an organisation, the WHO has serious problems with misogyny, racism, and classism. It replicates capitalist, patriarchal white supremacist controls over women’s bodies, an allegiance to wealthy industrialised nations and far too much investment from pharmaceutical corporations whose whole raison d’être is making money: not helping people.

Yet, even the WHO recognises that FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. It is only performed on girls. We need to be able to name this crime – just as we need to name every other form of violence against women and girls. We will not end violence against women and girls by obfuscating language.

We need to be able to talk about abortion, access to birth control, and all other forms of reproductive justice as women’s issues. We need to recognise and label these as forms of violence against women and girls. We need to be clear that male circumcision is not equivalent to female genital mutilation. It may not be medically necessary and it may cause pain to infant boys, but it does not maim and kill infant boys like the practise of female genital mutilation does. Circumcision does not cause sterility or result in difficulty in urination. It doesn’t kill.

It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world. I am incredibly angry at living in a society in which identity politics have not only erased all political and theoretical understandings of the oppression of women as a class but that we have to see this type of bullshit bandied about as if it’s The Most Important Thing Ever Written. It’s not. It’s just the same women-hating shite that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

The term FGM is not “cissexist” and suggesting that it is is misogyny.

Good Men Project write to Elliot Rodger

The Good Men Project continue their official policy of misogyny by publishing an open letter to Elliot Rodger. I’ve included the whole text below because you genuinely wouldn’t believe me if you didn’t read it for yourself.

Darrell Milton writes to Elliot Rodger about, among other things, why being a 22-year-old virgin is not a big deal.

 I tried watching Elliot Rodger’s last video this morning. I have been putting it off because I assumed it would be disturbing. And although it goes for about six minutes, I couldn’t get through the whole thing because I think the guy was a loony and his words were making me feel really uncomfortable.


Because it’s totally acceptable to use disablist language and complain about actually listening to misogyny making you uncomfortable. Try living with it FFS. Like women do every single freaking day – misogyny which the Good Men Project perpetuates on a daily basis with the woman-hating drivel they post (and not just that horrific article written by a rapist who argued his right to get drunk was more important than him not raping women whilst drunk).

I haven’t written an open letter on my blog before, but I thought this time I would. This is not just to Elliot Rodger, but to all of those young people, both young men AND young women, who feel that their life is over simply because at the age of 22 they are still virgins.

Excellent, so how about starting by not writing for the Good Men Project who believe women are nothing more than fuck-toys.

Before I start my letter, here are the opening lines of his video, and it’s the only bit I could watch before turning it off…

This might be pernickety of me but as a general rule of thumb it’s a good idea to watch the whole video before making assumptions about what the man may or may not have said.


“Hi. Elliot Rodger here. Well, this is my last video. It all has to come to this.

Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my retribution against humanity, against all of you.

For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty I have been forced to endure an existence of loneliness and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me.

I am 22 years old and still a virgin. I have never even been kissed by a girl. I have been through college for two and a half years, more than that, and I am still a virgin. It has been very torturous.

College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure, but in those years I have had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair…”

There is plenty more of this depressive crap. But that’s all I could stomach. I feel sorry for him, I really do. I don’t know all the variables behind what makes a guy go mental just because he’s still a virgin, but what I have learned in my 40 years is this: How your life is at 22 is not how your life will always be. So I thought I’d write this letter… ***

If only Darrell had watched the whole video and not just the first bit, then he’d know that Elliot wasn’t just upset at being a virgin. It’s usually much easier to know the “variables” when you’ve actually bothered to listen to what Elliot said.  He was in a homicidal rage at still being a virgin and blamed women for it instead of the fact that clearly no one wanted to sex with him because he was an abusive narcissist. Plus, the whole misogyny and racism. Elliot wasn’t homicidal because he was a virgin. The fact that you assume that speaks volumes about you.

And, really Darrell, could you not have spared a teeny tiny bit of sympathy for the SIX people Elliot murdered? Or the 13 he gravely injured?

Dear Elliot, You should have given it time. You really should have. So you were still a virgin at 22, I know guys who were virgins well into their mid to late twenties and one that I know who lost his virginity after he turned 30. These men are very happy in their life now, all being married, and all having kids (so I guess they had sex, dude).

Again, with the virginity thing as if having sex would have cured Elliot from being an abusive, violent narcissist. Really Darrell, you aren’t making yourself sound like a good man. Hell, your obsession with Elliot’s virginity is as concerning as Elliot’s obsession with it.

Leaving high school or going through college still a virgin isn’t a big deal. I’m sorry Hollywood made you think otherwise. Movies like American Pie, Superbad, The Girl Next Door, Sixteen Candles, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Weird Science, and the 1980′s classic Porky’s aren’t based on reality. You DO NOT have to lose your virginity by any set time or period of your life.

I can’t recommend highly enough watching the WHOLE video and reading his manifesto because, Darrell sweetie, you’ve missed the point of them completely – at a truly embarrassing level.

I know that you pined after that blonde girl you had a crush on. Mate, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression before, and I’m sorry to go all cliché, but there’s plenty more fish in the sea. As I wrote in a blog post 10 days before your murderous rampage, maybe the perfect person for you, your (to go all Disney) one true love, isn’t living in Santa Barbara. I think you needed to get out of there.

Guess what Darrell – there may be literally billions of women on the planet but neither Elliot or you deserve to be in a relationship with them. In fact, it’s pretty clear from Elliot’s manifesto that he was absolutely not a man to date because he was violent, abusive and wanted to kill them. Generally speaking, most women don’t want to date men who want to kill them. Strange as that may sound to you.

Travel. Meet new people. Back pack through Europe. Meet a nice Norwegian girl who thinks like you, enjoys the same music you like, will share her pickled herring with you, whatever. (Actually, I wonder if you actually knew the things that you liked yourself. I mean besides “hot chicks,” I’m pretty sure your manifesto would have been filled with things you hated rather than things you actually liked).

I may get a little repetitive here but, really Darrell, read the fucking manifesto because you sound like a complete fucking dickhead at this point.

I’m not going to lie; sex is great. Well, it can be. It can also be a bad experience both for guys and girls. For me, making love is more important. Maybe my mindset is the product of all those women’s magazines I used to read waiting to see the doctor or dentist (or at the mechanic, come to think of it), but having sex with someone you are in love with is the most awesome part of sex. Don’t look for someone to simply fuck. Look for someone to love. That’s what you should have been doing.

Shall we review the: “Elliot isn’t entitled to fuck any woman he wants  because he was clearly violent and abusive” rule. “Making love” does not cure men of being abusive dickheads. The fact that you seem to think this will help Elliot’s violent tendencies in any way shape or form makes me fear for your partners.

You said girls have never been attracted to you? I bet you’re wrong. I bet there were plenty who thought you were a decent guy (back when you were) and that’s all that mattered to them. But maybe these girls didn’t fit your ideal woman. Sure you have to be attracted to someone to some extent, but I am a firm believer in what I call “love goggles.”

You know what I’m going to say here don’t you, Darrell: you haven’t read the manifesto or watched the video and you’re talking complete fucking shite. Elliot had a long history of violent and abusive behaviour. He was a misogynist. At no point was Elliot ever a “good man”. Your inability to understand this from just watching the first minute of the video makes me worry about your comprehension skills.

Love goggles are like beer goggles only unlike beer goggles, they don’t wear off when you’re sober, they only stop working when you fall out of love. When you find your true love, those love goggles turn into love contacts and they adhere to your eyeballs so that someone society deems average is the most attractive thing on this planet. That’s love mate. That’s what it can do to you.

Honestly, I can’t even here.

I know this letter has been written too late for you, but I hope that all the other wannabe Elliot Rodgers out there can read this and learn from your mistake. You didn’t need to go there. You didn’t need to kill innocent people just because things weren’t going your way.

Holy shit. I am so glad you aren’t in charge of public health policy or the psychiatric care of any individuals. What you’ve just said is exactly what Elliot thought. He thought it was a “mistake” that no woman wanted to have sex with him. It wasn’t a mistake. He was a violent man and he is precisely the kind of man who would have abused his partner and then killed them if they tried to end the relationship.

Mass murder is not a fucking mistake. What the fuck is wrong with you? Seriously, seek some help yourself.

And sure, in cases like this, there are many people who will take to social media and say what I just said but add “You should have just killed yourself, you selfish prick” or something like that. No, that’s wrong. Seek help. Talk to your friends. Talk to your parents. Talk to a professional who can help you. Heck, talk to me. I will listen and I will repeat what I said above as many times as you need to hear it.

Jesus Fucking Christ, you are the LAST PERSON ON EARTH any man thinking what Elliot thought should speak too. I can’t tell if you’re just really fucking stupid or as dangerous as Elliot but you need help. Immediately: for stupidity and being a male violence apologist.

There’s nothing wrong with being a 22-year-old virgin. But there’s plenty wrong with being a 22-year-old murderous arsehole.

And there’s plenty wrong with a man who genuinely believes that Elliot killed 6 people as a mistake because he was upset at being a virgin.

Get your head out of your ass. Get a therapist and grow the fuck up Darrell.


Lt Eve Dallas: A Feminist Heroine

J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series are some of the most popular mystery novels and regularly make the New York Times Bestsellers List. Their popularity is partly because Robb [a pseudonym for Nora Roberts] is a brilliant writer and partly of the because of the romance. What differentiates them from “normal” romance/ detective series like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is the way Robb treats the issue of Violence against Women.

Robb doesn’t treat Violence against women and children as voyeuristic plot device. Instead, she writes about VAW as systemic and endemic; it is constant, continuous with consequences rippling through families and communities. Women and children are victims of homicide, rape and torture because of the institutional misogyny which treats women as subhuman. They are victims because they have “no” value in a society which values masculinity above all else. The main character is Lieutenant Eve Dallas: a woman who became a police officer as a way to heal after systematic physical, emotional and sexual abuse by her father which culminated in her killing him at the age of 8. It’s not uncommon to have female leads in detective novels who are “unusual” but one who is a victim as well as a survivor and a strong, intelligent, compassionate woman fighting for justice for other women is different. She is heroine not because she is violent but because she is real; a real woman struggling to rebuild her life and learning to love and care for other women in a way that the patriarchy loathes.

The only other fictional books that I have come across which have treated VAW as systemic and endemic are the Shakespeare books by Charlaine Harris. The main character in those is Lily Bard and she is the victim of a serious gang-rape. Her healing involves strengthening her body through martial arts but she also heals by helping other women. Harris’ most famous creation are the True Blood books and they are very definitely feminist. They are also a searing critique of the misogyny, racism, homophobia and disabilism rife in society and the hypocrisy of those who use “manners” and “tradition” to cover up their destructive and violent behaviour.

Obviously, Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, amongst many others, also write about VAW as it actually exists within the patriarchy. The difference with Robb and Harris’s books are that they are mass market fiction and they reach an audience that feminist literature simply never attracts. Robb and Harris are also incredibly sympathetic and supportive of the women in their books. They both write very triggering stories but they are necessary stories. We need more women writers discussing VAW as systematic, systemic and continuous. We need more women writers not using serial killers as plot devices because they are “abnormal”. We need more women writers using strong, intelligent female characters. Male violence against women is not abnormal. It is daily. It is everywhere and it is committed by normal men. I have no idea if Robb intended this to be the effect of her books but they have brought the issue of VAW into the public sphere in a non-confrontational manner that has, hopefully, made more women cognisant of its destructive consequences.