It is a bit of a lollipop and candy cane story that would, at first glance, have you believe that massive progress is being made – until you look at the fine print. The Atlantic Magazine published an internet story which claimed a massive 9 fold increase since the 1960’s of single dads raising kids.

The only problem is, the definition of a single dad included fathers who were cohabiting with a non-marital partner. I think it would raise more than a few cohabiting eyebrows if the partner was asked if they were single and they responded with a jovial – Yes! Smack! Yet, all kidding aside, that’s how it was measured; it was done by a Pew Research, which describes itself as a non-partisan fact tank. Some very dubious ‘facts’.

The original Pew report noted that, “Some experts suggest that changes in the legal system have led to more opportunities for fathers to gain at least partial custody of children in the event of a breakup, as well.” It linked to a 1998 New York Times story which suggested that it could be” father’s rights groups who were beginning to assert their rights,” as the potential cause. Very likely.

Whereas the Atlantic story asserted, “Men’s rights advocates would have you believe that feminism has systematically prevented men from gaining custody of children. Yet, at least according to this data, it seems like the (limited, but real) feminist gains of the last 50 years have actually coincided with greater parity. It’s hard to say whether this is correlation or causation, but either way, it looks like folks who want more men getting custody should be rooting for more feminism, not less.”

It is a fallacy of false choice to think that the gains in father’s rights is linked with advances in feminism over the last 50 years. It is also a false dichotomy to think that the advances of men’s groups is linked to there being a correlation or causation with feminist agendas. It’s more likely to be the case that men’s rights groups have been, like feminist groups, vocal and organized enough to bring about some (limited, but real) change in the huge disparity between mothers being awarded custody, as opposed to access.

According to a CBC story from 2012, “Single mothers, […] still comprise about 80 per cent of all single-parent families in Canada […]”

The story is deceptive. The Atlantic title is deceptive and the conclusions are invalid. It may be dreamy and warm to think that there has been the progressed professed, but the words and definitions don’t add up to reality.