…Not the Way to Motivate Good Men
(c) 2016, Davd.

As Nathanson and Young [2006] have detailed and i have summarized in my review, as Brown (2013) has further detailed for “family law”, much Feminist success in “changing society” has been achieved through the Law.

It is unfortunate for both men and women, that the Law is nearly always enforced rather than working by way of encouragement. Punishment is the main means by which men (and less often, women) are compelled by the Law to do good, or at least, to do “the will of Her Majesty”, which will is largely generated not by the Person of the Crown but by legislatures and judges1. When the Law is enforced, rather than conformed to voluntarily—that means that some people, anyway, don’t agree with the Law.

When “some people who don’t agree with the Law” are thieves or fraudsters, and the great majority of the people do agree with the Laws that make fraud and theft criminal; enforcement is consistent with the predominant public will… and also, reasonable psychologically.

Psychological research has been studying the effects of reward and punishment for decades; and it is rather well established, that punishment is far more effective in stopping behaviour than in promoting it, in reducing than increasing its frequency or prevalence. Punishing unwanted behaviours, can be an effective (and philosophically “reasonable”) way to discourage assault, fraud, theft, and spitting on the sidewalk. Reward, as one might guess, is more effective in encouraging (enhancing, increasing) desired behaviour.

The reason is reasonable: Punishment motivates avoidance; reward motivates repetition. If “the Law” punishes fraud and theft, the simple way to avoid that punishment is to avoid defrauding and stealing. Same goes for spitting on the sidewalk2. There are still thieves and fraudsters, but fewer than there would be if no laws were enforced against theft and fraud; sometimes sidewalks get spit upon, but less often than if it were not punished; and rewarding not doing those things, would be less effective than punishing doing them.

When we want more of behaviour we consider good, in contrast, rewarding it is the more effective “way to go”. Consider persuading Little Jane to eat her spinach: The usual tactic is approximately, “When you’ve finished your spinach, Jane, then you may have some dessert.” Sometimes access to a favourite toy, or the playground, will serve. Punishing not eating the spinach is uh, much less effective… and today, might be considered child abuse.

The troubles with law, often arise from trying to promote behaviour with punishment. Suppose Little Jane has grown up, and met a young man at a party, and got pregnant. She wants to keep the baby and have the young man support her, and the baby; but she doesn’t want to live with him. The Law will approve her choices (Brown, 2013, Nathanson and Young, 2006, Shackleton, 1999). But how will it motivate the young man, who is vanishingly unlikely to accept Jane’s choices?

He might perhaps accept supporting Jane and the baby in a traditional, lifetime monogamous marriage—but those are no longer supported by Canadian civil law. He might even accept paying partial support if he has some fatherly connection to the child—but though that idea exists in principle, it is very unlikely indeed to be enforced; Shackleton (1999) wrote, “We have ever more punitive enforcement of child support, but no enforcement at all for access by fathers to their children.” Brown (2013: 2, 52, 53, 130 et passim) agrees. So if Jane demands support and refuses to share parenting, and the Law enforces her will, against and overpowering his lack of consent, how will the Law enforce?

By punishment and threat of punishment, “that’s how.” The Law is vanishingly unlikely to offer the young man any incentives to pay Jane the money she demands. As the psychological research learned, the young man—much like a laboratory rat—will have an incentive to avoid the punishment, not to do Jane’s wishes. Doing Jane’s wishes gives him basically nothing—except avoidance of punishment—and it costs him plenty. If he can avoid punishment in some way that overall, leaves him happier or less miserable than paying Jane what she wants, it will be psychologically normal for him to do that instead of paying.

One way to avoid paying is to relocate to a state that does not enforce Canadian child support orders. Or perhaps he will stop working in the regular economy—take up crime as a way to support himself, or work “under the table”, or a bit more nobly, join a monastery. (Actually, joining a foreign monastery might be a promising strategy. Many foreign states would be reluctant to force a young monk to return to Canada to be the cash cow for a single mother—especially if she won’t allow him to father.) Probably there are some other ways of avoidance.

Notice the young man remains intimidated—in the sense that he fears Canadian governments. The Law has succeeded in frightening him—out of the conventional, productive economy and into crime, “underground” work, or a foreign state.

Canada winds up looking like a bully picking on a young man so as to avoid paying child support from State funds. Canadian economic output and tax receipts are less than if the young man had been a father in either marriage or a shared parenting regime. And other young men who hear about the case, will be rational if they respond by becoming afraid of women they don’t know well… rather as one might teach a child to be afraid of strangers.

Only a small fraction of strangers are dangerous to children; but we teach children to fear strangers generally—as many men, in response to the misandric changes in law over the past few decades, are learning to fear women generally3. Whether a small or medium sized fraction of women will actually exploit the privileges available to them in law and public administration, many women definitely have done. Now, as children learn to fear strangers most of whom could be trusted, because they do not know which are and are not worthy of trust; so men are learning to fear women strangers many of whom could be trusted, because we do not know which are and are not worthy of trust.

Feminism has achieved immense success, which Shackleton (1999) attributed to the power of shame in a world where women have more moral authority than men, and Murrow attributes to “maternalism”. However, that success is now maintained by intimidation, more than by shame; men in a state of true shame would suffer and pay; and today, men ordered to pay support and denied fatherhood, tend instead to feel abused by the Law.

Gynocentric lawmaking—and Murrow would say, the politics of begging for the votes of women over 50—has punished millions of men, but has not made as many millions of women happier. Counting only women, the polls seem to show no increase, and more than one poll shows a decrease, in women’s happiness (Koster, 2009). Counting both sexes, the decrease in happiness is probably rather greater—with a hint that men who have avoided marriage are happier than either men who married, or women, on average.

Feminist law making, enforced by intimidation, has failed to make either sex happier—with the possible exception of men who go their own way.4

Time for an Androcentric Law Reform Commission? Quite plausibly—if the law shifts back from gynocentrism to[ward] balance, there seems a very good chance men will accept it better.

Even more, it seems time for a major Law Reform away from using punishment to try to motivate doing things—what punishment motivates, is not doing things. If women want men’s support for motherhood—or anything—to increase, intimidation is the wrong approach.


Bailey,William C., David Martin, and Louis N. Gray, 1972 “On punishment and crime [Chiricos and Waldo]: Some methodological comment.’ Social Problems (Fall) 284-28

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Koster, Olinka, 2009. “Women are more unhappy despite 40 years of feminism, claims study.” Daily Mail Online, 1 June.

Martin, J. David, and Louis N. Gray, 1969 “Punishment and deterrence: Another analysis of Gibbs’ data” Social Science Quarterly 50 (September) 389-395

Murrow, David, 2015. “Our New Moral Framework.” Church for Men website, September.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Shackleton, David, 1995. “The War Against Men”. Everyman, Issue #28 (Nov-Dec)

Shackleton, David, 1999. “Feminism Exposed: Our blindness to feminine evil”. Everyman, Issue #35 (Jan/Feb)


1. The phrase, “the will of Her Majesty”, is still worth repeating sometimes; because it reminds us that the Law is often imposed: If and when it represents what the people actually want, what’s to impose?

2. Assault is a more emotional activity than fraud, spitting on the sidewalk, or theft; so the threat of punishment is not always a good deterrent. There are more factors involved, too: The more quickly the punishment follows the act, the more effective it is; and certainty of punishment is more effective than severity. (Martin and Gray, 1969; Bailey, Martin and Gray, 1972)`

3. A parallel “fear” exists relative to strangers passing one’s car in a large public parking lot. Most passing strangers are worthy of trust—they won’t break into an unlocked car. A small fraction will break in and steal—so not knowing if one of that fraction will pass by while we are away from the car—we lock it.

4. Old-fashioned conditioning psychology “sees” this outcome as quite reasonable. To repeat: Punishment is a good way to suppress unwanted behaviour, and a very poor way to get others to do specific things you want from them. Intimidation can drive men out of the economy, even out of the country, better than it can make them be Nice.


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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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