‘Every Father is a Superhero to His Children’: The Gendered Politics of the (Real) Fathers 4 Justice Campaign



Fathers' rights groups have been characterised by some feminist academics as part of an anti-feminist ‘backlash’, responding to a perceived crisis of masculinity through a problematic politics of fatherhood aimed at (re)asserting control over women and children. This article analyses the construction of gender and masculinity/ies within fathers' rights groups, specifically, the UK-based pressure group, (Real) Fathers 4 Justice. The article explores the construction of power-laden gender identity/ies within (Real) Fathers 4 Justice and, in doing so, contributes to understanding the logic and implications of fathers' rights perspectives. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews conducted with members of the group. The qualitative case study is used to explore critically the (gender) politics of fathers' rights. It is argued that the interviewees (re)construct multiple masculinities: bourgeois-rational masculinity, new man/new father masculinity and hypermasculinity. These masculinity frames intersect with broader constructions of gender and need to be understood in evaluating the perspectives of fathers' rights groups which are complex in terms of their implications for gender politics broadly conceived. Overall, it is argued that each of the masculinity frames can be problematic, as they reinforce existing gendered binaries.