‘I’d just lose it if there was any more stress in my life’: Separated Fathers, Fathers’ Rights and the News Media
Custody abductions and filicides-suicides are not every day occurrences and typically become ‘media events’. Through an analysis of newspaper representations of two custody abductions and one filicide-suicide, this article examines the role played by fathers’ rights discourse in the construction of the separated father in each case. It argues that fathers’ rights discourse played a central role in the sympathetic portrayal of the two fathers involved in the custody abductions, but was less obviously present in the case of the filicide-suicide. These divergent representations indicate that news media representations are contingent on circumstances and also point to the limits of fathers’ rights discourses in legitimating and neutralising the actions of fathers in pain over the loss of intimate personal relationships. However, the use of a forensic approach to reporting meant that each case remained decontextualised from the pattern of violence and coercive control that typically characterises conflictual separations and custody disputes.
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