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Gender Apartheid

part two

by Jim Loose

Subj: Courts
Date: 7/31/02 8:14:11 AM Central Standard Time
From: Lacey Carey
To: Jim Loose

Hi (of course we're still friends) Jim:

Wow, no wonder Sandi left you (just kidding). You definitely are worse than John, though. ;-) Talking with you is like talking with a locomotive. Do you have a heart or is there just a computer inside you? Have you ever thought that maybe you're just better at argument than Sandi? Maybe all that women want is for it just to be all right that we're feelers more than thinkers.

Since you're serious about the things you're saying, I should probably give you the arguments against your point of view. First off, the thing you are proposing, equal time with your child, would be a good thing for you personally, but would be a very bad thing for me personally. If John got equal time with the kids, I wouldn't have much of an argument for child support, would I? But I need that support in order to take care of my children. And the fact that John and I no longer get along (regardless of the reason) doesn't mean I've forsaken my responsibility to my children. Also, it's just a fact that when marriages end, the woman generally needs the most protection. Because women are generally the most nurturing, I do think the courts should favor the mothers. Fathers have different roles in their children's lives. They offer teaching, training and security. Mothers are the primary suppliers of love and the gentleness children have to have. Both parents have a contribution, but the fact is that building emotional security in children is the most important thing to be done for them and that's something women do better than men, so it's reasonable for the courts to make extra allowances for the mothers.

Also, my children need to be with primarily me for stability purposes. They've had enough shake-up with John moving out. I know he loves them, but it's going to take time for him to get settled in a new environment. That shouldn't be inflicted on the kids. Right now equal time with him would be harmful to them.

When you talk about statistical analysis: How often do you think a man leaves the woman rather than a woman leaves the man? Shouldn't that be taken into account? And talk about fairness: How fair is it for a court to take my children from me because my husband is a control freak, and I refuse to put up with that anymore?

When there are limits on how much the courts will generally award mothers in child support, I just don't see the argument for gender bias. Wasn't it men in the 1970s (Ronald Reagan in California if I remember right) who got No Fault Divorce passed so they could shuck their wives and take up with younger models who they support better than their original families because their incomes are protected?

I worry about you when you talk about taking on the court. If you're not very careful I'm afraid the least that will go wrong for you is you'll waste your time on an impractical crusade and be labeled a nut. Divorce is a terrible thing for everyone. We have to think about the children primarily. When we do that we'll accept that their best interests are satisfied by each parent accepting something less than his or her own best interest. Raising children is the most practical activity on earth. People need to be practical about doing that and not waste their time and energy on crusades.

Bye for now,

Lacey

Subj: Courts
Date: 7/31/02 12:05:53 PM Central Standard Time
From: Jim Loose
To: Lacey Carey

Howdy Ma'am:

You're email is full of interesting thoughts. For the sake of clear responses, let me go through it a bullet point at a time.

You write: "the thing you are proposing, equal time with your child, would be a good thing for you personally, but would be a very bad thing for me personally."

What I'm proposing is that the question isn't primarily whether it's good or bad for either of the parents. The question is: What's right? Now it seems clear to me that the answer to that question is already in. And the sources of the answer are American history and the U.S. Constitution, which declare the answer to be: Equality. This strikes me as so inarguable that there's only one thing that could possibly stop it from being the final word on the question -- the welfare of the children. So let's look at that.

You write: "my children need to be with primarily me for stability purposes. They've had enough shake-up with John moving out. I know he loves them, but it's going to take time for him to get settled in a new environment. That shouldn't be inflicted on the kids. Right now equal time with him would be harmful to them."

In a fair legal regime, naturally there'd be ample room for a parent who honestly believes the other parent is truly unstable to come into court and demonstrate it. For the sake of argument, let's suppose that John wanted come into court and demonstrate that you are less stable than him. I take it for granted you'd agree that for the court to agree with him, he should have to do a lot more than simply make that assertion. I further take it for granted that you feel a woman trying to make the instability argument against her husband should be treated equally and have to clear the identical evidentiary hurdle. And I'm positive you'd agree that neither parent's instability should simply be presumed. What should be presumed is Equality. The burden (and a heavy one) has to be put on the person who wants to argue for something different.

You write: "talk about statistical analysis: How often do you think a man leaves the woman rather than a woman leaves the man?"

The fact is that the opposite is true. More divorces are initiated by women than men, a fact attested to by article after article about divorce. If you respond, "Yeah, but there are good reasons," all I can say is that that may be the truth at times. But that doesn't alter the statistical facts of the situation. Therefore, any thinking based on the idea that men are the primary initiators of divorce is simply a nonstarter.

You write: "talk about fairness: How fair is it for a court to take my children from me because my husband is a control freak and I refuse to put up with that anymore?"

For my thoughts on "control," I think I can't express them any better than my last email. I don't buy that as a reason for divorce. Unless John is physically controlling you, he is not controlling you. End of story. If some other kind of "control" seems to exist in the relationship, it's either a failure of nerve on the part of a woman if she doesn't logically argue her point of view. Or it's a confusion about the meaning of the word control. I think it's worth noting that it does seem to be the case that all these "controlled" women we hear so much about manage to grow backbones during their divorces...so the timing of the "control" argument seems kind of suspicious.

On fairness, I'd agree with you that it would be totally unfair if "your" children were actually being taken from you. First, the children are yours and John's. Second, they're not being taken from you. You made the decision to go for divorce. The system, through the standard possession schedule, is prepared to dictate to John that he can only have custody two days in a normal two week period. For those facts alone, John would have a far better argument than you that he's the one who's going to have his children taken from him.

You write: "Because women are generally the most nurturing, I do think the courts should favor the mothers. Fathers have different roles in their children's lives. They offer teaching, training and security. Mothers are the primary suppliers of love and the gentleness children have to have. Both parents have a contribution, but the fact is that building emotional security in children is the most important function to be done for them and that's something women do better than men, so it's reasonable for the courts to make extra allowances for the mothers."

These are assertions about different tendencies of the different genders of parents, and...who knows? How could we possibly make an accurate statement about that? The state of social science being what it is, it's not possible to do anything other than voice folk wisdom about those things. Besides inaccuracy, here's the problem with that. Our society has spent the last 50 years battering down the fortresses of traditional bigotry (racial and gender) by debunking the idea, for instance, that women are "naturally that way" (some way that is used to disadvantage women to the advantage of men) that black people are "naturally that way" (some way that is used to disadvantage black people to the advantage of white people) that Jews are "naturally that way" (some way that is used to disadvantage Jews to the advantage of gentiles), ad nauseum. If we now want to say that men are "naturally that way" regarding children, the risks we're taking on as a society are grave. The slope is very slippery. We don't want to go backwards. Our society set out to make people equal, and it's succeeded. That genie isn't going back in the bottle.

More humanly, Lace, I know for a fact that I'm just as loving and gentle and nurturing with my daughter as any woman is toward her children. And Sandi is as able a teacher, trainer and provider of security as me. (Can you imagine the catcalls if I tried to argue she's not?) And you're just as able in that regard as John is and I'd poke anyone in the nose (figuratively speaking) who says different.

You write: "I worry about you when you talk about taking on the court. If you're not very careful I'm afraid the least that will go wrong for you is you'll waste your time on an impractical crusade and be labeled a nut."

Nuts have rights too. ;-)

Whatever I'm doing, I'm not sure it rises to the level of a "crusade." In any case, I'm not on a crusade against the courts. I'm simply at work, using all available means in our democratic system, to change the personnel in the particular court that so badly abuses my daughter and my rights to equal affection.

You write: "Raising children is the most practical activity on earth. People need to be practical about doing that and not waste their time and energy on crusades."

You know, if the situation I see was just a maverick court dealing out injustice only to my daughter and me, I might knuckle under to your argument here. But the fact is that the injustice being visited on us is visited on millions of innocent children and their fathers in the country...ANNUALLY. The system we're dealing with is nothing short of Gender Apartheid. It's the most widespread social problem in American history. Gender Apartheid creates practical fatherlessness for millions of American children. Given the number of negative social statistics that correlate tightly with fatherlessness, it's obvious that if we fixed fatherlessness, all kinds of American social problems would do an immediate U-Turn. I don't know about you, but not only do I find the idea of fixing that to be a practical problem of the first magnitude, it's also a challenge to our ideals, and a moral duty for anyone who understands the issue.

America started as a tax revolt. Anyone would agree that a parent's relationship with his or her children is more important than taxes.

STILL friends?

Jim

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