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Gender Apartheid

part one

by Jim Loose

Subj: Courts
Date: 7/30/02 4:46:47 PM Central Standard Time
From: Lacey Carey
To: Jim Loose

Hi Jim:

I just got out of a day dealing with the court in my divorce. What a disgusting experience. It was so bad it made me think a lot about what you've been saying about your problem with the courts. I have to tell you I've decided I disagree with a lot of it because I definitely don't see the gender bias you keep talking about. If anything, I'd say my judge (a woman by the way) was gender-biased against me.

After my Cattle Call in the courtroom (we were in and out of there in 15 minutes) I decided to get the mandatory social services and Children In The Middle stuff out of the way. What a charade! And when it wasn't a charade, it was worse. The social services worker I saw actually had the nerve to tell me I was wrong for wanting John not to come to the birthday party I'm having for 9-year-old Karen at my house next weekend. According to her, I need to "accept and facilitate" this "life change." This was without her asking a single question about the circumstances of the divorce. If only someone, anyone, would understand how controlling John was, maybe I'd get treated fairer in this. But no one seems to care. Not even my woman judge.

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm still mad from my experience this morning. I need to get to work, maybe looking at some numbers will get my mind off this. Maybe you need to get your mind off your situation too? You need to be very careful if you decide to take on the court you've been in because it's not clear to everyone that gender bias is real. After my experience with the system, it isn't at all clear to me.

Later,

Lacey

Subj: Re: Courts
Date: 7/30/02 6:12:22 PM Central Standard Time
From: Jim Loose
To: Lacey Carey

Good Evening:

Don't get me started on the so-called social services folks, Children In The Middle, and all that... I really understand your feelings about your experience there. Wanted to get deloused afterwards, didn't you? And I'm sure you were just overwhelmingly impressed with the tremendous qualifications and depth of insight exampled by the system's personnel, weren't you?

Your email raised two substantive issues. John's "control" and gender-bias.

As to John's "control": You and I are great friends, Lace, and I hesitate to speak frankly here, but if our friendship can't tolerate honest disagreement...well... But I think it can. And I think one of the sincerest signs of friendship is respectful disagreement when it's called for (just like you disagreed with me about gender bias).

It's not betraying my friendship with John if I say I'm sure John can be a pill from time to time.

Exactly like you.

And exactly like me. Exactly like all humans. You've told me John didn't cheat on you, he didn't beat you, he rarely yelled at the kids, and your and his arguments didn't occur in front of the kids. I personally know he's not a heavy drinker and he doesn't use drugs. I've been over to your house how many times? He loves those kids and they love him.

I know when men and women get into arguments, men tend to try stepping logically, coldly through the problem as a way to resolve it, which lots of women seem to dislike. They call that behavior "controlling." I think that's what you're doing now. The only alternative to trying to use logic to work our way through problems is to use power. Using logical argumentation isn't being controlling, my friend. It's the opposite. It's the only way to elevate a discussion out of the realm of power in which one person gets their way and the other person doesn't. It's an appeal to detached reason to see what it says about a question. Being upset with John because he's "controlling" in this way, is tantamount to being upset with 2,500 years of western cultural practice that resulted in American men in the last 50 years willingly de-subordinating women in our society because men decided it was the right thing to do.

In our society we've decided to go for a historically radical notion of equality. In the workforce, in private associations, in government, everywhere we look we see women (properly so, in my opinion) expecting to be treated equally with men. But that's not how it's working at home. My guess is that because for a long time the home was considered to be the one domain belonging to women, most women haven't let go of the idea that the home is still their domain where they're in control. If we're ever going to move forward as a society, that's going to have to change. Women are going to have to release control in the home, and listen to the voices of men when men disagree about the home...exactly like women insist men do with them in the workplace. Women can't have it both ways.

As to the question of gender bias, since you have a Master's degree in business of course you know that a barrier to clear thinking that we encounter all the time is our human tendency to generalize from particular experiences. There's a well-known word for that: Prejudice. Is it possible that it's ME who's guilty of that in my dealings with my court (the 325th)? Yes...in the sense that anything is possible. However, the 325th is constantly referred to as a "Mommy's Court" which sounds really cute and cuddly until it's translated appropriately: gender-biased. So even at an anecdotal level, we can see where I'm coming from in my complaint about the 325th. But that's not good enough. Reason has to prevail here for both sides.

To get this type of issue out of the realm of mere personal experience, you know all about the standard statistical tools of regression analysis and so forth. Before I actually lock and load on the 325th, you can bet your last dollar I'll make use of Freedom Of Information law to access court records of the 325th and have the standard statistical series run. When the information comes back that (like most courts in America) in over 90% of cases in which child custody is disputed, the woman gets more time of physical custody of the children (usually, considerably more) than the father -- without any Finding of the father as a less able parent -- well...my argument in front of a federal judge (and the voters the next time my judge is up for a vote) will be that the statistics demonstrate prejudice on its face.

All I ask of the system is equal time with my daughter. When, in a normal two week period I have custody for two days, there's no honest system of equity that can agree that's morally right. It's naked power in operation. It's purely a gender-biased system in actual "control" of me.

Now, if I was a smart guy I probably wouldn't be making these arguments with you at this particular, post-courtroom-Lacey moment. But I ain't that smart. And besides, somewhere along the way I picked up the strange idea that right is right no matter when it's being thought about, no matter how people feel about it.

Still friends?

Jim



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