Unmarried America
October 14, 2003 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Unmarried America According to stats [1,2] gathered in this BusinessWeek story, Marriage in America truly is a fading institution. Married Couple Households "have slipped from nearly 80% in the 1950s to just 50.7% today. That means that the U.S.'s 86 million single adults could soon define the new majority. Already, unmarrieds make up 42% of the workforce, 40% of home buyers, and 35% of voters..."

As a percentage, Never-marrieds, Late-marrieds, Widow(er)s, Single-sex Relationships and Unmarried Cohabitation all have grown significantly, while traditional marriage (and remarriage) has faded. I had no idea that there had been such a downturn. BusinessWeek's angle is that this is an emerging dominant demographic, and will be targeted as a whole, like Gen-X or the Baby Boomers. I Guess that means more flavors of Single-Serving Hot Pockets are on the way.
posted by kokogiak (229 comments total)
 
Mmmm... Bachelor Chow.
posted by y2karl at 10:44 AM on October 14, 2003 [1 favorite]


Never-marrieds, Late-marrieds, Widow(er)s, Single-sex Relationships and Unmarried Cohabitation all have grown significantly, while traditional marriage (and remarriage) has faded.

I'm not sure how this equals single-serving hot pockets. I'm in the 'Unmarried Cohabitation' category, for the simple reason that (at least until one of us turns 50) there is no significant financial, moral, or social argument to persuade us to get married. Once the Social Security and retirement stuff kicks in, we'll probably go down to city hall and sign the papers, but until then I can't think of a single good reason why we should, and many reasons why we shouldn't - expense and taxes being just two.

Which is not to say that we (nor the tens of thousands of couples like us) are not a committed couple. We are, and have been for the past 10+ years. Its just, well, what's the point?
posted by anastasiav at 10:54 AM on October 14, 2003


I thought Hot Pockets were single serving? Isn't that half their point?
posted by GiantRobot at 10:57 AM on October 14, 2003


anstasiav - I agree, it's a pretty wide-ranging demographic to throw all those who are not involved in traditional marriages together. I'm just pointing out that it is being done - on several levels, and it appears to be making a lot of people re-think the tying of benefits/penalties to marital status, as well as trying to figure out new marketing opportunities.
posted by kokogiak at 11:01 AM on October 14, 2003


There's some interesting data out there (and you can jump on top of me and cry conservative religious whacko if you want), that seems to indicate that marriage, apart from any religious or moral argument, really leaves people better off than non-married people in several areas. Research done by University of Chicago sociologist Linda J. Waite indicates that married people are less likely to be victims of violent crimes or domestic violence, they generally live longer, their children live longer, they earn more money in both the short-term and long-term, they are less likely to suffer mental illness, they are generally more happy, and, believe it or not, they sex more satisfying sex more often than non-married people. Here's a link to a summary of the findings.
posted by marcusb at 11:06 AM on October 14, 2003


Well, as a male, I can tell you why I don't think that marriage is a good choice for us..

Very simple. Liabilities > Benefits. And that > is huge.

Why should a man get married? We assume all the risk, and get what? 50% chance of divorce, which means 50% chance of alimony.

Two people who love each other and are committed to each other don't need a legal binding. They stay together each day because they choose to.
posted by eas98 at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2003


Interesting that the marketing assumption would be that they want to shop/eat/consume for one, when so many people in this category do not fit the "quirky alone" demographic, but are raising 1-4 kids, living with parents, in a LTR without marriage, etc. My mom is 62 and has two roommates, also her age and also divorced. They purchase food/plan/pay bills together as if they are a family, but really don't spend much time together. It just works for them. You'd never see a Hotpocket in these southern women's freezer.
posted by pomegranate at 11:08 AM on October 14, 2003


What was once a frowned-upon alternative has become the mainstream.

hooray for new stats!

on the other hand, all this marriage info reminded me of the only effective effort to stop terrorism.

and on preview, (consumer) marketing is for idiots. people are catching on.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:18 AM on October 14, 2003


kokogiak, sorry if I came across as arguing the point of your post - I wasn't. I think pomegranate came closer to hitting the point of my comment than I did ... so many people in this category do not fit the "quirky alone" demographic that it would be foolhardy to try and market 'Bachelor Chow' type products to us - we unmarried folk are not mostly living alone - we have roommates, life-partners, kids, you-name-it, who are making up our 'unmarried family'.
posted by anastasiav at 11:20 AM on October 14, 2003


Well, as a male, I can tell you why I don't think that marriage is a good choice for us. Very simple. Liabilities > Benefits. And that > is huge. Why should a man get married? We assume all the risk, and get what? 50% chance of divorce, which means 50% chance of alimony.

eas98, do I have a website for you: Secret Divorce Planning for Men. "You're not alone. Alot of men want to know how to secretly prepare for divorce." Topics of this how-to video include: Why marriage is really an insurance contract for the woman; why keeping her happy until you file is critical; the loopholes on alimony and child support; why blinding her with trips and presents now can save you fortunes later; and how pre-divorce planning can be the best time of your life."

No need to thank me. Really.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:28 AM on October 14, 2003 [1 favorite]


I question this as a "trend" -- in addition to the unofficial long-term couples, I also wonder if some of the waiting-longer now-singles will eventually produce more stable, lasting marriages. My recollection is that marriages entered into at later ages tend to have a better statistical rate of survival.

I guess we'll see.
posted by namespan at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2003


"Families consisting of breadwinner dads and stay-at-home moms now account for just one-tenth of all households." Hmm, so that makes me a member of the 10% club now. Again, I had no idea, and thought this category (mine) was far more common than only 10%.
posted by kokogiak at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2003


I like being married. But as I've said before, my wife is supah-fine and a devil in the sack.

What a shitty way to celebrate National Marriage Week, though. Pause for ironic reflection.
posted by vraxoin at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2003


I like the meatball with mozzarella best.
posted by mookieproof at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2003


marcusb, I'm not going to jump on your or call you a whacko (you're not a whako, are you?), but your link, while interesting, never clearly defines who they are using as their 'not-married' population in their samples. The "Its Safer" section does Regardless of methodology, the studies yielded similar results: cohabitors engage in more violence than spouses. but most of the other sections do not. It seems like they're throwing lots of different people - never-married, divorced, cohabitiating etc. - together in the "single" category, when there are lots of different stories there.

Show me a study that compares, say, people who did not cohabitate before marriage and people who are cohabitating but who have chosen not to marry, where each relationship has been going for, say 5-7 years or more, and then I might find the data more persuasive.
posted by anastasiav at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2003


Liabilities > Benefits. And that > is huge.

Why should a man get married?


You can start with the more than 1,000 federal benefits that are bestowed upon married persons, simply for being married.

Long PDF, but you'll get the idea: http://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/og97016.pdf

Aside from being personally interested in this topic as a gay person, it affects straight unmarried cohabitators as well. None of these benefits are available to you either because the government has deemed your relationship second-class.
posted by archimago at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2003


I think that everyone is going a bit too far out on the limb assuming that just because you aren't married, you and your partner will stay together forever. There's no reason why they should have a lower 'seperation rate' than marriages.

When long term (non-marriage) relationships do go sour, the advantages of marriage, the protection it affords to women and children mainly, are no longer present and that might leave many newly 'seperated' mothers in a lurch.
posted by PenDevil at 11:43 AM on October 14, 2003


Has it occurred to anyone here that these stats might represent a silent revolution in progress? Unlike the first half of the 20th century, when a woman, despite being college educated, was married off and expected (particularly after WWII, when the men came back from the front) to become nothing more than a homemaker, today's women can now (thankfully) eschew marriage in favor of nabbing a career. It's also worth noting that women currently outnumber men in higher institutions.
posted by ed at 12:01 PM on October 14, 2003


anastasiav, the link I provided didn't flesh out the data very well, and for that, I apologize. I am trying to track down some of the journal articles by Waite to determine her methodology. I think her conclusions are drawn from a variety of different studies, some which clearly distinguish between cohabitors and spouses and some which do not. I'll try to find more from her.
posted by marcusb at 12:01 PM on October 14, 2003


Against Marriage
Cutting and Running, and Why Taipei Is Better

by Fred Reed


Mostly when I hear one of these radical feminist ladies squawking and clucking about whatever is disturbing her system at the moment, I don't listen a whole lot, because most of them have the insight of flatworms and run on pure bile. But I have to agree with them about marriage. It's probably a bad idea.

For a guy, I mean. (If you're a woman, listen to the feminists. They'll tell you why marriage is a bad idea for women: Men are rapists. All of us. We batter women like cannibal tempura chefs. We don't have feelings. We're no damn good. Stay away from us.)

But let me tell you why marriage is bad for guys. If you're a young fellow thinking about tying the awful knot, read this carefully.

Guys marry for bad reasons. When it comes to women, we have less judgment than bugs in a moonshine bottle. Guys marry charm. They marry a sweet smile, a perky toss of the chin. They marry clear skin and bright eyes, soft lips, warm hands. They marry curves in a pretty print dress and silken hair that smells like warm milk and new-mown grass. (Maybe that's straining the language. Steinbeck or somebody said it.) Men marry necking on back roads with crickets creaking in the woods and warm breezes and Sally is just so unspeakably wonderful they can't do without her.

Men marry illusion. Sally marries a pre-med.

We males have an infinite capacity for deluding ourselves. The charm of women doesn't last, any more than flowers in a mountain meadow. A requirement for a marriage license should be that the guy spend fifteen minutes thinking of Sally as twenty pounds heavier with crow's feet and PMS and no further incentive to control it. In five years she won't want to party. Little Richard will give way to easy listening. In a decade she won't even slightly resemble the lissome damsel he married. She won't like his friends unless they're boring. The fun and excitement will fade and life will be just life.

Charm has a short shelf-life. A fellow should ask himself: Is her mind such that he wants to spend forty years talking to her?

Maybe so. Some women are great that way. One was reported in San Francisco a few years ago, and I know of one in Canada. (Actually a fair number of gals are seriously bright. But Willy Bill probably won't marry one. Anyway, ask yourself the question.)

However, the overarching aspect of marriage, the one that ought to be part of the dictionary definition, is that Sally will get the children. She'll get the house too, but the world is full of houses. The kids are the killer.

Women have a mysterious power to fog men's minds. I hear Willy Bill saying, "Divorce? Impossible. Sally's adorable. Even if it happened, we'd still be friends." There was a case of this reported too. In central China. Pre-Confucius. Scholars debate its authenticity.

Willy Bill very likely will get divorced, which will very likely be Sally's idea, and she will get the kids with virtual certainty. Further (and he won't believe it in the full flood of hormonal misjudgment) she will in all likelihood use them against him. Even if not, she'll remarry and move to the other end of the country, and he will be lucky if he sees the kids a week at Christmas. Willy Bill now faces fifteen years of child support for children he will barely know. At best Sally will be heartless about it, at worst vengeful. The courts will support her every step of the way.

If you think this doesn't happen, regularly, think again. Think several times.

The way to avoid the morass is simply not to marry. Thanks to the Sexual Revolution, guys don't have to. Find one you like and live with her. If you get along, keep on living together. Maybe you will have a long, happy life together. It happens. However, most women give the marry-me-or-leave ultimatum in about two years max, which means that you'll have to find another. This is unpleasant, but then the variety is nice. Serial monagamy isn't too bad. (I personally prefer parallel monogamy, but it isn't real practical.)

Once you tie the knot, your house is toast. But the for-keeps breakpoint, the one that really hurts, is children. Dead serious, guys, watch this one. Here, Sally holds all the high cards. I talk to a lot of men who are going crazy because the ex just remarried and went to Oregon with the kids. They do this. All the time.

Remember that after the divorce, Sally is going to hate you. The divorce will have been your fault. You will have failed her in every way. You won't have met her expectations. That's the opening hand.

She will want to remarry. Fine. If you're crazy, maybe you will want to remarry. How much do you think she's going to want you around, after she has re-daddied your children? Is she going to tell New Daddy he can't take that promotion in Oregon because of your rights to see your kids?

As a rule, she won't concede that you have a right to see your sprats, or that they have any stake in seeing their father. Her rationale will be the passive-aggressive formulation, "Well, he's so insensitive I just can't believe he really wants to see them, blah blah blah."

This is Sally, remember, with the perky smile and soft lips.

Don't do it, guys. At least, don't do it unless you have a bomb-proof pre-nup saying that when the divorce comes, either party who leaves the region has to leave the kids with the other.*

It's a hell of a way to begin a marriage. But do it. Do it because you can count on one thing: The courts will be absolutely on her side.

Better yet, if you want kids, go to Asia and marry. The women are feminine (consult your dictionary), beautiful, agreeable (consult your dictionary), and don't have cellulite.

Don't marry, guys. Stay single. The feminists are right on this one. And when you get married anyway and lose the house and kids, remember that weird columnist who said it would happen, and he was right.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:02 PM on October 14, 2003


But as I've said before, my wife is supah-fine and a devil in the sack.

I let it slide the first time, but since you seem so insistent that those are the qualities that make your marriage rewarding to you, what will you do when she fails to meet one or both of those requirements in the future? The passage of time is not kind to most.
posted by rushmc at 12:06 PM on October 14, 2003


In some states, unmarried people, perhaps laid off from jobs and scrounging to pay their bills, are barred from taking on roommates to help pay the rent.

Is this true!?!?! Does the American government really have laws on their books telling people whom they can and can't live with?

Why should a man get married? We assume all the risk, and get what?

Eas98, I'd like to read an explanation of why it is that you consider that a marrying man assumes "all the risk".

Space Cadet, that material came straight out of someone's asshole, unedited and unflushed.
posted by orange swan at 12:09 PM on October 14, 2003


Eas98, I'd like to read an explanation of why it is that you consider that a marrying man assumes "all the risk".

You don't have to read it. You can get it in a 5 minute consultation with any divorce lawyer. Courts favor women.
posted by scarabic at 12:27 PM on October 14, 2003


Space Cadet, that material came straight out of someone's asshole, unedited and unflushed.

Really?

I thought it came from Fred Reed's observant mind.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:30 PM on October 14, 2003


I believe Fred Reed is absolutely correct. Most men lose their lustre after age 35 anyway.
posted by oh posey at 12:33 PM on October 14, 2003


New Study - Preliminary Findings

The longer you are together, the less happy you are together. But it does say getting married later means a higher rate of happiness overall.

The tone of the article kind of put me off. Having just started "Urban Tribes," which embraces singlehood and non-traditional love and caring where people tend to assume familial type roles, I found the undercurrent of negativity against anything that was not Man-Woman-Child a bit off-putting.

It seems like our marriage rates are decreasing along with our divorce rates.
Divorce Rates:
Since 1990:
1991, 0.47%
1992, 0.48%
1993, 0.46%
1994, 0.46%
1995, 0.46%
1995, 0.43%
1997, 0.43%,
1998, 0.42%,
1999, 0.41%,
2000, 0.41%,
2001, 0.40%,
(Mostly from NCHS, some from Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the U.S., which often differs from NCHS by 0.01%)

So, delaying marriage, means you are happier when you do get married, and you are more likely to stay together? Why is this a bad thing?

Finally, to talk about the how people aren't getting married anymore and to blame it on same-sex unions in the same sentence seems ironic.
posted by jopreacher at 12:38 PM on October 14, 2003


We assume all the risk, and get what?

The primary purpose of marriage is (and always has been) procreation. Biology dictates women take most of the risks in this endeavour, especially in the formative stage. Men assume none of the risk of pregnancy or childbirth. The reward is you get to pass on your genes to another generation. Choose your mate wisely.
posted by piskycritter at 12:38 PM on October 14, 2003


One of the reasons we got married, was to get the wife medical coverage while she goes through college. Less than half of my friends in a long term relationship, are married. Whereas that rarely (if at all) happened amongst my parents friends.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:41 PM on October 14, 2003


piskycritter - you're correct that women take many risks in relationships, foremost among them the responsibility of carrying the child to term and birthing it. No one could argue that a man is taking that on no matter what.

But your argument doesn't particularly apply to marriages. The woman takes on the procreative risk in any relationship that involves sex, from high school dating on up to marriage. The argument put forth is that men assume more risk when the step to marriage is finally taken.
posted by scarabic at 12:45 PM on October 14, 2003


eas98 is right - not being married doesn't prevent a man from having a partner put him through grad or professional school and support him throughout the career he's able to get with that education, while destroying her own earning potential with every year she stays home. (As for women who have their own careers, I wasn't aware that they receive any kind of alimony, which eas98 seems to think is a sure thing in any divorce.) So, yeah, what's the point?

Fred Reed has some good points too. A man who doesn't think that a woman is capable of being interesting or intelligent has no business deceiving her into thinking he won't dump her for the next cute 18-year-old who comes along.
posted by transona5 at 12:46 PM on October 14, 2003


...Sally as twenty pounds heavier with crow's feet and PMS and no further incentive to control it. In five years she won't want to party. Little Richard will give way to easy listening. In a decade she won't even slightly resemble the lissome damsel he married.

If Sally's let herself go all to hell, how does she manage to get married again, later in the scenario?
posted by JanetLand at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2003


Realistically, if you're a guy who has children with a woman, don't break up with her, if you want to interact with the children. Guys always get screwed for custody. This is irregardless of if you're married or not.
posted by patrickje at 12:57 PM on October 14, 2003


Well, happy anniversary to me! 8 years today, in fact.

If you asked me (and people do) I really have no idea why I got married. It just seemed right. I doubt I'd ever marry again, if it came to it. I have a...unique partnership.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2003


I married so that I might more often bed down my beautiful wife and have her meet my every carnal need.
posted by xmutex at 1:14 PM on October 14, 2003


Mostly when I hear one of these radical feminist ladies squawking and clucking...

You know, that intro was useful in that it spared me from reading the rest of the post. Whenever I hear somebody set the boundaries of a serious question as 'Me vs. the ridiculous psychos' I pretty much turn off. Wonder if he's taking the same pills that Rush was?
posted by lumpenprole at 1:15 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm getting married after 8 years of being together because saying "I'm engaged/married" is quicker than explaining to everyone individually that I don't need him at all, but I want so badly to be near him all the time that it almost hurts.
posted by synapse at 1:19 PM on October 14, 2003


I am wondering what the difference between wanting so badly to be near him all the time that it almost hurts and need might be.
posted by xmutex at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2003


synapse: Well put.

I'm coming late to this thread, but my own feeling is people in a marriage contract have a better chance of weathering the bad times because they've made a real agreement with each other. I think love is a choice, so it makes sense to me to actually bind yourself to someone else in a way that says "I'll love you until the event that one of us croaks/expires/gets Mac truck disease."

I don't have any moral problems with cohabitation, I just think if you want the best chance for the relationship to succeed, make it formal.

Uhm so what's the consensus on pros/cons of marriages from an economic perspective? Don't married couples get better tax benefits?
posted by Happydaz at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2003


Xmutex - I don't live in the same city as my fiance right now. I don't need him for financial support. I cope when I have a bad day and he's not here. I can cook, clean, have a career and go out and have a good time with male and female friends without him. But any particular moment of my day would be better if I was with him.
posted by synapse at 1:57 PM on October 14, 2003


Happydaz, well put.

I've always considered the "We don't need to get married" line a dodge, for people who are slightly afraid of the commitment that marriage necessarily entails (Good lord, you mean this is supposed to be forever?).

But beyond that, I think marriage plays a critical societal role, beyond meeting the love/lust needs of the individuals involved, the raising of kids being but the first and most obvious factor. Conservatives say marriage and family are the building blocks of society and I have to say I agree with it, for society as we know it likely never would have progressed to the point it is now without these things, and to figure, eh, we can jettison them now because we no longer need them seems to me to be short-sighted, at the very least.
posted by kgasmart at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2003


synapse: And what kind of statement is that anyway? "I want to be around you, but I don't need you around" ?
posted by agregoli at 2:00 PM on October 14, 2003


I let it slide the first time, but since you seem so insistent that those are the qualities that make your marriage rewarding to you, what will you do when she fails to meet one or both of those requirements in the future?

I'm just being facetious. And I will continue in that vein by pointing out that when you get married, people give you a bunch of free shit. That in and of itself ought to be reason enough to get married.

Seriously, though. The concept of "marriage" I think suffers from the same geriatry that the concept of "religion" suffers in western culture, which is that it has become a stagnant concept in a dynamic world. We managed to bring marriage out of the middle ages, where women were chattel and marriages were arranged in childhood. Oh, and the whole patriarchal polygamy thing.

So we brought marriage into the twentieth century, but the concept hasn't matured since the baby boom. My wife and I see our marriage as a partnership of love and trust without any predefined roles or rules. We're fortunate in that our view of "marriage" maps fairly well onto Christian and American views of marriage; it was easy for us.

But for those who fall outside the pre-defined spectrum of "allowable" marriages, the post-marriage marriage (whatever that may be) will be the thing. And "marriage" will adapt or die out. I think it's a useful tradition that ought to grow with us as a culture, but I imagine that the rhetoric on both ends of the debate will eventually smother it before that happens.
posted by vraxoin at 2:00 PM on October 14, 2003


/shrug. America has been getting out of the producing children business for some time now. I don't think it's terribly surprising that marriage is taking a corresponding downturn.
posted by rudyfink at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2003


people in a marriage contract have a better chance of weathering the bad times because they've made a real agreement with each other

I appreciate this opinion, but don't the demographics undermine it? I guess the most flimsy word in this statement is "real." What's more real about a marriage than a committed relationship? That it's harder to get out of? Perhaps a little, in a bureaucratic way.

But I don't think this added inertia really enhances anyone's ability to weather bad times. Weathering bad times is about choosing to power through the shitstorm. You have to keep making that choice every day, whether you're married or not. And plenty of married people choose to quit. I just don't see any support in the contractual arrangement. Just imprisonmen. And very frequently, that inertia/imprisonment can work like a trap, keeping people together who really shouldn't be.

Now, people who have gone through a marriage ceremony/ritual, with family and friends as witnesses/participants, may have additional support from their familial community than people who've just dated a while. I think going through the process of publicly declaring eternal commitment, and asking others to bear witness, can bring all the people in your life together in a supportive way. There's no "concept" at work here, it's just about the bonds formed by spending quality time together, and the reinforcing power of ritual.

If there's any endurance advantage to marriage, this is probably it, though any socially active couple can eventually accumulate the same thing without ever going through the whole white dress deal.
posted by scarabic at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2003


scarabic - that's an excellent point about the support/reinforcement of community. I honestly don't believe that marriage is something everyone or even every couple must do. But if you choose to make that statement, and enter into that contract, I believe the communal reinforcement of your choice (via whatever ritual you prefer) can be very powerful.

agregoli - perhaps I didn't express myself too well; I kinda went for the cute statement. What I'm trying to say is that I think getting married is a public statement of explaining your relationship. However, particularly in my own case, I don't think it represents everything about me. Wouldn't it suck to be with someone so dependent that they only defined themselves in terms of someone else? I choose to be with him even though I don't have to.

apparently getting engaged makes you verbose.
posted by synapse at 2:13 PM on October 14, 2003


I can kind of see your point, and I'm sure you're deeply in love, but it still seems like something I would avoid saying. It's like comparing your significant other with dessert - not really necessary, but you want it anyway. Romance must be dead.
posted by agregoli at 2:16 PM on October 14, 2003


> Don't marry, guys. Stay single.


Campbell's Soup For One©

Instructions:

1. heat it up
2. don't heat it up
3. pour it in your sock. you're alone. nobody cares
posted by jfuller at 2:33 PM on October 14, 2003


Marriage amongst my relatives back in the Old Country is really interesting. They simultaneously put more and less importance on it.

On the one hand, divorce is not an option. It's very rare for anyone to break a marriage contract over there. On occasion, members of the family who've immigrated to the US go through divorces, and the news of it is always received like news of a death in the family. The stigma attached is unreal. There's no opportunity for re-marriage, since no one wants to touch a divorcee. Getting divorced from your spouse becomes, in essence, getting divorced from your society.

On the other hand, marriage isn't the sum total of a person's life over there. People frequently share large households between several generations of family, so one's daily life may be filled with companionship from a wide range of children, elders, peers, cousins, sibling's spouses, etc. Same-sex friendships seem to be where young people spend the bulk of their time, and inter-sex interactions are quite formal and respectful. In this way, unhappy marriages can really fade into the background as friends and family come to the fore to mediate disagreements or fill the space between when distance develops between a couple. But the marriages don't end.

Many marriages are "arranged" in the sense that parents actively socialize throughout the city, seeking other parents of elligible mates around the right age. Big parties are thrown where suitors can be introduced, and once a suitable match has been agreed on by all, a series of "getting to know one another" parties continues until the marriage plan can be finalized. This process can come with more or less pressure from the parents, more or less autonomous choice on the part of the couple, and varying amounts of "private time" between the couple. But I'd say it's very rare for a couple to have lots of sex, live under the same roof for years before getting married (which is competely common here in the US).

It's hard to generalize that this system is better or worse than what we do in the US, though theit divorce rate is minimal, while ours is out of control. Are people trapped in loveless marriages more often? Perhaps. Do they have a better support network regardless? Probably. Does a relationship, whether loveless or passionate, have a better chance of surviving over there than it does here? Definitely.
posted by scarabic at 2:39 PM on October 14, 2003


Don't have much time for MeFi anymore, but this thread caught my eye (as I saw the cover of Business Week this morning), and the comments by eas98 and SpaceCadet were sort of startling. SpaceCadet, if you don't mind me saying so, I think you are characterizing boys, not men. While some males do seem to get frozen into the the emotional level of a teenager (these are the guys that, at 45, are still hitting on 20-year-old women), there are men - a lot of them - who who do achieve psychological maturity, who do desire something much deeper than big boobs and a pretty smile, and are intelligent enough to choose wisely.

I didn't marry "a sweet smile, a perky toss of the chin ...", I married a soul - who I'll be with through thick and thin through all of the changes in her life. As I saw my father stay faithful to (and deeply in love with) my mother during the course of a 40 year marriage ... including the last few years of her life, when a series of strokes required him to care for her 24x7.

My wife and I were both in our 30's when we married ... so maybe we had a bit more clarity about things than teenagers ... but we both wanted an equal. I married a woman with an IQ of 150 or so, an MBA, multiple languages, and a taste for adventure. I do find her beautiful ... but that is almost meaningless. I married her knowing that over the years she'd both gain weight and lose it. That she'd have PMS now and then. That she'd go through menopause. That some days she'd be happy, and others she'd be bummed. Physical attributes, and fleeting moods mean little in the long run. Taking marriage vows means that even if one's partner is in a terrible accident the day after the wedding, and is disfigured and paraplegic, one will still stay with them for good. I do know that every now and then I wake in the middle of the night with my wife sleeping next to me, and get overwhelmed with the feeling something like what synapse said ... "wanting (her) so badly ... that it almost hurts". Wanting is different than needing. Neither my wife or I "need" each other ... we both lived quite fulfilling lives before we met. But the wanting - the desire - within marriage is (in my experience) much different than that which exists when one is dating ...

Those who try to reduce marriage to a simple biological imperative (its purely for the sake of kids), or a commercial transaction (women get a "better deal" than men) sort of miss the point. Since several have given advice ... perhaps I'll kick in my two cents worth:

It is important to choose carefully - and with fully open eyes. And perhaps there are some folks that just flat out should not get married. However, I believe (due to both my own experience, and the experience of others that I know) that there is an entire universe of experiences, whole realms of interior emotional geography, that only become accessible when one commits to be with another person "for as long as you both shall live", and lives up to that commitment. There are layers upon layers of enrichment, of fulfillment, that really only open up when you start thinking in terms decades rather than years ... or months. All sorts of things that seem deeply important before one is married really are transitory, and mean little over the long haul.

I remember watching my mother and father during the last weeks of my mother's life, after a final stroke had taken away even her ability to speak. They would just look at each other, and he would know exactly what she wanted or needed at the moment. The level of connection they had achieved ... and that can really only be achieved when two people go through the best and the worst over decades of time ... was simply magnificent.

After she had passed away, someone asked my father whether he wasn't at least slightly relieved (he had refused to even hire a part time caregiver to give him a break) ... and he said that caring for her during those final years was the greatest privilege he had had in his entire life, and only wished he could have done so for a few more years. If marriage is conceptualized in terms of statistical norms, or as biology, or as a risk/reward calculation, or as a contractual arrangement requiring pre-nups, this makes no sense at all. But for those that do have solid, fulfilling marriages, with true companions, it is the most natural statement in the world.

Marriage is not a product one buys, it is a gift one gives ... but if it is given with no reservations, to an equal that returns it with similar intensity and commitment, nothing else on earth delivers the deep, silent ecstasy that is added to the days of both people.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:54 PM on October 14, 2003 [1 favorite]


Wow, so much shitting on women going on here....

So, only women get fat and lazy when they get married? I see. Then how come on public transportation every day I see a vastly larger number of fat, sloppy, unattractive men with HUGE beer guts with wedding rings than I see women that look like that with wedding rings? The women seem to be more well put together and slender and attractive and paying attention to the way they look. How come all the sit coms have a fat sloppy man and a cute trim woman in them? I find it's pretty true to life.

In this day and age, I think it's supremely stupid to say that men take all the risk in marriage. What about the women who are working 50% or more in the marriage AND then do the lion's share of kid raising, cooking, and cleaning? In the case of the guy staying home and taking care of the kids and they get a divorce, the women pays alimony. If the man gets the kids in a divorce and the woman has been making $$, the man gets child support.

Yes, the courts seem slanted toward women, but that's because women also assume a lot of risk when they get married and have kids. They give up careers and devote time to husbands and kids, and so when they are dumped for younger women by husbands who dislike how their busy wives don't look like 25 year olds anymore, they have no career and no networking and have been out of the work loop for so long, that they don't have much to fall back on to make money.

Relationships, whether or not you get married are risky. Glad you all who are so against it aren't doing it...it's hard enough without all the "she's going to try to screw me over" feelings in it...
posted by aacheson at 2:58 PM on October 14, 2003


Comparing modern US life to the ultra-conformist 50s is a little silly when deciding on recent trends. Who is the 50s would have forseen the civil rights movement? I wonder if a report on how civil rights have improved from the 50s would be digested here? Of course it would be applauded, but the marriage issue seems to go both ways for some.

It seems to me that this is a classic statstical proving of how people act (perhaps closer to their nature) without tons of scial pressure to get married, do x, do y, etc. Older unmarried sounds like people are deciding on their own when to engage in this institution instead of being forced into it by family pressure. Some other explanations I think are part of this complex shift: affordable birth control (less babies less shotgun/moral arguments to wed young), freedom from religion (why bother spending 20k for a church ceremony especially when one doesnt even take their religioun seriously), and lastly considering both people have to work to make ends meet in our modern economy the incentive to get married (land a man and be a mommy) has been co-opted by real economic pressures.

I think these trends might be pointing towards a Heinlein type of "social contract" where couples "lease" each other for a few years with strict stipulations on not having children, asset protection, etc. Once this secular contract becomes popular then homosexual couples could use it too thus avoiding the whole "we dont want you sinners in our religion" mentality that is so prominent here in the states. This contact would be legally binding and provide the same insurance, healthcare, and workplace bonuses the current marriage licence does.

Freedom of choice, changing mores, and secularism means change. We're seeing this affect the institution of marriage and in the end I'm certain its very much a good thing.
posted by skallas at 2:59 PM on October 14, 2003


Midas: I'm humbled by the story about your dad. It makes me realize how much growing I have to do with these cursory college flings of a year or so I like to call "relationships." I hope someday if I get married I can put that level of love into it, even if my s.o. gets a stroke or what have you.
posted by Happydaz at 3:12 PM on October 14, 2003


Romance must be dead.

Nonsense. In my experience, truly good romantic relationships are ones where the only condependence involved has to do with thoroughly enjoying and looking forward to time spent with each other, where you truly enhance each others lives, not some kind of creepy clingy psychotic inability to survive without each other. If your version of "romance" involves "needing" to be with someone, rather than just wanting to really badly, you can keep it - those needy relationships are the ones which tend to fail most spectacularly, because they put pressures on the "love" part of the relationship which it doesn't naturally bear very well. There's no shortage of breathless anticipation in my marriage - I love my SO, we're great friends who genuinely enjoy spending time together and there's the added bonus that we're very much in love with each other, but we were both just fine without each other before we got married, and if it came to pass that we separated, we'd both be just fine again. We got married later, and I see the fact that we both led happy, single adult lives as a great plus - it means that we're in this marriage because we want to be, not because we have to be. Romance should be an enhancement to your life, not a basic necessity like food and shelter - that puts unreasonable expectations on something which doesn't naturally support them. I'm with synapse on this for sure. I love my husband because I love him, not because I need him.

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks that Fred Reed screed is the rantings of a pathetic, issues-laden loser who never matured past 15.
posted by biscotti at 3:13 PM on October 14, 2003


That article was pretty terrible. I agree with the point that courts are biased against men, but that's about the extent to which I can support it.

aacheson - when one says that courts are biased toward women, that's different than saying "they will assist the woman if circumstances make it necessary." biased means biased, predisposed, already inclined. Before they even hear whether the woman gave up her earning potential to support her husband, the court is biased in her favor. Even when all things are equal financially, they're hopelessly biased in the woman's favor when it comes to custody, and I can't think of a rationalization for that.

In this day and age, it's not unheard of for a man to stay home while the woman earns. Will he enjoy the same bias in court? Will he be awarded spousal support? Probably not. What if he worked a shit job while she went to graduate school (also not unheard-of)? Probably not. Chances are he'll be considered a leech, a n'er-do-well, a sack of shit, no matter how good his cooking is. Fucker sat around while she supported his lazy ass. Or something like that.

Anyway, I think it may be pointless to compare the risks assumed by men versus those of women. But there's an argument being made in this thread that men have little to gain from the marriage contract, versus living single. Before we become endlessly bogged down in the battle of the sexes, I wanted to highlight that.
posted by scarabic at 3:21 PM on October 14, 2003


want so badly to be near him all the time that it almost hurts

Also, that sounds like something you might want to take some antibiotics for.
posted by xmutex at 3:23 PM on October 14, 2003


It's like comparing your significant other with dessert - not really necessary, but you want it anyway. Romance must be dead.

On the contrary. Being with someone because you want to is far more romantic than being with someone because you need to. I don't want a partner who needs me to think for her, or who needs me to support her financially, or who needs me to troubleshoot her computer. I want a whole person. That way, when we combine, our spousal powers will be twice as great as those couples who make only one complete person when they are put together!
posted by kindall at 3:27 PM on October 14, 2003


Romance must be dead.

Not to, you know, quote U2 lyrics or anything, but they put it like this: I love you 'cause I need to/ Not because I need you. And for once, their maddening ambiguity actually hits on something very true. I don't want my wife to need me; I want my wife to need to love me. And vice versa, of course.
posted by blueshammer at 3:29 PM on October 14, 2003


blueshammer: Whatever helps you sleep at night.
posted by xmutex at 3:49 PM on October 14, 2003


MidasMulligan, well put, by the way.

Scarabic, You are right..who really knows how courts will treat women/men in reversed situations...the whole scenario is pretty new. I guess my point was that women take on a whole shit-load of risk, too. Whether or not they are the breadwinner or the stay at home mom. Who knows what the courts will do?

I have a friend who went through a really bad patch in her marriage. We're talking about 2 years when she didn't even LIKE her husband much. However, they stuck it out and are happier than they have ever been these last years. She is adamant that if they hadn't been married during those two years, she probably would have just broken up and moved out. Being married provided them with that extra thing they needed to work through it. I've always found that interesting....
posted by aacheson at 3:54 PM on October 14, 2003


Put me down for chicken fajita or chicken melt.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 3:58 PM on October 14, 2003


One thing I'd like to categorically state: the anti-Family courts are against fathers and children. What is in the "best interests of the children" translates as "what the mother wants". 96% of custody is awarded to mothers. That's a bit biased I'd say. Australia are looking to pass a law that states joint custody as default in the event of a divorce (good news). My own opinion is that if a women wants to initiate a no-fault divorce (and 80+% divorces are initiated by women) then she has to forfeit custody of her children.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:00 PM on October 14, 2003


I would submit that there is very little benefit to being needed, or to needing someone else, even (or maybe especially) if the other person needs you. I mean, while I raise my eyebrows at various pieces of psychoprattle, I think there's something to the idea that dependence is bad, and I've met a lot of dependent-wannabes. Literally needing another person is a good way to foster jealousy, bitterness, unrealistic expectations, etc. As a rule, I think your life is happier the less you need other people, because on a case-by-base basis, people are not sufficiently reliable.

Meanwhile, I yearn for love. I would feel in many ways incomplete without my wife to share the world with. I need that relationship, and I need to express that love to someone. I can't be who I am without loving someone like I love her. It doesn't mean that my wife is replaceable; it just also doesn't mean that she's irreplaceable. I do her the courtesy of treating her as who she is, and not an ideal on a pedastal, by not needing her. As precious as my children's time needing me will be, I will only have been successful as their father when they cease to need me.

Perhaps the way to put it is that love transcends need? I'm not sure.
posted by blueshammer at 4:10 PM on October 14, 2003


Ug, the more I read of that shit posted above, the more angry I get. Example: "Better yet, if you want kids, go to Asia and marry. The women are feminine (consult your dictionary), beautiful, agreeable (consult your dictionary), and don't have cellulite."

Read, "find a submissive and meek woman who won't stand up for herself like those pesky American women who have learned that they have rights and won't be walked all over by power hungry and insecure men. " And, by the way, Asian women DO have cellulite... What a bastard. I wonder what made that columnist hate women so much?
posted by aacheson at 4:34 PM on October 14, 2003


I'm getting married after 8 years of being together because saying "I'm engaged/married" is quicker than explaining to everyone individually --synapse

So you're doing it for other people? To escape a minor annoyance? Hmm....

The concept of "marriage" I think suffers from the same geriatry that the concept of "religion" suffers in western culture, which is that it has become a stagnant concept in a dynamic world. --vraxoin

I agree.

MidasMulligan, that's a nice ode to pair-bonding, but nothing you sing the praises of there requires a marriage contract.
posted by rushmc at 4:45 PM on October 14, 2003


aacheson -

I guess my point was that women take on a whole shit-load of risk, too.

Absolutely, they do. It always seemed to me that marriage was a way of commiting the male to stick around and help her bear the dangers of child bearing and rearing (which she can't just abandon, even if she wanted to).

When it works, this is a positive revolution over the rape'n'run modality of most species gender relations. When it doesn't work, it stands to a certain logic that the male should receive some punishment, or the woman's needs some special consideration.

I wouldn't say this is wrong, but I would advise men to be quite sure before they enter into marriage, as they may have a difficult time getting out of it. Come to think of it, that's good advice for everyone. Case closed.

I know what your friend is talking about. I am not married, but am in a very committed relationship, and no matter how horrible a fight may be, feeling sure that the other person won't quit always provides assurance, confidence, and helps us get through. It also cuts down on my own caprice when I reflect that I am really, truly stuck with this person, and I need to make it work out. More often than not, I decide to put my pride away, which is very good for my self as well as my relationship.
posted by scarabic at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2003


it affects straight unmarried cohabitators as well. None of these benefits are available to you either because the government has deemed your relationship second-class

No, they're all available to straight single couples by walking down to town hall and registering for them. The form for registering for these benefits says "Marriage license" at the top.

I've no real objection to making a domestic-partnership law with the same legal status and benefits of marriage, if that makes people happy. But for crying out loud, all you'd be doing is striking out the words MARRIAGE LICENSE from the marriage license and replacing it with DOMESTIC SCHNOOKY AGREEMENT. Absolutely and entirely all that a legal marriage is *is* the set of benefits and legal statuses. Applying those benefits and legal statuses to a domestic partnership just means that domestic partnership is legal marriage.

I find this much investment in a word, either from domestic-partnership proponents or from defense-of-marriage homophobes, to be utterly irrational.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:57 PM on October 14, 2003


I never agree with MidasM but that was really a beautiful post. And I think there is something about publicly proclaiming your intention to be with someone for the rest of your life that has an impact on the relationship itself. The last LTR I was in, we vaguely discussed marriage-like scenarios, but I was never comfortable with it, which is what pushed me to end the relationship. I realized that if I was sticking around merely because things were comfortable, livable, basically because of inertia, that wasn't enough. I wanted to actively choose my future. Vowing in front of all your friends and having a big party afterward is a way to actively choose a direction.

Moving in together can feel that way, but there are factors of inertia and necessity involved there; you find you're always staying at each other's houses anyway, and it would be cheaper to just give up one apartment, or to find a new place to share - it can happen in an almost accidental way. But marriage has no necessity attached (well, sometimes it does - health insurance / taxes etc may play a part - but ideally): it is done purely for the sake of expressing and solidifying the love between the two people.

SpaceCadet, if you take that column seriously, you are truly a fool; I don't even think it's worth addressing because you're starting from such fundamentally different premises about what a relationship is, what women are like, etc, that we just won't understand one another...
posted by mdn at 5:00 PM on October 14, 2003


In some states, unmarried people, perhaps laid off from jobs and scrounging to pay their bills, are barred from taking on roommates to help pay the rent.

Is this true!?!?! Does the American government really have laws on their books telling people whom they can and can't live with?


Zoning laws. Some places aren't zoned for multifamily rentals, so the people living in a unit have to be related by blood or marriage.

This is most common in college towns where the year-round residents often try to make it hard for students to rent houses in normal residential neighborhoods, for fairly easy to understand reasons.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2003


it is done purely for the sake of expressing and solidifying the love between the two people.

But it seems to me that it is the necessity/usefulness/appropriateness of that approach to "expressing and solidifying" love that is being questioned. I don't think you can steady a fundamentally shaky foundation by applying a new label to it, and one has to wonder what value it truly adds to an already-stable one.
posted by rushmc at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2003


In the case of the guy staying home and taking care of the kids and they get a divorce, the women pays alimony.

My god, aacheson, that's the best laugh I've had all day. Do you still believe in the Tooth Fairy, as well?

The article SpaceCadet quotes is misogynist tripe, but the basic point is sound: in a society with a >50% divorce rate, with most of those divorces being initiated by women, and where the courts rule overwhelmingly in favor of women even in cases where there are no children and/or cases where the woman has a career of her own, a marriage is a bad gamble for the average man. It may be romantic to take that chance, it may be a sign of your devotion, but the fact remains that it's a long shot and statistically you will probably get screwed.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:30 PM on October 14, 2003


> What a bastard. I wonder what made that columnist hate women so much?

Having his children taken from him by one, perhaps? It certainly sounds like it:

> However, the overarching aspect of marriage, the one that
> ought to be part of the dictionary definition, is that Sally will
> get the children. She'll get the house too, but the world is
> full of houses. The kids are the killer.


My own wife suddenly informed me, after seventeen years of marriage, that she wanted a PhD, a career and a divorce. I have never been abusive, I don't come home drunk or chase other women, I am not fat, I don't lie around all weekend watching football, I brought flowers, I remembered birthdays and anniversaries. Nevertheless, she didn't love me any more, wasn't ever going to love me again, and wanted the house sold and the property divided pronto.

By incredibly good fortune my son was legally of age to decide which parent he wanted to live with, and decided to stay with me. My daughter was only twelve and her mother received custody, but the girl fought her mother to a standstill over living arrangements and now also lives with me -- though I still pay child support.

Taking children away from a parent who loves them: is there anything worse you can do to a human being? I don't think so. I'd certainly rather be shot than lose a child. If anyone ever successfully did this to me I have no doubt I would rage against that person until I die. And there would be plenty of rage left over to share with any meddlesome idiot who sided with the child-taker. It's proverbial that a mother will kill or die to protect her young. Perhaps at some point it may be acknowledged that a father can feel the same.

Since I did not lose my kids I now feel relatively benign toward my ex, and not at all poisoned toward women in general. I expect I will marry again. But I promise you I will be looking for a woman from a culture in which the marriage committment is taken a lot more seriously than it is in standard-issue America. Habla Español, señorita?
posted by jfuller at 5:44 PM on October 14, 2003


MidasMulligan, that's a nice ode to pair-bonding, but nothing you sing the praises of there requires a marriage contract.

rushmc ... oddly, prior to marriage, I probably would have agreed. My wife and I lived together for a couple of years before we got married. We both sort of wondered what would change. Certainly day-to-day life, at the level of dinner plans and bills and dry-cleaners, did not. And we were fully committed to one another prior to taking any vows. We were both, however, somewhat surprised to find that marriage did, indeed, change things in ways neither of us expected.

A wedding is a genuinely peculiar thing ... on the one hand, it is two people in engaging in perhaps the single most intimate act possible: Looking one another in the eye and promising to stay together forever (think sex is intimate? ... it is nowhere close to saying "I do"...). One the other hand, this extremely personal moment takes place in the midst of a highly public setting. It is one of the few events in life during which every layer of who one is is fully exposed. We all have parts of ourselves that we open to others in intimate settings, other parts we show our families, our friends, others aspects that form our personas at work, etc., etc. The marriage ceremony fuses them all - from the most deeply private to the most actively social.

Even further, my wife and I both found that we internally relaxed fully around one another after we were married ... but that it was not until we had done so that we even realized we hadn't been relaxed before marriage.

There really is something profound that happens at a wedding. It is hard to explain, but as someone that was in a couple of long term relationships prior to marriage, and was committed to my wife before we married ... it is different after you take the vows. It just is.

Of course, I suppose the spirit with which one takes them probably matters as well. To those that do not wish to marry because they believe they'll get screwed in a divorce, or that their wife will "let herself go", marriage is probably a bad thing, and the vows would likely not have any effect other than to make them secretly feel trapped. For the selfish, the cynical, the misogynistic, or the childish, marriage almost can't help but be a disaster. This, however, is not a reflection on the institution of marriage, but rather the attitude being brought to it.

But for people that are in a long term relationship, that have fully committed to one another, I do believe marriage not only changes things, but changes them in wonderful - and unexpected - ways. To know - with absolute certainty - that you'll stay with someone, and that they'll stay with you, no matter what happens in life over the course of years and years, is a powerful thing. To state that to your mate openly, in the presence of family and friends ... does change things.

It is not a trap, it is a foundation ... not a constraint, but rather a liberation.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:46 PM on October 14, 2003 [1 favorite]


But it seems to me that it is the necessity/usefulness/appropriateness of that approach to "expressing and solidifying" love that is being questioned. I don't think you can steady a fundamentally shaky foundation by applying a new label to it, and one has to wonder what value it truly adds to an already-stable one.

I see your point, but I think a ritual can actually be meaningful. Consider a funeral - when a person dies, you already understand what's happened, you're sad about it, you grieve, but somehow in the ritual of a funeral, you become more involved. Your awareness of the situation is enhanced, your connection to the feelings you're experiencing is strengthened. The picture is clarified.

SImilarly, a marriage ritual forces both members of the couple to make a solemn promise before their community, which allows a fuller comprehension of the choice they're making. They're making the claim that this relationship is not just happening, not just random workability, but that it is truly and fully desired, that both people determinitively want this to continue for their entire lives.

It isn't necessary, and undoubtedly some couples tell one another these things in their own homes, in private or casually in front of friends and family, but other couples just kind of float along, having fun but never addressing their goal. It's these latter couples who benefit from the institution, because it gives them a reason to confront their desires and hopes, and make a choice about whether this is the direction they actively want or one that's just kind of happening to them. Plenty of strong marriages start out with one or both parties not thinking about "forever"; the ritual of marriage brings it to their attention.

I didn't mean to imply that everyone should marry or that it's inherently positive or anything, though. I just think the ritualistic aspect of it can have positive and lasting effects on those who choose to do it. Other people may not pay much attention, especially if they follow a rote version of marriage and don't grasp the meaning fully because the words are so familiar that their impact has faded. And certainly some couples are so open and profound in their private expressions to one another that marriage is merely a way to reveal this to others and celebrate it, without much additional impact on them in particular. But I think the majority of people fall in the middle there, where undergoing a ritual that involves solemn vows and expressions of everlasting love deepens their comprehension of the primacy of this relationship.
posted by mdn at 6:51 PM on October 14, 2003


So the worse thing about being divorced is losing custody of the kids. Not having a marriage license would solve what about this situation? I guess that such phobics should adopt a child as a single parent and then marry.
posted by Charmian at 7:01 PM on October 14, 2003


Thanks for the thoughtful responses, MidasMulligan and mdn.
posted by rushmc at 8:29 PM on October 14, 2003


MidasMulligan - I believe (due to both my own experience, and the experience of others that I know) that there is an entire universe of experiences [...] that only become accessible when one commits to be with another person "for as long as you both shall live", and lives up to that commitment.

Do you realize that you just announced your wife's death here?
posted by NortonDC at 8:29 PM on October 14, 2003


MidasMulligan - Thanks for your thoughtful and interesting responses. I hope you don't mind, but I've found some inspiration for a marriage ceremony I'm performing in a couple of weeks from this response, primarily what you said about the marriage ceremony being an intimate act. I agree, and I think that would be a nice thing to say to the couple when I officiate at their ceremony.
posted by bedhead at 9:04 PM on October 14, 2003


A goodly portion of these statistics also silently reflect *other* demographic trends like where people are living and in what type housing, and housing costs. For example, you can interpolate a major demographic shift just from whether people are living in apartments or houses, and how much those residences cost, as a percentage of income in their local economy.

For example: A couple live with their parents and two children in an apartment--that's all they can afford. Their parents then move out to a retirement community and one of them dies. Eventually, their two grown up children move out and each can afford to live in their own apartment.

From a single "married" household, you now have 1 married and 3 "unmarried."

Or, when a housing subdivision is new, chances are that it is filled with "married" households. But thirty years down the road, that housing subdivision will be to a great extent "singles"--those who have remained, the property staying in the family.

Lots and lots of variables, here.
posted by kablam at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2003


And I think there is something about publicly proclaiming your intention to be with someone for the rest of your life that has an impact on the relationship itself.

Yes, given that you and your social network hold a particular (and probably somewhat idealized) view of marriage. Almost everybody, I think, tacitly reads that promise to be together forever as a promise to be together as long as they're happy with the arrangement. At best it probably means that they promise to put some effort into working things out before splitting up. If a permanent version of marriage were available -- one that required that a person go to jail if they leave the marriage -- how many people do you think would opt for such an arrangement?

That a couple has gotten married allows you to predict that they'll stay together about as well as flipping a coin would. If you're interested in making that prediction more accurately, I'm afraid the variables you want can't be looked up at the county clerk's office.

(I also find it odd that people place so much importance on whether a relationship lasts until someone dies. If you're into monogamy, it would seem to make more sense to worry about choosing a mate wisely and keeping each of you happy in the relationship. If you've got those two things down, then relational stability is probably already in the bag. We have enough people in stable but unhappy marriages.)

a marriage ritual forces both members of the couple to make a solemn promise before their community, which allows a fuller comprehension of the choice they're making.

It doesn't force people to do that at all. I'm sure we all know couples who have gotten married hastily, without thinking through what they were doing.

Research done by University of Chicago sociologist Linda J. Waite indicates that married people are less likely to be victims of violent crimes or domestic violence, they generally live longer...[etc.]

Waite (in my view) has a strong ideological bias, and her work is roundly criticized by most people who study marriage. (I spent a few years in a Ph.D. program studying marital relationships, and I read much of her research.) Recite with me: "Correlation does not imply causation". To the slim degree that her findings make any sense in a causal model, one can see that she has the tail wagging the dog when she turns them into advice. Sure, survey research might show that less domestic violence occurs in married relationships. If you think, though, that it's wise to choose marriage over cohabitation because you think a particular partner will be less likely to physically abuse you, then you have an odd understanding of domestic violence. That's one of her more absurd arguments, but it shows the bizarre leaps of logic she's willing to entertain in service of propping up her agenda.

More reasonably, her findings about married people having more wealth are surely based in the reality that a two-person household will have an easier time financially than a person would on their own, but to suggest that this trumps other factors that contribute to overall well-being is more than a little simplistic. (Also, I know it's shockingly counterintuitive, but indulge me: Ask yourself whether people might be more eager to marry someone and less eager to divorce them if they're making lots of money.)

If a marital researcher is arguing that marriage is either wonderful or awful, your bullshit detector should go off, and you'll probably find better research elsewhere. Relationships are more complicated than that, and they're very difficult to study properly.

On preview: What kablam said, as well.
posted by boredomjockey at 10:38 PM on October 14, 2003


Almost everybody, I think, tacitly reads that promise to be together forever as a promise to be together as long as they're happy with the arrangement. At best it probably means that they promise to put some effort into working things out before splitting up.

Bullshit. Or, more politely: Speak for yourself.

If a permanent version of marriage were available -- one that required that a person go to jail if they leave the marriage -- how many people do you think would opt for such an arrangement?

The threat of jail and permanance have nothing to do with each other. Nevertheless, if such an arrangement were the only way I could spend my life with my wife, I'd sign up for it.
posted by argybarg at 12:00 AM on October 15, 2003


argybarg: It's only apparently true for about 50 percent of those who get married, or at least those who get married in the United States. Not everybody, maybe, but half. It's true for more than half of those who get married a second time, however. And, curiously, there is a pretty strong correlation between the religiosity of particular American states and their divorce rates, Nevada's rate to the contrary nothwithstanding. Methinks the big overarching variables here are probably economics and related stress, along with education. (The South is still the poorest region, after all.) Ritual is indeed important to and in any society, but so is money and economic security and education - both the general liberal sort, and education as regards what marriage is all about.
posted by raysmj at 12:27 AM on October 15, 2003


I am not against marriage at all - in fact, I'm vociferously pro-marriage.

I completely believe in the sanctity of marriage, and that a child should have two parents. The family model has worked for hundreds of generations....only now is it being eroded.

Fred Reed is rallying against feminism, and so am I. Marriage is a risky venture in today's feminist climate. If Fred is against marriage, why is he giving the advice to look further afield for a wife? Because they haven't been poisoned by feminism.

Most people think if you're against feminism, it means you are a misogynist and don't care about women's rights. This either/or scenario makes it simple to attack anti-feminists. Well, let's just say I'm pro-family and pro-children. I'm pro-mother and I'm pro-female working population. I certainly love women.

Here's what I'm against, in terms of feminism:-

I am against no-fault divorce. I am against unfair custody laws. I am against the erosion of the family via feminist-influenced media messages. I am against gender-biased domestic violence laws. I am against gender-biased child maintenance laws - all the wonderful creations of feminism.

Feminism is anti-family, anti-marriage. This is not my opinion, but officially part of feminism's original manifesto - to liberate women from the family and the "chains" of marriage.

Still, I guess I'll just be called a misogynist by the either/or simpletons.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:12 AM on October 15, 2003


Kablam,

Your point to be careful about statistics that do not list all sources and methodology is very well taken.
posted by rudyfink at 2:49 AM on October 15, 2003


I am against gender-biased domestic violence laws

Where do they have such laws? Don't mistake antecdotal "the cops wouldn't believe me" evidence for actual laws.

I am against the erosion of the family via feminist-influenced media messages

What the hell is that?

I am against unfair custody laws/I am against gender-biased child maintenance laws

Whereas I hate fairness.

I am against no-fault divorce

States tend to be no-fault or not across the board. Should the federal government dictate this to the states? Don't they have some ammendment about that one?

In any case, the crowning jewel of your paranoid screed against this imaginary spectre is your ironic ability to condemn rejection of your rigid black/white fake confrontation as being overly black and white:

Feminism is anti-family, anti-marriage ...
... Still, I guess I'll just be called a misogynist by the either/or simpletons.


Misogynist.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:08 AM on October 15, 2003


Well Ignatius, you don't mind if I call you a simpleton then, it seems.

I am against gender-biased domestic violence laws

Where do they have such laws? Don't mistake antecdotal "the cops wouldn't believe me" evidence for actual laws.


Ever heard of "lingering doubt"? False abuse allegations? It's the other side of the coin of domestic violence, where because stereotypes of DV prevail (i.e men are the guilty ones), the police and family courts are abused by women who give false allegations in order to win custody of their children...and all this despite overwhelming evidence that women are just as likely to initiate physical domestic violence as men are.

I am against unfair custody laws/I am against gender-biased child maintenance laws

Whereas I hate fairness.


Well I like fairness. I agree with the original premise of feminism regarding equality amongst the genders. Modern feminism is about priviliges without responsibilities. Modern feminists hate fairness too.

In any case, please tell me how feminism is pro-family (as in keeping it together) and pro-child?

Or perhaps you can just revert to name-calling if you get stuck....
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:13 AM on October 15, 2003


Related book I highly recommend:
"Married To Work" by Ilene Philipson.

Easier divorce is just one angle on this. It's not simply that we've devalued marriage - it's that we now attempt to satisfy the needs that marriage met - community, anchoring, knowledge of self and the sharing of experience - at work and from other avenues.

Feminism is related - but people are extremely mistaken to concentrate on it so damn much. It's even bigger then that believe it or not.
posted by kmartino at 6:13 AM on October 15, 2003


SpaceCadet, so far you've utterly failed to support your assertion that domestic violence laws are gender biased. What you're providing evidence for is that the aggregate of how individual judges have applied the law is biased, not the law (or legislation) itself. Remember that "lawmaker" is a synonym for "legislator," not "judge."

What you're really alleging is that judges apply their own judgement. Well, that's their job. If you disagree with how it has been applied, then work toward achieving fairness in how the law is applied. Focusing on the legislative side instead of the judicial side won't achieve your goals and will set off the BS detectors of those that do know the laws on the books.

And you've surrendered your understanding of feminism to a caricature. The definition of feminism is a political philosophy promoting the equality of the sexes. Think men and women with identical work histories and achievements deserve the same pay? You're a feminist. Think each man and woman deserve equal political representation? You're a feminist. And, finally, if you think each man and woman deserves equal application of the law in the courts, you're a feminist.

Welcome to the club. Have some punch.
posted by NortonDC at 6:31 AM on October 15, 2003


Yes, given that you and your social network hold a particular (and probably somewhat idealized) view of marriage.

I think you've got the wrong idea about my social network... hmm, or well, maybe because it's fairly rare among people I know, and definitely not expected in any strict sense, it becomes more meaningful when people do choose it... I only know a few married people; most other couples live together; I lived with someone for a while; my parents and many of my friends' parents are divorced / remarried (my dad's on #4, and my mom was #2 for him) - so it's not a sanctity thing, or a tradition thing. It's merely the philosophical implications of a promise and a ritual that make it seem like an interesting and significant moment in a couple's life.

Almost everybody, I think, tacitly reads that promise to be together forever as a promise to be together as long as they're happy with the arrangement. At best it probably means that they promise to put some effort into working things out before splitting up.

The question here is intent, not the threat of punishment. If you stand up in front of your community and swear to stay with someone for the rest of your life, I think it's important that you mean what you say. That doesn't mean that you can't change your mind at some later point, that things can't go wrong, but when you make that promise, it seems important to me that you're not adding lots of little predicates in your mind as you speak. I don't know that you should get married if your whole mind is not thinking "I really want this."

I am against gender-biased domestic violence laws

This is an issue which is being addressed; it started out as a women's issue because women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence, merely because of the natural physical advantage men have. Now that it's not a taboo subject anymore - now that domestic violence is recognized as a social issue and not just a personal one - the less common varieties (in homo couples, or perpetrated by woman against man) are coming to light as well.

I am against the erosion of the family via feminist-influenced media messages

yeah, what the hell is that?

I am against unfair custody laws/I am against gender-biased child maintenance laws

again, these are issues that are being worked on. I agree that both parents should have equal rights regarding their children. That is a feminist position - women should not be expected to take up a greater portion of childcare duties simply because they're female. However, if the question is, should the kids stay with mom or move in with dad so step-mom can take care of them, it seem fair to add greater weight to the mom side of things. By traditional rules, women are in much worse situations after a divorce - they've commonly been out of the workplace for a bit and have to struggle to get back on their feet. If they're traditional, the man can just keep working and find a new wife to handle the kids. This seems unfair to women. So the parts you deem unfair are all legacies of pre-feminist women's roles. If you support feminism and the sexes achieve a working equality, these laws will become unnecessary.

Feminism is anti-family, anti-marriage ...

Conceiving of both parties in a marriage as equals, capable of bringing their own ideas and skills into the partnership, is anti-marriage? What is pro-family/marriage to you? What should a woman's life be like in your opinion?
posted by mdn at 6:53 AM on October 15, 2003


You Are a Feminist.

If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

SpaceCadet, by not wanting bias for women and against men, you are, in fact, a feminist.

On preview: What NortonDC said.
posted by jopreacher at 6:58 AM on October 15, 2003


As of Saturday, I will be married to Stacia Richards :)
posted by aaronshaf at 7:55 AM on October 15, 2003


The definition of feminism is a political philosophy promoting the equality of the sexes.

That strikes me as a particularly blinkered claim given the real-world evolution and application of the term.
posted by rushmc at 8:05 AM on October 15, 2003


That strikes me as a particularly blinkered claim given the real-world evolution and application of the term.

On the contrary. That's only the case if you belive 'real world' is synonymous with 'Fox Talk Shows'. Feminism is a political and cultural philosophy. I consider myself deeply pro-feminism and get very angry at the people (mostly male commentators) who promote this skewed vision of it.

Think of it this way: You are a christian. You go to church on Sunday, but you don't make a big deal out of it. You take it to heart and volunteer in lots of church activities to help the needy. But lately, a lot of news stories have been poking up about how most of the American white-suprematist terror groups are radical Christians. Now even homeless people are avoiding your food drive, and you don't dare mention it to your boss.

This is the treatment feminism has gotten in America. Find some nuts, publicize the crap out of them, and make them synonymous with the term.

Maybe you think the real-world evolution of feminism should be rolled back. We should deny women the right to be paid equally, treated equally in public, and lets not forget the right to vote. Those are the real world accomplishments of feminism. Everything else is media white noise.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:29 AM on October 15, 2003


The definition of feminism is a political philosophy promoting the equality of the sexes. Think men and women with identical work histories and achievements deserve the same pay? You're a feminist. Think each man and woman deserve equal political representation? You're a feminist. And, finally, if you think each man and woman deserves equal application of the law in the courts, you're a feminist.


Can I also add:-

Think men and women deserve equal access to their children, whatever their marital status, you're a feminist. Think gender-neutrality when sorting out who pays child maintenance, you're a feminist. Think gender-neutrality interms of application of the law when there's a domestic violence issue, you're a feminist.

So why do many feminists disagree with the above paragraph? Maybe because it's the areas of gender equality that seeks parity on behalf of the male population (why would a feminist care about men collectively?).

mdn:[domestic violence]... started out as a women's issue because women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence, merely because of the natural physical advantage men have.

Yawn. Wake up from the myth already. 123 studies on domestic violence.

Domestic Violence is not a gender specific problem. It's a problem that you can only refine down to the individual - the personality disorder, the drinking problem, the inability to control temper, whatever.

Women use objects and the element of surprise to make up for any lack of physical strength. Not only that, but they are much less likely to be arrested by the police than men are (so more likely to get away with it). Even a man who calls the police because he is the victim of his own wife's violence can find himself locked up. Yes, the victim gets arrested. Work that one out.

You can talk about laws and fairness and how beautifully even the playing field is these days - I'm just commenting on what is actually happening and the way laws are applied.

If feminists are truly interested in equality amongst the genders, why can they never see the inequalities men face? It would be absurd to assume men don't face any inequalities, so why the lack of interest, given that feminists are for gender equality?

Stereotypes prevail. I can certainly see that in this thread.
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:51 AM on October 15, 2003


Say it, SpaceCadet: "I'm a feminist! And I won't let you bigots co-opt that word!"
posted by NortonDC at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2003


Actually, "[t]he gender asymmetry of violence between intimates remains dramatic. The Justice Department has estimated that 90% to 95% of domestic violence victims are women.[202] Compared to men, women were about six times more likely to experience violence committed by an intimate.[203] Female homicide victims were more than nine times more likely to have been killed by a husband, ex-husband, or boyfriend than male homicide victims were to have been killed by their wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend. In 1992 approximately 28% of female victims of homicide were known to have been killed by their husband, ex-husband, or boyfriend; in contrast, just over 3% of male homicide victims were known to have been killed by their wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend.[204] In considering these statistics, it should be kept in mind that they include assaults by women undertaken in self-defense.[205]"

Of course, abused men should get protection from the law as well. The stats you show may indicate men and women have similar impulses to be violent, but from what I could see they don't speak to actual success in harming the victim. My stats do.

[please don't hit me]
posted by onlyconnect at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2003


iFeminism is something I can agree with.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:44 AM on October 15, 2003


spacecadet:Well I like fairness. I agree with the original premise of feminism regarding equality amongst the genders. Modern feminism is about priviliges without responsibilities. Modern feminists hate fairness too.

Well, I'm about as feminist as they come and I think you're mistaking college campus feminism with real world feminism.

I know for a fact that women can be the agressors in DV situations. My brother was a victim, and had the mindset that victims often have. He didn't want to press charges - he was afraid she'd retaliate. His therapist (a woman) urged him to file a restraining order. The police urges him to press charges. I offered to come down, help him change the locks on his apartment, file a restraining order, and stash him in a motel for a couple of weeks.

So let's, see...dyed in the wool feminist tries to help her brother get out of a dangerous situation, his female therapist pushes him to file a restraining order, the police urge him to file assault charges. Doesn't sound that biased to me.

As for marriage, I'm all for it as long as the individuals concerned are doing it for the right reasons: they've met a person who is loving, supportive, caring, has the same interests, and with whom they can see themselves living out their lives happily.

My problem is the pressure that is put on people to get married to fit in with their social circle and please their families. I don't want to be trapped in a bad marriage and raise children in a hostile, unloving home. I was talking about this with my S.O. last night and we agreed that we will get married when we are good and ready. We're tired of being strong-armed into marriage by our family and friends.

As for father's rights, I'm all for them. If a man has been found to be a loving and devoted father, I think it's criminal to deprive a child of the love of that parent. My father was the world to me as a child and I couldn't imagine being separated from him. If both parents are stable and caring, the child should have free access to both of them.

If you want to know what feminists think, try asking one instead of relying on Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage to tell you.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:05 AM on October 15, 2003


Another way of looking at the statistics shows less of a gap, since death by homicide rates are significantly higher for men than women. Please don't use funky statistics to support your claims.
posted by cardboard at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2003


Everything else is media white noise.

That simply isn't so. A movement is defined by its leaders, not by people sitting at home watching tv and daydreaming of mindsets and ideals from 50 years ago. You may want to call the basic belief in gender equality "feminism," but you've been co-opted long since.
posted by rushmc at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2003


That's a good point, cardboard. Women are murdered alot less than men, so when they are, proportionally, it's more likely to be by an intimate. Domestic violence is a big fish in the small pond of female homicide, and a small fish in the big pond of male homicide. Even when you look at pure numbers rather than percentages, though, as the charts based on your stats show, more than twice as many women are murdered by an intimate than men.

I don't mean to belittle the problem of domestic violence for men, though. I wouldn't be surprised if male victims of DV today are having some of the same problems of being taken seriously by the police, courts, and society generally as female DV victims experienced about 15 years ago (echolalia67's example excepted). So maybe hypervigilance for male DV would be appropriate, even if the numbers and percentages of male victims are smaller.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2003


That simply isn't so. A movement is defined by its leaders...

But that's exactly what I'm saying. A movement is defined by it's leaders. And if anybody is taking tv's word for this, I think it's you, rushmc. Read Bitch, read EM. Christ, read Bust or Jane.

Anyway, this is really getting OT, but realize when you claim to know about feminism without having done your homework, you sound like you're just about to tip over the edge into a darvon induced 'feminazis' rant.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2003


Well, I trust you don't have a problem associating yourself with it just because the name sounds feminine...
posted by NortonDC at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2003


There's nothing like having 16 comments pop up during composition to alter the context...
posted by NortonDC at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2003


While we're handing out reading recomendations for rushmc and SpaceCadet, I'd like to add "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" by Mary Wollstonecraft, written in 1792; and "Anarchism and other Essays" by Emma Goldman, written in 1917.

A sample:

"It appears to me necessary to dwell on these obvious truths, because females have been insulated, as it were; and, while they have been stripped of the virtues that should clothe humanity, they have been decked with artificial graces that enable them to exercise a short-lived tyranny. Love, in their bosoms, taking place of every nobler passion, their sole ambition is to be fair, to raise emotion instead of inspiring respect; and this ignoble desire, like the servility in absolute monarchies, destroys all strength of character." Mary Wollstonecraft

"The moral lesson instilled in the girl is not whether the man has aroused her love, but rather is it, "How much?" The important and only God of practical American life: Can the man make a living? can he support a wife? That is the only thing that justifies marriage. Gradually this saturates every thought of the girl; her dreams are not of moonlight and kisses, of laughter and tears; she dreams of shopping tours and bargain counters. This soul poverty and sordidness are the elements inherent in the marriage institution." Emma Goldman

Again, these were written in 1792 and 1917, but you only have to watch shows like "Joe Millionare" to see that, unfortunately, the idea that a man's worth is still, in many ways, measured by the thickness of his wallet.

To me, these two writers exemplify true feminism - to become a better person, to live your life according to what you know to be true instead of social convention, and to choose a partner for his character, not because of his earning potential.
posted by echolalia67 at 4:05 PM on October 15, 2003


but realize when you claim to know about feminism without having done your homework

My, what unwarranted assumptions you make.

I think echolalia67 makes my point for me by citing 200-year-old sources.
posted by rushmc at 6:21 PM on October 15, 2003


Yawn. Wake up from the myth already. 123 studies on domestic violence.

a) no need for the condescension thing.

b) You can't claim it's a myth that men have a natural physical advantage. Until about 30 years ago, he was practically given a right to do as he saw fit with regard to domestic 'discipline' - not openly, but police and courts generally didn't feel they had a right to intervene. I agree that as consciousness about the problem was raised by female victims, it came to be seen as something perpetrated only by men against women, and this was unfair to men. In the past they might have simply retaliated or restrained their wives, but under the new social view, doing so could be considered aggressive behavior & get them into trouble.

However, the solution to this is NOT to blame feminism and claim it made everything worse: the solution is to take up the issue just as women did thirty years ago and make sure the social mores adjust to account for this disparity. And I feel certain they will, that in many areas they already are (there are posters and ads about same sex and female aggressor domestic violence around downtown NY, eg). Would it have been better in your opinion if women had never tried to address the issue at all? The man of the house having the right to strike his wife is an old tradition that was simply not being addressed as a social ill, but purely a personal issue.

You may want to call the basic belief in gender equality "feminism," but you've been co-opted long since.

by whom? Which feminist leaders are you thinking of who don't believe in gender equality? Movements may fragment, so that different people claim the label, some of whom you agree with and some of whom you don't, but in that case it seems reasonable to return to the roots to determine the stronger claim to the name... and there are certainly feminist leaders and organizations and publications today that define themselves as concerned with gender equality.
posted by mdn at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2003


Firstly, echolalia67, the sources you quote are at least 86 years old. I wonder what the authors of the books you mention would wonder if they saw Western society in 2003, with it's high divorce rate (mostly initiated by women), low birth rate, high male suicide rate, abuse & divorce industries (for they are industries), day-care centres, and feminists arguing about equal pay while watching their families disintegrate.

Unfortunately feminism has been co-opted by people who choose to demonise the male, calling him a potential-rapist just because of his gender, and the awful assumption that he is violent (see the snarky comment above "[please don't hurt me]"). In divorce, men face huge inequalities:- his children are taken from him and his wages garnished by direct debit from his bank account, whether he is employed or not....and if he can't pay, it's off to debtor prison. Feminism has been co-opted by people who hold the view that women have a moral superiority over men and are more capable of restraining themselves. This mindset has been indoctrinated into the masses over the last 40 years.

Mdn:You can't claim it's a myth that men have a natural physical advantage.

I never claimed THAT was a myth. The myth I refer to is simply that domestic violence is almost exclusively "man beats woman". In reality, DV is just as likely to be initiated by a woman as it is a man. In fact, I actually stated how women make up for the lack of physical strength in one of my posts.

However, the solution to this is NOT to blame feminism and claim it made everything worse: the solution is to take up the issue just as women did thirty years ago and make sure the social mores adjust to account for this disparity.

This just proves that modern feminism (last 40 years) was never about gender equality. If it really was about gender equality, there'd be no need for me to take up my own issues by myself - I'd be a feminist!!

In the news: We've failed mothers who stay at home.

What does a feminist think about the low-birth rate, and it's implications?
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:52 AM on October 16, 2003


This just proves that modern feminism (last 40 years) was never about gender equality. If it really was about gender equality, there'd be no need for me to take up my own issues by myself - I'd be a feminist!!

spacecadet, women who were suffering from domestic abuse didn't necessarily know there were men out there undergoing similar experiences. There is massive cultural evidence for the idea that a man has authority in the house and it isn't surprising that physical discipline did not seem to be completely out of the question in the exercise thereof. Men are generally bigger and stronger than their wives. It isn't some evil feminist plot that this was considered a women's issue - as stats above show, it is more likely that women face it, and historically speaking women were the submissive ones.

Now that new information is coming out, feminists do support fairness issues and men's issues - prison rape, for example, gets attention from feminist publications. I don't know what else you want. Is your argument that the feminist movement should never have begun, or that it should have just stopped after we got the vote, or what?

Feminism has been co-opted by people who hold the view that women have a moral superiority over men and are more capable of restraining themselves. This mindset has been indoctrinated into the masses over the last 40 years.

Well, I consider myself part of the masses and I've never heard this view. But in any event, isn't it worth considering that men were viewed - openly and in important documents - as having moral superiority over women for the preceding 2000 years? From Aristotle's claim that only men can truly be friends because only they have true virtue onward, thinkers either didn't address women or addressed and dismissed them. Positions of any authority in governing bodies and churches and businesses all were off limits to women. We have only had the right to vote for 80 years!

So if there's a little backlash as we adjust to the new scenario, that doesn't seem like the end of the world to me - I'm sure we can sort it out. You have my personal agreement that laws should be adjusted to be fair to the sexes, and I think most women would agree with me on that.

You have a superficial and angry take on what feminism is, and I can't tell what you really want: women to get back to families and take on traditional roles, or true equality between the sexes. These are very different positions. Which is closer to your heart?
posted by mdn at 6:37 AM on October 16, 2003


I think echolalia67 makes my point for me by citing 200-year-old sources.

Argh. And I think you make my point by ignoring my modern ones. Discounting Shelly because it's old is like saying that modern logic can't teach you anything because it's all based on Plato and didn't he think the world was flat?

As for....


This just proves that modern feminism (last 40 years) was never about gender equality.

quotes from the 'last 40 years' :


Does feminist mean large unpleasant person who'll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings. To me it's the latter, so I sign up.
-Margaret Atwood

People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
-Rebecca West

What I am proud of, what seems so simply clear, is that feminism is a way to fight for justice, always in short supply.
-Barbara Strickland

A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.
- Gloria Steinem


In the news: We've failed mothers who stay at home.

You're goddamn right we have. But you know, there's a lot of feminism that involves greater support for women who raise children. And that includes working mothers, single mothers, and the family unit. If you'd like to lay blame anywhere, I'd lay it at the feet of the government. In capitalist societies there's very little incentive to invest in children. Nobody raises their stock price that way.


What does a feminist think about the low-birth rate, and it's implications?

Well, I can't speak for anybody, but here is an interesting article about how the first thing that happened in eastern european countries that were released from communism is that women were blamed for destroying the country because they weren't producing enough children.
You know, besides birth rate, worldwide men's sperm counts are going down, too. Do you want to blame feminism for that too?
posted by lumpenprole at 7:07 AM on October 16, 2003


You know, besides birth rate, worldwide men's sperm counts are going down, too. Do you want to blame feminism for that too?

Contraceptive methods and the feminist ideals of work being more important than family have more to do with a low-birth rate than sperm counts.

lumpenprole, your quotes from various feminists are very edifying. If only words were deeds.

So if there's a little backlash as we adjust to the new scenario, that doesn't seem like the end of the world to me

Are you suggesting that all the children that have lost their fathers and all the fathers who have lost their children were mere sacrifices made at the alter of feminism?

Feminism undermines society using the disguise of "gender equality". It's solutions for women bring problems to society. It has nothing to say on fatherless children for example. but it has plenty to say on equal pay....YET it's the major cause of fatherlessness (via no-fault divorce and the "abuse excuse").

Anyway, feminism has no future, as it's an ideology that is not compatible with a country that has an average of at least 2.1 children per woman - the amount needed to sustain a population.

Interesting dilemma for feminists!
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:11 AM on October 16, 2003


SpaceCadet, I'm still waiting for you to answer mdn's question:
I can't tell what you really want: women to get back to families and take on traditional roles, or true equality between the sexes. These are very different positions. Which is closer to your heart?
posted by NortonDC at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2003


I get everyone's point - I just think it's kind of sad and unromantic to say that if your s.o. left tomorrow you'd be ok with that. It sounds bad. There's nothing wrong with making room in your life for someone so that you need them there with you. If my s.o. left me there would be something I could never fill, and I truly believe that I would never find someone to completely fill that niche. There's nothing wrong with that. Would I live if it happened? Sure it would, I don't require him to live. But my life would not be right without him, and I define that as need, and it's not a bad thing.
posted by agregoli at 10:50 AM on October 16, 2003


I just think it's kind of sad and unromantic to say that if your s.o. left tomorrow you'd be ok with that.

I think you're interpreting "be okay with that" to mean "wouldn't really give a shit", which isn't necessarily the case. Just because something wouldn't destroy your life doesn't mean that it would be easy to get over.
posted by biscotti at 12:08 PM on October 16, 2003


Why should a man get married?

Married Men Are Healthier

Single men risk earlier death

The question is, why should a woman get married?

Only Happy Marriage Is Healthy for Women: Marriage Satisfaction Key to Women's Health Benefits
posted by kayjay at 12:41 PM on October 16, 2003


I can't tell what you really want: women to get back to families and take on traditional roles, or true equality between the sexes. These are very different positions. Which is closer to your heart?

That's easy for me to answer. A strong family is made up of people who are not all exactly the same. They have different strengths and weaknesses; what's missing in one person is made up for in the other, and as an aggregate the family is complete.

"True equality" is a myth pedalled by feminism. It's actually a dystopia. If we really do attain "true equality" then we will all be utterly miserable. Each and everyone of us is unique and have our own natural skillsets. We WANT to do certain things because it's in our nature. If we believe in "true equality" we must ignore what is innate in us, and instead believe our behaviours are 100% nurtured, and nothing is natural. Perfect for brainwashing, by the way.

To answer the question directly, if there are children, I'm a proponent of the child being looked after by one of his/her parents fulltime rather than day-care (and even better if the grandparents are near-by). If a married couple don't have kids, then of course it doesn't matter how much time is devoted to a career. I think my view is actually classically feminist. However, my view is completely in opposition to modern feminism.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2003


spacecadet:I wonder what the authors of the books you mention would wonder if they saw Western society in 2003, with it's high divorce rate (mostly initiated by women), low birth rate, high male suicide rate, abuse & divorce industries (for they are industries), day-care centres, and feminists arguing about equal pay while watching their families disintegrate.

I think they'd say "I saw that coming from a from a mile away." I think that up till now, the institution of marriage was built on a faulty foundation - the transfer of money & property (which in those times meant women too), aligning families based on power consolidation, finding the wealthiest, most attractive mate in order to please family and peers. I think all of the above are the result of this in combination with rootlessness (people moving around to pursue higher-paying jobs), and consumerism runk amok.

I'll admit, stay at home mom's get a pretty raw deal sometimes, hence the term "displaced homemaker" to refer to women who, due to death/divorce or because her kids are grown, find themselves without job skills or a means of support.

Moms in general get hit from both sides - work and you're a cold-hearted bitch who's too irresponsible to raise her own kids; stay at home and you're a lazy unambitious cow who's leeching off a man. The fact is, working class women have always had to work outside the home. Stay-at-home mothering has traditionally been a privilege of the middle and upper classes. Therefore the issue of equal pay is absolutely essential to working class families - if mom and dad both have to work, then it's very important that she be paid fairly so that she and her partner can both provide adequate care to their family. It's as much a pro-family issue as it is a feminist issue.
posted by echolalia67 at 3:08 PM on October 16, 2003


We WANT to do certain things because it's in our nature. If we believe in "true equality" we must ignore what is innate in us, and instead believe our behaviours are 100% nurtured, and nothing is natural. Perfect for brainwashing, by the way.

yes, but what we WANT is not determined by our genitalia. True equality means that you have the right to pursue what you WANT regardless of the presence or absence of certain sexual characteristics. If your claim is that women naturally WANT to stay at home and bring up children, then how do you explain the presence of early feminists? You can make the weak claim now that women are just brainwashed by feminism to think they want what they don't actually want, but what started that movement to begin with? And how do you know that as a man you're not brainwashed by society to want what you don't actually want etc? It's just a bad way to set up an argument.

If your concern is the state of the family, wouldn't issues of shorter work-weeks, community involvement, and government childcare, be more central to your interests than railing against feminism? Children are going to grow up to be adults, and those female children should feel like they have all the same opportunities as their brothers, don't you think? You may believe that women ultimately only want to be mothers, but as a woman, I know without question that this isn't the case, and that I'd be miserable in a society where that was my only option. Believe me or don't, but you have to concede that there's no way you can possibly know what all women want out of life.
posted by mdn at 3:55 PM on October 16, 2003


yes, but what we WANT is not determined by our genitalia. True equality means that you have the right to pursue what you WANT regardless of the presence or absence of certain sexual characteristics.

Most nurses are female. Most car mechanics are male. This is true even though it's perfectly possible for women to pursue a career in car mechanics or a man to become a nurse.

Genders are naturally inclined towards certain types of work. This is proven by what men and women are actually choosing to pursue. This is not nurture or social conditioning (the big feminist lie) but simply nature.

Ideologies are ideologies - nature is nature.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:36 PM on October 16, 2003


How do you know that the choice to be a nurse or a mechanic isn't based on nurture? You ever think that maybe a male is afraid to be laughed at when he answers "What do you do for living?" with "I'm a nurse" or that maybe he'd be denied jobs because of discrimination.

Not only that, women are less likely to be taught car mechanics by a parent or relative and are likely to be condescended to or sexually harassed (in minor ways, but it's the best term I could come up with) in a car mechanics class or job.

I don't think the skills required to be a nurse or an auto mechanic are gender-based... What are the specific skill sets for either job that really differ at a natural level? What is it about being a nurse that would make men worse at it, especially since male doctors have to have the same knowledge, bedside manner, etc.? What is inherently necessary in being an auto mechanic? Nothing that a female would be inferior in.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2003


Oh, and on the original topic, I think the reason why there's suddenly a lot of single people in the job market is because the baby boomers' kids are in their early twenties now -- it's demographic (greater proportion of people age 20-25 = greater number of single adults, assuming those of age 25-30 are more likely to be married)
posted by dagnyscott at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2003


Genders are naturally inclined towards certain types of work. This is proven by what men and women are actually choosing to pursue. This is not nurture or social conditioning (the big feminist lie) but simply nature.

a) how do you have any idea whether it's nature or nurture? That's simply your opinion, but other people claim the opposite... and in the end, whether it's nature or nurture isn't really the question, but whether it's an honest and committed desire, or a feeble acquiescence to a mediocre life. (Yes, people have always had to give up dreams etc, but it shouldn't be distinguished by gender.)

b) what do you make of the fact that there are more male nurses and more female engineers now than there were 30 years ago? Are people somehow being forced to enter careers that don't interest them? Considering there's still some stigma attached to it, isn't it more likely that cultural norms keep people from trying out certain professions? If being a nurse weren't associated with being female, I don't see why plenty of guys wouldn't go for it - it's like being a less academic doctor - especially with the "nurse practitioner" category now available. Also, what do you make of the huge number of professions that seem to be pretty even between the sexes?

c) why would it matter if most women and men did choose to live by traditional roles? The point is merely that everyone should have the choice to do what they want. If men want to be nurses, or women want to fix cars, they should feel comfortable doing so. Perhaps a large percentage of the population would be happy in traditional roles, but some of us would not: do you support our rights to pursue non-traditional roles, so long as we agree to support your rights to pursue traditional roles?
posted by mdn at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2003


>>I can't tell what you really want: women to get back to
>>families and take on traditional roles, or true equality
>>between the sexes. These are very different positions.
>>Which is closer to your heart?
>
>That's easy for me to answer.


Then do it! You still haven't said which is more important to you.

Come on, this is easy, right? You say "Women getting back to families and taking on traditional roles is more important than equality to me" or you say "Equality between the sexes is more important to me than traditional roles."

Quit beating around the bush. Pick one and say it!
posted by NortonDC at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2003


I can't tell what you really want: women to get back to
families and take on traditional roles, or true equality
between the sexes. These are very different positions.
Which is closer to your heart?


Quit beating around the bush. Pick one and say it!


You didn't read my previous post that answered directly your post? OK, I will quote it again (waste of bandwidth):-

To answer the question directly, if there are children, I'm a proponent of the child being looked after by one of his/her parents fulltime rather than day-care (and even better if the grandparents are near-by). If a married couple don't have kids, then of course it doesn't matter how much time is devoted to a career. I think my view is actually classically feminist. However, my view is completely in opposition to modern feminism.

Does my answer f**k up the false dilemma you fed me?

You obviously think the world is black and white according to feminist cartoon dichotomy:Either two parents work full-time, metrosexuality, quorn meals, everyone politically correct in speech.....or the alternative.....wife-beating male, oppressed, abused wife (i.e. "traditional family") - in either case, no individudals, no nature. Nature says people are individuals, nature says there are differences between men and women.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:42 PM on October 17, 2003


The question here is intent, not the threat of punishment. If you stand up in front of your community and swear to stay with someone for the rest of your life, I think it's important that you mean what you say. That doesn't mean that you can't change your mind at some later point, that things can't go wrong, but when you make that promise, it seems important to me that you're not adding lots of little predicates in your mind as you speak.

Isn't "that doesn't mean that you can't change your mind at some later point" exactly such a predicate?
posted by boredomjockey at 9:18 PM on October 17, 2003


Isn't "that doesn't mean that you can't change your mind at some later point" exactly such a predicate?

yeah - I would hope that people getting married aren't thinking "well, I can always change my mind later" when they're saying their vows. This is basically an "intent vs. action" debate over ethics, which is admittedly a difficult call, but I think intent should count for something. I'm all for acknowledging the fallibility and flimsiness of human will, for making pre-nup agreements and having no fault divorces, but I still think you should mean what you say when you make that promise (and being rational enough to recognize that you may change your mind doesn't alter the fact that you honestly and completely meant it when you said it).

SpaceCadet, are you gonna address my points above?

also, if your only concern is that young children have a parent around, presumably stay-at-home dads are kosher, right? What about if both parents work part-time and there's always one of them around? What if the kids are at school until 3 and at sports/activities until 5 anyway, and everyone's home from work or school in time for family dinner? Is that okay? If your concern is really the kids, why isn't allowing each family the freedom to figure out what works for them reasonable?
posted by mdn at 11:55 PM on October 17, 2003


OK mdn:-

how do you have any idea whether it's nature or nurture? That's simply your opinion, but other people claim the opposite... and in the end, whether it's nature or nurture isn't really the question, but whether it's an honest and committed desire, or a feeble acquiescence to a mediocre life.

It's not either/or. We are from nature, and we are shaped by the society we live in. It is nature and nurture. Why must it be one or the other? It is a fact that modern feminism thinks human behaviour is 100% nurtured which is an absurdity. Our very drives (survival/sexual) effect our behaviour and how we think (men have a tendency to enjoy problem solving jobs, women to people-related work). Notice I said tendency and also the word enjoy which alludes to an instinctive natural drive. This is not either/or. It is not black and white. I am all for people doing what they want to do....after all, they're bound to be good at it if they enjoy it. I have no problem with female mechanics who love their jobs.

b) what do you make of the fact that there are more male nurses and more female engineers now than there were 30 years ago?

I've no doubt that is true! However still after 35 years of "gender-bending" work policies, still you see men choosing "traditional male" jobs (firemen*, car mechanics, construction) and women doing taking "traditional female" jobs (teaching, nursing, retail). I agree that people have the choice to do what they want to do - nothing wrong with that. I'm talking about a separate issue though - modern feminism denying nature and how people make decisions based on natural instincts as well as from some social conditioning.

* don't think firepersons is a word yet

c) Perhaps a large percentage of the population would be happy in traditional roles, but some of us would not:

I agree with everything you said on point C. Like I say, when people are able to pick a career they truly enjoy, they will be good at it. We need people to be good at their jobs, whatever their genitalia. I'm against the idea that people are brainwashed into picking certain types of jobs through social conditioning. This is a modern feminist idea that denies yet again the nature in people and how instinctively people simply enjoy things! It's Orwellian to think people are 100% nurtured into behavioural traits. It's like saying we need to be taught that it's necessary to eat food, or taught to be attracted to the opposite sex (or same), or taught what we can like and cannot like.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2003


SpaceCadet, I still don't understand what you choose to support when these two things come into opposition: traditional roles for women versus equality for both sexes.

These two do contradict each other many times, and you are not clearly communicating to me which is a higher priority for you when they are in conflict. Please be as clear as you can since I have not understood your response to this line of questioning so far.
posted by NortonDC at 3:28 PM on October 19, 2003


It is a fact that modern feminism thinks human behaviour is 100% nurtured which is an absurdity.

I have no idea where you got that idea. You have a seriously weird idea of what feminism is.

Our very drives (survival/sexual) effect our behaviour and how we think (men have a tendency to enjoy problem solving jobs, women to people-related work).

so what? Who cares? What does this have to do with anything? If it were determined that there was a tendency among redheads to like PR jobs and a tendency among brunettes to like lab work, would that be a reasonable basis upon which to make rules about who does what kind of work? The whole point is freedom of choice! If you don't have a problem with men and women taking on non-traditional roles, then I don't understand why you're against feminism.

Earlier you seemed to be saying essentially that women had a duty to abide by their traditional roles in service of the unity of the family, whether or not they were happy with that role. Is that accurate? If you accept that some women will not be happy in traditional roles, and do not feel those women should be forced to play the traditional role anyway, then I don't see where your disagreement with feminism comes in. If you think women must accept their lot in order to keep the fabric of society strong, I have to ask, why is it women who must give up their freedom for the sake of the children/society? Why mustn't men be held responsible for this?
posted by mdn at 4:39 PM on October 19, 2003


why is it women who must give up their freedom for the sake of the children/society? Why mustn't men be held responsible for this?

That for me says it all.

It's the men V women modern feminist dichotomy. Forget harmony, forget working together, it's either men or it's women.

It's just like NortonDC completely ignoring my posts and returning once more with the false dilemma that either a women is chained to the home 24/7 or is completely "liberated" and can do as she pleases. Maybe I should summarise as it's too difficult to understand if I elaborate:

Good family = one breadwinner, not two breadwinners.

Notice I didn't use any genders there!!! Can you work it out?

All modern feminism has done is make women work much harder and have less time for their families. Survey after survey, the majority of these work/family jugglers have LESS freedom and are unhappier and feel regret at missing out on closer contact with their children (and hey, let's not forget the children's feelings, remember?).

mdn, you like to use social conditioning as an excuse as to why genders choose certain professions. Would you also then accept that modern feminism has socially conditioned women into believing that a family can consist of two breadwinners? This most definitely is an artificial social construct (there's no other society or culture that accepts this except the modern west).

Do modern feminists ever think about children? Or is a woman's freedom more important? Does freedom carry responsibility?

For me modern feminism answers these as no, yes and no.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:43 AM on October 20, 2003


Teenage girls just want to marry and stay home

A quote:-

"'This survey doesn't indicate that the battles of feminism have been lost,' she added. 'Feminism was never opposed to marriage or children. On the contrary, feminism was about equal opportunities for women to do what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it, which is exactly what these girls are choosing to do.'"

Maybe this is where our opinions meet, in one nice link!!

Nature reveals itself, and feminism doesn't mind.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:11 AM on October 20, 2003


SpaceCadet, I have not posited any false dichotomy, because I have not claimed that the two principals mdn and I asked you to weigh are always in opposition, despite your misrepresentation. Rather, I have asked "what [do] you choose to support when these two things come into opposition: traditional roles for women versus equality for both sexes?"

It's a very limited, simple, straightforward question which you continue to dodge and evade. It does not present any false dichotomy. The only potential flaw in the basis of the question would be if you would posit that those two principals are never in opposition. If you object to the question on those grounds, I'd like to hear why you think that traditional roles for women and equality for both sexes are never in opposition.

Which leads now to a genuine dichotomy, the first posited by me in this discussion: do you, SpaceCadet, believe that traditional roles for women can never be in opposition to equality between the sexes, or are you just unwilling to publicly state whether equality or traditional roles are more important to you?
posted by NortonDC at 4:32 AM on October 20, 2003


What is "equality between the sexes" for you Norton?

What words are you spoon-feeding me?

What do you want me to say? Of course traditional roles creates different roles for mother and father! Does that make it "unequal"? No.

Traditional roles are forged from physical differences between men and women. Women carry their child for 9 months and breast-feed for up to a year afterwards. Children don't see their mother and father as two androgynous beings - they see their mother and father. I think you are carrying the scary notion that both mother and father should have EXACTLY the same roles, just divided 50/50. Can you not see that men and women can play different roles in the family? Different not meaning unequal, different meaning different. A family is the sum of different members that have different qualities. The differences compliment. The differences are not "inequalities". Modern feminism has paved the way for the double-breadwinner kids-in-day-care family with it's "whatever he can do I can do it too" which disregards the original premises of feminism.

What do you make of the link above where 90% of teenage girls were perfectly happy to be the stay-at-home mother? Is it not their right to choose such a lifestyle? And why do you think they want to live that lifestyle? Maybe they actually want to!!! Maybe they've seen that bringing up a family is much more rewarding than climbing the corporate ladder.

It's interesting hearing your view....you are against nature and thousands of years of culture and also against what the majority of the human race instinctively want. It's interesting that people can hold such a minority view, in the context of all human history and the many various cultures around the world today that pay homage to human nature.

You just can't reconcile modern feminism with the need to re-produce 2.1 children per woman to sustain the population. Incompatible.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:30 AM on October 20, 2003


Uh, Space Cadet, what is this "modern feminism" you refer to? I know there are extremists out there, but please don't lump all feminists together - it's not fair. There's no definitive feminism. At best there are general principles - that women should have equal educational, financial, legal, and career opportunities and responsibilities, that she should not be confined to her biological role in life or to society's dicates of what a woman's role should be, that she should have as much autonomy as the man next her.

I agree with much of your last comment - it's true that women should be able to stay at home if they want (or work if they want and let their husbands stay at home). It's true that "equality" does not equal "identical".

But I cannot see that modern feminism is incompatible with raising children. I don't consider myself a feminist anymore - though I did for 15 years - I won't get into that now. But I am aware and endlessly grateful that I live a life made possible by the several waves of feminism. I own my home, vote, have a post secondary education and a career, and intend in a few year's time to adopt a child and raise her single-handed. All good things, and none of it would have been possible for me a hundred years ago.

And I don't agree that the two-breadwinner-child-in-daycare track is either necessarily bad or a contradiction of the principles of feminism. It's more due to economics - for most families it's economically impossible to have one parent stay home.
posted by orange swan at 7:28 AM on October 20, 2003


orange swan, I refer to modern feminism as the last 40 years of the movement. This by far has been the most militant period.

I'm glad feminism has helped you, but for society as a whole, it has mainly caused damage. The family has taken a backseat to career pursuits...subsequently the birth-rate has declined to such a degree that there will be massive welfare/pensions timebomb in most western countries in the next 30 years....and it will take a generation to clear it up too. Drive-thru, no-fault divorce, a direct result of modern feminism has created millions of fatherless children who are stuck with the myriad of identity problems THAT brings (never mind the anguish of the fathers). It's created an abuse industry that is in itself abused by false allegations and the encouragement of "lost memories" of abuse.

Women themselves have lost their identity and place in society. Stay-at-home mothers get such little respect now. They are made to feel that their job is worthless and demeaning compared to a career (when in fact it's the most important job in the world).

I don't buy into your argument that most families need two bread-winners to survive ("it's economically impossible to have one parent stay home"). I think it's more down to social conditioning that women have been taught that they can "have it all" and try to pursue it all. The cost of living hasn't increased enough to support your claim (in actual fact, commodities have never been cheaper thanks to globalisation). It's just an excuse to to say necessity-to-work instead of desire-to-work.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2003


piskycritter says, "The primary purpose of marriage is (and always has been) procreation."

Nope. Not true. The primary purpose of marriage has always been power. Procreation can be an awfully potent path to power but don't put the cart before the horse my friend.
posted by filchyboy at 10:26 AM on October 20, 2003


SpaceCadet, I'm sorry you feel modern divorce causes men undo "anguish" and alienates children from fathers who fail to seek or obtain custody. By all means, let's bring back the old way of doing things, where we both denied women the tools for supporting themselves and gave them no way out of, or any legal power within, marriages that were often loveless, unhappy, and/or abusive, while their children looked on and learned what marriage is. I guess you're answering NortonDC's question about whether you'd choose tradition over equality, even though I still don't think you've met that one head on.

To my outside ear, your championship of high birth rates and stay at home motherhood over the choices that many women today are actually making suggests to me that you feel these women are powerless victims of modern social conditioning who are poorly equipped to make decisions for themselves, and that you know better than they do. I'm just saying.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2003


onlyconnect, the difference between my view and your view is that mine has a future.

What do you think of the idea that 90% of teenage girls are looking forward to being stay at home mothers (see link above?). Everybody seems to conveniently ignore that link.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:00 PM on October 20, 2003


SpaceCadet, I wonder whether you noted another link on that same page, to an article titled "Women Lose White Collar Pay Struggle," and whether you happen see any connection between these two articles.

Of course, when I was a teenager, I really wanted to be Suzanne Sommers. That didn't seem to work out for me as I grew up and learned more about what the world could offer me, but I try hard not to look back with regret.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2003


SpaceCadet - What is "equality between the sexes" for you Norton?

As used in the question, I'm referring to equality of governmental protection and equality of opportunities not eliminated by gross anatomical differences between the sexes (meaning that I am not including breastfeeding, etc.).

I've addressed your question, please answer mine: "what do you choose to support when traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes?"

If you feel unable to answer that question because you believe that traditional roles for women can never be in opposition to equality between the sexes, then I would instead ask you to explain why you think traditional roles for women and equality for both sexes can never be in opposition.

Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days.
posted by NortonDC at 3:01 PM on October 20, 2003


Norton...

Are you talking about governmental decisions based on traditional family or are you talking about cultural assumptions or what?

OK, how about I give an example of a situation where "traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes"? :-

In the event of a divorce, a man loses full-time custody of his children due to the "tender years" ruling (i.e. the assumption that young children are better looked after by a mother than a father). How about that? Not much equality going on there. "Tender years" is yet again a feminist-approved policy....OR how about family court rulings where fathers are assumed as bread-winner when child maintenance is calculated, even if he's unemployed and his ex-wife works? Do you mean that kind of scenario?

In the above cases, they are clearly contradicting true traditional family (even though they are based on traditional family) as they estrange the father (therefore destroying the construct of family) and they also fail to protect the members of the family through rigid maintenance rules (if father cannot afford to pay, he goes to debtor prison, loses job etc - hardly in the best interests of the child).

Can you name another scenario where laws based on traditional family directly leads to inequality? I can think of two, and they discriminate against men. Enlighten me though...
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:25 PM on October 20, 2003


SpaceCadet, (ignoring for the moment that you just defined divorcée as a traditional role for a woman) it appears that you are declaring your support for the position that "traditional roles for women [can] come into opposition to equality for both sexes," by citing examples in which, to your thinking, they do come into opposition.

Having thus discarded the possibility that you see no time when they come in opposition of each other, please answer the original question: which do you choose to support when traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes?
posted by NortonDC at 4:32 PM on October 20, 2003


mdn, you like to use social conditioning as an excuse as to why genders choose certain professions.

I never said anything remotely like that. All I have stated is that I am female, and my interests happen not to match the traditionally female interests. I'm not saying there aren't a higher number of women interested in, eg, fashion, or childcare, than men, but simply that plenty of women, like myself, are not interested in those things, and that the statistics of the majority of a population have fuck-all to do with what the rules of a culture ought to be. It is entirely beside the point whether women as a group have a preference for being stay-at-home moms if individuals within the group have no such preference. And once again, it is the standardization of gender norms that feminism is concerned with, not the percentages of women who make traditional vs. non-traditional choices.

Would you also then accept that modern feminism has socially conditioned women into believing that a family can consist of two breadwinners? This most definitely is an artificial social construct (there's no other society or culture that accepts this except the modern west).

Absolutely not - that's not a gender issue; that's a lifestyle issue - most families would not be content with the budget allotted them on only one salary. You seem to be attributing societal changes that were due to industrialization to the feminist movement. Before industrialization, many families were largely self-sufficient, and children were an additional source of labor on a family farm, rather than an additional expense. In a set-up like that, women and men shared the duties of plowing/ planting / caring for livestock / milking, etc. They probably also both traded for or made clothes, furniture, tools, etc. The idea of a "stay-at-home-wife" wasn't a concept for most people until the post-industrial age.

Do modern feminists ever think about children? Or is a woman's freedom more important? Does freedom carry responsibility?

I imagine modern feminists think about children as much as anyone else, which is to say, when they have children themselves it's probably a major component of their focus. Half of those children will grow up to be women, so I think it's particularly important that they are aware of the options available to them. My mother stayed at home with us when I was growing up, and I felt like I didn't have a real role model. She was smart, and creative, and worked on various artistic projects, but she never got anything significant off the ground, which was disappointing to me as her daughter. She wasn't particularly organized or good at keeping the house in order anyway so I think we would have had a more positive environment if she had had some kind of meaningful work outside the home. Children need loving parents, but they also need people to look up to, and I don't think it's necessary that they're supervised by one of their progenitors 24 hours a day. Other members of the family or community can be caregivers as well.
posted by mdn at 6:43 PM on October 20, 2003


I grew up in a abrasive environment with a seriously depressed, resentful, verbally and physically abusive mother. I also am aware that there is a heavy incidence of mental illness in both sides of the family. Therefore, I don't really want to be a stay at home mother or give birth to children. Not because of feminist brainwashing, rather one of personal circumstances. I don't want to have off-spring that would have to live in a household like the one I grew up in.

Forty years ago, I wouldn't have many other choices. People didn't know much about child abuse or mental illness then. I would have been judged pathological for my reluctance to adhere to traditional gender roles, irregardless of circumstances. Now, thanks to feminism and a better understanding of mental illness, I do.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:53 PM on October 20, 2003


which do you choose to support when traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes?

Can you please give me an example of what you mean? You've failed to do so all this time. Perhaps an example would best illustrate this....and ofcourse, it would depend on the circumstances - why must I always choose one or the other? Or is this another either/or scenario to try and polarise the argument?

ignoring for the moment tat you just defined divorcée as a traditional role for a woman

Did you just skim over my post or something? I mentioned in the event of a divorce there were two rulings that fell back on tradtional family structures that were unfair to men ("tender years" and man-as-default-breadwinner regardless of his actual earnings). Where do I mention "divorcée as a traditional role for a woman"?

NortonDC, I can't help but think you are simply a contrarian, opposing anything I say with an equal and opposite counter-argument. I've already mentioned more than once that I am actually a feminist according to the dictionary definition of the word. I am pro-equality whatever your race or gender. I am very much against anti-family modern feminism that deems equality in a literal sense (and steeped in Political Correctness), and deems differences amongst genders as inequalities. I am against any ideology that places a mother's rights over and above her children's rights or husband's rights. I am against an ideology that creates a no-fault divorce law. The way the Family Courts operate in most Western countries (UK, Canada, USA and Australia I have knowledge of) reflects very much that modern feminism is creating such inequalities.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:31 PM on October 21, 2003


>>which do you choose to support when traditional roles for
>>women come into opposition to equality for both sexes?
>
>Can you please give me an example of what you mean?


I won't, because it's not about examples or anecdotes, it's about principles.

When they are in conflict (and you have already said that, to your thinking, they do come into conflict), which principle outweighs the other: support for having women in traditional roles or support for equality of the sexes?
posted by NortonDC at 2:48 PM on October 21, 2003


I won't....

Perhaps because you can't?

It's important to state examples as it truly depends on the circumstances. My personal judgement as to which I would choose depends on the advantages of each concrete possibility when they are "in conflict". Wouldn't you rather choose the most advantageous possibility than stick to a "principle"? The examples I gave you are clearly ridiculous Family Court rules, totally inflexible and biased towards mothers. Clearly I am against such rules which use the "traditional roles" more as leverage to win children and money than reflect reality. Clearly I've already told you several times that the traditional role of a child being cared for by a parent is better than the idea of both parents pursuing full-time careers.

Do you ever bother to read my posts? I've answered your question several times.

I guess you'll skim over this one and ask the question again.....
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:39 AM on October 22, 2003


Just so you will actually know I've answered your question I'll quote myself:-

Clearly I am against such rules which use the "traditional roles" more as leverage to win children and money than reflect reality.

In this case, I'm very much against choosing the "traditional role" over equality as clearly it depends on how fit the mother is to look after her children, and the earning capabilities of the father.

Clearly I've already told you several times that the traditional role of a child being cared for by a parent is better than the idea of both parents pursuing full-time careers.

Away from Family Court rulings, this is my main point. In the above quote I choose tradition over "equality between the sexes". I prefer a traditional family set-up of one bread-winner, one care-giver. This conflicts with modern feminist's idea of equality between the sexes as it can't differentiate the significance of different roles parents play. They see difference as inequality.

Clear enough for you? Read through this thread and you'll be embarrassed to see I've answered your question several times. Lucky for you I'm the patient type....
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:47 AM on October 22, 2003


So you're admitting to being against the traditional roles if it means the dad loses out, and for the traditional roles if it's to dad's advantage? IE, dad should get to have a job and a life, while mom stays at home looking after the kids, but if there's a divorce, dad should be just as able to get custody, (and presumably allow his new wife to look after the kids while he goes back to his career)? If you're going to root for the woman as primary caregiver, at least give her some motivation, such as a higher likelihood of custody should such a decision become necessary.

Any responses to my points above, esp. re: the role of industrialization, and the importance of female role models?
posted by mdn at 5:06 AM on October 22, 2003


Family court does not come into play until after the traditional role of a woman in her nuclear family is unavailable. Speaking to whatever you disagree with from family court does not indicate your assessment of the value of preserving the traditional role of a woman in her nuclear family because you cannot preserve what is already lost. Responses about family court are another evasion of the question.

So, again, when they are in conflict, which principle outweighs the other: support for having women in traditional roles or support for equality of the sexes?
posted by NortonDC at 5:48 AM on October 22, 2003


NortonDC, simply this: read my posts and give examples of the question you now rhetorically ask.

I thought by responding to my own post in advance would really make it clear for you, but well:-

So, again, when they are in conflict, which principle outweighs the other: support for having women in traditional roles or support for equality of the sexes?

My previous post:-

I prefer a traditional family set-up of one bread-winner, one care-giver. This conflicts with modern feminist's idea of equality between the sexes as it can't differentiate the significance of different roles parents play. They see difference as inequality.


What part is difficult to understand? Is it too general for you? Notice I didn't mention gender here (as I've pointed out several times in above posts).

mdn, where have I ever mentioned that it MUST be a mother who stays at home? This is a traditional set-up yes....but if a husband and wife choose to reverse these roles, so what? Like I say, one bread-winner, one care-giver.

As far as family court rulings are concerned, I could only think of those two examples where traditional roles are suddenly reverted to when making decisions in the event of a divorce. Can you name any more? I'm not for dad at the expense of a mother's rights or a children's rights. I think you're trying to polarise the argument like NortonDC is determined to do.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:08 AM on October 22, 2003


What's difficult to understand is why you are unable to pick one, either:

"When they are in conflict, my support for having women in traditional roles outweighs my support for equality of the sexes"

or

"When they are in conflict, my support for equality of the sexes outweighs my support for having women in traditional roles."

This is the clear, unambiguous expression of how your values play out when these two principles are in conflict that I've been asking for for days in the face of continuous evasions and insults.
posted by NortonDC at 6:56 AM on October 22, 2003


OK, you can't give me an example, it's clear Norton.

You are the one evading my continuous answers! Not only that, you evade my questions too!

I have already told you it would depend on the circumstances. I've given you examples: some where I'd choose tradtional roles, some where equality amongst the genders is in fact more advantageous, given the situation. I've also mentioned that in general I favour traditional roles over the politically correct modern feminist version of equality. Why? A family is more likely to stay in tact, and certainly the children are more likely to have regular contact with BOTH parents. This reason alone is enough.

Counter-question: do people need to choose one or the other in every single circumstance? If I choose a traditional role over equality amongst the genders in one circumstance, it means I must always choose it in other circumstances? Can't I choose the most advantageous to my family? Or must I live by your either/or principle?

Your question is like saying "curry or ice-cream?". Wouldn't it depend on the situation? If I choose curry, you assume I hate ice-cream.

I wonder if you'll actually read this post, or mechanically repeat your question.....
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:42 AM on October 22, 2003


I've also mentioned that in general I favour traditional roles over the politically correct modern feminist version of equality.

Then you're still not answering the question since I've clearly defined "equality" as used in the question and, so far as I can tell, it's not the same as your image of "politically correct modern feminist version of equality."

So, using the definitions I supplied when you asked me to do so, please pick one, either:

"When they are in conflict, my support for having women in traditional roles outweighs my support for equality of the sexes"

or

"When they are in conflict, my support for equality of the sexes outweighs my support for having women in traditional roles."

If you feel unable to do so because you feel the application of either principle may outweigh the other based on the situation at hand, I ask that you demonstrate that assertion by providing an example of each, one where your support for having women in traditional roles outweighs your support for equality of the sexes and one where your support for equality of the sexes outweighs your support for having women in traditional roles.

If you can't demonstrate examples of your assertion the answer depends on the circumstance, then I will interpret that as merely one more dodge.
posted by NortonDC at 3:16 PM on October 22, 2003


I've also mentioned that in general I favour traditional roles over the politically correct modern feminist version of equality. Why? A family is more likely to stay in tact, and certainly the children are more likely to have regular contact with BOTH parents. This reason alone is enough.

Could you explain why you think that a family is more likely to stay intact if its members maintain traditional roles (and also why this is necessarily a good thing - taking into account posts above about the detrimental effects of being a child living with unhappily-married parents)? Because this sounds awfully like you're supporting keeping women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen to keep them from getting uppity and having ideas about improving their lot in life.
posted by biscotti at 4:01 PM on October 22, 2003


mdn, where have I ever mentioned that it MUST be a mother who stays at home? This is a traditional set-up yes....but if a husband and wife choose to reverse these roles, so what? Like I say, one bread-winner, one care-giver.

the fact that you specifically blame feminism for the problems you see, as opposed to, for instance, capitalism, consumer culture, or industrialization; and the fact that you specifically stated that the old model worked for thousands of years, despite the fact that it didn't work that well for women, don't seem compatible with your having a disinterested stance toward gender.

In any event, you never addressed my suggestions above, ie, that perhaps two parents working half time would be reasonable, or perhaps the kids are in school/activities at the same time as the parents are at the offices (or wherever) anyway, or that children may derive greater benefit from having parents with interesting lives than from having a parent always supervising them, etc etc. (Actually, I feel as if you consistently ignore my posts and just jump to points you feel are easy to make...). If both parents are invested in interesting and socially useful careers, why isn't it allowable for them to agree to both make some concessions but neither entirely give up what they work on? Do you feel the same way about a man who refuses to give up his career to take care of the kids as you do about a woman who makes the same choice?
posted by mdn at 8:27 PM on October 22, 2003


NortonDC, I feel we are not having a dialogue here, since you completely ignore my posts. Feel free to elaborate on your chosen question with examples, and let's debate in each example, which is better for the family as a whole. Is that clear for you? I guess it won't be. In other words, let's get specific. I asked you to give an example a number of posts ago, please re-read that post. Otherwise let's just end the debate here as your method of argument is quite frankly demented (and I've been patient not to use that word).

this sounds awfully like you're supporting keeping women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen to keep them from getting uppity and having ideas about improving their lot in life.

Wow, you really don't value motherhood, do you?

It seems that the vast majority of teenage girls and working mothers do value motherhood and their children. And why wouldn't they? Why on earth do women want to have children, only to farm them out to day-care centres so they can concentrate on their career? Shock horror: most mothers love their children and see them as a blessing. They find the role of being a full-time mother fulfilling. Feel free to talk about those who don't want children or those who choose career over children, fine - but you are championing the small minority (and nothing wrong with that) - just don't pass it off as the norm like modern feminism tries to do.

A quote from the working mothers link above:-

"...a third of working mothers thought they would end up in the divorce courts if they and their husband worked full-time while their children were young."

This indicates the stresses and strains working mothers feel trying to do two jobs instead of one.

mdn, I AGREE WITH YOU. I think it would be an excellent idea for parents to both be part-time as a kind of shared breadwinner. I'm just against two parents working full-time. Be it the man at home, or the woman, or both part-time, one full-timer and the care-giver taking a small part-time job - all good to me. I'm simply against the day-care culture where two parents come home, both stressed - both still needing to do the chores around the home - I think this is a major contrbution to the high divorce rates.

I also agree with you that industrialization has had an unstabling effect on the family, particularly in the world of work (job markets more unstable these days) but not to the viscious degree that modern feminism has (I must always refer to it as "modern feminism"). Modern feminism has targeted the family as an enemy to a woman's rights. Modern feminism created no-fault divorce. Industrialization, consumer culture and capitalism at least try to give people bread, water and a roof over their head. They're not actively trying to undermine the family.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:42 AM on October 23, 2003


SpaceCadet, you've dodged and evaded mdn's core question for a week. You acknowledge that mdn's question is "easy for me to answer," and then immediately lied and claimed to "answer the question directly" when you instead willfully distorted her question. You lie and call the question a false dilemma to evade answering it when you eventually acknowledge yourself that it's basis is correct when you acknowledge that "traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes," without answering the question. You dodge by asking for a clarification of the question, get it, and then ignore it when it imperils your ability to dodge the question. You evade by asking for anecdotes when the question is about principles. You claim that the principles you've been discussing for over a week are not strong enough to be consistent because "it would depend on the circumstances," but when asked to provide examples demonstrating your claim that the specifics of individual situations preclude answering the broad question of principles (which you stated a week ago was "easy for me to answer"), you decline even that.

Again and you dodge, evade, distort and lie instead of choosing to actually answer the question. In the absense of a direct answer to this "easy" question, I will only be able to conclude that you are afraid to publicly state your answer to the question.
posted by NortonDC at 7:34 AM on October 23, 2003


Wow, you really don't value motherhood, do you?

Well, let's see - despite your claims to the contrary, your argument still seems to boil down to the fact that you want women in the home with the children, not "either parent", but women - otherwise why would your response to my question be the quote above, rather than "I'm all for women getting educated and having a full-time career, as long as the father stays home with the kids"? You're right, I don't value motherhood in the traditional sense (although that's not really relevant to the argument, since what I said had to do with wondering why you favoured "traditional roles", which, depite your protestations to the contrary, seem to involve breadwinning dad and stay-at-home-mom - how else would you define "traditional roles"? It sure isn't Mr. Mom and career wife), because I don't agree with traditional definitions of what a family is, or those who tout them as the ideal, when it seems obvious to me that all manner of families can work equally well, it's not who occupies what role, or even how many are involved or their genders, but the amount of love, caring, understanding and involvement that matters - just because a family is traditional doesn't mean it works or is good for those in it, a parent is not a good parent just because they stay home with the kids, a parent is not a bad parent because they send their kids to a good daycare. I value caring, loving, understanding and involved parenting, regardless of who does it.

I don't know how you're defining "motherhood" in the sentence above if not in the traditional, stay at home and bake cookies in your immaculate house, sense. I have no problem with women who do that, what I have a problem with is people who think that's where women belong, or that women are the only ones who can do that job, or that women who work and have kids are somehow lesser mothers than those who don't, and what you've been saying in this thread (regardless of how many times you explain, you keep coming back to "traditional roles") seems to make you out to be someone who thinks just that.
posted by biscotti at 8:40 AM on October 23, 2003


NortonDC, you have been one step removed from the debate for sometime now - instead of actually debating about marriage and feminism (as this thread has become) you've instead talked about the semantics of argument, ignored my pleas to state example scenarios of you often-asked question, as each scenario demands decision-making based on it's specific circumstances, not on it's "principles". COMMON SENSE, NO? Your question is as ridiculous as my example of "curry or ice-cream?" no matter what the situation. You demand one or the other for every single situation, which is NOT my standpoint, nor is it anyone else's standpoint, as I'm sure any SANE person would look after the best interests of their family first rather than stick to a principle doggedly to the detriment of their family. You are utterly determined to polarise the argument whereas I can at least see some good points on both sides of the argument of "traditional v equality" (I've mentioned several times I'm a feminist according to the dictionary definition of the word). I've mentioned I'm all for men staying at home and being Mr Mom - better than two bread-winners in my view. Sorry for not polarising the argument there.

Norton, I've actually forgotten what your view is on the family and work since you've become obsessed with a particular line of faulty questioning - maybe you should remind us, in stark, plain English what your view is. Hey, maybe even give us a clear example where traditional roles and equality amongst the sexes comes into conflict, in plain English? I ask in vain....

biscotti where have I ever said women ONLY should stay at home? I've talked about breadwinners and care-givers in non-gender terms. Having said that, MOST women DO want to stay at home, and survey after survey bears this out (see my links). What's wrong with that view?
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:11 AM on October 23, 2003


So, anyone got a theory as to why he's afraid answer the question? mdn? biscotti?
posted by NortonDC at 4:53 PM on October 23, 2003


mdn? biscotti?

Ahh mobbing - very see-through. Bit passive-aggressive of you there.....

Anyone know why Norton doesn't illustrate the blunt dilemma with an example? Actually that's rhetorical - I know why: If you do give an example scenario, it means I can give a clear, concise answer dependent on that particular scenario. You don't want that. Instead you want to mock me for being unable to answer such a blunt false dilemma, which you're milking for all it's worth. Emm, did you not see I can see advantages to both "principles" (your word, not mine), but I believe traditional roles have more advantages for the family in general. Choosing one completely over the other in every single situation is absurd, which your question forces the person answering to do. It's how modern feminism works: literal equality amongst the sexes in each and every situation, be it detrimental to the family or advantageous.

You didn't even tell me if you prefer curry or ice-cream. Come on, one or the other, never both, and it doesn't matter about the situation.

I realise Norton, you're exercising your passive-aggression here, and I've risen to your bait (I can't resist!). Now I will ignore future posts made by you.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:37 AM on October 24, 2003


mdn, I AGREE WITH YOU. I think it would be an excellent idea for parents to both be part-time as a kind of shared breadwinner... I'm simply against the day-care culture where two parents come home, both stressed...

I doubt anyone would claim that they want families to be stressed, but you seem to be discounting the possibility that people could have reasonable jobs that don't take over their entire lives, and that kids could have beneficial experiences interacting with other kids and other teachers during the day - then everyone gets home in the evening and reconnects. Obviously there are plenty of cases where this doesn't work, but I think it's primarily due to the unreasonable expectations many jobs have - ie, to be a doctor or a lawyer you have to be ready to work 60 hours a week or around the clock or whatever, thus making it difficult to be actively engaged with your family. But isn't it just as sad if the kid only gets attention from mom while dad's stuck at work endlessly? shouldn't the solution be in redefining the 'scramble to the top' mentality of our workplaces so that we have time to be human beings, too?

I also agree with you that industrialization has had an unstabling effect on the family...but not to the viscious degree that modern feminism has (I must always refer to it as "modern feminism"). Modern feminism has targeted the family as an enemy to a woman's rights.

well, this is the crux of the matter. Feminists only target the family when it is in opposition to women's rights, which is the issue norton's been trying to straighten out all this time. If there is an assumption that it's wrong to have two people working, that for a family to function, one person has to stay home, it will most of the time fall on the woman to stay home. I mean, to start with, she has the biological duty of carrying and breast-feeding, which could easily be a year out of commission - so it may seem simpler just to have her take on the responsibility. Secondly, many people, like you, for instance, have the attitude that "it worked for thousands of years" for women to stay at home & men to work. For starters, as I said above, this is a bit of a misrepresentation of the breakdown of labor in the pre-industrial age. But that aside, it didn't work for half the population. That's what started the women's rights movement.

So when this attitude resurfaces - that the only way to structure a family is with one parent at home and one scrambling to the top - it seems directly opposed to the feminist ideal. Personally, I would much prefer that the traditional notion of a family fall by the wayside, that various different structures are tried out, that community and attention are prized above constant familial supervision, when the traditional family model rubs against equality for the sexes. That's my answer to the question. What about you? If the only way to achieve equality for women is to rethink what a family is, is that acceptable? Or is the traditional idea of a family more important, and to be defended even at the cost of the fulfillment of some women's ambitions and dreams?
posted by mdn at 9:50 AM on October 24, 2003


Thanks for replying, mdn. But why do so many women today still simply want to look after their children full-time? Is it wrong for them to want to do this? Isn't it natural? If they want to do this, are you wanting to stop them? What do you want? What is your new world order? To educate women that they have been brainwashed and in fact it's NOT natural for a mother to look after children and mother them and breast-feed them? What is it you want? Where do you draw the line? Where does a natural mother suddenly cut off from their children in your brave new world? MDN, do you believe in motherhood?
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:49 PM on October 24, 2003


But that aside, it didn't work for half the population. That's what started the women's rights movement.


And now we have no-fault divorce and 50%+ divorce rates initiated 80% of the time by women. Success? I think not, in terms of the family. Abject failure more like. What is success in your book, when thinking of children, and not only women? What is your idea of success when thinking of men, and not only women?
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:01 PM on October 24, 2003


I can't help but think the estranged children of this world and the estranged fathers of this world carry the same voice. The selfish mothers are a dying breed now. Drowned out by the cries of justice. Worse still, are the women carrying their cross by proxy, in the name of intellectual principle, not physical example- Shame on you - you know nothing of the real suffering you have brought. You know nothing of missing your own flesh and blood like I do. You know nothing of the souls missing out on half their identity like my son does. Shame on all of you.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:13 PM on October 24, 2003


Remember, while it's true that 50% of marriages eventually end in divorce, the rest end in death!
posted by kindall at 4:38 PM on October 24, 2003


And now you have an incling to my personal experience I have brought to this debate, what is yours? Is it only intellectual?
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:41 PM on October 24, 2003


kindall, your humour has come long overdue!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:42 PM on October 24, 2003


Well, there's a shocker: SpaceCadet didn't answer my new question, either.

So I guess it's up to me say why he won't answer mdn's question: because he knows his true answer, that when they are in conflict he chooses traditional roles for women over equality for the sexes, is absolutely untennable for anyone that tries to label himself with any version of the word "feminist," as he does. Knowing that his position is indefensible, he dodges, evades, distorts and lies to keep from clearly and honestly making his position known, because making that position known would reveal his true intent, and he knows it's indefensible.
posted by NortonDC at 5:40 PM on October 24, 2003


It seems to me that SpaceCadet may be unable to be objective about this because of subjective experience. I'm leery of people who think "the family" is more important than the individuals who make it up (as if those individuals' needs and wants don't affect the family as a whole anyway), of people who think that "the traditional family" is something to be prized above all other familial structures (or indeed who don't view anything but mom, dad and the kids as a "family" at all), and of people who think that striving for individual fulfillment and happiness is selfish, especially when it's a woman who does it (as if happy, fulfilled mothers aren't much better mothers than miserable, unfulfilled mothers). I also question why it is that anyone feels that living arrangements are the primary factors in parenting, instead of what seem to be obviously (to me) more important factors like knowledge, awareness and genuine involvement (all of which are facilitated by happy, fulfilled parents, regardless of where they live, or who with). Again, a parent isn't a good parent just because they live with the kid's other parent, and making it difficult for someone to escape an unwanted marriage isn't likely to make them be good, involved parents.

If s child without one parent is missing half their identity, does a child with four or five parents have extra identity? Is it only children of broken homes who are missing half their identity, are children of single parents missing half of it too? I'm sorry for your situation, whatever the details, but I think you're allowing your personal issues with this to cloud your vision about what the effects on your son really are, and where they come from.
posted by biscotti at 7:27 PM on October 24, 2003


The rise of the single masses is also the reason for rocketing property prices. More people live alone than ever before, and while there are not particularly more people than before, the average number of occupants per property is far lower, resulting in a shortage of property, and skyrocketing prices. Marriage, and co-habitation, are mostly useful in economic terms these days. Tax benefits, the benefits of splitting household costs, and so on.

The whole concept of a two person marriage has always seemed odd to me. Humans are tribe animals, designed to live in large groups than in pairs, yet marriage enforces this whole 'pairing off' system, where the two partners cannot, realistically, experience living in a tribe. Interestingly, the Mormons and the Amish appear to recognize this and live, tribally, very well. College fraternities and sororities are also very tribal, and it's no surprise that most of a person's lasting relationships are built up within these tribal environments.

I'd like to see more tribes build up around the single person. Renting a place by yourself can be mega expensive, but if you could rent a room in a large house and be part of a tribe (or 'community', as we say these days) at the same time, you get the benefits of marriage (well, probably not the sex, unless it's a hippie commune) and stay single.
posted by wackybrit at 10:41 PM on October 24, 2003


biscotti, most working mothers are chained to two jobs. Is that ideal?

If s child without one parent is missing half their identity, does a child with four or five parents have extra identity?

People get their identity primarily from their parents. If one is missing or estranged from their family, the child will lose that part of his/her identity.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:22 AM on October 25, 2003


most working mothers are chained to two jobs. Is that ideal?

How is that relevant? Plenty of single parents (I notice you took "single parents" and again turned it toward women, by talking about "working mothers", and I'm pretty certain that most working mothers aren't chained to two jobs, most single mothers might be) work one job and are great parents. I'm sure there are plenty of married couples where both parents work two jobs, too. What do you mean by "ideal"? What's ideal? Two parents? Three? Five? Since I assume you'll say "two", why are two better than five?

And I'm afraid I just don't see what your statement about identity has to do with this discussion either - marriage doesn't prevent one parent from becoming estranged, and forcing people to stay in unhappy marriages certainly doesn't benefit the kids.
posted by biscotti at 6:56 PM on October 25, 2003


biscotti you are going the way of another certain member here, addicted to the counter-argument. I might as well say Paris is the capital of France, just for you to question this.

Now you're edging out into ridiculous territory with the bizarre strawmen you build and attack ("What's ideal? Two parents? Three? Five? Since I assume you'll say "two", why are two better than five?
). This thread long ago lost it's debating edge (I think everyone can agree on that?).

You stand for nothing (rights of the individual, even to the detriment of the whole), whereas at least my opinion is ground in ethics. You can't accept being a parent is a role in itself - you assume being a parent is simply bringing home a wage. Most married working mothers are chained to two jobs (they are the "lucky" ones who "have it all") - I didn't mention single mothers. Most single mothers use the government as a surrogate father.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:59 AM on October 26, 2003


Isn't it natural? ...What is your new world order? To educate women that they have been brainwashed and in fact it's NOT natural for a mother to look after children and mother them and breast-feed them? ...MDN, do you believe in motherhood?

As I believe I've made sufficiently clear, I do not conceive of motherhood is the apex of a woman's life experience, below which any other interests and talents must necessarily fall. Motherhood, like fatherhood, is obviously a rich and fulfilling part of life, but I don't see why that should mean it trumps everything else, so that other opportunities are no longer accessible.

Shame on you - you know nothing of the real suffering you have brought.

I'm sorry life's been tough for you, but if your marriage was one in which the mother took on the role of primary caregiver, as you are convinced all women must really want, then shouldn't she have the right to primary custody in the event of divorce? How is that not fair?

People get their identity primarily from their parents. If one is missing or estranged from their family, the child will lose that part of his/her identity.

people get their genetic identity from parents and can get other parts of their identity from other people, and everything can work out fine. Or they can have both parents and never feel they figure out who they are. You are massively oversimplifying and offering unfounded claims.

Most married working mothers are chained to two jobs (they are the "lucky" ones who "have it all")

If you're counting motherhood as an additional job, why not fatherhood? Why aren't working fathers "chained to two jobs"? If they aren't, doesn't that mean they aren't spending enough time with their families and hence the child is missing half his or her identity?
posted by mdn at 6:49 AM on October 26, 2003


Okay SpaceCadet, whatever. You're clearly not interested in actual debate, but would rather treat this discussion like a chair to pull out from under anyone who disagrees with you, arguing with you is like trying to hit a moving target - I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, not gang up and encourage you to actually cut to the chase and say what you really mean, but it seems that NortonDC and mdn were right after all - any time someone asks you pointed questions, or points out possible problems with your argument, you run around to the other side of the argument and start arguing about something different, or ridiculing people rather than actually backing your argument up with well-thought-out discussion.

I never said that I can't accept parenthood as a role in itself, and I never said anything about its being merely bringing home a wage. Changing or misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier for you to argue against isn't terribly clever debating technique.

It's a legitimate question: why is it that you think that two parents are better than one, but that three or four or five are worse than two? And why is this such a bizarre concept to you? Many societies raise children collectively, and it works very well for them, why is your way better? Or at least, why is your way better for everyone, not just you? As to your comment about how I "stand for nothing", what the hell does that mean? How is taking notice of the fact that "the whole" (by which I assume you mean "traditional family") is better for having happy people in it "standing for nothing"? How is defending single and working parents by pointing out that many do a great job standing for nothing? How is pointing out that the "traditional family" not only doesn't always work, but often isn't the best or only way to raise children standing for nothing? How is having a concern for the happiness and welfare of children, by being more concerned about the happiness and involvement of all their parental figures than about who lives where or who's married to whom standing for nothing? Come on. The bottom line, as far as I'm concerned, is that the children are happy and have loving people involved in their upbringing - how many parents there are, which of them work and their living arrangements have nothing to do with it. To play your game: clearly your concern must be for something other than the welfare of the children, since you're more concerned with living arrangements and who brings home the bacon than about how involved those people are. Merely staying at home with the kids doesn't make someone an involved and caring parent, I think this is something you'll have to accept at some point.

Why is it that you talk about "working mothers" and not "working fathers"? What "ethics" is your opinion grounded in? I'll tell you what it looks like to me: fear of change, bitterness about your own situation, wanting to force people to conform to your views about what's right, rigid adherence to an increasingly outdated and irrelevant ideal (in terms of raising happy children, anyway) and muddy thinking. None of those seem particularly "ethical" to me.
posted by biscotti at 7:10 AM on October 26, 2003


biscotti, like I say, this thread lost it's debating edge a long time ago....I think at the point where Norton started foaming at the mouth with a demented line of questioning that demanded the person answering to choose A or B in every single occasion without exception. It's called a false dilemma. Whether you choose A all the time, or B all of the time, the best interests of your family take a back seat in the name of "principle". I do not stand for such a rigid belief system.

but it seems that NortonDC and mdn were right after all

Mobbing is very tiresome biscotti, and is transparent passive-aggression. If you feel your own opinion can't stand up on it's own merits, (not without support from others), don't throw your opinion around in the first place. I respect our difference of opinion, but your lack of confidence in your opinion is telling.

I never said that I can't accept parenthood as a role in itself, and I never said anything about its being merely bringing home a wage

Then you do agree that working mothers are forced to take on tworoles. Not very emancipating that......in fact working mothers are tired of taking on two roles instead of one.

You show little respect to the various cultures of this world, who clearly value and uphold traditional roles within the family, and frankly, your opinion seems more based on what you've been taught to believe on campus rather than your own belief and experience within the world. You're one of those people a propaganda machine can turn into anything - the message doesn't matter, you just follow it. At least I have first-hand experience of the weaknesses of Family Court, for example. Even my (still) wife agrees and we've both fought against strange rulings in the past. My wife nor I would recommend Family Court for anyone going through a divorce, because of their bizarre custody rulings shaped so obviously by feminist ideals.

It's so strange that NOBODY makes a comment about the survey stating that 90% of teenage girls want to marry and stay-at-home? . Lack of response is telling.....the truth is so inconvenient isn't it?

It's also interesting to note that the only cultures that follow modern feminism are the ones who have a sharp indiginous population decline. The USA is bringing in as many immigrants as it can just to keep it's economy afloat. Britain too. Japan is NOT doing this but instead lowering it's pension pay-outs and increasing the retirement age. All these are very desperate, unstabling measures. What does modern feminism say about the future? Not much, as it hasn't got one.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:59 AM on October 26, 2003


Then you do agree that working mothers are forced to take on tworoles.

Again with this - what about working fathers? How is it that THEY are not "forced to take on two roles"? How many times do you have to be asked this question before you answer it? I'll answer bluntly - most working parents (not "mothers", "parents") handle their lives (not "two roles", but "lives") very well. The ones who don't end up being good parents are that way because of reasons other than the fact that they work. Staying at home does not make you a good parent, working does not make you a bad one - the factors which influence how good a parent you are do not include whether or not you work outside the home. "Force" doesn't enter into it unless there's coercion involved.

You show little respect to the various cultures of this world, who clearly value and uphold traditional roles within the family, and frankly, your opinion seems more based on what you've been taught to believe on campus rather than your own belief and experience within the world.

Oh dear...I don't know whether to be offended or flattered that you think I'm some 20 year old college student. Talk about passive aggression. I have no problem with individual people choosing traditional families, and traditional roles therein (as long as nobody is coerced, and as long as the parenting is good), I have a big problem with people who think that's the only valid familial structure and try to diminish the validity of other, perfectly workable, familial structures, or who think that good parenting comes from rigid structure, roles and living arrangements instead of from education, involvement and genuine caring. I respect what I value: good parenting, I do not respect bad parenting - living arrangements, marriage and "traditional roles" have nothing to do with parenting.

As to what teenaged girls want...if I got everything I wanted as a teenager, I'd be tall, married to David Cassidy and living on a pony farm. Irrelevant.
posted by biscotti at 8:51 AM on October 26, 2003


nor I would recommend Family Court for anyone going through a divorce, because of their bizarre custody rulings shaped so obviously by feminist ideals.

Earlier, you said that the presumption against men was from traditional values, not feminism. Make up your mind.

It's so strange that NOBODY makes a comment about the survey stating that 90% of teenage girls want to marry and stay-at-home? . Lack of response is telling.....the truth is so inconvenient isn't it?

Vast majorities of teenage girls, in all likelihood, want to be married to Justin Timberlake or similarly Non-Threatening Boys. And to be marine biologists or international lawyers or astronauts. And to own a pony farm. And the boys they'll be marrying want to be firefighters and fighter pilots. Teenagers don't know what the hell they really want, much less what they'd actually want as adults, and have little capacity to distinguish between their actual hopes and desires for the future and outright fantasizing, so why should we care about such a poll? Should we be disturbed that so few teenage girls actually do become marine biologists who own pony farms?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:53 AM on October 26, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe, wrong. I stated how modern feminists use traditional roles when it suits them (e.g. maintenance duties fall to men, cusody to women). Modern feminism is about choosing "equality" when it brings privilige, but they will not compromise on areas where men are prejudiced. Modern feminism is about making females more equal than others. Feminism is about equality amongst the genders. You don't see that feminism has been co-opted by a more radical brand? Look closer.....

As to what teenaged girls want...if I got everything I wanted as a teenager, I'd be tall, married to David Cassidy and living on a pony farm. Irrelevant.

biscotti, that made me smile....any survey that goes against your own views becomes "irrelevant". If it had been a survey of 25-year-olds, you'd simply say again "irrelevant - only 30-something women know what they want". You don't like the fact that there are plenty of women who simply like things that you don't. It upsets you that not all women are walking lock-step with your view. Now that you've proven how tunnel-vision your thinking is, I think I can discount any future posts you make on this subject as merely stubborn rhetoric - you aren't capable of balanced debate. I accept there are people like you in this world - after all, your view is over-represented amongst the media outlets. However, you must accept that there are plenty of people who don't agree with you.

Anyway, interesting nobody addresses the peculiar fact that all the nations who follow modern feminism are the ones who have a sharp indiginous population decline. Doesn't bode well for the future does it?
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2003


You don't like the fact that there are plenty of women who simply like things that you don't. It upsets you that not all women are walking lock-step with your view. Now that you've proven how tunnel-vision your thinking is, I think I can discount any future posts you make on this subject as merely stubborn rhetoric - you aren't capable of balanced debate.

I find it ironic that you're accusing me of being incapable of balanced debate, and having tunnel vision - I urge you to reread this thread as objectively as you can. I have absolutely no problem with women who like things I don't, that's your interpretation of my stance (and I honestly don't see how you got that from anything I've posted). The only thing I have a problem with is your insistence that your way is the only valid way (or anyone's insistence thereof). Your continual refusal to actually debate the points can only indicate that either you don't know what your own points are, or you have no rebuttal to my argument. YOU are the one who wants people to walk in lock step with your view, YOU are the one with tunnel vision, I just want parents to be judged fairly, on their actual parenting, and not by arbitrary standards like how well they meet "traditional" roles, or whether they work or not. It seems clear to me that what matters is the quality of parenting, and not who performs what role, or where they live. You're the one who seems to think that living arrangements and traditional roles are more important than actual parenting.

But clearly you're not actually interested in debate, you're interesting in misrepresenting one tiny bit of an argument.

I don't know what you're talking about WRT "indigenous population decline" - are you suggesting that immigration or not breeding are bad things?
posted by biscotti at 11:16 AM on October 26, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe, wrong.

You said the following in this very thread immediately after listing two examples -- women getting custody and men being expected to pay child support. Are you denying that the words that follow mean what they plainly mean?

Can you name another scenario where laws based on traditional family directly leads to inequality? I can think of two, and they discriminate against men. Enlighten me though...

So did you think that these were examples of family courts following ``traditional family,'' or were you lying then, or were you just spouting random noise?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:17 AM on October 26, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe, I elaborated in my last post that the Family Courts used traditional roles arbitrarily to decide custody and maintenance payments. Clearly, this is sexist and in the LEAST interests of the child - it should be on a case-by-case basis. When you decide matters legally in this way, you must be impartial. What if a father is unemployed? What if the mother is the breadwinner? This is an example of Family Courts using traditional roles that directly conflict with equality amongst the genders. Any feminist who truly is a feminist by dictionary definition opposes such sexism. Modern feminists created such sexism. Do you agree that maintenance and custody should be on a case-by-case basis, truly in the best interests of the child?

ROU_Xenophobe, you come late to this thread, but I hope you read all my posts because not once have I mentioned that it must be the man who is the breadwinner. Having said that, a woman has particular duties to their children such as giving birth and breast-feeding. It's not always possible to breast-feed, but it's a fact that it's of great benefit to a child's physical well-being to be breast-fed. This often means a mother really does need some initial time at home. It is often the case that a father can best be the bread-winner as he can continually work - it's not rocket science. I'm not against the opposite where the women has better career prospects and earns more money than her husband - I think HE should take some time out and re-evaluate his duties to his family (i.e. spend more time in the home). I believe family is a balance of responsibilities - not everyone carrying the same roles.

What accounts for the high divorce rate? What also accounts for the fact that 80+% women initiate divorce?

Answer me that!
posted by SpaceCadet at 11:58 AM on October 26, 2003


It's so strange that NOBODY makes a comment about the survey stating that 90% of teenage girls want to marry and stay-at-home? . Lack of response is telling.....the truth is so inconvenient isn't it?

man, how many times have we been through this? No one is saying that women "ought" to choose a particular path - the whole point is that all women ought to be free to choose to do what they want to do (and free to change their minds when they're no longer 14). It doesn't matter what percentage of women want the life you deem best for them; the point is simply that those who don't want it should not feel the least bit pressured toward choosing it.

This often means a mother really does need some initial time at home. It is often the case that a father can best be the bread-winner as he can continually work - it's not rocket science.

Well, another way that it's not rocket science is that it isn't entirely based on engineering and utility. We're talking about people's life fulfilment here. Just because one way might be simpler on a mechanical level doesn't mean it will be best for the long-term happiness of the individuals (all of them, including the children) involved. It's more important to have happy, fulfilled parents than to have the constant supervision of a progenitor, as I said earlier, and others have said as well.

What accounts for the high divorce rate? What also accounts for the fact that 80+% women initiate divorce?

I imagine some percentage of divorces are initiated by women who discover their spouses are cheating on them (and they may still choose "no fault" on a legal level). I don't know if that would account for the disparity b/c I don't have stats on adultery, but it's stereotypically more in the domain of the husband ("other woman" is a more familiar term than "other man", eg). In any case, are you suggesting that women can't be trusted to make decisions regarding their marriages? If it's not working for both partners, change is not necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather have divorced parents than a miserable household held together by law.

And I have to agree with other posters that you seem to evade questions directed toward you on this topic, rather than honestly attempting to consider other angles. I'm not trying to "win an argument" here; I'm just trying to elucidate the concerns of women, like myself, who wouldn't be satisfied in your ideal world, and simply want to make sure there's room for all of us - that choices can be made based on personal and particular goals, not on general or stereotypical goals.
posted by mdn at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2003


I imagine some percentage of divorces are initiated by women who discover their spouses are cheating on them (and they may still choose "no fault" on a legal level). I don't know if that would account for the disparity b/c I don't have stats on adultery, but it's stereotypically more in the domain of the husband ("other woman" is a more familiar term than "other man", eg). In any case, are you suggesting that women can't be trusted to make decisions regarding their marriages? If it's not working for both partners, change is not necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather have divorced parents than a miserable household held together by law.

I can give you a much shorter answer to my question: The person with the least to lose in a divorce is the most likely to initiate it. If the initiating spouse had to walk away from their children, you'd soon see a sharp decline in divorce rates. Interesting that your answer is utterly sexist. Woman suddenly are morally superior to men? Very revealing....

man, how many times have we been through this? No one is saying that women "ought" to choose a particular path - the whole point is that all women ought to be free to choose to do what they want to do (and free to change their minds when they're no longer 14). It doesn't matter what percentage of women want the life you deem best for them; the point is simply that those who don't want it should not feel the least bit pressured toward choosing it.

If I could summarise my entire "rant" here, I'd say that I'm simply trying to balance the distorted views modern feminists push through the media. When you see a report stating that the majority of young women want to get married and be a stay-at-home mum, it actually has a shock value to it these days. Somehow the majority view of motherhood got shouted down by a small radical minority. It's almost become a stigma to be a stay-at-home parent. Why is that? Obviously children are such a low priority....far lower than careerism. Wonder how many people posting here actually have children? You'd be amazed at how much it changes you when you become a parent.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:54 AM on October 27, 2003


biscotti - SpaceCadet may be unable to be objective about this because of subjective experience.

I think there's a good chance you're right about the origin of SpaceCadet's self-contradictory and discriminatory ideas, but I don't think that actually answers the question of why he's afraid to answer direct questions about those ideas. I still think the fear comes from his own knowledge of just how broken an untenable his ideas are. If he completely failed to understand the contradictions, he'd just blurt them all out in innocent ignorance. But he knows his ideas are broken. The problem is that even though he knows his ideas are broken, he appears emotionally unable to let go of them because without the bogeyman of "feminism" that he's built out of his own self-doubts, he'd have to let the blame for the unpleasantness he experienced in Family Court fall where it really belongs.
posted by NortonDC at 5:50 AM on October 27, 2003


Norton, I can't resist since you're such a weak debater:-

How does an idea get "broken"? We have a difference of opinion. We have ideas that differ. Your language is that of a 7-year-old - I feel your argument just gets weaker and weaker, and your language shows that too. Broken, indeed.

Refrerring to someone in the 3rd person when you're actually communicating in an open forum is a bit childish - you suffer too much from the that passive form of aggression I keep mentioning.

but I don't think that actually answers the question of why he's afraid to answer direct questions about those ideas

I wonder if you would supply us with your own answer to your own question? Whether you choose A or B, I can easily build an argument against either as to choose one or the other 100% of the time is absurd. Let me guess: you will never even answer your own question. Now you cannot win. If you fail to answer your own question, you're a hypocrite. If you do answer it, it's so easy to tear your answer down!! I love verbal ju-jitsu. it's so easy to use the weight of your own arguments against you.

he'd have to let the blame for the unpleasantness he experienced in Family Court fall where it really belongs

Getting personal now, eh? People do that when they can't make a serious counter-argument (and you just counter everything - hence it's ridiculous).

To quote myself:-

At least I have first-hand experience of the weaknesses of Family Court, for example. Even my (still) wife agrees and we've both fought against strange rulings in the past. My wife nor I would recommend Family Court for anyone going through a divorce, because of their bizarre custody rulings shaped so obviously by feminist ideals.


That's a little different to your interpretation. Ad-hominem attacks show weakness of argument. If you feel you've got nothing left to say, please exit the thread. You've hardly made an impression on this thread with your actual opinion or view - most of your posts have become ad hominem attacks, one step-removed from what others are talking about.

Now come on, answer your own question or remain a hypocrite.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:40 AM on October 27, 2003


Refrerring to someone in the 3rd person when you're actually communicating in an open forum is a bit childish

Oh, I'm sorry, I believed your statement that you were done communicating with me in this thread. Well, you've shown us how much credibility you deserve...

How does an idea get "broken"? | Broken, indeed.

Another self-negating statement from SpaceCadet! How utterly shocking!


SpaceCadet (6:40 AM PST on October 27): "I wonder if you would supply us with your own answer to your own question?"
NortonDC (3:01 PM PST on October 20): "Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days."


SpaceCadet (6:40 AM PST on October 27): "Whether you choose A or B, I can easily build an argument against either as to choose one or the other 100% of the time is absurd."
NortonDC (3:16 PM PST on October 22): If you feel unable to do so because you feel the application of either principle may outweigh the other based on the situation at hand, I ask that you demonstrate that assertion by providing an example of each, one where your support for having women in traditional roles outweighs your support for equality of the sexes and one where your support for equality of the sexes outweighs your support for having women in traditional roles. If you can't demonstrate examples of your assertion [that] the answer depends on the circumstance, then I will interpret that as merely one more dodge."

And I still do.


Space Cadet: "You've hardly made an impression on this thread with your actual opinion or view"
biscotti: "NortonDC and mdn were right after all"

But maybe biscotti's opinion doesn't count to you because she's, you know, a woman.
posted by NortonDC at 7:29 AM on October 27, 2003


I have an admission to make. I find this all too much fun. I hope I can keep a few of you entertained myself. I can go on and on...

How does an idea get "broken"? | Broken, indeed.

Another self-negating statement from SpaceCadet! How utterly shocking!


Nice try Norton, but I stated your English was broken. Play on words. If you quoted the full paragraph in context, you'd see it.

Norton, can't help but notice there was something missing from your last post.....you know, if you really wanted to answer your own question, you would have done so by now. I explained to you in plain English that it's a false dilemma, therefore I at least give you a reason why I am not answering it. You repeatedly ignore this reason why I am not answering it. You obviously think the question is answerable so why don't you answer yourself, given you know I won't answer it as your "A" or "B" options do not satisfy my own personal beliefs. I don't think they satisfy yours in 100% of situations, therefore you can't answer it yourself. Feel free to prove me wrong (and what a wonderful opportunity to prove me wrong I am presenting to you now).

But maybe biscotti's opinion doesn't count to you because she's, you know, a woman.

Not sure what this has to do with anything, but it reveals the low level you're arguing from. Again, it just sounds like you're running out of ideas here. Is this your way to try and discredit my view? Since I'm against the modern feminist view, I therefore do not value a woman's view? I've been sticking up for the majority of women throughout this entire thread! I've also been sticking up for motherhood, which none of you seem interested in sticking up for. Everybody who has argued against me has a very dim view of children and motherhood. They don't think the roles of being a mother or father are particularly fulfilling. Being a parent is more of an irritating distraction away from the main pursuit of career. I'm stating the opposite view:- Family is important, and end in itself (it seems ridiculous to point that out). Traditional roles adhere to the importance of family. They are not "principles" to religiously stick to no matter what, even to the detriment of the family, but putting family before your own individual pursuits does in itself bring personal satisfaction. It's about giving and receiving. Hardly an earth-shattering, radical view. mdn and biscotti seem to think parents can both be breadwinners and divide up the parental roles without any consequences. I think there are consequences to this. There is our difference of opinion. Again, no big deal - it's quite clear where we disagree on. You've gone off on a huge tangent in the meantime with a question you can't even answer yourself. You're good value, I'll give you that.

Here's an interesting article about an author who had the temerity to question modern feminism. It seems these modern feminists are not very tolerant, despite the name they've co-opted.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:08 AM on October 27, 2003


Interesting that your answer is utterly sexist. Woman suddenly are morally superior to men? Very revealing....

Your assumption was that women started divorces more commonly because they were morally inferior! [greedy, selfish etc]. I was merely trying to balance out the possibilities, and I did not make a claim, but proposed an additional angle to be considered.

You'd be amazed at how much it changes you when you become a parent.

then shouldn't you be grateful that being a stay-at-home dad is now an option? If parenthood is so completely and entirely fulfilling on its own terms, why aren't more men fighting for the right to stay home and change diapers?

I have already agreed that parenthood is likely to be one of the most important aspects of many people's lives, but once again, that shouldn't mean that other aspects of those lives need be eclipsed, and especially not due to whichever gender one happens to belong to. It is worth finding room for your entire self.
posted by mdn at 12:45 PM on October 27, 2003


SpaceCadet - I have an admission to make. I find this all too much fun. I hope I can keep a few of you entertained myself. I can go on and on...

I'm sure that deserves just as much credence as this classic of yours: Now I will ignore future posts made by you.


SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "Norton, can't help but notice there was something missing from your last post.....you know, if you really wanted to answer your own question, you would have done so by now.
NortonDC (3:01 PM PST on October 20): "Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days."

SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "I explained to you in plain English that it's a false dilemma, therefore I at least give you a reason why I am not answering it."
SpaceCadet (2:51 PM PST on October 16): "That's easy for me to answer."

...and
SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "I explained to you in plain English that it's a false dilemma, therefore I at least give you a reason why I am not answering it."
NortonDC (7:34 AM PST on October 23): "You lie and call the question a false dilemma to evade answering it when you eventually acknowledge yourself that it's basis is correct when you acknowledge that "traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes," without answering the question."

SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "You repeatedly ignore this reason why I am not answering it."
NortonDC (4:32 AM PST on October 20): "I have not posited any false dichotomy, because I have not claimed that the two principals mdn and I asked you to weigh are always in opposition, despite your misrepresentation. Rather, I have asked `what [do] you choose to support when these two things come into opposition: traditional roles for women versus equality for both sexes?'"

Everybody who has argued against me has a very dim view of children and motherhood.

False. You're putting words into other people's mouths, instead of taking weeks of opportunities to clearly speak in your own voice on this one question, the question which is "easy" for you to answer, so easy that you've chosen to dodge, evade, distort and lie rather than answer it and reveal what you know to be a bankrupt and untenable position.
posted by NortonDC at 5:23 PM on October 27, 2003


I have an admission to make. I find this all too much fun. I hope I can keep a few of you entertained myself. I can go on and on...

Smells like trolling to me...

I too have an admission to make - I wish I'd never respected your point of view or taken your posts seriously enough to bother replying to them, since you clearly aren't interested in debate or discussion, just ignoring what people actually say so that you can misrepresent their arguments and then make ridiculously meaningless statements about "dim views" of motherhood and children, when the amount of mental gymnastics required to come to that conclusion from what people actually said are worthy of Gene Ray. The only conclusion I can draw from your consistent refusal to answer the questions posed to you again and again is that you can't, and the only conclusion I can draw from your unwillingness to address people's posts, rather than your own wildly inaccurate interpretation thereof, is that you have no counter-arguments.
posted by biscotti at 8:09 PM on October 27, 2003


mdn:Your assumption was that women started divorces more commonly because they were morally inferior! [greedy, selfish etc].

No, you've added that assumption in. I stated a fact. 80+% (depends on survey) of divorces are initiated by women. That single sentence represents a fact, not a point of view or an assumption.

I was merely trying to balance out the possibilities

With the quote above, and your false assumption, you clearly admit it was a sexist remark (it's obvious anyway). Oh, and you dodged my own belief: the most likely person to initiate a divorce is the one who has least to lose. What do you think of that? How many women would divorce their children? Wonder if you'll address that....

then shouldn't you be grateful that being a stay-at-home dad is now an option? If parenthood is so completely and entirely fulfilling on its own terms, why aren't more men fighting for the right to stay home and change diapers?

Absolutely! And what's wrong with staying home? How many times have I said I'm against both parents expressing the right to pursue a career to the detriment of their family? Let me quote myself since you obviously overlooked it:-

a woman has particular duties to their children such as giving birth and breast-feeding. It's not always possible to breast-feed, but it's a fact that it's of great benefit to a child's physical well-being to be breast-fed. This often means a mother really does need some initial time at home. It is often the case that a father can best be the bread-winner as he can continually work - it's not rocket science. I'm not against the opposite where the women has better career prospects and earns more money than her husband - I think HE should take some time out and re-evaluate his duties to his family (i.e. spend more time in the home). I believe family is a balance of responsibilities - not everyone carrying the same roles.


Norton, let go of the bone! >>>>

what [do] you choose to support when these two things come into opposition: traditional roles for women versus equality for both sexes?

Um, the when here I must assume is that this conflict will arise from time to time, situation to situation?

Oh Norton, get the clue....I quote myself:-

I won't answer it as your "A" or "B" options do not satisfy my own personal beliefs

Is that enough clue for you? NO? I'll quote myself again:-

They are not "principles" to religiously stick to no matter what, even to the detriment of the family, but putting family before your own individual pursuits does in itself bring personal satisfaction.

But no, have to be extreme traditionalist or extreme fire-branded Politically Correct equalitarian in every situation when tradition or equality amongst the sexes comes into conflict. No middle ground for you. No factoring in the situation. In fact, no example situations given. Indeed, no answer given by yourself to your own question. Flimsy argument.

I wish I'd never respected your point of view or taken your posts seriously enough to bother replying to them

Well you did, and what's wrong with a difference of opinion?

The Gene Ray link - hmmm, ad hominem attack by association? Why do you bother with such transparently weak methods of argument? You could floor me with an argument about how modern feminism is creating a better society, well-rounded children, and stronger families. Hey, I'm sure you can do it. I'd be interested to hear it.

It is odd that in the majority of my posts, I actually give reasons as to why I have my opinion, but in reply, I am showered with ad-hominem attacks. I can even see this very paragraph being quoted with a single liner below it with yet another ad-hominem attack. If modern feminism is so obviously good, why have I never heard the benefits of it to society, the family and children? Or do these areas matter to modern feminism? If they do matter to modern feminism, tell me the benefits.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:23 AM on October 28, 2003


biscotti:The only conclusion I can draw from your consistent refusal to answer the questions posed to you again and again is that you can't

In terms of Norton's repeated question, you are absolutely correct. I cannot answer it, as I have stated several times. Why do you only now "draw this conclusion" that I cannot answer it, when I've clearly stated several times I cannot answer it!!!

I have addressed the question by stating my beliefs do not match the two possible answers Norton allows me. Each situation merits it's own solution. To stick to a "principle" even if it's detrimental to a particular situation is foolish.

Norton, I even gave examples where traditional roles are used in a detrimental way to the family ("tender years" rulings and sexist maintenance payment decisions made in the Family Court). They are detrimental because they don't judge case-by-case. They are not in the best interests of the child, but are abitrarily judged from looking at traditional roles. I think equality amongst the genders is needed here. I have mentioned this example several times.

To counter that, it's true that equality amongst the genders means that a man or a woman can be the care-giver (or neither). This conflicts with traditional roles. I prefer traditional roles as women can breast-feed a child (this is not a small insignificant matter - breast-feeding is a very regular activiity). Whatever you may say, there is also a particular bond between a mother and child. Modern feminists hate to acknowledge this, and I suspect all of you who post here will deny this natural instinct.

Your question assumes that we must choose one over the other in every single case, no matter what. Clearly the above examples show I support equality amongst the genders in one situation, but traditional roles in another. Neither of your possible answers you give me allow me to address both of the above. I've answered WHY your question is ridiculous on so many occasions, but I know you will not acknowledge this, nor answer you own question (clearly it's answerable since you posed the question - or is it rhetorical?). I look forward to your own answer and ridiculing it.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:11 AM on October 28, 2003


ad hominem attack by association

You're right, perhaps that wasn't fair. However, I stand by the rest of what I said - I can't argue with you unless you argue against what I actually say, and not your own inaccurate interpretations and extrapolations thereof.
posted by biscotti at 9:16 AM on October 28, 2003


SpaceCadet, just to point out a few inaccuracies in the claims you've been making:

The "tender years doctrine" has been all but abolished for decades now, in favor of the "best interest of the child" and other standards. Here is a site that explains the history of this doctrine: how it arose in response to previous rulings that children were the "property" of their fathers, and how the tender years doctrine declined during the seventies (in response, btw, to radical feminist notions of equality due to each parent).

Note, too, that the article says that while women seek and gain custody more often than men, fathers who actually fight for custody of their children win 50% of the time. This stat suggests that equality between the genders is actually already achieved when men fight for their rights.

Second, women initiate divorce proceedings between sixty to sixty-seven percent of the time, not eighty percent as you claim. And mdn's possible explanation for this was not sexist, but based in fact: women are cheated on, abused [see above], or just unhappy in marriage at higher rates than men.

I don't doubt that you'll respond to this by saying, "well, what about this fact, or this one over here, why doesn't anyone respond to that? I post this not to be exhaustive, but merely to point out that many of your unsupported assertions are, in fact, false.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:01 AM on October 28, 2003


Second, women initiate divorce proceedings between sixty to sixty-seven percent of the time, not eighty percent as you claim.

I'd also like to add that women often have the MOST to lose from divorce, as women's financial situations are usually horrendous after divorce (often because of their assuming "traditional roles" by staying home with the kids, so finding a job is difficult). They don't have the least to lose just because they often end up with the kids
posted by biscotti at 10:16 AM on October 28, 2003


space cadet, as I've said before, I'm not on this thread to "win a fight". Can you try to just engage in civil discourse?

No, you've added that assumption in. I stated a fact. 80+% (depends on survey) of divorces are initiated by women. That single sentence represents a fact, not a point of view or an assumption.

The way it was phrased was within the context of your claim that feminism has somehow given women an unfair advantage, and you challenged us to explain why so many divorces are initiated by women. You were insinuating that the only explanation was that women were being greedy and vindictive, leaving their ex-husbands in trouble. If you look at the actual numbers, though, the standard of living for women after divorce tends to drop dramatically. All I was suggesting was that there could be other reasons.

What do you think of that? How many women would divorce their children? Wonder if you'll address that....

your two concerns here once again seem to be at odds with each other. You believe it's unfair that men are less likely to get custody, yet you think that women are more likely and better suited to be primary caregivers! If the family is set up traditionally, or if the woman (even if she works as well) is more inclined naturally to care for the children, why are you opposed to women being more likely to get custody when there's a divorce? (you said above "Whatever you may say, there is also a particular bond between a mother and child. ") If you believe that fathers are just as inclined to be primary caregivers and should be given equal opportunity to get custody, why do you think women should take on the traditional role?

As for the courts deciding on a case-by-case basis, this is exactly what they do! My parents both had custody, and I spent most of my adolescence under the care of my father, e.g. I'm sorry if you believe you were treated unfairly, but that is ONE case. Judges judge as they see fit. That's what appeals courts are for.

As for quoting yourself, I responded precisely to that statement already and you did not respond to my response: that parenting is not like rocket science in that it's not mechanical; many factors are involved, including human desires and dreams.

If modern feminism is so obviously good, why have I never heard the benefits of it to society, the family and children? Or do these areas matter to modern feminism? If they do matter to modern feminism, tell me the benefits.

we have all addressed this already! Feminism means that female children, male children, women and men, can all learn from one another, and all aspire towards their own goals. Family unity is important, but individuality is important as well. The family is made up of people, and people should not be defined by roles or rules. People should be defined by their own innate potentials and wishes, and the way they interact with those they love and others in their community.
posted by mdn at 12:25 PM on October 28, 2003


onlyconnect: Here is a site that explains the history of this doctrine (regarding "tender years")

Firstly, if you read the entire article, you'd see that actually little has changed in Family Court policy over the last 30 years. The same percentage of women are handed sole custody. Call it "tender years", call it "in the best interests of the child", the same percentages remain (to quote from your own source):-

In 1973, New York’s highest court discarded the Victorian-era presumption that mothers are the best custodial parents for young children. “The simple fact of being a mother does not, by itself, indicate a willingness or capacity to render a quality of care different than that which a father can provide,” the court said. State ex rel. Watts v. Watts, 350 N.Y.S. 2d 285.

Thirty years later, many divorced fathers believe that the family courts have still not heard this simple message. They are fighting what they perceive as an anti-father bias in custody rulings and child support awards, in the disparate treatment of “deadbeat dads” and visitation-blocking moms, in the refusal to vacate child support orders in the face of DNA evidence of nonpaternity.


Now I'm not quoting it out of context. It's actually the very first two paragraphs of your link.

The article goes on to quote the problems fatherless children face.....yet, and to quote directly your article:-

Some feminists and scholars dispute this data, as well as the broad claim that fathers are essential to good child-rearing.

Feminists sticking their oar in, denouncing fatherhood. Let me see, is it their pro-family policy at work here?

Finally the crux of your article, which bolsters my own beliefs and contradicts your post:-

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on maternal preferences, Atkinson believes these holdout states are on shaky constitutional ground. “A presumption that women are inherently better able to care for children than men is not a legitimate, accurate method for determining custody,” he says.

Old stereotypes die hard, though, and fathers’ rights advocates say neutral statutory language has done little to change the courts’ pro-mother leanings. Moms are granted custody in 85 percent of all cases, notes Dianna Thompson, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Coalition for Fathers and Children. She says the expense of litigation and likelihood of losing discourages many dads from even fighting for custody.


Your quote:-

Note, too, that the article says that while women seek and gain custody more often than men, fathers who actually fight for custody of their children win 50% of the time. This stat suggests that equality between the genders is actually already achieved when men fight for their rights.


yeah right. One "survey taken part in 1992 in California". No sources, no stats. Useless. What about the hundreds of thousands of fathers who've battled in vain to win simple visitation rights to their children?

And most revealing:-

Although mothers are far less likely to be ordered to pay child support, they are statistically more prone to be delinquent. Custodial mothers receive on average about 60 percent of their support payments, while custodial fathers collect less than 48 percent.

The whole article pretty much sums up my rant actually....i feel like quoting the whole peice but I'll just link to it instead.

------------

mdn, there's a massive difference between sole custody in a divorce, and a family consisting of a breadwinner and care-giver. Big big difference. You seem to think because I think a women is best suited as a care-giver generally, therefore sole custody to the mother should also be acceptable. I am against sole custody to any parent. There are other ways to organize divorce. I very much agree with Australia and their new initiative to have shared-parenting as default in the event of a divorce. Divorce is a tragedy when there are small children involved, and both parents should do as much as they can to ensure the child doesn't suffer any more than he or she has to. Sole custody awards are largely damaging towards children as countless surveys show. You didn't really think about that did you?

mdn, sorry your last paragraph is so woolly. It's full of very general beliefs that you can attribute more to individual character and personality than an ideology. That's all you can say about feminism? Really???

Modern feminism is about the advancement of females. It seeks privilige and advantage. It has merely co-opted the badge "feminism", which truly fights for equal rights.

------------

biscotti:I'd also like to add that women often have the MOST to lose from divorce, as women's financial situations are usually horrendous after divorce (often because of their assuming "traditional roles" by staying home with the kids, so finding a job is difficult). They don't have the least to lose just because they often end up with the kids

Just shows how little you value kids and how much you value money. For most mums and dads, to lose their kids is like losing their arms. It just shows how you prioritise money over children. Clearly, you'd be quite happy to sell your kids of to the highest bidder.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:32 PM on October 28, 2003


Jesus Christ, what an awful thing to say, SpaceCadet. I mean, Jesus. Just... Jesus.
posted by kindall at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2003


SpaceCadet, I deliberately cited an ABA article that attempts to be fair by presenting statements from both sides. You've simply quoted all the article's pro-dad parts back at me and ignored everything else. In particular, you quote areas noting a "perception" or "opinion" on the part of dads that laws favor women and say this means that "little has changed over the past thirty years." Oh, well, okay, if you say so.

The statistic from the article that you do cite -- that women are awarded custody 85% of the time -- is explained, both by me, above, and in the article itsefl by the fact that men and women agree, out of court, to give women custody most of the time. When men fight in court, they don't do so badly. You say the 1992 California study noted here is "useless." Here is another cite to a 1990 New England Law Review article noting a Massachusetts study finding that when men fought for custody, they were awarded joint or sole custody 70% of the time. At least these are more than mere opinion.

To be clear: You originally said that it was the "tender years doctrine" that currently unfairly prejudices custody battles against men. This was wrong, as this doctrine has been overruled for decades in all or most states. Laws that do favor moms in any way exist in only 5 states, and such laws are likely unconstitutional. While men may feel that they are not treated equally in custody battles, I've cited stats showing that when men actually choose to fight for custody in court, they are treated in a way that does not seem terribly unequal. You cite "hundreds of thousands of fathers" who are denied visitation rights to their kids, but provide no support outside of your own head.

Your rejoinder has simply emphasized my original point, which is that many of your "facts" are mere opinions. You do not, and in fact cannot, support them with actual data, because your "facts" aren't true or are highly exaggerated.

Look, I'm not saying things are perfectly equal in the custody and alimony arena. And I'm sorry about your personal circumstances. But you can't just make things up. If anything, real feminism, which strives to make things equal between the sexes -- the feminism that helped to kill the tender years doctrine -- is trying to help you, not hurt you. As mdn has pointed out several times, it's traditional notions about that special bond between woman and child that are interfering with men's equal treatment here, and you argue in favor of such notions.

And yeah, the comment to biscotti was completely personal and uncalled for.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2003


onlyconnect, I appreciate you are trying to balance your view here (after all, no reasoned debate can ever be polarised, even when people try to force it to be so). We are all potential victims of injustice, and we shouldn't forget that.

The statistic from the article that you do cite -- that women are awarded custody 85% of the time -- is explained, both by me, above, and in the article itsefl by the fact that men and women agree, out of court, to give women custody most of the time. When men fight in court, they don't do so badly. You say the 1992 California study noted here is "useless." Here is another cite to a 1990 New England Law Review article noting a Massachusetts study finding that when men fought for custody, they were awarded joint or sole custody 70% of the time. At least these are more than mere opinion.

I honestly can't explain your figures, but I will believe them. However, the reality elsewhere is different. Why so many angry fathers out there (I recently attended a fathers4justice march in London)? The fathers' movement is increasing rapidly. Why is that? What's the need, when as you say, men can win custody as easily as women? Because it's not happening in practice. Most fathers want their children to have regular access to both parents in fact (as I do, not sole custody).

100 children in the UK lose permanent contact with their fathers on a daily basis. You know, my own wife could have hung me out to dry at the Family Court if she wanted to. Divorce is a hard thing, and there are bitter arguments - how easy it is to use a third-party agent such as the Family Courts to get what you want. My wife saw the light and we have our own arrangements, but first we had to un-entangle ourselves from the Family Courts who had imposed upon us very damaging decisions.

Whatever you say about "in the best interests of the child"....here's how Family Court works (at least in the UK):-

- Default is maternal custody unless the child is at risk

- Temporary custody is nearly ALWAYS awarded to the mother before a long-term decision is made

- Long term decision is often based on status-quo of living arrangements (hence, mother has a massive advantage)

- Joint custody is asked to the mother ONLY. If she refuses this, it's not even posed as a question to the father.

- On the "lingering doubt" policy, a father can lose even visitation rights if the mother alleges abuse. Yes, alleges.

- Visitation rights are not enforced by law anyway. A massive injustice.

These are issues we raised in London last week. A number of fathers are on hungerstrike. From what I've heard in the US, there are up to 250,000 fathers in jail from being in arrears to maintenance payments (many unemployed). Time and again, when there's real men's issues, they get swept under the media carpet. How often do you hear about men's rights? Are we not part of gender equality that original feminism championed? Modern feminists have created a gender war, not a level playing field.

This topic has become a big part of my life due to my circumstances. It might be an intellectual debate for most here, but for me I've seen the power that ideologies wield - particularly when they view you with antipathy. Whatever people may think, modern feminism has undoubtably had a massive influence on modern society, particularly the family. Whether you think it's good or bad is down to your own personal experience. Believe it or not, there are victims of the modern feminist movement.

How quickly fathers are demonised and mothers are protected under politically correct, feminist rulings. How hard it is for a man to convince the law he is a victim of domestic violence. How hard it is for a man to proclaim his innocence when he has been accused of abuse. How easy it is to use the current laws for your own ends if you're a female accusing a male. The joke I've heard more than once is that all women should be seen as potential false-accusers.

The male divorcee suicide rate is around 10 times that of female divorcees (although men's suicide rates are 4 times females anyway). Why would that be? I wonder if modern feminists would play the "nature" card now and say it's simply a male thing, and nothing to do with how Family Courts decide how divorce will be settled? These men are uncles, brothers, fathers, friends of people - part of society as much as anyone else. Are they just cannon fodder?

And yeah, the comment to biscotti was completely personal and uncalled for.

Jesus Christ, what an awful thing to say, SpaceCadet. I mean, Jesus. Just... Jesus.

Yeah, well read biscotti's post again:-

I'd also like to add that women often have the MOST to lose from divorce, as women's financial situations are usually horrendous after divorce (often because of their assuming "traditional roles" by staying home with the kids, so finding a job is difficult). They don't have the least to lose just because they often end up with the kids

It clearly prioritises money over children. Clearly. It states that the financial situation is more critical to winning custody. It side-steps the whole issue of a parent losing their child : a tragedy of THE greatest proportions, that often leads to suicide. It makes me sad there are people like that in this world that think like that. I know people who've lost children on a permanent basis to injustice, and that paragraph incensed me. It belittled the pain of estranged parents by comparing economic struggle as a greater hardship. I mean, just....Jesus....
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:19 PM on October 29, 2003


An article on the fathers4justice march in London (actually it's a sort of critique of it - you can quote heartily from it against my own beliefs, but it's still a good article):-

Only the children are really punished
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:43 PM on October 29, 2003


Of course I should have phrased my comment differently (although I suspect most people understood what I was saying), but my point was that women DO have something significant to lose from divorce, and not nothing to lose as you implied. I'm in no way putting finances above children, just pointing out that many women end up in dire financial straits after divorce, and regardless of anything else, living in dire financial straits is not good for anyone. But you know what, SpaceCadet, you genuinely can't seem to argue like a civilized person, and you've misconstrued nearly every argument anyone's made in here to make your own points seem stronger, so really, the fact that you think I'd sell my children to the highest bidder is just more inane ranting. I'm fairly sure nobody else who read that took it to mean that I was placing finances above children.

As to your estranged parents comment: It's very rare that courts order parents to stay away from children, and only then in cases where the children are in danger. So I have to assume that all your talk about estranged parents involves those who CHOOSE to estrange themselves from their children (and I agree that that's a terribly sad situation). However, I don't really see what solution there is to that. Forcing them to stay? How would that help at all?
posted by biscotti at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2003


biscotti I accept your explanation and in light of that, apologise for over-reacting. I think it's been established about 100 posts ago I'm pretty strident on this issue....I apologise.

It's very rare that courts order parents to stay away from children, and only then in cases where the children are in danger

That's not really the problem. Custodial parents do the estranging. They do the alienating (do a google search on Parental Alienation Syndrome). it's all too common for the custodial parent to be non-compliant to visitation agreements laid down by the Family Court (who suddenly become a paper tiger with this injustice). The mother doesn't turn up on visitation days with child. They are missing. What happens? Nothing! A complaint is lodged and that's that. The law looks the other way and says "too bad!". However, the Child Support agencies look to garnish your wages by direct debit from your bank account since you're merely the biological father. Can't pay? It might be jail for you! You're a father in terms of bread-winning, but you're not a father in terms of simply enjoying and seeing your children. How unfair is that?
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:46 PM on October 29, 2003


Apology accepted and appreciated, SpaceCadet. However evil I may be, I stop short of selling children...at least to unqualified buyers.

I agree with you that custodial parents' denying visitation is a big problem, and one that's terribly harmful and unfair to both the other parent and the children. (I don't really see what it has to do with feminism or marriage, mind you, but I agree that it's a serious problem, with potentially tragic effects, and something that definitely needs to be worked on.) Is it illegal not to comply with visitation orders? If not, it should be.
posted by biscotti at 5:28 PM on October 29, 2003


SpaceCadet - Norton, let go of the bone!

Answer the question! Come on, it's "easy," unless that was another lie of yours.

>what [do] you choose to support when these two things
>come into opposition: traditional roles for women versus
>equality for both sexes?
>
>Um, the when here I must assume is that this conflict will
>arise from time to time, situation to situation?

You indicated that, to your thinking, they do: OK, how about I give an example of a situation where "traditional roles for women come into opposition to equality for both sexes"

SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "I won't answer it as your "A" or "B" options do not satisfy my own personal beliefs."
SpaceCadet (2:51 PM PST on October 16): "That's easy for me to answer."

SpaceCadet (9:08 AM PST on October 27): "They are not "principles" to religiously stick to no matter what"
SpaceCadet (2:51 PM PST on October 16): "That's easy for me to answer."

SpaceCadet (1:23 AM PST on October 28): "But no, have to be extreme traditionalist or extreme fire-branded Politically Correct equalitarian in every situation when tradition or equality amongst the sexes comes into conflict. No middle ground for you. No factoring in the situation."
NortonDC (3:16 PM PST on October 22): "If you feel unable to do so because you feel the application of either principle may outweigh the other based on the situation at hand, I ask that you demonstrate that assertion by providing an example of each, one where your support for having women in traditional roles outweighs your support for equality of the sexes and one where your support for equality of the sexes outweighs your support for having women in traditional roles. If you can't demonstrate examples of your assertion [that] the answer depends on the circumstance, then I will interpret that as merely one more dodge."
...and yes, I still do.

In fact, no example situations given.
It is your assertion that your answer varies according to the situation. I have not asserted that your answer varies according to the situation. That variation is yours to demonstrate.

SpaceCadet (1:23 AM PST on October 28): "Indeed, no answer given by yourself to your own question."
NortonDC (3:01 PM PST on October 20): "Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days."

Flimsy argument.
False. It's not any argument at all; it's a question, one which is "easy" for you to answer, but which you have instead chosen to dodge, evade, distort and lie rather than answer.
posted by NortonDC at 5:24 PM on October 30, 2003


Norton, if you want to join the rest of us in this debate, please read my posts in their full context. At the moment you're howling at the moon, off on your own wild tangent. If you're sure your question/argument is bonafide, back it up with examples and give your own answer to it. As it stands, you're simply ridiculing yourself each and everytime you post.

I regret saying it was "easy" to answer now....can I admit I am wrong there? I meant to say it's easy to respond to it. Oh well. I regret even attempting to answer it directly by addressing your vague question/argument by giving example situations.....clearly it was a waste of time.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:30 AM on October 31, 2003


SpaceCadet (2:30 AM PST on October 31): "If you're sure your question/argument is bonafide, back it up with examples and give your own answer to it."
NortonDC (3:01 PM PST on October 20): "Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days."

Additionally, you've already acceded to it's preconditions by acknowledging that in your thinking those two do come into opposition, and I've already spoken to an insistence on examples: "If you feel unable to do so because you feel the application of either principle may outweigh the other based on the situation at hand, I ask that you demonstrate that assertion by providing an example of each, one where your support for having women in traditional roles outweighs your support for equality of the sexes and one where your support for equality of the sexes outweighs your support for having women in traditional roles. If you can't demonstrate examples of your assertion [that] the answer depends on the circumstance, then I will interpret that as merely one more dodge."

Dodge, dodge, dodge...
posted by NortonDC at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2003


Norton DC, I think when you get a moment of clarity, I truly recommend a visit to your doctor: mention delusions of grandeur and and narcisitic personality disorder. It's your window of opportunity. All the best.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:46 PM on October 31, 2003


p.s. what are your views on feminism NortonDC?
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:48 PM on October 31, 2003


SpaceCadet (4:48 PM PST on October 31): "what are your views on feminism NortonDC?"
NortonDC (3:01 PM PST on October 20): "Should you need additional clarification from me regarding the question I've asked you to answer, I will do my best to supply it, but I will not address your separate questions to me until you have answered this question I have been posing for days."
posted by NortonDC at 5:20 PM on November 2, 2003


OK, Norton I arbitrarily choose traidtional roles for your question.

Now answer all of my questions raised. Thank you in advance.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:37 AM on November 3, 2003


Arbitrary (?) answers:

Yes, your positions really are misogynistic, and yes, they really do spring from fears of inadequacy. Yes, your positions are shot through with conveniently self-serving sexism. Yes, it has been cowardly to dodge the question, as you are still trying to do.
posted by NortonDC at 5:05 PM on November 3, 2003


Yes, it has been cowardly to dodge the question, as you are still trying to do.


Norton, I've answered your question for which there are only two possible answers:

a) Traditional roles
b) Equality for both sexes

I picked a).

Now how much more can I possibly answer your question?

Please answer all of the questions I've raised, since you promised you'd reply only after I answered your dilemma.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:43 AM on November 5, 2003


SpaceCadet, you're involved in Fathers 4 Justice? You guys were on NPR in the US today, because the Spiderman protester David Chick came down from the giant crane that was causing havoc with London traffic.

[Insert Spiderman quote-of-choice here]
posted by onlyconnect at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2003


yes onlyconnect, and some photos of Spiderman here.

It was only that he held up the traffic over Tower Bridge that it made news in the first place. It's an indication that protest only really makes the news when it affects the economy in some way.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:42 PM on November 5, 2003


You've already declared your answer to be arbitrary, and therefore unreliable and potentially dishonest. That doesn't merit any action on my part.

Answer the question clearly and explicitly, and convincingly declare that answer to be your true and heartfelt position. Given your firmly established history of lying and misrepsentation, I will be difficult to convince, but feel free to try. You may find honesty rewarding.
posted by NortonDC at 6:00 PM on November 5, 2003


Answer the question clearly and explicitly, and convincingly declare that answer to be your true and heartfelt position

Now that I haven't "dodged" it, but answered it, it's not "heartfelt" enough.

Seems you are dodging the responsibility of answering all the questions you'd promise you'd reply to after I answered your question!

Dodge, dodge, dodge!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:22 AM on November 6, 2003


OK, Norton I arbitrarily choose traidtional roles for your question.

That's the answer you're referring to, and it reeks of insincerity. An insincere answer is another dodge. Insincerity is completely in character, and completely insufficient.
posted by NortonDC at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2003


OK, Norton I choose traditional roles in the situation where they come into conflict with equality between the sexes. No irony, no nothing. Straight answer.

Now answer my questions.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:24 AM on November 7, 2003


Answers to all the questions that you directed at me that appeared prior to my indication that I would answer them:

**
Think men and women deserve equal access to their children, whatever their marital status, you're a feminist. Think gender-neutrality when sorting out who pays child maintenance, you're a feminist. Think gender-neutrality interms of application of the law when there's a domestic violence issue, you're a feminist.

So why do many feminists disagree with the above paragraph?
**
I don't know that many feminists do, since I've never encountered any espousing those positions.

If feminists are truly interested in equality amongst the genders, why can they never see the inequalities men face?
False statement. The existence of a single feminist, such as myself, that sees discrimination applied to men invalidates your statement.

It would be absurd to assume men don't face any inequalities, so why the lack of interest, given that feminists are for gender equality?
Whether your question concerns me in particular or feminists as a whole, it's founded upon the false assumption that I have no interest in equality for men. If I'm interested in equality, then that automatically applies to both sexes of humanity. You understand the word "equal," right?

Does my answer f**k up the false dilemma you fed me?
No, because, as you have clearly demonstrated subsequently, the question was not a false dilemma and this question was based on another lie of yours.

What is "equality between the sexes" for you Norton?
Answered.

What words are you spoon-feeding me?
None, I've been asking a single question that hinges upon your sexist bigotry, which you only recently openly declared.

What do you want me to say?
"I, Andrew Lang, am a sexist bigot that wants to stack the deck to protect my own personal desires at the expense of half of humanity."

Of course traditional roles creates different roles for mother and father! Does that make it "unequal"? No.
Apparently this was another lie. I'll let you continue to sort out your own answer before addressing this one.
posted by NortonDC at 3:16 PM on November 8, 2003


Whether your question concerns me in particular or feminists as a whole, it's founded upon the false assumption that I have no interest in equality for men. If I'm interested in equality, then that automatically applies to both sexes of humanity. You understand the word "equal," right?

"Equality" is a term used disingenuously by modern feminists. It's a synonym for "privilige" and "advantage".

It's interesting you didn't admit the male gender faces sexual inequalities until about your 40th post on this thread (does it hurt to admit this?).

Knowing that, I feel I have achieved my objectives on this thread.

Thank you.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:02 AM on November 9, 2003


Addendum:-

Manic Street Preachers - PCP (1994):-

Teacher starve your child, p.c. approved
As long as the right words are used
Systemised atrocity ignored
As long as bi-lingual signs on view
Ten foot sign in oxford street
Be pure - be vigilant - behave
Grey not neon, grey not real
Life bleeds, death is your birthright
P.c. she speaks impotent, sterile, naïve, blind, atheist, sadist, stiff-upper lip, first principle of her silence, of her silence
Pcp - a p.c. police victory
Pcp - a p.c. phyrric victory
When I was young p.c. meant police constable
Nowadays I can’t seem to tell the difference
Liposuction for your bad mouth boy
Cut out your tongue, effigies are sold
Words discoloured, bow to the bland
Heal yourself with sinner’s salt
Doctors arrested for euthanasia
Kill smokers through blind vanity
If you’re fat don’t get ill
Europe’s gravestone carved in plastic
P.c. she says inoculate, hallucinate, beware shakespeare, bring fresh air, king cigarette snuffed out by her midgets, by her midgets
Pcp - a p.c. police victory
Pcp - a p.c. pyrrhic victory
When I was young p.c. meant police constable
Nowadays I can’t seem to tell the difference
P.c. caresses bigots and big brother, read leviticus, learnt censorship, pro-life equals anti-choice, to be scared of, of feathers
Pcp - a p.c. police victory
Pcp - a p.c. pyrrhic victory
When I was young p.c. meant police constable
Nowadays I can’t seem to tell the difference
Lawyers before love, surrogate sex
This land bows down to
Yours, unconditional love and hate
Pass the prozac, designer amnesiac
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2003


Not too shockingly, you've managed to miss another important point: an inequality for either sex is, by definition, an inequality for both sexes.

Which means that you could have saved everyone from dealing with your lies and bullshit all along. But then we might not have such a clear and definitive example of the depths you'll sink to while trying to protect your own self interests, so I guess the experience leaves us forewarned for the next time you spread your bullshit around in here. A service has been performed after all.
posted by NortonDC at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2003


Not too shockingly, you've managed to miss another important point: an inequality for either sex is, by definition, an inequality for both sexes.

Your ignorance breaks my silence.

Look at custody laws for example. According to your warped logic, if it's unfairly partisan towards women (inequality for male gender), then it's also an inequality for the female gender. That just doesn't make sense.

An inequality that one gender faces can be a privilige for the other. That is the reality.

Still, keep going with the ad-hominem attacks Norton as you can't debate with experience or logic.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:56 AM on November 10, 2003


Hah, one with a complete failure to comprehend that inequality of for one sex by necessity defines an inequality for the other is accusing me of lacking logic. Too fucking rich.

You know, SpaceCadet, you really don't need my help to look like an idiot. Carry on.
posted by NortonDC at 5:47 AM on November 10, 2003


hey Norton, please read my reply to your response in the other thread (which you crashed into with a simple ad-hominem attack, your only "method" of argument.

Seriously, get a life. I mean it. I respect the views of biscotti, mdn and openconnect as we can at least treat each other with some respect, and agree to disagree.

You lost your argument a long time ago with your anger and vitriol, and plain rudeness. You are not representing your side of the argument well at all.

Your last post is a testimony of your anger and bitterness towards something. Just don't take it out on me, whatever that something is.

I repeat, get out more.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:33 PM on November 10, 2003


That was good. Keep on carrying on.
posted by NortonDC at 4:21 PM on November 10, 2003


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