Saturday, September 10, 2005

A feminist lawyer's view

I just talked to a feminist lawyer, and she disagreed with almost everything I had to say about the family court. She was not a divorce lawyer, and did not know how family court really works, but she seems to have some divorce lawyer friends, and her mind was made up regardless of the facts.

She said that she believed that a woman should be able to walk out of any marriage at any time for any reason; that she should get generous awards from her husband's assets and income; and that she should be able to take the kids with her.

She claimed that mothers have had an advantage for 100 years in American child custody cases. She justified the court use of bogus experts as a way for the courts to get around the gender-neutrality of the custody statutes. Before the 1970s, she said, there was a legal presumption of mother custody. Now, judges have to back up their decisions with evidence. There is no real evidence that primary mother custody is good for the kids, so they use sham reports from court-approved experts. The end results are about the same: 85% mother custody.

I might understand if she subscribed to the "tender years doctrine" that said that mothers are better for very young kids (toddlers). But she doesn't even believe that, as she hired a nanny and worked full time when her kids were toddlers. (She retired and became a housewife when her kids went away to college.)

I find her views baffling. She is fairly conservative politically, and is not usually one to babble feminist slogans. She is an advocate for parental rights in the schools and elsewhere. She was once falsely accused by CPS, so I would think that she would be suspicious of such govt do-gooders wanting to speak for children.

I tried to get her to concede that fathers have some rights, but she refused to say that they had any. About the closest she came was to say that fathers are usually awarded some visitation privileges if they can be shown to be fit. But even in that case, she adamantly asserted that the mother has the right to move the kids to another state if she finds a better paying job there or has some other reason to move. If the father gets cut off from his kids, then that is just his tough luck. Maybe if he had treated her better during the marriage, then she might be nicer to him.

She cited an example of a woman she knows who is an heir to a $100 million fortune. She kicked out her husband because he wasn't clean enough for her, whatever that means. Even in that case, she argued that the husband should be paying her child support after the divorce.

I tried to explain to her that joint custody works better than mother custody. I cited both my personal experience and the academic literature. She apparently consulted with her divorce lawyer friends, and sent me a link to a silly anti-father rant.

I had been assuming that most reasonable people were capable of being rational on this subject, and that they were amenable to facts and arguments about what is good for the kids and what respects peoples' rights. I am forced to conclude that there are a lot of people whose brains are infected with a feminist disease. You just cannot reason with such people. They are ideologically committed to a truly evil cause, and nothing will sway them.


Anonymous said...

When a person identifies themselves with a group which has an advantage over competing groups, the person will defend the "right" to that advantage even if it is irrational and unjust. A legal "right" can become a natural "right" very quickly, if not immediately, for many people. You cannot argue against this woman's position logically, she believes it as an article of faith. I would suggest that you can only approach it by asking her to consider how she would feel if she did not have that right, but someone else did, and then point out that this is exactly the position facing fathers these days.

George said...

I've tried reasoning with her. She has read a lot of this blog, so she knows my point of view. It is strange.