Reading about yet another bombing in Iraq recently, my eyes glazed over as I came upon the often-used phrase “innocent women and children” in the description of who was killed. You’ve seen this before: “27 people were killed in the blast, including 15 innocent women and children.”
So 12 of the dead are guilty men I guess. Guilty of what?
The tendency of the media to imply that the death of men is less chilling than that of women and children is just an example of a larger problem in our society: sometimes we devalue men and assign them characteristics and roles merely because they were born with a wiener. While it’s true that men enjoy many advantages in our society, the males of our species are also saddled with expectations and assignments that the women are not, most notably the expectation that the male will be the primary breadwinner in a marriage.
Many of you know about the work I have done on the issue of alimony reform. As we gear up for the next legislative session and redouble our efforts to end sexism in the family courts, this issue is especially nagging for me. Here’s how I see it:
Women have choices. Men have responsibilities.
Here’s an email I received this morning that should really piss you off:
My divorce was granted on May 9, 2001. The court ordered that I pay for my former wife’s college education so she would be employable. She graduated U of O Magna Cum Laude but claimed she was unable to find work. Perhaps that is because the court ordered $3,500/month alimony indefinitely. Oh, and she remarried a lawyer with a net worth exceeding a million dollars. I’m 70 years old and unable to plan my retirement.
She moved to Springfield, Missouri and remarried around June, 2004. I asked the court to modify support based on a change in circumstance. During the hearing she presented the court with an antenuptial agreement that declared that she and her new husband possessed separate income. The court let stand the original settlement without comment. We appealed and the appellate court saw no reason to change the original agreement. I want to retire by next summer but don’t want to commit to retirement if I’m obligated to continue alimony. I understand that I have to retire first before the court would consider modification.”
This 70 year old gentleman, a former marine who has worked since he was 16 years old, can’t retire because he lives at the mercy of the courts which have granted his ex-wife the gift of a leisurely existence while sentencing him to a lifetime of indentured servitude.
Are you seething? You should be. There are hundreds of thousands of men (and many women too, but that’s a separate rant for another day) in this country financially shackled to a former spouse and unable to retire because their barnacle of an ex refuses to earn a living and a judge says they have to pay regardless of whether they want to retire. Although divorce lawyers will tell this guy he can retire and then get a modification, that is simply often not the case. In the meantime, he has to hope and pray that is true, take the leap into retirement without knowing what his alimony obligation will be in the future, and then engage in expensive litigation with the ex that can last several months and even years, all while continuing to pay her.
Men have duties. Women have options.
If you divorce in this country and have a va-jay-jay, you can almost certainly expect to win custody of your kids if the issue is litigated. If you CHOSE to stay home with the kids you can expect alimony. Especially disgusting are those women who demand and are awarded lifetime alimony because they CHOSE to stay home with the pets and/or furniture against the wishes of their spouse after the kids were in school and later out of the home and off to college.
Also infuriating are those women who claim to need lifetime alimony because they have “given up a career” to stay at home. A career doing what, exactly? Believe it or not, doing nothing and getting paid is not a career, unless you happen to be Kim Kardashian. And why is it that these women couldn’t pursue that career once the kids were in school? It’s bullshit – the entitlement mentality runs deep with these alimony queens.
You know what’s hard? Being a man expected to provide every thin dime required to maintain a household. The pressure on men in single-income families is enormous and unrelenting. Sometimes it is so overwhelming that it can change them from this:
And after years of working hard to support their families, what can they expect should the marriage end?
Less parenting time and the yoke of alimony.
Alimony (unlike unemployment benefits and other forms of government assistance) comes with no requirement that the recipient even look for work, much less get a job and attempt to become self-supporting. Nope! You can just sit by and collect a check forever, even if you inherit money or find yourself another sugar-daddy to pay the bills.
Something’s gotta give. Things have got too change.
Rant over, DesCamp out.