TBT: The Brutal Truth

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Perception Mismanagement II: The Feminists

Starting with the Scooter Libby indictment, the blogosphere has taken delight at the White House Press Corp as it slowly ceased treating Scotty "Clueless" McClellan with the loving carress of snow mittens and instead broke out with the studded chain mail gauntlets. Being assailed daily with their questions to the point where the spitting of blood and teeth would have been expected (if not even further relished), Scotty choose to protect the incompetance of the Bush Administration through the tried and true act of stonewalling.

But when the subject of the U.S. government's own corporatized private industries of Divorce Encouragement and Endentured Servitude Via Child Support Enforcement rears up, we're left with no alternative but to realize Scotty McClellan would need the luxury of an entire third term in order to break the 10-year stonewalling record of the very sociologist whose math figures back in the mid 1980s brought on the perfect vehicle for politicians, in a non-partisan manner, to pull a Leo Strauss: "when no boogie man exists, one must be created". The sociologist was Lenore Weitzman and the boogie man politicians wanted to create were "Deadbeats":

Since its publication in 1985, sociologist Lenore Weitzman's "The Divorce Revolution" has had a critical role in shaping the national debate on divorce and its economic effects. In particular, the book's claim that in the year after divorce women's standard of living decreased by a whopping 73 percent while men enjoyed an increase of 43 percent caught the attention of pundits, legislators, and judges. This statistic has become one of the philosophical bases for deciding child custody and property division in divorce cases. It has also altered public perceptions of men, women, and divorce. It was cited hundreds of times in news stories, scholarly studies, and law review articles last year, and was regarded so clearly as holy writ that President Clinton cited it too in his budget proposal ... as part of his attack on deadbeat dads.

The only problem with this statistic, in fact, is that it turns out to be wrong.


That fact that Weitzman's statistic was about as erroneous as the Bush Administration's own claims of WMDs in Iraq isn't the real whammy here. It was her years and years of stonewalling:

As horror stories of a 115 percent disparity between men's and women's post-divorce standard of living made their way through the legislatures and editorial boards of the nation, Weitzman ensured the success of her 73/42 statistic by refusing to allow other researchers access to her data, claiming that she wanted to correct some errors in the master computer file before doing so. She had every right to do this, at least at first, explains Richard Peterson. "There are some norms that are generally accepted," he says. "If you collect data you have the right to keep it to yourself and not be required to share it with others until you publish from your data."

But when Weitzman's data files arrived at the archives of the Murray Research Center at Radcliffe College she had still not made the corrections, and what started as the exercise of her rights as a researcher began to look suspiciously like ten years of stonewalling. She reserved to herself the right to veto anyone from looking at the material and turned down Peterson's requests.


So, what exactly stopped Weitzman's stonewalling?

Her governmental mid-husband vowwed to cut her off:

It was not until a year and a half had gone by and the National Science Foundation, the organization which had funded Weitzman's research, threatened to declare her ineligible for federal grants in the future that she finally allowed Peterson to examine the data.


At the onset of this series, I did some searching to see how Lenore Weitzman's bogus figures and subsequent history of stonewalling are getting attention in the blogopshere. Most blogs from a Google-based BlogSearch that mention her at all are predominately written by those whom are either invovled in the Fathers' Rights camp or sympathetic to their cause. The same can be said with the paltry 3 blogs IceRocket turned up. Finally, I searched Technorati ... and hit a jackpot of anti-feminist, rightwing Fathers Rights / Christian Fundamentalist blogs. Conveniently missing from the equation is the ammount of actual self-professed or feminist-friendly blogs that damn and blast Weitzman's bogus findings and stonewalling. On the contrary, Technorati turns up one of Ms. Shakes' feminist friends -- Trish "The Countess" Wilson where her bringing up Lenore Weitzman in the first place tells me more about Trish Wilson than it does about Lenore Weitzman:

[These figures are similar to other figures about the drop in standard of living for divorce. For any trolls who are itching to bring up Lenore Weitzman, don't bother. Her 73% drop in income figure had long ago been corrected, and the various corrections came to a similar figure - 40%.]


Three problems with this. Right away, in Trish's eye, anyone that brings up Lenore Weitzman is relegated to being a "troll". The way I see it, liars and stonewallers don't deserve seconds thoughts; only their utter and complete destruction within the public square. If that makes me a "troll" or a "dirty America-hating liberal", fine by me. Truth talks - spin walks. Thus, in that regard, Lenore Weitzman and Scotty McClellan share much in common.

The only difference between them (genitalia be damned) brings me to my second problem: At least Scotty's destruction is happening on the political record via his capacity as White House Press Secretary. Not so with Lenore Weitzman. Regardless on whether or not she corrected her bogus figures, she can not retroactively correct how her figures appeared in Bill Clinton's budget (and subsequent presidential budgets or subsequent legislative measures that may refer to it) unless she is brought back under oath to testify before Congress. Then, and only then, can her revisions be recognized within the political record. Lastly, let's be realistic here: if George W. Bush's 2% victory in 2004 wasn't a "mandate", how in the hell can you claim 73% to be "simular" to 40%?!? I can't wrap my head around that at all ...

This apprehension among feminists in dealing with Lenore Weitzman leaves me to wonder does the proof of her lies and deceptive stonewalling along with the scriblings of Stephen Baskerville and the results of Sanford Braver's exhaustive $10 million dollar, 8 year long study currently heralded by the Fathers Rights crowd signify a long overdue equalization or does it all merely remind feminists of everything they had forsaken? Could the selling-out of Weitzman simply hit too close to home for the Feminists that allowed her to sell them out -- in much the same way Jeff Gannon hits too close to home with our sell-out corporate press or how "Mortal Kombat" hits too close to home with Sen. Lieberman, spine-plucker deluxe of the Democratic Party?

The results of another survey conducted by and published in the July/August 2004 issue of AARP The Magazine could speak volumes. In an article cover-titled "The New Divorce: Why More Women Than Ever Are Calling It Quits (And Why Men Don't See It Coming)", I find even more confirmation from the claims of Baskerville (except for one) and Braver. In this survey, the AARP asked 1,147 men and women aged 40-79 who experianced a divorce between their 40s and 60s questions relating to their divorces:

Deciding To Leave

The majority of midlife divorces are initiated by women. Don't believe it? In the AARP survey, 66% of women reported that they asked for the divorce, compared to 41% of men. And more men than women were caught off-guard by their divorce (the news blind-sided 26% of men, compared to 14% of women) ... Women often recognize the danger signs of a problem marriage than men do, says Howard Markman, Ph.D, co-director of the Center For Marital And Family Studies at the University of Denver ... "An impulse divorce is a very rare thing," confirms psychologist Constance Ahrons, Ph.D, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California and an expert on relationships and divorce. In fact, marital discontent can fester for years ... about 1 in 10 women ruminated [on divorce] for 10 years or more but this trend was more pronounced in women over age 60 than in boomers, who tend to decide faster, [according to Kate Vertrano, chair of the Elder Law Committee of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association.]

Staying For The Kids

When contemplating divorce, many people bide their time to spare potential victims -- the children. Kids are the glue that keeps marriages together, for better or worse. That's particular true for dads: 58% of men -- compared with 37% of women -- cited their children as the top reason why they postponed a divorce for 5 years or longer. ("Not believing in divorce" was the second distant reason men waited; women's top reason for delay was financial worry.) But despite their best efforts to hold things together, more than 1 in 4 of the people in their 50s still had adolescent kids at the time of their divorce. "My overall concern was how the destruction of our family would play out in my daughter's life," reveals Jack Martin (not his real name). "My daughter was deeply affected by our divorce, and I worry about the impact that will have on her."

Why do men worry more about the children than women do? Because women take for granted that they'll stay close to the kids. More experts agree men of all ages have more to lose in a divorce, especially when it comes to the children. According to our survey, 42% of the men said their worst fears after the divorce involved their children, with most of these men worrying they'd lose contact with their kids. In comparison, only 15% of women had these fears. "For men, it's a well-founded fear," says Vertrano, "Men lose their children a lot.

Taking The Blame

In getting down to toaster-hurling specifics, most women in their 50s or older said the top three killers of their marriage were physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, and drug/alcohol abuse -- and they put almost all of the blame on their ex-husbands. On the flip side, most 50+ men said they simply "fell out of love" or had "different values or lifestyles." And a larger number of men (though not the majority) said it was their own fault.

The one thing neither sex would take the blame for, however, was an affair. Among people 50 and older who said infidelity caused their divorce, 93% of women and 78% of men said their spouse was the one at fault. In doing the math, it's obvious that many may be fudging the truth about who cheated, or may disagree with their ex as to whether the affair really did thier marriage in. This blame shifting may not be due to lying but rather a matter of perception, says Gottman. "It's not uncommon for someone to cheat and then blame their partner for it," he says. "If someone is lonely or feels their mate has lost all interest in them, they can rationalize that they were driven to have an affair."

Traditionally, men have been percieved to be the cheaters. However, while most research has suggested that men are more likely to stray, some say the gap may be closing. "Baby-boomer women are in the work world -- and that's where you meet that sympathetic person when you're having a bad marriage," Gottman says. "It's opportunity; not biology, and while men had a much greater opportunity for cheating in the past, it's far more equal now."


With this survey, the AARP confirms a number of things. First, it deflates Baskerville's idiotic notion that women/feminists are actively seeking to marry men, squirt a few kids, and then dump Hubby for the child support money. This notion is nothing more than the redefined and repacked "Welfare Queens Are Having Kids To Increase Their Benefits" meme that plays along the rightwingers even to this very day. It also confirms what Dr. Sanford Braver's study had allready uncovered during the 1990s -- that it's the women who initiate most divorces, and that the news stuns a great number of men. Braver also pointed out that men usually plead with their spouses to delay a divorce for at least two years. The AARP cites 5 years or more. Such pleading among men is more likely when there's children involved because -- thanks to 20 years of "politically correct" Lenore Weitzman-inspired, Leo Strauss-approved, Corporate no-bid contract-loving, bipartisan legislation -- fathers have much, much, more to lose in a divorce. In the AARP survey, only 37% of women cited the children as the top reason for postponing a divorce -- their top reason was money (or a lack thereof). Ducats aside, only 15% of the women actually feared losing their children. Translation? A majority of women walk into a divorce knowing full well the judge will fork over the kids, therefore they're taking that fact (and the children) for granted. Since there's no threat -- percieved or otherwise -- of them losing custody in the vast majority of divorce cases, women feel more secure in revealing other, more true-to-their-heart things as more of a concern.

It's a corruptive and complacent mindset that runs along the same lines as to how the Republicans score the majority of the military vote. Because they've got their "Patriotically Correct" propagandists (Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Rielly, etc.) all over Armed Forces Radio indoctrinating the troops with thier self-serving rhetoric, Republicans perceive no real threat to ever losing the military vote to the Democrats. As a result, the Republicans are taking the military vote for granted. They think the military vote is theirs lock, stock, and barrel so they -- like the very women who take their children for granted the moment they set foot in a courtroom -- rest on their laurels, let their defenses down, and openly reveal their more true, more inhumane, more downright insensitive thoughts, ideas, and motives because of their sense of security. And yes, by saying inhumane and insensitive, I mean it -- Womens Rights feminists are just as capable (and in some cases guilty as sin itself) of being just as completely insensitive and inhumane to the treatment of men as the more patriarchal bastards within the Fathers Rights camp are of women.

Also, the hemming and hawing over cheating and infidelity is really interesting and not necessarily because it blows alot of the old stereotypes out of the water. When people actually rationalize their infidelity, it just another way for them to absolve themselves of any guilt and responsibility for how their actions or reactions may have contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. If they're unwilling to take responsibility for cheating, then I don't see how they can be entirely trusted to seriously take the responsibilty of children without engaging into more rationalizations, hemming and hawing to absolve themselves of guilt or blame.

Here's something else the AARP Study reveals:

The percieved benefits of divorce differ greatly by gender. Women were far more likely than men to say that having their own self-indentity was a top reward. That made them a little gun shy of marrying again anytime soon: 43% of women said they emerged from the split against remarriage. Only 33% of the men said they wouldn't remarry.

Women are more likely to have a strong network of friends to support them after a divorce, explains psychologist Ahrons. Men typically don't. That makes men more vulnerable to loneliness -- the worst fear for both sexes in a divorce. It's telling that a third more men than women in our study had remarried after their divorce.


Men being more vulnerable to loneliness can also dovetail into worry, anxiety, and ultimately depression. With depression comes thoughts of suicide. I know those feelings of worry, anxiety, depression, and suicide all to well. I battled them early in my life and defeated them. But how my ex-fiance hurt me -- hurt me in a way no other woman could ever top -- brought it all back. And just like women who come from Christian fundamentalist homes are more likely to go through life undiagnosed (because Christian fundamentalism tends to look down on secular intelligence and medical science), men are also less likely to seek treatment for any simular psychological issues that threaten their health because of that entire stereotype that men are these big, macho lugs without those "girly" things called "emotions". Thus, they bottle up their depression, perhaps even engaging in an act of denial until ultimately they can deny it no longer. If they can't fathom anything to look forward to because everything that meant a damn to them in the first place was taken away, it's extremely possible that these men may see that the answer to all their problems are nothing that a handful of sleeping pills, some Vicodin, and a decent sized bottle of whiskey can't take care of (and that's if they want to be clean about it -- some of them may just say, "Fuck the drapes," and reach for the .45 or the 12-guage. So, that whole "the men were probably disturbed to begin with" arguement some of the more inhumane and insensitive feminists make is an argument that is way too simplistic -- so simplistic that the very inhumane feminists that would make such an argument tend to bristle when a Fathers Rights yokel uses it lambast women.

In the end, feminists would be well advised to adopt the following:

1)Do Not Underestimate The Fathers Rights Camp: They do indeed have some very compelling arguments that can no longer be ignored. Ignore them at your own folly. Granted, some of them may choose to bark at you but the last thing you want to do is write them all off as lunatic, rightwing Christian fundies. Some of them may very well be partisan moderates and libertarians who are sick and tired of the Christian fundamentalists and demogogic politicians holding dominion over the debate. You would do very well in trying to make natural allies with these men ASAP. Because if you don't, I'm sad to say the Christian fundies within the Fathers Rights crowd will eventually drown these more reasonable people out on their clear-cut way to victory ... and neither you nor I want them to be victorious. These are the FOX NEWS watching assholes who would love nothing more than to score this win, ban abortion and contraception as a bonus, and turn right around and claim the Holy Spirit told them to cash in on investing into the Acme Coathanger Corporation of America.

2)Drop The Jargon: I hate to be downright brutal but by framing your issues using buzzwords such as "Womenomics" and your penchant for exclusive lingo (e.g. "your child") instead of all-inclusive language (e.g. "our child"), you're doing nothing more than discrediting and disqualifying yourselves from the human rights program, as far as I'm concerned. A raging fire is quenched with water; not kerosene.

3)Clam It About "Deadbeat Dads": Oh, yes. Clam that shit right the hell up. Why? YOU'RE WOMEN! You're an entire class of people guaranteed NEVER to be a "Deadbeat Dad", just like those anti-abortion men in the Fathers Rights camp are an entire class of people that'll NEVER have an abortion. You have about as much of a clue what it's like to be a "Deadbeat Dad" as anti-abortion men have a clue on what's it like to choose to abort a fetus.

Let's face it -- a good portion of men and women in this country today have no fucking alternative whatsoever to be a "Deadbeat Dad" or "Deadbeat Mom" Why? Stay tuned for Part Three of this. I'll be happy to spill it out for you because by the Fathers Rights crowd selling out to Big Religion and the conservative media, and by the Womens Rights crowd allowing Lenore Weitzman to hock themselves out to Big Business the U.S. Government, you both in your boundless naivete have created your own undoing at the very cost of you own interests -- be they financial, personal, or political -- and, therefore, you both need to re-learn a very valuable lesson. The faster you do, the faster Kansas and the rest of the nation can.

Part Three comes tomorrow and, with it, both of your respective autonomies.

The sound of skulls cracking together will ring in the festivities.

One of those skulls will be my own ...


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3 comment(s):

This is pretty darn good fact-checking.

Only 1 thing I want to relate -- women take a giant financial hit in the area of retirement. If a housewife spends most or all of her years out of the work force when its time for retirement the workforce spouse (useually the men) have a big advantage. They paid into social security etc. and can draw those funds. By not paying into social security many stay-at-home wives loose out on any retirement plan. And most couples don't sit down and set up a retirement plan for a stay-at-home partner.

I don't have the stats on that - but its very bad (for your social security account) even to miss 1 year of being in the workplace.

Another abstract thing is the stresses of poor pay and too much debt take a big toll on relationships. Divorce rates soared when purchasing power nose-dived in the 60's. Til then one person could pay the cost of a month's housing with one week's pay. I use 3 weeks pay - if I can get work.

Very good article.

By Blogger Mary, at 2:31 AM  

I agree with you on women taking a huge hit in retirement. They also take a big blow when a loved one suddenly dies (it took at least a year for my mother to collect on my father's social security). The financial/standard-of-living hits in divorce pale in comparison to these.

Speaking of retirement, the AARP survey uncovered that it can contribute to the end of a marriage. When one spouse goes on retirement, they're around the house much more. This can cause tension if one spouse has to change their routine to accomodate it. Wallerstein says that it can lead to chronic irritability and become explosive. She's right -- my mother likes to adjust the living room furniture around every few months to break the monotony. When the old man would come home, he'd complain about where the TV was and where his chair was for about 10 minutes and that's it. When his health forced him into retirement, it's a wonder they didn't kill each other. She couldn't get anything done with the him around.

The AARP also uncovered that once the last child leaves the family nest, it can kill a marriage because Mom and Dad run out of things to talk about. Lack of communication spells doom. With my parents, it would've ammounted to double fuckin' homocide.

By Blogger Sizemore, at 11:31 AM  

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By Blogger Rik Martin, at 7:49 AM  

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