March 10, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The core tenet of Leslie Loftis’s article in The Federalist - that the feminist take on family law is bad for women because it hinders their ability to earn a living and be financially independent – is correct (The Federalist, 3/6/17). I’ve said the same thing countless times. I’ve asked readers to note the hypocrisy of a feminism that on one hand has for decades berated women for not working more at paid employment and on the other invariably opposed equal parenting laws that would encourage them to do exactly that. I’ve noted that, given that important contradiction in feminism, we might conclude that helping women become financially secure on their own terms isn’t as important to feminists as denying legitimate rights to men.
The same hypocrisy was on public display just last summer when the Florida chapter of NOW went to bat against a shared parenting bill that had the overwhelming support of both houses of the legislature. One year previously, the AAUW had opposed Measure 6 in North Dakota that would have helped equalize fathers and mothers in child custody cases.
Loftis is more circumspect, but she makes much the same points. Valuably, she tracks the history of how feminism came to the dead end at which it currently finds itself.
As one might imagine, completely eliminating spousal support was a draconian measure for the 40-something woman with children who had not worked in 10-20 years and may not have a bachelor’s degree. Compassionate courts and regretful feminists started disguising spousal support as child support in the 1980’s. Since child support depends greatly on who has physical custody, mothers retaining primary physical custody became essential.
In short, rather than support laws that would have encouraged mothers to stand on their own financially, feminists decided that continuing to receive support from the woman’s ex was in her best interests. How they figured that, I have no idea, but there was a time when feminists bewailed women’s financial dependence on men. No longer.
As I said yesterday, the figures make it plain that child support as a plan for financial self-sufficiency is a bad one. On average, fathers pay mothers a little over $3,800 per year in child support, according to the Bureau of the Census. That’s not enough to entirely pay for the upkeep of a child, nor is it meant to, so in fact, child support as Mom support places her in the hole.
Compare that to, say, 50/50 parenting time for Mom and Dad. In some cases, that would eliminate child support payments altogether, but it would hugely add to Mom’s time without the children, time in which she could be working, earning, advancing in her career and saving for retirement. Those are all things feminists have argued in favor of for decades, well before the publication of The Feminine Mystique.
And let’s be clear, if that policy by feminist organizations were simply a mistake, something they didn’t think through sufficiently, by now they should have realized their error and corrected it. But they haven’t. And they show no signs of doing so. Ergo, again, I must conclude that the anti-dad strain of feminism is stronger than the pro-mom one.
Loftis doesn’t go there, but neither does she offer a satisfactory explanation for why feminism is at such cross purposes with itself.
Still, when she gets to fathers, and children’s need for them, she gets it right.
Researchers started studying father and child relationships in earnest in the late 80’s. Four decades later, researchers at least know the many and significant problems father absence can cause, as well as what level of participation primes the risks.
When the public thinks of fatherlessness, we tend to think of completely absent fathers, the type predicted with eerie accuracy by the 1965 Moynihan Report. But the studies show the litany of heightened risks for kids appear when father time drops below about 33 percent, which is higher than “every other weekend and one weeknight” contemporary family law sets as a matter of course.
The point being that what Loftis calls “feminist family law” is bad for everyone. It’s bad for kids because they don’t get to see much of their fathers and it’s bad for fathers because they don’t get to see much of their kids. But it’s also bad for mothers whom it pinches financially. Remember that some 40% of single mothers live in poverty and that means their kids do too.
All in all, a good piece from Leslie Loftis and kudos to her for posting it in The Federalist.
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Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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