Yesterday’s piece ended by asking why opponents of the shared parenting bill currently before Italy’s Parliament seek its defeat. In that piece I detailed the usual tired claims by opponents that were faithfully reiterated by Washington Post writer Anna Momigliano (Washington Post, 9/18/18). As usual, none of those arguments withstands even casual scrutiny and Momigliano mentioned not a single reason to support shared parenting. Her piece was 100% negative.
But of course she gave plenty of space for opponents to make their claims. The question though becomes, why do they oppose shared parenting. The answer, it turns out, is both entirely predictable and utterly quixotic, at odds with even the interests they pretend to promote.
[T]he left-leaning opposition and women’s groups fear that the bill would harm women.
Nadia Somma, a representative of Demetra, an anti-domestic-violence center in Turin, wrote for the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano that the proposed law would “turn back the clock 50 years on women’s rights.” Sen. Valeria Valente of the center-left Democratic Party said it would make “life impossible for mothers."Hmm, really? If opponents’ assumptions include notions like women being first and foremost mothers and that women should avoid the workplace if at all possible, then perhaps they have a point. After all, a law that would give fathers at least 40% of the parenting time following divorce would tend to thwart the aspiration of mothers to do the whole job themselves.
But then the WaPo piece and the Il Fatto piece it links to (sorry about the barely comprehensible translation) go completely off the rails, contradicting the above. Here’s Momigliano in the WaPo:
In Italy’s conservative society, less than 50 percent of women work outside of the home, and most of the burden of child-rearing falls upon mothers.That’s right. And with fathers taking on up to 50% of the parenting time, how might the number of women in paid work be affected? Might it free those women to work, earn and save more and, in the process attain greater autonomy? Yes, it would. When mothers bear the lion’s share of parenting, it hamstrings their earning ability. See how that works?
And here’s Nadia Somma singing the same tune in Il Fatto:
This law more than a reform is a counter- reform . A blow to the rights of women and children. The law in fact does not take into account the economic and employment disparities between men and women that still characterize Italian society. Italy is second to last in Europe for female employment and is second to even Malta . The precarious employment severely penalized working mothers who risk losing their jobs.Well, the law is anything but a blow to the rights of children. Allowing them to maintain healthy, full relationships with their fathers and mothers both is far, far from a blow to them or their rights.
But Somma’s real gripe is, as she says, the disparities between men and women in employment. But the answer is the same: the law would give women greater opportunities to even out those disparities. It would place more of the burden of child care on fathers, freeing mothers. What about that obvious fact do Momigliano and Somma not grasp?
I think they grasp it all too well. Here’s Momigliano again:
Because women with children struggle to find stable employment, critics argue that the abolition of child support would raise the poverty rate among divorced mothers and could make them unable to provide for their children.Yes, and those same “critics” bay at the full moon, but we don’t give them credit for doing so. The point is that, as Hildegard Sunderhauf said at NPO’s conference on shared parenting, the real aim of radical feminism is to continue the flow of wealth from men to women and child support is an important part of that aim. (So, of course, is alimony. Gender feminists oppose any effort to reform alimony laws too.)
That reveals several important facts.
The first is that, as feminist opponents of shared parenting see it, child support is Mom support. They’re right about that. As countless people have pointed out, child support guidelines throughout the English-speaking world often dramatically overstate what it takes to raise a child. As I’ve mentioned recently, states in the U.S. pay foster parents less to care for a child than child support guidelines call for. In Texas, for example, foster parents receive about $700 per month per child. If child support guidelines followed the same formula, that would mean a non-custodial parent with no parenting time at all would pay the other parent $350 per month. A father with 20% parenting time would then pay about $280 per month. And yet the average child support order for men in the U.S. is about $474 per month.
Therefore, some of that money goes to Mom, not little Andy or Jenny. Gender feminists understand that and so oppose any move to equalize parenting time.
Second, by any stretch of the imagination, that just doesn’t make sense. That is, it doesn’t make sense if your aim is the betterment of women. After all, why encourage women to take on the overwhelming majority of childcare duties when doing so dramatically reduces their earnings? That’s doubly true when we realize that, in all but the most extreme cases, no amount of child support will ever replace what a woman can earn on her own.
When women are owed on average $5,690 per year in child support, it’s impossible to pretend that they’re better off than if they were working and earning. Most women can earn in a month or two what the average child support pays in a year.
So when Momigliano, Somma and the rest of their ilk bleat about reducing child support, what they’re really saying is that they want to (a) keep women dependent on men and (b) keep them earning and saving less than they could if men did more of the childcare. It’s a remarkable stance for anyone who claims to be promoting the welfare of women and girls.
And that of course says nothing about their opposition to the well-being of kids.