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The Spearhead: Paul Elam's dickishness is the fault of feminism

This picture makes more sense than WF Price's argument
This picture makes more sense than WF Price’s argument

So this is an … interesting reaction to that Buzzfeed piece about Paul Elam. And by “interesting” I mean “WTF?”

Over on The Spearhead — remember The Spearhead, home to some of the crankiest misogynists on the Internet? — our old friend WF Price offers a rather unique analysis of Elam’s life story.

Price admits right off the bat that Elam is indeed as much of an “asshole” as the Buzzfeed article makes him out to be, snarkily commenting that this fact “isn’t exactly news to anyone who has dealt with him personally, or read his articles.” And then he goes on to blame Elam’s assholery on feminism.

Wat.

Well, as Price sees it, Elam hasn’t exactly suffered for being an asshole. The fact that he basically got away with abandoning his daughter proves

that telling your wife and kids to screw off when your marriage goes bad is a better strategy if you’re concerned about yourself than trying to be a niceguy. What could be a more damning indictment of feminism than that?

Um, do you really want an answer to that?

Meanwhile, Price argues, the fact that Elam has had three failed marriages shows that ladies just love assholes. No, really. According to Price, Elam’s life story

proves that being an asshole doesn’t torpedo one’s prospects with women. Quite the opposite, in fact: Paul’s many walks down the aisle are testament to the fact that there’s something about the guy that contemporary women find appealing. Elam’s a major hit with women to this day.

Checkmate, feminism!

Price then works me into the  equation, for some reason.

And I don’t write this out of envy; on the contrary, I think his popularity with women has probably been his biggest problem in life (Futrelle wouldn’t understand).

Price concludes with this, er, zinger:

So if feminists were to say to me that Paul Elam proves that MRAs are terrible people, I’d respond by saying “he’s the product of your philosophy, not mine.”

It will take someone more versed in formal logic to explain exactly what logical fallacies Price is committing here, or if he’s somehow come up with a new logical fallacy all his own.

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Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

blockquote monster got me again — I guess typing on an ipad isn’t my forte

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Oh Billy boy,
You’re still assuming that if you don’t like someone (advocates in this case) that they must be feminists. You also still haven’t provided a shred of evidence that any problems with the court system are due to feminism. Most of them seem like plain old bureaucratic issues to me.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Then why do MRAs not get serious about fully sharing parenting BEFORE a breakup? Like… from Day One? The ones I’ve talked to seem to consider childcare a woman’s business, and not even that hard, meaning of course the mom gets totally dumped on for years, sometimes ’til she’s finally had enough and wants out. Big shocker, right?

at THAT point, the MRA crowd starts making noise about wanting equal parenting time and no child support obligations.

I think the whole thing is a cynical ploy to opt out of the hard parts of parenting, both when the kids are labor intensive and relatively cheap, and again when it’s relatively less labor-intensive and more expensive. By the time the kids are school-aged or teens, the “default parent’s” career has often taken a major nosedive, but these guys are like, “tough shit, not a dime, bitch!”

I am not shocked that family courts often don’t view this kind of transparent ploy kindly. My parents’ divorce played out a lot like that. I wasn’t then, and am not now, all that sympathetic to my old man on that front.

Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

Then why do MRAs not get serious about fully sharing parenting BEFORE a breakup? Like… from Day One? The ones I’ve talked to seem to consider childcare a woman’s business, and not even that hard, meaning of course the mom gets totally dumped on for years, sometimes ’til she’s finally had enough and wants out. Big shocker, right?

-ceebarks

Well, fully sharing is not optimal at day one, for obvious reasons (nursing). But it gets closer to that pretty soon, I’d say when kids are weaned and cruising (actually that’s when childcare is hardest, because they never stay in one place).

Most families need to be flexible and cooperative, and most are. Being a single parent is brutal. I just did it for a few days while my wife was out of state, and I was pretty drained by the end of it, not in the least because the baby is used to breastfeeding and I can’t do that for him, which prompted a lot of crying.

In being flexible I mean that people need to play more than one role, sometimes when they’re not the best at the job. Often, “being there” is what counts. I think most people recognize this (especially younger families), and try to work things out.

But I don’t think many divorces happen because of this issue (as you suggest many occur well after the difficult infancy/toddler stage). In about half of divorces, the motive is romantic, i.e. one partner meets someone else, and in the remainder it’s a mixed bag. Childcare becomes more of an issue after the divorce, because cooperation is terminated.

This is why making it an issue of contention is not helpful. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that endless choices and possibilities are not always a good thing (look what it’s done to our tax code, for example). It would be better if parents had a clear idea of how things will be in the event of a separation. Also better for children, because family conflict is not good for kids.

If courts said “you get this week, you get that one,” it would be a lot easier than fighting over the details and who pays whom. Unless one parent has a serious behavioral problem (I mean clinical, not alleged), that should be that. If one parent doesn’t want to take care of the kids, then he or she pays support to the other one. That’s exactly how it is in Scandinavia, and it works fine.

Of course, this would put a lot of lawyers out of work, but we already have way too many lawyers out there, and that’s a social problem in its own right.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Bill, these guys are not “flexible,” except when it suits them. Surely you know this.

Look, I’m intimately familiar with childcare: I’ve stayed home for a decade, raising the four kids we had in six years. There were times, especially when I had four under six, that I fantasized about hitting the highway and never look back: childcare is fucking hard… (and seemingly never-ending when it’s 4pm, everyone’s melting down, and you’ve still got 4 hours to go til bedtime, whereupon you can count on waking up every two hours to nurse the baby anyway.)

Those were the days, man.

Meantime, my husband was free to take almost any hours for work, travel for work, socialize/network with colleagues, and take whatever jobs he thought were best with no concern about who was going to wrangle the young’uns or whether he was late for daycare pick-up. That’s… a pretty nice benefit, no?

(In fact, today he has the family vehicle and I have no idea when he’ll turn back up for the evening, as he may or may not go to the gym today with is former boss: totally up in the air! And that is really fine with me. Flexibility! It’s amazing!)

However, if we split next week and he were your average MRA, he’d go balls to the wall on the equal custody/fathers rights kool-aid, and inform me and probably the judge that “Oh, hell no, she gets nothing. FULL EQUALITY!”

Never mind I’d be starting completely over again career-wise, with a huge gaping hole in my resume. Never mind that supposedly our previous arrangement had been “what’s best for the kids: stability!”

Never mind that supposedly during the duration of the marriage, my lack of income and his lack of hands-on parenting time were not meant to say anything damning about either of us.

Never mind that our initial agreement has largely been dictated by living in a country that thinks the full Scandinavian model– including long maternity/paternity leaves, subsidized childcare, universal healthcare, etc, is communism. Neh?

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

*sigh* Alright, I’m confused.

So the court system can favor “assholes,” by which Price means a father that only keeps up the minimum amount of visitation to avoid child support payments if that’s part of the agreement between the exes… And somehow this is an example of a secret feminism cabal whispering orders in the back room, stacking the court against fathers?

Wha?

What are you even arguing anymore, Price? It seems like you can’t even approach the topic of fathers getting screwed over with jumping all the way to platitude land.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

In fact, right now we are actually working on making some changes: he’s always wanted to do the SAH thing and I’m ready to get back in the workforce. Which works out and is thus great.

OTOH, he’s not bullshitting me that he’s going to have anything resembling the same experience I did with doing the lion’s share of childcare…. because the youngest one will be five and in kindergarten all day. Everyone is toileting independently, capable of using big-kid words, and sleeping 10 hours straight every night. He really probably can do some quality meaningful or remunerative “side projects,” as I remember a certain angsty MRA telling me I needed to start doing, back when I had three under four. HA HA HA

Someone, pleeeeaaaase tell me how leaving infants with women for 10+ hours a day and then not giving them any meaningful credit for it, is equality. Or flexibility, ffs, really.

Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

@ceebark

Your traditional marriage is in the minority these days. Most married women don’t have the luxury of staying at home for ten years because their husbands don’t make enough money. I didn’t make enough to support my first wife staying at home in the lifestyle she was accustomed to (i.e. middle class homeowner, two cars, dog, etc.). Not in Seattle, anyway. Same with my teacher parents. If my mom didn’t work we would have had pretty lean times growing up — it would have been stretching it to call us middle class. That’s my reality. That’s the reality of most Americans.

I wonder sometimes why feminists are so obsessed with this upper middle class version of the patriarch with stay-at-home-mom when most men don’t live this way, and certainly not most non-custodial fathers. In fact, you’re probably in the demographic least likely to separate, whereas most young men who live separately from their children’s mothers are lucky to even have a job these days.

This is why there’s a disconnect between feminists and MRAs and what’s going on with most new parents. You’re fighting over what was happening over a generation in the past. Today’s parents live in an entirely different reality, yet the courts are still stuck in the time when people thought The Handmaid’s Tale was a plausible future scenario.

katz
6 years ago

Are you guys actually having fun with this clown? A dude imperiously telling us what we think only amuses me for the first couple of minutes.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

I doubt anyone would consider us upper middle class. (I wish!) We’re a former enlisted military family, we live in the sticks, and divorce is hardly a rarity in those circles.

And yes, in many American households with small children, women do work. However, they’re still usually the ones who are expected to take the “flexible” job: the one who begs off work when there is a sick kid, the one who finds a side job wherever her husband’s “real” jobs sends them, the one who does the doctor and dental appointments, the one who scales back to part-time when things get too complicated at home, etc.

When people are married, that’s all considered fair and “flexible.” You’re being a team player and a decent mother, etc.

But that system still doesn’t encourage full equality before a divorce or a breakup, and it strikes me as super disingenuous to invoke “equality” when you’re facing a split from someone who legitimately took a series of big, possibly unrecoverable hits for the sake of the family in the early stages. People are telling you that family courts look at that stuff and think it matters for the welfare of the kids. I think it also matters for the sake of fairness to the parents who are in the trenches with the longterm caregiving.

Seems to me that MRAs are bad about blindly enjoying the benefits of the “traditional” system when it’s working, and then crying foul about the consequences whenever the wind changes.

I mean, it would be like me expecting to start making the same kind of money and demanding the same kind of respect, as if I hadn’t disappeared from the workforce for the better part of ten years. Everyone would think that was totally absurd, and even kind of offensive.

2aimai
2aimai
6 years ago

There’s something wrong with bothering to argue with Bill Price because he simply isn’t talking about the real world. In the real world alimony has mostly ended–there is nothing but child support. And child support is assessed on the non custodial parent and is paid to the custodial parent. That is absolutely gender neutral and both women and men can end up paying child support for their children. In addition for families at the lower end of the SES scale (at least in MA) there is an absolutely set value to child support–only families where there are lots of assets and money at issue go to court at all. Men can and do ask for full custody, and where they don’t shared custody is the norm. In addition younger/poorer families don’t get married at all these days and so divorce is not even an issue–child support is the issue when the relationship breaks down.

Its true that younger families, because of declining earning power, are often not in a position to have one member stay home and do full time childcare but that has pretty much nothing to do with anything at this point because men still leave their families with young children if they want. You don’t have to have been the only person doing the childcare in order to get stuck with full custody of an infant if your husband abandons the family.

Family court is complicated and tragic but just sitting there and watching, which is what Bill Price claims is his form of research, is really not meaningful. You are only seeing a portion of cases, and only those where communication has broken down irretrievably.

I think its important to note that at the heart of BP’s “argument” such as it is is simply this notion that all modern women are feminists and therefore anything that he has ever seen a woman do is a kind of feminist act, for which feminism is responsible. That’s absurd. Feminism is a political philosophy and sometimes an activist stance to which some women and men subscribe. But not everything that any woman ever does is the result of this philosophy or is some kind of super sekrit plan for feminist world domination. Certainly not everythign that happens in family court.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Nah, I am tired of him, katz.

I am pretty sure I remember this guy lecturing me circa 2009 about how I needed to stop perpetrating the fraud that taking care of infants was even challenging enough to be worth discussing, lol Like, I don’t know, I got the impression he thought then that it was like having a cat, or something.

So hey, we’re up to understanding obvious things at this point!

Who knows, in another six years he may have worked his way up to basic decency.

Don’t laugh!

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
6 years ago

Never mind that our initial agreement has largely been dictated by living in a country that thinks the full Scandinavian model– including long maternity/paternity leaves, subsidized childcare, universal healthcare, etc, is communism. Neh?

I must admit that I was completely boggled when I realized how… lousy parental leave support is for most of the U.S.

Here in Ontario… pregnancy leave is up to 17 weeks, assuming that the woman has been employed for at least 13 weeks prior to the expected due date of the baby. If the baby is born early, the expected due date is still used even if the actual date of birth is before that 13 week period expires. If the baby is born late and the 17 weeks has expired while the woman is still pregnant, pregnancy leave is extended.

Parental leave is up to 37 weeks, and is applicable to any new parent, applying to mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and even technically applies to people ‘in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of the child and who plans on treating the child as his or her own’. This also explicitly includes same-sex couples. Parental leave is reduced to 35 weeks if the person in question is ALSO taking pregnancy leave.

So the birth mother of the baby can take a full year off work, while any other parent can take eight and a half months. And the employer is required to not punish the employee as a result. (Of course, we know how employers can work around that if they really want to, but there have been enough employment lawsuits that any company trying that had better have a well-documented other reason.)

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/guide/pregnancy.php

Some of the stories I’ve heard from the U.S. are pretty horrific on this aspect of employment law. (Well, on a lot of aspects of employment law, really.)

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago

Jenora, I’m in Ontario as well. I know couples who both took parental leave, and it was a huge help for them. Sorry it isn’t that way in the U.S. – it seems like the logical approach (except for the whole ‘zomg soshulizm’ thing that so many on the right seem to be obsessed with)

I am no longer following what you’re arguing here, Bill, and you haven’t made clear how feminism is the cause of bad family court stuff. I mean, I know women who’ve been screwed over in family court – is that also the fault of feminism? Or could there possible be other factors at play?

Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

But that system still doesn’t encourage full equality before a divorce or a breakup, and it strikes me as super disingenuous to invoke “equality” when you’re facing a split from someone who legitimately took a series of big, possibly unrecoverable hits for the sake of the family in the early stages. People are telling you that family courts look at that stuff and think it matters for the welfare of the kids. I think it also matters for the sake of fairness to the parents who are in the trenches with the longterm caregiving.

A system that tries to encourage “full equality” is going to be totalitarian, and it will fail in every goal but one: power over others. I seriously fear people who talk about “full equality,” because who knows how and where they’ll start cutting people to equal size and shape.

That said, I do support fairness. It isn’t fair that some women do the heavy lifting for the kids and then get kicked to the curb. I’ve heard those stories, and even met a few of those women, and it’s really pretty f*cked up. But I don’t think it’s any more common for a man to screw over his wife like that than for a woman to do so to her husband.

I could go over what went down in my divorce in detail, but I’ve already written about the worst of it (which was pretty bad — I was accused of felonies over and over again until I signed off on the final parenting plan, at which point the accusations magically stopped). Instead of rehashing the entire thing, let me just say that in the final six months of my marriage childcare became an issue, as did our suddenly poorer one-income reality. Because my then wife was very frustrated, I offered a solution: I’ll help with the kids while you ease into a job again. At this point my daughter was about one and my son two and a half. I happened to have a full-time job at the time, but I could do a lot of the work from home or on off hours if needed. So I helped out, and inch by inch I became the primary caregiver, eventually having to take a leave of absence while my ex was in the final stages of getting her permanent position. I wasn’t happy about it, but I figured things would stabilize when she got the job locked down (it took about four months of being “on call” before she became a permanent employee). I became the “flexible” parent.

So my ex gets her permanent position thanks to my willingness to pick up the slack for a few months, and the very next day she bails on me, leaving me marginally employed and fighting for custody (she took the kids to her mom, who went to war against me immediately). I did my best to fight for what I thought was fair, and I lost, because the courts assume that a man who isn’t the primary earner and paying all the bills – no matter what the reason – must be a loser and doesn’t deserve the kids anyway — you should have seen how contemptuously I was treated by court-appointed mediator and certifiable bigot Barry Rose. Or else they don’t care either way because it’s King County, and female empowerment is a socially progressive goal.

So I took my hits and then some more to remain close to the kids. It sucked, and in my frustration I started The Spearhead. It was therapeutic for a while. But now I realize that it isn’t a gender thing, but rather a systemic problem, and both “teams” are responsible for this. Their demands of “equality” are just a way to gain an advantage in this very counterproductive fight. Better to take the wind out of their sails. Remove the incentives to fight. People who married each other should never see the result of their separation and divorce as a victory or defeat. This is a profoundly cruel and sick way to arrange families.

Now, I want to stop that.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

I must admit that I was completely boggled when I realized how… lousy parental leave support is for most of the U.S.

It seriously freaking sucks. If you say it sucks and could be made to suck less, people will say it’s a pie in the sky women’s issue and radical crazy feminists need to stop picking men’s pockets and re-engineering society to suit their whims. You breed ’em, you… deal with ’em. I guess. (otoh… damned women are too selfish to have kids anymore and are ruining society)

You really can’t please these people. lol

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

Price is too boring for me at this point. To have a serious discussion there needs to be some sort of common ground or common understanding. Right now it’s like talking to a martian who likes to offer big generalities on how earthlings behave, as if they didn’t realize there were earthlings in the room telling them how earthlings behave.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

The funny thing is that a lot of middle class white people who used to be in a financial position to marry, buy a house and have kids all while maintaining a decent standard of life can no longer do that until thirties. It’s bbecause of Reaganomics. It’s because wages haven’t grown, Healthcare and housing cost more and there’s still no paid maternity leave. The demographic that would normally vote republican is not able to reproduce at a rate that will match the new citizens who are frequently not white that the Republicans have so much contempt for. Their demographic extinction is something they crafted themselves.

Righties are never self aware or able to evaluate cause and effect though. They’ll still blame sluts for not having lots and lots of babies.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Yeah, until Billy boy starts offering evidence for any of his claims, there’s no point in talking to him.

M.
M.
6 years ago

Price is so bloody boring I’ve literally fallen asleep twice so far while trying to work my way through his wall-shits. When was the last time we had a troll that was actually amusing, not just annoying and/or a guaranteed cure for insomnia?

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Jenora — as a really late baby (like, over two weeks late), back in the 80s, I gotta say that there is no way a pregnancy can run 17 weeks past the due date. My mother was induced because I was running out of fluid around me, and that stuff is IMPORTANT. Anything much past two weeks late was cause for alarm thirty years ago, now it’s probably like, ultrasound daily or some shit. So yeah, the law is awesome, but that hypothetical is impossible.

WWTH — “they still blame white sluts for not having lots and lots of babies” = FTFY

Cuz everybody not white is having way too many and welfare moms and the republicans are just screwing themselves over on the racism front too.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

M. — Pell, every time he shows up.

isidore13
isidore13
6 years ago

Bill really does have a terrible case of “if I say so, it must be true!”

Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

The funny thing is that a lot of middle class white people who used to be in a financial position to marry, buy a house and have kids all while maintaining a decent standard of life can no longer do that until thirties. It’s bbecause of Reaganomics. It’s because wages haven’t grown, Healthcare and housing cost more and there’s still no paid maternity leave.

Hey, how about paid parental leave?

But really, the above is a big part of the problem I was referring to. It isn’t just Reaganomics and republicans — it was Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and then I’m afraid next will be more of the same. This gender war thing is stuck back in the 80s, I swear.

I’ll bow out here since a number of commenters would prefer I do so. And anyway, I think I made my point, and I hope some people consider it.

Finally, as a closing statement I’d like to say sorry for being nasty to Dave, who, although I don’t think he always gets things right, seems like a pretty decent guy. He doesn’t deserve to be trashed.

But in all fairness he did piss me off a bunch of times, and I was easy to provoke at that point.

Take it easy, folks. I’ll be out there working on something else in the next go-round.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

Hey, how about paid parental leave?

You’re years late to the party on that one, Bill. Remember that whole “gender roles” thing you scoffed at feminists for attacking? Paternity leave, and parental leave in general, is a natural extension from that, and feminists already support it.

Shaenon
6 years ago

Wow, this is fascinating. So basically, Price has become a feminist, but he doesn’t want to call himself that because feminists are man-eating monster women. So he’s trying to reclassify all the feminist ideas he supports as not really feminist for some reason, and all the kind, sensible, non-man-eating feminists he knows as not really feminists. And this has landed him on a feminist website, trying to tell all the feminists there that we secretly hate it when men change diapers.

What an odd conversation this has turned out to be.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
6 years ago

Jenora — as a really late baby (like, over two weeks late), back in the 80s, I gotta say that there is no way a pregnancy can run 17 weeks past the due date.

Oh, I know that. (My sister was two weeks late delivering herself, and was very very glad to have that over with.)

The thing is, you can start pregnancy leave up to 17 weeks prior to the official due date, so that your leave would normally end right after the due date. If the baby is late at that point, then you get the automatic extension.

The normal expectation in that case is that pregnancy leave will automatically end on the actual date of live birth, and the mother will then normally start parental leave. (Which still lasts for 35 weeks even if the pregnancy leave lasted longer than 17 weeks.)

The link I pointed out above has some bureaucratese to it, but it has covered most of the likely corner cases I can think of. (I will admit to having not thought about it too hard, as I have no plans on having children.)

cupisnique
6 years ago

Shaenan I think you just summed up the entire conversation, no need to read through his long teal deers. Everything he wrote was the epitome of mansplaining feminism to feminists.

lith
lith
6 years ago

@Bill:

Because my then wife was very frustrated, I offered a solution: I’ll help with the kids while you ease into a job again.

I hope I don’t offend you or anyone here by saying this, but if things went down how you say then you’re something of a feminist – you should reevaluate your view of what feminism is. As others have said, you keep pointing at ‘evil’ women and saying they’re feminists because they did something bad. But they aren’t examples of feminism.
What you say you did, that’s more like feminism – it sounds like you’ve just got your labels mixed up and you’re not listening when people tell you it’s not feminism.
What you say your ex did, that’s the same kind of behaviour I don’t like in MRAs, it might be empowerment but it ain’t feminism, it’s just bad behaviour.

Anenome
Anenome
6 years ago

@ Bill Price

“I’m talking about making a request for a visitation schedule. Any man who is not a serious danger to his kids will get one.”

Doesn’t this blow a frequently recited MRA myth out of the water? The one about mothers “stealing” children from caring, loving fathers who never see them again?

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

And yes, in many American households with small children, women do work. However, they’re still usually the ones who are expected to take the “flexible” job: the one who begs off work when there is a sick kid, the one who finds a side job wherever her husband’s “real” jobs sends them, the one who does the doctor and dental appointments, the one who scales back to part-time when things get too complicated at home, etc.

That’s another good point.
When I was working (full time while taking part time classes) with two kids, it almost felt like there were months where I was at home more than at work – and I had to be the one to do it because my husband had a travel-intensive job.
And that seems to be the way it breaks down for many couples, at least in the US. Unless you can swing a nanny or au pair, with young children – even school-age but not able to stay home by themselves young – it ends up being a better strategy (earnings-wise) for one spouse to go full bore and another to have a more flexible and/or low-key job. Someone’s got to handle the grunt work, and it makes sense not to ding the person with most earnings potential (because many professional environments take leave, even family leave, as a sign that you’re not really serious about the job) if you’re viewing it from a functional-unit rather than individual perspective.

Re: spousal support: I think it still as a place when one spouse has made substantial career sacrifices for the sake of the other or the family, at least as a temporary/phased thing.
I don’t have to tell you about the job market around military bases. A spouse who moves with their military member *is not* going to have the same earnings potential that theyay have had if they’d stayed put, and if a spouse follows their husband or wife to a country in which they can’t work (work visa, etc) that should be taken into account, too.
My friend’s ex followed her to India for most of a decade. He only did so much to raise the kids (a local Nanny and Housekeeper were well within their means), but couldn’t really work. He cheated on her and left, and even that douchenozzle merited (and received, btw) spousal support for a few years to find his professional feet.

Both alimony and child support should be – and seem to increasingly be – gender blind and circumstance contingent. That the circumstances “favor” generally favor women (with “favor” being in the loosest possible terms) is more of an issue of – wait for it – systemic patriarchy than anything else.
As Bill points out (!!!), it’s less of an issue in countries with generous family leave attitudes and policies, good public daycare/preschool, and a robust social safety net. As others have said, he’s talking like a raging feminist…except for all of the “damn raging feminists” stuff.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Clearly there is no reason that Bill’s ex would want him out of her life and another man in it other than wimminz slutty scheming biotruth.

He thinks that. That is a thing he thinks. I’m reading this asshole’s stupid, misogynist pontificating and it is blowing me away how up his own ass he is. I cannot imagine wasting my life with a shithead like that. He’s such an asshole that he has made up an entire fictional world where the world is against him and his marital and parenting problems aren’t his fault. He is consumed with self pity while he encourages fathers to do the “smart” thing and abandon their children.

…and he thinks women are the horrible ones.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

some poor, sentimental sap with a shitty job who cries because he misses his kids and can’t keep up with his child support is seen as a contemptible loser, and will be punished severely for his weakness.

NEWSFLASH: Being poor sucks. Capitalism isn’t fair. That’s not feminism’s fault and it does not only suck for men.

http://media.giphy.com/media/5bo8XMq0GROw0/giphy-facebook_s.jpg

2aimai
2aimai
6 years ago

I’ve been married and I’ve had young children. If your wife began planning to get financial security and leave you when her youngest child was 1 year old and the oldest two and a half your marriage must have been awful and she must have been desperate to get out. That’s the truth of it. The stay at home parent of such young children is too busy, otherwise, to scheme in this way. I’d also like to point out that you went from having a flexible full time job to taking what you represent as an enormous hit financially and in terms of job recognition in only six months. That seems odd.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

@Lea Right, I don’t know Price’s ex– maybe she’s every bit the terrible conniving blackmailing backstabber he portrays her as– but every time he gets to yammering about feminism, I really kind of want to divorce him myself.

Yes, the military spouse thing is often shockingly bad for a person’s longterm employment prospects. There are a handful of careers a person can pursue while being the trailing spouse, like nursing… but there’s a reason a lot more milspouses are stay-at-homes than in the general population.

Plus, usually you are far from extended family so there’s no backstop of cheap/free Grandma-care to lean on, even in a pinch. Which, from casual observation, helps keep a lot of the dual-career couples afloat in my extended family.

I still think it’s funny he thinks real parenting and employment equality is “totalitarian” before divorce, but too many choices and consideration of individual circumstance is very bad afterward.

Yup, still smells like MRA bullshit to me!

Bill Price
Bill Price
6 years ago

@lea & ceebarks

Sorry to butt back in after saying I’d leave you alone, but the speculation about my ex’s personal character and reasons for wanting out of the marriage aren’t fair, and aren’t really relevant to the broader issue, because people have all sorts of reasons.

First, she is not a “terrible person” or backstabber by nature. She was a young mother who was frustrated for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I was depressed and disillusioned with marriage myself. It was all fine when we were young and hot without a care in the world, but then all the sudden we had a lot more work and a lot less money, and we felt and looked like shit much of the time (parenthood can do that). It’s those kinds of situations that bring out the flaws in the relationship that were papered over by the benefits in the beginning.

Yes, what she did was really aggressive and not nice, but she had reason to be angry with me. Sure, I looked after the kids so she could work, but I was pretty resentful about having to take on that role and deal with her frustration, so I let her know that by being distant and gloomy for months (it didn’t help that our parents on both sides, and my boss, all shit on me for doing the childcare, and used it as an excuse to offer no help). Add an extremely painful health condition that emerged right in the middle of it and I must have been a pretty unpleasant person to live with. I don’t blame her for wanting out. I wanted the hell out of the situation too. She was just the one with the guts to do something about it.

I’m not bitter about her leaving. On the contrary — I understand. I’m just really not happy about how it went down. Out of all the ways people could end relationships, the way it’s done in the US is among the worst. And I think that’s because men and women treat it as a war with each other in politics, philosophy and the courts.

I’m not the God-damned “patriarchy” for heaven’s sake. I’m just one guy out of millions, so why the heavy artillery?

BTW, my ex and I get along fine now, because it’s just about the kids, and she’s a good, loving mom, which I appreciate most of all. When it’s just between me and her, and you remove the lawyers, courts, in-laws and all other partisan factors, somehow we can work things out.

In fact, the only professional who ever helped at all was an expensive private mediator who worked with both of us in a professional, time-efficient manner. He was worth every penny, because he totally shut down the “personal” issues and focused only on the practical matters of working out a residential schedule that we could both live with. I wish to God we’d had that at the beginning.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Bill, my thing with you is that I don’t think you really understand that part of the reason for this kind of drama is that the US has such poor support for families in general. You want the benefits of a Nordic-type system post-breakup, but not the taxes or obligations or conformity of it beforehand, when things are going relatively well.

In the US, childcare is so much based on … private handshake agreements behind closed doors, often without any real contingency planning or compensation or clear boundaries involved. (Personally, I think it’s a miracle that kind of thing doesn’t actually blow up more often than it does.)

But then when it does go kablooey, you seem to want a very one-size-fits-all approach, with no respect for any prior arrangements or constraints. And to some extent, this already happens. I think it is reasonable to say that a lot of divorcing couples have some pretty major deficits that they clearly can’t resolve on their own, so of course the state tends to get involved to define some responsibilities, within the limits of what already exists. The alternative is, I guess, let the kids starve on the streets, in the worst case scenarios. So the state steps in when people can’t or won’t do it themselves.

Not a big surprise that people don’t always like the outcome of that!

It’s like… you think divorce should be as easy and clean as possible (which, you know, I agree with; no one in possession of their faculties is excited about the prospect of having a massive court battle, probably not even lawyers.)

But none of this goes down in a vacuum, either. You seem to understand that your own career sacrifices had a big meaningful impact on your job prospects (even though they lasted like, what, six months? Granted, in the middle of a recession in, as I recall, an industry that has struggled for a long time even in better times!)

But you do not seem to grok that this disproportionately impacts women, because they disproportionately continue to be the ones to do the unpaid grunt work of raising children in our society.

Yes, even in 2015.
Yes, even (especially?) unmarried low-income women.

I’m like, how the heck is this feminism’s fault? Anytime I bring up how broken the childcare system is, how much American workers need better wages, tenable work/family policies, etc, I inevitably get back a giant shouty dude-chorus of “NOT MY PROBLEM!”

Well, ok– but that collective choice has some consequences!

Ellie
Ellie
6 years ago

Wut

Bill Pricei
6 years ago

But none of this goes down in a vacuum, either. You seem to understand that your own career sacrifices had a big meaningful impact on your job prospects (even though they lasted like, what, six months? Granted, in the middle of a recession in, as I recall, an industry that has struggled for a long time even in better times!)

-ceebark

[again, sorry if I’m bothering those who don’t want me here, so go ahead and skip this please if it pisses you off]

Actually, it was closer to two years. I started taking care of the kids in August ’07, and finally got a permanent parenting plan in April ’09. The temporary parenting plan insanely held me to taking care of the kids during the day while mom and grandma worked, and on top of that demanded I pay child support, because she and her mom had them sleep at their place — only overnights count for total days. It was really brutal, but I followed it because I wanted to have that time with the kids, and I knew it would matter in the long run because I remember how grateful I am to this day to my paternal grandfather for taking care of me in similar circumstances.

Ultimately, I think it was the right choice despite it essentially ruining my social life and career, because giving your kids your time when they need it most can set the tone for life. My dad totally dropped the ball in this way, and while I don’t hold it against him because he had some pretty serious problems, it was hard on me as a kid and the effects lasted well into my youth and linger to this day.

And I don’t buy the idea that lawyers don’t want this kind of thing. They do. It’s how they jack up the bills. They are not innocent in this mess.

As for the taxes and all that, I don’t have a problem with Nordic style socialism so long as it’s feasible. What ruins it in the US is identity politics. Every group is fighting for a bigger slice of the pie, and can’t see the big picture. Could you seriously tell me that every interest group will set aside its own special issues for the greater good? It just isn’t going to happen.

I understand that women have a gripe about doing the unpaid work of childcare. In Seattle, daycare costs, last I checked, some $1,200 a month per kid. More for infants. And this in an industry that pays barely above minimum wage. Family work isn’t sufficently valued, and that’s a systemic problem. But assigning monetary value to it doesn’t seem to be helping. Both Seattle and San Francisco are notoriously childless, despite a much stronger push for gender equality in both places and a very powerful feminist establishment. And yet both California and Washington have normal fertility outside these cities. Clearly, political feminism, which is as powerful in these two cities as anywhere, hasn’t done much to help.

So why not try my prescription, which is to give men an incentive to care for the kids. If the father doesn’t want to take care of them, he pays. If he’s willing to share the burden, he doesn’t. Most noncustodial fathers these days are not middle-aged assholes with kickass jobs who are screwing the secretary. They’re young men without much money who could actually help the kids’ mothers by shouldering some of the burden of childcare. But instead our system treats them as though they are callous jerks who have dragooned women into giving up their aspirations to “stand by my man.” The picture you get from feminists is totally dissonant with reality, and asshole baby boomer MRAs aren’t doing a damn thing to help solve this problem. Like I said, they’ve been rewarded for being jerks, and as far as I can tell feminists are perfectly happy to perpetuate this screwed up system. Maybe it validates their complaints. Maybe they have some skin in the game as lawyers and social workers. Whatever the reason, they’re half of the problem.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Jenora — oooh, I misunderstood, my mistake! Blame your southern neighbor’s utter lack of parental leave! You might have more snow than us, but everything else makes up for that 🙂

(And we’ve got a few feet too many here anyways, I’d take Toronto over this!)

Proxieme — yeah, I’m starting to actually feel bad for Bill, like yeah, shit here sucks, and he seems to want to do rights by his kid(s), but is barking up the wrong tree. As far as school age kids but not old enough to stay home alone — we had a neighbor who ran daycare and took my brother paid and me as a 10~ year old volunteer helper. I wasn’t old enough to handle an emergency, but I could handle fetching stuff and cleaning sticky hands. Being able to get your kid watched for free cuz they help out is probably a rarity though (and I’m lucky, the other time I did that was mostly silly office stuff and feeding horses, even got to ride one since I was a nice little passenger to ease the new momma horse back into riding!)

Bill —

“In fact, the only professional who ever helped at all was an expensive private mediator who worked with both of us in a professional, time-efficient manner. He was worth every penny, because he totally shut down the “personal” issues and focused only on the practical matters of working out a residential schedule that we could both live with. I wish to God we’d had that at the beginning.”

Is pushing for that sort of things, an helping people find mediators gonna be on the to do list for the new blog? Cuz that sounds like a way you could actually help people!

Ceebarks — having worked for a civil law lawyer, no, they don’t like big cases. Actually, this is on topic! He wouldn’t do divorce cases because everybody’s wrong and everybody’s right — in divorce neither party is 100% perfect, nor 100% terrible. It’s not a matter of, say, whose client should’ve dealt with some blueprint thing, or whether the changes were on the final blueprints, or whether the shopping center or store is responsible for the sidewalks.

Laywers usually get paid hourly, of course they’d rather get ten hours from ten simple things rather than ten complex hours of the same thing.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

You know, and the other random thing I was thinking about WRT the “nordic model” is that, as I understand it, most Scandinavian countries tax husbands and wives individually, instead of allowing them to file jointly like we do here. That also seems to have an effect on how people organize their lives, long, long before a separation looms… more along individual lines, basically.

I remember my dad objecting to my mom’s occasional part-time cleaning jobs partly because it put them into a higher tax bracket (which today, seems to me like a pretty stupid objection to extra income, but whatever. Maybe things were different in 1995.)

But if they’d been taxed separately, it wouldn’t have seemed so much like it was “extra” income, you know?

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

In the United States, tax benefits or “marriage bonuses” to married couples with only one breadwinner (or with a breadwinner earning the bulk of the couple’s income) have been cited by the Tax Policy Center as one of the debt-ballooning policies of the Bush tax cuts. The Tax Policy Center asserts that these “marriage bonuses” are often subsidized by single people and two-earner marriages or are unfunded and thus contribute to government borrowing.

— Wikipedia entry on income splitting

Well, see, there’s something readily actionable right there. I always thought it was strange that the one-income (or income-and-a-half, or income-and-a-quarter) model would continue to prevail so much here in the US…

oh, look, more!

Income splitting is strongly opposed by United States economists such as Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, by some people in two-earner marriages, and especially by those in Shared Earning/Shared Parenting Marriages.[citation needed] The opposition also comes from those who see this type of taxation contributing to problems of Child neglect, particularly by fathers, family breakdown, equal pay for equal work problems for women, poverty in general, and the Feminization of poverty, particularly in older women.

Maybe it’s just the G&T talking, but this is all pretty interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_splitting

lith
lith
6 years ago

@Bill:

You keep saying feminists and feminism are doing these bad things but they aren’t things feminists want (at least the ones I know of) and they aren’t what feminism is about.
Seriously, have you seen views like that somewhere on this blog being expressed by someone who identifies as feminist (as opposed to the trolls)? Because I haven’t.

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

Yes, the military spouse thing is often shockingly bad for a person’s longterm employment prospects. There are a handful of careers a person can pursue while being the trailing spouse, like nursing… but there’s a reason a lot more milspouses are stay-at-homes than in the general population.

But you can always do home-based sales!
It’s great!
You can guilt your friends into buying whatever you’re selling by reminding them that you bought the stuff that they’re selling!
*breaks into “Circle of Life”*

Bill – I actually don’t think that you sound like a bad person, just myopic on some things.

re: never married parents not paying support when genuinely sharing custody: That’s…how I’ve seen it play out, at least in the past decade-decade and a half ????
But I’ll admit that I’ve also seen things start out that way and then be revised (in court) when one parent or the other consistently flakes out.

re: your situation: Not to pry, but out of curiousity (1) how long ago did your divorce happen and (2) where do you live (region’s fine)?
Because I absolutely think that your childcare/work history should have been taken into account; and, honestly, I have seen them be in anagolous situations (at least in the mid-Atlantic with lower/middle income dual earners).

re: court vs mediation: I would absolutely urge anyone in the Us who’s getting a divorce to first try mediation. It keeps things at least marginally cooperative rather than defaulting to adversarial.

But re: the adversarial nature of US splits: I honestly don’t think that you can tie that to feminism (or any other -ism), really. It’s a more integral part of our culture, exacerbated (I think) by our increasingly insular ideological stances and media sources (“If we disagree, you’re not only wrong – YOU’RE EVIL!”).
It’s large part of the reason I refuse to watch TV news.

re: income and childcare: ACTUALLY, I’ve also seen many low-income mothers staying at home because they just can’t afford what they seem to be adequate childcare, with any employment being…let’s call it “casual” (under the table), inconsistent, and contingent upon when friends and family can watch the children.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

In my state all divorced parents get shared custody unless there is a problem or one or both of the parents want a different custody agreement. Child support goes directly to the state and is then paid to the parent receiving child support. That does not mean people don’t get screwed.

Still, 75% of fathers who sue for custody get it.

A friend of mine’s sister lost custody of her daughter after the statute of limitations has run out on the statutory rape that got her pregnant because for the first time in his life, the father wanted to spend time with his daughter. She had been 14 when she got pregnant. He had been her older brother’s best friend and 18. The absent father used her relying on her family too much to help her raise her daughter when she was a teen and his better financial position to take the 8 yr old to another state permanently. The judge said the mom had had a fair chance and now it was the fathers turn.

The judge was a woman who it is said is bias toward women by singles dads in town.

Can you imagine the uproar if she was even fair to women?

I’m a SAHM. I have been for years. My husband is a nurturing dad, but I’m more likely to get custody than him because I am and have been the main caregiver at great sacrifice to my earning potential and aid to his. I stayed home while he finished school and worked on his career. He has had years of networking, work experience etc. Why should he befit from my free labor for years and then be able to split with the kids with zero financial obligation to me?

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Both Seattle and San Francisco are notoriously childless, despite a much stronger push for gender equality in both places and a very powerful feminist establishment. And yet both California and Washington have normal fertility outside these cities. Clearly, political feminism, which is as powerful in these two cities as anywhere, hasn’t done much to help.

right, but what coastal city isn’t pretty low-fertility? People seem to gravitate to big cities to establish careers and have fun in their 20s/early 30s, and then decamp for the ‘burbs if and when they have kids, ’cause the rent is too damned high.

I’m certainly not unsympathetic to your plight as outlined above. I’ll admit I’ve got some hard feelings ’cause the last time I tried conversing with you, you were kind of a dick to me for no reason and you made… just a ton of incorrect assumptions. But I get it, you were just mad. I was mad, too, ’cause six years ago was frankly not a great time in my own marriage. Small children will indeed amplify every flaw in a relationship.

My parents split in 2003, after my mom had spent 20+ years following my dad from military post to military post. I remember he didn’t like it whenever she’d find some part-time job, ’cause he didn’t like navigating around two work schedules, and he felt like the “extra” money she made mostly got swallowed up in more taxes. (How true this was, I can’t say.) Also, i think he really kind of liked being the only breadwinner because in a lot of ways, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and all.

Well, then he retired and the last kid flew the nest, and he took up with an online affair with someone 12 years younger. Suddenly he wanted Mom OUT, despite the fact that they’d bought their first house together just the year before. Instead of just saying, “hey, look, I’ve found someone else, I’ve been unhappy for a long time, let’s divvy things up and move on, blahblah” (which, yes, i’m sure she would have found devastating and which yes, the family would have judged him the worse for) he started a gaslighting campaign, wherein he’d make veiled death threats that were juuuuuust this side of deniable plausibility. “You know, if I were Scott Peterson and I lived here, I’d cut up the body and scatter the pieces in the bay. No one would ever catch ME!” Coupled with an uncharacteristically cold demeanor, Mom read the writing on the wall and fled to a women’s shelter with naught but the clothes on her back.

He, of course, claims to this day to be the innocent victim of abandonment by an irrational woman. What could he do? Poor him. So he did exactly what any grieving husband would do: moved his girlfriend in the following month and told the judge he didn’t owe my mom a thin dime because SHE abandoned HIM. Plus, he argued, his STBX was just mad that he had a new gf, and also, how was he supposed to support TWO women on one moderate income? Riddle me that, Judge Smarty Pants?!

The judge may have been a total hardcore ideological feminist because that argument did not actually go far. Mom was (finally) awarded half his pension, half the value of the retirement house they’d bought the year before, and five years’ spousal support. Dad was totally livid. If he were techier and more enterprising, he’d have started a mens-rights site.

Mom spent two years after separation living in her church’s basement trying to get back on her feet while their case went through the system. When she got a part-time job at Wal-Mart, she about cried for relief. (To this day, she will cut you with her eyes for talking smack about Wal-Mart in her presence. lol)

Dad would call me sometimes to gripe about how hard-done he’d been, how the system was working him over because courts always side with the woman. IT’S MYYY MONEEEY BITCH GET A JOB.

I’m like, nope, nope, nope, not listening to your bullshit. Oh, and before I forget, here’s some more nope.

In the end, she did get the pension payments, as that’s arranged through the fed. gov, but not most of the spousal support, which he terminated once she moved and he figured (correctly) that she wouldn’t go back just to take him to court. To this day, I’m sure he thinks the family is distant because he got divorced and she alienated the kids (as if she has those kinds of powers of psychological voodoo: she couldn’t even get us to brush our damned teeth half the time, and still can’t get any of us to go to church!)

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

But you can always do home-based sales!
It’s great!
You can guilt your friends into buying whatever you’re selling by reminding them that you bought the stuff that they’re selling!
*breaks into “Circle of Life”*

omg, seriously, do not even get me started, lol Fucking Scentsy and Origami Owl and Mary Kay and Pampered Chef and Thirty-One and Lia Sophia and all the dodgy weightloss ones, too. argh

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

I extra-like when you get invited to what seems like an actual social gathering: “let’s all get together and work on some Christmas crafts!”

and it turns out that the main event is a pitch for rubber fucking stamps, or scented fucking candles.

WE’VE BEEN AMBUSHED! ABORT ABORT

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

I admit that I like Party Lites. I don’t need to buy anymore though. I have enough to last a while considering that I only burn scented fucking candles once in awhile.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
6 years ago

@Argenti

Jenora — oooh, I misunderstood, my mistake! Blame your southern neighbor’s utter lack of parental leave! You might have more snow than us, but everything else makes up for that 🙂

I could have been clearer in my phrasing to start with.

And, actually, yeah, we have snow here, but Buffalo on the other side of the lake tends to get a whole lot more. Toronto gets this odd combination of lake effect and heat island effect that ends up redirecting a lot of the snow around it instead.

Then again, I grew up in Victoria, B.C., which doesn’t get much snow. A foot of snowfall at once was the worst storm in 80 years and shut down the city. Think Seattle weather patterns there.