Tag Archives: Sexual Politics

Stephen Baskerville: five myths about no-fault divorce

From the Catholic News Agency.

Introduction:

Almost four decades after the “no-fault” divorce revolution began in California, misconceptions abound. Even the many books about divorce, including myriad self-help manuals, are full of inaccurate and misleading information. No public debate preceded the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s, and no debate has taken place since.

Yet divorce-on-demand is exacting a devastating toll on our children, our social order, our economy, and even our constitutional rights. A recent study estimates the financial cost of divorce to taxpayers at $112 billion annually. Recent demands to legitimize same-sex marriage almost certainly follow from the divorce revolution, since gay activists readily acknowledge that they only desire to marry under the loosened terms that have resulted from the new divorce laws. Divorce also contributes to a dangerous increase in the power of the state over private life.

Here are the five myths about no-fault divorce:

  • No-fault divorce permitted divorce by mutual consent, thus making divorce less acrimonious
  • We cannot force people to remain married and should not try
  • No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children
  • When couples cannot agree or cooperate about matters like how the children should be raised, a judge must decide according to “the best interest of the child”
  • Divorce must be made easy because of domestic violence

And the details about number three:

Myth 3: No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children.

Fact: This does happen (wives more often than children), but it is greatly exaggerated. The vast majority of no-fault divorces — especially those involving children — are filed by wives. In fact, as Judy Parejko, author of Stolen Vows, has shown, the no-fault revolution was engineered largely by feminist lawyers, with the cooperation of the bar associations, as part of the sexual revolution. Overwhelmingly, it has served to separate large numbers of children from their fathers. Sometimes the genders are reversed, so that fathers take children from mothers. But either way, the main effect of no-fault is to make children weapons and pawns to gain power through the courts, not the “abandonment” of them by either parent.

Al Mohler wrote about the history of no-fault divorce a while back, and I think it’s worth reviewing why we have this lousy law.

The story behind America’s love affair with no-fault divorce is a sad and instructive tale. As Baskerville documents, no-fault divorce laws emerged in the United States during the 1970s and quickly spread across the nation. Even though only nine states had no-fault divorce laws in 1977, by 1995, every state had legalized no-fault divorce.

Behind all this is an ideological revolution driven by feminism and facilitated by this society’s embrace of autonomous individualism. Baskerville argues that divorce “became the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of feminism, because it creates millions of gender battles on the most personal level.” As far back as 1947, the National Association of Women Lawyers [NAWL] was pushing for what we now know as no-fault divorce. More recently, NAWL claims credit for the divorce revolution, describing it as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”

The feminists and NAWL were not working alone, of course. Baskerville explains that the American Bar Association “persuaded the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws [NCCUSL] to produce the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.” Eventually, this led to a revolution in law and convulsions in society at large. This legal revolution effectively drove a stake into the heart of marriage itself, with inevitable consequences. In effect, no-fault divorce has become the catalyst for one of the most destructive cultural shifts in human history. Now, no-fault divorce is championed by many governments in the name of human rights, and America’s divorce revolution is spreading around the world under the banner of “liberation.”

And note that Democrats oppose any effort to reform laws that make it easy to break up marriages:

A basic dishonesty on the question of divorce pervades our political culture. Baskerville cites Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision.” Granholm’s comments came as she vetoed a bill intended to reform divorce law in her state. The danger and dishonesty of referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision” is evident in the fact that this supposedly private decision imposes a reality, not only on the couple, but also on children and the larger society. Indeed, the “private decision” is really not made by a couple at all–but only by any spouse demanding a divorce.

So, no-fault was pushed by two groups: feminists and trial lawyers. Christians rolled over for it because we thought we fell for the myths that no-fault divorce was “compassionate”. That was a mistake, and one we need to roll back. (By the way, that’s not a bad post by Al Mohler. I pick on him for having his head stuck in the Bible, but it looks like he has a comprehensive view of marriage)

The reason I am writing about this is because of a post by Dr. Jerry Walls (H/T First Things) where he said that people who are opposed to gay marriage tend to say nothing at all against premarital sex and no-fault divorce. Well, I am against gay marriage and I am also personally a virgin and I would repeal premarital sex promotion in the schools and no-fault divorce in the courts if I could. And in fact regular readers know that I am always blogging about the damage caused by divorce and the damage caused by premarital sex, usually with study after study to support my views. I don’t just say “the Bible says” and expect that to transform a culture that is largely indifferent or even hostile to what the Bible says.

I think that Christians need to become experts on everything from the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant to no-fault divorce to the Laffer curve to undesigned coincidences in the New Testament sources to WMD development and proliferation in rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. The more people regard Christians as intelligent, informed and circumspect, the more people will be curious about the gospel. We have to know everything about everything and we have to be concerned about every conflict between Christian convictions and what’s happening in the world. Studying the way the world works is one way of serving God and defending his honor with people who want to dismiss him, and dismiss their obligations to him.

Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system

I find myself thinking about life-long married love on Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to post an article by marriage-defender Jennifer Roback Morse about one of the biggest challenges to life-long married love.

Excerpt:

Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

She explains who is really behind the attempt to destroy marriage, and the answer might shock you.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. Talk to any man and he will tell you that aside from the concerns about the economy and the national debt, the main reason why he is not willing to get married is the unfairness of the family courts. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

Obama: 25% fewer male graduates than female graduates is a great accomplishment

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

In an op-ed published Saturday in Newsweek, President Barack Obama marked the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX–which bars gender discrimination in education—and noted that more women in the United States are now graduating from college than men, which he characterized as “a great accomplishment” for the nation.

“In fact, more women as a whole now graduate from college than men,”Obama wrote. “This is a great accomplishment—not just for one sport or one college or even just for women but for America. And this is what Title IX is all about.”

According to the Census Bureau, 685,000 men and 916,000 women graduated from college in 2009 (the latest year for which statistics have been published). That means 25 percent fewer men received college degrees than women.

And:

In the nationwide collegiate class of 1975, which started college before Title IX was implemented, the males graduating from college outnumbered females, 505,000 to 418,000–meaning 17 percent fewer women graduated than men.

By 1985, according to Census Bureau data, the number of women graduating from college each year was outstripping the number of men. In that year, about 497,000 women graduated from college and 483,000 men. That gave women a margin over men of almost 3 percent.

In every year since 1985, according to the Census Bureau, women have outnumbered men in graduating from college, with women dramatically expanding their advantage over men in receiving college diplomas to the 25 percent advantage they achieved in 2009.

In his Newsweek op-ed, President Obama said Title IX helped America ensure what he called “equal education.”

It’s important to understand that the widespread unwillingness of men to get married, and their inability to provide for a family if they are married, have been caused by specific policies and laws, and not by a deficiency of “manhood”. From no-fault divorce to normalizing premarital sex to biased domestic violence laws to higher tax rates to false  accusations to discrimination in education to discrimination in hiring, and beyond – men are being actively discouraged and prevented from taking on the traditional role of being sole provider for their families. Pastors who expect to reverse this trend have to do more than resort to bellowing two-word slogans (“Man Up!”) at the dwindling numbers of men in their churches. This marriage strike problem is caused by policies and laws, and it requires a political and legal response.

Christians should be especially concerned about the presence of fathers in the home, given the evidence I blogged about before showing how the presence of quality fathers is essential for passing Christian beliefs on to children. Churches need to ask themselves tough questions: Are we teaching women how to choose men based on practical concerns and proven abilities in our churches? And are we doing a good job of attracting men to churches by promoting the masculine, practical aspects of Christianity that men like – like science, apologetics debates, economics and foreign policy?

Why is this weakening of men’s ability to graduate and get jobs a priority of the left? The left is dominated by feminist thought, and they do not want men having different roles than women in the home. It’s sad that many men who are ignorant of these threats to male leadership go along with it and then find out too late what the effects of their feminist sympathies are.

Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system

I find myself thinking about life-long married love on Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to post an article by marriage-defender Jennifer Roback Morse about one of the biggest challenges to life-long married love.

Excerpt:

Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

She explains who is really behind the attempt to destroy marriage, and the answer might shock you.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. Talk to any man and he will tell you that aside from the concerns about the economy and the national debt, the main reason why he is not willing to get married is the unfairness of the family courts. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

Stephen Baskerville explains the results of the sexualization of politics

Stephen Baskerville explains the consequences of having bigger government. (H/T Jennifer Roback Morse at RuthBlog)

Excerpt:

While elite feminists did assume previously male occupations, many more women have entered the workforce in professionalized versions of traditional homemaker roles. This has transformed childrearing and other domestic tasks from private family matters into public, communal, and taxable activities, necessarily expanding the size and power of the state and leading to the creation of vast bureaucracies to oversee public education and social services.

These are precisely the professions now being expanded by the Obama administration’s massive stimulus expenditures. The effect is to amplify the intrusion of the state into the home—indeed, the displacement of the home by the state. For as feminists point out, the feminine functions were traditionally private. Professionalizing feminine roles has therefore meant institutionalizing in government bureaucracies responsibilities that were once characteristic of private life. The politicization of children and the usurpation of parental rights under the guise of child protection are the clearest manifestations of this.

Fathers have been marginalized, and their lives are ever more directly administered by the state. They are not simply “absent,” as Rosin writes—they are increasingly likely to be under the control of the judicial and penal systems. Rosin’s article provides a telling example of a particularly state-feminist form of punishment now meted out to men: therapy.

None of the 30 or so men sitting in a classroom at a downtown Kansas City school have come for voluntary adult enrichment. Having failed to pay their child support, they were given the choice by a judge to go to jail or attend a weekly class on fathering…. This week’s lesson…involve[d] writing a letter to a hypothetical estranged 14-year-old daughter named Crystal, whose father left her…

What is clear from Rosin’s account is that the therapy, like the penal system, has been designed less to punish the alleged crime than to psychologically recondition men.

The class leader

grew up watching Bill Cosby living behind his metaphorical “white picket fence.” “Well, that check bounced a long time ago,” he says. … He continues, reading from a worksheet. What are the four kinds of paternal authority? Moral, emotional, social, and physical. “But you ain’t none of those in that house. All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain’t even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she’ll call 911. … You’re supposed to be the authority, and she says, ‘Get out of the house, b*tch.’ She’s calling you ‘b*tch’!” … “What is our role? Everyone’s telling us we’re supposed to be the head of a nuclear family, so you feel like you got robbed.” … He writes on the board: $85,000. “This is her salary.” Then: $12,000. “This is your salary. … Who’s the man now?” A murmur rises. “That’s right. She’s the man.”

This is not law enforcement. It is government indoctrination.

So you’re basically looking at the marginalization and criminalization of men in their traditional role through things like no-fault divorce, divorce courts, welfare for single mothers, and biased domestic violence laws. Honestly, do women understand what incentives this creates for men who are contemplating a traditional marriage and traditional roles of husbands and fathers? I guess not.

You really need to read the whole article. I normally would never link to the paleo-con American Conservative (which I mostly disagree with) but Stephen Baskerville rocks. I make his book “Taken Into Custody” required reading for anyone who wants to marry me, because that book destroys the notion of divorce better than any other book. It makes divorce unthinkable just like Francis J. Beckwith’s “Defending Life” makes abortion unthinkable. I get excited when I learn something that makes it more rational for me to do the right thing – and Baskerville will do that for you.