Ya Can’t Find Equality from the Kitchen

Family structure in the United States magnifies class-based inequality and undermines the human capital of the next generation. Yet, the ideas that helped secure a Nobel Prize in economics for Chicago economist Gary Becker still provide the starting point for every discussion of the economics of the family, and if followed, would produce an economy that looks like Yemen’s.Becker won the Nobel Prize at least in part because of his identification of marriage with specialization and trade: men “specialize” in the market and women in the home. His critical prediction: with the wholesale movement of women into the labor market, the gains from marriage would decline and family instability would rise. Yet, it is the blue states — and the families who combine dual careers with egalitarian relationships — that show the biggest drop in divorce rates and brightest spots in in a failing economy.

Yeah baby!  More from June Carbone

And then there’s Feminomics at New Deal 2.0

Sanity on the Octuplets

Hysperia loves Patricia J. Williams and has for a long time.  At The Nation, Williams adds some sanity to the discussion of the octuplets birthed by Nadya Suleman .  Here are some bits:

No doubt Suleman has emotional problems. But rather than caring about her mental health, much of the media are content to pillory her as a drain on the public dole–selfish, frivolous, calculating and cruel. No Brangelina-style accolades of “God Bless ‘Em” in People magazine. Just impassioned calls to cut off her remaining sources of income and to criminally prosecute the doctor who fertilized her. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution even ran an op-ed calling for the government to appoint a legal advocate for every child born to an unmarried woman, since the “lack of a father’s guidance” must be “a major cause of [children’s] suffering.” Furthermore, in the case of Suleman’s children, “the legal advocate would file suit against the fertility clinic or a physician who knowingly contributed to their abuse–life in a multiple-child household headed by a single woman.”


This past fall The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story by Alex Kuczynski, fashion writer and self-confessed “cosmetic surgery addict.” Her wish to have a child was framed by fierce determinism, the “natural outgrowth” of marriage to her husband–without whom she “would skip the child.” Kuczynski is married to a man whose “sperm had a track record”–six other children by two prior wives. She, the third bride and twenty years her husband’s junior, described herself as engaged in nothing less than a “battle for my fertility”; having a biological child was “necessary,” a “mad desire,” a “compulsion” and “proof” of the marital bond, without which she faced “wrecked hopes” and an “abyss of grief.” Indeed, to die “without having created a life is to die two deaths: the death of yourself and the death of the immense opportunity that is a child.” When she thinks she’s pregnant, she feels a “shiver of victorious accomplishment…. my own fecundity triumphant.” When she tells people she’s not, she feels “barren, decrepit, desexualized,” “branded with a scarlet ‘I’ for ‘Infertile,'” “the dried-up crone with a uterus full of twigs.”

Just because Kuczynski is married and wealthy does not make her less obsessive or more profound than Suleman. Kuczynski sounds like a sad, silly child mooning over “fertile but fit” stars like Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek and “John Edwards’s sometime mistress,” who all had babies in their 40s. Likewise, Suleman takes heart looking at Angelina Jolie. Suleman and Kuczynski represent disturbing emotional extremes. But that should not excuse the rest of us from examining the oppressive competitive natality that seems to have gripped us–the fantasies of “baby bumps” and breeding, always breeding, yet more of “our kind.” Our culture’s antifeminist backlash and its unrealistic aspirations have bewitched Kuczynski and Suleman, these two young women who are so addled and so suggestible, so endowed and yet so impoverished. All these years after the age of “liberation,” perhaps it is time to revisit the myths we still concoct about childless women’s worth.

Perfectly perfect.

Read the whole thing here

How to Hang On to Your Man

Shorter Gary Neuman:

cheating1Men have emotions.  They want to be “winners” – as proof, watch them turn the tv off if their team is losing badly.  It’s not that they’re sore losers, it’s just that losing makes them feel bad.  Emotionally.  If men don’t feel like they’re winners, they get insecure and then they cheat – they go out and find women who make them feel like winners.  Men kinda know this – they know when they’re starting to feel kinda – like losers.  But they can’t talk about it.  They need you to fix it.  You women.  Of course, no one’s saying you have to.  It’s just, if you don’t, your man’s gonna cheat.  But it won’t be anyone’s fault.  Just, you know, take your pick.  Do all the work of the relationship or lose your man.

 In his latest book, sure to be a blockbuster, M. Gary Neuman gets to the bottom of the male infidelity conundrum and finds that, though he doesn’t believe women are to blame (thanks Gary), still, all his advice about fixing the problem is directed at women who are supposed to build up the ego of their men or lose them.  This is new?  This is worthy of Oprah‘s attention?  It’s downright worrying that this woman has so much influence.  I’d say e-mail Oprah but her mind is made up and she’s made it clear that a lot of whining complaints will have no effect.  What goes around comes around, eh?

I wonder why 40% of married women in the US … cheat?

Marriage & Divorce in Pakistan

The first two question from a FAQ at the Pakistan Women’s Law Association:

Q 1. Can a man divorce his wife when she is pregnant?

Ans. Some religious scholars are of the opinion that a pregnant woman cannot be divorced. According to the Muslin Family Law Ordinance (MFL) the divorce will only become effective after the birth of the child.

Let me first explain the M.F.L Ordinance regarding divorce. According to MFL section 1 a person who wants to divorce his wife has to announce his intentions either verbally or in writing. After pronouncing divorce he must as soon as is possible notify the Chairman Panchayat Committee, in writing and also send a copy to his wife.

Any one who goes against the rules of sub section 1 is liable for punishment by imprisonment for up to a year or fined five thousand rupees or both.

Other than what is defined in sub section 5 of the MFL according to sub section 1, the divorce becomes effective after ninety days of notifying the Chairman of the Panchayat Committee.

According to sub section 1 after receiving notice of divorce, the Chairman will, within thirty days effect a reconciliation between the aggrieved parties. He will constitute a reconciliation council which will take all the necessary steps.

If the wife is pregnant at the time of the pronouncement of divorce, it does not become effective until after the birth or a termination of the pregnancy.

Q2. Can divorce take place in circumstances where the wife has not heard the pronouncement of the divorce and has no documentary proof and the divorce has been pronounced verbally only twice?

Ans. According to Fiqh Hanifia, divorce is of two kinds, one is called ‘Ahsan’ mode of divorce which is pronounced once every month for three months after each menstruation. The husband has to abstain from any physical contact with his wife during this time and the divorce then becomes effective after these three months.

The second method of divorce is the ‘Bid’at’ divorce. This according to Fiqh Hanifia, is when divorce is pronounced thrice in the same instance, and it becomes effective immediately. The mode of divorce dies not require any written documents, nor does it require the presence of witnesses. However this method of divorce has been severely frowned upon by the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and discouraged.

Other than this you have not clarified which Fiqh (sect) you belong to.

If you belong to the Sunni sect then your divorce is not final because the divorce has not been pronounced three times. If you belong to the Shia sect then divorce only becomes effective within three months.

In the Shia way, after pronouncement of divorce the Mullah will recite the ‘Segha’ between husband and wife in the presence of two witnesses and divorce is final after ninety days.

Besides this, legal proceedings are also necessary so that the divorce is legally final and according to the MFL Ordinance, notice has to be sent to the Chairman Panchayat Committee and the parties concerned.

So the answer to your question is that divorce is not final because it has not been pronounced three times, nor have any legal proceedings been initiated.

Now this is patriarchy.  Read the rest here

John Edwards

I’ve been struggling to articulate what I think is a more compassionate and nuanced interpretation of John Edwards’ “extramarital affair” (I hate this descriptor, but I’ll save that for another time).  Before I’d fully worked out my own take, I found what I was looking for at Kittywampus.  It’s just possible that John McCain’s first marriage was also affected by profound adversity – his time away from his wife and kids while in the US Air Force; the stress of his imprisonment; his wife’s accident and subsequent ill health and disability for instance.  If anyone thinks that people whose relationships don’t survive these life changing events are merely superficial, disloyal dogs and if anyone thinks that it’s only women who get “abandoned” by men in such situations, think again.  

I’ve seen people go through the kinds of events described by Sungold and it ain’t always inspiring.  If you think that the people who come out the other side with stronger relationships are remarkable, that would be correct and does not in itself make the people who don’t make it the biggest asshats in the universe. 

UPDATESungold‘s latest post on the political issues surrounding the John Edwards “affair” is up today and, once again, well worth a read

Great Male Teachers (sarc)

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is making a name for himself trying to figure out what’s wrong with America’s men.  As Jessa Crispin points out in her review of his newest book, The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him, at The Smart Set, and to the great amazement of no one, it turns out it’s women’s fault:

Boteach provides a checklist to help diagnose brokenness. Does a man watch TV for more than two hours a night, drink daily, and look at pornography? Is he uninterested in sex and envious of his friends’ success? Boteach knows how to fix him. Most importantly, the man should be married if he’s not already. In Boteach’s world, women are the nurturers and the civilizing force. Men are the heroes and the heads of their households. With woman as the caretaker and man as the provider, we can create strong families with beloved children and happy parents. By redefining success in terms of a happy family, rather than financial gain, and by shutting out the culture of pornography and celebrity worship, man can become whole.

He does not blame feminism for the state of masculinity, or so he says. But having read his thoughts on femininity before, I read The Broken American Male wondering how long it would take before women became the problem. That would be 47 pages. “[M]en are with women who have in turn been with so many other men that the modern American male feels that his very anatomy is being measured against some standard that he cannot attain.” Sluts! I noticed that in his book about femininity he did not have a corresponding chapter about women’s bodies being compared to men’s former sexual partners, not to mention every woman on television, in movies, on billboards, in pornography; or that chick he saw on the elevator and used as a masturbatory fantasy earlier that day.

If anything, The Broken American Male is a 291-page argument for why women should not get married to men. …          more

St. Mary Jo, Boteach’ is putting me in mind of Dr. Phil.  One Judaic, the other Christian, we are reminded of how closely related those religions often are in terms of values.  Dr. Phil’s wife is on her pedestal, her motherhood revered (if sometimes the butt of his jokes) and her domain, the household, safe from Phil’s interference.  And his domain?  Well, he’s the leader of “the family” isn’t he?  The master of the outer domain, the great (white) teacher.  What I want to know is, how come these guys didn’t nail that magnificent creation, the nuclear heterosexual “family unit” back in the day before the Second Wave had their way with American masculinity?  If the “masculinization” of femininity is now the problem, what was wrong when greater numbers of women were inclined to be coerced into stereotypical femininity than they are now?  And I don’t want either the Rabbi or the Dic  [oops] to answer those questions.

How’s that workin’ for ya?