Progress of human civilization requires equality of women and men, so that both can contribute fully to society – like two wings of a bird.
Women's rights, men's rights, and gender equality
Historically, women have been oppressed in many ways. The brave pioneers of woman's rights in the 19th and 20th centuries always had a vision of gender equality – not replacing oppression of women with oppression of men. For many people, "gender equality" has always been synonymous with "women’s rights". But in 21st century America – just in the past 15 or 20 years and just in a few Western countries – oppression of men is becoming a reality, at least in the area of family law. Though salaries and corporate positions might still give a small advantage to men, other things in life are far more precious than money. Children are being taken from fathers when mothers file for divorce, and homes are destroyed. Many men live in fear that their wives will divorce them and take away all that is most precious to them. Our modern divorce culture was never the goal of the early women’s rights visionaries.
In 21st century America, it is men's rights which need to be promoted. More female involvement in government, business, and religious leadership can contribute to world peace and other advances of society. More male involvement in families can heal the wounds of the fundamental unit of society. Greater gender equality can help to prevent the excesses of today's divorce culture.
Some statistics about Gender Equality
Some disparity in favor of men regarding salaries and corporate leadership positions might still exist, and those should still be addressed by society. Also, the United States still has not had a woman President. But some far more important statistics about gender equality in the United States are these:
- Between two-thirds and three-fourths of divorces are filed by women, depending on the study.
- 75% of custody awards are to the mother, only 10% are to the father, and 15% are 50-50 joint custody. (according to a study by National Center for Health Statistics).
- 85% of all single-parent homes are a single mother
- $40 billion per year is paid in form of spousal support and/or child support
- Men are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide after divorce than women
Forms of discrimination against fathers
A. In many (not all) states, courts tend to award custody to mothers much more than to fathers or with 50-50 joint physical custody. As mentioned, mothers get primary custody in 75% of cases, while fathers have primary custody in only 10% of the cases. This is not just for babies and not just where the children have mostly been raised by their mothers, but in some states even for teenagers who want to stay with their fathers. Professor Stephen Baskerville documents many cases of outrageous decisions where clearly the father was the better parent, but the mother was awarded custody anyway.
B. Domestic violence of course is a real issue, and protection of battered women is necessary for society. But current laws about it in most states are deeply flawed, widely misused, and strongly biased against men. See my Domestic Violence page for more details about misapplication of vague domestic violence legislation.
C.Child Support payments and enforcements which were intended to punish "Deadbeat Dads" have backfired, and instead provide financial incentives for stay-at-home mothers to get rid of the fathers. Some men caught in this nightmare system were honest, hardworking fathers now reduced to little more than slavery. See my Unfair Child Support page for more about this.
Fathers as victims of divorce
Cases of fathers who were forcibly separated from their children and then reduced to poverty, and perhaps even thrown into jail for being unable to pay the child support, are very common. Stephen Baskerville's book "Taken Into Custody" has many pages of these examples and statistics about them. See the Save the Turnips Facebook page, for more about the cause of helping innocent men who were imprisoned for getting behind on child-support payments. Divorce greatly increases risk of suicide (see DivorceInfo.com) and and men are 2-3 times more likely to take their lives after a divorce then women. (See Why are men more likely to commit suicide after divorce). Of course in many cases women are victims of divorce as well, but the gender bias is very clear to anybody who has been through a litigated divorce.
Justice for the children
Gender equality in matters of family law is not just about the justice towards fathers, though. Even more importantly, it is also about lowering our divorce rate for benefit of our children and our society's future. In a perfect world, family courts would decide custody uniquely on a case-by-case basis in the best interests of the children in each particular case. But in the real world, family courts are not capable of that; their concern is to process as many divorces as possible as quickly as possible. Father's rights groups today have a primary goal of getting courts to have a presumption of 50-50 joint custody – not presumption of sole custody to the mother – as the starting point for deliberation. Any kind of custody arrangement has pros and cons for the children. Any kind of custody arrangement is worse for kids than both parents living together (except in extreme and unusual circumstances.) But if all states would have a default of 50-50 joint custody, that would remove a huge incentive for a parent to file for divorce. A mother might think twice about unilaterally filing for divorce to end a good-enough marriage if she knew that she would lose her children 50% of the time. Custody laws should help to deter divorce, not just settle them.
See my Scope of the Problem page or National Parents Organization for statistics about the presence of fathers for children, such as child abuse being 33 times more likely in a home without the biological father.
The majority of divorces are filed by women, and this is strongly encouraged by the fact that the woman is likely to get custody and other benefits from the divorce at the expense of her ex-husband. If women were not so strongly rewarded for filing for divorce, we would not have so many divorces filed by women. Women should be financially encouraged to try to repair less-than perfect marriages and stay in the marriages, rather than being financially encouraged to divorce their husbands. Our children would be the main beneficiaries of gender equality in family law.