On Gender


Alimony Goes Wrong Direction

In 1985, Lenore Weitzman published The Divorce Revolution in which she claimed that, upon divorce, the standard of living of women drops by 73% and men’s rises by 42%.

Of course, it was a fraud. Her figures were far from what other researchers found, and that same year the Labor Department was telling us that the total income all women earned was 75% of the aggregate for men, not the 20% Weitzman suggests, even for divorced women. If women’s standard of living drops that much, most are economic free-loaders, so either Weitzman is wrong or women contribute a great deal less economically than all other sources suggest.

No matter. The media had a sensation and made the most of it; facts of little importance to a good story. Someone had produced evidence that most women are weak and helpless and abandoned by divorce. Men had to compensate for this, another fertile theme, so the “finding,” however false, couldn’t miss.

Weitzman’s blindly accepted figures stirred a tidal wave of indignation. The obvious solution lay in higher child support to rescue these destitute women, and every legislature reacted. Child support is no longer calculated on child costs but only the father’s income, which mutates it into alimony. Alimony had just been largely dropped as insulting to women, but the loss was one cause of the fear that these divorce numbers inflamed.

Shrewd. After all, child support has never been about children’s needs – if anyone cared about them they’d ensure them both parents – but to enshrine women as the sole care giver. Today, the mother’s income or re-marriage is rarely included in child support calculations, the father’s additional children, nor how much time the children spend with him. It is imagined that otherwise women would be disadvantaged, so now women can divorce and retain the marriage’s benefits but men retain its burden. After all, it was women’s liberation.

(One night of sex for a lifetime of financial security. And they say men have all the power.)

Weitzman refused to give anyone else the data upon which she based her claims. This is unheard of in academia where you make your data available for verification. Not her, now famous as the rescuer of women from having to fend for themselves when they leave a marriage, like those who never marry.

It was not until she left Stanford University ten years later that Richard Peterson of the Social Science Research Council independently examined her data. He not only found data entry errors and questionably filled out questionnaires, but basic arithmetic errors. Even using her questionable data, women’s incomes didn’t fall BY 73% of pre-divorce levels, but TO it.

Even shortly after Weitzman’s study, Sanford Braver of Arizona State University used economists, not sociologists, for a similar study which found that, two years after divorce, the standard of living of both men and women was, on average, unchanged. There are very few helpless women.

Quite rightly, the media ignored this. Bunch of busy-bodies, who asked for more research? I like Weitzman’s figures just fine.

Weitzman claims that men sacrifice almost half their standard of living to marry. (One might wonder why they marry, so this may be a statement about female power. Still . . .)

Her figures say that men assume a huge cost of marriage. So if my wife of seven years walks out on me, throwing it all away, I can sue her for that 42% of my income, compounded annually, to compensate what I put into it that she just discards.

Since women initiate 65% of all divorce, alimony has always been going in the wrong direction. According to Weitzman, women owe considerable compensation to men for their economic sacrifice in marrying them in the first place.

©2007 KC Wilson

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To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French


 K.C. Wilson is a social commentator and author of Where's Daddy? The Mythologies Behind Custody-Access-Support, and the e-books: Male Nurturing, Co-parenting for Everyone, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and Delusions of Violence: The Secrets Behind Domestic Violence Myths. For his personal life, he prefers anonymity. He writes as a nobody, for he is not your ordinary divorce expert with the usual credentials. He is not a lawyer or psychologist, he is not now nor has he ever been a member of the Divorce Industry. K.C. is simply a thinker and researcher, for the issues are not legal, but human, social and common to all. When change is indicated, should we turn to those that the very status quo which is to be questioned has promoted to "expert?" Society's structures are up to society, not a select few. So his writing is for and about you, the ordinary person. K.C. prefers to be known as simply one himself, and that is how he writes. Find out more at wheres-daddy.com


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