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Why the Cock-Bird Can Feather His Nest

Quenby Wilcox Having It All
21 Ago. 2014 0 comentarios

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One of the most vociferous proponents of women’s rights in the past few decades has been the American presidential contender, Hillary Clinton – with the Clinton Foundation promising to “lift millions of women out of poverty—and with them, their families and entire communities.”

But, Clinton, like most women’s rights proponents of our time, is remaining all too silent about how continuing discrimination against women with family courts is disempowering, impoverishing, and oppressing millions of women each year in ‘America’ – and what she plans to do about it if elected president.

Dr. Arlie Russell Hochschild explains the dichotomy between the rhetoric of ‘proponents’ such as Clinton and the reality of women in societies in The Second Shift, calling the women’s rights movement a ‘stalled revolution’ – epitomized by the “strain between the change in women and the absence of change in much else.”

As Hochschild explains, “women’s move into the economy, as a new urban peasantry, is the basic social revolution of our time. But at the same time, other realities lower women’s power… Today, women’s average earnings are only a bit higher, relative to men’s, than they were a hundred years ago; for the last hundred years women have earned 60 percent of what men earn; today it’s 70 percent. Given this difference, women still have more of an economic need for marriage than men do… While women’s entrance into the economy has increased women’s power, the growing instability of marriage creates an anonymous, individualistic “modern” form of oppression… Today, when a woman can legally own property, vote, get an education, work at a job, and leave an oppressive marriage, she walks out into an apparently “autonomous” and “free” form of inequality… Patriarchy has not disappeared; it has changed form. In the old form, women were forced to obey an overbearing husband in the privacy of an unjust marriage. In the new form, the divorced woman does the work of the home but isn’t paid for it…Divorce usually pushes women down the class ladder—sometimes way down. According to Lenore Weitzman’s The Divorce Revolution, in the first year after divorce women experience a 73 percent loss in standard of living, whereas men experience a 42 percent gain.”

With women entering the work-force like never before, and divorce rates at 50-75% in ‘western’ societies, it is high time that politicians (and women’s rights groups) start recognizing how rampant discrimination against women within family courts is promoting and sustaining the oppression of women – making gender equality nothing more than a figment of the imagination of the political elite.

Gender-bias studies, detailed in Are "Good Enough" Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners?, report discrimination rates of 75-98% within family courts. These courts are awarding custody to petitioning-fathers at a rate of 94%; allocating 75-85% of common property assets to men; and awarding below poverty rates of alimony to life-time unemployed, homemakers at rates of 10%, with little legal recourse for women in collecting these payments.

The rationalization behind this ‘judicial discrimination’ is explained by the High Commission for Human Rights in its report Project on a Mechanism to Address Laws that Discriminate Against Women, stating that “[when] a judge described a stay at home wife who was seeking to claim a share of matrimonial assets after divorce as “sitting on her husband’s back with her hands in his pocket” seemingly forgetting that the “cock bird can feather his nest because he does not have to spend all day sitting on it” or put differently, that a man is enabled to go out into the paid workforce because his wife is taking care of hearth and home for him…” With the Commission going on to state that this situation constitutes “legal disenfranchisement” (servitude) of women within the family and marriage.

Conventional wisdom dictates that equality for women lies in more and more legislation – but governments are signing laws faster than lawyers and judges are ready, or willing to implement them. To make matters worse, governments are turning a blind-eye to the situation, and the infractions of judicial actors; contending that they are ‘protected’ by ‘judicial independence.’

As Hochschild so aptly observed in her book – while women’s expectations have, and are, changing quite rapidly, little else in society is following suit. And, therefore the ‘cock-birds’ are at liberty to ‘feather their nests’ as they see fit, with women and children paying the price – much in the same way that they have for thousands of years.

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