In my last post Do not be alarmed some commenters pointed out that Ms. Duffy isn’t just dismissing the concerns of men in the manosphere because she felt men were to blame for feminism, she is dismissing these concerns because men (and women) in the manosphere are angry:
The married portion of the manosphere has gained traction among some Christian and Catholic men, who—perhaps raised in broken homes—are looking for male role models as they strive to build a marriage and a family that will last.
So what’s the matter with the manosphere?
Like most reactionary philosophies, an undercurrent of anger informs its theories and practices. The manosphere is not just pro-man; it is really mad at women.
Several commenters felt she had a point. It is one thing to talk about the problem of divorce and broken homes, but why all of the anger? This is very similar to a question posed by a commenter named Brigitte on the blog’s about page:
Why does a “happily married father” spend so much energy on the topic of divorced women?
Both share the same basic premise; so long as it isn’t you or your own children being sent through the meat grinder, who cares? My response back to Brigitte was:
You are asking why I care. I would ask why you don’t.
I’ll pose the same question back to Ms. Duffy and the commenters who are troubled by the fact that people are angry with the gross injustice which is being done to men, children, and the very institution of marriage: Why don’t you care? Why aren’t you angry?
Anger is an entirely healthy response to gross injustice. Apathy on the other hand is an indication of a profound inability to feel empathy, perhaps even masking a strong level of personal investment in maintaining the injustice itself.
A commenter named John wrote the following back in May of last year:
I recently discovered your site while searching the net about frivolous divorce and I think it is great you are trying to educate people about the realities of divorce in America. I went through a divorce two years ago, although I did nothing “wrong” so to speak, but rather because my wife was bored. Under my questioning, she said there was nothing I could have done to have prevented the divorce, which I believe to be true. I was not really lacking “game” (hadn’t heard of the term until recently, but I was manly and attractive), but she was very tired of the routine and banalities of married life, and wanted to, in her words, “find herself”, whatever that means.
As is typical, she did very well in the divorce and got the house, car, most of our assets (she cleaned out our bank accounts and savings and stripped the house bare while I was on a camping trip with a friend which she encouraged me to take – I should have been suspicious as it was the first time she had ever wanted me to do something like that, but I was overjoyed, and of course, completely taken by surprise when I returned to a house empty save for the divorce papers; I was never able to recover any of the things she took preemptively), full custody of both children, alimony until remarriage, and I got a disproportionate amount of debt and had to pay for the entire divorce, both lawyers. I have very restrictive visitation, usually I only get to see my children two days per month. I knew women usually were favored in divorce, but had no idea how unjust it was until it happened to me. In addition, I was completely blindsided. She was still very affectionate and sex had not dropped off at all. I never saw it coming.
I am a traditional Christian man, and had always looked forward to fatherhood and raising my children. In fact, I would say having a family was my dream ever since I was little (I never felt “defined” by my career or that it was anything other than a means to an end, but I am not a CEO or doctor). Now I am watching my children grow up in fast-forward, without any say in how they are raised. I have missed all of the birthdays and Christmases (and other holidays) for the past two years, not by choice. It is truly devastating to spend a month not hearing my children’s voice, or even touching them (let alone any human being) for weeks at a time, to say nothing of losing (who I thought to be) my soulmate after 15 years of marriage.
What is the most painful realization is that I have lost my future. I make $70,000 a year, but have to live on $15,000 after the payments (which I pay the taxes for, can you believe it? – I am in the $70,000 bracket!). I went from a decent house to a $500/month apartment in a bad part of town, and now live alone. I realize that I am becoming estranged from my children (I don’t really know anything about them) and my wife tries to make visitation difficult for me – it is awkward for her to arrange and for her new lover to deal with. I tried to be just a “fun dad”, who takes the kids out for a day of fun and doesn’t really “parent” besides providing paychecks and phone calls, but that is becoming difficult. Having a family is still my deepest longing in life, and I am so lonely, but I am unable to move on financially and start a new family with another woman (I am attractive enough and have the personality to get women quite a bit younger than me), because no woman wants a man that keeps $15,000 a year and goes deeper in debt every month to make ends meet. I could never support a family. I really see no hope of getting out of this vicious cycle – by the time all the payments stop I will be in my 50′s and I will have missed my opportunity, and be forced to live alone until I die. I can’t even have the dignity of a retirement, because my wife took half of my retirement fund which I had been contributing to since I was 22, and now I am so far in the red I have been forced to withdraw rather than contribute under severe penalties in order to make ends meet.
I have come to terms with the fact that this story can’t possibly have a happy ending, and my life is so far removed from what I envisioned and planned it would be like during my youth that it is unbelievable. I feel like a fool for having done everything “right”, because it ultimately made no difference in my happiness and fulfillment.
I wanted to thank you for being a force promoting honoring commitments and discouraging divorce, because it seems like a rare opinion to take in today’s society. You are helping the community by performing this service. I decided to relate my tale here for much the same purpose – if someone reads this and is able think more critically about what the legal implications of marriage are for men and be more cautious it will have served its purpose – I know as for myself I was really too overjoyed to be spending the rest of my life (ha ha) with the woman I loved to really understand what I was getting myself into, in addition to being ignorant and naive about the realities of divorce. If I had to do it all over again I would rather have remained single. It is truly better not to have known paternal and marital love than to have felt it and had it ripped away, regardless of what that folk wisdom quote says about loving and losing.
Please men, think very critically about what you are getting into. The laws are equal, but in court it won’t come out that way.
I’ll offer my standard disclaimer that I can’t vouch for what someone I don’t know writes on the internet. However, his story fits exactly with what all of the data are telling us. John’s story is the story of countless millions of fathers and their children. This story isn’t about a failure of the system, it isn’t about an unexpected outcome. This is exactly what the current system is designed to do, as Stephen Baskerville explains in the excellent Touchstone article Divorced from Reality (H/T empathologicalism):
Under “no-fault,” or what some call “unilateral,” divorce—a legal regime that expunged all considerations of justice from the procedure—divorce becomes a sudden power grab by one spouse, assisted by an army of judicial hangers-on who reward belligerence and profit from the ensuing litigation: judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, counselors, mediators, custody evaluators, social workers, and more.
Further down he explains:
By far the most serious consequences involve children, who have become the principal weapons of the divorce machinery. Invariably the first action of a divorce court, once a divorce is filed, is to separate the children from one of their parents, usually the father. Until this happens, no one in the machinery acquires any power or earnings. The first principle and first action of divorce court therefore: Remove the father.
And remove the father they do. Here is the US Census data on who gets custody (more data here):
We can corroborate John’s story and the Touchstone article further with academic studies which have found that the biggest single driver of divorce is the ability to steal the most valuable assets of the marriage, the children. We can also confirm the fundamental corruption in the system from the Seattle Weekly exposé Ripped Apart (H/T W.F. Price):
Rhea Rolfe, an attorney who once taught a “women and the law” class at the University of Washington, recalls sitting with a male client in a commissioner’s courtroom one day. There were maybe seven or eight cases heard. “She ruled against every single man,” Rolfe recalls, “and two of them were unopposed.”
“In any other arena, the evidence gets you the ruling,” observes attorney Maya Trujillo Ringe. “But in this particular arena, the dad has a much bigger uphill battle.” So much so, she says, that she and other attorneys often joke that “if you put a skirt on the dad, same facts,” he’d win primary custody. “
For those who weren’t angry before, I ask: Are you angry now? This is an important question, because the current system of divorce and custody has a massive entrenched constituency. Millions of women now take it as a fundamental right to divorce their husband, kick him out of the home and take over the raising of the children, all with a guaranteed income stream from the now ex husband. Our current system is as one divorcée brilliantly put it, a neutron bomb for men. Even those women who don’t actually plan on implementing this process are typically highly invested in it because it gives them power, a trump card she can pull out whenever she decides her husband isn’t following her leadership. On top of the average woman, there are an army of professionals who make their very living from breaking up families and managing the aftermath. As I’ve shown in numerous posts, even the church is highly invested in the status quo.
We won’t take this highly prized process away from these groups if we and other ordinary people aren’t highly motivated to achieve change. For this reason anger is an effective litmus test to determine if someone really supports traditional marriage or is merely paying lip-service to reform. No one wants to come out in the open and claim they support nuking families and turning men’s and children’s lives upside down on a whim. Only the most hard core ideological feminist will say they support the current system outright. Again from the Touchstone article:
“Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” wrote Gallagher. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.” No American politician of national stature has ever challenged involuntary divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” observes Barbara Whitehead in The Divorce Culture. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”
In his famous denunciation of single parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” The exception proves the rule. When Pope John Paul II criticized divorce in 2002, he was roundly attacked from the right as well as the left.
Fortunately if you want to support the status quo and still sound like you are for traditional marriage, all you need to do is say you support reforming the system while downplaying or ignoring the gross injustice involved in the current system. Only a motivated and large movement poses any threat to the current racket, so one can have their cake and eat it too in this fashion. If this is too close to actually supporting reform for your comfort however, your next best bet is to dismiss the gross injustice entirely because, well, others are angry about it.