Dr. Harley explains in Why Women Leave Men* that women have commitment issues:
Why do women seem so dissatisfied with marriage? What do they want from their husbands? What bothers them so much about marriage that most are willing to risk their families’ future to escape it?
What is interesting is that what Dr. Harley is saying is (depending on the context) conventional wisdom. Everyone knows that traditional marriage is a cruel institution that “traps” women in commitment, depriving them of the romantic love their noble hearts desire. Everyone knows that no fault divorce is required to liberate women from being trapped in commitment.
Modern women’s enthusiasm for divorce is hardly a well kept secret**. If you are looking at media aimed to women, divorce empowerment is a staple. This is quite literally a shameless obsession. As new commenter Anna mentioned recently:
It’s crazy that every time that I find an article about marriage, it’s either about the actual wedding or divorce. As a 26 year old woman that has been married for 6 years, I’m well aware of the pressure for divorcing. There’s always a “5 ways to know that your marriage is over”. This is how I found your website and it all makes so much sense, even though I’m not a christian. I have no idea why society is leaning towards destroying its foundations.
Yet change the context to the cost of broken families, and suddenly everyone knows that men are running away from commitment. This is especially important when it comes to conservative backing for child support. In 2005 Phyllis Schlafly laid out what should be the standard conservative position on a government program designed to destroy families in Federal Incentives Make Children Fatherless:
The federal incentives drive the system. The more divorces, and the higher the child-support guidelines are set and enforced (no matter how unreasonable), the more money the state bureaucracy collects from the feds.
Follow the money. The less time that non-custodial parents (usually fathers) are permitted to be with their children, the more child support they must pay into the state fund, and the higher the federal bonus to the states for collecting the money.
The states have powerful incentives to separate fathers from their children, to give near-total custody to mothers, to maintain the fathers’ high-level support obligations even if their income is drastically reduced, and to hang onto the father’s payments as long as possible before paying them out to the mothers…
We can no longer ignore how taxpayers’ money is incentivizing divorce and creating fatherless children. Nor can we ignore the government’s complicity in the predictable social costs that result from more than 17 million children growing up without their fathers.
Yet Schlafly is an extreme outlier among conservatives on this topic. Conservatives are the strongest backers of the child support system, and this is due to a deeply held belief that broken families are caused by men who aren’t willing to stick around and raise their kids. This belief is so strong that conservatives end up taking very unconservative positions on the family. Instead of opposing a law that creates perverse incentives to break up families, they enthusiastically support it. Instead of supporting marriage, they support the system designed to replace marriage. Instead of supporting an incentive based structure for production, they are wedded to a crushing soviet style quota system that discourages hard work.
Most recently this dynamic came up in an opinion piece at the Washington Post. President Obama is pushing to stop accruing child support to men who are in prison, since child support is in theory based on a man’s potential earnings. As Instapundit noted, even feminists can see the absurdity of piling on crushing debt to men who aren’t in a position to pay. Yet conservatives love child support, and will fight any changes that don’t make the system stronger:
Congressional Republicans oppose the new policy. They argue that it would undercut the 1996 welfare reform act, which pressed states to locate missing fathers and bill them for child support so taxpayers wouldn’t bear the full burden of their children’s welfare.
“I am fundamentally opposed to policies that allow parents to abdicate their responsibilities, which, in turn, results in more families having to go on welfare,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said in a speech in June on the Senate floor. Obama’s new regulations, he said, “would undermine a key feature of welfare reform, which is that single mothers can avoid welfare if fathers comply with child-support orders.”
It is important to note that this is not about recouping money from convicts who can afford to support their children. This is about maintaining a credible threat to other men, as a reminder that they must do everything in their power to earn the amount the courts have assigned as their production quota. Billing these incarcerated men costs far more than any amount actually collected, and by making it harder for them to succeed after release it also makes them more likely to end up back in prison.
*HT Pedat Ebediyah
**Not all modern women view divorce as empowerment, but a large enough majority does feel this way, which is why divorce empowerment is ubiquitous in entertainment aimed at women.