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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
You know, I'm reading these posts, and reading the divorced-dad forum posts, and I'm struck by the consistency of tone & themes in each. There's a consistent lack of mutual understanding going on, I think, and it's got to be a huge opportunity for some coterie of therapists who "translate" men<->women.

What's also interesting to me is how on the women's side the story goes, "Why does he...I wish he would...Doesn't he see?...(Sister, get a spine and get tough with him, he's hurting you & the kids)...It's so hard (and expensive!) but I hear what you're saying. It's so scary to be doing this alone, but I'll get strong and take care of us on my own..." It's all about how the guy is sporadic, controlling, messed up, and/or just not there, and then about making it work solo, putting up barriers where possible to protect mom/kids from x's from-space shenanigans.

And on the men's side, it's "How could this have happened? I gave her everything...(She's a bitch, stop being a pussy and chop her head off)...I tried to be nice, but she showed her true colors...she's a greedy wench...<fireballs>" And it's all about how the woman is trying to suck the life out of him & take away his kids, which needs to be met with full-on attacks as budget and the rest of life permit.

Huh. Interesting, too, is that the rhetoric of care is all over the women's side, whereas the men's side -- when there is talk about care -- is almost exclusively a case-building thing. What she did wrong, what I did right. The men's rhetoric is also remarkably violent, compared with the women's.

I've got a friend doing a PhD in Men's Studies...maybe I ought to ask her about this. It seems to me that if this kind of thing were better explicated, both the policies and the mediation might go a little better....

I also wonder about the father's-custodial-rights movement, where there's tension over going for joint v. sole custody, and am thinking of it in terms of pre-1920 visions of fatherhood. Where children were essentially property of the men, and the women had no claim; the further back you go, the more the view of mothers becomes "unstable slut and none too bright, you need 'em for making babies but they can't be responsible." And I hear what I think is a "children are my property" strain in the fathers'-rights movement that hearkens back to that.
 

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I don't know - this is a board full of "alternative" mamas. A subculture of cool hippie girls who married their cool "alternative" boyfriends. It was even more pronounced on hipmama.com. Thus I'm just not sure how much generaliztions can be made about women and men outside of this subculture. There is certainly the pattern you describe within this subculture though.

What strikes me as one generalization that is VERY problematic and that goes beyond the type of people who would gather on a natural parenting board - the demonization of the biomom that both the ex and the new wife/gf participate in (and to a certain degree, the demonization that the bio mom returns to the new wife/gf). The biomoms in the single parenting forum are desperate for finacial support from biodad's for their children and leary of the parenting/influences their exs/ex's new wife/gf provide when the kids are with them; and the stepmoms in blended family forum (with lots of beautfill exceptions) write about bad mothering, psycho, money-grubbing biomoms. Here is a HUGE and perhaps inevitable gulf. But it makes me sad because I would like to think that mothers would try to bridge the gulf.

Just thinking aloud.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
=) It's pretty universal, from what I've seen. Check out ojar.com or the babycenter boards, and you'll hear the same kinds of themes. The feminism on both sides seems to run pretty skin-deep once we get to divorce.

As for the biomom/new-wife thing...yep, serious problem, and it won't change until women are less dependent & can share the caregiving with sane guys who'll actually do the care work. Until then you've got two frightened women needing one dude, either for themselves or for their kids. (And oh, does hell break loose when they figure out together that he's not all that necessary.) So of course they're going to fight.

this all brings a new twist to the "dads need to share caregiving responsibility" arguments that go on in the mothers-emancipation boards, btw. The presumption is that the men can and will do the work if given the right social structures. (And frequently that can work. I know plenty of couples where the dad is the primary parent and does a damn good job.) What I see here, though, and what I face in my own divorce, are situations where that's a dangerous presumption. Where the guys have drug/alcohol issues, don't show up, are mentally ill, etc. I hear nothing on those boards about the idea that yes, it is necessary to support the mother in caring for the children, because the reality is that nobody else will do it. Doesn't matter what kind of flextime you set up for the guy.
 

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I have not had that experience, however, my experience is based more on real life situations not online boards.

I have not visited other boards, but I can say that I don't think there is a gender based theme here at all. The men who have come here have had the same complaints/issues/etc. as the women. It was not so much a 'gender' thing as it was a 'bad other parent' thing.

I don't think that studying the genders and how they look at it will help resolve issues in mediation or negotiations. I think the problem lies more in the fact that one or two of the parties is coming into the mediation with emotional baggage directly relating to the other person and it is hard to let go of that often times to get to what is best for everyone.

I think there are also some issues that are stronger for certain people. My ex has serious money issues. He would complain even if he had to pay $5 per month, but I also know women, also with money issues, who complain when they are getting their house, all their bills, alimony and child support all covered by their ex.

I know Parents (regardless of gender) who fight tooth and nail to spend every moment possible with their children, and some who don't make an effort at all.

I think some people need discussion boards to vent their frustrations and generalize against the opposite sex. It becomes a form of support and is helpful for awhile. Sometimes it is easier to generalize about the opposite gender and others start to rally behind it.

The single parents IRL that have been around me tend to be exceptions to what you have written.....so in my experience IRL and on this particular board (which I also think is an exception), I think it's more about personal issues than gender issues.
 

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Ah--but the personal is political, remember?
Anyone who studies gender looks hard at whatever someone asserts as being 'natural' or something that just individuals do for whatever unknown reason. It can be easy to see gender in everything, like a Marxist will see class in everything, but in the case of divorce I would be shocked if very gendered behaviors did not come into play.

Other random thoughts:
One thing I think does happen on both sides is making excuses for bad behavior and trying to figure out some magical way to make the bad behavior stop. Both men and women do this. (Probably a throwback to being a child and wanting to make bad parenting behavior stop...my armchair psychologist says...)

I know so, so, so many women with the artsy-alternative-guy-who-just-can't-get-his-act-together. Including me--that's exactly my ex. It's incredible how many of these guys are out there--I could describe one and hit the nail on the head for thousands of other people. This is a gender issue in itself--the way these guys, who are usually not stereotypically masculine, have had such a hard time trying to do anything at all with their lives. They have no role models except the kind of men they do not want to be. I think of lot of them can be fantastic dads, but nobody gives you health insurance for being a good dad.
 

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I think this is a great article on what our X's are going through (whether they are conscious of it or not):
http://www.compleatmother.com/articl..._men_leave.htm

I agree with the idea of gender issues...I think one of the core issues with our divorce/relationship failure rate has to do with boy culture. Because boy culture teaches them so-called masculine values that really have nothing to do with being a man (i.e. suck it up, boys don't cry, boys will be boys, etc) they not only are out of their comfort zone in expressing emotional pain, they often don't even recognize it in their partner. They seem oblivious to what we say, our body language, etc. because THEY REALLY ARE! The book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys really opened my eyes to so much of this phenomenon.

It's almost as if they don't emotionally mature past the toddler stage (not their fault of course) and when the pain accumulates it comes out as rage, depression, addiction, etc. They just aren't equipped with the same tools as girls for dealing with things. It's much easier to focus on things like how much money she's asking for because that is concrete and much more within their realm of understanding.

I think the problem manifests especially with more natural-minded mamas b/c we are much more in touch with our intuition and what's best for our families than the mainstream. We are more likely to buck the system and forego the typical parenting advice and many men (regardless of how crunchy they are in other ways) who weren't raised AP have an especially hard time dealing not only with the change in the relationship but the outside pressures/advice of the mainstream.
 

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I still disagree that it has to be a 'gender' issue.

I do understand that everything can be put into gender boxes and such....but I think that the underlying issues run deeper than just gender. There are a lot of women out there who are screwed up too in some of the ways that have been mentioned above.

While I do agree that there are differences between men and women...I do not think that merely addressing these issues will resolve the conflicts in marriages and divorce. I think trying to find some real and practical ways to improve on these situations will not merely come from an analysis of the differences between men and women.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
No, I don't think it'll solve the problems on its own either. And I don't think it's the underlying cause of every divorce (though I sure do think it contributes to many). But I do think, looking at the way people men & women are framing divorce problems here & on other boards -- and irl, too, in my own experience -- that a lot of the framing is quite conventionally gendered. With women attempting to be nice, consider conciliation and major concessions from the legal outset, put caregiving at the center of their lives, etc.

If looking at divorce through a gender lens doesn't solve the problems, though, I think that exposing the assumptions might help both sides distinguish their own problems from larger social problems.

I noticed that problem in my own marriage, early on; stbx is generally a well-meaning, feminist-minded guy, riddled with white male guilt etc., and he appeared quite sincere in wanting to do the gender-equity thing as parents. He was also working in a very conservative environment, where the expectation was that he would have a career, and wifey would take care of the rest. I said "Oh hell no." For a while, he felt totally screwed & personally responsible, blamed for everything; he could make the boss happy, or me happy, but not both. Took him ages to see that this wasn't his personal burden. That the system he worked inside had assumptions that ran counter to his. Once he saw it, though, it got a lot easier for us to talk about family roles. (Not that it got easier for him to say no to the boss....)

So far, in general, I hear a women's support message of "you're stronger than you think, you can do it, you can take care of yourself and your babies and be a great mom, go you!" And with men (not here; I've heard few men's voices here so far) seeing it more in terms of scoring points, with the support message being more along the lines of "toughen up, we're your crew, show no mercy, find your balls, get what's yours." Does this happen as much with the emo guys? I don't know. I do know I've read several divorce blogs where the guy starts out very romantic and devastated by the loss of love, and turns positively bloody by the end. If I had to guess, I'd say that the path of least resistance for emo guys is simply to quietly go along with the prevailing culture of divorce. Not to be aggressive on their own, perhaps, but to allow the culture of low expectations and court battles to protect them. Just a guess after hearing about many sensitive men who just sort of drifted away and never really held up their end of the co-parenting. (Which, yes, includes health insurance.)

Be interesting to see what happens in divorces between the most equal/gender-aware couples, where both are strong, capable, etc.
 

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After reading this post I decided to check out a forum for divorced Dads. I found one run by a divorce attorney that focuses his work with Dads.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. I was amazed at the venom and anger. It was horrifiying. They are in a battle, a war. Take no prisoners. Strength in numbers. The children are possesions to be won in a war. x wives are unmentionable names. There is no compromise. When one may post with an issue, the others jump on it and urge the poster to attack, and show no mercy. No wonder we have so much trouble getting compromises, if that is any indication of how society is talking to men, or how thier attorney's talk to them, it's no wonder so many of us have these issues.

They even use the term divide and conquer. I was astounded, and really I probable should never have looked at this website, it was too upsetting. I pray every day that God will soften x's heart and it hasn't happened. I am quite sure now that is not what x is praying for.
 

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I don't think ALL divorced men are like that. It really depends on the person and the situation. I went to night school a few years back with a divorced man who loved his children more than anything else in the world. He allowed his children to stay with their mom because that is what they asked for and he wanted them to stay in the home they grew up in. He saw them 3-4 times a week still and worked his schedule around it. I'll never forget seeing him standing up in front of our English class, sobbing, while reading the story of the day he had to tell the kids he was leaving (we had to do a paper on a difficult time in our lives and got extra credit for reading it out loud). He also never puts his wife down or speaks a bad word about her, despite the fact that she left him for another woman.

I wanted to share this story to show that there ARE good men out there who don't engage in attacks - just like there are crazy women out there who do engage in attacks. I hate to categorize people and say "all divorced men are this way" or "all divorced women are this way". We have to keep in mind that on this forum we are only hearing one side of the story. There is always more than one side to a story and hearing the other side might make you feel differently.

I mentioned in the other thread that it is not socially acceptable for men to show hurt and sadness because it makes a man vulnerable. It is more acceptable for me to display anger and they are encouraged to do so. So I think this anger and rage has more to do with what is socially acceptable. Sometimes it is the only way a man knows how to get his emotions out.
 

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I think Jilian said really well what I was trying to express too.

I have heard many 'bitch' sessions where women have been downright nasty to their ex's, not supportive and kind, but jumping in and 'bashing' men. I've heard other women and lawyers encourage single moms to empty bank accounts, leave the guy with nothing, take him for all you can get, etc. I've witnessed some vicious stuff and nasty name calling as well.

There are quite a few women who use their children as 'property' and pawns...keeping their ex's away from the kids. There are a lot of them out there and some lawyers still encourage women to screw it to their ex's too. I actually know a woman who was so angry towards her ex that she sued him for bascially everything he owned and when he was forced to move and downsize, she took him to court for sole custody because she said it wasn't fair for their daughter to have to live in such a small house (even part time) with him and that if he couldn't keep up to her standard of living...their daughter shouldn't have to pay the price!!!!

I could go into detail about 3 exceptional dads that I have met in the past few years. Most of them pay more than the minimum amount of child support, they all see their children at least half of the time (not out of some obligation, but because they truly want to be there with them) and make things as easy for their ex's as possible.

Mama40 -- It sounds like stereotypical gender roles have played a part in your situation. And, I don't think it's isolated to you or your situation. However, I still contend that gender is not the key issue here in the nastiness of divorce. I also know there is quickly becoming a trend of women who are leaving or abandoning their kids and single dads becoming the full time parent. (We've had 2 on this board). I guess I have just seen both sides be equally nasty and act distastefully as I've seen both sides be equally responsible and compassionate, so the argument that it's gender based just doesn't connect for me.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot
I think trying to find some real and practical ways to improve on these situations will not merely come from an analysis of the differences between men and women.
I agree, I don't think that just an analysis will be very fruitful either. What I propose is that we (as a society) need to eliminate the differences. I believe that when we live in accordance with our true human nature, the differences between the genders are fairly minimal and the huge gap we see now has been artificially created by the culture. The legalities of divorce exacerbates it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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Originally Posted by freewitheft
I agree, I don't think that just an analysis will be very fruitful either. What I propose is that we (as a society) need to eliminate the differences.
=) Ah, but to eliminate (or mitigate) the gender differences, we need to know what they are. Which is why the analysis is important.

The legalities of divorce are based on highly gendered notions of motherhood, fatherhood, "caregiver" and "worker".

MsChats/Jilian -- I agree, certainly not every divorcing parent fits gendered expectations. My own father didn't, even though he's a very 'guy' kind of guy; he had custody of us, paid my mom far more than the court ordered, even offered to stay legally married until she could complete her education (he was a tenured prof with free family tuition as a benefit). She's nearing retirement now and most of her nest egg comes from what he gave up voluntarily in the settlement. But I'm talking about what I see generally on the boards and irl. I also think there are some fairly robust stereotypes of "ex-wife" and "ex-husband", that they're highly gendered, polarizing, and quite destructive. If we could take them apart and make them less easy to slip into, that might help post-divorce relationships, too.

Not that I'm looking for another career.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by freewitheft
What I propose is that we (as a society) need to eliminate the differences. I believe that when we live in accordance with our true human nature, the differences between the genders are fairly minimal and the huge gap we see now has been artificially created by the culture. The legalities of divorce exacerbates it.
I agree.
 

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there are always exceptions. I look at my own circumstance and reel from the amount of anger and hatred that is steered in my direction. I read many discussions here about women that are desperately trying to make it. I know of very few divorced women, I'm the first in my family. I try to grasp at some understanding. I just dont understand the absolute hatred of another person. It is difficult to comprehend. It was not just one post I read, it was post after post after post. It was frightening. You don't see that kind of anger here. Of course I am only talking about two different forums but still, it was quite overwhelming.
 

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Ms Chats alot, I sure wish I'd emptied a bank account. Seriously nobody in the legal system cares whether or not you can afford an attorney and how do you keep your children safe without being on an equal legal footing if your ex is not a nice person. No money = no fairness

I thought I should clarify that while I may be considered alternative my ex is a standard Republican wild child.
 
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