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Showing posts with label WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2018


In recent decades, claiming that fathers are endangered, and claiming to defend family values as embodied in The Natural Family, the religious right have attacked and sought to reverse the civil rights gains of the feminist movement of the 1970s. These groups blame feminism for the rising divorce rate, the plethora of single family households, and many social ills such as crime, poverty, mental illness and homelessness.  In doing so, they deny the existence of racism and the role of economic injustice.  

The Conservative right have waged a crafty, well financed, and highly organized war against women throughout America using Family Court as a backdrop.  This war has been documented partially in the book "Backlash" by Susan Fahludi published in 1991.  

The primary method Conservative politicians and the Evangelical right have used to attack women is by creating a false narrative of father absence, claiming that it has led to many social ills which require remedial action on behalf of men.  This is a complete lie.

For an example of their ideology, just look at the May 11, 2010 Multi-Agency Memorandum of Agreement for the State of Connecticut.  In the preamble, this document lists a broad range of areas in which the authors claim that fatherlessness has caused the breakdown of American society.  Has any of this been proven? No. These claims are based upon a body flawed, misleading, if not outright fake research which was created by right wing think tanks.  This is the right wing's tried and true approach to manipulating the public dialogue with fake research.  For an example of how this was done in an attempt to deny homosexual couples the right to parent, see The Regulus Study, funded by and conducted by the religious right wing. 

While there may be a correllation between fatherlessness and social problems, this is far from showing evidence of cause and effect. What we do know is that the primary factor in outcomes for young people is financial stability, not fatherlessness.  Nonetheless, the State of Connecticut has used these detailed and unproven conclusions regarding father absence to justify treating fathers preferentially when providing services, despite Connecticut statutes that clearly prohibit gender discrimination. 

This is how easily such ideas have penetrated into the mainstream.  

Added to this, Conservatives have decried the demise of the patriarchal ideal of The Natural Family. In a 2016 article entitled, "The Family Courts Are Killing Our Children", right wing politician, Dr. Mario Jimenez, stated that the loss of The Natural Family is also responsible for the high rate of both homicide and suicide in American society.  What they really want to do is restrict divorce and trap women in abusive marriages.

So what is this "Natural Family" that he is referring to?  According to Allan Carlson and Paul Mero, authors of the book "The Natural Family" (2005), the term properly refers to "the natural arrangement of husband and wife, plus their offspring, as the most identifiable and important family unit for protection, nurture, and social stability." By natural arrangement, what they mean is the father is the head of the family and has sole authority. Within The Natural Family "the conjugal bond built on fidelity, mutual duty, and respect allow [their members] to fulfill their potential as human beings."  In short, "The Natural Family is the first and fundamental unit of human society."  Most of all, it is biblical and, according to right wing evangelicals, God has endorsed it, and therefore government should insist upon it for the welfare of all.

According to Christian theorist, Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Natural Family stands opposed to The Contractual Family, which Conservatives state has improperly replaced The Natural Family in modern society. Dougherty states that The Contractual Family occurs when marital and parental relationships are determined as a matter of choice, and not biology.  For instance, it can include same sex parents, grandparents with their grandchildren, extended family, as well as unrelated persons who consider themselves family.  Conservatives and the Evangelical right condemn The Contractual Family and consider The Natural Family essential to liberty, freedom, as well as mental, physical, and economic health of American citizens.  This is what they mean when they talk about family values.  

In an attempt to restore The Natural Family, to restore fathers to their positions as heads of households, and to restore the patriarchy to its status of privilege, Conservatives have pushed an agenda to support fathers within Family Court so that they have greater access to their children, frequently replacing and eliminating Mothers.  Sure, go ahead and assert your civil rights if you wish, Conservatives appear to be saying.  Fight back against domestic violence, and leave marriages with abusers, but if you do so, you will risk the possibility that you will lose all access to your children and end up penniless and homeless.  This phenomenon was carefully documented and exposed in Phylis Chesler's book, "Mothers on Trial:  The Battle For Children and Custody" (1986) and the situation has only continued on to get worse.

It would be foolish to underestimate the extent of the misogyny behind the Christian right's movement to restore The Natural Family. Essentially, the religious right wants an end to birth control, and an increase in large families with accompanying homeschooling. They look back fondly on pre-industrial society and look forward to restoring a kind of agrarian idyll centered around large families.  In the words of one writer, The Natural Family flourishes best in "the small home economy which should act as the vital center of daily economy." The very idea of The Natural Family is closely allied with the quiverful movement to which the Duggar Family belong, which is famous for being in TLC's reality show "Nineteen and Counting." If these religious conservatives had their way, women would end up being walking baby factories just like Michelle Duggar.  

Central to the success of this vision of family life is the idea that women should stop earning a living outside the home and go back to being housewives, leaving their men to support the family.  The movement opposes equal pay for equal work, and they oppose the market wage, i.e. a wage determined by the market, and support giving men a living wage, i.e. sufficient salary which a man can use to support a wife, and one presumes his very large brood of children.  One such article entitled, "The Death of Our Family Wage Culture" by Dusty Gates quotes both Pope Pius and Pope John Paul II as stating that pushing mothers to leave their household duties in order to engage in work outside the home is a form of abuse.  

Who are the enemies of this brave new, or rather old, view of the world, or this reenvisioning of the patriarchy for the modern world?  The Gay Rights Movement, The Pro-Choice Movement, Advocates for Contraception, Advocates for Sex Education, Children's Rights Advocates, Industrialism, No-fault divorce,  Sexual Liberation, Secularists, Intellectuals and Scholars, i.e. anyone with brains, Liberals, and most particularly relevant in connection to this blog, Feminists. 

If you think the Conservatives and the Religious Right who are pursuing this movement are a small, powerless minority, who couldn't possibly seize the reins of power and impose this sexist vision on American Society, don't kid yourselves.  Who is it that is behind the millions and millions of dollars that goes into The Fatherhood Iniatiative which is present in every state of the Union right now? Who is it that is behind all the millions and millions of dollars that goes into the Marriage and Responsible Parenthood programs? What about the billions that goes into these faith based initiatives?

In fact, in her four part series on homophobia in Russia, Amanda Blue Keating of "Right Wing Watch" reports that in 2013, through the World Congress of Families, these Christian Evangelical right groups developed a major political network throughout Russia and were directly involved, along with France, in passing anti LGBT legislation that, among other things, criminalized advocacy for LGBT equality. Apparently, the Christian right views Russia as the last bastion of defense in preserving the rights of the family

All of this is the brain child of the religious right, and all of the money and effort involved is poured into programs whose fundamental intention is to destroy Women's Liberation which they consider inimical to Christianity and Western Civilization.  How are they going to destroy Women's Liberation? By seizing control of children and making it clear that if women don't learn their place, they will never see them again.  

Still, the plot goes deeper.  According to Amanda Blue, when the Russian, Konstantin Malofeev spoke at the 2012 World Congress of Families, he held out Russia as the model for the world saying, "Now Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian, totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma."  Is it surprising, then, that they showed up in the 2016 elections to put Donald Trump in power to promote just that agenda! 

While I was pursing this project, I wrote down the names of the organizations that make up this Conservative, Religious movement, and I will list them below. The majority of them are members of the World Congress of Families. It is by no means a complete list, but it gives you a sense of how extensive it is.

Alliance Defense Fund
Americans United For Life
Alliance Defending Freedom
American Family Association
Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
American United For Life
Bradley Foundation
Catholic family and Human Rights Institute
Concerned Women For America
Focus on the Family
Family Research Council
International Organization For the Family
National Organization For Marriage
The Heritage Foundation
The Howard Center For Family Religion, and Society
The Rockland Institute
The Ruth Institute
The Sutherland Institute
The Witherspoon Institute
United Families International
World Congress of Families

Monday, September 11, 2017


As a feminist, there is nothing worse in my mind than a situation where women do not support other women.  This is particularly true when it comes to the Protective Mothers who are the victims of Family Court.  Let me tell you how this impacted me recently.  

On March 13, 2017, I received an email from the Three College Luncheon organization inviting me to a luncheon where guest speaker Attorney Kathy Flaherty, Wellesley Class of 1988 and Harvard Law Class of 1994, was going to make a presentation about her service on the Governor's Sandy Hook Commission.  She is currently the Executive Director of the Connecticut legal rights Project, Inc. a State funded non-profit agency which provides legal services to support the rights of low income individuals with mental health disabilities.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Women get beaten down a lot in family court, particularly when it comes to the point of deciding who gets what part of the marital assets and determining alimony and child support. 

That's when they tell you how worthless you are and how you are just a parasitic blight on the face of humanity.  They tell you how important the children are but forget to consider, that you, as the mother, physically brought them into the world for everyone to admire and consider important.  It's too bad, because it is not supposed to be that way.  

I heard they once did a study to determine the value of a homemaker's contribution to a marriage and  found out that the value was approximately $80,000 per year.  Think of that all you homemakers the next time you put yourself down or anyone else tries to put you down!  

In the United States there are pretty much two ways to divide the estate at the time of divorce. There may be some others, combinations of the two, but these are the ones that count for our discussion.

Simply put, states that collect all the assets and divide them fifty fifty regardless of ownership are called community property states.  An example of a community property state is California. Oh, sunny California!  Aren't you great.  In my view, an equal fifty fifty division sure saves a lot of time and heartache.  

Connecticut, however, is a equitable property state meaning that the Court has jurisdiction over the entire estate and has the authority to divide that estate between the parties based upon specific criteria as it pleases.  As one of my many attorneys put it, "We have courts of equity." (Ok, I can be forgiven for being skeptical of that!!!)

A brief excerpt from the website is helpful in understanding this point:  

Connecticut is referred to as an "all property equitable distribution state." In Connecticut, the Court has the power to "assign to either the husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other." Conn. Gen. Stats. § 46b-81. Any property, therefore, regardless of when or how acquired, can be re-distributed by the Court. See, e.g. North v. North, 183 Conn. 35 (1981) (all property, including pre-marital or inherited property, is subject to division by the court). The statute "does not limit, either by timing or method of acquisition or by source of funds, the property subject to a trial court's broad power [to allocate]." Lopiano v. Lopiano, 247 Conn. 356, 364 (1998).

In making the allocation, the factors the Court will consider are: the length of the marriage, the causes of the dissolution or separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, special needs, future earning capacity, prospect for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and each partners contribution to the marital estate. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-81.  

Now here it gets really interesting for those of you who worked in your ex's business without remuneration or acknowledgment or those who were full time homemakers.  According to O'Neill v. O'Neill, 13 Conn. App. 300, 356, A.2d 978 (1988) when dividing the marital estate at the time of the dissolution of the marriage, the Courts must consider the non monetary contributions of the non wage earner spouse.  

In other words, a  determination of each spouse's contribution within the meaning of general statute 46b-81 includes monetary as well as non-monetary contributions to the marital assets. Or again, a commentator stated about the O'Neill case, "In O'Neill we observed that an equitable distribution of property should take into consideration the Plaintiff's contribution to the marriage including homemaking activities and primary caretaking responsibilities."  

When it came to premarital assets which were in the ex husband's name only O'Neill further stated that this non monetary contribution did not just apply to increasing the value of the premarital asset during the course of the marriage, but it also applied to maintaining and preserving the value of the asset.  

These views were dramatically confirmed in Connecticut by another landmark case Wendt v. Wendt 59 Conn. App. 656 (2000) and later appealed and judgment reaffirmed in AC 18388.  

So, ladies, if they say things like your ex did all the work, he earned all the money, all the assets are premarital so you get nothing or a pittance, it isn't true.  

I'm sorry I even have to tell you this, but your own lawyer won't tell you this.  I was in a meeting yesterday morning where I listened to a friend of mine speak just about this issue with her attorney.  That is what inspired me to write this particular blog.  

Right in front of my nose, this attorney completely denied that my friend had any right to compensation for her non monetary contribution to the marital assets over a period of years.  And this is no idiot--this is an attorney who is well known and well respected.  

So when I tell you, I let you know what no attorney will let you know about YOUR rights.  Trust me.  I'm telling you the truth. Look these cases up yourself.  That's YOUR job.