No Easy Endings
One tires of the bad-faith rhetoric of modern feminists, social libertines, and vitriolic do-gooders:
“We know there are some people out there who long for a return to the ‘idyllic’ 1950s when women knew their place was in the kitchen,” the groups wrote, “but we do not expect to hear echoes of it emanating from a gubernatorial court brief!”
That’s from a letter that the Rhode Island affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women, along with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Association of Social Workers/Rhode Island, sent to Governor Carcieri complaining about negativity toward no-fault divorce included in his recent legal brief on same-sex marriage. The bad faith, of course, comes with the imputation that the “idyllic” aspect of the era for men was the ability to deliberately oppress or beat their wives, which (one gets the impression) they were as apt to do as to love and respect them in their more-distinct roles. No fault divorce, the guardians of idyllic modernity claim, has led to “a reduction in domestic violence,” and no doubt, they see the current generations of men as pining to trap women once again in more secure marital bonds so that they need no longer feign the unnatural kindness that is the only protection against Single Life Part 2.
That some of us retrograde men wish to strengthen marriage precisely to tame our more bestial brethren must be incomprehensible to the letter’s writers. Yet, somehow the requirement of justification for divorce seems not to have drained the equality and mutual respect from our parents’ and grandparents’ marriages. Somehow, personal experience suggests that men tend to be the least harmed parties after divorces no matter who initiates them, with women and children having worse results, in that order.
Of course, it can’t be denied that women’s standing in society has improved in the recent past, including increased awareness of spousal abuse and a decrease in cultural male chauvinism. But are we to believe that this aspect of our cultural evolution will slip away, rather than continue to define strong marriages, if divorce becomes less of an easy out?
There are gradations of what people would call legitimate reasons for legal dissolution of a marital bond, but as a general proposition, when there is abuse, there is fault. If one spouse desires an end to the marriage, reforms of divorce laws could consider that to be the fault, such that the divorcing spouse faces some sort of consequences to the benefit of the divorced spouse. Knowledge of an easy out cannot help but adversely affect individual calculations of self control, whereas more certainty of a lifelong commitment increases the need to get along — as well as the incentive not to harm.
All differences are reconcilable, given time and motivation. By the same token, all partnerships can be corrupted when their existence is a perpetually open question, and as Carcieri’s brief put it:
By inadvertently allowing for opportunistic divorce, the law created a whole new class of inequality as many women and children entered poverty through divorce, and the quality of life for the entire family was reduced.