a reply to: CaptainHook
I think the system in the US is screwed up.
One of the things that I caught onto slowly in Europe and that really surprised me was the lack of a war of the sexes. I suspect that differences in
the system are a major source.
In France at least, alimony is rarely done, but when it is, it is temporary (not long term), often agreed upon between the ex-spouses without any
court order (amicably), and even when it is court determined it is the spouse who has a better income that pays- whether that be the woman or the man.
I have a friend who divorced about ten years ago, and they simply came to an agreement that she would pay for his apartment because she had a better
income. She's still paying for it, though he lives with a girlfriend and their new baby. They have always shared custody of their two daughters, who
live half the week with one, and half the week with the other.
Also, men must make a declaration of fatherhood at the mayors office within three days of a birth- even if they are married. Men have the right to
decline fatherhood rights and responsibilities.
There is a strong social security net- people receive aid from the state when they are struggling, so there is less burden on individuals. It is done
in a way which is gradual- you don't lose all aid if you have a job, it is supplemented according to how much you earn. This opens the possibility for
more men to handle custody themselves if they want, as well as women not feeling obligated to ask of the other parent.
But still, it might be a cultural thing at the base, because women and men really appreciate each other in general. The contrast is striking. The
values on individualism in the US are bound to put more on the shoulders of men and make women more dependent on them. The collectivist values are
sometimes equated with a feminine mindset and I think that has some merit to it. Naturally, women have a handicap in working society because they go
through periods of pregnancy and caring (breastfeeding) infants. With a solid support from the society, they can get through those periods and keep
their head above water. If there isn't that they need to turn to a individual to help them.
This one element gives way to a war of sexes, in which women start to see men almost exclusively as providers. Women's magazines fill up with articles
on how to get a man and keep him. Men start to see women and children as gold diggers and leeches. Women master the art of being covertly manipulative
and passive aggressive, men develop a mask of hardened ego and self reliance. Bitterness grows between them.
I find it a sad relationship.