Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unapologetic views

I'm going to say something somewhat controversial.

I loathe how pro-mom our legal system is.

Ok, there. Before you crucify me, let me explain.

So, my sister's going through shit with her husband. And she's a student, unemployed, so she's getting legal aid. And they advised her to file an order of protection against her husband for herself and her children. Now, I won't go into her very personal reasons for or against that, because that isn't what this was about. But it did make me think a little.

Awhile back, I called legal aid. They told me that they were low on funding, so there was a waiting list, and then they asked me if I had been in a abusive relationship. I told them no, and they asked me if I was sure. "Sure I'm sure," I told them, confused, "why?"

Apparently, had I said I was abused...having to provide no real proof of this...I would have been bumped to the front of the queue. And they would have advised me to, well, file orders of protection, et cetera. Now, as far as I know, this is only if you have the virtue of being born with a vagina. If you're an abused dude seeking a divorce and custody of your kid, you're pretty much SOL from what I'm told.

And it goes on and on. I personally know three - yes, three - men who had women blatantly lie about them being abusive for the woman's own twisted agenda. "But, Star!" you say, "However do you know that the *woman* lied? Men lie when accused of that all the time, blah blah blah."

They sure do. Because some men are huge, huge dicks. But I *know* these three, and each of them is someone that I know without a doubt would never, never, never do what they were accused of. And as much as men can be huge dicks, women can be vindictive, horrible wenches. The sad thing is that the system is tilted in the favor of the accuser. Men accused of anything domestic get judged pretty much before they even go to court. They're guilty until proven innocent. Their names and reputations? Tarnished at the very hint of it. And unless they have a substantial amount of money, they have no hope of getting off. Because it ceases to be the woman's case instantly, and becomes the state's case. The state, with lots more money than you, prosecutes you relentlessly, while you're generally forced to deal with an over-worked, underpaid public defender, who probably also has prejudged you as guilty. Typically, public defenders urge you to plead guilty. Then, they get less court time, the state gets an easy win, and you get a pretty shitty plea bargain that you can't really argue with, because it's slightly better than the suck you were originally confronted with.

And you don't even have to stand accused of something get shafted as a dude. There are a million stories of bad moms who keep their kids while the decent dad tries and fails to get them. And if a dad does get the kid? A lot of times, the mom pays way, way less than a dad would in support, and judges often say it's so they can "focus on the child." Funny how that seems to be way less important for fathers to do...

I'm not trying to say men shouldn't pay child support (although most current tables for support amounts are ungodly, and I do think that that needs to be revamped to be a fair amount that reasonably supports the child) or that the ones who do commit abuse should get away with it, or that poor women shouldn't be entitled to legal help. Far from it. But I think that the legal system needs to be more discerning. Child support amounts should also take into account cost of living, because if the noncustodial parent can't pay their bills, they certainly can't do any good for their child, and are just set up to fail. Domestic abuse cases should be less prejudged, and public defenders for those and all cases should be better paid and given lesser case loads so that they can seriously focus on the good of the client, and less on getting one more thing out of their hair. Custody shouldn't always instantly go to the parent with the vagina, but to the parent who is willing and able to take the best care of the child. Not monetarily, but with time, love, and understanding. If both parents are fit, they should come up with a mutually agreeable custody plan that hopefully has the time as evenly divided as possible.

Obviously, this isn't a Utopian world where this all can just - POOF! fall into place. But, really...women have been pretty equal for awhile now. (Barring a few things I'll get into another time.) And we should be treated equally in these situations, too.

From one of my favorite books, Inherit the Wind:

Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.
Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says..."Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat."

The legal system needs to stop being the one place that we can still hide behind our petticoats.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

I always wanted to get into the legal system to "fix" it, justice is supposed to be blind but alas it's not the case :(