June 4, 2011
New Child Custody Laws in Japan
Bowing to intense international pressure, Japan has taken a step closer to changing its international child custody policies.
The Japanese Cabinet on Friday approved a plan that would bring the country's laws in line with the Hague convention on international child abduction, according to Prime Minister Naoto Kan's office.
The plan basically requires an overhaul of Japan's family law system. It would put the Foreign Ministry in charge of the cases related to international child abduction, including finding abducted children, taking measures to prevent child abuse and advising parents on the voluntary return of children, according to a statement from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
Read more here.
June 3, 2011
Must Marriage Be Monogamous?
Wow. Sounds interesting!
With infidelity now seeming less like a deadly plague and more like a relatively mild form of cancer—we all know someone who has suffered from it, even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves—does it still make sense for monogamy to constitute the basis for marriage? Or should couples figure out creative ways to expand the boundaries of their relationships, acknowledging that they might want to continue to be life partners even if one or both needs the occasional night off? This is the argument of Pamela Haag’s new book, Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules, in which “affair-tolerant” couples aren’t a regressive throwback—they’re the benchmark of a new kind of modernity. Its abundance of gimmicky catchphrases aside, this book asks serious questions about whether we have come to expect too much from contemporary marriage: a partner who is simultaneously an emotional and intellectual “soul mate,” a monogamous provider of sexual thrills, and a best friend to see us through our creaky final decades. If marriage has a hard time living up to these burdens—and a divorce rate holding steady at 50 percent suggests just how hard it is—maybe we ought to be thinking about ways to transform it.
Read more about the book here.
It is the season for inspirational graduation speeches. Here's a good one discussing gender issues in the workplace at Barnard (text here):
June 2, 2011
King: "The Family Law Canon in a (Post?) Racial Era"
While the debate about a post-racial society rages, our justice system continues to operate in a way that is race-conscious. It seems as though most of the discussion about race and the justice system concerns criminal justice, juvenile justice, education, and immigration. But race-consciousness also impacts family law. Nonetheless, the family law canon does not scrutinize race-based disparities in laws, procedures, and outcomes, and that omission feeds a mistaken notion of a race-blind or a post-racial society. One consequence of this omission is that it obscures race-based decision making by legislatures, judges, legal reform organizations, legal scholars, lawyers, and child welfare workers, and thereby immunizes race-based decision making from scrutiny. This Article suggests that the family law canon inaccurately describes a race-neutral or post-racial state for family law and that the canon should correct its colorblindness so that legal authorities can address the problems that structural racism creates for African-American families. Part I of this Article explores the family law canon and some of the examples that legal authorities and scholars constantly employ to minimize the distinctions that family law currently makes on the basis of race. Part II disputes the colorblind canonical story by showing that the law does not protect the autonomy of African-American families as much as it does that of white families. This section also explains why it matters that the family law canon has it wrong with respect to African-American families: in short, colorblindness immunizes racism and perpetuates inequality. Part III discusses why family law scholars - both those who advocate color consciousness and those who advocate colorblindness - tend to oversimplify the precedent that addresses the role of race in family law. The Article concludes by emphasizing the importance of legal scholarship that challenges the family law canon and invites family law scholars to broaden and challenge the canon.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
The competition to get your favorite disease recognized in the bible of mental health, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, can be as fierce as the talent contest in the Little Miss St. Paul Contest. The American Psychiatric Association is contemplating adding something called "parental alienation syndrome" (PAS) to the new edition of the DSM, scheduled to be published in May 2013, and the question has launched a national lobbying and letter-writing campaign on both sides. That angry letters and editorials might play any part in a debate about mental health and custody disputes probably tells you most of what you need to know about the validity of PAS.
They want, in other words, to affix a name, some blame, and also a price tag on a broad range of child responses to a custody fight—some perfectly justified and some not—in the hopes of expanding its use in court.
Read more here.
June 1, 2011
Carbone: "The Growing Relationship between Class and Family: Should We Be Talking About Evolutionary Analysis?"
Sociologists document a shift in the relationship between class and family. Historically, the more education a woman had the less likely she was to marry, and class differences in marriage rates for men in the United States were small. Today, the likelihood of marrying, staying married and raising children within a two parent family corresponds directly with class. Divorce rates, which seemed to plateau in the nineties, in fact diverge sharply by women's education - the better educated have seen divorce rates decline back to the levels before no-fault divorce while they have continued to increase for everyone else. In addition, the college educated have continued to hold the line on non-marital births at the same time they have risen sharply for everyone else. Today, 41% of all births are non-marital; yet, the figure remains at 2% for white college grads and 6% for college graduates overall. There is widespread agreement that these changes reflect in part the greater independence of women, the declining economic prospects of blue collar men, and the growing mismatch between men and women's educational achievement and employment opportunities. What has received less attention are evolutionary explanations. The most recent data finds that the greater the male income inequality in a region, the lower women's marriage rates and the lower the socio-economic status of the woman, the more likely she is to have children with multiple men. These findings, which appear to reflect women's choices to a greater degree than men's, mystify sociologists and distress policy makers. Yet, they seem to bear out evolutionary predictions that 1) women will prefer access to "better genes" from multiple partners if fidelity does not secure a mate who can meaningly invest in the children and 2) women who can secure a significant investment from a long term partner will become pickier as the variance among potential mates increases. This talk will raise the question of the importance of this discussion, the political and scholarly limitations of the discourse, and the potential implications for examining the relationship between inequality and family.
Denying State Tax Deductions for Child Obesity
A controversial comment by an Illinois lawmaker about taking away state tax deductions from parents who have obese children has drawn attention nationwide.
"It's the parents' responsibility that have obese kids," state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said Tuesday, when lawmakers took a shot at solving the state's obesity epidemic. "I think you need to look at a bill to take the tax deduction away for their child if he's obese."
Read more here.
May 31, 2011
Zatz: "Supporting Workers by Accounting for Care"
The so-called "mommy wars"- suggest intractable tensions among feminist projects of relieving employed parents’ difficulties affording child-care, reversing the devaluation of unpaid care-taking, and removing the privilege accorded gendered breadwinner/caretaker divisions of labor within marriage. In contrast, this paper offers an integrated analysis of these three faces of the family wage system within U.S. social policy. It does so by grounding the analysis in means-tested cash assistance programs for low-income families with children, programs that now condition assistance on work. In this context, all three problems arise in part from poverty measurement techniques that reduce economic activity to market activity and that assume child care occurs outside markets. Both errors can be corrected by redesigning antipoverty policy to treat child care as something needed in all households with children and to treat non-market care-taking as work insofar as it helps meet that need. This approach contrasts with more established ones that either treat child-care subsidies as a "work support" meant to promote parental employment or treat nonmarket caretaking as "work" based on its value to society at large. Such analyses tend to pit employment and caretaking against one another and are poorly integrated with the rationales and techniques of antipoverty policy.
From Mail Online:
We're not all lucky enough to get bridesmaid dresses like Pippa Middleton. But for those stuck with a closet-full of peach taffeta horrors like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, one enterprising company has a solution.
Newlymaid offers women the opportunity to donate their old bridesmaid frocks to a worthy cause, and in exchange, they'll get a sizeable discount on a range of little black dresses.
All donated dresses will be given to Clothes4souls.org, a new division of the nonprofit Soles4Souls, which gives clothing to those in need around the world.
Read more here.
May 30, 2011
Happy Memorial Day
From the Wall Street Journal:
More women are taking their new husbands' names after marriage, research shows. But the decision continues to spark debate and confusion.
The trend toward women keeping their maiden names after marriage peaked in the 1990s, when about 23% of women did so, then eased gradually to about 18% in the 2000s, says a 35-year-study published in 2009 in the journal Social Behavior and Personality. And increasingly, studies show women's decisions on the issue are guided by factors other than political or religious ideas about women's rights or marital roles, as often believed.
Well-educated women in high-earning occupations are significantly more likely to keep their maiden names, the study shows. Brides in professional fields such as medicine, the arts or entertainment are the most likely of all to do so. Age makes a big difference too, according to a 2010 study in a scholarly journal entitled "Names: A Journal of Onomastics." Women who married when they were 35 to 39 years old were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who married between the ages of 20 and 24.
Read more here.