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Saturday
Jun182011

This NYT piece, "How Divorce Lost its Groove" (6/19/11) put me in a bad mood....

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/fashion/how-divorce-lost-its-cachet.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

There's a condescending and sort of fear-mongering quality to this article, and it's left me feeling cranky.

For starters, Paul's dishy notion that divorce ever had cachet. When? Maybe last year, for two seconds, when the Huffington Post launched their divorce page? What is she talking about?

Then, frankly, her assertion that divorce was "freedom" in the 1970s is a load of romanticized bullshit. Women got divorced then, as they do now, because they were miserable and in relationships that were killing them. If anything, it's much more freeing now, because women are more financially independent. Most divorced mothers I knew in the 1970s were plunged into poverty and they had their kids 24/7 with no help from anyone. A far cry from today's divorces, where Dad often takes the kids half the time. Also, we now have 40 years of feminism behind us, and while some may argue we haven't come all that far, we all know how to balance our checkbooks, get a job, go to graduate school. We feel comfortable going to cocktail parties alone. Hell, we post our dating profiles on the internet!

She quotes Stacy Morrison saying that people who get divorced these days feel like they have to apologize for it. I'm sorry Ms. Morrison feels that way, but I think anyone who feels like they have to justify or explain their divorce is deluding themselves about how other people live. Anyone who's honest about anything knows that relationships are hard and that sometimes they can be intolerable, brutal, impossible to sustain. You can't fully understand a relationship unless you're in it (and even then, maybe not until after the fact), so anyone who judges a divorce from the outside is a fool.

There's a smugness, and a naivete, an implication that smarter, richer people are divorcing with diminishing frequency because somehow they've just decided to work harder at it. The rest of us, who give up, are somehow less disciplined? Have less integrity? I bet the author has young children, and I bet most of her friends do too. And I guarantee she won't think that divorce is so uncommon ten years from now, whatever the statistics are.

Ultimately I found this article unhelpful and unsupportive to women at a time when they need it most. If I were reading this six years ago, when I was contemplating divorce, it would have made me feel ashamed and afraid and worse than I already did. It's hard for me to comprehend why another woman would want to put that out in the world. Even that last line, about "latchkey moms,"  how could that be construed as anything but snarky?

 

 

Reader Comments (2)

Amen to all of this. It's a ridiculous article... although methinks the author doth protest too much.

Maybe she's in a horrible marriage and this is her denial...

June 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristen Buckley

I agree. You make a compelling case here.

June 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
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