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Men As ATM Machines
Yet another man finds he's been paying child support for a kid who isn't his. Boys, a word of advice: Use a condom. A secondary word of advice: If you're too dumb to use a condom, insist on a DNA test before the court turns you upside down and shakes out your money:

The former mistress of convicted murderer Scott Peterson is back in the spotlight after a DNA test showed that her first child was not fathered by the man who was paying child support.

Anthony Flores, 29, has been paying Frey $175 a month for nearly four years, his attorney, Glenn Wilson, said Wednesday. The father of the 4-year-old girl is actually Fresno restaurant owner Christopher Funch, Wilson said.

No one answered the telephone at Porky's Rib House on Wednesday, and Funch did not have a listed home number.

Wilson said Flores was preparing to file a court motion seeking visitation rights, which he has been denied, when the man received word last week that he was not the child's father.

The guy's paid for this kid for four years and he's been allowed no face time? Granted, we don't know if there's some reason he, in particular, should be denied visitation, but this sort of thing is all too common, and not for righteous reasons in many cases.

These days, you increasingly see stunts by fathers' rights groups -- in the continuing absence of fair treatment for fathers in the courts. Again, I'm not talking about giving some child abuser access to children, but giving ordinary fathers a fair shake...treating fathers as if they belong in their children's lives, not just expecting them to open their wallets and go away.

If feminists truly were for equal treatment for all -- they'd insist on seeing a little more fairness for fathers.

stunt link via Men's News Daily

Posted by aalkon at September 22, 2005 8:03 AM

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Some of the outrages you've highlighted against fathers (and "dads" who weren't fathers at all) have made me gently gibber at the obvious unfairness. And, in some important respects, one can draw a direct line between the noisy stunts performed by the fathers-for-justice groups and the early suffragettes (the latter often pilloried by their own gender for NOT sticking sweetly to approved methods of protest - such as writing to their husbands' Members of Parliament).
But isn't it over scrupulous to define feminists as being "truly... for equal treatment for all"?. Ideally, this should be the case. However, without getting too Clintonesque over definitions, I'm not sure feminism has achieved enough ideals yet to be able to fight on all fronts? Or maybe I'm the one being over scrupulous simply because I've seen too many vocal fathers-4-justice promoters unmasked in the UK as not particularly fabulous individuals in the first place. Certainly not the sort you'd trust to step up to the plate for feminists on wider issues of legal fairness.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at September 22, 2005 8:39 AM

Something like 58% of American college students today are female. When 58% were male, feminists claiming to be all for equality made a big stink over it. Today they're very quiet about it, but still pretty stinky.

Why is that, Jody?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 22, 2005 3:16 PM

Richard, a college education is only a significant advantage in life insofar as it is a means to a higher income. Men still make more than women, and most of the higher paying jobs that don't require college education are held by men. Even after college, the highest average starting incomes for people with bachelor's degrees are in engineering, a completely male-dominated field.

Posted by: Lisa at September 22, 2005 3:34 PM

So college education isn't important? I wonder why feminists didn't realize this 30 years ago and save themselves all the trouble of affirmative action and the rest of that unimportant crap. Feminists must have been pretty stupid to try and get more girls into college.

But you're wrong about income: it's only an advantage insofar as it leads to a higher net worth. As women have an aggregate net worth greatly in excess of the male aggregate, income doesn't matter any more than education.

But education is valuable in its own right, because it makes a better-rounded person with greater appreciation for morality, art, music, philosophy, and the finer things on life. Without education, who would think to dress-up a dog in a designer outfit?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 22, 2005 3:48 PM

Like I said, college education is important in that it leads to higher income. A college degree in comparative lit doesn't mean much for your income. And women are disproportionately in the better-rounded-appreciation-of-life-useless-for-finding-a-job majors like english, etc. Then again, I majored in engineering, so maybe I don't give the liberal arts enough credit.

As to your net worth thing, I'm not sure what numbers you're using, but they probably count a husband's net worth as his wife's also. Also, since women live longer than men, wives/daughters probably inherit more often than husbands/sons.

Posted by: Lisa at September 22, 2005 4:12 PM

Also, since women live longer than men, wives/daughters probably inherit more often than husbands/sons.

Yup, women have lower-stress jobs, live longer, and inherit the wealth their husbands amassed in their short lifespans. Be careful what you wish for.

Perhaps you'd like to comment, Lisa, on the invisible power of the patriarchy that keeps women out of hard degree programs. I can relate to that at some level, since my BA is in philosophy. Being well-rounded isn't a hindrance in the practice of engineering, and in fact helped me invent key aspects of the LANs and WLANs that people use today and the WPANs they'll use tomorrow.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 22, 2005 4:58 PM

You have an advantage over me in the designer-outfit-dressed-up-dog part of the gender war.
Are we talking about Paris Hilton?
It just seems oddly specific!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at September 22, 2005 5:07 PM

Let's see, the women's advantages you just named.... Living longer: true, but I wonder how much of that is due to men engaging in way more reckless and self-destructive behavior. more men smoke, drink heavily, drive recklessly, get into physical fights, etc. Lower stress job & inheriting husband's money: both of these are completely dependent on presence, earning power, and good behavior of said husband. if he's a nice, responsible, loyal, rich guy, great. if he stays that way till he dies, even better. but there's a good chance it won't work out quite that way, even if the guy has the best possible intentions, which he often won't.

Posted by: Lisa at September 22, 2005 5:39 PM

I guess you never heard of community property or alimony, did you Lisa?

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 22, 2005 5:49 PM

Community property and alimony, so what... again, all this depends on the husband. what if he's in debt, or works a crappy job, or decides he wants to find himself writing poetry, or dies, or falls seriously ill, or bails and can't be found...Depending on community property and alimony depends on the guy having and keeping a steady, well-paying job throughout his lifetime. Also, how big are these awards? In the story above, the child support award was $175 a month. That's nothing. Would you raise a kid on that? Or even on twice that (assuming the guy's paying "half" the cost)? Also, alimony is often only for a period of time, not permanent.

Posted by: Lisa at September 22, 2005 7:17 PM

I guess no one here has read Amy's link that shows the reason "women make less than men": they work less.

Sorry if that makes you mad, but it's true. Decide to raise a family, you spend less time at work doing what is expected of you to get paid and promoted. Simple enough.

Posted by: Radwaste at September 23, 2005 2:24 AM

I hate it when men are viewed as bank accounts and nothing else.

I am also distressed that My Beloved Amy used the vulgar redundancy "ATM Machine".

Posted by: Deirdre Williams at September 23, 2005 3:54 AM

I heard Pinker speak on women supposedly being kept out of "hard degree" programs at the Human Behavior and Evolution conference -- and how Lawrence Summers allowed himself to be blackmailed into shelling out "diversity dollars" into the millions. The truth is (probably because of differences in our brains), women are not INTERESTED in these fields...nor are men interested in the "connect with people" fields of PR, etc., as much as women are. Should we also have "diversity" programs to force men into psychology and public relations?

And sorry Deirdre, but I put most of my pain and suffering in headlineville into my column.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 5:06 AM

A few of Pinker's remarks from that conference...not necessarily exactly verbatim because I was typing really fast on my Palm (keyboard).

He pointed out that, to the extent that there are gender differences (on a statistical scale) it doesn't mean every man is superior to every woman in a particular field. He said this was surprisingly ignored or misunderstood in Summers' talk.

He marveled that we see aspects of human psych displayed before us, yet they're difficult to grasp by seemingly intelligent people. He sees Philip Tedlock's "psychology of taboo" as part of the answer. A taboo is a moral judgement applied to thoughts themselves.

Pinker talked about why there was such a violent reaction to Summers' speech. Summers travels in circles of economists, who delight, Pinker noted, in putting a price on everything, and wasn't prepared for the outrage of the non-economists. Summers is also a huge fan of evolutionary psych, and has read all of the major works, and had a major rule in bringing Dawkins to Harvard as a lecturer. He thought this was just the way to analyze a problem, and had not been part of the society in which this is a taboo.

Summers, Pinker said, defeated himself by what I'm sure he thought was a way of proving that he was not a sexist: "I hope I'm proven wrong, hope there are not sex differences." In his attempt to sugarcoat it he made it worse.

Here are a few of the differences he noted, generally speaking, between men and women.

dierect comptition
drive for aquistion of status and resources

interest in others

(These are just average differences, he said -- it doesn't mean all women are one way; all men are another.) They have substantial impact on the kind of work and family tradeoffs pepole will make. They also affect kinds of jobs people find apppealing. And he noted that a guy who can't beocme an engineer becomes an arc welder, for example...a lower rung of same area of ability or interest.

And speaking for the notion that biology is destiny to some degree, he noted that women with elevated testosterone had betterspatial ability. Estrogen has depressing effect on spatial ability. Extremely feminine women tend to have low spatial ability. (I think "tend to have" was the way he meant it - not as an absolute, but it's not in my notes.) Female to male trannies, he noted, have incresed spatial lowered verbal. When they go male to female - verbal memory performance goes up.

Finally, he said:
Look at fields now dominiated by women - women getting psych degrees -- on par with men getting engineering degrees. So now do there need to be more men in social sciences?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 5:26 AM

I suppose, in the end, it depends whether you take Lawrence Summers' comments as prescriptive - 'this seems the way it shall be' or merely descriptive - 'this seems the way it is now'.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at September 23, 2005 6:01 AM

Reminds me of a joke:

Q: Why do women have poorer spatial ability?

A: Because they've always been told that this
is 8 inches.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 6:43 AM

Seriously, though, I'm not sure I buy the absolutism of women's brains/men's brains differences. Brains will develop in the areas they're stimulated. And according to some analysis of these studies I've read, there are actually more differences within genders than across genders.

My own experience growing up in the 60's was that I was taught that I should "let the boys be smarter in class" and that "it's unfeminine to be good at math". This was also reinforced by teachers who (though I got straight A's in every other subject, including sciences) mostly never expected me to perform well in math. Also the few women I knew in college(70's)in the "hard sciences" (math, engineering especially) dealt daily with open hostility from male professors and students. Turns out by the time I got to college I was ready to drop that "women are bad at math" stuff and aced my math and science classes, to this day have a deep and abiding love of science, and have ended up in a job that requires strong analytical skills. (Though my writing skills seem to be suffering over the years, as I don't use them as much.)

But then again, maybe despite my big boobs I have an abundance of testosterone. ;-)

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 6:55 AM

No, brains will not just develop in the areas they are stimulated. Men and women have different brain structures; for example, women have a much larger corpus collosum (the highway connecting the two hemispheres) which means they tend to be better at information processing. Just one example. I never thought it was unfeminine to be good at math. I just sucked at it. I have strong analytical skills. I just can't do anything more than simple addition.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 7:40 AM

I note that women revered for their successes have exhibited the same monomania expert men have. Grace Hopper, Amelia Earhart, etc., did what they did best almost to the exclusion of all else. Then, there are exceptions like Judy Resnick (RIP, Challenger) who could apparently do everything.

BTW, Amy... I bet you'd be good at multiplying. You just don't choose to, willy-nilly. (wink)

Posted by: Radwaste at September 23, 2005 9:11 AM

Well, I'm going on what my son's neurologist told me about how brains "learn" and neural pathways develop. Maybe we're talking apples and oranges here, but the understanding I came away with is that brains, especially of young children, are extremely malleable and will develop skills in response to what is stimulated.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 9:19 AM

This nature vs nurture debate is old and tired. I don't object to the idea of innate statistical differences between men and women, but I think these have been exaggerated and given credit for way too much. Example: Amy says "The truth is (probably because of differences in our brains), women are not INTERESTED in these fields...nor are men interested in the "connect with people" fields of PR, etc., as much as women are." I am an engineer, so are both my parents, both my uncles, both my aunts, 3 of 4 cousins... We chose engineering primarily because it was a practical way to make a good, reasonably reliable living. I find my work interesting and the people are great, but frankly if we all suddenly won the lottery, every single one of us would drop engineering like a hot potato, men and women both. The domination of engineering, i-banking, etc by men is way easier explained by the pressure on men to be providers (and the lack of such pressure on many college women) than by any intrinsic "interest." These are careers that very few people would "naturally" choose for themselves if the financial rewards weren't pretty sweet.

Posted by: Lisa at September 23, 2005 11:08 AM

Lisa, yeah definitely. If money were no object I'd be a horse trainer.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 11:34 AM

I've seen a number of these discussions about sex differences, career choices, and analytical abilities and one thing never changes: while men, with some exceptions, argue the points on the basis of studies and data, women, with some exceptions, argue on the basis of their own personal life and experience. Given that the topic under discussion is mainly the ability or propensity for the sexes to think analytically, I think this is very telling.

Girls, pay attention: "data" is not the plural of "personal anecdote"; you are not the center of the universe; the sun does not rise and set in hopes of shedding its rays upon you; there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your personal experience; this song is not about you, it's about all of us.

Incidentally, the default child support order in California for a minimum-wage worker is $450/month for one kid. The $175 order mentioned in the story is either wrong or arrived at my mutual consent, because the courts would never order one that low.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 23, 2005 11:48 AM

On Sept 23 at 11.48 am, Richard writes: :Given that the topic under discussion is mainly the ability or propensity for the sexes to think analytically, I think this is very telling."
On Sept 22 at 3.48 pm, Richard writes: "Without education, who would think to dress-up a dog in a designer outfit?"
And the propensity for sarcasm goes which side of the gender divide?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at September 23, 2005 12:36 PM

The truth hurts, he Lisa?

Here's a good place to shop for doggie costumes.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 23, 2005 12:50 PM

Richard, data's great. I spent half my college career wrestling with data in one form or another, and I do plenty of it at work too. But personal experience can provide a large enough sample to form opinions on. I spent four years at one of the top engineering schools where most of my friends & acquaintances were engineers, and I work almost entirely with engineers. My comment above is like a Japanese person describing certain features of Japanese culture and mores. He's certainly not speaking from data, and will be prone to overgeneralization of course, and will have some personal biases. But most people will give his statement a good amount of credibility (assuming he is being honest), and with good reason I think. Engineering, as you yourself must know, is definitely a weird little subculture of its own, and I feel like I've been immersed in it long enough to speculate on what traits, opinions, and motivations are common among us. You, of course, are free to disagree. The idea that guys who generally anticipate serious financial obligation will be primarily motivated by financial compensation seems pretty friggin logical to me. Another personal experience observation: the likelihood of immigrants from the former USSR, like me, to major in engineering, math, science, medicine is directly inversely proportional to their "Americanization". Most Russian parents push ALL their kids as hard as humanly possible in math, regardless of the kids innate ability, because they consider it by far the most important school subject. The area where I live has several "Russian math schools" because Russian parents feel that even the most advanced classes available in US schools are insufficient for their kids. The fresher off the boat the family, the more likely they're raising budding little engineers or doctors. Nurture is a huge, huge, huge deal, and only those differences that can't be explained by it should be attributed to nature.

Posted by: Lisa at September 23, 2005 2:14 PM

Now you're making sense, Lisa: show me a female engineer in the USA, and I'll show you an immigrant or a first-generation American. American parents teach their little darlings that math is unfeminine, and encourage them to marry well and work as little as possible.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 23, 2005 2:58 PM

My 13 year old daughter is enrolled at an all-girls school where every student is required to take math through calculus and a similar level of science, and I see similar requirements at good private prep schools and prep-type public schools where expectations are high, and girls are not excluded from those expectations. As far as encouraging girls to marry well and work as little as possible, this may be coming from some sense of entitlement on the part of the girls themselves, rather than from their parents - see Karen Stabiner's editorial on this topic in today's LA Times (,0,4783321.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions )

Posted by: Melissa at September 23, 2005 3:27 PM

Respectfully suggest you do some research, Richard Bennett, before offering us your limited, vaguely anecdotal views on the problem with American women and hard science (...and goodness, how you do shift ground when challenged...!).

Try starting here: "Julia Morgan was born in San Francisco on January 20, 1872 and grew up in nearby Oakland. She was the second child of Charles Bill and Eliza Parmelee Morgan.

Miss Morgan was one of the first women to graduate from University of California at Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering. During her tenure at Berkeley, Morgan developed a keen interest in architecture which is thought to have been fostered by her mother's cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in New York City. At Berkeley one of her instructors, Bernard Maybeck, encouraged her to pursue her architectural studies in Paris at the Ecole Nationale et Speciale des Beaux-Arts...."

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at September 23, 2005 3:40 PM

I, for one, was told by my dad, over and over, that I could do anything boys could do, and obviously have failed miserably at wanting to marry well and have a man pay for me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 3:48 PM

Deja, the brain structures are different to begin with. Gender is biology.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 3:49 PM

You're one of the luckier ones then, Amy. I had to overcome my upbringing. :-) One thing that sure helped was the dose of reality when my parents divorced when I was 14 and I saw that my mom who'd embraced the traditional wife-and-mother role was unable to find employment that paid much over minimum wage. Her secretarial skills were about 20 years out of date. At that point, I promised myself that I'd always be able to take care of myself financially, and always have.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 4:03 PM

I had a lot of stuff to overcome, such as having no friends as a child and being desperate to be liked. Obviously, I've long since gotten over that one! Perhaps you were actually helped by your upbringing -- the dose of reality you got.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 4:10 PM

Oh yeah, I'm definitely grateful for that. I credit that whole period of my life for the self-reliance I developed.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 4:13 PM

What I should have said was that I had to overcome my early upbringing. By the time I was 15, both my parents were a tad off the deep end, and my sister and I ended up being the ones who learned to swim from it.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 23, 2005 4:33 PM

how you do shift ground when challenged...!).

For example?

Julia Morgain...

One person does not a theory make; see remarks on "anecdote".

Gender is biology.

It's not really that simple.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 23, 2005 5:14 PM

No, I could write thousands of words on it, but the general idea is, we don't get gender from television.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 23, 2005 7:06 PM

> I promised myself that I'd always be able
> to take care of myself financially...

That's admirable. But I think it's human nature, feminine nature specifically, to want to be cared for such that full attention can be given to child raising.

PLEASE NOTE: I said "natural," not 'good' or 'workable.' Both sexes have ideas about how stuff ought to work that are difficult to work out in practice.

Posted by: Crid at September 23, 2005 8:25 PM

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