Thursday, April 19, 2012

A rant against the Men's Rights attitude

There is an attitude I'm running into occasionally among men, even young men who have not had anything terrible done to them, and I think it's highly, highly unfortunate. It seems to be based on this statistic one hears over and over and over again: "Women initiate x% of divorces." Usually the statistic is 80%.

Now, for some reason, the men who cite this statistic are interpreting it as if it means, "Women initiate 80% of the marital breakups." And even, therefore, "Women initiate 80% of marital breakups for frivolous reason." The idea seems to be that pretty much all women have within them an Inner Buffy who is just waiting for the opportunity to dump her husband one day in fit of hormone-driven pique because he fails to put his socks in the hamper. And then ruin his life, ruin the children's lives, break up his relationship with his children, etc.

So what this turns into is a bitter, misogynistic attitude (and believe me, I don't use the word "misogynistic" lightly) which causes the men who cite this statistic to approach any woman, even the most innocent, wonderful, carefully raised, Christian young woman, with an intention to smoke out her Inner Buffy in order not to be "taken in" and ruined like those many men who have become statistics.

It shouldn't really be too hard to realize that a man can leave his wife for another woman and that his wife may then formally initiate the divorce! In our current no-fault divorce culture, it is quite easy for an erring spouse of either sex to initiate a marital breakup and then put psychological pressure on the other spouse to agree to the subsequent divorce. If the other spouse happens to be the one to file the papers, that doesn't automatically mean the other spouse is the guilty party in the marital breakup. There are, of course, other scenarios as well. In how many of those 80% of cases was the husband using, and unable or unwilling to stop using, p*rn, perhaps even the type which made the wife fear for her own safety and that of her children? How about severe and uncontrolled substance abuse?

Now, am I saying that all of these are definitely reasons for divorce as opposed to separation? No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that they are non-trivial and are at least understandable and legitimate reasons for separation. It's also pretty much inevitable in the current cultural milieu where permanent separation isn't taken as an option that this will end up meaning divorce. And in any event, if that is what is happening in many of those 80% of cases, this shouldn't go down in men's minds as proof of the perfidiousness of women. Many of the breakups that go into that 80% statistic may be instances of the perfidiousness of men.

It is just incredibly frivolous and even worryingly bitter-minded to take a statistic about the percent of women who initiate formal divorce proceedings and translate that into, "Women want to break up marriages," "Women are untrustworthy," "Women usually abandon their husbands rather than husbands leaving their wives." Anecdotally, I can't help wondering how many of us find this to be true. I certainly don't. I know personally of quite a few more men who determinedly left their wives than vice versa. If the divorce papers say that the wife "initiated" the divorce (I have no idea) in these cases, that doesn't really matter. I know that it would be ludicrous to put these into the Men's Rights story about all the women out there who deliberately destroy their own marriages.

We're doing a disservice to our young men if we're teaching them to be bitter Fred Reed wannabes. If they really meet a great lady who could be, if they wanted her to be, the Christian woman of their dreams, they may just blow their opportunity if they approach her with a high-handed attitude that assumes she is guilty until proven innocent of harboring an Inner Buffy.

It's certainly true that we want to raise our young ladies, our daughters, to be gracious and loving, not to be feminists, to desire to raise children, to be more than happy to allow their husbands' career to determine where they live, and so forth. But the parallel to this on the other side is that we want to raise young men who honor women, who are grateful for a wife's sacrifices, who are prepared to love and respect a wife. They should therefore begin a relationship with a young woman whom they have reason to believe might be that future wife with the kind of respectful and kind attitude they wouldn't be ashamed to look back on later.

Do both women and men need to be careful? They certainly do. When they don't know one another, they have a lot to find out on both sides. There are all too many men who think using p*rn is perfectly okay and who have already damaged their hearts, minds, and (horrible to realize) sexual tastes by that use. All too many of them even (I fear) among Christians. Young women need to be trying to see whether the man they are getting to know is chaste not only in his actual physical relationships but also in regard to what he deliberately puts into his mind. And of course there are many other things to look for in a prospective husband. Young men are, on their part, perfectly within their rights, when getting to know a young lady, to wonder whether she is chaste as well as loyal, kind, and motherhood-minded. Moreover, it doesn't do for either party to be naive about the number of people out there who meet such a description. But care in relationships is not the same thing as initial anger and arrogance in one's approach to the opposite sex. Let's teach both our girls and our boys to pray earnestly about their possible future spouse and to make their friendships among (what we might call) plausible groups for that purpose, with kindness and hope in their hearts.


Jeff Culbreath said...

Good post, Lydia. It's the attitude that's the problem, no matter how the stat is interpreted. And you're right about alternative interpretations being highly plausible in many cases.

However, my experience has not been yours. I have found that women are indeed more free in initiating divorce for frivolous reasons, and less patient with a less-than-perfect marriage. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it's chiefly that permanent, legally indissoluble marriage is no longer a check on the hormone-driven emotional roller-coaster that is so often the female experience.

Women can master their biological tendencies here, especially with the help of prayer and the sacraments, but few attempt to do so these days. Rather the message of the world to women is to go with your feelings and desires, no matter how irrational and transitory.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Jeff. I will say that men leaving their wives for other women is so well-known generally as to be a cliche. The trophy wife. Wife switching, male mid-life crisis, and so forth. At the level of politics, it's now becoming increasingly accepted for a powerful man to be with his third wife, having dumped each of the other two in sequence. And, as you say for women, the message to men is to go with their feelings. And even in the Victorian era mothers told their daughters solemnly that it was not at all uncommon for husbands to be unfaithful. The only difference there was that the wife often just put up with it and did not divorce the husband with a mistress or another woman, and the husband, for his part, was less likely to push for divorce so long as he _had_ the mistress to satisfy his additional sexual desires beyond what his wife gave him.

These things, too, can be called "hormonal," for obvious reasons. The possibility of a mismatch between husband and wife sexual desires is itself cliche, and as women age the problem can become more acute, as female sexual desire can fall off more steeply with age than does male desire. The temptation to dump the aging wife for a younger woman must be there constantly now, especially for men who do not have a strong Christian worldview. And pregnancy, fatigue, etc. can make wives less sexually available than younger women with fewer other preoccupations.

I have seen it quite a bit in an academic context, where professor husbands are surrounded by amoral young co-eds, unencumbered by children and other such mundanities, and also very good at showing (or feigning) a flatteringly deep interest in the husband's intellectual passions which his wife may not share, making the younger woman seem more of a "soul-mate" as well as everything else. I cannot believe that there is no similar phenomenon in the business world. And of course in the world of politics the counterpart to the willing and passionate (in both senses) girl student is presumably the willing and passionate girl intern.

Alex said...

Doesn't the 'superwoman' idea contribute to the fact, if it is a fact, of increasing female dissatisfaction with marriage? Feminist propaganda encourages women to have unreasonable expectations of living a satisfied life. Many educated women now believe they can 'have it all' - i.e. a husband with whom they can share a life of the mind, children, a well paid career, permanent nubility, and so on.

When these expectations are entertained not just by elite women but by the rank and file woman, the difference between hype and reality is bound to create hordes of losers. The trickle down effect of feminist academic theory when it reaches the masses of 'ordinary' married women, produces an anxious sense that life is passing them by and that if they ditch their husbands they might catch up.

Lydia McGrew said...

Alex, I think that is a real phenomenon and does certainly put additional strain on marriage and raise the probability of divorce. This is especially true if a woman and/or couple does not have a commitment to lifelong marriage or even a concept of lifelong marriage to begin with.

However, something parallel is true on the masculine side. Our hyper-sexualized decadent society presents as an ideal the constant sexual availability of the woman, her needing to be extremely "sexy," to do all sorts of things and techniques her husband or "partner" might desire, and to keep her body perfect and beautiful for him indefinitely. If we want to talk about unrealistic expectations raised by the modern world, these expectations (some of which are outright perverse) given to men by our p*rnified culture and often by outright p*rn viewed by men (which young men are taught is normal) are creating _huge_ strains on marriage.

Why do you suppose the grocery aisles are filled with magazines giving sex advice to women about how to "satisfy his fantasies" and the like? Why all the plastic surgery, the attempt to "be the perfect body type," the eating disorders? There is a definite trend to make women something perilously like pathetic prostitutes, or something even lower, if that is possible, giving out sex of all sorts and varieties at all times to any man they "hook up with" in the completely misguided hope that this will obtain a man's love or keep the love of the man they are with at the moment.

This, along with rampant immodesty, must create very strong confusion and temptation even for many Christian men, including married men. As for non-Christian men or men not truly committed to lifelong marriage, it wreaks havoc.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Lydia, I agree with all the problems you've described on the masculine side, and they have grown worse in recent years. But only marginally. My contention is that the changes on the feminine side have been not marginal but revolutionary. The cliche you describe is outdated in my opinion. I'm sure you've noticed that we don't live in the Victorian era any longer. In a culture of indissoluable marriage men will naturally stray more than women; in a culture of promiscuity, co-habitation, serial "monagamy", etc. women have little incentive to refrain from chasing alpha males or from returning favors for their attentions.

Lydia McGrew said...

Wow, Jeff. I may be misunderstanding you. But if I'm understanding you correctly I disagree with you rather strongly.

You _seem_ to be implying that the higher masculine desire for sex which makes men (again, as a statistical rule and with individual exceptions) on average less inclined to sexual fidelity than women is purely culturally conditioned!

It's astonishing to me that anyone would think that. The fact that men on average desire more sex than women and that this creates a certain amount of potential tension in marriages is as much a matter of immemorial human observation as is the fact that women on average have more hormonally caused mood swings than men, and that _this_ creates a certain amount of tension in marriage! The mechanism by which this could create a greater temptation to men to infidelity seems so obvious as not to need to be stated.

That (again, as a statistical matter) men tend to think of sex less personally than women and are less naturally monogamous on average seems to me a part of average human gender differences (though perhaps as those gender differences have been shaped by the Fall of man), just like the fact that mothers are on average naturally more emotionally bonded to their own children than fathers is a part of innate human gender differences.

None of this is a mere matter of cultural conditioning. A woman who has found a *naturally* monogamous husband (and there are some), a man whose sexual instinct is naturally fixed onto one woman, who has no appetite for sex outside of that bond, and who cringes from the thought of sleeping around, has been a lot more lucky in terms of "what genders tend to be like" than a man who has a *naturally* monogamous wife.

Certainly it's true that both sexes have less motivation now to remain faithful to marriage. I don't in any way deny that. And our culture is doing all it can to make women as promiscuous as men and to break their maternal instincts. I don't deny that either. But that women are naturally more inclined to bond sexually and to be monogamous by instinct, that the current trends are especially against female nature, also seems to me absolutely obvious. I had thought that this was something moral and gender traditionalists pretty much universally recognized.

This is why, by the way, college girls who have gotten involved in the hook-up culture are even more psychologically devastated by it than college boys.

All of this seems a matter of evident human observation. It has even been cited (possibly accurately) as an explanation for the greater amount of promiscuity among homosexual men than among lesbian women.

Lydia McGrew said...

There are, by the way, perfectly good physiological causes for higher male sexual desire and on-average higher male inclination to promiscuity and/or infidelity. Testosterone levels are a well-known example.

It's just like anything else in gender roles. The feminists are silly and wrong for trying to imply that men and women are just alike when it comes to things like the tendency to nurture children (for example). It's, I'm sorry, equally silly for any traditionalist to imply that men and women are just alike when it comes to the inclination to infidelity and promiscuity.

There is a reason why even today it is men and for the most part not women who have sex with strangers at rest stops. I'm sorry to have to put it that brutally, but there it is. These statistical differences are simply undeniable.

Again, this does not apply in the same way to every man. Of course it doesn't. Some, thank God, are actually naturally monogamous. Some have no taste for actual wild promiscuity but nonetheless could easily struggle (yes, on average and by nature more than women) with the urge toward occasional infidelity or serial polygamy. Some are simply more tempted on average than women to lustful thoughts about women other than their wives or to the use of pornography.

But physiology and psychology are very tightly connected here. However hard the feminists may try, boys aren't like girls and never will be.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Not much time to respond, but yes, I think you have misunderstood me - and I also admit that my ideas here have not crystallized entirely.

I do *not* believe that the male or female sex drive is "culturally conditioned".

What I am saying is that female sexual *behavior* has undergone a revolution. Men have always been more inclined to promiscuity - that hasn't changed - but women have *not* always been so inclined, and as you say, are not *naturally* so inclined. And yet, today, they are indeed promiscuous to an unprecedented degree in American society, almost at parity with men. Why?

It has nothing to do with the female sex drive: libido drives promiscuity in men but not in women. Female promiscuity is driven by other things - emotional discontent, relationship problems, boredom, hypergamy, status seeking, thrill-seeking, glamour, adventure, etc.

Today women have not only the freedom (men, by contrast, have always had more cultural "freedom" to be promiscuous unfortunately) but also every encouragement not to let marriage interfere with personal "self-fulfillment" and an exciting, glamorous, high-status life.

Alex said...

I blame feminist ideologues very much for the surge in sexual promiscuity among women. Feminists argue that 'equality' between the sexes in every respect is of the first consequence. But given the natural propensity of men to be more lecherous than women, it's ironic that while a 'sexually liberated' woman may think she's an autonomous individual who's affronting her destiny, she's actually delivering herself straight into the hands of men who want to 'play the field'. Lots of men prefer the casual relationships in which so-called liberated women are willing to participate.

That innate psychological differences exist between women and men is something feminists are not willing to concede - or at least not the claim that such differences are 'innate'. Enormous damage has been done by the idea that men and women would have the very same emotional needs and satisfactions if social conditioning could be factored out. Inside a single generation we've seen how the trashing of feminine ideals has coarsened our society. It seems to have been forgotten that the modesty of women and their cautious predisposition towards a romantic but monogamous relationship, make virtuous demands that help to civilize men.

Lydia McGrew said...

Ah, thanks, Jeff, that's clarifying.

"And yet, today, they are indeed promiscuous to an unprecedented degree in American society,"

that's true.

"almost at parity with men"

that seems to me pretty improbable even still (despite the best efforts of the feminists and the various groups sexualizing our society), especially if one looks *across age groups*. Are 50-year-old women as likely to have sex with multiple people as 50-year-old men? I would doubt it enormously. What about 60-year-olds?

Where parity might be coming close to being "achieved" (sorry achievement) is among single college students, especially those living on campus. Perhaps among 20-somethings generally, though I can't help thinking that if we had a clear definition of and measure of "degree of promiscuity," men would still lead women in that, perhaps substantially, when the pressure-cooker atmosphere of on-campus life is no longer a factor.

What about among married people? here I think it is *almost certainly* false that women have as much extramarital sex as men. Consider just simply the fact that the market for prostitution (whether male or female prostitution) is skewed toward a male clientele. That by itself must represent a pretty strong disparity in the probability that a married man vs. a married woman will be unfaithful.

Certainly, women can be ambitious, bored, and discontented, and no doubt some or even many nowadays do seek to solve those "problems" by means of marital unfaithfulness. (Remember too that a woman can use her sexuality in the service of her ambition by pressuring her husband to be more ambitious. See Lady Macbeth for a precedent.) But I doubt very much that female ambition and discontent are sufficient as driving forces, even in these sexually liberated days, to match the effects of male libido (and male discontent with the satisfaction of libido) on rates of marital unfaithfulness.

Obviously, it's difficult to get statistics on things like this that people are going to be reluctant to report.

Also, of course, if one adds in the epidemic of p*rnography and its effects on and attraction for men, this surely represents a lot of cases where women break off marriages for non-trivial reasons related to their husbands' behavior. And it is a form of unfaithfulness. Again, one can discuss what form that marital break-up should take and whether it should be separation without the option of remarriage, but it is by no means a trivial reason, especially if the husband will not or believes he cannot stop.

Lydia McGrew said...

"It seems to have been forgotten that the modesty of women and their cautious predisposition towards a romantic but monogamous relationship, make virtuous demands that help to civilize men."

Amen, Alex. Ironically, both in the U.S. and in England, the effect of the deliberate attack on female modesty and monogamy seems to have been to make a lot of women more willing to get involved (whether married or just as girlfriends) with dangerous men who abuse them. Lacking a notion of their own worth, of male chivalry, and of the uses to which they should be putting their sexual assets (namely, to attract and retain a good, civilized husband who will love them), young women squander those assets and all too frequently get themselves beaten or even killed. What an achievement for feminism!

yankeegospelgirl said...

Indeed, a recent pop song has a female singer declaring that she "likes the way it hurts" (in reference to abuse). And judging by the number of young ladies who tweeted that they wish they could get beaten up by Chris Brown during the Grammies, it seems to reflect the attitude of the day with frightening accuracy.

Lydia McGrew said...

I can't help wondering if girls who would "tweet" such a thing think it isn't real or is just hyperbole or something. Then once they're actually in an abusive relationship, they're emotionally roped in and it's too late.

Lydia McGrew said...

Someone posted a comment meant for this thread which is still in moderation. I cannot edit comments on this blog; I can only publish or not publish. I decline to publish comments with swear words in them.

If you, the commentator, check back and wonder why your comment hasn't been posted, it's a combination of my disinclination to respond to your wrong-headed comment and the cuss word in it. If you care to try again without any swearing, I'll at least consider publishing it.

Lydia McGrew said...

I've been getting several attempted comments to this post recently from the so-called "manosphere."

I have independent reason to believe that that group of people has been speaking unpleasantly about me at their own blogs. Luckily, I haven't had to read the specifics of what they are saying.

The comments I've moderated through in this thread have led to interesting and fruitful discussion, even with a person with whom I probably have some disagreements.

The real "manosphere" types, on the other hand, are such utterly creepy people, worse even than I had any idea when I wrote the main post, that I will have nothing whatever to do with them. Nothing. If their attention has unfortunately been drawn to me and to this post, I will thank my lucky stars that I have moderation turned on, and I will not publish their comments.

So don't waste your time, all you "anonymous" misogynists who are trying to post here.

empathological said...


Your objection seems quite reasonable, that just because one files doesn't mean they initiated or brought about a divorce.
You insult men's intelligence with it. You do not believe that a man would have thought of that objection, or that men are so ignorant of statistical methods as to just read a blandly stated statistic and take it at face value.
Some sadly may do so. But Lydia, not all, and not even most. We too have our information gatekeepers, folks who know the rigors of analysis, know how to be mathematically skeptical, and know how to read a study that controls for same.
The data are correct, although its more like 67%, not 80. The data did not count divorces and make 2 sets, one filed by women and one by men, then count and divide. It/they drilled into interviews and court documents with permission. The circumstances you mention are eliminated.
The conclusion is, women file no fault divorce that lack real grounds (physical infidelity or physical abuse, addiction, and physical abandonment) 67% of the time such divorces are filed at all.

You raise a good point though. To capture the real effect women have on the divorce rate one would need to then ADD those divorces filed by men at womens request, then add those divorces filed by women because the women had another man, etc etc. The overall rate of divorce at the hands of women may well approach 80%. But that has not been rigorously evaluated so I will not say it.

Your comments following the post show a similar lack of rigor, and a stand on conventional wisdom. This wisdom seems correct because it is what "everyone" believes.
I doubt you will accept these facts. The incorrect information is so ubiquitous that saying things counter is like telling a fish it is wet.....who knew

Lydia McGrew said...

It's come to my attention that a blogger with the handle Dalrock, whom I've seen a bit of and whose blog I refuse to have anything whatsoever to do with, has mentioned this post. I don't want to know what he says.

I have published none of the comments from his readers, not because they are all creepy or stupid. They aren't. They vary. However, I don't want in any way whatsoever to encourage any sort of dialogue or discussion between myself or my blog and any part or portion of the "manosphere" including the so-called Christian manosphere.

I'm not even saying that all of Dalrock's readers are creeps, but those of you who aren't and who still hang out there are hanging around with the wrong crowd and should get out while the getting's good.

I've made occasional attempts to warn people I have some concern for or to get them away from any flirtation with that crowd, and it seems that they have been largely unsuccessful. They have chiefly succeeded only in getting me unwanted attention from the fever swamps.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of situation where people are just not open to reason. Some attempted commentators in this recent batch, for example, have suggested that women are by and large financially *better off* after divorce and that this is what incentivizes frivolous divorce for women. The idea that either women or men are *in general* better off after divorce financially is contrary to plenty of empirical evidence. And women who aren't already rich far too often slip into outright poverty as a result of divorce. It only makes sense that this should be so. Two cannot live separately more cheaply than together. Moreover, lump-sum payouts, on which the "women rape men in the courts" claims seem to hinge, are the kinds of things that will be invested in the now-needed second house. Women who have stayed home with their children prior to divorce are particularly vulnerable, as they have not built up a career. A man is doing his wife no favors by divorcing her at 45. This should be obvious, and by that same token it should be obvious that a woman is doing herself no favors, even in crassly materialistic terms, by breaking up the marriage.

Lydia McGrew said...

I have also been assured by one attempted commentator that they have their "informational gatekeepers" who have "drilled down" into the divorce data with permission of the parties (that must have been a lot of permissions to get for a lot of highly confidential information, if the sample was to be statistically significant!) and have determined that women do indeed file *truly frivolous* divorces 67% of the time that such divorces are filed.

Forgive me for not trusting the research objectivity of anybody who allegedly acts as a manospherian "informational gatekeeper." Good grief.

Let's face it: The people from this "sphere" are the sort of people who will talk among themselves as if men are naturally chaste until naturally promiscuous women get hold of them and corrupt them. This in defiance of all logic and thousands of years of human observation. One commentator huffed at my reliance on "common wisdom." Yet to think that some who hang out at these sites also think of themselves as traditionalists of sorts! Yes, let's not let our misogyny be interrupted by anything so inconvenient as "common wisdom."

But by that same token, then, what's wrong with the feminist claim that men and women are identical? Oh, yeah, it goes contrary to common sense and thousands of years of human observation.

Sauce, goose, gander, etc.

Lydia McGrew said...

One creep (this one really was creepy) chortled over the so-called "marriage strike" and referred to my post as "foot-stomping."

Sure, guys, go ahead, cut yourself off from God's ordained means of satisfying the natural desires he placed within mankind. Cut yourselves off from the loving and generous means of creating new life. Cut yourselves off from God's plan for the family. Cut yourselves off from the entire foundation of human civilization and history. Because that'll show those damned women.

And I'll eat my hat if any significant proportion of men self-consciously participating in the "marriage strike" are remaining chaste, as opposed to either using pornography or using "game" to sleep around. I note that, in my much-regretted occasional contacts with the manosphere, there is a highly suspicious tendency to excuse male use of pornography and to blame it on women. (In essence, if men use pornography it's the fault of women for not marrying them or not having enough sex with them.)

Brrrr. The fewer people who think like that in the world, the better, and the less I have to do with them, the better.

So, folks, let's make this clear: I hope D____ never mentions me again, ever, and I really do not want any sort of dialogue with you. And for those of you who are nice guys--please, consider the dark places you're living on the blogosphere and leave while there's still time.

Lydia McGrew said...

And to be clear, that last comment was not meant as a swipe against anything like celibate priests or those who take vows of chastity. They do so as a true sacrifice, in order to devote themselves to God, not as a kind of "getting back at" the opposite sex, not because marriage is just "giving power to women," nor anything of the kind. A priest who took the latter attitude would not be a good priest.

Lydia McGrew said...

I have to add: The same commentator who tells me that the "information gatekeepers" of the intrepid manosphere have "drilled down" on the divorce data and have ruled out the women's filing for divorce for cause then _also_ says that we ought to _add_ to his 67% those hidden cases in which the man filed but was really asked to do so by his wife or filed by the woman (apparently outside of the 67%) where she already had a man of her own.

But what an admission! In his eagerness to find additional *possible* female-fault divorces, he has just admitted that these "information gatekeepers" who have knowledgeably "drilled down" into the divorce data and have "ruled out" _male_ fault in 67% of frivolous divorce filings really _didn't_ know all that much about the causes of the divorces! For if, for all we know, there are hidden female fault divorces that escaped the knowledge of these savvy manospheric analysts, then of course there might just as well be hidden _male_ fault divorces. For example, how many of that 67% were actually filed by the woman at the request of the man? And so forth. It never so much as occurred to him that he was making an admission of lack of knowledge by these "divorce statistics manosphere analysts," nor did it occur to him that an allusion to possible hidden female fault divorces raised a parallel possibility on the other side!

Yet in the same comment I was chided for having insufficient respect, allegedly, for men's knowledge of statistics.

No, sir, it's only for _your_ type of approach to statistics and divorce that I have no respect. In general, I have no reason at all to think that men are less good at statistics than women. Far from it. But people who say things like this--yeah, they don't seem to merit much respect.

Lydia McGrew said...

Since our country does have no-fault divorce (which is not a good thing) it's unlikely that divorce court records are going to tell us anything like the complete story of the causes behind the divorce. If, legally, the parties have "agreed" to a divorce, it's entirely plausible that neither party is going to start listing the iniquities of the other. AFter all, the whole point is to keep lawyer's fees down, get this over with rapidly, and so forth. Often either the man or the woman appeals to the other to allow the divorce to be quick and easy and not "nasty" for the sake of the children. In such cases, people simply reading court records are going to have no idea what he did or she did. At which point we have entered the realm of conjecture. Arguing from silence that, because his or her infidelity, pornography use, or what-not did *not* appear in the court records, no such thing happened and therefore that whoever officially filed is being frivolous in breaking up the marriage is simply naive in the extreme.

empathological said...


You argue in bad faith. i never one stated that the data came from manosphere sources. Re read the comment, then retract your nonsense.

I never mentioned where the data come from.

The data is largely from a study sanctioned by a state government and it study was openly biased to find exactly the opposite of what it found.

regardless of the source, which again, you created from whole cloth to discredit me and you lack the courage to print the comment, your fumbling conclusions based on my comments demonstrate a profound deficit in understanding, or, more likly, hands in ears saying lalalalalala.
I did not think youd be interested in the intricacies of the controls for the stats, but if you'd like a tutorial on same Id be happy to provide it. Your conclusions are amateurish and wrong.
Again though I do not suspect that God Himself could convince you that women indeed file/cause the majority of no fault divorces.
Fish, you are wet.
If you are going to cherry pick my words and make weak attempts to twist and refute them, then do me the favor of simply ignoring them.
You need a good done of outing for such ridiculous writing. I save my comments and can report what I actually wrote and compare it to what you say I wrote and demonstrate your level of integrity. Thats my afternoon project for the day.
Writing to yourself seems unstable, Ive seen it before when someones artificial reality is challenged

empathological said...

All of the questions you ask in challenge to my comment are answered in the data gathering.....which is not done by me, by manosphere people, etc. My knowledge of stats is relevant only in reading them, I am an engineer and have well above average grasp of them. But I didnt DO them. I do not know the composition of the team that did, may have been men and women, all men, all women, no idea. They stand on their own merit and are evaluated according to understanding the very elementary objections you pose. No state sanctioned study would be that pedestrian as to ignore the questions you raise.
I never stated that the info came from being "written in lists in court documents". I expressly said, through permission to examine docs, AND through interviews of cooperative parties who divorced, and their lawyers. It took a couple of years to do the research, not some word parsing.
I don't care if men or women are better at statistics. I said that you seem to be suggestive of male inferiority, I made zero assertion of the opposite.
i started reading your blag thinking you were intelligent and thoughtful. Not so much anymore. You are a screeching angry woman.
You have posted NO credible rebuttal. Your readers are pared down to only sycophants this way.
Courage is lacking. Throwing arrows then blocking return fire is pure cowardice, and thankfully not the way those beastly males comport.

Lydia McGrew said...
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Lydia McGrew said...

Empath: I have now published your earlier comment. As you can see, and as anyone can see, my misunderstanding was occasioned by the phrase "We too have our information gatekeepers." My conclusion was that "we" meant "People coming from our perspective," and "information gatekeepers" only strengthened this impression.

If you wish to link to the study you mention, I will have a look at it.

A couple of points of note, which you do not seem to see the force of. Point 1: In your original comment you said that "the data are correct" and then changed that to the statement that the number is not 80%. Please note that 75% or 80% is the statistic I have frequently seen cited by people coming from your perspective. Unless we assume that they were unable to read, I think we should conclude that they were not using the study you claim to be citing, since the concluding number is a different number.

Point 2: You yourself express, as I pointed out before, both a very strange bias and conflicting levels of confidence in the study you claim to be relying on. On the one hand, you are quite insistent that the methods used were able to *rule out male fault* in the 67% of cases, a number you wish to hang your hat on. On the other hand, you state that there might have been hidden *female fault* divorces in the study group which those doing the study did not catch and which ought to be added on top of the 67% in order to come up with a higher amount of female blame for utterly frivolous divorces. This implies that you believe that those doing the study were _not_ really able to get at a clear knowledge of what faults were causes lying behind the divorces. Your bias shows in that you state that we should assume and "add on top" hidden female-fault divorces but that you do not see (even, apparently, after I pointed it out once) that if this is a possibility, so too are hidden male-fault divorces. If, for example, some divorces filed apparently frivolously by men were filed at the request of their wives (an example you gave), then why should we not guess that there were some divorces filed apparently frivolously by women at the request of their husbands?

I really do not know how to make this any clearer.

Finally, nothing I have said here suggests male inferiority. Nothing whatsoever. In point of fact, my own belief is that there are more men in both tails of the bell curve, so that, among other things, biology probably tends statistically to give us more extremely brilliant men than women, as well as more men on the other tail of the bell curve than women. The mean intelligence appears to be the same. I have relatives who are much involved in the cerebral world of chess, where men dominate, and I believe this is almost certainly for biological causes. I am amused at the breast-beating among the liberal chess folks about why more women aren't at the highest levels.

And so forth. I do not believe in "male inferiority" and have never implied it.

On the other hand, I have a very *strong* impression that the manosphere is bad for a person's (some participants are women as well) ability to think clearly, as well as for a person's character and ability to perceive the world. I most solemnly wish to have nothing to do with it, considering it, quite literally, mind poison.

The devolution of your own comments towards the level of mere abuse is some evidence in this direction in itself, though you have the opportunity now to do better.

My main reason for publishing was to correct my misunderstanding of your initial comment, to show the cause of the misunderstanding, and to tell you that you are welcome to link to the study you cite. Also to point out, again, your amusing and strange double standard regarding the alleged thorough knowledge of your cited researchers and possible hidden cases of (only???) female fault. But if you don't understand that yet, there's nothing further I can do. I will continue to publish comments only selectively.

Ceer said...


On the one hand, you are quite insistent that the methods used were able to *rule out male fault* in the 67% of cases, a number you wish to hang your hat on. On the other hand, you state that there might have been hidden *female fault* divorces in the study group which those doing the study did not catch and which ought to be added on top of the 67% in order to come up with a higher amount of female blame for utterly frivolous divorces.

From my reading of Dalrock's reporting, quite a while ago, I took that there is possibly a good deal of manipulation on the part of one partner that causes the other to initiate the divorce. Also, that there's not much in the full data that says who's the root cause. He had to infer that from a statistical survey.

My own impression is that the effects of men provoking divorce from women acts opposite the effect of women provoking divorce from men. Unless one of these is severely overpresent, this effect won't have much impact, leaving us with a number close to the 67%.

In going back to the article I read here:

I found that the source is the AARP, hardly a mannosphere bastion. The author decided to settle on the self-reported number as the most accurate, which states that 41% of men initiated divorces while 66% of women did. No matter how you slice that, it's a huge disparity.

Women I have told this statistic to have, without fail countered with some version of "what about the men? Didn't they do something to cause the women to initiate divorce?" To an unmarried man, this line of thought is very disturbing. Please put yourself in these shoes, you bring up a statistic which gives you pause, and the first thing your loved one does is say "well, didn't people like you start it?". This is an apt analogy to how men naturally feel. Can you understand?

By posting this, I'm trying to clear the air between men and women by presenting men's problems in a way that you can understand.

Lydia McGrew said...

I have just made the decision not to publish another unpleasant comment from a manosphere commentator. However, since he did try to include a link concerning a study, I here quote the context of that link:

"In fact, several studies have shown that much of female initiated divorce does not involve serious problems, beyond being "unhappy." One of them is: There are others. The first one was done by several admitted feminist social workers back in the middle Nineties, and to their surprise most divorce did not involve male adultery nor abuse nor abandonment. Just plain the woman who filed was unhappy. And, like the linked study, five years later, those who stayed married had moved to happy or very happy."

It is difficult to tell whether the commentator means to say that this link _is_ to a study showing that "most divorce" is a result of women's merely "being unhappy" without any abuse, adultery, etc.

Certainly, the link does _not_ show anything of the kind. Far from it. I have just read that article through. The study in question showed that spouss who were unhappy (for a variety of reasons, *including* very serious problems such as alcoholism and infidelity) and who divorced were not made happier by the divorce. That's an interesting statistic for those who care about marriage, but it tells us precisely zip about what percentage of divorces are filed by Buffy for frivolous reasons.

In fact, it is so incredibly odd that this abusive commentator (not empath) should have listed it as if it supported the theory that the majority of divorces _are_ frivolously filed by women that the citation merely further supports the already well-supported conclusion that there is a bias here that makes it difficult-to-impossible to know when statistics do or don't support one's own position.

Lydia McGrew said...


The point that should be made in answer to your statistic is the point I made in the main column, and it is important whether you appreciate it or not:

A statistical statement that merely tells us what percent of divorces are initiated by *either* gender does not tell us that that gender is frivolous, cruel, exploitative, or inclined to divorce for no good reason. This would be true *even if the statistic went the other way*. Even if a significantly higher percentage of all divorces were initiated by men than by women, it would be extremely hasty to say from that, "Look at all the men who are dumping their wives for no good reason." That statistic simply doesn't support that conclusion.

Consider this parallel: Suppose that some man-hating feminist were to hear a statistic that 66% or 80% or whatever high percent of women file for divorce among all divorces filed and were to say, "See what jerks men are? Look at all these poor women who are in such terrible marriages that they have to get out by getting a divorce."

Now that would obviously be nonsense, driven by the feminist's determination to find "proof" of male perfidy anywhere she can. Of course such a statistic doesn't show that men are evil beings who "drive" their wives to divorce them.

But by the same token, it doesn't show that women are frivolous twerps who divorce their husbands for no good reason.

By itself, it doesn't *tell us at all* what the reasons were.

That, presumably, is why your female friends say that. They are just noticing the hole in any reasoning from, "Women file for divorce at a disproportionately high rate" to "Women are frivolously dumping their husbands all over the place, and men should fear marriage." It's simply a non sequitur to go from that statistic to that conclusion, and you should be able to handle having it pointed out.

In short, that type of statistic shouldn't be used the way that it is being used, and being very widely used, by the "men's rights" or "manosphere types." It just doesn't show what they think it shows.

Again, this would be just as true in the other direction if there were more divorces actually filed by men than by women.

Lydia McGrew said...
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Lydia McGrew said...

I've now looked at the AARP study. You're right: It's not a manosphere bastion. And guess what? It also doesn't support the "Women are mostly Buffy types who dump their husbands for no good reason" conclusion! It doesn't even support the conclusion that, where marriages _are_ ended frivolously, women do so more than men.

Waiving very real questions about representativeness in the sample (because it was only for mid-life and beyond divorces), and waiving the even more serious point, which cuts both ways, that we just have here what people say were the reasons for their divorces, what we have is this:

Women claim some kind of at least putatively serious reason for the divorce as the most significant reason, which might apply to either themselves or their spouses, in 62% of cases. That's leaving out such things as "control freak" but including the unfortunately portmanteau category of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. This includes cheating, some kind of "abuse," alcohol or drug abuse, and abandonment.

Men reported the same categories in 32% of cases interviewed.

It's difficult to cross-hatch this with the question of _who_ committed the abuse or infidelity or was the alcoholic, because sometimes people did accuse themselves of being the one at fault. But to a great extent, as one would expect, the interviewees tended to attribute the problem to the other party.

I'm rightly skeptical about the category of "abuse," because I think it overbroad. But that doesn't tell us what to subtract or where. By the same token, 5% of women and 6% of men refused to tell the main reason for the divorce, so what does that add or subtract? There was also apparently no category listed for pornography as separate from "cheating," so we don't know if that was included in the respondent's minds in "cheating" or in some other category. And so forth. And that's counting only what people said was the primary reason, not *a* reason.

Interestingly, the very most frivolous category, "Simply fell out of love," we have 17% of men and only 7% of women listing it. Does this mean that more men than women desired a divorce for this highly frivolous reason? The authors of the study don't list self vs. spouse as the one to whom it "most applies" for the "simply fell out of love" reason, so we don't know. Perhaps the people saying they "simply fell out of love" were claiming that it applied equally to both of them, a conclusion that is at least open to question.

There are a zillion things one could say about this survey, and I myself would take much of it with several large grains of salt, for reasons which cut both against the men answering and against the women answering. What one _can_ say is that it simply does not give us any statistics one can point to of which one can say, "There you have it. That shows that there are a large proportion of divorces in the U.S. (or most divorces in the U.S.) that are both initiated by women and are initiated for frivolous reasons." It doesn't even come close to showing us that. To the extent that it shows us anything at all (which may not be much of an extent) it shows that plenty of divorces from middle age on up are _allegedly_ taking place for serious reasons as the story is told by one side or another. Make of that what you will, and not knowing who is lying or rationalizing, you just aren't going to get the Buffy story out of that.

Lydia McGrew said...

One garbled and personally unpleasant comment which I did not publish referred to my "hatred" for Dalrock, the blogger to whom I owe this recent spate of comments.

On the contrary: I am adamantly opposed to what his blog stands for and purveys in the way of "manosphere" content. However, as a personal matter, he has only my goodwill. Indeed, I regard him as one among others who has been captured by an ideology. It can happen only too easily. Feminism is one such. Marxism another. Human beings have what they think of as some kind of insight in which everything falls into place, and then it becomes a case of "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." These sweeping categorizations of the enemy and the victims have a fatal attraction. For that reason, D____ has, as a person, only my concern and my prayers. But for that very reason, I refuse to link to his blog nor in any way to give it any respectability, and I strongly and seriously urge others to stay away. The "Christian" aspect only makes it that much more potentially confusing and entangling for the unsuspecting who are likely at first to think this is just another type of opposition to feminism. In a sense, it is all the more important to keep this kind of distance since I do have some blogospheric friendships with others who do _not_ maintain such a distance and since I am in some ways non-mainstream conservative. That makes it necessary to find a place where one draws a line and says, "Here and no further." The manosphere, whether "Christian" or not, falls well, well over such a line, and I utterly repudiate it. But for those actual people entrapped in it, including Dalrock himself, I hope only that they will eventually come out, as one would wish for a committed Marxist or feminist.

Ceer said...


What gives me pause is the fact women seem so keen to point out the flaws in my gender while skating over the same flaws in their own. To me, it seems very like feminism.

My comment wasn't meant to be a thoroughly logical take down...more of a challenge to sympathize with someone who's experiences aren't your own.

For the report results, page 73, 2nd block from the bottom...Category: Fell in love with someone else. Women who divorced self-reported that they fell in love with someone else at a rate of 46% compared with 42% of men.

Based on what I said in my previous comment, we certainly don't see eye to eye on the value of these statistics. My point is, perfect or not, they give us something else to base our actions on other than anecdotal evidence.

Not everyone in the mannosphere is of the MGTOW type. Some of them are happily married. Typically, the advice goes like this: Marriage, even though it has lost most of its meaning in our society, is still the best environment in which to raise a child. In order to have a successful marriage, a man must have a certain set of skills as demanded by women.

The individual writers and commenters may then discuss what exactly is included in this skill set. Sometimes complaining about women is included.

Anecdotally, add this story to your pile. My own sister called my mom in tears wanting to divorce my brother in law. His crime? He was out of work. He had a job, lost it, and because of the economy, took about 6 months looking for a new one, before going back to school to complete his master's. That didn't matter. Sister was unhappy. Luckily for the marriage, mom was there to calm her down. We come from an intact home...but how many women out there don't?

Lydia McGrew said...

Ceer, I cannot help thinking perhaps you are confused about the statistic you are describing. Your statement, "Women who divorced self-reported that they fell in love with someone else at a rate of 46% compared with 42% of men" seems on the face of it to mean that 46% of women who divorced said that they fell in love with someone else! That is _not_ what the statistic means. Here is what it means: Of the women who said that the primary reason for the divorce was that _someone_ fell in love with someone else, 46% (just of those women) said that _they_ were the ones who fell in love with someone else. Of the group of men who said that the primary reason for the divorce was that _someone_ fell in love with someone else, 42% said that they were the partner who did so. This is a far cry from 46% of women in divorces getting those divorces because they fell in love with someone else! Only 3% of the men and 4% of the women said that the primary cause of the divorce was that _anyone_ simply fell in love with someone else (both men and women evidently treated "cheating" as a different category). So the 46% female number is a percentage of a percentage and overall amounts to something quite small as a percentage of women in this survey self-reporting that the primary cause of the divorce was that they themselves "fell in love with someone else." .46 times .04 is, by my calculation, 1.84%!

"Based on what I said in my previous comment, we certainly don't see eye to eye on the value of these statistics. My point is, perfect or not, they give us something else to base our actions on other than anecdotal evidence."

I'm sorry, but that's an extremely illogical way to think. This isn't a matter of statistics which _really do_ support the conclusions in question but merely support them somewhat, hence "imperfectly." No way. The point is that the things you are citing do not support the "Women are quite likely to dump men for frivolous reasons" conclusion _at all_. You can't make completely unjustified jumps from statistics that don't support your conclusions and then say, "Oh, well, it's imperfect, but at least it's something." If that were rational, the feminists could do it just as well if not better, and they doubtless do. But that would be irrational, too.

Statistics are tricky things. I cannot stress too strongly how dangerous an approach it is to accept what are demonstrably _poor_ statistical arguments and then say, "Well, at least it's something."

I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your sister and glad to hear that your mom talked her out of it. But anecdotes: Anecdotes can be told on every possible side all day long and all night long. There are anecdotal horror stories galore, including true ones, about husbands who beat their wives, husbands who do this, that, and the other. Presumably this is why you crave some kind of statistical hook to hang your hat on.

My advice: Stop looking for a sound statistical hook on which to support the "women are likely to dump you frivolously" conclusion, because you aren't going to find it, because sociology is mostly conjecture and baloney.

Go out and meet a nice girl, get to know her, learn to trust her as an individual, and fall in love with her. And stop reading the manosphere. It will poison your mind and teach you how to do junk faux science.

Ceer said...


The statistic I quoted was for self reporting, meaning the respondents were talking about themselves.

I understand you're upset that other people have different opinions from you. Please don't push the burden of proof all the way over here, when you yourself don't have to prove anything. Also, please understand that a certain shorthand has to be used when dealing with statistics, or else we all have to engage in full and complete explanations of all numbers every time we refer to them.

On your personal level comment... I tried being nice in meeting girls. I tried falling in love myself. They don't like that.

My entire point was to try and elicit sympathy. Thanks for informing me that you focus on withholding sympathy and pushing quick fixes. It was most illuminating.

Lydia McGrew said...

It's very odd, Ceer, and unless you have some additional actual argument, that will probably be the last comment of yours I publish. I thought you were trying to make clear arguments, but instead you made an extremely poor argument (at least poor vis a vis the proposition at issue) and then said you were simply looking for sympathy.

Burden of proof? Well, yes, if someone believes or even thinks there is some evidence for a strong, contentful proposition, it is _entirely_ in order to ask what his evidence is for that. In this case, I take it that the proposition at issue is that female-initiated divorces are most often frivolous, that women usually divorce frivolously, or something in that zone. *No* evidence has been given which supports that proposition, and when I have pointed this fact out, you have not apparently been able to see that.

Upset? I'm not upset with you. I'm sorry that you cannot see the argument, and I see your punting to feelings and inability to see that you have no data as further evidence of the mind-poison of the manosphere. But what upsets me concerning the existence of the manosphere is that it's harming real people. Just as one would be "upset" about the harm being done by a false religion, for example. Not some kind of whiny, personal "upsetness" but rather indignation about the harm to human persons and souls.

The one shred of argument in your comment, which is the reason I published it, is this: "The statistic I quoted was for self reporting, meaning the respondents were talking about themselves."

Yes, they were talking about themselves. But this does not mean that 46% of the women in the survey said they fell in love with someone else and divorced for that reason. Look at what the box you referred to is in the context of the study. It's a breakdown among those who said that one of the "top reasons" for the divorce was that someone "fell in love with someone else." *Among* those, then, this box is showing how many each of male and female said that the reason for the divorce applied mainly to themselves or mainly to the other person. Look above those boxes. It says, "For those top reasons, please indicate if the reason applied mostly to you, mostly to your spouse, or to both of you equally." So this is a percentage *of* the percentage of women who said that someone's "falling in love with someone else" was one of the "top reason" for the divorce. Among those, 54% said that it was the husband who "fell in love with someone else" and 46% said it was themselves. But that is itself a breakdown of quite a small percentage of the women surveyed, because most didn't give that as the top reason for the divorce at all!

Now, I do have to make a small correction to the calculation I made above, because apparently the breakdown box is among those, male and female, who said that the reason was among the top *three* reasons for the divorce. So the 46% is 46% not of 4%. You have to add up all the percentages among the three charts above of women who said that someone's "falling in love with someone else" was any one of the top three reasons. Those numbers, as you can see on the charts on pp. A-5, A-6, and A-7, are 3%, 2%, and 3%. The total of that is 8%, so the 46% is 46% of 8% of the women who listed, in the earlier question, someone's "falling in love with someone else" as any of the top three causes of the divorce. 46% of 8% is 3.6%, which is quite a low number. And I noticed (ahem) that one of your own bloggers prefers _not_ to count the secondary and tertiary reasons anyway. But, since the 46% is out of that group, I will treat it as if it is evenly distributed among those who listed "falling out of love" as any of the top three reasons for the marital breakup.

Again, it is a percentage of a percentage, which makes it a low number. It is *not* 46% of the women, which I get the impression you still believe to be the case.

Lydia McGrew said...

These things have to be treated carefully, and I've done you the courtesy, because you were initially civil and made some stab at argument, of treating them carefully and showing why they don't support what you apparently think they support. They don't support it *at all*.

An interesting point: The parallel numbers from the charts of men who said that someone's "falling out of love" was one of the top three reasons for the divorce are 5%, 3%, and 2%, which is a total of 10%. Then 42% of the men who listed this reason at all said that it "applied mostly to themselves." 42% of 10% is 4.2%, which is a larger proportion of men in the sample admitting that their *own* "falling in love with someone else" was at least _one_ of the top causes of the divorce than women! A smaller percent of a larger percent can end up being a larger percentage altogether! So if any moral can be drawn from this statistic regarding "falling in love" (which I rather doubt that it can), it would be that a higher proportion of men in the sample overall admitted to "falling in love with someone else" and admitted that this was one cause of the divorce than did women!

Again, these are arguments that have to be looked at carefully.

I've already spent more time on this than I want to, but it should show a fair-minded reader that no good argument has been offered for the "women are Buffy" thesis and, even more disturbingly, that there seems to be either an inability or an unwillingness to acknowledge refutation. Particularly bizarre was the link in an unpublished comment (not from you, Ceer) to the study on marital unhappiness which had *nothing to do with* the claim that a lot of women as opposed to men were leaving their marriages out of mere unhappiness but was linked (as the portion I quoted shows) as if it did.

Pilgrim of the East said...

I'm not claiming women are destroying marriages, but according to 2004 Grant Thornton survey in the UK, women got better or considerably better deal in 60% of divorce cases when splitting assets, while men only in 10%. In the first chapter of my economy textbook is written that people react to incentives and this seems like a pretty big incentive...

Lydia McGrew said...

Who gets the "better deal" in terms of dividing assets (however one defines "better deal") is definitely only part of the story as far as even the financial angle of divorce alone. For example, I was reading a study re. divorce in America in which the authors were acknowledging the following economic/sociology puzzle: More women than men in the U.S. file for divorce despite the fact that their long-term and even medium-term economic status is worse. Notice that economic status has to do with far more than "who gets the better deal when dividing the assets." In U.S. laws of every state (I don't know about the UK in this regard), the joint assets of the marriage are split in half. These may have been "more earned" by the man, if he had a better job, and some might consider this "getting a better deal," but they are, in fact, divided in half. However, that lump-sum payout is often not going to go far in terms of daily life from then on. For example, two houses are now needed where there was only one, so one member of the couple (whoever doesn't get the house they already were in) will often turn that lump sum right over into buying a house to live in.

In fact, it's quite generally acknowledged in the U.S. that, except for women who were already well-to-do, the majority of women are financially worse-off overall after divorce, and in some cases even in poverty. Hence the puzzle as to why, in economic terms, they file for divorce.

A narrow focus on "He had a good job and earned these assets and now his wife gets half of them" simply doesn't give a good view of the material incentives and disincentives to divorce.

Lydia McGrew said...

I've been asked how I can say to stay away from the manosphere even though I "don't know what they said."

That's a silly question. It should be obvious that what I meant is that in this particular case, I didn't know what D____ said _about me_, but that I have enough previous information and knowledge about what he and others in the manosphere say that I give the advice to stay away. I should have thought that was obvious from the context.

Unfortunately, I've now followed a link or two and seen at least one of the things he has said about this column, and I will only say that it misrepresents my position. Not that that is surprising.