Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Did I mention that stereotype?

Also in the news today, Lady Deech, a senior lawyer criticises the divorce laws as making it possible for "a woman with maybe no particular qualifications, married for a short time to a celebrity of some sort, [to] walk away with many, many millions".

Another lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd Platt, who has worked on divorce cases, points out that "Women will have to give up careers to look after children, and they must be properly compensated". The assumption that this has to be the case needs challenging, obviously, but while it's the common case it's entirely right that property gets split with that in mind.

The whole argument is essentially built on the ancient premise that childcare, raising a family, etc. is not "real work" because it doesn't directly earn a wage, and that the support it gives to the wage earner is inconsequential.

At any rate, with women and men both needing to look for employment nowadays, this seems like Lady Deech is responding, not to a particularly common case, but to a common stereotype. Building a legal system around what stereotyped people might do, instead of what actually happens, is never a good idea.