An unblinking look at gender bias in child-custody battles.
Fathers’-rights advocates have picketed her lectures, but Chesler (Psychology, Women’s Studies/CUNY; Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, 2009, etc.) storms the gates with a compelling and well-researched update of her 1986 landmark title. With eight new chapters, the author continues her investigation into how patriarchal attitudes and laws are prejudiced against mothers during custody battles. By analyzing hundreds of legal documents and interviewing custody experts as well as mothers, fathers and children from diverse backgrounds, the author outlines the decline in legal justice many mothers have experienced since 1986. Breaking up the parade of bleak statistics, the Chesler weaves heart-rending (and enraging) stories of the “good enough” mother, a sole caregiver often slandered as morally questionable if she has a relationship during her divorce or as mentally unbalanced if she is emotional about the loss of her children. Yet the “good enough” father, Chesler writes, performs a few household chores and is applauded as an exceptional parent, regardless of his personal lifestyle. While other sources could likely produce as many horror stories about judicial bias against fathers, Chesler’s facts cannot be denied: 37 percent of the men in her study kidnapped and brainwashed their children against the mother but were never punished; 70 percent of all the battles resulted in court-ordered paternal custody; 90 percent of all the fathers paid no alimony. The author also includes straightforward advice for readers from mothers and a divorce lawyer, along with several resources for additional help.Chesler sheds light in corners that must be explored.