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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

GOP Rep Cotton: Women’s ‘Greatest Fear’ is Husbands Leaving Them

Back when he was a student at Harvard, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) wrote a piece detailing what he described as women’s greatest fear and the solution to help ease that fear (h/t The Huffington Post).  This conclusion and its basis?

Cotton, who is unmarried, wrote that he surveyed several women — whom he referred to as “Cliffies,” or female students at Radcliffe — and they all told him the same thing: that their “greatest fear” in life was to be left by their husbands, and their “deepest hope” was to be “a good wife and mother.”

And Cotton’s proposed solution?

Make divorce harder through the elimination of no-fault divorce and the promotion of covenant marriage.

His reasoning?

This will help ease women’s greatest fears, stop the ‘problems’ caused by no-fault divorce and keep men in line.

In his piece, which dates from 1997, he argues that divorce is one of the greatest causes of poverty among women:

Nor do they consult the data on no fault divorce. This data says that 62 percent of divorced women used to receive permanent alimony, whereas now only 13 percent receive any alimony. It says that only 25 percent of divorced women with child custody receive child support, and only one-half of that is ever paid. It says that after divorce, men see their standard of living increase by 42 percent, while women see their’s fall by 73 percent. It says, in short, that divorce is a leading cause of poverty among American women.

He conveniently ignores the fact that divorces are now less likely to result in alimony, or in reduced alimony, because both spouses are now more likely to work thanks to the feminist movement he derides.

He conveniently shifts blame to the woman for failure to collect child support when fault lies with the non-custodial parent that does not pay child support.  He further neglects to define custody as being sole custody or joint custody, with the latter now becoming considerably more common.

He conveniently ignores the fact that a custodial parent must now cover the entire costs of a household on her salary whereas before divorce two incomes were used to cover many of the same costs.  Naturally, there would be an economic effect to the likely detriment of the custodial parent and benefit to the non-custodial parent.

He conveniently ignores the fact that there is not equal pay for equal work.  Of course, that said, he has consistently opposed such laws.

And then there’s this fact that The Huffington Post cites:

Laws allowing no-fault divorce across the country were considered a victory for women’s rights in the 1970s. A 2004 Stanford Business School study found states that passed no-fault divorce laws saw a 20 percent reduction in female suicide after 20 years and a 33 percent reduction in domestic violence and murder against women.

He does, however, make this admission about his ‘study:’

My sample is admittedly small and perhaps unrepresentative.

It’s without question the most intelligent statement he makes in his entire piece.

As for the reason he remains unmarried?  Perhaps he should look to that piece he authored in college and the views that he continues to hold; women are a lot smarter than he gives them credit for.


  1. Mets102

    Of course that’s because they think those of us that believe in equal rights are the ones that are staging a war on women to prevent them from being forced to stay in the home.

  2. I would think that even among his pool of potential spouses (self-loathing Republican women), the suggestion that women live in constant fear of being left by their man would be a bridge too far.

    Actually, studies have shown that men fear divorce more than women do. Something about “who will cook my meals and pick up my socks?”.  

  3. “If you can’t find it in an Internet archive, it never happened”?

  4. My husband would laugh his ass off. On top of that, Mr. Cotton would NOT have wanted to meet my MIL (RIP). She would have knocked his block off. 🙂 She wasn’t a doormat and she sure as heck didn’t raise her son to treat women that way. Mr. Cotton’s assumptions are just nasty. ugh!

  5. bfitzinAR

    and will always be an idiot.  I am totally against putting idiots in positions of power.  And there are many women out there hoping and praying their husbands will leave them and go beat up on somebody else.  I’ve unfortunately personally known at least as many of them as he knew “Cliffies” who were afraid of their non-existent husbands’ leaving them.

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