What a week! It’s been amazing having Karen Straughan stay with me prior to the international men’s conference ICMI next weekend.
Karen is the best known female activist working for men’s rights and I’m hosting her Q&A tomorrow night on Mark’s Facebook page. Live from 8.00 pm. You can start sending me your video or written questions now – send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or post questions during the live screening if you prefer.
Yesterday Karen had a fascinating conversation on Sky News’ The Outsiders, talking to Rowan Dean and Ross Cameron. One comment particularly hit home for me. She was discussing how she got involved in writing her hugely successful blog, girlwriteswhat and explained she wrote her first blog about her experiences separating from her husband and trying to negotiate a divorce settlement. She came under enormous pressure from lawyers and the Canadian legal system to try to get child support from her husband, even though he was in a far worse financial position than she was. He was an older man who then was out of a job and she wanted him to have a chance to get back on his feet rather than face even more financial hardship.
It reminded me of a problem I had run into with some of my online dating clients. Many of the older professional women I work with complain that all the men they meet are broke. Some time ago I decided to do some digging and discovered they were right. Many more older divorced men than women are struggling financially – the older women were more likely to own a house and less likely to be renting than the men and their household income was higher.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the research which proves it. Firstly David de Vaus and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2007 used data from HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey) to compare divorced women and men aged 55-74 and found half the females owned a house compared to 41 per cent of the males. The average household income of the women was also higher and just under half the older divorced men were renting compared with about a third of the women. Superannuation was the one area where male assets outstrip the females – the sorry state of older women’s superannuation is a story that attracts constant attention.
Of course there is a pool of mature-aged single men with deep pockets out there. Dr Genevieve Heard from Monash’s School of Social & Political Inquiry used 2011 Census data to reveal that there are more divorced men than women aged 50-70 in the top household income bracket (that is, $104,000 or more per year) – 17,100 compared to 10,400.
The surprise though is that in every income bracket below this one, older women outnumber the men. Heard’s analysis shows there are 82,300 divorced women and only 67,400 divorced men aged 50-70 with a yearly household income of between $52,000 and $104,000.
This census data also shows a huge gap in the numbers of 50-70 year-old divorced women and men who own or are paying off a house – 291,000 women compared to 195,100 men. That’s almost 100,000 more women than men.
It’s all about the financial costs of these late divorces for older men – as I showed in the article I wrote about all this. These are divorces which are usually instigated by women and the divorce settlement is often calculated using assumptions about the man’s potential future income which can easily turn out to be wrong. In tough financial times even older men in senior positions can easily lose their jobs and rarely gain subsequent employment earning anything like the same amount. And the divorce settlement just wipes them out. Men who were once sitting pretty in big family homes find themselves renting, struggling to support themselves and with little hope in the dating game because most women look for men who are financially secure.
So it goes on… just one more area where men are being done over by a system which now so often unfairly advantages women. Yet no one ever talks about it.
No one except Karen Straughan who has acquired fans all over the world for telling it as it is. Listen in tomorrow night to hear why she’s such a legend.