Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Unfair Is This?

Kristin and I were talking about divorce and Social Security the other day, and I realized that if we were to separate completely and get a divorce, she would not share in my Social Security benefits.

Okay, here's some background. Nine years ago, we decided to have children. We chose Kristin, as the genetic female, to be the birth parent and do the baby-nursing and primary childcare. (Actually, for the first two years of Trin's life, she was the primary wage-earner, and I was the stay-at-home parent – but the last six years she's been the home-worker while I've been the wage-earner.) As we place a high priority on family and children, and wanted to parent our children fully, we chose to make the sacrifices that would allow us to get by on one wage, perhaps with part-time help from the other parent on an evening/weekend schedule. This means we've done things like live with all four of us in a one-bedroom duplex, and getting by with one 20+-year-old Volvo with well over 300,000 miles for the past eight years, and sleeping on garage-sale mattresses on the floor. But as time passed, I slowly advanced my position until now I've got a really good job that pays pretty damn well. We liken it to a football team. I play the offense; I make the points (money).

Kristin, meanwhile, plays defense. She saves money. While caring for the kids, she takes care of the house, manages the finances (which are all completely shared), plans meals and shops accordingly, cooks cheap, healthy meals for us all, and plants, weeds, and harvests gardens in four different yards, saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars on groceries and giving us the best food available. In doing all this, she saves a hell of a lot of money, gives our children the best education possible, and makes homeschooling on one wage possible.

Who do you suppose has the most challenging and difficult job, and works the hardest?

If you guessed Kristin, move to the head of the class.

However, even though Kristin contributes as much if not more to the economic well-being of this family, when we fill out our income tax forms, nearly all of the economic benefits are assigned to me.

Assuming we stay together, that's no big issue. She'll share in my benefits when I die.

But if (like 50% or so of the couples in this great nation) we divorce – she gets nothing from mine. She gets to try to make it on the benefits from her tiny-to-non-existent income, and I get all the benefits from my considerable income – even though we are equal members of a team, and she sacrificed her income to benefit me, our children, and, by extension, our community and society.

You know? It pisses me off. The income I make is not my income, it's our income. There ought to be some legal framework that ensures that the combination of our efforts will yield equal benefits to our old age, regardless of whether our team stays together or not.

While our situation is same-sex, most equivalent situations are not; and as usual, the woman ends up with the short end of the stick. Another reason to tear down the patriarchy, and embrace the philosophy of feminism.


anne said...

Hey girl,

Boy, you've been busy.

Seda, dear, they're already admitting that SS is going broke. Think of it as paying for your mom, which is what I do. We won't have it.

But you work hard, too. You both work hard.


Seda said...

Sure, an' we both work hard, Anne, dear. It's still unfair, as it stands, that Kristin gets zilch of OUR benefits, while I get 100%.

I don't get too hung up on SS. I think it's fixable, but part of the fix is dismantling the empire, and I don't see anyone rushing to do that. So it probably won't be fixed.

At this point, anyone who's depending on the federal government for anything except confusion and maybe the occasional handout is hiding their head in the sand.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our