Magazine article Insight on the News

O.J. Prosecutor's Feminist Folly

Magazine article Insight on the News

O.J. Prosecutor's Feminist Folly

Article excerpt

Prosecutor Marcia Clark is poised on the threshold of renewed celebrity. Sure, she's been in the tabloids on and off for 18 months, but now she reportedly fends off $4 million book deals and has had to deny formally that she is dating fellow prosecutor Chris Darden. But as so often happens in our circus-style culture, the most important parts of Clark's story remain at the shadowy margins of media attention.

Nonetheless, bright light should be shed on Clark's own custody fight. Some readers may recall the storm that erupted in March when the first, fragmentary, news surfaced. The standard line was that prosecutor Clark was a victim in a supposed war on working mothers. See! claimed her supporters, this is what happens to a woman who works outside of the home: She gets punished! This line is familiar, the angrily jerking knee of feminist victimology. The only problem was that those running to the fray on behalf of Ms. Clark didn't bother with the facts of the case, for the facts are inconvenient to their claims.

Begin at the beginning. The marriage from which Clark last year walked away was her second. She had left her first "because she wasn't getting what she wanted out of it"' noted a sympathetic writer in the New Yorker. So habituated are we to the self-indulgent reflexes of "personal growth" that this kind of abandonment is considered a healthy choice. Clark's first marriage was a short-term investment: She cashed in and walked.

Last June, right before the Simpson case broke, she repeated the pattern. She filed for divorce and had Gordon Clark put out of his home for no cause but that she felt him to be superfluous. Yet he had been the kind of husband and father feminists supposedly adore -- supportive of his wife's professional work and skilled at caring for the children. Clark acknowledged these facts when she filed for divorce. She also conceded her unavailability to their sons. As a result, she requested shared legal and physical custody.

According to attorney Anne Mitchell, Gordon Clark did not reopen the divorce case. He was coping with his grief as best he could when, on Jan. 9, 1995, ex-wife Marcia initiated a new action against him. In reopening a divorce to which the children and discarded spouse were adapting, Ms. Clark demanded sole custody of the children. She also demanded money for an expanded wardrobe and hairstyling. So intoxicated was she by her sense of entitlement that she was neither ashamed nor rational enough to see how blatantly selfish and predatory her action was.

Although she reportedly earns a minimum of $96,000 per year, Ms. Clark demanded more money, even though Gordon Clark earns just $40,000. Where is the level playing field here? Where is basic decency? Having listened to torrents of feminist claims, we thought that women wanted to be responsible for themselves, that they wanted equality, not subsidy. Mitchell comments: "Despite Ms. Clark's success, she is no model for women to become self-reliant and free of the maternal dole."

Her behavior was far worse than inequity and narcissism. Ms. Clark demanded money from the spouse she abandoned not only for a world-class wardrobe and beauty salons, but so she could "hire additional baby sitters for the evenings and weekends." In her affidavit moving to change from shared to sole custody, Clark stated she "needed someone to spend the evenings with my two children. …

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