Kramer vs. Kramer is the story of a custody battle, but in its time (1979) and place it becomes a battle of mothering vs. fathering and over how men and women should lead their lives. Ted Kramer, a Madison Avenue art director is so consumed with his career that he doesn’t understand the basic needs of his son or even the grade he is in school. Joanna Kramer, a former employee of Mademoiselle, had left her career to care for their son, Billy. Joanna finds herself overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness and leaves her son and husband to find herself. Ted is forced to learn to be a parent and Billy loves being with his father more. After a period of fifteen months, Joanna returns. She is not looking for forgiveness but rather to obtain custody of their son. Their battle leaves us questioning the very definition of gender in our society.
Ted and Joanna Kramer had a life that was defined as our society would have seen fit. Joanna, being biologically suited, would remain at home and care for their son. She provides for the emotional needs of the family. Ted, operating in the public sphere, would provide for the families material needs. This is what American culture has defined as the nuclear family. This is the standard that our society would define as desirable.
This ideology is so clearly spelled out in the courtroom. Part of the case that Streep presents for herself during the custody trial is a simplistic appeal-to-the fact that motherhood is powerfully persuasive as a social institution. “I’m his mother. He’s my child. I love him. He needs me more than he needs his father. I’m his mother.”
The simple fact that Streep as the boy’s biological mother is supposed to outweigh, in court, any particularities of their individual case. And on the basis of this argument the court grants custody to Streep. As Hoffman’s lawyer says, “They went for motherhood right down the line.” The movie insists that gender is the primary factor in child custody determinations at the time of divorce. Having established gender as the key, the movie then goes to court, where proceedings are seen from a distinctly male perspective.
Attorney Shaughnessy warns Ted Kramer that courts favor mothers in custody battles over young children. The task, Shaughnessy is certain, is to prove Joanna is an unfit mother. Shaughnessy also apparently overlooks the fact that the parties had already divorced, and Ted had custody, so the issue was not custody but rather custody modification. Even assuming a maternal preference rule, modification hearings place great weight on maintaining child care continuity. fictional Judge Atkins sees things the way attorney Shaughnessy does. Atkins’ award of custody to Joanna Kramer relies almost completely on the “tender years”
When the Kramers do in fact have their day in court, viewers are propelled to defend Ted. It seems unfair when Joanna’s attorney asks Ted on the stand about his move from one advertising agency to another for lower pay. Viewers are angered by the suggestion that it was Ted’s negligence that caused Billy’s playground fall. But somehow, this does not seem quite as bad when Shaughnessy questions Joanna about her sexual liaisons since the time of her divorce from Ted.
Even Ted sympathized with Joanna at the legal proceedings seems. With Joanna wilting on the stand from a brutal cross-examination, Ted shows no vindictive pleasure. With Joanna struggling with the question “Were you a failure at the most important personal relationship of your life?” Ted establishes eye contact and supportively shakes his head no.
Even after the legal proceedings conclude with a decision adverse to Ted, we continue to reflect on developments from Ted’s perspective. When Ted asks Shaughnessy about an appeal, Shaughnessy warns that it would be necessary to put little Billy on the stand. Ted realizes how destructive this would be. The viewer shares his appraisal of the legal process’ twisted ways and seconds his decision to back off for Billy’s sake. Ted continues to win our sympathy.
Kramer vs. Kramer, this issue is gender inequality. In New York, where the movie takes place, the courts were no longer going to rely on gender to decide custody battles, but gender was still a topic on the minds of the public in the 1980’s, when the movie was released. I believe that in a large proportion of our population today, there continues to be gender issues when parenting or custody issues are reviewed. There still exists the notion that women are built to be parents and nurture a child, something men are not emotional enough to do.
In this case, Kramer vs. Kramer, the court’s finding of Joanna as the custodial parent, does not appear to have been a decision based on anything other than gender. The decision was made on the societal belief that a mother will be the better parent, it is what women were built to do. Ted is denied custody on the basis of gender, he cannot possibly be a better or even equal parent.
The demonstration that Ted is not an adequate provider because he lost one job and took a lesser paying job, and that this somehow makes him unfit because as the father he is to be the breadwinner and this outweighed the fact that Joann had abandoned her child. The belief that Joanna should have stayed with her family, despite her own desires or wishes, and the portrayal of her as promiscuous because she had other relationships, further highlight the gender issue.
The inequality of the decision in this case, is inequality to both the parents. Both Ted and Joanna had the ability and means to be a good parent. The court did not evaluate the case on that basis. The court evaluated the case on the basis of gender roles and who should be doing what given the society beliefs present.
Why Work with Us
Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers
We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.
Professional and Experienced Academic Writers
We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.
Free Unlimited Revisions
If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.
Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee
All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.
Original & Confidential
We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.
24/7 Customer Support
Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.
Try it now!
How it works?
Follow these simple steps to get your paper done
Place your order
Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.
Proceed with the payment
Choose the payment system that suits you most.
Receive the final file
Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.
No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.
No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.
Admission Essays & Business Writing Help
An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.
Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.
If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.