Suzanne Venker’s War on Men

Suzanne Venker wrote an article called “The War on Men” for Fox News. I decided I would avoid it. Other blogs have it covered, after all. I almost succeeded avoiding the topic until I came upon these quotes from her explanation defending her original piece: 

Women should understand that they absolutely can be strong and independent and be married, but that being feminine and vulnerable and taking on that more traditional role as being dependent on a man and letting him have some say in the matter is not wasting that empowerment. They are confusing what empowerment means. They think it’s about money and prestige, but there is a tremendous amount of empowerment in surrendering in the home and letting the man in your life be what he wants to be, which is to protect you and care for you and provide for you.

Women, once they have children would prefer to work part-time or not at all when their children are young. Their career trajectory will be different than that of men. Feminists don’t like that. They want everybody to want the same thing, career trajectories to be the same. Women may say I really want to exercise or hang out with my friends or have coffee or go shopping and have a cushier life, and your guy will be happy to do that, and go to the office all year long for 40 years to allow you to do that. Men don’t have that option. And there is nothing wrong with having different road maps.

My brain hurts, but I’ll say a few words. 

First, do men really honestly have this urge to work an office job so that their wives can shop and hang out with friends? I mean, I know that I was taught that men are protectors and providers by nature, but it seems to me that working together with a spouse to provide for a family would be a much better deal than having to do all the providing while your spouse exercises and goes for coffee. Venker never seems to even consider this. 

Second, Venker is wrong when she asserts that all women want to work part time or stay home when they have kids. Further, she seems ignorant of the fact that there are actually some men out there who want that instead, or couples who simply both want greater flexibility while parenting young children. The reality is that the norm today is starting to shift away from motherhood and fatherhood and toward parenthood. Venker seems completely unaware of this.

Third, I’ve heard Venker’s claim that there is empowerment in submitting to your husband in the home before. And you know what? It’s complete bullshit. And that bit about being “dependent on a man”? How can people like Venker not see the potential for abuse there? 

Venker is also contradictory. Venker says that women should let the man in their lives “be what he wants to be” and that feminists “want everyone to want the same thing,” but also that men want all want the same thing (to be their family’s protector and provider) while women all want the same thing (to stay at home or work part time so they can take care of their kids when they’re young). What? How about admitting that different people want different things? Is that so very hard? 

I just looked into Venker a bit more, and apparently she’s the author of several books, including one on working mothers and one on how to choose a husband. She calls that last book “a “cultural detox” for women who have been confused about what “empowerment” really means.” You know what? It sounds like Venker is just a modern Mary Pride. She’s preaching the same crap I fled half a decade ago, and honestly? She’s not doing it any better or more persuasively.

And now I’m done – enough time wasted on that. 

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.