Fox News, a conservative news outlet, published a news article in 2012 that received shocking reactions on both sides: Liberals were appalled and dismissed every notion that the article held, while conservatives ravelled in it, and finally felt heard again.
A woman came forward and said what many people were already thinking, but felt unable to express: Women are at fault for men’s declining desire to marry and settle down.
That was the basic concept of Suzanne Venker’s article.
Now, let’s take a long and hard look at some of the things that the article addresses.
To quote Ms. Venker:
“…after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them”.
No one claims that this is the case, and it’s taken completely out of the concept.
There’s nothing wrong with men, but there’s also nothing wrong with women wanting to be treated as an equal; as a partner who is heard and seen, and given the same amount of respect that their male counterpart is used to getting.
What are the things that caused the women’s movement and progression of feminism in the first place?
Sharing the burden of household chores, childcare, and the freedom to be your own person in a relationship, with your own set of goals and aspirations, and without having to surrender entirely to kitchen and kids.
One of Gloria Steinem’s best quotes sums it up perfectly:
The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. We are filled with popular wisdom of several centuries just past, and we are terrified to give it up.
That being said, if that’s a woman’s choice, or a man’s choice, for that matter, it’s perfectly acceptable, but let it be a choice and not a requirement for a happy marriage.
Gloria Steinem, a leading persona in the feminist movement, never suggested changing the DNA of men. Just their rationale, and for some, their deeply ingrained misconceptions about women!
Women can still be women without giving up their personality.
Just as we know some men who have a more pronounced feminine side, there are also women who have a more masculine side.
Is it not ok to be either?
The article suggests that women are on the losing end of this fight, if we may call it that. What can you say about a blunt line, such as:
“The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office -in order to live the balanced life they seek. “
Is there truth to it?
If you want it to be about balance, sure. I can see the appeal of being taken care of, and therefore having the time and money to attend yoga classes during the day, and lengthy lunches with like-minded girlfriends.
But is that what all women want?
The reason why the stereotypes of women being homemakers and men being the breadwinners became the norm was due to the lack of opportunities for women, and a feeling of shame and guilt for wanting more than a peaceful family home, since society tried to put women in a box with only minimal room to move around in.
Some, such as the famous Dr. Ruth or Supreme Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg defied the odds, but most obeyed by the rules, and often times found themselves financially dependent, in a marriage with three kids, feeling deeply unhappy.
Just like Suzanne Venker, I also spoke with many women, and men, throughout the years about this topic, and many of them came of age in the 50’s and 60’s.
The rule of thumb was: Make your husband happy, and you will be too.
Ms. Venker believes that women want too much, are asking for too much.
Is a woman’s happiness not worthy of a change in society? Is it less important than a man’s happiness? We have to ask these questions in sincerity.
As one of my female acquaintances put it:
“Excuse me for wanting a husband who cooks on his days off, who is expected to clean up after himself, who throws his socks in the laundry bin, and who is a loving, not distant, father to his children. Excuse me for wanting basic attention, and wanting to be taken seriously by my partner. Bear in mind, women aren’t children, but fully functioning human beings with, oh my, college degrees and DIY skills!”
Some of the men I had spoken with raised a more than reasonable question themselves, and said: Why should men bear all the burden of making money, fixing things around the house, and pretending to be tough all the time?
The women have been asking the same question in regards to household and childcare-tasks! What a surprise!
Now, what can we learn from Ms. Venke’s article?
You either loved Ms. Venker’s stand or hated it.
There’s quite frankly not much room for an in-between opinion. But I do hope we can make even the most conservatives among us understand the fundamental value of an equal partner in crime, and ridden the word Feminism of its negative connotation.
Bell Hook’s book Feminism is for everybody is a great starter to read for anyone who has any doubts about why women should receive fair treatment. If you need a book to be convinced, all hope might come too late, but this is too important of a subject matter to give up on, and needs to be discussed ferociously.
Humans have learned over many centuries to adapt and learn new things.
Men who want to go back to the Stone Age (during which, by the way, women had an upper hand!), and deprive their partner of basic wishes that are in line with feminist beliefs, then they’re not marriage-material, unlike Ms. Venker’s assumption of …” all they (women) have to do is to surrender to their nature – their femininity- and let men surrender to theirs. If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork. “
This idea of femininity has a high price, if it’s not counteracted with respect, dignity, and freedom; things heterosexual men never had to compromise on, nor consider giving up.
Women are not saying they want to stop wearing skirts. Certain feminine elements will always remain for the most feminine among us, but there’s no rulebook for also wanting a well-earned seat at the table and being able to attend law or medical school; professions that were barred for women for a long time, just as journalism was, the profession that Ms. Venker chose for her own fulfillment!
You simply can’t want to send women back to their former place in society, while representing a different model yourself.
So, what have we learned?
We have learned there’s no war on men, but on equality.
And the time has come to take a good look at women and acknowledge their frustrations, as well as hopes for a more equal and just future.