My feminist heart was crying yesterday. Crying because a certain woman named Suzanne Venker published an article for Fox News titled the “The War on Men” on the 26th of November. I know, I’m a bit late on the feminist backlash to this article. In my defense, I read it a day late and had to take a day to recover from blubbering disenchantment with society. Since my recovery I’ve turned to the one outlet I know best: the Internet.
Fair warning: a lot of words are to follow, but they’re important worthwhile words that I would love you forever if you took the time to read them.
When reading the offensive piece I was struck by Venker’s complete assurance in what she was writing. This woman devotes her life to the idea that her fellow women are to blame for the lack of quality marriages, societal order, etc. She honestly believes the feminist movement, which gave her the right to voice her opinion in public at all, was a negative force. But what’s even scarier, is that there is a significant number of people out there that agree with her. This article was written because there was an audience for it. People will use this to justify an oppressive gender structure; which is why when women who have the ability to influence others speak about women in a way that undervalues them is an especially terrible tragedy. It in turn gives men more reason to undervalue women (but that’s another discussion altogether).
I find women who “trash talk” feminism incredibly misled. These women are betraying the very movement that allowed them to voice her opinions anywhere, to vote, to use and have access to birth control, to write books, to wear that low cut shirt, to own her own apartment, to wear jeans, etc! The irony is thick and the list goes on. Venker tries to supplant history with her own twisted version; claiming that women pushed men off of their “pedestal” and that women had their own “pedestal” but those blasted feminists convinced society they didn’t. Excuse me, Ms. Venker, but I did not know that being expected to stay home to only have children, cook, clean, please your husband, and not have an opinion or place in society because men were always a step above you was a pedestal. It sounds more like oppression to me. But hey, if you really feel that way maybe you should step back from the public eye to tend to your children and husband. You shouldn’t concern yourself with the matters of the world, that’s man stuff—writing books and articles is part of the male sphere. Maybe you should consider returning to and rebuilding your proper female pedestal.
Okay, excuse my backlash/rant about the nauseating irony of this article and more about some specific issues. First of all I would like to point out that Venker relies on an archaic definition of “feminine” to make her argument. In addition, her femininity seems to be that of the unhealthy expectations of society. It is the same message that movies, magazines, commercials, tv shows are selling to us: that you are not good enough as you are. If a man cannot bring himself to marry a woman who refuses to agree with a society that tells her she’s not good enough, then that man has no business getting married. He should not penalize her and back down from her successes, but rather celebrate them! This “subculture” of men she’s referring to is a subculture of sexist (excuse my language) douchebags who can’t get over themselves and embrace change. She argues that because men and women have interacted in a certain way before that it should always be that way. This logic is off the wall bonkers! No one in their right mind would say that just because slavery was an integral part of colonial America that the dynamic between blacks and whites from that time period should have been preserved till present day. That’s racist in the same way Venker is sexist.
Her biological “it’s in their DNA” argument is just as much bullshit as her other arguments. No one has discovered a “provide for and protect their families” gene in the Y chromosome yet, so I’m just going to toss that to the side and not spend excess energy on it.
The last but not least issue I want to bring up is something that sent my blood pressure through the roof upon reading it. Venker writes: “It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.” I will now type out exactly how this makes me feel for the remainder of this sentence a[0jpms,p[ohgbnkj uhaiohsnpwojruhnclkkxomh na-ejnfcqwbcejjnfkcm. Yes, it makes me feel like *insert keyboard smash here*. Why does it make me feel that way? Because those seemingly innocent lines, that she takes the time to set apart from the other paragraphs, encompass the worst passive aggressive slut shaming I’ve ever seen. I want to be clear: a woman has every right to be comfortable in her sexuality as a man has. She uses the poisonous “boys will be boys” logic by basing her second sentence on the fact that men have sex when they want, and claims it’s the girls fault for letting them…….what!? And could you please tell me, Ms. Venker, what the “consequences of sex” are, for women? Pleasure maybe? Oh.My.God. Wait, women find sex pleasurable? That’s crazy. Pregnancy? Well, if society didn’t scare people (especially women) away from using proper birth control that would not be an issue. STI’s? Well that’s an issue that is encountered by both sexes, education and prevention can take care of that one.
Hanna Rosin’s book, The End of Men, mentioned ever so briefly and cursorily does a pretty nice job of pointing out the successes of the feminist movement. However, it is considered by most scholars to be entirely too optimistic about the current state of society and especially the progress of women within it. The way the book is referenced indicates a distinct ignorance about feminism: blanketing feminism under a single book and a single perspective. (A perspective that most self-proclaimed feminists do not look to as the definition of their feminism!) Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that all people should be able to voice their opinion and I respect them equally. Suzanne Venker’s piece opened up a lot of dialogue about important issues. Her piece, in my eyes, demonstrates a tragedy of socialization. I’m not angry at Suzanne Venker directly, I’m angry at the socialization that produced Suzanne Venker. You know what Ms. Venker? Women should be angry, and you should be angry too! You should be angry that an oppressive structure is allowed to continue in this day and age!
People like Suzanne Venker are the remnants of a previous day and age. We’re working against it, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I could scream till I’m blue in my face that everyone should be a feminist, but that won’t do any good. Maybe my essay-long rant will help convince people of that, maybe not. Either way look out, these “angry feminists” have been unleashed, and they’re changing the world.