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November 27 2012

Suzanne Venker's "The War on Men"

Hadley Heath

 

I enjoyed reading Suzanne Venker’s piece on Fox News yesterday, "The War on Men."  She’s authored several books on dating, culture, marriage, and the family, and I appreciate her perspective.  Like many of us at IWF, she believes that men and women, while equally capable, may have some intrinsic differences that guide us toward gender roles, preferences, or traits.

In her opinion article this week, Venker suggests that the breakdown in gender roles (which she sees as destructive) is mainly women’s fault.  She points out that in her research, while interviewing many modern men, the quiet truth is that men are unhappy that today’s women are different from women of yesteryear.  They are all angry at men.

As she put it, “Women aren’t women any more.”

Venker says women treat men like the enemy, assuming they are all sexist.  This attitude is certainly evident in suggested policy measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act, and in the oft-repeated statistic that women make less money than men.  If most employers are men, surely their sexist workplace practices are responsible, the Democrats say.  

It’s a sad, but not uncommon occasion that I find myself talking with a group of women who go on and on about how terrible men are.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s natural and good for girlfriends to vent about the shortcomings of the not-so-fair sex, but when those conversations devolve into blanket accusations of serious character flaws - or an us-versus-them mentality - I become uncomfortable.  After all, I have many wonderful men as family members or guy friends.

Feminists, especially on the Left, will cringe at Venker’s analysis.  Venker says women can fix our cultural marriage problems if they will simply surrender to their feminine nature.

To be honest, I cringed a little myself.  I don’t think the “blame” for today’s evolving family relationships can be placed entirely on one sex or the other.  I know plenty of girls who are “feminine,” honest, responsible, kind, open-minded, marriage-ready… and they are all single.  Surely it is not their fault.  I don’t think blaming women helps… in fact, that tactic may be as ill-advised as blaming men.

Instead, I think that, if our goal is strong marriages, a healthy dating culture, and a balance of power and responsibility in the home, there are a few attitudes that are prevalent among both men and women that feed into many of our present-day cultural struggles.  Changing those attitudes, although enormously difficult, would be the solution.

We see these attitudes at work in the world of public policy too.  Instant gratification, self-entitlement, unrealistic expectations, the belief we can build a Heaven on earth… Governments are made up of broken, flawed people, and so are marriages.

I’m single, so I can’t advise too much on this topic.  But I think it starts with finding a mate who thinks about sex, responsibility, gender roles, and family in the same way you do.  Some modern-day couples will embrace traditional roles of "separate spheres" because that makes them happy.  Other progressive couples may work out an arrangement where Mom and Dad split the housework 50/50, or maybe Dad will stay at home.  It's a marketplace folks; you just gotta find someone who's buying what you're selling!

I went to a college where women outnumbered men nearly 2-to-1.  From what I know about supply and demand, that was not a healthy atmosphere for dating.  Women often bemoaned the dearth of “good men.”  But it turns out the sea is much bigger than campus, and there are plenty of good fish if you look around.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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