The charming folks at Fox News have opened up a Pandora’s box of gender relations with the publication of a piece called – titillatingly – The War on Men. The whole essay reads like the result of an editorial meeting where the Fox powers-that-be sat around dreaming up an ideal opinion column that would draw eager conservative eyes and outraged liberal ones, resulting in a page view bonanza during the iffy news weeks that follow any election.
To put a cherry on top of this made-for-Twitter controversy attempt, they got none other than the niece of Phyllis Schlafy, (the woman who spearheaded the death of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s) Suzanne Venker, to write it. Venker’s opinions aren’t far from those of her anti-feminist aunt, as you can tell from the titles of her books, How To Choose a Husband and The Flipside of Feminism.
Bring on the clicks and retweets!
Venker’s op-ed is the usual anti-feminist think piece with lots of hand-wringing about how men have been left out in the cold by the feminist revolution and are mad that women don’t want them to follow their biological directive to hunt, gather, and protect a family. As a result, they’re turning their back on marriage, which they can do because of all the sex women are wiling to have without being married. In other words, if women would stop being such castrating bitches and let a man take care of them, everyone would be happier!
Also, women are slutty.
The nation resounded with the sound of feminist foreheads hitting their desks.
For me, one line stood out in the piece. Venker contends that, “Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.” I beg to differ. There was a revolution that demanded that men change. The feminist revolution. And if men today gave it any thought, they’d see that joining forces with feminists would be to their benefit as well.
Women are not waging war against men. Not now. Not today. There have been times when we had to beat the patriarchy down a bit to get them to pay attention to our demands and there are some feminists who have been disdainful of men along the way. However, at this juncture in history, women are using brains, experience, and merit to ascend new summits, not bludgeoning devices designed to beat men down. We don’t want men to fail. We don’t want men to vanish. We don’t even want men to change who they are. We just want men to recognize that women’s goals are humanity’s goals and to work with us to figure out how to make the modern world work for everyone.
Stated plainly, women are demanding changes so that men can benefit from them, too. The revolution affects everyone.
Ms. Venker contends that the search for balance between career and family that women are seeking is best operationalized by letting men take the wheel and support families while women take the lead on raising them. What she fails to acknowledge is that feminist touchstones like workplace flexibility, equal pay guarantees, family leave, affordable child care, and access to medical care are all things that would be available to men as well as women. These are not sparkly little gifts that women want to keep all to ourselves. We want every single person in America to have the ability to balance work and family so that no individual feels chained to either the workplace or the home front against their will.
Perhaps Venker is correct in saying there are populations of men out there who are dying to return to the Leave It To Beaver days of family dynamics. It’s probable there are equal populations of women who wish to live like that as well and, hopefully they’ll find each other and live happily ever after. But those individuals should not be deterrents to those of us who see the benefits of feminist goals for both genders.