A controversial story hit the internet and blew up on the talk show circuit this week. Author Suzanne Venker, out promoting her latest self-help book, "How To Choose A Husband", elicited a media firestorm by quoting a Pew Research Center poll that showed that modern women want to get married while an increasing among of modern men don't. Ms. Venker asked these confirmed bachelors why and the answer is that women view men as the enemy and men are tired of it.
Ms. Venker says that the feminist revolution has hurt women by making men superfluous. Women are now dominating in college by a 3/2 ratio and becoming the majority in the workplace competing with men. Women on the way up the education and career ladder don't want to be tied down to hearth and home, so the hook up has become their predominant social outlet. According to Ms. Venker, men can enjoy the upside of a heterosexual relationship with no legal ties and leave whenever they get tired of the angry, defensive attitude of their partner. Thus an increasing number of American men say why bother ever getting married.
As we have seen in the comments section in this blog, Ms. Venker is not completely out of line in her comments. She simplistically ignores the work of Charles Murray that shows that marriage is splitting by class with upper middle class white males marrying at a similar rate while lower class white males are moving away from marriage. But she does confirm a palpable rage among men at being denigrated in Womens Studies Departments on university campuses across America as well as on television sitcoms and in divorce courts.Steven Goldberg has remarked that natural male aggressiveness today is treated like sex in Victorian England. Ms. Venker is right to decry the mass media teaching that men are the enemy.
We appreciate Ms. Venker being courageous enough to point out that men are angry and don't want to take it any more. But where Ms.Venker gets into significant trouble is in her solution. She claims that "women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature- their femininity- and let men surrender to theirs."
There is a big problem with her ethereal solution: practicality. This course of thought espoused by many self-help authors holds that if we just retraced our steps to the point when marriage and traditional sex roles took a left turn somewhere West of Woodstock, everything would be fine. The reality is that it would be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. Simply put, male-female relationships are both interpersonal and political. Tinkering in the political realm the last 50 years has led to vast interpersonal changes.
Let's look at just one example of how the interpersonal becomes political. The half century long feminization of America has gradually phased out the organizations that celebrated and reinforced the masculinity that Ms. Venker now wants us to celebrate. . Many traditionally boys organizations such as youth sports teams, Boys Clubs and Indian Guides as well as adult male groups , such as the US military, all-male universities like The Citadel, Rotary International, golf country clubs, and social fraternities were forced by either legislation or court order to integrate or were persecuted for being politically incorrect by feminist intellectuals and the mass media. Does Ms. Venker seriously think we can undo this in 2012? Frankly it's too late. That's why we have urged men and women to return to a healthier courtship that can function regardless of the percent of women in the boardroom, the Rotary Club or medical schools.