Yesterday, an op-ed on FoxNews.com — a publication I do not make a habit of reading — sent the internet into a tailspin. Its author, Suzanne Venker, is a woman with whom I’m certain I have next to nothing in common. She's a wife, a mother and a conservative. I'm single, liberal and have no children. She believes mothers shouldn't work. I feel women can (and should) have a family and a career.
Venker’s essay on the negative influence of feminism on relationships and marriage was pummeled by Jezebel, Refinery29 and The Awl — three sites I respect thoroughly and read on the regular. When I finally followed the trail back to Venker’s original piece, I fully expected my head to explode from rage. Instead, something worse happened. Something that caused me much more distress.
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I kind of related to what Venker said. (Well, not all of it.)
In the piece, Venker — rather obnoxiously — posits that women of childbearing age are to blame for the current shortage of good men (read: men who are "marriage material"). Why? Because, she suggests, we insist on being so damn independent. Or, in her words, “women aren’t women anymore.” Barf, ugh and all that. I know. Before I’m forced to relinquish my feminist card, allow me to first explain what it is I don’t relate to in this piece.
I don't agree with the awful parts, like Venker's idea that women should "surrender to their nature and femininity." The idea that I — a woman in the year 2012 — should "surrender" to anything is both insulting and counterintuitive. The whole point of being alive right now is that I’m not a victim of circumstance, right? I didn’t spend all this time establishing a career and a comfortable, independent life so I could be told I’m "doing it wrong." Venker even suggests women "look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played" in the dearth of "marriageable men." It’s condescending at best, and slut-shaming at worst.
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But Venker also talks about traditional gender roles — specifically, men’s biological imperative to "provide and protect." Sure, the way in which she makes her point, with oppressive statements like “the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off,” and “men want to love women, not compete with them” makes her argument about as palatable as a tweet from Chris Brown. But when I look (way) past the fact that this argument is coming from a person who supports Michelle Bachmann and writes for Fox News, I actually find basic truths that resonate with me. And of course, that makes me feel guilty. Like I’m a bad feminist. Keep reading...
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