While procrastinating from my work on Facebook, I came across an intriguing article that has now circulated around Colgate (at least in my limited circles). This highly talked about article, “The War on Men,” was posted on the Fox News website by Suzanne Venker. If you don’t have time to read the entire article I’ll offer a short synopsis: Venker claims that fewer men are marriage material because feminism has emasculated men by denying men their biological need to be breadwinners. In a nutshell, feminism endangers men, women, family structures, and American society at large. Women need to return to their place in society (the home) and stop taking away opportunities from men in order to be marriage material. Whew, that’s a lot to take in. Here is my composed response…
I could pick apart every one of Venker’s claims and present contrary data or opinions, but I found that analyzing her first claim took enough time out of my day. So, I will mainly focus on her interpretation of how many women and men prioritize marriage. Venker starts off by citing research done by the Pew Research Center that shows more women but fewer men want to get married these days. However, when you look at the data that is only one way of interpreting it. The questions asked whether having a “successful” marriage is one of the most important aspects of their lives. 37% of women believe it is, whereas 29% of men believe it is. However, when one actually does one’s research and looks into the full survey, the data show that 66% of young women (ages 18 to 34) say that having a career is one of the most important things in their lives whereas only 59% of men said a career was high priority. For both sexes, being a good parent and having a successful marriage rank higher than a successful career. Thus, women are simply striving (not asking) for more. They want a good career, successful marriage, and to be a good parents and they are doing something about it. Women make up almost half of the work force (46.7%) and have higher rates of enrollment and completion of college (44% of women and 38% of men between the ages of 18 to 24). There is something very wrong with the fact that having aspirations make woman unmarriageable. I wouldn’t want to marry someone either who kept me from achieving my goals or didn’t love me because of them (which has the unmistakable likeness of domestic abuse).
Luckily, most of the population doesn’t seem to agree with Venker’s argument or logic. What Venker fails to mention is that 73% of the general public today believes that society has benefited from women participating in the workforce. Furthermore, 62% of the public believe an egalitarian relationship in which the husband and wife (note the heterosexual privilege) share not only the responsibilities of work but also childrearing is more satisfying than the traditional husband as the breadwinner relationship. The public hasn’t come to a consensus on how this change in the family structure impacts children.
In conclusion, I mostly see benefits from this article becoming viral. Most of the people I have talked to about this article have been outraged and are talking about it. But more importantly, this article reminded those who don’t talk feminism 24/7 that sexism is still very alive and well in our society. So I challenge you to keep the conversation going. Go out and have a conversation about this topic to someone who might not otherwise think about these issues. Apathy won’t get us anywhere. This article is just the spark we need to get people moving.
- Michelle Van Veen '14