Today I have a bit of a hot-topic for you. Actually, probably the hottest topic in current American culture: Gender roles and women in the workplace. Don’t bring it up at a Christmas party, you’re sure to get icy stares, a few less friends, an angry defense, or a long, long, longggg uncomfortable silence.
If you didn’t read / hear about Suzanne Venker‘s article “The War on Men” published Monday on foxnews.com, you’re missing quite the debate. VMMV is not a blog for soapbox posts but this article, and Suzanne herself, has so much to say about topics similar to why I even began this blog that I thought it would be appropriate to share. If you feel like joining the debate, check out the comments about her article on this Facebook page. I’ll warn you though, it’s pretty heated!
If you haven’t read it, the article starts with a new study showing that while the percentage of women who believe a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life has gone up since similar polls in 1997, the percentage of men who believe this has actually gone down. Why? Well, Venker suggests that this is because men are sick and tired of the fact that “women aren’t women anymore.” She suggests that the feminist agenda pushes women to believe men are the competition, or, the enemy. The drive to achieve equality (or, often, superiority) in work-place respect, wage-earnings, and corporate positions has made women either angry or defensive and created a modern woman who won’t let a man do what is in his DNA to do: “Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families.” And men, as the poll and Venger suggest, are beginning to give up hoping to do that. She says that if women are angry at the state of the modern man: retreating from marriage, slacking responsibility, and being immature and dependent, it’s actually the woman’s fault. In her words, the “rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off.”
As you can imagine, the responses to Venker’s article were charged with some serious emotion. Many women took her suggestions to the extreme and protested that women have worked hard to move beyond their “role” as a June Cleaver, pushing vacuums in pearls and greeting her sons at the kitchen door with home-baked goods. They were horrified that any inhibitions of the modern male could possibly be blamed upon women who were finally being given opportunities they deserved.
What I believe Venker was suggesting though was not that women shouldn’t pursue high-education or lofty personal ambitions and career goals, but that they need to give up on the lie that women can have it all, and do it all well. Whether you want to admit it or not, Venker says that “women are forever seeking a balanced life.” That is, a balance between the modern options of pursuing pretty much any career you desire, or nurturing the natural feminine desires to have a family. If a woman wants a man who acts like a man, that is independent, responsible, self-sufficient and capable of caring for a family, then she must be a women: someone who is nurturing, selfless, capable of loving and of being loved. Women will protest, why aren’t men expected to be at home with the kids? Why must the woman give up her personal goals for someone else? Why indeed? Because women and men are different. However much modernity is pushing for equality, women and men were made for different purposes. Of course women should have equal opportunities, equal wages, equal rights for those to take who want them. But, be careful what you wish for. If you’re prepping for an ambitious career, don’t be too angry when someone doesn’t hold the door for you. Or, if you’re choosing to share a life with a man and hoping to create a home, just know the men are a little gun-shy.
If you’re a woman who’s disgusted at the modern gender confusion though, Venker offers some hope. She suggests that “women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature–their femininity–and men will surrender to theirs.”
So, what do you think? What’s your take on the modern views on gender roles? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. Comment on the post or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re feeling like this topic is a little bit too hot for public view of your opinions.
– <3 A.