Okay, that’s a bit of a left turn there. I thought men hated women, because women aren’t women. But it appears men are still having sex with women and living with women and generally acting like they find women to be worthwhile people to be around.
Venker’s tangent doesn’t come from nowhere, though. It’s well-accepted by people who learned about gender roles in the 1950s that women actually loathe sex, and only use it trick a man into marrying them, while men fear commitment, and only get married because of the promise of sex. As Kevin Smith once asked, why buy the cow when you get the sex for free?
This is, to put it bluntly, hokum. There are women who fear commitment and men who pursue it; women who think casual sex is great, and men who’d really just like to settle down with the right girl (or guy, depending).
Nevertheless, Venker is convinced that because women now compete with men on equal footing, and men can get sex sometimes, that this means doom for marriage. There is but one solution.
The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.
So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation. [...]
If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.
Yes, women. Give up on your career goals! Give up on little things like “equal pay for equal work,” and “promotions.” Let Joe get ahead, just because he’s a man. As a reward, maybe Joe will come a-courtin’! Then you can stay home with the babies, while Joe gets ahead at the office and takes business trips and works late. You can take up knitting, because that’s what you really want!
Venker, like many who talk about the decline and fall of men, actually touches on the reason some men are struggling in today’s society. Women had to fight hard to get to rough equality in the workplace. They clawed and crawled through abuse and assaults to get to a point where society accepts, at least theoretically, that women should have the same opportunities as men.
Women deserve an enormous amount of credit for this. My daughter will grow up in a far better world because women before her made it that way. I could not be more grateful for that.
Men, on the other hand, did not have to adjust. We were already in the workforce, after all. Men let women start climbing the ladder with the clear belief that the glass ceiling would prevent them from being a real challenge. To some extent, it still does.
But three generations after this revolution truly got going in earnest, men still haven’t adjusted, even though we’re now at a point where we do, indeed, have to. If your spouse works, taking care of the kids is as much your responsibility as hers. Cleaning the house is your responsibility, too. And while you may be working hard, your wife’s paycheck may be bigger than yours; she has the same equality of opportunity, at least in theory. She may get a better-paying job than you.
The men who do well have learned to adjust to this new reality. We’ve learned that manliness is no more defined by the size of a paycheck than womanliness is defined by whether a corner table has dust on it. We’ve learned that our children and our homes are as much our responsibility as our partners’. We’ve learned that we aren’t owed anything because of our gender, and once we’ve had that epiphany, we’ve learned that this is a great gift — that the “balance” Venker sneers at is a wonderful thing. That we can find value in changing diapers and getting a promotion — and we can cheer when our partners do the same.
This hard-won wisdom hasn’t filtered out into society, though. These epiphanies come man-by-man, one at a time. There are men’s rights activists, but they, like the men Venker cites, are far more interested in fighting the battles of the past than building for the future.
The world has changed. Women have changed. They are still women, of course — but they now have what they always should have had — the right to chart their own destinies. To work, or stay at home, as they and their partners see fit. Men must react to this change not with anger or despair, but with joy and acceptance. After all, there are men who would love to be stay-at-home dads. Men who have no real interest in the rat race. Men who know that they can protect and provide for their families best by being supportive of their partners’ dreams.
Some men will never accept this, of course, just as some racists will never accept that being white is no longer a symbol of inherent superiority. They will grouse, and complain, and declare that they will not marry a woman who can think for herself. That’s their choice, and their loss — but honestly, what do women lose by ignoring these misanthropes? If finding a mate requires giving up on your hopes, your dreams and your very equality, that price is far too steep. Most women know that, of course, which is why Venker’s advice will happily go unheeded.
Photo: x-ray delta one/flickr
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