Several fellow bloggers expressed concern in the comments section of my last post that I might be creating an enemy out of an ally. After all, in her opinion pieces Venker seems to get it at least somewhat right. At least she wants to allow men to be men in some ways (provide and protect), even if she is all about the strong independent woman. The problem is expecting men to continue with traditional gender roles while having no reciprocal expectation of women is a disaster. This is just another brand of feminism, where women have rights and men have responsibilities. We can see this in her interview with the Daily Beast:
…women, once they have children would prefer to work part-time or not at all when their children are young. Their career trajectory will be different than that of men. Feminists don’t like that. They want everybody to want the same thing, career trajectories to be the same. Women may say I really want to exercise or hang out with my friends and have coffee or go shopping and have a cushier life, and your guy will be happy to do that, and go to the office all year long for 40 years to allow you to do that. Men don’t have that option. And there is nothing wrong with having different road maps.
The need to enforce this brings us the worst parts of marriage 2.0, which are all about ensuring that the wife can divorce without consequence if her husband doesn’t follow her leadership. This is what the threatpoint is all about. After all, what if her “guy” isn’t happy going to the office all year for 40 years to allow his wife to lead a cushy life after she attains her feminist merit badge? While Venker claims to oppose easy divorce, she can’t really come down hard on it because women need this threatpoint to have it all.
Venker knows this better than most, because she has been there and done that. In her interview with New York Magazine she describes finding that she had to personally adapt as a wife and temper her “strong-willed and opinionated” personality. This lead to the topic of her first marriage, and she explained that her being a strong independent woman wasn’t the cause of her divorce:
I wouldn’t say what we’re talking about here applies to my first marriage, although there is some connection. After college, I lived in and worked in New York, and I was married for four years, then I moved back to St. Louis, remarried, and had two children. Our issues were geographical. I didn’t want that crazy lifestyle. I wanted a simpler life, a one-income family. I didn’t want to live in New York. But that’s not the whole enchilada.
See also the video of the Venker interview on Fox and Friends here (H/T Free Northerner). In that interview she continues to distance herself from her War on Men article and seems to want to reclaim her feminist bona fides. She reiterates that wives should sometimes allow husbands to make decisions. She also makes it very clear that she isn’t talking about husbands as head of household.
One of the hosts suggests as an example of women making accommodations to men that wives not take out the garbage, even if they already have it in hand (leaving that honor for their husband). Ms. Venker is delighted and responds that this is a perfect example of what she has in mind. Another example he offers to her enthusiastic agreement is that wives should leave it to their husbands to investigate a possible intruder in the home.
She does end the interview with a plea for appreciation on behalf of men, explaining that men are much better now than in her father’s generation. She offers the example of men shopping while wearing Snuglis™ (like this man) as proof of men’s improvement. She made the same basic comment in the NY Mag interview:
I grew up with the hands-off father from a different generation. He was old school and didn’t show his love. I don’t see how people cannot see the huge change between him and fathers today, who are wearing Snuglis, and you’ll see them at Target on a Wednesday afternoon. I think male involvement at home is a wonderful thing, but understand that if you try to make them into women completely, you’re never going to be able to have that male provider.
See Free Northerner’s take on the Fox & Friends interview in his post: Venker Backtracks