Are Women Good, and Men Bad?

Are Women Good, and Men Bad?
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According to author Suzanne Venker, “the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off… Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families — it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.”

When Venker asks men why they don’t want to get married, men say the same thing over and over:

“Women aren’t women anymore.”

Venker’s article on Fox News, and her new book, “How to Choose a Husband (and Make Peace with Marriage)” are decidedly controversial. I think Venker knows this and plays up her message, shifting the the blame for all relationship problems from men to women. This, I think, is a mistake. One gender is not to blame for all ills. Not men. Not women.

I wrote to Venker and asked her to send a copy of her book, so if I think it has any merit, I can share it with my readers. Without having read it, I can only respond to what she wrote in this one article.

If you date men, then, predictably, MEN are going to be the problem.

And while I don’t agree with her hyperbolic language about women “surrendering to their femininity,” which really does sound like some sort of flashback to the 1950’s, I do think there she has a point about women sharing responsibility for their relationship failings.

I go to great pains on this blog to establish the same concept, and receive a good amount of pushback for it. As Venker wrote, “After decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.”

This is, by and large, true. Just as women should rightfully be outraged that Venker “blames” women and feminism for today’s relationship woes, men are outraged that we are always perceived as the problem. It’s all a matter of perspective.

If you date men, then, predictably, MEN are going to be the problem.

But if you date women (like men do), you may logically conclude that women are, at least part of the problem. After all, women are the ones who have changed more dramatically in the past 40 years. In gaining equality, they’ve embraced many male characteristics, blurred gender roles, and muddied the waters when it comes to work, money, responsibility, leadership, etc. This isn’t a bad thing and I’m not trying to go backwards or put the genie back in the bottle.

However, as a result of these changes, women are dissatisfied with men, men are dissatisfied with women, and both tend to play the blame game.

That doesn’t fly here. Look in the mirror, figure out who you are, figure out what you need, and you can find a complementary life partner, instead of blaming the opposite sex. What does that mean for my smart, strong, successful women? Well, it probably means that you should get used to equality. You will now have the same dating dilemmas as men.

If you’re an alpha female, better get used to the idea that certain men don’t find you attractive. Better get used to the idea that you may have to be the primary breadwinner. Better get used to the idea that the best fit for you is a more easygoing man, instead of the most “impressive” man.

In short, by becoming equal to men, women had better be willing to “date down” with someone who is less driven, educated, wealthy or ambitious.

Alas, we men have never called it “dating down”. We just called it dating.

And we liked being able to choose partners based on kindness, fun, laughter, attraction, values and compatibility.

I hope women learn to value men for the same reasons, instead of height, education, and income. Because whether you agree with Suzanne Venker or not, you have to admit, changing gender roles make relationships more confusing than ever before.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Jenna

    Is this a generational thing? I mean, my late 20’s/early 30’s male friends aren’t expecting these traditional male and female behaviors and roles — they practically laughed in my face at the idea espoused in many dating books that girls should never in the course of dating initiate contact or engage in texting. They are all looking for their rough equal in education and intelligence. And this idea that smart successful women are all bossy, controlling, argumentative and chasing is not true, there are many smart successful women I know — including me– who don’t act like that bc it’s rude, boorish, and not classy. I cook for my friends, keep a feminine home and host gatherings, wear skirts, and am affectionate and friendly to those in my life and men who take me out. I’m not bossing people around and trying to one-up them. Some of these debates are very odd bc I don’t see them play out in my own realm.  

  2. 22
    Ruby

    I’m sorry, EMK, but this article was very poorly thought-out, and poorly written. Venker proclaims that “men are this” and “women are that”, with very little fact or insight to back it up. Venker writes”…Men haven’t changed much — they had no revolution that demanded it — but women have changed dramatically.
      
    In a nutshell, women are angry.”
      
    Well, perhaps some women are angry because they have changed and some men haven’t? I don’t get Venker’s assertion that feminism has turned women into man-haters and man-blamers who are, despite all of that, incredibly eager to get married to the object of their loathing?
      
    The same Pew research study cited by Venker also found that two-thirds (66%) of young women ages 18 to 34 rate career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59% of young men. In 1997, 56% of young women and 58% of young men felt the same way. Is that the fault of feminism also?
      
    Venker writes, “… the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family” Huh? If that is true, then why aren’t men threatened? Wouldn’t the increase in a woman’s economic status be an asset in terms of supporting a family? Wouldn’t that help to ease the burden on men?
      
    “Now the men have nowhere to go.” What does that even mean? I wouldn’t except any sort of progressive ideology from the likes of uber-reactionary and conservative Fox News. Nor would I expect anything progressive from the niece of Phyliis Schlafly. Schlafly, too, made a career out of telling women that they were better off not having careers.
      
    @Frimmel: The reasons why a man would pay more money to employ another man, instead of a woman or a minority, should be obvious. It’s called discrimination, and it is not a new phenomenon.
      
      

  3. 23
    Cat5

    @ Karmic Equation #21
      
    I have no idea what you are talking about.   Why would anything you said apply to me?   I didn’t say anything about  dating,  my feelings about men or that men  are jerks.   I asked a question of a previous poster (not you) because I could not understand what she was trying to say in  her comment.   Perhaps you are reading negativity into  my question,  and need to take a look at your attitude and beliefs rather than project onto me and tell me what a problem I am and how I need to change my attitudes and beliefs because I’m pretty sure you have no idea what mine are.
      
    But for clarities sake and to help you understand, I will restate my question:   If Lucy (in Post  #11)  thinks most men are good (she says only 5% are nasty), then why would she have trouble discerning which men were good?   Wouldn’t that mean that she thinks 95% (100% minus 5% equals 95% or 100-5=95) of men are good?   If 95% of all men are good, then finding a nasty one would be pretty difficult  because virtually every man she meets is  good.   So why is she having difficulty discerning which men  are good?
      
    Disclaimer: In my post above and in this post, I make no representations or warranties with respect to fitness for a particular purpose or  to the correctness of the number(s) used.   I am not  endorsing the number(s) used.   The number(s) used does not reflect my attitudes or beliefs.   I  used the number from post #11.

  4. 24
    Joe

    Stacey, nobody needs anybody else.

  5. 25
    Michelle

    Why ANY woman would not want to provide a live-in father for their child(ren) is beyond me.   To add on to what Evan said, there’s also the joys of sharing experiences as the children are growing, not to mention the tribulations.   Most importantly, how selfish to deprive a child of a father figure, like men have no influence and don’t play an important role in children’s lives.
      
    Men are not women; women are not men.   Despite the advances we’ve made in allowing women to pursue careers (and manage a house and raise children) and technology, there are significant biological differences and each gender plays a very important role in raising the next generation of children.     These biological differences have been around for millions of years and aren’t expected to go away any time soon.   Although it may appear that women are better off today, I could argue in many ways that’s not true and society has paid dearly for it as well.

    I would be dollars to donuts that women that had the opportunity to stay home and raise their children would never trade that for the world, including a career.   And millions of women give up progressing in their careers to care for children (hence pay differences).  

    My two cents…

  6. 26
    Ruby

    EMK #145
      
    Sorry for the double posting, but you also say,
    “1. Everyone agrees that the equality won by feminists is for the good of women. Her point (and mine) is that this new equality has made dating a lot more confusing than ever before. This blog is a testament to that, no? Thus, it can be concluded that the downside to post-feminism is that men and women’s changing gender roles have negatively impacted relationships. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have feminism. It means that there’s a negative side effect, just like one can complain about pollution, but not want to ban all industry and transportation.”
      
    That may be your point, but I don’t see anything in Venker’s article stating that the equality won by feminists is for the good of women. In fact, she goes to great lengths to state the opposite; writing, “Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever. It’s the women who lose.”
      
    The implication is that this has been the only “advantage” gained by feminism. By embracing feminism, women have merely gained the opportunity to provide men with easy sex? Nothing about women’s own enjoyment of sex, nothing about equal rights in the workplace (which is bad, according to Venker, because it emasculates men), and heaven forbid, nothing about the affect on women who don’t have sex with men.
      

  7. 27
    Karmic Equation

    @Cat5 #25
      
    My bad… I apologize. I misread your post. I agree with what you’re saying.
      
    If anything my post should have been directed at Lucy, in support of your post.
      
    Mea culpa.
      
    @Lucy 11
      
    I think it was you who admitted you liked alpha males, right? Well, if you don’t have enough alpha (assertiveness) in you, then it’s no surprise that you end up in relationships that don’t work. IMO, you have to have a lot of alpha in you to have a successful relationship with an alpha. And while they are not mutually exclusive, it’s not always easy for some people to be alpha, even if they try.
      
    Instead of worrying about whether a guy’s alpha or not, just date guys who don’t repel you (basically lower your dating standard from “Wow, I want him!” to “Oh, he’s alright”) — and just date for fun and laughter and see what happens. You might be surprised. Expand your dating range. Don’t go to the same places you always go to, go to new places. It may be that who you’re looking for isn’t where you normally look.
      
    Good luck.

  8. 28
    Jen

    I tend to think it is low self-esteem type men who are allowing themselves to be feeling browbeaten, and low self-esteem women that have casual sex that does not work well for them and then complain that men are non-committal.  
      
    None of the cultural changes being discussed here are bad and they only increase options for both men and women.   There is no shortage of women who like to take on a traditional role.   My brothers have traditional wives and I know they are very eager for them to take on more employment to decrease the monetary outflow!  
      
    Being smart, strong and successful, I agree with Evan, makes it harder to find a man to look up to in all the ways we would like.   But that would be the case in any era.   There are just more of us now that we have become more liberated, more choices and opportunities make us feel like we can have exactly what we want (both men and women), and there are easier ways to communicate about it.   As Karl R says, it all comes down to finding a rational partner who does not see the world in gender war terms.
      
    One thing I have seen is many men acting more like they want to be perceived as the pretty one, and they want to be pursued.   They drop all kinds of hints but never make a confident move in what I would consider a masculine way.   So maybe these men are reacting to what they see as women’s strength and adapting in their own way?   Or perhaps they have always been there and are just more numerous or visible now that there is more of a ‘market’ for them.

  9. 29
    Frimmel

    Stacey in #19
      
    I’d point out that the commonality among ‘bad’ outcomes for children (teen pregnancy, crime, drug addiction, not finishing school) is not race or income but an absent father. While there is no denying that single mothers do raise functioning children with ‘good’ outcomes, there is ample evidence to indicate that single motherhood is a less than ideal choice for children. While the mother might not need a man all children need an involved father.
      
      

  10. 30
    Frimmel

    Ruby in 24: “@Frimmel: The reasons why a man would pay more money to employ another man, instead of a woman or a minority, should be obvious. It’s called discrimination, and it is not a new phenomenon.”

      

      
    “As a result, it is not possible now, and doubtless will never be possible, to determine reliably whether any portion of the observed gender wage gap is not attributable to factors that compensate women and men differently on socially acceptable bases, and hence can confidently be attributed to overt discrimination against women. In addition, at a practical level, the complex combination of factors that collectively determine the wages paid to different individuals makes the formulation of policy that will reliably redress any overt discrimination that does exist a task that is, at least, daunting and, more likely, unachievable.”
      
    Evan linked here or in another thread to Warren Farrell’s “Why Men Earn More” which reaches a similar conclusion.

  11. 31
    Cat5

    @Karmic Equation #25
      
    Apology accepted,  and I’m sorry I was  brusque  in my reply. 🙂
      

  12. 32
    nathan

    Evan, for a guy who has claimed to be supportive of feminism, you sure post a lot of stuff that either critiques the movement, or like this article, dismisses its value all together. And when someone like Sarahrahrah here, or myself and others on different posts, offer a rebuttal based in feminist thinking, you’re quite quick on the defensive. Your criticism of someone like Venker is mostly generalized, whereas you give extensive attention to making point by point offerings on the ways in which feminist commenter X is wrong. I’m saying this as much to your readers as to you. In this particular case because the post you wrote above has multiple good messages that are getting lost.
      
    I totally am on board with less generalized blaming when it comes individuals in the dating world. It’s important to discussion social trends, and point out issues that impact us collectively, but at the end of the day, each of has to open our hearts and let imperfect others in. However, Venker’s article is riddled with blame. Blame towards women who won’t embrace traditional gender roles. Blame towards a generalized boogeyman called feminism. Blamed towards men who support a more equal, modern approach to gender and social relations. She’s an awful role model for the valid argument made in your post above Evan.
      
    In addition, I agree with your point that the modern dating and relationship world is muddy. Not terribly easy to navigate. And frequently as confusing as it is confirming of us as individuals, and not simply people playing out predetermined roles. However, whereas you generally seem to support the changes that have come – while also acknowledging that some negative fallout might be attached to those changes – Venker is basically focused on defending the “subculture” of men who want “women who are women” – i.e. women who mostly embody the 1950s housewife stereotype. If her article had simply offered insights into the male subculture she “stumbled” upon, and then suggestions for women interested in those kinds of men, then she would have been – like you – offering something in the way of guidance for navigating through the mud. But instead, she takes that subculture of men as a jumping off point for invalidating what the rest of us – the majority of us really, regardless of stance of whatever you think feminism is – are doing.
      
    Finally, I support the sense of flexibility you offer in this statement:
    “If you’re an alpha female, better get used to the idea that certain men don’t find you attractive. Better get used to the idea that you may have to be the primary breadwinner. Better get used to the idea that the best fit for you is a more easygoing man, instead of the most “impressive” man.”
    And in fact, would say that this is a place where some feminist women need to check themselves. I’ve seen in it in my own dating life, and in the lives of other men who claim feminist values, and then struggle to some degree because they don’t entirely “fit” the traditional man narrative. But whereas you and I are talking about flexibility, Venker is writing about rigidity, suggesting that if only men and women do what they’re “supposed to be doing” – what they did in the past, when men ran things outside of the house and women ran the house – then everything would be fine. Again, she’s a rotten role model for what you’re offering here. But she is kind of a great foil, don’t you think?
      
      

  13. 34
    Lucy

    @Karmic – Yes you are probably right about the alpha stuff. Part of this is actually figuring out who I am. Whoever thought that would be harder than determining what I want? I think this amount of confusion is going to cause me to be single for a while yet. Maybe I should junk the ‘alpha male’ terminology and just think, “Do I like him?”, “Am I attracted to him?”. I think I might be a man in a woman’s body sometimes. My first thought isn’t, “Is he good guy?”, but “is he sexy?”. My friend thinks I’m a sex addict. Maybe I should reassess? Ah so confusing. Thanks for your thoughts.  

  14. 35
    sarahrahrah!

    @ EMK
    I do understand your point and agree with your conclusion that some women seem to hate men.   I appreciate that you included evidence to back up your claim.
      
    For the record, I don’t disrespect women who choose to stay home and care for their family.   I think they are giving their children the gift of their lifetime when mothers stay home and breast feed and bond with their infants and toddlers.   Being there for older children makes a big difference, too.
      
    I was not trying to figuratively crap in your living room by criticizing the article and I’m sorry if I came across that way.   When someone makes arguments based on a broad anti-academic appeal (as in blaming feminism and claiming that women have been taught by some mystery force to hate men), that is a concern to me because it smacks of fascism.   This mirrors a larger pattern of hate-baiting that I’ve seen expanding in the US for the past 15 years and I find both to be disturbing and disheartening.   
      
    I like what Helen – #15 said.   Yes, it is a time of tumultuous change throughout society.   Instead of looking at the bad side of things, I will try to appreciate the opportunities for growth and learning that living in this era affords.

  15. 36
    Morris

    @Ruby #35. I get so tired of the wage gab issue. I’ve worked decades as a consultant. Know what EVERY company had in common? Women ran HR. Are you telling me women knowing pay women less?
      
    If all those companies I consulted for paid men more they would have to charge more for their products and services. I’d wonder why a smart person wouldn’t just hire more women and undercut those companies.
      
    A final note.   Women that start their own business make less compared to men that do the same. Are you going to blame that on discrimination as well?

  16. 37
    marymary

    I think men may earn more for the same job because they ask for more money.   

  17. 38
    Michelle

    #38 thank you Morris, great logic & reasoning, I’m with you, I don’t buy it.     There’s also factors that can’t be measured in these ‘so called’ studies.

  18. 39
    Trenia

    Chris Rock does this joke about how fat girls can make fun of skinny girls, short men can make fun of tall men, poor people can make fun of rich people, but not the other way around. He goes on to say that people with the least get to talk about people with the most, and if people with the most want to talk about people with the least, well then, they have to give up some of their Sh*t. That’s how I feel about this article and any other conversations that speak to how women talk about men.
    Women’s images, media pretty much most things, men have the advantage and control it. So a few women write a few articles and blogs discussing how men are the problem in relationships, think they’re bad, lazy, whatever, but so what? Has that effected much in the world or in dating? Not in the least.

  19. 40
    Kathleen

    This article has little impact on me  
    Anthropologists say that millions of years ago women enjoyed considerable economic, social and sexual power. The “double income” family was standard   Women lost this equality when farming cultures took hold.
    We are now in a time where women are regaining this equality. Im sure women and men can work this out as we return to what was the normal balance for millions of years.
      

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