Suzanne Venker’s economic wishful thinking

New York magazine interviewed Suzanne Venker, author of the recently published “The War on Men.” The editorial has Venker claiming that today’s men are unmarriageable disappointments, and they are that way because today’s women are angry, competitive pseudo-men. Her evidence is flimsy, her assertions nonsequitors, and, most irritating of all, she pretends blaming men’s failure to be “men” on women is somehow novel.

I guess in the interview I expected pushback on the dumbest parts of the article. But instead I got this jewel, which encapsulates the ECONOMIC stupidity of her ilk:

You often say that families don’t need two incomes.
You really have to step back and ask yourself: Do I want this extra money or control over what goes on at home? If you choose to do it the other way — day care, nannies from maternity leave on — you are going to lose control at home. You cannot have it all. If you don’t get as far as you wanted in your career, who gives a poop? Look at what you got.

As for women not being able to have it all, she’s quite right. Women can’t be in two places at once.

But notice how in her world there are two options: stay home or get a nanny/day care. And for rich, educated, white elites living in big cities with lots of (relatively) cheap care options and many employment opportunities these are indeed viable alternatives to staying home. Unfortunately out here in the real world many women need to work, and ignoring them in the discussion doesn’t make them go away. It just makes it easier for them to dismiss you. And for those who know they exist and notice your dismissal to get angry.

But the worst part is her complete and total dismissal of the lifetime cost and risk to a woman of forgoing a career. Even taking a few years off of work to care for children impacts lifetime earnings significantly, leaving women, who tend to live longer, less prepared than men and women who worked full-time consistently for emergencies, retirement, and widowhood.

And that’s just the women who stay married until their partners die. The woman who leaves work to care for children and then gets divorced is really in trouble. Venker’s antiquated ideas concerning men’s and women’s roles kind of sort of worked back when women could rely on their husbands not leaving them high and dry. But those days are gone. Forevs.

Telling women to make choices that will make it damn near impossible for them to afford to care for themselves and their children without a man’s support is at best just incredibly ignorant of the cultural and economic realities of today and at worst an attempt to encourage women to sacrifice their own safety and security in order to help her relive the 1950′s.

The Atlantic to women: Withhold sex to get a man who doesn’t want to take you out to take you out

The Atlantic’s got another piece on “the hookup culture” and its effects on women: A Plan to Reboot Dating.

The piece consists of unsubstantiated sexist claims of the hookup culture harming women broadly and a recommendation that women withhold sex – Lysistrata-style — until men take them out on dates.

The world as Emily Esfahani Smith sees it:

  1. Women deep down all really want the same thing: to replace the hookup culture with a dating culture. Do I even need to point out that the idea that women all want the same thing is sexist?
  2. Men will only date women if dating is required for sex. Men see spending time with women outside the bedroom as a necessary evil to getting in their pants. If given half the chance, all men will head straight for sex. Obligatory Harvard male: “What motivation do men have to ask women out on a date when sex is so widely and easily available?” Sexism against men is still sexism!
  3. Women outnumber men on college campuses, and some women are slutty. So for every woman who wants to be courted before sex there are several sluts who will “give it up for free.”

So what’s the solution to this “problem?” Smith’s recommendation boils down to: Women should give up casual sex en masse, so they get men to take them on dates.

In other words, withhold sex to coerce a man who doesn’t want to take you out into taking you out.

If we’re going to make generalizations, wouldn’t the safest one be that if a man really just wants sex, it’d be more fun to have sex with him or nothing than to share a dinner he sees as a necessary evil?

It seems closer to reality to say that different people, male and female, want different things at different times.

A bevy of carnal options, where people engage in all kinds of cooperative arrangements to get their needs met, seems like a much better arrangement to me.

Photo by dhammza.