November 28, 2012
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.