Suzanne Venker wrote a piece for FOX News on November 26th entitled “The War On Men” which subsequently received attention from countless online writers, most pointing out the oppressive language and generalizations used by Venker. In the article, she utilizes conceptions of gender and gender roles that sound positively foreign (or at least, very, very dated).
The response has been swift. Some responses have been better than others. For instance, Feministing posted a response “How to write a trend piece on gender relations for Fox news” which used the same stock photo from the original piece, and commented on the poor use of marriage statistics and the use of traditional concepts of femininity and domesticity. The article also points out the assumption that women (all women?) are heterosexual and extremely interest in marriage, though her own article poorly uses the statistic that only 37 percent of “marrying age” (18-34) women say that marriage is one of the most important things in their lives. We don’t know, from her use of this statistic, if the women sampled all identify as heterosexual, or if some of these women value highly the possibility of marrying another woman. Nor do we know if some of these women are already married. Surely your status as wed or unwed would affect the importance of marriage in your mind.
Steven Colbert used his segment “The Word: Sisters are doing it to themselves” to comment on the piece, and left no offensive passage unharmed (perhaps the men are finally ready to go to war!)
Jezebel responded by taking each offending quote and responding to it directly. Their writer, Erin Gloria Ryan wrote, “Arming yourself for the war against men you didn’t even know you were fighting” as though it were a treatise on war.
The ideas that Venker presents are not new. While she may want her readers to believe she hold some grain of wisdom about the best way to be a woman, she is in fact just rehashing and voicing some of the most pervasive and traditional assumptions about one narrow and normative interpretation of womanhood. This time, writers are responding, and the wave of criticism does not appear to be ending. So fall back, Venker. Join The Men and prepare for our next attack. The Women are coming, and we’re a whole lot less sweet, domestic, and charming (see: marriageable) after reading your article.