The War on “The War on Men”
By Sadie Rothman
When I saw that my friend Olivia had posted an article entitled “The War on Men,” I gave it a click, assuming it was satire. War on men? Seems unlikely—the Center for American Progress reporting that the average woman working full time still only earns 77% of what the average man earns, regardless of race and ethnicity, even though women are outpacing their male counterparts in obtaining college degrees. Not to mention that reproductive rights and access to contraceptives are still under siege in many parts of the country, even in cases of rape. And did I mention that according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, women comprise about 90% of rape and sexual assault victims, with 17.7 million women having been victims of attempted or completed rape? Personally, I don’t go a single day without having a man yell something at me or honk his car horn, and that is not an exaggeration. So I figured an op-ed with that title had to be a joke.
But it wasn’t. I read through the piece, balking at passages like, “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,” and “All [women] have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.” In short, women need to get out of the workplace and back into focusing all their energy on domesticity and procreation, so as not to intimidate the men–in this writer’s opinion, all men—who simply cannot bear the notion of a well-educated, successful lady. Anna Kasparian of The Young Turks said it best in this clip, explaining that “the column was both insulting to men and women. Because it made men seem like they’re weak and they can’t handle competition, and it also made women, you know, seem like they’re good for one thing and one thing only, which is being baby-factories.”
The writer goes on to assert that feminism is a big win for men (which, of course, it is), but gets it totally wrong in claiming that this is because men can “have sex at hello,” instead of the real win, which is something I like to call “equality.”
Ready for the big reveal? This op-ed was written by a woman. Suzanne Venker gave us this delightful (read: horrifying) take on how women’s increasing presence and success in colleges and the working world have made it so that “Women aren’t women anymore.” By the way, this op-ed was published by Fox News and mentions in the introduction that Venker, a graduate of Boston University, is the author of several books. That sounds like educational and professional success to me, but I’m getting off topic.
The point is, growing up in a liberal city, attending a university where I surrounded myself with open-minded friends, and now working at the American Humanist Association, a progressive organization, I can slip into a false sense of security where I think, “Wow, things really are getting better for women and justice and equality are on the rise!” And to some extent, I still believe that to be true, but I would like to thank Ms. Venker for reminding me that, although we’ve come a long way, there is still a lot of work to do.
Sadie Rothman is the field coordinator for the American Humanist Association.