So I was reading this article by Suzanne Venker on Fox News here. The article was in response to a report from the Pew Research Center showing that women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.
Suzanne has written three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture. She claims that many men she has talked to over the years have told her they’re never getting married because “women aren’t women anymore.”
Gee, ya think?
I completely agree. These men are right. Women aren’t women anymore. And you know whose fault it is? Women! I for one, am perfectly happy staying home, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my house and family. I cannot (nor do I have any desire to learn how to) fix stuff or perform car maintenance. I’d really rather not have all the weight of “bringing home the bacon” on my shoulders. I don’t think a woman has to climb that corporate ladder to prove to men that she can do everything they can do. I have no problem whatsoever with a man who expects the woman to do his laundry and cook his meals. But guess what? I’m one of twenty-three women in this country who feel that way. (Or so it seems.) Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against women who feel the need to burn their bras and do everything that man can do, only better. More power to ya. But it doesn’t seem to go the other way. It is simply not socially acceptable to only be a housewife or just be a stay-at-home mom. It’s a weakness if a woman can’t be self-sufficient and take care of herself by herself. Personally, I have found this attitude coming from women much more often than men.
Immediately after I got divorced, my ex was fired and I was left trying to support my six kids on my own. I wrote a blog post confessing that I was scared because I’d been out of the workforce for so long staying home to raise my family, that I didn’t know how to go about re-entering the working world. I didn’t know what I was qualified to do and I didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet. Lisa Belkin, who was writing for the The Motherlode, NYT, at the time, wrote a piece and mentioned me and my situation. I was absolutely flamed for it. Strangers who knew nothing about me berated me for not having worked all along. I was called stupid and foolish for not getting a degree and pursuing a career, instead giving it all up for a family. People judged and condemed me for my poor choices that left me in a situation where I couldn’t easily get a job that would support my family.
People couldn’t seem to fathom that I hadn’t “thrown away a chance at a career.” Rather, I had purposely chosen to stay home and care for everyone because that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what my husband and I thought best for our family at the time. And through 18 years of marriage, that’s what I happily did. Sure it was unfortunate when things unfolded the way they did, but what really makes me sad is how people reacted with scorn instead of sympathy. I’m certain that had I chosen to put my kids in daycare while I worked throughout my marriage, and I had been the one to lose my job, I would’ve received nothing but heartfelt sympathy and the only scorn would have been directed at the economy, which was undoubtedly to blame for my loss of income. And the state of the economy would surely be blamed on men.
Of course women aren’t women anymore when we live in a world where a woman is bashed and called stupid and lazy if she chooses a more traditionally feminine role as caregiver and homemaker. Today, it seems that women don’t have the choice to embrace the differences between men and women, letting the man earn the living and fix stuff and be manly while she devotes her time to taking care of him and his kids, making sure he has a comfortable, pleasant home, food on the table, bills paid, clothes washed, and details of daily living taken care of. Today, if a woman chooses that sort of life, she’s letting big, bad men win. And if he’s winning, she’s surely losing.
Here’s another example. My friend got a flat tire the other day and a man stopped to help her change it. She was a little insulted and said, “I can change my own tire!” Granted, she had a lot of stuff going on right then and maybe reacted more harshly than she ordinarily would have. She told me this on the very day that I got a flat tire myself. My flat tire happened at my house so I called AAA to rescue me, but had it happened while I was out and about, and a man had stopped to help me, I would have been immeasurably happy and I probably would’ve gotten contact info for him so I could drop off some brownies to thank him!
The scenario could be interpreted like this: the man cherishes the woman and wants to protect her. He wants her to stand aside so she doesn’t get dirty or hurt while he takes care of the tire. And the woman appreciates the man for rescuing her so she doesn’t have to get dirty or break a nail. He’s her hero. But would any of you look at the situation like that? Or would you look at it like this: the woman is a loser who can’t even change her own tire. She clearly shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Not knowing how to change a tire is simply inexcusable.
So, I say it’s no wonder so many men don’t want to get married. I don’t blame them. Who would want to marry a woman who feels the need to beat him down and prove that she’s better than him in all areas? Today’s woman can land the same job and work her butt off until she earns more than him, she can pay the bills, make the dinner, help the kids with homework, run a marathon, regrout the shower, and change her own damn tire. What does she need a man for?
EDITED 11/28/12 TO ADD:
Judging by the comments I’m getting on my Facebook page, most of you are missing my point here. Apparently, I’m not very good at expressing myself. I’m not judging or criticizing anyone or their choices. I’m not debating WAHMs vs. working moms; there is no debate. I’m not saying women who are educated and career-driven are wrong or bad or anything of the sort. Quite the contrary. My friend who changed her own tire is well-educated. She holds a position of the highest power in her field and has many men under her. And she’s an amazing mother. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her. Many days, I feel like I want to be her when I grow up.
In today’s world, it is simply not looked upon favorably when a woman chooses a more traditional role. Period.
BUT, that’s not even what this post is about! I only used those personal examples to highlight how society’s views have changed. Women have changed. Women’s roles have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Men’s roles – not so much. I can see where a growing number of men might be put off marriage because of this. I understand. I never said that no man will ever want to marry an educated woman. That’s ludicrous.
Honestly, the fact that so many women stepped up to voice their insult and outrage and turned this into a battle between working women and stay-at-home women kind of illustrates the point. As Suzanne Venker writes, “In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly.”
To read more from Dawn, check out her hilarious books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!
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