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After all, how many are bold enough to write about finding a husband and include chapter titles like “Slutville” and “The Naked Emporer?”
Suzanne Venker is just such a writer, and her new book, “How to Choose a Husband (And Make Peace With Marriage)” is terrific. When a man likes a book like this, you know it must be good (and have wide appeal, thus defying the demographic/marketing odds!).
Venker, who is experienced in her subject (having been divorced at 27, and now thriving in a second marriage), doesn’t mind telling it like it is, advocating for a “detox” for women raised on generations of feminism: “This social movement was a momentous turning point in American history. Under the guise of equality, women were sold a script about sex and gender roles – one they’ve been hanging on to ever since. The underlying theme was the idea that women can, and should, have sex like a man: without getting attached. But as Lena Dunham of the hit HBO series ‘Girls’ told Frank Bruni of the New York Times, this cultural expectation conflicts with human nature.”
Venker writes that the message culture gives today – you don’t need men or marriage – is toxic.
This is a smart woman.
“How to Choose a Husband” is not exactly a how-to book to find the perfect mate. Venker is realistic and recognizes that marriage is work. But the value she adds to the subject is incalculable. This book is a fresh approach to a societal problem that has plagued American families for at least 40 years (and don’t think it’s only feminist icons who have helped this along; as you will read, even “men” like Carl Reiner were only too happy to apply liberalism and shape society with their warped worldview).
Venker writes that the previous generation is “saturated with feminist thinkers.” What has this reality gotten us?
Whole generations of single women and men who are finding out they’ve been snookered: “But if flying solo is so great, why are businesses like Match.com, eHarmony, Spark, and It’s Just Lunch booming with clients looking to get hitched?”
“How to Choose a Husband” is itself saturated with the right kind of worldview, and I dare say should become a classic for women who realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods, but don’t know quite how to navigate out of the mess.
Venker opts for this “detox” on an emotional and mental level and urges women to give this a try: “In other words, you must recondition your brain to think about marriage in a way that contradicts everything you’ve been taught since the day you were born. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and have babies. It’s the most natural desire in the world. You are not any less strong, capable or intelligent as a woman for wanting to do so.”
Venker points out that someone who grew up in the 1940s, with no Internet and no “Sex and the City” and no “You go, girl!” mentality, benefitted from a healthier environment. She says that environment is critical and that the media images of women today are not real.
Think about that: we live in an age of unreality. That means, as Venker points out, perception can be wrong. In other words, develop some critical thinking skills and recognize that Ellen’s version of marriage or the single life might be toxic. Then, armed with “How to Choose a Husband,” you’ll be on the road to recovery.
Venker makes the astute observation that some trends are benign (’80s hair!) and some are not (feminist inroads). It is recognition of “the enemy” that can put one on the path to turning her life around. In “How to Choose a Husband,” Suzanne Venker offers a very powerful and compelling weapon in this particular culture war.
I thoroughly enjoyed the insights from this book and heartily recommend it to women everywhere … and to men.