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Is there a "War on Men" in America?
Suzanne Venker, the author of the recently released "How to Choose a Husband," believes the answer is an unequivocal "yes," and the biggest voice in radio is 100 percent in her camp.
In the soon-to-be-released May issue of "The Limbaugh Letter," radio icon Rush Limbaugh engages in an in-depth interview with Venker on the complexities of modern-day relationships, feminism vs. the traditional nuclear family, the breakdown of marriage and what she dubs the "War on Men."
Here is an exclusive excerpt of the conversation. (Excerpt from the May 2013 issue of "The Limbaugh Letter" (c) 2013 by Radio Active Media, Inc. Used by permission.)
"I was delighted to chat with the Center for Marriage Policy vice president whose much-discussed essay 'The War on Men' is now available as an ebook; her latest book is 'How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage:'"
Rush Limbaugh: Suzanne, how are you? I’m glad that you had time for us today.
Suzanne Venker: Thanks for asking me.
Rush: You bet. When I saw your Fox website piece, "The War on Men," I read excerpts of it on the air, because it's so uncommon a view, at least in the culture today. What spurred your interest in exploring this?
Suzanne: I've been immersed in feminist issues, and all the fallout of everything feminist, from gender relations to marriage to motherhood – just general family life, where feminism bumps up against the family. Gender relations, in particular, has become a huge issue today. We hear about it everywhere. That particular piece was really not that different from many other articles I've written, but it just went viral.
I think it started a really important conversation: What if we don't focus so much on women and their problems and how they're supposedly discriminated against? What if we ask: Where do men stand? What are their views? How are they being affected by this incessant focus on female "empowerment"?
Rush: Before we get into that in detail, why did feminism fail to attract you?
Suzanne: Well, Phyllis Schlafly is my aunt. So I was raised with an alternative view to the cultural messages, just by what she was doing with her life, going back to fighting the era in the 1970s. I was very young, of course. But what feminists said did not reflect what the women in my family felt or experienced in their lives. I had these role models, all strong women – which is what feminists supposedly said women needed to be and were not, that they couldn't get anywhere – and my role models were getting wherever they wanted. Combining work and family wasn't a factor either, because it was being done around me, and I saw it. So from the time I was very little, I just had a very different vantage point.
Rush: Now is there a specific age group that you set out to study or investigate in preparation for your book, "How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage?"
Suzanne: Yes. It’s basically for those between 25 and 35. I ideally want it to be for 18 and up, but they must have a great deal of maturity to be able to absorb the messages before 25. A lot of what I'm saying here is so counter-cultural and different from what women are used to hearing that they just naturally buck against it, because they don't understand.
They don't have the foresight to think ahead 10 years: "Where am I going to be, and what is it that I really want in my life?" They're pretty much just living for tomorrow. Which is so different from the older generation, who, when they were 20, 21, 22, were far more mature in their outlook. In fact, I wrote a piece for Fox ["Whom to Marry Is the Most Important Decision a Woman Will Ever Make"] in response to the Susan Patton letter to Princeton ladies giving advice to young women to find a husband at college. I point out that the maturity levels are so different today than they were before, so it's very hard for people to think long-term.
That's a big problem. "How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage" requires people to be able to think long-term. You have to really think about what you're going to want and try to make that happen when you're younger. But, as in [Facebook Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg's new book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," what we're hearing left and right now is about leaning into your career and making it the focus of your life – almost as if marriage and motherhood or men and children just don't exist. They don't just fit into the package by osmosis. You have to take into account what family life involves if you want a family. And that includes thinking about what kind of careers work well with raising a family.
Rush: How many of the people – women, and men, too, because as you said, you're looking at it through the prism of men – that you're reaching, or want to reach, have any idea that all of this, feminism and all the ancillaries, are nothing but politics? I think most of them don't. I think most of them think it's the way things are. They've been politicized and don't know it.
Suzanne: No question about it; that's the whole reason for my last book, "The Flipside of Feminism." I usually tell them, if you want to understand what feminism is, how it's affecting your life, what those messages really mean when you're hearing them in a quick way on TV or radio, read "Flipside." You will have a completely different view of feminism when you really understand it. Most people operate in sound bites. They hear something on the news and they repeat it. It's so frustrating for me, as somebody who has delved into this for years, to see people not get it and not absorb it. So I try to reach those people in a way I think they can understand.
Rush: You probably have a fulfilling life. You're probably basically happy. Why do you care about other people, to the extent that you're trying to reach them with your message?
Suzanne: What I care most about, what drives me, what so frustrates me, is knowing that those who are instilling those messages are pulling the wool over so many people’s eyes.
Suzanne: I can't sit there and shut up when I know what's happening. It's just so wrong. It drives me to say, "Wait a minute, why do you have the microphone and spout stuff that's just flat-out not true?" Young people need the tools and the information to be able to make the right decisions for their futures. The messages they're getting are undermining their futures, and it's just wrong.
In the interview, the overarching issue Venker addresses is that it's been 40 years since the sexual revolution, and the women of America have everything they want. Everything, that is, except a husband.
She contends women may be schooled in the art of sex, but they have failed in the art of love.
She explains it isn't surprising: The modern generation is living in a culture that isn't the least bit interested in helping them get hitched. For decades women have been taught to sleep around indiscriminately, to pursue an education and career at all costs and to never depend on a man. As a result, women delay marriage indefinitely or ignore it altogether – as though marriage has no bearing on their happiness. As though it were a nice idea, or nice accompaniment, to an otherwise satisfying life.
This is an unprecedented worldview. Until recently, women have always mapped out their lives according to what they considered their most important role: wife and mother. Today, women plan their entire futures around big careers. Husband and children come last.
The rest of the interview will be available April 24.
In "How to Choose a Husband," Venker says American women need a detox. If they want to be happy, or just plain satisfied, they must do a 180 when it comes to their attitude toward sex, courtship and married life.
If they do, marriageable men will reappear – and women will find the love that eludes them.
Released by WND Books Feb. 5, "How to Choose a Husband" is the perfect book for women who wonder why their Valentine's Day lacks any romanticism.
A former teacher-turned-social critic, Venker is an author and speaker on politics, marriage, parenting and culture. She is a frequent guest on HuffPo Live and an occasional contributor to National Review Online. She has also authored the books "The Flipside of Feminism" and "7 Myths of Working Mothers." A frequent commentator on cultural issues, she has appeared on ABC, CNN, FOX and C-Span – as well as hundreds of radio shows throughout the country, including "The Laura Ingraham Show."
Her articles and blog posts have appeared in the New York Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Parents.com, Human Events, WND.com, CNSnews.com and others. She graduated from Boston University in 1990 and now lives in St. Louis, Mo., with her husband and their two children.