I tried hard not to let it get to me. Like, really hard, you guys.
Because honestly, when you see an article pop up seven times in fewer than 20 minutes on Facebook, you know it must be a rabble-rouser. Then, of course, when you note that it’s from Fox News, you have to ready yourself for the distinct (and, I would say, likely) possibility that it’s nothing more than a series of provocative non-facts, hardly worth fretting over. And by the time you get around to noticing that it’s called “The War on Men”—once your brain actually processes that this is, verbatim, the oldest, dumbest feminist stereotype—that something like this could even get published, let alone taken seriously, in this day and age— (Pause. Deep breaths.)
In short, this article wasn’t remotely worth my time, and I knew it, and still, I couldn’t help myself— hence the subsequent 45 minutes spent gawping in utter, furious, aneurysm-style disbelief.
The problem is, I’m sure that was the point. The incendiary piece in question, written by Suzanne Venker, essentially posits that men are less interested in getting married nowadays, because they’re less interested in women overall, because they don’t like it when women venture outside of the domestic realm to “compete” with them. Ergo, feminism is bad for women, because it undermines their primary agenda, which is to get married (duh). Honestly, don’t even read it: Just imagine the kind of pathologically idiotic sexism that might make you chuckle were it on Saturday Night Live, poke your latent ire with a stick one too many times, and you’re set. Really, this essay is so counterintuitive, so counterproductive, so detestable on any rational level that it simply has to be some form of large-scale trolling. My money says it’s viral advertising for Venker’s upcoming book, How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace With Marriage, which a smattering of curious liberals will now surely at least skim, if only to spew bile in its name.
And still, something in me refuses to leave Venker’s “war” cry alone. Even though I’m certain it’s a publicity ploy—even though I know that by reacting, I’m playing right into Fox’s hand—I just can’t let lie the idea that to be a feminist is somehow to hate men. Because anyone who’s spent five minutes examining feminism would understand that it seeks only to equalize—to bring all gender expressions to a societally (or, for starters, a financially) even keel. And yet, it’s still the most-used line in young women’s arsenals: “Yeah, sure, I’m a feminist, but I’m not, like, a feminist”—terrified, as they so often are, to be in any way associated with the bra-burning, ball-busting boogeywomen that people like Venker still somehow have the nerve to conjure. It’s hateful and it’s harmful, regressive in spades, and it has no place mucking up our public discourse, says I.
I mean, I could also sit here and detail some facts. I could remind our readers that essentialist notions of gender—the kind that allow Venker to construct a sentence like, “Women aren’t women anymore”—have been struck down by all kinds of science. I could also take a step further back and point out that her argument is predicated on the logical fallacy that women necessarily want to get married in the first place—that just because a certain role has historically been prescribed to them, that means it’s right, or just, or even majoritarian. I could throw the word “lesbian” into the mix—maybe even the prefix “trans-.” I could do a lot more than that, honestly, as every sentence in this article is laughably ass-backwards and could, with precious little effort, be called out as such.
However, so as to avoid giving Venker any more attention than absolutely necessary (and, ultimately, to maintain my sanity), I’ll just seek out my smallest of silver linings: Despite nearly giving me a hate stroke, this declaration of “war” does also give me the opportunity to dust off my Feminist Battle Kit (it’s sparkly and pink and chock full of phallus-reclaiming weaponry). Plus, on a serious note, this piece provides all of us with even further ammunition against those who would label our society “post-feminist.” Because, in my mind at least, you simply can’t be “post-” something if you really don’t understand what it is in the first place.