Dear Poor, Sweet, Pedestal-less Ryan:
I came across this op-ed from the always insightful, nuanced, and truthful foxnews.com. According to Suzanne Venker, I (and other women like me) have ruined America. Not only do I have no one to blame but myself for being single and childless, I am apparently responsible for men’s own irresponsibility and inability to commit.
I am so, so sorry.
Apparently, back in the good old days (the 1950′s?) we both had fabulous pedestals. But we ladies had pedestal envy (not to be confused with “starts with p” envy). Somehow, with our delicate and weak lady-arms, we pushed men like you off because we wanted all the pedestals for ourselves. And now men are just floundering around in a world without responsibility because you guys are somehow unable to build your own pedestal and climb right back on.
I find this to be strange, considering this statement: “[i]t has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. 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.” Later on she offers some hope: “[f]ortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.”
Maybe my brain is so filled with hatred and feminist doctrine (or maybe it’s because it’s really too small and weak), but I find Venker’s argument to be frustratingly paradoxical/inconsistent with reality. Men’s true natures are to be strong providers, yet they are so delicate that a woman holding a masters degree or a steady job has the ability to neutralize that strength, like Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair? Men really want to commit and take care of others, but a woman’s choice to have a career precludes them from taking on responsibility?
Anyway, I just want to offer my apologies to you, Ryan. I didn’t realize that my selfish pursuit of education and financial independence (that is, until I convince one of these pedestal-less men to marry and support me) were keeping you from making your own choices about how to live your life. I’d offer you a hand toward getting back on your pedestal, but I’m afraid that might threaten your sense of self even more.
Thank you for your apology, Juliet. As a woman, you may not be aware of this–men are the more intuitive and empathetic of the genders, after all–but being the oppressed majority is quite a struggle. What with being paid more than women for the same job, making up the bulk of executive and political positions, and having erectile dysfunction covered by healthcare.
Yes, Ms. Venker–or Mrs., assuming she’s married, otherwise I say to her: “physician, heal thyself!”–has accomplished the rare feat of having her finger on the pulses of both men and women, which judging from the rest of her article, is probably like getting to second base. And not only that, she also appears to be an accomplished mathemagician. How else could a “subculture of men who’ve told me [Ms./Mrs. Venker], in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married (emphasis mine)” could be responsible for an eight point drop in the percentage of men overall (also my emphasis [sic]) who see a successful marriage of one of the most important things in their lives. That is one massive “subculture”! Or maybe she just forgot to carry the one. Oh arithmetic. One of the other casualties of feminism.
You point to what seems to be a paradox in our dear genderologist’s reasoning: that men are by nature strong providers, but at the same time, are so sensitive they can be knocked off pedestals–damn you gravity! Another consequence of this ill-fated feminist revolution!–by the fairer gender’s pursuit of luxuries like education, careers, and form-fitting pants suits. Are we men strong like a lion? Or fragile like a flower? Maybe we’re both, like a dandelion (pronounced, fittingly, “dandy-lion”)? Why must you uproot our dandelion selves and deprive us of our manly petals? “Make a wish and blow,” they say (third base?). Well, if what you wanted is an eight point increase in boyfriends saying, “It’s not that I don’t want to get married to you, it’s just that I’ve got this thing…every weekend…’til death do us part….” then wish granted.
So while I appreciate your apology, I must ask: why? What evil spirit hath taken over your soul and led you to knock us off our manly pedestals? Don’t you know that men love pedestals?! They’re like thrones for the physically fit!
You are so brave, Ryan. Thankfully you have that extra income you get for doing the same work to help you cope with the strain of competing with women. I mean, prior to this all you had to do was compete against other strong-natured men like yourself. One would think that with the extra challenge (if you could even call us fragile and needy creatures that), you’d rise to the occasion.
Isn’t it ironic then, that with this added “competition,” instead of helping to make men even stronger and more manly, it’s made men boyish and commitment-phobic? At least eight percent of men feel this way. So it must mean that this is a massive societal shift. Think of it…all those men, out-earning their female counterparts and being FORCED by our selfishness to spend that disposable income on video games and porn and booze.
The only reason I can provide for “our” use of force (because men have never, ever shoved each other off pedestals…nor kept women subjugated on their own pedestals, ostensibly to have a better vantage point from which to boob-gaze), is that we learned it by watching you, all right?. We learned it by watching you!
Still, this pedestal grabbing (heh) has only pointed out and heightened a sad, yet obvious truth: women are now forced to pine after men who would have been perfect for us…if in an O.Henry twist of irony, we hadn’t screwed up our chances of snagging by continuing our educations and pursuing personal and professional development.
See, if only feminism had consulted me beforehand. That was your first mistake: learning by watching. I mean if I jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Seriously, would you? Because I can’t swim and I’m deathly allergic to water. Yes, that does make bathing near impossible. And no, I don’t know where that smell is coming from.
I suppose I should be flattered though. As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Personally, I disagree. If you ask me, its animal sacrifice, with gifts of frankincense and myrrh a close second. Not that you can do the former thanks to those fat cats over at PETA (pun!).
But I digress. Do we men really engage in such perpetual pedestal usurping? On American Gladiators, sure, but mind you those above-ground jousting matches were not male-only affairs. Lace could seriously handle herself up there. And I’m pretty sure she landed her a husband. Possibly after locking him in a submission hold, but I have it on good sources Nitro was going to pop the question at the end of the Eliminator in the Season 2 finale.
So let’s get back to Prof. Venker and her rigorous armchair study of human relationships. According to her, the “hundreds, if not thousands” of men–possibly in binder form–she’s spoke to who say they’re never getting married say so because “[w]omen aren’t women anymore.” Now I’ve only blessed this earth with my presence for just over three decades, but I’m curious as to what time period these men, and maybe Fraulein von Venker herself, are idealizing? The 80s are a bit hazy, but I do remember the decade being full of women being women and men dressing like women. She refers to a “sexual revolution” that is at fault for the eight point plummet in men not wanting to tie the knot since 1997, but I was under the impression this “sexual revolution” took place during the 60s. Was there another one that happened post-1997? A sexual revolution 2.0? If so, why the hell wasn’t I invited? Oh right, the smell….
So now that we–along with Life Coach Venker–have clearly established why men don’t want to be married as much as they did in 1997, riddle me this: why do women want to be married more than in 1997? The same survey has that up nine percentage points! Is it because we’re playing hard to get? Playing hard to get through public opinion surveys?
The tricky thing about all these statistics is that as the 93% of the population who has taken a stats class knows, numbers can lie.
I just made up that stat. See?? Did you believe me?
Do women want to get married more than ever? From the smallish sample of the women I know (I mean, I do have a ton of Facebook friends), yeah, a lot of them/us do want to get married. Eventually. Sure, there are a lot of women out there who want a husband to take care of them. But from my small sample group (data most often collected over cocktails), the women I know have great jobs and are pretty self-sufficient. So they’re not looking for sugar daddies or a husband just for the sake of the wedding and the ring. If they were, they’d probably all be married by now.
At any rate, I’d need to know how big her sample size was to make that claim. And where they’re from (since I have a feeling these marriage-hungry ladies may be from specific areas of the country…South I’m looking at you).
Although, here’s where I’ll give guys a pass and say that while I haven’t done enough research (mostly due to my pedestal toppling habit that takes up much of my time), I do think women may need to readjust their expectations. Just like men need to readjust their expectations that women should have perfect bodies without regular bodily functions, women need to recognize that men have quite a lot of bodily functions (and like to talk about them) and are usually nothing like guys in romantic comedies. Good on you if you can find a guy who is sensitive and thoughtful, but is still really manly, who gets you and can also maintain an air of mystery, Mr. Darcy-style. And who’s smart but not socially awkward, successful and well-off but not a douchebag, will take care of you but isn’t controlling or overly-traditional… because a person with all of those qualities may not exist in nature. And so maybe some of this malaise that Venker alludes to stems from women putting men on a higher pedestal than the one they previously occupied. TWIST!
So…do you find that to be true?
Wow, with that twist you just pulled on Venker, consider my mind blown! Though I suspect she would not approve of such forays into logistical jujitsu, since martial arts–even those of the intellectual variety–would not be part of “[your] nature–[your] femininity” that we men so desperately crave. Unless of course both parties are into that. Speaking of which, Venker, drop me a line if you’re ever in town. You know, in case you need a male subject to…research.
Now I don’t want to beat a dead horse into glue, but before I answer your question I need to address one more bit about the Venkerian logic that you touch upon with your so-called “math” and “statistics.” There’s a lot we don’t know about sample size or how these women were surveyed. Were they concentrated in the South, as you suggest? Were they in the marriage mood and questioned right after seeing a chick flicks like Love Actually or Tron? Was the interviewer a man-hating woman or a woman-fearing man? If it was a man, was he cute? If it was a woman, did you think she was prettier than you? Either way, here’s what seems odd to me. If the percentage of men who don’t want to get married has gone down because of the spike in the “war on men” waged by pedestal-toppling, man-hating women, why do more women want to get married? Is it a keep your friends close and your enemies closer thing? Or is hate the new love and love the new hate? Crap. I need to re-do all my Christmas cards now.
So let me try answer your question about expectations and marriage. I don’t think anyone, male or female, horse or glue, needs to adjust their expectations. If all you’re looking for is a ring and a joint banking account, then sure, lower your expectations and marry the first chromosomal match you meet or who clears customs after your catalog purchase. But if not, I’d hold out for someone whose qualifications exceeds checking of the singular box of “not utterly repulsive.” (Again, unless you’re into that. And again, Venker, call me). There’s plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. And if you do feel your biological clock ticking and are worried all the good fish are being captured by pirates or obsessive Captain Ahabs, switch your bait and use dynamite. There’s no better way to find “the one” than with the greatest aphrodisiac known to man: fish parts and bomb residue.