Regressive marital advice

KASEY EDWARDS
Last updated 12:43 14/02/2013
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SHE SAID WHAT?: Suzanne Venker's new book says ‘bitter’ man-hating feminists have turned women into unmarriageable ‘sluts’. Really?

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When my friend found a picture of a woman's vagina on her husband's computer he told her the owner of the vagina and he were 'just friends'. Sure they were. 

What was even more galling than her husband's outrageous lie was the lecture my friend received when news of the 'friendship' reached her mother. Her mother sat her down and told my friend that she was to blame for the affair because if she had been a 'better wife' the big V selfie would never have happened.

Her closest friends weren't much better. Sure they rallied to her support but rather than telling her to kick the loser to the curb, or suggest she give her husband some sort of ultimatum, they told her she needed to put out more. And do more housekeeping, cook tastier meals, maybe lose a couple of kilos, and shower her husband with praise.

These values probably wouldn't raise eyebrows in some places, but this is happening in an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

My friend and her mates are devotees of books like Elizabeth George's 'A Wife After God's Own Heart' which is chock-full of 'facts' about how the natural order dictates that the husband must be the 'King' and the wife must obey.

They meet regularly to work though marriage exercises in books like 'Marriage Gym' that recommends, among other things, that wives flatter their husbands into treating them kindly by writing lists of all the things they love about their husbands and then accidently on purpose allowing him to find the list.  

Now US author Suzanne Venker has upped the ante in regressive marital advice with her new book 'How to Choose a Husband'. The premise of her book is that 'bitter' man-hating feminists have turned women into unmarriageable 'sluts'.

'What did you gain from letting all those men inside you?' she asks.

The Feminazis have tricked us all into being ambitious 'bitches' too. '[T]he face she wears at work cannot be the same face she wears at home. Men don't want the work face at home. They're disarmed by women's aggressive, controlling, and demanding ways.'

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In a nutshell, women bring the worst out in poor defenseless men by climbing over their carcasses to snatch away their natural power and control, when instead we should be at home being sweet while the soufflé is in the oven.

The irony of her book is that Venker wags her finger at feminists for hating men, despite having an abysmally low opinion of them herself.

Read between the lines and it's clear that Venker seems to think men are clueless morons when it comes to life and marriage. They need to be cared for because they are limited to metaphorical hunting and can only properly communicate via sex.

'Women are the arbiters of male conduct', Venker writes. 'That's why we need women to act like women and not men.'  

This is the worst kind of misandry. Venker strips men of their agency, and in so doing, treats them as if they are sub-human. She clearly holds that men are little more than animals, or at best, children that need to be humoured. They just eat, screw, and need to feel they are in charge (even if it is a cleverly crafted illusion).

Her view of women isn't much better. Rather than having an authentic adult relationship, Venker suggests we should manipulate men with our service and deference into getting what we want.

At least Venker is consistent: she seems to hate men and women in equal measure.  

Perhaps the biggest problem with Venker's book, though, is that - like most conservative commentators - she doesn't practice what she preaches. While she hectors other women to make themselves subservient to men, and to give up their careers, she's out there writing a book and has a career as an author.

Venker has some awareness of the contradiction between her life and what she recommends for other women. She writes that in spite of her writing and speaking engagements, her husband and family always come first. In her epilogue, she writes 'My husband is genuinely thrilled I wrote this book, but he wants his wife back. Now he can have her.' 

Which is all well and nice, if she wasn't out there spruiking the book, hawking herself as a public speaker and commentator on the US's FOX network. It's hard to see how her husband and children ALWAYS come first when she's building her mini-publishing and media empire. It would be interesting to see what would happen if her husband put his foot down and forbade her having a career.

Venker's advice would be funny if it wasn't so dangerous. But I've seen the victims of Venker and her ilk's advice first-hand. These are women who have sacrificed much of their identities and ambitions trying to make this impossible contradiction work and blaming themselves when they inevitably fail.

- Daily Life

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