One story that garnered some media attention this week was a commentary written by Suzanne Venker at FoxNews. In the article entitled War on Men, Venker contends that the real war in our culture has been waged against men. Her conclusions are based on the observation that fewer and fewer men seem to have any interest in marriage, while interest among women is on the rise, but there exists a widespread lament about an alleged dearth of good men. In the end, Venker concluded that women may bear the blame for this situation, but that conclusion garnered outrage and mockery from the typical leftist outlets. At the same time, Limbaugh discussed the matter at length, but his conclusions were clearly different than those of the shrill left. What’s the truth? Is there a “war” on men? Is it being waged by women who are unknowingly setting themselves up for failure? I believe Venker is onto something, but I also think her article didn’t fully explore the ramifications, never mind all the conspirators. If real, this war has had a silent collaborator or two, and I think rather than casting most of the blame on women, she should have identified all of the culprits.
It is true to say that the character of women has fundamentally changed, and much of that was driven by the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s. Women have entered the workplace in unprecedented numbers, and they are now a majority of employees across the nation. Women now dominate numerically the college campus, and in many respects, women have managed to displace men entirely. According to Venker, much of this owes to anger with men, a feeling engendered and supported by our education establishment, much of which is dominated by women. Writes Venker:
“In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.”
This may not be entirely true, but there is at least a nugget of truth in it. There is a clear hostility toward men being engendered by the culture, and I think it is safe to say that any number of men might secretly agree with this sentiment, but while Venker seems to focus on the pedestal from which men were knocked, she spends a good deal less attention on the pedestal being abandoned by women. She finally arrives at a statement that some will find offensive, but nevertheless contains a good bit of information about one of the collaborators in this war:
“It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.”
Here is where Venker both reveals an effect, but slips and falls on the cause. Spending a good deal of time researching relationships and the culture, Venker should have realized that there is some truth to that old admonishment that “men are only after one thing.” In the main, and in the short-run thinking of men, that’s probably more often true than not, so that when women climbed down off their once-lofty pedestal in favor of the lower pedestal men had always occupied, it wasn’t true that they were kicking men off, but that men went willingly, at least initially. The truth is that men hadn’t been kicked off the pedestal so much as bribed off of it. Of course, this is not all the story, but it provides some insight. When Venker says “no responsibilities whatsoever,” she is mostly correct when viewed from the short-run perspective of men, however those responsibilities would need to be fulfilled by somebody, and therein we shall find the chief collaborator.
While men were busy stepping down from the lower pedestal to which feminism had enticed women, after spending some time on that lowly perch, women were finding it wasn’t all they were promised it would be. Venker’s point has merit, but the question is: “Why would women so easily leap from the higher perch?” The roots of this phenomenon may be fundamental to our nature, and has been understood about the nature of people since the beginning of time. How close does this parallel what the Judeo-Christian ethos regards as the moment of the original sin? Genesis 3:6 relates:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
This would have made it seem as though Adam had been a bystander, but as 1 Timothy 2:14 records:
“Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
This line of thinking then begs the question: “Who played the role of the serpent?” This is the identity of the other collaborator in the “War on men,”, and its name is government. If there is a war on men, there is no institution that has benefited more from the battle. If it is to be alleged that while Eve was beguiled by the serpent, and thus caused herself to be cast out of the garden, so it is true that men had been complicit inasmuch as they partook also of the fruit, raising no objection, but knowing the fruit would have a bitter aftertaste. Just as the serpent knew to make his case to women, so too have statists. In our modern culture, the aftertaste of this temptation is to be measured in the wreckage of families, both those dissolved and those never fully constituted, and its evidence is seen in the fundamental breakdown of our society that continues at breakneck speed. It is true that men have shirked responsibility, but the worst of it is not in their roles as fathers, so much as in their role as men altogether. You see, men didn’t fight for their pedestal because they assumed that if they yielded it, they would partake of the fruit too, and like Adam, foolishly believed they would avoid the consequences.
Now we arrive in a world in which Venker describes women as angry and resentful of men, but I can imagine Eve being resentful of Adam too, as they were cast out of the garden. “If you had known better, why didn’t you stop me?” Adam might respond in coy pragmatism: “How was I to stop you?” His unstated truth had been: “I didn’t want to…”
All of this demonstrates a strong cultural decline that evades description in modern platitudes. Instead, what drives all of this is a pervasive immorality based on the notion that one can have anything one wants instantly, without consequence or responsibility, and without regard to the costs. The provider of this temptation has been big government, and those who advance its cause. Men sought the immediate benefits of the sexual revolution without concerning themselves with some murky consequence in some distant future. That future has arrived, and if men now find they are bearing the cost, as Venker explains, women are bearing a terrible consequence:
“It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.
“So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.”
I disagree with Venker inasmuch as I believe the worst victims of this entire problem are children. Men are largely absent from the lives of their children, and they’re being raised in a world that diminishes roughly half of them explicitly, but all of them in fact. We are now more than two generations into this culture of instant gratification, and yet few seem to have been gratified in the long run.
Just as there was a rush by many on the left to screech at Venker, so I expect there will be those who take a similar stance toward me, who will accuse me of some misogyny or other “primitive thinking.” Apart from the fact that I don’t care who doesn’t like it, the simple fact is that we can measure the tragedy that has arisen in an America transformed by post-modern feminism, and it’s ugly. I don’t blame women even as much as Venker, because I believe men were tempted by short-run “benefits” just as surely as Adam stood by as Eve was beguiled. Venker concludes that women can correct all of this, but I disagree:
“Fortunately, 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.”
“If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.”
Men cannot permit themselves to be complicit bystanders, who partake of the fruit but point back at women as the blame. Men have let their own standards slide, and until they raise them a good deal, and for longer than the short-run, it’s going to continue because women will have no cause to change. Imagine a world in which men are the ones who say “no.” Preposterous? Perhaps, but if our society is to survive, never mind return to a past “golden age,” somebody is going to have to say it, and what Venker’s article reveals is that slowly, men have begun to shift in that direction. Today, they’re saying “no” to marriage in unprecedented numbers. Where Venker sees this as a result of a war on men, I see it as a result of their moral capitulation. Far too many men have adopted the shoddy notion encapsulated in that well-worn misogynist retort: “Why buy the cow if the milk is for free?” The real question laid before men is now: Is it so free as you once thought? On that basis, women are right to ask if the contempt so many women now feel for men is so entirely undeserved as Venker’s piece suggests. If, as the Bible explains, men were to be the moral leaders, one might ask where they had been. After all, it wasn’t Eve alone who fell into temptation. If the war on men began with the serpent’s whispers in the Garden of Eden, we ought to ask why Adam surrendered so easily.