Editor's note: Watch Suzanne Venker Friday at 12:20pm ET on "FoxNews.com Live."
Tracy McMillan, TV writer and author of "Why You’re Not Married" one the most popular articles ever to appear on The Huffington Post responded this way to the backlash her piece elicited: “The truth will set you free. But first it will p**s you off.”
In the last two weeks my op-ed about why men are retreating from marriage, hit a nerve. In “The War on Men,” which appeared here on FoxNews.com, I said women are angry. And they are. I was inundated with emails from women telling me I should be ashamed of myself for suggesting women have a role to play in the decline of marriage and battle of the sexes. One reader even told me to kill myself. No, really. Kill myself.
My crime, apparently, is twofold. First I said men said women are no longer women. And in response, I suggested women get in touch with their feminine side. I didn’t, however, say what I meant by that statement. That’s because the article was supposed to be a teaser for my upcoming book, "How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage."
But since the backlash has been so severe – with feminists convinced I want to set women back 200 years – I feel compelled to offer a sampling of what I meant by "surrendering" to one’s femininity. As one woman named Lia asked, “What does it mean to surrender to our femininity in today’s world? How do we reclaim our rightful gender roles without giving up our careers and independence?”
It’s easier than you think.
You begin by accepting that men and women are different. Equal, but different. This means you’ll have to reject feminist dogma since feminism has taught you that equality means sameness.
Fortunately, there’s been an explosion of brain research in the past several years to help explain male and female anatomy. The best books are Dr. Louann Brizendine’s “The Male Brain” and “The Female Brain.”
Here’s what we know: Females, in general, are nurturing and relational beings. They like to gather and nest and take care of people. They like to commiserate with other females – a lot. That’s why girls can talk for hours on end. It’s why more women stay home with their children than men. It’s why the teaching and caregiving professions are still heavily female. Not every single woman in the world falls into this category, but that doesn’t make the generalization any less true.
Males, on the other hand – in general – are loners. They’re content to mill about in their man caves. They like to hunt. They like to build things and kill things. If you don’t have a son, this may sound strange. But again, that doesn’t make it untrue – nor does the fact that not every single man in the world is like this. Men also take pride in caring for their families. They can’t carry babies or nurse them, but they can provide for them. So let them.
That, of course, is the gray area. Gone are the days of the breadwinning husband and the homemaking wife, right? So if I’m not referring to Ward and June Cleaver, what on earth do I mean? As Lia asked, what does it mean for “today’s world”?
It means women shouldn’t let their success in the workplace become the biggest thing in their lives.
If the ultimate goal is lasting love, women are going to have to become comfortable with sacrifice and capitulation. Because those are the underpinnings of a long-term marriage – for both sexes. If you don’t believe me, ask your grandparents. Or anyone else who’s been married for decades.
Love today has become a power struggle, largely because women have been conditioned to keep their guard up – as though men and marriage will swallow them whole. As Sandra Bullock once said to Barbara Walters, “I’d always had this feeling that if you got married, it was like the end of who you were.” That attitude is commonplace, and it’s the direct result of a generation of feminists who told their daughters never to depend on a man.
We live in a new world. But that doesn’t mean it’s a better world. Women are struggling more than ever with how to rectify their desire for independence with their desire for love. These two things can be reconciled. But you must first be open to ideas that sound blasphemous.
Just because you make your own money doesn’t mean your guy can’t pay the bill. Just because you value independence doesn’t mean you can’t take your husband’s last name. Just because you can do the same job a man can do doesn’t mean you need to let him know it.
Surrendering to your femininity means many things. It means letting your man be the man despite the fact that you’ve proved you’re his equal. It means recognizing the fact that you may very well want to stay home with your babies – and that that’s normal. It means if you do work outside the home, you don’t use your work to play tit-for-tat in your marriage. It means tapping into that part of yourself that’s genuinely vulnerable and really does need a man – even though the culture says you don’t.
In other words, surrendering to your femininity means to put down your sword. It’s okay if your guy’s in charge. It’s okay if you don’t drive the car.
In fact, it’s rather liberating.
Suzanne Venker is an author, a cultural critic. She tackles a range of subjects surrounding marriage and the family, including the infamous gender wars. Her most recent book is "The Two-Income Trap: Why Parents Are Choosing to Stay Home." To learn more about Suzanne, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter@SuzanneVenker.com.