The Marriage Plot
Suzanne Venker’s recipe for a lasting union: “Just be nice, cook, and have sex!”
On equal pay: “Who wouldn’t believe in getting paid for work you’ve actually performed? But that’s just it: women don’t make as much as men precisely because they don’t work the same number of hours. Women continue to take years off the job to care for their children or aging parents or to live a more balanced life. Feminists leave that part out.”
Photo by Cathay
On gender differences: “Men are hunters. They want to build things and kill things—that’s why more men than women shoot guns. It’s why male engineers greatly outnumber female engineers. Females, on the other hand, like to gather and nest—that’s why more women than men like to shop and bake, or stay home with their kids. Women also like to get all dressed up and prance about in their heels. And men love to watch women prance about in their heels. That’s the yin and yang of gender relations.”
On feminists again: “What feminists envision is an androgynous world. They want men and women to be virtually indistinguishable—that’s why they love the LGBT community, where gender is murky or skewed.”
On a wife’s role: “Just be nice, cook, and have sex!”
Truly, if that’s what makes a good marriage, then I concur with Venker: Marriage is doomed.
Agh, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve gotten off track. I really did want to spend some time in this piece highlighting the ideas that Venker, clean and sober and happily married, and I, poisoned and unbalanced and happily married, can both get behind. Venker’s a fan of having kids, and so am I! Venker says it’s a bad thing that, in our dual-income, co-parenting households, we’ve turned marriage into a competitive sport, and I say, Amen! Let’s stop keeping track of who did the dishes last (just as soon as my husband does the dishes, because, seriously, it’s his turn). Venker says we have unrealistic ideas about what long-term love feels like, and I say: Yep, totally, 10-4.
We are not so different after all! Except that Suzanne Venker thinks a woman can find the right husband by writing a checklist in her early 20s and not straying from it. (She recently lamented to New York magazine that women no longer “go to college to find a husband; you go to find your own single life and your career.”) And Venker thinks women like me—working mothers who expect things from their husbands—are unhappy, and are making their spouses and children unhappy too. And Venker thinks she gives good advice.
How To Choose a Husband: And Make Peace With Marriage by Suzanne Venker. WND Books.
Allison Benedikt is the managing editor of Slate's Double X.