Conservative Christians and liberal feminists alike have recently gone up in arms over the “end of men,” a topic broached in Hanna Rosin’s 2010 Atlantic Magazine cover story, “The End of Men” (she wrote a novel on this theme that was released in September). I’ve intentionally stayed out of this conversation until a friend read me Suzanne Venker’s recent Fox News Opinion article called “The War on Men.” According to Venker, a war is going on—against men—and it’s all feminism’s fault.
I haven’t dropped any bombs, launched any missiles, or fired any guns. Even so, according to Venker, as a young, single woman with her mind on her career, I’m part of the problem—and also may hold the solution in my heart.
The problem? According to Venker, in society as of late, “there has been a so-called dearth of good, marriageable men.” The solution? “Women need to surrender to their femininity . . . then, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.”
How does she suggest we do that in today’s society?
“Women shouldn’t let their success in the workplace become the biggest thing in their lives.”
For me, as a single lady with a job and lofty career aspirations, this presents a problem. As I began to read responses to the article, I found this quote helpful:
“Is there a war on men, or are women just not women anymore?”
Last I checked, I’m definitely still a woman—which is reassuring. And so are the women who made the following comments regarding the article:
“My dad asked if he could buy me The End of Men book for Christmas, and I said he should probably get me an apron instead—if this article is right, I’ll be stuck in the kitchen for the rest of my life."
“If men truly feel intimidated by powerful, intelligent women, all I can say is, ‘Pull yourself together, man. You're pathetic.’”
At first listen, I agreed with both of these comments made by irritated friends. Initially, it seemed like Venker’s proposals were attempting to attack my identity as a (currently) single, career-minded woman, and men simply need to “step up” to meet the challenge career-minded women present them with. But then, after reflecting on my personal dating experience, I realized that, for much of my life, I’ve been guilty of seeing dating as a competition.
I’ve always had a distinct checklist of qualities I’d like to see in my man displayed in my mind—one I could whip out at a moment’s notice to describe to anyone interested in setting me up for a blind date, or one I personally used to size up a guy who approached me for a conversation in the hallway.
During my sophomore year of college, I distinctly remember praying over my checklist: specifically, for a man to come into my life who defined masculinity—preferably one who was strong and tough, and—it seems funny to think about now—maybe even one who rode a motorcycle.
So when a strong and dapper young man approached me and asked for a lunch date not a month later, I was hardly surprised when it turned out, not only did he drive a motorcycle—he also played hockey, was in the Army ROTC, and held a job at Six Flags Los Angeles as the Flash AND the Green Lantern (okay, his superhero status was a bit of a surprise). Basically, my prayer had been answered in full: I was dating a macho man who rode a motorcycle.
When the relationship ended, I was puzzled. I thought he was everything I’d ever wanted, but my checklist had failed me—we weren’t compatible. I realize now, thanks to Venker’s article, I may have been the problem. I was, instead of surrendering to my femininity in the context of our relationship, competing with him, in a way. If he met all of the qualifications on my list, I would allow myself to be seen with him. If he bought me dinner and treated me well, I’d let him take me out again. This conditional affection worked out for a few months, until I realized I didn’t actually have any feelings for him—I was too busy setting standards for him to compete with to let him break down the walls around my heart. According to Venker, this is a problem:
“Men want to love women, not compete with them. But modern women won’t let them.”
Given, this particular relationship was not meant to work out (the then-boyfriend is now an ex- who is enrolled in Catholic seminary with plans to become a priest in the Armed Forces, which is awesome). As for me, right now, I couldn’t be more content in my singleness.
By God’s grace, I’m learning what it means to live life as a princess of sorts, who is content in her singleness—waiting to (maybe someday) be captivated by my prince, who may be on his way as I write this. The longer I wait, the more time I have to tell myself he’s taking his time becoming the man God created him to be—aka, he’s probably just held up by something like a fire-breathing dragon or a really deep moat.
While I wait, how can I prepare myself for a successful relationship? According to Venker:
"Women shouldn’t let their success in the workplace become the biggest thing in their lives."
I’m not offended by this statement. Instead, as a Christian woman, I take it to mean I’m ready and willing to put God first—in everything. If this means success at my job, so be it. If it means marriage and parenting babies (even though the thought of this currently terrifies me), so be it—and, if it means both, ROCK ON!!!
If Mary was willing to have her life interrupted to have a baby out of wedlock (Jesus-read the story in Luke 1:38) who eventually saved the world, I sure as heck can surrender my plans and see what sorts of opportunities God sends my way. If Mr. Right happens to pop out of the woodwork, so be it—as long as he’s ready for a wild ride. I’m not about to quit my job and hang out in a tall tower waiting for Prince Charming to trot up on a stallion while I brush my hair and powder my nose—I got stuff to do!