“Alpha women” shouldn’t regress to traditional norms

By Isabella Winkler, Columnist

Some women today are not feminine enough, according to Suzanne Venker, author of the book, “The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage.”

If you insist on being in charge, were taught to be a leader or don’t exhibit the sweet mildness that is traditionally expected of women, Venker considers you an “alpha woman.”

She uses the term like a dirty word, and so easily demonstrates the double standard she holds for women. If a man is an alpha male, he is a leader — charismatic, strong and tough — and it’s a good thing. If a woman exhibits those same qualities, then, as Venker puts it, she is incapable of love, and it’s ruining marriages.

In her interview with Fox News, she explains the relationship between men and women using a perfect metaphor: batteries. Batteries only work if the opposite positive and negative charges are working together. Men, being strong, earthy and rugged, bring the negative force, while the women, as dainty, soft and fragile as we are, carry the positive force.

And voila, Venker unlocked all the answers to the female mind by traveling so far back in time that I think I got whiplash.

Venker insists that women today are too determined. We are too competitive, too masculine. We have “been groomed to be leaders instead of wives.” We are too much like men, and it’s hindering our ability to love.

There’s nothing wrong with being a traditional wife, committing to a life of raising the kids and taking care of the home. That’s the great thing about feminism: It opens up a world of choices for women that they never used to have. But make no mistake — Venker wants women to be more traditional for the sake of pleasing their husbands, not their own happiness.

She manages to offend men, too. Her notion that men are “simple” creatures boil them down to neanderthals, needing no more than “respect, companionship and sex.” If they don’t have these basics, you can’t blame them for acting out.

By simplifying men down to coin-operated machines, Venker is taking part in a decades-old notion that men are dumb and incompetent. It’s why they can’t vacuum, cook or take care of the kids — they are always so distracted by sex, how could they complete basic everyday tasks?

All they need are the basics, and if their wives can’t supply them, there’s something wrong with her, not the other way around. After all, boys will be boys.

Venker’s severely misguided claims, which are supported by no data or statistics, reveal how troubling these outdated constructions of marriage and relationships are.

These are the same notions that tell women they can’t be more successful than their male counterparts, the same notion that tells women they have to give up their careers so that the husbands can thrive at work.

It didn’t work in the ‘50s, and it won’t work now. Venker claims women need to be more feminine, but leaders of the feminist movement have already fought against that predisposition for decades.

“America depends rather heavily on women’s passive dependence, their femininity,” said Betty Friedan in “The Feminine Mystique.” “Femininity, if one still wants to call it that, makes American women a target and a victim of the sexual sell.”

Friedan’s revolutionary book solidified the feminist agenda: After years of women having to attain Stepford Wife-level submissiveness, they realized how damaging that dynamic is in a marriage. Women fought back against the patriarchal structures that kept them miserably shackled to their picket-fenced homes all day.

They realized how unsatisfying it is to be denied intellectual fulfillment — which isn’t particularly something you attain by waxing the kitchen floor, as Friedan puts it.

It’s no surprise that Venker, and certainly many others, want to separate the male and female spheres again: Today’s “alpha women” are threatening traditional masculinity.

After decades of enjoying the privilege of being male and not having your intelligence or competence questioned, it’s easy to misconstrue women’s desire for equality as a desire for superiority.

Isabella is a sophomore in ACES.

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