Back in my teenage years, Phyllis Schlafly was the face of anti-feminism. As Paul Campos notes, she already had a long career in right-wing politics when she swung to opposing the Equal Rights Amendment as her signature issue. She struck gold and would be primarily known for advocating for male dominance ever after, insisting it was really, really good for women to let the man be the boss and stay home with his babies. In the grand tradition of antifeminist women, she did not follow her own advice, leaving her kids at home while she worked on her activism. Whether she was a shameless opportunist or rationalized the contradiction (“I want to stay home but America needs me!” or some such bilge) I don’t know.
Her niece Suzanne Venker follows in the same mold, an ambitious career woman who shits on other women for being ambitious career women, “too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.” Especially if they make more money than their husbands “because women tend to use that money as a means of control.” Men, of course, are known to use money as a means of control, particularly if they’re abusive, but Venker’s fine with that. After all, it’s against human nature (according to Venker at the same link) for women to be the family provider.
Sexual harassment? It’s women’s own fault for being in the workplace. Expecting men not to hit on them is saying “just ignore our breasts, our behinds, our perfume and our legs. Ignore the sound of our voices and the softness of our touch.” How is that reasonable? Of course, ignoring women isn’t the issue, it’s acting on it.
Venker has a double standard on education too. It was fine for her, because she went to college focused on her MRS degree, as it used to be called. But you young women today, ““you don’t go to college to find a husband; you go to find your own single life and your career.” That’s terrible! And it will cost you when you emerge with so much student debt no man will ever have you.
Likewise, despite her professional career, she tells other women there’s no way to be a wife, mother and professional. Sit back and let your husband be the breadwinner! You’ll be happy like the good old days, once you realize feminism “robbed you of what you naturally want: to be a wife, a mother, homebound.” Funny how Venker’s not homebound at all yet she seems perfectly happy.
Venker also loves to paint her trite misogyny as something edgy and daring, in the tradition of Bari Weiss and her intellectual dark web. She’s saying the things the mainstream media won’t tell you — if you overlook that she’s saying them on Fox, which is very much mainstream media. Venker ain’t broadcasting from a pirate radio station and nothing she’s saying is outside the mainstream. It should be; that’s the point of Undead Sexist Cliches, that this bullshit should have died long ago. Venker has found success helping to keep it alive.
If you’d like more on this topic, Undead Sexist Cliches is live in paperback on Amazon, with the Kindle version listed separately. It’s also available from multiple other ebook retailers.
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