Why I say UGGGGHHHH to Suzanne Venker and her apparent disdain for the alpha-female.
This morning on my personal FB page, I posted a link to a HuffPost article with UGGGGGHHHHHH as my caption. That article is here and the article referenced within the HuffPo piece is here, and the book referenced in the articles is here.
The reason I say UGGGGHHHH is not just because there is a push notification saying men just want nice women. That’s problematic, but since the people who asked me why it’s a problem are taking it at face value, so will I. We all should be nice. No arguments from me there.
What elicits my UGGGGHHHH response is the book which this article is about.
The book is called the Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage and after reading the description, I’m at a complete fucking loss for words. But not really because there are 1300+ words below. So let’s dive right in.
After I get through this exercise, I’m going to power through and read the book so I can dive into this further and see if it’s as out of touch as I think it will be. This will be my labor of love because this shit has me wicked fired up.
This post, however, is a dissection of the description, courtesy of Amazon, with my comments as to why UGGGGHHHHHH is a fair response.
The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage shows women who have a dominating personality how to love a man.
America is in love with the alpha female. She’s the quintessential modern woman — assertive, razor sharp, and fully in control. Her success in the marketplace is undeniable, a downright boon to society. But what happens when the alpha female gets married?
PROBLEMATIC: This is a narrative that doesn’t exist, that the author cultivated in order to write a book. I love me some Alpha Females. A lot of the feminists/social justice folks/activists I roll with love them some Alpha Females.
America, however, DOES NOT love the Alpha Female. If America did, we would have more than 5% of CEO positions being held by women (4% according to Fortune as of June 2016). If America did, maybe we’d have a woman President by now. If America did, we wouldn’t need to write articles titled “Speaking While Female” about the experiences of speaking up at work.
There are at least 20394234.5 articles I could link to here. And most of these stats aren’t split out by race or sexual orientation, so if we’re talking true inclusivity here, it’s even more fucked for women of color and women of different sexual orientations or gender identities.
But, you know, America loves the Alpha Female. On with it. So what DOES happen after the Alpha Female gets married?
She becomes an alpha wife, of course.
An alpha wife is in charge of everything and everyone. She is, quite simply, the Boss. The problem is, no man wants a boss for a wife. That type of relationship may work for a spell, but it will eventually come crashing down. Since 1970, just as women became more and more powerful outside the home — more alpha — the divorce rate has quadrupled. And it is women who lead the charge. Today, 70% of divorce is initiated by wives.
PROBLEMATIC: Making the stretch of a connection (because I can read between the lines) that 70% of divorce is initiated by wives is because those same women are Alpha Females and incapable of figuring out how to love a man and keep a marriage, is ridiculous.
I could be classified as an Alpha Wife. I am the breadwinner, and thus in charge of our finances. I am a director at an entrepreneurial-minded marketing agency, meaning I RUN SHIT. Is my husband running for the door? No. Do I tell him what to do? No. Are we happy and complete as individuals AND together? YES.
I am a boss. And a wife. And my husband is pretty fucking stoked on both.
Do men just make lousy husbands? Not at that rate, says Suzanne Venker, bestselling author of The War on Men. The truth is that women don’t know how to be wives. Why would they? That’s not what they were raised to become.
PROBLEMATIC: I would fucking hope that women aren’t being raised to become wives. Sure, talking about how to conduct oneself in a relationship is super important, but it’s not the whole enchilada. Jesus Christ on a cracker, if my parents had taught me how to be a wife vs. how to support myself and always have my own back, with or without a partner, I would have stayed in my hometown and popped out babies with my high school sweetheart at the ripe age of 22–23 like a lot of the folks I grew up with. Not my life path. But here I am, happily married, in the most amazing relationship of ALL TIME (seriously, if you know us, you get it), and not once did my parents sit me down to learn how to be a wife. Hmm.
And of course, now I’ll want to read The War on Men so I can continue to lose my shit.
But women can learn. There’s an art to loving a man, says Venker, and any woman can master it. An alpha female herself, Venker learned how to be a wife the hard way — through trial and error. Lots of error. And here’s what she knows today — the set of skills a woman needs to pursue a career, or even to raise children, is the exact set of skills that will mess up her marriage for good. No man likes to be told what to do. And no woman respects the man who does.
PROBLEMATIC: “Women can learn” the “art of loving a man” — YOU GUYS. One, you don’t need to change how you love. You love the way you love and you’ll find someone (or not, which also isn’t the end of the world) who can match up with your particular loving style.
Two, there is no “right” way to love a man. So to say it’s an art that any woman can learn is pretty assuming. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE TO FIND A PARTNER. FULL STOP.
Three, when it comes right down to it, at its core, love is pretty fucking easy. You love someone or you don’t. They love you back or they don’t.
OF COURSE, there are a bazillion nuances to relationships and not everyone has been raised with an example of what love looks like, and not all love is THE LOVE or HEALTHY love or FOREVER love, but to assume that women need to be instructed on how to love because of their working style (#alphafemale) is asinine. That’s what rom coms are for. Duh. (tongue planted firmly in cheek)
FURTHERMORE, can we just all agree that we can’t be everything to everyone? The author says the skills for our career (HOPEFULLY WE HAVE THEM BUT NOT TOO MUCH) and raising children (BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS TO PROCREATE) are the exact skills that will fuck up our marriages.
Sounds pretty assuming to me. Give women credit where credit is due. It’s hard enough to be a woman in this country, let alone the Perfect Mom or Perfect Boss or Perfect Wife. Being a human is complex AF.
And since when is telling a man what to do a bad thing? Seriously. We have to do it at work (unless we work with all women, we will, at some point, have to tell a man what to do). We have to do it at home. We have to do it with our friends. Can we please stop making it sound like a woman telling a man to do something means she’s an Evil Ice Queen Alpha Female Who Hates Men? HOW DOES THIS FURTHER DEVELOP/HELP/CONTRIBUTE TO WOMEN’S RIGHTS? Oh right, it doesn’t.
And wrapping that up — I respect a man who can take direction, whether that direction comes from the lips of a woman or a man (or someone who identifies as either or neither). I respect women who can take direction too. So like, maybe let’s stop assuming that ALL WOMEN are incapable of respecting a man who can take direction?
The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage gives women who are used to being in charge the tools they need to make their marriages less competitive and more complementary. Part memoir, part advice, this brave manifesto argues that while marriage is more challenging for the alpha female, it is possible to find peace in your marriage. In fact, it may be easier than you think.
Wrap this shit sandwich up with a pretty bow and let’s get out of here.
For you, I will read this book and come back with more thoughts. Until then, what do you think? Are Alpha Females ruining marriages? Can you even take any of this shit seriously? Because weeeeew, I’m struggling.
Let’s chat about it in the comments below.
Originally posted on Sydney: Unfiltered.