Fox News ran a segment entitled “You Do Need A Husband!” on Sunday. Their guest, founder of the site ‘Women for Men’ Suzanne Venker, was on to argue that women are trying too hard to reduce their reliance on men. Her appearance followed up on her article “Why women still need husbands,” published Friday on Fox’s website.
In the piece, Venker argues that women won’t find fulfillment trying to balance a relationship and family with full-time work. “Financial independence is a great thing,” she writes, “but you can’t take your paycheck to bed with you. And there’s nothing empowering about being beholden to an employer when what you really want is to have a baby. ” She uses this opinion to advocate for women having less of a role in the workforce, and letting men be the breadwinners. “Unlike women,” Venker writes, “a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck.”
During the segment, hosts Clayton Morris and Tucker Carlson lavished praise on the piece, thanking Venker for writing it and saying “I’m confused why this controversial.” But Fox correspondent Anna Kooiman seemed a little more skeptical of Venker’s argument, pointing out that, “some critics have said it’s a little bit too broad to say men are this way and women are that way.”
Kooiman then got personal with Venker, asking her for “some words of wisdom:”
KOOIMAN: I fit into that category perfectly. I’m single. I’m 29 years old. I’m very career-oriented. What is your advice in just a couple sentences?
VENKER: My advice is, as the years go on and you find that you want, if you do, to get married and settle down, to understand time is going to be your greatest enemy. Not your husband, not men, not the government, not your employers. It’s time, there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything. So if you learn to embrace that side of yourself that isn’t about work — in other words, the nurturing side, the motherhood, all of that — it’s okay to let your husband bring home that full-time income so you can have more of a balanced life. And we should really be thanking men for this, not saying they’re in our way or not doing enough.
Venker has previously argued that, as women become major breadwinners and stop acting like “traditional women,” they are becoming increasingly more annoying and less marriageable to men.
But no matter what prescriptive ‘answer’ Venker thinks is right for all women, she’ll have to get used to the fact that women are bringing home the bacon. In May, a Pew report found that a record-breaking number of families are relying on women’s income. And if women are feeling taxed and burnt out by that, it’s only because, while they grow as a share of the primary breadwinners in the country, they are still largely responsible for all the housework that goes into keeping a family.
Venker’s solution — that women need to stay home — ignores the structural inequities that make it so hard to balance this family and work. Outside of expectations, like Venker’s, that stick women with the housework, there’s also the problem that employers don’t adequately meet the needs of balancing family with work life. The United States lacks guaranteed paid parental leave, making it one of the least accommodating countries in the developed world for new parents. On top of that, a lack of guaranteed paid sick leave in most of the country means a lot of parents (and particularly mothers) are forced to make the choice between earning their wages and taking care of their kids.