Regressive marital advice

The premise of Suzanne Venker's new book is that ‘bitter’ man-hating feminists have turned women into unmarriageable ...

The premise of Suzanne Venker's new book is that ‘bitter’ man-hating feminists have turned women into unmarriageable ‘sluts’. Really. Photo: NY Mag

When my friend found a picture of a woman’s vagina on her husband’s computer, he told her the two of them were 'just friends'. 

But what was more outrageous than her husband’s lie was her mother’s reaction to the news. Instead of offering consolation, she told my friend that she was to blame for the affair because none of this would’ve happened if my friend was a ‘better wife’.

Her closest friends weren’t much better. Rather than telling her to kick the loser to the curb, or suggest that she give her husband an ultimatum, they told her she needed to put out more. And do more housekeeping, cook tastier meals, maybe lose a couple of kilos, and shower her husband with praise.

Suzanne Venker sends a dubious message on the FOX Network in the US.

Suzanne Venker sends a dubious message on the FOX Network in the US.

These values probably wouldn’t raise eyebrows in downtown Kabul or a religious sect, but this is happening in an inner-city suburb of Melbourne.


You see, these women are devotees of books like Elizabeth George’s A Wife After God’s Own Heart which is chock-full of ‘facts’ about how the natural order dictates that the husband must be the ‘King’ and the wife must obey.

They meet regularly to work though marriage exercises in books like Marriage Gym that recommends, among other things, that wives flatter their husbands into treating them kindly by writing lists of all the things they love about their husbands and then accidently on purpose allowing him to find the list.  

Now US author Suzanne Venker has upped the ante in regressive marital advice with her new book How to Choose a Husband. The premise of her book is that 'bitter' man-hating feminists have turned women into unmarriageable 'sluts'.

'What did you gain from letting all those men inside you?' she asks.

The Feminazis have tricked us all into being ambitious ‘bitches’ too. ‘[T]he face she wears at work cannot be the same face she wears at home. Men don’t want the work face at home. They’re disarmed by women’s aggressive, controlling, and demanding ways.’

In a nutshell, women bring the worst out in poor defenseless men by climbing over their carcasses to snatch away their natural power and control, when instead we should be at home being sweet and giving head while the soufflé is in the oven.

The irony of her book is that Venker wags her finger at feminists for hating men, despite having an abysmally low opinion of them herself.

Read between the lines and it’s clear that Venker seems to think men are clueless morons when it comes to life and marriage. They need to be cared for because they are limited to metaphorical hunting and can only properly communicate via sex.

‘Women are the arbiters of male conduct’, Venker writes. ‘That’s why we need women to act like women and not men.’  

This is the worst kind of misandry. Venker strips men of their agency, and in so doing, treats them as if they are sub-human. She clearly holds that men are little more than animals, or at best, children that need to be humoured. They just eat, screw, and need to feel they are in charge (even if it is a cleverly crafted illusion).

Her view of women isn’t much better. Rather than having an authentic adult relationship, Venker suggests we should manipulate men with our service and deference into getting what we want.

At least Venker is consistent: she seems to hate men and women in equal measure.  

Perhaps the biggest problem with Venker’s book, though, is that — like most conservative commentators — she doesn’t practice what she preaches. While she hectors other women to make themselves subservient to men, and to give up their careers, she’s out there writing a book and has a career as an author.

Venker has some awareness of the contradiction between her life and what she recommends for other women. She writes that in spite of her writing and speaking engagements, her husband and family always come first. In her epilogue, she writes ‘My husband is genuinely thrilled I wrote this book, but he wants his wife back. Now he can have her.’ 

Which is all well and nice, if she wasn’t out there spruiking the book, hawking herself as a public speaker and commentator on the US’s FOX network. It’s hard to see how her husband and children ALWAYS come first when she’s building her mini-publishing and media empire. It would be interesting to see what would happen if her husband put his foot down and forbade her having a career.

Venker’s advice would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous. But I’ve seen the victims of Venker and her ilk’s advice first-hand. These are women who have sacrificed much of their identities and ambitions trying to make this impossible contradiction work and blaming themselves when they inevitably fail.

Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of 4 books 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That's Not My Husband, and OMG! That's Not My Child.


  • From a mans point of view......if I'm getting enough enthusiastic sex at home....why stray?
    If I'm not then.......................?
    If wives want thier husbands to be sexually faithful they really should put out regularly and enthusistically.

    As for the other submisive do more housework stuff.......
    The issues are quite seperate.
    Yes that belongs in the 50s.....
    Not in Australia and not in Kabul.

    a man
    Date and time
    February 14, 2013, 8:44AM
    • My fiancee actually said to me the other day "I know it's not a very feminist thing to say but I can understand why a husband would cheat if he isn't getting any at home".

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 9:52AM
    • It is not about Venker going against women's equality though it is. It is not about Venker trying to help married couples have a better relationship. What it is really about is her career. Venker is a person who is part of a growing tradition that is more then willing to sell out their gender, community etc in order to get jobs or speaking gigs with FOX News and other conservative outlets. Venker like Hermain Cain and others will blame their community/gender for getting in the way of the agenda the right in the US is trying to push.
      This is also shown in Venker's article "To be happy we must admit that men and women are not equal' in which she goes on to blame women for the battle between the sexes. What is also amusing is that for this article she lifted a photo from a random couples wedding off the internet and used it to endorse traditional marriage. Why that is funny is because it is a photo from a lesbian wedding in New York, one of the women is wearing a suit, you would of guessed it but she is against gay marriage as well.
      This as all of Venker's article's is just to make money for herself and as an application for further right wing speaking slots. This article shows Venker does not even practise what she preaches because it is about her making more money it has nothing to do with her fighting for what she truly believes.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 10:12AM
    • I love my wife, therefore I won't stray sexuall, even when going through a period of no-sex.

      What are you, a rabid animal who just follows his genitals around?

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 10:23AM
    • I'm a woman, I consider myself a feminist, and I agree that if either party in a relationship is not getting their sexual needs met then it definitely ratchets up the temptation to cheat. I'd say be careful about the person you marry - make sure your sex drives match up well. It will really help keep the marriage stong.

      Now, reagarding the idea of a wife submitting to her husband, it's ridiculous. What satisfaction does either party gain by living a lie? Arranging for the man to think that he is in charge? Always subverting one's opinion? How does this result in anything but resentment?

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 10:33AM
    • @A Man,

      Mostly because affairs aren't always about lack of sex at home.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 10:37AM
    • In not sure even getting sex all the time will prevent your partner from straying, though it would help. From what I have seen, it's more about the lack of sexual variety in ones life.
      You may have the best sex in the world with your partner, but as time goes on (some) peoples minds start to wonder what having sex with someone else feels like. That intense passion you felt at the start just doesnt last forever - for either partner. Now most people get over it and enjoy their life with the person they love, others though..

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 11:27AM
    • There’s no doubt that if someone is not satisfied sexually, the temptation to stray increases. However, from a women’s point of view, when both parties work full-time but the women ends up doing the majority of child raising and household duties (as is the majority case in this country), it’s simply unreasonable of men to expect enthusiastic sex from completely worn out women.

      I say to all you men, chances are if you chip in and do an equal share of child rearing and household duties you are going to get both more quality and quantity in sex.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 11:40AM
    • Male or female, if the other partner is witholding sex for long periods of time it's human to eventually succumb to temptation. If a male partner witheld sex for a year and the female partner eventually after a year of misery and no affection had a one night stand with a hot guy in the office who paid her some attention and made her feel attractive, most of her friends would be high fiving her and blaming the witholding man for not being willing to satisfy her. Obviously there would be extenuating circumstances and they should have tried all kinds of couples therapy and so on rather than cheating (instead of say breaking up first) but none of us are perfect humans. The reality is it's a large component of a relationship and actually yes, sex is a form of communication, a large, unsubtle and unmistakeable form of communication.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 11:40AM
    • @ a man

      So many men like to think that women just lose interest in sex. It's such a cultural myth. The rate of adultery among Nigerian women is over 60%, and in Britain it's over 40% and rising. If your female partner isn't having sex with you, chances are she's bored with you and having sex elsewhere, or is annoyed with you for some other reason which you haven't bothered to find out. Or, if you're the parents of a baby or little children, she's probably simply physically and emotionally worn out because our society has, in its patriarchal wisdom so you can claim your children as yours, kindly isolated her (if she's stayed home), or forced her to work 2 jobs if she's gone back to paid work. Actually,what's really funny is that in Britain, the rate of female adultery has meant that there is a very high proportion of men bringing up children they think are theirs,but in fact,aren't (something like 30% from memory). So, enjoy your patriarchy and your smug view that while you're out philandering your sexless wife is dutifully sleeping,because next time your partner smiles at you, she might just be laughing at you inside.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 11:56AM

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