The other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed, and I came across the headline: “Society Is Creating a New Crop of Alpha Women Who Are Unable to Love.” Immediately, I knew two things: one, it was going to be a Fox News piece; two, it was going to be by my most favorite author in the whole world, Suzanne Venker.
Readers may recall that Venker and I have tangoed before, back when I read her equally thoughtful article, “The War on Men.”
Just like her previous article, this one took me on a magical voyage of discovery. See, even though she’d explained it to me before, I’d forgotten that equality is for idiots. It is literally impossible to sustain a relationship in which a man and a woman bear equal weight, share honest opinions, and find compromises together.
Don’t believe it? I didn’t either! Therein lies the journey of discovery.
Ready? Ms. Venker begins with an anecdote about her mom and dad’s troubled marriage. Let’s jump in together, shall we?
Despite my mother’s allegiance to my father, she never quite mastered wifedom—for one reason: she was wholly unyielding. With my mother, everything was a fight. Everything was “No” unless she determined it was appropriate to say yes.
Ruh roh! Now, all we know so far is that Ms. Venker’s parents didn’t have the best marriage, and we’ll just have to wait and see where this is going. But, right off the bat, I have a bad feeling: it sounds like Ms. Venker’s mother was familiar with that pesky concept of “consent” all the kids keep yammering about… I’m betting that leads to some trouble!
If my mother wasn’t the one who made the decision, the decision couldn’t possibly be good. Every so often she would appear to cede to my father’s wishes, but only if she happened to agree with him.
Yep, there’s that problematic word “agree.” I knew consent was going to get them into trouble! But it sounds like it might have been more than that. Ms. Venker, are you saying that your mother had to make every decision and was unopen to compromise? That does sound like genuinely damaging behavior. Just to double check: that’s only okay if the genders are reversed, right?
Indeed, my mother was the quintessential alpha wife. An alpha wife micromanages, delegates and makes most or even all of the decisions. She is, quite simply, the Boss.
Whoa there. Whoa. A woman as… the Boss?! If the very idea weren’t spooky enough, you’re really freaking me out with that capitalization.
Alpha women aren’t exactly new, but they were once a rarer breed. Today they abound. There are several reasons why, but it’s in large part due to women having been groomed to be leaders rather than to be wives. Simply put, women have become too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha. That may get them ahead at work. But when it comes to love, it will land them in a ditch.
I don’t know about you, fellow reader, but I shudder to imagine ditches full of alpha women. I can see them now: climbing on top of each others’ heads in their manly hiking boots to catcall any unsuspecting fella who wanders too close. “Mmm, jangle them tiny balls, man-baby! Yeaaaah, that’s what Alpha Mama likes! Get over here so I can express my opinions and say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do!”
Every relationship requires a masculine and a feminine energy to thrive. If women want to find peace with men, they must find their feminine—that is where their real power lies. Being feminine isn’t about being beautiful or svelte, or even about wearing high heels (although those things are nice). Being feminine is a state of mind. It’s an attitude.
Well, hold the ding-dongin’ phone. It is?! You mean I can wipe off this lipstick and kick off my six-inch heels, and it’s still possible to be female? Darn, I wish I’d known that before breaking my ankle trying to look “svelte.”
In essence, being feminine means being nice. It means being soft instead of hard. And by “nice,” I don’t mean you should become a mouse.
Oh! Not a mouse. Maybe like… a squirrel? Is that too big? … Sexy chipmunk?
Men love women who are fun and feisty and who know their own mind! But they don’t want a woman who tells them what to do.
Gotcha. Know your own fun and feisty mind, but try to keep it a secret. Real women know how to have a good time… on the inside.
Jackie Kennedy once said there are two kinds of women: those who want power in the world, and those who want power in bed. American women have become laser-focused on the former and have rejected the latter. In doing so, they’ve undermined their ability to find lasting love.
Now, this here is a fresh perspective. Instead of trying to obtain any power “in the world,” women should focus on… increasing their sex appeal. HOW COME I HAVE NEVER HEARD THIS IDEA BEFORE??? Someone tell the past ten thousand years of human history, ‘cause this is gonna blow their minds.
I’m wondering, though, what exactly does that mean, “power in bed?” Does that mean that, in between BJs, you might use your feminine wiles to secretly leak some of those fun and feisty thoughts into your man’s brain? And then, if he feels like it, he might do one of the things you secretly implanted, thereby granting you some sort of power in the world? I dunno, it seems like we might be sticking a middle man in there. And by “there,” I mean our vaginas. But I’ll have to defer to Ms. Venker here: maybe it’s more feminine to take an indirect route.
All a good man wants is for his wife to be happy, and he will go to great lengths to make it happen. He’ll even support his wife’s ideas, plans or opinions if he doesn’t agree with them. That’s because a husband’s number one goal is to please his wife. If he determines his wife cannot be pleased, that’s when the marriage is in trouble.
Wow. Now this is blowing my mind a little. See, ‘cause when I read that paragraph, my first impulse was to do crazy things like replace “man” with “person” and “wife” with “person” and “husband” with “person.” And then it would’ve sounded like pretty decent marital advice to me. But you’re right, Ms. Venker, it’s much better if it’s gendered and only applies one way.
Men are just so much simpler than women. Not simple as in dumb, as is often portrayed in the media. Simple in that they have far fewer needs than women do. What men want most of all is respect, companionship and sex.
OH! Yes, now I see why that marital advice had to be gendered. It’s because men are very different from women. Women hate respect, companionship, and sex. But we do like chocolate, flowers, and spinning elaborate webs in which to ensnare our prey. (Keep that last one under wraps, though, okay? It doesn’t sound very “nice.”)
If you supply these basics, your husband will do anything for you—slay the dragons, kill the beast, work three jobs, etc.
Hear that, ladies? It’s time to power-hump your man to knighthood! Or to premature death from trying to work three jobs simultaneously. It may sound harsh, but remember, it’s your wifely duty.
Now I know what you’re thinking: that I’m putting everything on you. I am, and I’m not. Your husband is 100% responsible for his own actions. If he makes stupid choices, such as getting repeatedly drunk, it’s his job to own up to that behavior and stop it. Same goes for his emotional outbursts, if he has them, or his not coming home when he said he would. Or even his having an affair.
I’m relieved it isn’t 100% on me, because, to be honest, Ms. Venker, this was starting to sound like a lot of work. So, just to clarify, it’s fair to be upset with a man for being an alcoholic, screaming at you, vanishing into the night, or running into the arms of a possibly more feminine woman. (As we all know, these are fundamental temptations for the species, man.) But not if he bosses you around, or fails to provide you with basic companionship, respect, and affection? These standards seem fair.
What I am saying is that men tend to follow women’s lead. Your husband’s actions are more often than not reactions. He’s reacting to something you said or did, or to something you didn’t say or didn’t do. He’s reacting to your moods, your gestures, your inflections and your tone. That’s how men are.
Right. Because he’s so simple. But not, as you clarified earlier, a moron. No one’s insulting a man’s intellectual capacities by suggesting that he can’t come up with his own actions, moods, gestures, inflections, or tone. These are complicated inventions of the wily lady-brain that men just mirror back at you. That’s how men are.
Don’t just take this from Ms. Venker. I’ve long related to the men in my life as though they were full-on idiot cave men. For instance, I’ve noticed that when my husband gets home from a long day, if I say, “Hello, honey, I made you a nice roast and am naked under this apron,” he’ll say, “Yes, good. Man pleased with woman-wife. Man, too, will be naked.” But one time, just to see what would happen, I said, “Hello, honey. I had a long day at work and was too exhausted to make us dinner. Would you mind fixing us something?” And then he said, “Man hate cooking! Man no understand food! HOW MAN USE KITCHEN? WHAT MAKE FOOD GOOD?? SIMPLE REQUEST MAKE MAN BRAIN EXPLODE!!” Then he stormed off to his study and drank himself into a coma. That was a bad night. And I see now that I could have avoided it.
Another way to think about the male-female dance is to consider the game of chess. In chess, the king is the most important piece but also one of the weakest. He can only move one square in any direction—up, down, to the sides, and diagonally.
The poor inept darling. I’m guessing this is one of those things we women should keep under wraps. If I explained to my husband that he was an inept plaything, I’m pretty sure he’d say something like, “MAN SHOW YOU INEPT! SMASH!!!” Who knows what would come next? Maybe he’d seek out an affair with something more “feminine,” like a pair of boobs stapled to a doormat.
The queen, however, is the most powerful piece. She can move in any one direction—forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally. And how she moves affects how he moves.
He’s also strongly influenced by horses, castles, and bishops. You must be careful never to let him near horses, or your man will also start whinnying, and you’ll never heard the end of it.
As a woman, you can respond to this dynamic in one of two ways: you can resent it, or you can embrace it. I used to resent it. I’d think to myself, How can I possibly make sure my husband isn’t negatively affected by my every mood swing? I’m a Pisces, for God’s sake! My moods shift with the wind! Plus, why am I responsible for my husband’s reactions? The whole thing seemed like a whole lot of pressure, not to mention unfair.
As a result, I embraced my alpha personality as though it were a baby in need of protection. If my husband chose me, obviously he likes that about me. Why should I have to change? Who would I be if I changed? And how could I be someone different, even if I wanted to?
But my alpha ways were bumping up against his alpha nature. We were like two bulls hanging out in the same pen together, and there was too much friction.
Oh! Goodness, Ms. Venker, I see how that thought chain backfired on you! Wow, to think it almost tricked me, too! I would expect as much from a novice like myself, but how could you, paragon of gender relations, have wandered so far astray? You know you can’t be a bull, Ms. Venker. God made you to be a sweet submissive cow!
And because I had zero interest in my husband adopting a more feminine role, I set about to become the feminine creature our culture insists women not be.
Right, so, submissive cow? Or are we coming full circle back to the not-a-mouse-but-maybe-a-squirrel thing? Are you positive that’s what society’s telling me not to be?
And here’s what I learned: It’s liberating to be a beta!
Oh boy, permanent deference! Sounds great!
I’m an alpha all day long, and it gets tiresome. I concede that I thrive on it; but at the end of the day, I’m spent. Self-reliance is exhausting. Making all the decisions is exhausting. Driving the car, literally or figuratively, is exhausting.
Boy, yeah. Thinking stuff and doing stuff make me sleepy, too. So, are you telling me we can just hand the wheel over to man-bull? Wait, can he come up with the gestures he’ll need to drive the car all by himself? Or should we teach him without him realizing that we’re teaching him?
It took me a ridiculously long time to get it. But once I did, once I accepted that the energy I exude and the way I approach my husband directly affects his response and behavior, I changed my tune.
Right, right, I forgot we were already controlling him with our every action.
And when I did, something happened. The tension disappeared overnight. Just like that. Well, almost like that. It was a lot of stop and go at first. First I’d handle something the “right” way—i.e. by not arguing with him, or by not directing his traffic, or by being more service-oriented—and marvel at the response.
List of “right” ways to “handle” husband: don’t argue, don’t advise, be his servant. But wait, you’re sure this is easier? That servant bit is starting to sound like a lot of work again…
Then life would get busy, and I’d resort to my old ways. Sure enough, I’d get a different response.
Uh oh, one of those “MAN SMASH!” moments, huh?
So I’d make a mental note of how I messed up and make sure to get it right the next time.
Get it together, you unsexed harpy! Bow, BOW before your Testicle King!
Eventually, it became second nature.
It’s like weight loss.
OHHH, finally a metaphor I can relate to!
Once you realize that diet and exercise is the only way to stay fit, and that sugar and carbs create fat, a light bulb goes off in your head. You’ve unlocked the code to keeping your weight in check. Even if you fall off the wagon (and you will), you’ll know what to do to get back on track.
I can’t wait to unlock the code to taming my man-bull, just like I’ve unlocked the code to carbohydrates. Just gotta keep myself on that wagon of sexy, fumbling servitude.
That’s what it’s like to love a man.
Thank you so much for explaining to me how to love a man.
Once you learn how, you’re good to go. You have all the tools you need. But you have to use them.
By tools, I assume you mean a cookbook, secret agenda, and maybe also a vagina, which I’m going to move we rename to something nicer like “man-appeasement hidey-hole.”
Ms. Venker, Fox News, what else can I say? Hats off. You never cease to enlighten me.
I’d ask my Husband-Overlord to thank you on our mutual behalf, but I don’t think I’m allowed to ask him for things anymore. At least, not outright. Not to worry, though, I’ll get right on secretly guiding him into coming up with that idea and thinking it was his own. MAN-CEPTION! Am I right?
Note: This contains the vast majority of Ms. Venker’s stunning article. I did make some cuts for length. If you’d like to witness it with your own eyes, you can find it here.