The five women and too many men who’ve subscribed to push notifications from Fox News got a nice little reminder from their favorite news outlet this morning: “Most men just want a woman who’s nice”
That was it—no period, no explanation. Just a handy check-in from the realm of men, popping up on the home screen like an emergency weather warning for incoming fronts of male desire. Some apps send users daily affirmations or breaking news in their push notifications; Fox News sends whiny dumped-boyfriend texts.
The article heralded by that perfect notification wasn’t anything particularly revolutionary. Written by Suzanne Venker, whose Fox News bio boasts that she is “known for her provocative views on men, women, work & family,” the piece reads like a 1950s pantyhose ad. “‘Nice,’ to a man, means being soft, gentle and kind. It means asking your husband how his day was and really listening,” Venker writes. “Most husbands have no desire to lord over their wives, but they don’t want to fight with them either. All they want is peace. And the nicer you are, the more likely they are to find it.” Freshen up your lipstick before he gets home, have a roast in the oven, and maybe he’ll give you an extra fiver for some cold cream!
Don’t get it twisted—the type of woman Venker says men love, the “beta female,” is no empty vessel for sperm who doesn’t speak until spoken to. “Being soft, gentle and kind does not mean you have no life or opinions of your own,” she writes. Oh?
Au contraire, says Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Bet you didn’t think the guy who rode a horse to work on his first day on the job in D.C. would have a place in this story! So unexpected and strange, almost like your phone buzzing to tell you how men like their nice ladies.) On Monday, the Salt Lake Tribune posted a video of Navajo activist Cassandra Begay confronting Zinke on his visit to Bears Ears National Monument, a historic site some want to open up for recreational use and resource extraction. In the video, Begay asks Zinke why he hasn’t spent more than an hour listening to concerns from local tribal communities. Zinke holds up his finger, walks over to stick it in Begay’s face, and says, as a parent would to a child who’s just refused to kiss her great aunt Marjorie, “Be nice. Be nice. Don’t be rude.”
Okay, wait—that man thinks having opinions is not being nice. Help me out, Venker! “Now for the record, I don’t mean men are looking for a pushover,” she claims, but later writes, “that’s what men like: women who are easy to love.” Blargh! If being a pushover doesn’t make a woman easy to love, what does? There might be some delicate balance to strike, like having an opinion but not being too pushy about it. Or maybe it’s thinking about having an opinion but quietly deciding against it? Perhaps if Begay had asked Zinke how his day at work went and brought him a martini when he walked in the door, he might have thought she was a nice woman, the kind men like.
Speaking of men: Are they nice? Should they be? Not according to Venker’s research, the methods of which she boils down to “ask any guy you know.” “Most women do want a man who’s kind, but that’s not the same as nice,” she writes. “Most women are attracted to masculinity. And masculinity is hard. Gruff. Take charge.” A man who waggles his finger around in strangers’ faces and tells them how to behave, in other words. Hey, that sounds like the Interior Secretary! He and Venker should meet up sometime. Hopefully he got her push notification.