Attention, working moms: Author (and Schlafly niece) Suzanne Venker thinks you are destroying America

Suzanne Venker is the niece of Phyllis Schlafly — and her intellectual heir. Schlafly, the activist, author and ideological grandmother to such conservative voices as Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann, not only endorses Venker's ideas, but also cowrote Venker's latest book.

Venker, a feisty 43-year-old who squeezes in writing between naps and piano lessons, lives in suburban St. Louis with her two preteen kids — a boy and girl, naturally, with blond hair and fairly perfect manners — and her husband, who supports the whole clan by selling chemical manufacturing. Her provocative book titles serve as a battle cry: 7 Myths of Working Mothers: Why Children and (Most) Careers Just Don't Mix came out in 2004, and The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can't Say was just released.

What conservative women know, according to Venker, is that feminism is "bunk."

Jennifer Silverberg
Conservative author Suzanne Venker at home with her raison d'etre: Emma, eleven, and Henry, eight.
Jennifer Silverberg
Conservative author Suzanne Venker at home with her raison d'etre: Emma, eleven, and Henry, eight.

"Feminism is based on the notion that women are victims," Venker says. Sitting by a sunny window at a Saint Louis Bread Co. in Kirkwood, she wears capri pants and wedge sandals that reveal her pedicure and speaks with an energy that hints of her past life as a fitness instructor. Her short blond hair is stylish but no-nonsense.

"Feminism was perpetuated by miserable women," she continues. "They preach to women that they're under the patriarchy: 'Never depend on a man for money; never take their name.' You cannot empower anyone, male or female, by telling them they're a victim."

In Flipside, Venker writes that children are best served by having a parent at home, and because women have a biological imperative toward nurturing, they should be the ones doing it. She also argues that there's been no systemic discrimination against women — that any suggestion thereof was fabricated by liberal extremist women who want to silence and disenfranchise men.

"To suggest a social scheme to keep women down is a farce, the biggest con game of the last 50 years," she says. "Men and women aren't equal." She adds, "Of course we're equal in worth. How do we go forward accepting the unique roles we bring to marriage and family? The value is equal, though the roles may be different. It's a biological thing."

The idea that women belong at home in the kitchen, thrilled by every move the children make, might seem, well, a little retro.

But Venker is part of a chorus of women calling for a return to "traditional" values — women who are bright, college-educated, modern and capable, who argue that men belong in the rat race and women belong at home, raising the next generation of breadwinners and stay-at-home moms.

"Progressives just want to paint conservatives as a throwback," she says. "A conservative world-view wants to save, conserve, keep these things that we know work and not mess with it. That's not the same as not wanting to go forward. Progressives are so hell-bent on change for change's sake.

"People say I just want to bring it back to the '50s," she adds. "Do I look like I represent the '50s?"

Suzanne Venker and her husband, Bill, are in the midst of selling their home in Kirkwood, planning to move closer to both better schools and Suzanne's mother, so any visit has to be carefully timed around showing the house. The comfortable, modest home is immaculate, but Venker insists it's not because she's some kind of Stepford wife automaton — it's because you can only sell a clean house. And even though the rugs are freshly vacuumed and Venker herself is in stocking feet, she insists that it's not necessary for visitors to take off their shoes upon entering.

The front yard is lovely, but the scene inside is downright idyllic. Family photos line the walls. On the dining room table, a Phalaenopsis orchid is in full bloom, and fish drift around an aquarium on the sideboard. In the kitchen, chicken is thawing on the counter next to fingerling potatoes, carrots with the greenery still attached and a bottle of red wine. The family is preparing for a dinner visit from Suzanne's mother-in-law.

The couches in the living room face each other, and bookshelves — not a television — are the focal point. Conservative favorites, including the 2003 polemic Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn't Telling Us, line the shelves. The piano in the living room gets plenty of use by eleven-year-old Emma, a musician and aspiring writer.

Suzanne's office, off the dining room, is sunny and bright. The office is one place — in addition to coffee shops and anyplace else she can snag a moment — where the magic happens. It's here where she labored over the 226 pages of Flipside and their extensive citations. Like her first book, this one took several years to write; she drafted chapters in bursts of work sandwiched between carpool runs.

WND Books, a subsidiary of WorldNetDaily, is a right-wing outfit that's published birther tomes, screeds against climate change and books claiming to expose the "Muslim Mafia" at work in America. It's also responsible for Flipside, which came out early this spring with an initial run of about 15,000 copies.

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