Flipside boasts a blurb from none other than Ann Coulter. In a recent review, the Washington Times' Rebecca Hagelin praises it mightily, calling it "witty and fast-reading," which it indisputably is.

Hagelin adds, "The feminist promise that women could be just like men and enjoy everything men typically do — like casual sex, long hours at work, less family time — proved empty.... It turns out — no surprise — that human nature cannot be repealed, overturned by judicial fiat or reshaped by media messages."

Not surprisingly, the book has been excoriated in the feminist press. Feministing.com found it "so divorced from reality, you have to question if it's worth engaging at all...feminism gets simultaneously blamed for everything and credit for nothing."

The Venker clan — Emma, Suzanna, Bill and Henry — clowns around.
Jennifer Silverberg
The Venker clan — Emma, Suzanna, Bill and Henry — clowns around.

The writer adds, "If Schlafly and Venker really believe that the future of civilization depends on mothers staying home to raise their kids, they would spend less time shaming women who choose not to be full-time mothers and more time working to ensure that all parents actually have that choice."

"Feminists think I'm the devil," Venker shrugs. "Traditionalists — non-feminists — are very grateful. I feel like I'm speaking for the underdog." She believes that, with the ideological chasm between the right and left as deep as it has ever been, the moment is ripe for a book like hers.

"The reason there are not more women CEOs or women in government is because they are all-consuming jobs," she adds. "Men sacrifice relationships with their children. Women have babies. They have biological urges. That's what the family unit is set up for — a breadwinner and a caregiver."

By going against these tenets, she says, we're upsetting the natural order of things. The consequences are grave. Women feel forced to abandon their children to excel at work, while men have to compete with women to support their families. And woe betide them if they speak out against the women in their midst!

Biology, Venker says, is no social construct. In Flipside, she repeatedly writes that the majority of women actually want to stay home with their children; they just feel compelled to return to work as soon as maternity leave is over because they've been brainwashed by feminists, a complicit media and academics who tells them that raising a family is beneath them.

As for Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, the seminal feminist text that convinced many women that the "problem with no name" was a conspiracy by men to keep them down, Venker believes that the reality was that Friedan was a messed-up woman in a messed-up marriage who wanted someone to blame for her own unhappiness.

When society picked up on her twisted message, Venker says, the rest became history — first-, second- and third-wave history. The idea of the oppressive patriarchy caught on and became not just fashionable, but a pernicious given in our society, she says.

And, Venker says, it's bunk. (That's one of her favorite words.)

In Flipside, she ascribes even more sinister motives to feminists.

"Single moms are a major target of the female left," she writes. "The goal is to increase the number of single moms by increasing the flow of taxpayer-paid incentives that subsidize the non-marriage lifestyle."

Suzanne Venker was born in St. Louis to traditional parents. Her mother stayed at home with her and her older sister, and her father, whom she describes an extremely traditional man, supported the family as an accountant for PriceWaterhouse.

The family wasn't particularly religious, but the children attended Villa Duchesne, the west-county academy responsible for educating the daughters of St. Louis' most prominent Catholic families. (Both Stan Musial and a few of the Busches — yes, those Busches — sent their daughters to Villa Duchesne.)

While her aunt, Phyllis Schlafly, was making headlines opposing the Equal Rights Amendment and calling on women to stay at home with their children, Venker wasn't close with her. Still, the family shared a view that women had a responsibility to their families and their children.

After high school, Venker set out for the East Coast. As a student at Boston University in the mid-'80s, she studied to be a teacher. She says she found a campus atmosphere that took feminism as unexamined gospel and did a little squirming in her chair from time to time.

For instance, in a marriage and family class, the name of a certain culture warrior from Alton, Illinois, would be discussed — known to some as something of a dragon lady but to Venker as Aunt Phyllis.

"Her name would come up — invariably it would be disparaging," Venker says.

She's sitting in a different Saint Louis Bread Co. this time, this one in Clayton. She has been conducting business here all morning, iPhone in hand, cramming in as much work as she can before Emma and Henry, eight, need to be picked up from school.

"I could have said, 'She's my aunt, and I have a different take,' but I was young. I remember chuckling and feeling somewhat proud I was part of causing so much ruckus."

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