Leaning In: What’s in it for Men?

Dear Men:

You are not all selfish, sex-obsessed pricks who cower under desks afraid that some broad is going to waltz in on stiletto heels and take your job. I’m sure there may be a few of you out there (and I assume that’s because on some level you realize you probably aren’t fit for that job anyway), but I’m going to put my neck on the line and assume that most of you are oblivious to the blatant misogyny in the workplace and simply go about doing your jobs every day, earning your paychecks and contributing to the economy. Yes, you may interrupt your female counterparts too often or let thoughts about any potential pregnancies cloud your hiring judgement when a young woman walks into your office or even be ignorant to the lack of a pumping room for women returning to work after maternity leave. I think you simply require some education in that department. A little knowledge that you interrupt, that she’s a great candidate or that you need to provide a room with a door (and a lock, please) will go a long way to thinning that glass ceiling. With a little education, empathy and experience, I think any misguided assumptions or even deep seeded unconscious habits you had that were drilled in by generations of colleagues before you could be modified, advanced and, in some cases, eradicated, to make a pleasant and productive work place for all employees whether they be male, female, single, married, gay, straight or simply a loud gum chewer in an open concept work space.

It is with this acknowledgement that you, too, are a smart gender, that I apologize for Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s latest column in The New York Times about Women at Work. You deserve better than that.

Men may fear that as women do better, they will do worse. But the surprising truth is that equality is good for men, too.

I nearly threw up in my mouth. First of all, if you are afraid of doing worse because a woman is doing better, than you probably should be worried about your job status in general. I’m just saying. Second, “surprising?” Really? Boys played on see-saws on playgrounds, too, and know that it’s no fun if three people pile on one side and only one is on the other and no one moves. The ride is only fun when you can balance and help each other up and down. And this isn’t the 1930s. I think we can all agree that equality is good for everyone, we just might need to be a little more factual about what that implies. So, I’m willing to give you a corporate economic impact argument, Sandberg and Grant. Your information on diverse workplaces equal more successful companies is great. I get it. Men get it. Statistics and facts proving points of an argument. Thank you. I’m with you again.

And then this:

Some men might wonder whether these benefits for the organization, and for women, might come at their individual expense, and ask, will I end up lower on the corporate ladder?

Oh boy. So, if women do well based on their merits, men, based on their gender, may worry that they won’t advance? Hahahahahahahaha. Welcome to the glass ceiling boys! I point you again to the idea that if you’re worried, you may not be the best fit for that job. My advice? Do your best job and you will be rewarded. That’s all women want.

Let me repeat that:

That’s all women want. To be rewarded, as equally as men are, for their contributions. If you’re worried that you might not be equally rewarded simply because you are a man, than pick up a torch and burn that bra, gentleman, because that’s what we’ve been fighting for for years.

Couching the argument in terms of a blow to the male ego only perpetuates that the male ego should be damaged by feminism. And it shouldn’t. It implies that men should feel superior to women, after all, if we have to defend the very definitions of equal as being good to the male individual and not just the way a productive and compassionate advanced society should live. Google the definition of “equal” and you will find it is defined as “being the same in quantity, size, degree or value.” Equal is unbiased. Equal is fair. Equal is unimpeachable. If you’re worried by equal than you are, I’m sorry to say, not equal to the task. Instead, Sandberg and Grant perpetuate the dominant male standing in the workplace and the home by appealing to its base nature of territory marking and sex.

Yup. Sex.

It started with the attention grabbing headline: “How Men Can Succeed in the Boardroom and the Bedroom.” Sex sells, I get it. But men should take on housework because it leads to more sex? Because doing laundry is “choreplay?” I can’t speak for all women here, but let me just say, if my husband does the laundry, it does not make me want to have sex with him, no more than when I clean the toilet it turns him on. It’s called division of labor. Perhaps if he helps with the housework I’m not going to be so bone crushingly exhausted at the end of the day that I pass out on the couch during House of Cards taking sex pretty much off the table. Perhaps if we are a team in all things – parenting, chores, marriage – than we will be partners in the bedroom, too. And no, if my husband wants to do something nice for ME, he doesn’t do the laundry. He does the laundry because the damn laundry needs to be done. Saying it’s for me only perpetuates the idea that it’s my job to do it in the first place. And I don’t recall that being in my marriage vows (I can’t speak for everyone). If he wants to do something nice for me, he does something that reflects my interests, passions, needs, desires. Yes, it is nice if he does the laundry. It is appreciated if he does the laundry. I will say thank you if he does the laundry (just as he says to me if I do it). But doing something that needs to be done in our home is not a gift. It’s a responsibility.

The entire tenet of this article rubbed me wrong. Men shouldn’t need to be told that they may get something out of equality. Equality is not selfish. That’s the whole point. Isn’t it?

Ugh. Okay. Let’s try another way. If we’re going to go with male stereotypes here, let’s go with sports. I’m a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill grad and was a senior the fall that Dean Smith retired. The man was a legend on campus, and not just because he provided us the opportunity to watch Jerry Stackhouse dunk and strut against our rivals or Vince Carter being the fireworks OOP to a quintessential alley. He was a legend because he was a leader. A leader for equality. He was instrumental to desegregating the town of Chapel Hill in the 60s and when asked about it, his response was not that he should receive accolades for it. It wasn’t that the African American community in Chapel Hill should buy him coffee every Thursday. It wasn’t give me the Presidential Medal of Freedom for it (though they did in 2013). His response was this:

You should never be proud of doing what’s right. You should just do what’s right.

So men, it’s not about the sex or the money or the promotion you may receive because you supported women in the workplace. It’s about doing what’s right. It’s about hiring the right people. It’s about providing the right benefits. It’s about sharing your own load at home. It’s about allowing all of us to follow our passions, work hard and be rewarded professionally, personally, spiritually. It’s about modeling behavior that allows our children to see what partnerships and teamwork and a productive society look like. It’s about doing what’s right.

And, that, my male friends, is a serious turn on.


High Heeled Mama


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