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On Thursday, the New York Times ran the latest in a series of columns by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant extolling Lean In’s latest initiative, Lean In Together. The headline was How Men Can Succeed in the Boardroom and the Bedroom. (Er, just show up?)
I guess the point of Lean In Together is to make men feel welcome in the equality conversation. “It’s easy to see how women benefit from equality — more leadership positions, better pay at work and more support at home. Men may fear that as women do better, they will do worse. But the surprising truth is that equality is good for men, too,” reads the first paragraph.
THE SURPRISING TRUTH.
The column goes on to give a lot of WELL, OBVIOUSLY evidence of how equality benefits men. Men benefit when more women are hired at companies. Men benefit when men stand up as fathers. And men definitely benefit when they do their share of the housework — because hey, that one’s a real panty-dropper!
Yes, that’s right: Sandberg and Grant actually suggest that men should do their share of the housework because it’ll make their partners (but really, wives, because this article is also exceedingly heteronormative) put out.
The truly unfortch phrase “choreplay” was used. WHICH, NOPE. Chores are not foreplay. Chores will never be foreplay.
Chores also shouldn’t have to be incentivized for men. Chores should just get done. Grown-ass adults don’t get rewards for doing chores — and grown-ass female adults CERTAINLY don’t get rewards for doing chores.
The idea of choreplay “also paints a fairly inaccurate — and transactional — picture of female desire,” writes Jessica Valenti at the Guardian. “Despite terrible gift books to the contrary, most women don’t get off on men vacuuming or picking up socks (not that there’s anything wrong with those that do). What turns women on is what turns men on: good sex.”
Besides, men who only do housework in exchange for sex are dicks. The end.
While the idea of choreplay (I’m sorry) is regressive and gross, my real issue with this piece is the fact the we’re still, in 2015, trying to sell men on the idea of equality. And now, we’re selling it with sex. We’re selling it with a claws-in brand of non-threatening feminism as though to say, “See? We’re not scary, harpy man-haters! The equality waters are nice ’n’ toasty! C’mon in!”
But here’s the thing: the road to equality isn’t smooth. It’s bumpy and winding. We travel on it too slowly. And, yes, in order to achieve equality, men will in fact have to give up some of their power — and, yes, that will be uncomfortable and hard. Because, let’s face it, all men — even the progressive ones — benefit from patriarchy.
I also think articles such as Sandberg and Grant’s sell men short. As Valenti wrote, “I truly believe that a lot of (men) are interested in helping women achieve equality for equality’s sake, not just because they can get something out of the deal.”
And those are the men we want on our side: men who don’t need to be sold on the idea of equality — with sex or otherwise.