Time for Men to “Lean In” At Home
Anne-Marie Slaughter (author of Why Women Still Can’t Have It All) at The Atlantic wrote this very interesting piece on The Immense Value of Giving Men More Control of Household Tasks, in which she notes that she and her husband have come to a very nice arrangement of household activities, and she expresses her appreciation of his differences. She may be better at multi-tasking, but he is better at focusing, and both can benefit their home and their kids. She captures part of the issue quite nicely in this quote:
According to [therapist Barbara] Kass, “So many women want to control their husbands’ parenting. ‘Oh, do you have the this? Did you do the that? Don’t forget that she needs this. And make sure she naps.’ Sexism is internalized.” If women assume that we can do anything men can do (backwards and in heels, a la Ginger Rogers versus Fred Astaire,) and that we are superior in the home, we will never actually value men enough for them to experience the rewards of being fully equally partners. As my teenage sons frequently remind me, sexism cuts both ways.
First, it’s nice to be appreciated, in general, and second, for our differences, and I applaud that Dr. Slaughter has identified female sexism and noted how it hurts both women and men. And…I think it’s only part of the solution. Yes, women will be happier if they “let” Dad be Dad in his own way, instead of wishing he could just be a stronger and hairier version of Mom, BUT, ultimately men need to step up and assert their commitment to parenting and housekeeping our own way. Be Dad in your own way, whether Mom “lets” you or not. As long as women are “giving” us something (or worse yet, not giving), then we don’t have any respect or power, and both men and women lose out. When my daughter was born, I made a commitment to being a good dad, and it wasn’t dependent on my wife’s approval or permission, I made that choice. I cook, and I changed diapers, and I do all sorts of things, often in very different ways than my wife. For example, she can make an amazing gourmet meal, but it takes two hours, minimum. I can have a healthy dinner on the table in 15 minutes, but it’s not gourmet, and never will be, and I’m OK with that.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons