With ‘Lean In’ a spectacular failure, Sheryl Sandberg enlists MEN to help sell her brand of gender equality
Facebook COO and gender equality warrior Sheryl Sandberg is back in the news, having recently teamed up with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who says he wants “nothing more than to see the NBA have a female head coach in the league in the near future” and wanted to help “amplify” Sandberg’s Lean In mission.
To that end, Sandberg has since added a new component to her Lean In initiative called LeanInTogether, and it speaks directly to men.
“When men support women, they benefit—and so does everyone else.”
That’s a pretty blanket statement there, Ms. Sandberg. Since when do men not support women? All the men I know are staunch supporters of women.
Unless you mean the only way to be “supportive” of women is to encourage women to “lean in” to their careers? And if so, that invariably means the women who choose to lean out—which, for the record, is the majority of American women—have unsupportive husbands?
In your world, perhaps. But not in ours.
Like all good feminists, Sheryl Sandberg manipulates the language to make her message sound benign. And it’s a smart tactic. Fortunately, as Sandberg herself concedes, women aren’t listening.
“I think it’s never been a more important time for equality because in many ways we are stuck. When I published Lean In four years ago, there were 19 women running countries. Today, it is 11. Women have been basically at less than 6 percent of Fortune 500 jobs, and their equivalents, all over the world for 12 years…Those trends are either going to stay flat or go down unless we have a serious intervention.”
Actually, we’re not stuck. Sandberg is stuck.
Since women aren’t doing what she wants them to do, Sandberg has turned her attention to—or at least added—men to the conversation. And her message to them is clear: “When men lean in for equality, they win—and so does everyone else.”
But what does equality mean in Sandberg’s parlance?
“My goal is very clear, which is that women run half our companies and countries and men run half our homes.”
[Sidebar: Here I am on Fox Business in 2013, discussing this concept.]
To help men become good feminists, there are three categories on the LeanInTogether website, two of which include “How to Be An All-Star Dad” and “How to Be a 50-50 Partner.”
For “How to Be An All-Star Dad,” Sandberg suggests the following:
(1) Involved dads raise happier, healthier, and more successful children and kids benefit when that involvement goes beyond the traditional paternal role.
Few would disagree with this statement, but it clearly implies that breadwinning fathers are not involved in their kids’ lives. Are we living in 2017 or in 1955? Even here in the conservative Midwest, I don’t know any father who’s not personally involved in his kids’ lives or who walks in the door and assumes his job is done.
(2) Parents place greater value on the chores boys typically do (like taking out the trash) than on chores that girls usually do (like setting the table) and, as a result, boys spend less time on household chores but make more money than girls.
Sandberg calls this made-up phenomenon the “toddler wage gap.” When she first brought it up last year, I responded here.
(3) Girls are labeled “bossy” when they speak up, are called on less in class, and are interrupted more than boys.
Have you ever been a classroom teacher, Ms. Sandberg? Because I have. And that assessment is dead wrong. If anything, boys are the ones at a serious disadvantage in today’s public schools. Do your homework before you spout off this drivel. You were called bossy when you were a kid (as you’ve said more than once) because you were bossy, pure and simple.
For “How to Be a 50-50 Partner,” Sandberg suggests the following:
(1) Women are interrupted more than men. Even if you’re supportive of the women in your life, you may not be giving them the airtime they deserve.
You have got to be kidding me. Are you aware that women talk some 13,000 more words per day than men do? Who the heck do you think, then, is more likely to interrupt whom? And where do you come up with such unfounded claims?
(2) If you are a husband to a woman and you do more of the childcare, it helps [make] your marriage stronger, you have more sex, your divorce rate is lower. It is just a win-win across the board.
Actually, it isn’t a win-win at all. In a 2012 study on “Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” the American Psychological Association concluded the following:
“Following up on the widely publicized claim that by doing more housework, husbands in more egalitarian marriages got more sex, we sought to investigate the links between men’s participation in housework and sexual frequency using nationally representative data.
Our findings suggest that couples where men participate more in core tasks—work typically done by women—report lower [emphasis mine] sexual frequency. Similarly, couples where men participate more in non-core, traditionally masculine tasks report higher [emphasis mine] sexual frequency, suggesting the importance of gender-typed participation in household labor.”
In other words, husbands and wives who divide household tasks according to the gendered norms feminists hate have more sex—which invariably translates to stronger marriages. It’s our sex differences, not our sameness, that make relationships work.
(3) Many women make professional sacrifices to support their partner’s career, and men still assume their partner will do the lion’s share of child care.
There again is a manipulation of the language. Men don’t assume anything; it’s just obvious that person who’s home more will do more of the child care. Moreover, most women voluntarily and happily support their husbands’ careers and do more of the child care because—hold on to your hat—that’s what they want to do!
Unfortunately, Lean In will continue to get a lot of play in the media—those with great wealth can make that happen. But it’s a dead-end road.
“Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In has spawned lasting initiatives meant to spur the progress of women to positions of power in major corporations,” writes author and professor Steven Rhoads. But such efforts have been “striking failures” since “most women who have dependent children don’t want to work full time, much less to put in the hours required of corporate titans.”
Indeed they don’t. And the men who are married to women who lean out (because they don’t want to work full time and year-round) are not “unsupportive” of women. On the contrary, they value women based on who they are, not on what they do.
In other words, forget gender equality. It’s pure propaganda. What we should be really be celebrating, as Chad Prather so eloquently explains in his latest You Tube video, is gender inequality.
And I, for one, could not agree more.