I've been a fan of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for almost two years, right after watching her TED talk. I loved her ideas of how women need to "sit at the table," "keep their foot on the pedal," and shouldn't "leave before they leave."
Her message of empowering women and making them recognize their weakness when it comes to embracing leadership roles is one that should be tattooed on every woman's forehead. And yes, of course, I "followed" her on Facebook a and "Liked" her Facebook book page.
I also pre-ordered her book (Did I really have a choice after all the media buzz?). And to use a cliché, I am her number one fan. However, one thing that peeved me a bit in her 60 Minutes interview was her saying jokingly that a man doing the laundry is "romantic." She also pointed out that studies show that "husbands who do more housework have more sex with their wives."
She said this while seated next to her husband, right after saying that choosing your life partner is one of the "biggest career decisions you will ever make." I couldn't agree more on choosing the right partner and its correlation with success; but wait a minute here, for someone who is advocating women's empowerment don't you think she shouldn't be celebrating the notion of somehow men doing housework as a turn-on?
In the age of two salaries, two commutes, and two working parents, men doing laundry shouldn't be seen as something unique. Doing laundry should be a natural part of the daily tasks of working parents. The word "romantic" here signifies something special, or out of the norm, similar to the notion of men helping rather than contributing.
Men doing house chores shouldn't be regarded as doing women a favor, but rather as a normal division of labor. I'm one of those lucky ones who has a husband that doesn't "help" around the house but rather contributes. When we first got married we somehow agreed that he will do the laundry and I will do the cooking. No arguments here (trust me we argue about other stuff). Seeing my husband folding my shirts is really not romantic at all. By the same token, him seeing me cook a pot of rice is not something out of the ordinary either.
I have heard so many working mothers complementing their husbands by saying they "help" around the house. Good for you, but really, do you want to live in gratitude forever for your husband folding your underwear? Does he have the same sense of gratitude for your "help" with the meals that you cook or the diapers that you change, or is it something that you are required to do simply because of your DNA, even though you are both working full-time outside the house?
While Sandberg is busy creating her "Lean in" movement where she encourages women to form groups and meet-ups that push them to negotiate harder at the workplace, and reach leaderships positions, I'm suggesting forming yet another movement, called "don't help, contribute.
Seriously, ladies and gentlemen it's the 21st century! Let's stop this "help" business.