Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg has spent the past few years trying to get men to be more like women
But apparently the guys aren't moving fast enough to put on their aprons and emote, so the Facebook COO is now doubling down, teaming up with Adam Grant, a psychology professor at the Wharton School, in a series of articles in the New York Times selling the idea of "choreplay," that women think there's nothing hotter than a man who does the ironing and stitches up Halloween costumes for the kids.
Here's the latest from Sandberg and Grant:
Couples who share chores equally have more sex. As the researchers Constance T. Gager and Scott T. Yabiku put it, men and women who work hard play hard. One of us, Sheryl, has advised men that if they want to do something nice for their partners, instead of buying flowers, they should do laundry. A man who heard this was asked by his wife one night to do a load of laundry. He picked up the basket and asked hopefully, “Is this Lean In laundry?” Choreplay is real.
A powerful study led by the University of British Columbia psychologist Alyssa Croft showed that when fathers shouldered an equal share of housework, their daughters were less likely to limit their aspirations to stereotypically female occupations. What mattered most was what fathers did, not what they said. For a girl to believe she has the same opportunities as boys, it makes a big difference to see Dad doing the dishes.
I have a couple of observations.
First, why is "housework" consistently defined by Sandberg and Grant as washing the dishes and doing the laundry? What about shoveling the snow off the driveway, changing a tire on the car, assembling the Ikea furniture or repairing that leaky faucet and the cabinet door that came off the hinges? In other words, the tough outdoor and mechanical work that husbands regularly do for their wives and families? That doesn't seem to count as far as Sandberg and Grant are concerned. They're perfectly happy to hector husbands to take over the "women's work" around the house, but they don't even suggest to wives that they take over the "men's work."
Second, that Gager-Scott study cited by Sandberg and Grant doesn't actually seem to say that husbands who fold the clean clothes fresh out of the drier get more sex than husbands who just open a beer. Its conclusions seem to go more toward dispelling the myth that people who work hard don't have time for sex.
In fact, what scientific studies do confirm is that women find men who pitch in with household chores sexy, all right–but only if those chores are the "manly" Mr.-Fixit style chores that Sandberg and Grant completely ignore:
A study published last year in the American Sociological Review found, as Gottlieb sums it up, that couples had less-frequent sex if husbands performed “what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming” than if they did “what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car.” The researchers also reported a correlation between a “more traditional . . . division of labor” and the wife’s sexual satisfaction.
And that figures: Sex differences are sexy. Splitting who does the dishes down the middle may generate household peace and feminist inspiration to your daughters, but it doesn't generate much in the way of backside-slapping with the dishtowel.
But you can't tell Sheryl Sandberg that.