I’ve been loving the discussion about gender roles in America over the past few days.
A whole host of dad writers I know and love are trying to get Amazon to change its parents program from Amazon Mom to Amazon Family, which it is called in just about every other major country where Amazon operates. It’s a tribute, this campaign, to a beloved dad blogger who created a fantastic meeting ground on Facebook for fellow dads. Oren Miller died last week, but the 1,000-strong group he created is hoping to make the change in his honor.
Then there’s Lean In Together — the what-can-men-do component to the wildfire Lean In movement designed to foster equality in the work place and the home.
I’m delighted these campaigns happen to hit in the same week, as they go so very well together. But I wish Amazon and Lean In, “partners” in equality movements, would get on the same page. You can’t have a campaign for equality with a partner that undercuts it at the same time.
Let’s start with Amazon Moms. Marketing to parents but talking only to moms is, let’s face it, antiquated. Dads. Single dads. Gay dads. Grandparents. Caregivers. Anyone who lives in the 21st Century and doesn’t think it’s right to pigeonhole the woman into the automatic caregiver position. I am seriously not a touchy-feely, everyone-has-to-be-happy kind of guy. But this just strikes me as icky.
I’m not upset that dads are left out. Please. I’m a big boy. But as a dad to a daughter and the husband to a rock star wife, I’m sad that the message is this: “You’re a woman? Well here’s home and baby products just for you!”
Why can’t Amazon Mom shop for a kick-ass business suit? Please. Give that woman some diapers and shut up.
Which brings us to Lean In Together.
What can men do?
Stop throwing penis parties in the boardroom, for one, I imagine. Look around your work place. What’s it look like in the higher levels? Yeah. Stop doing that.
Do more stuff around the house, sure. Care for your children. That’s a given, right?
But also speak up on things that try to predefine roles. We’re over that. It’s bad for women. It’s bad for men.
Is it any wonder that women have a hard time reaching higher workplace levels when so much of society has this built-in vision of them solely as caregivers? It starts with the pink toy aisle filled with dolls and vacuums and carries on into web sites filled with diapers and baby wipes just for them. Is it any wonder dads feel left out or perhaps do less on the home front when so much of society says that’s not their place?
Amazon has yet to respond to the campaign and probably thinks it will go away.
But here’s the kicker.
Lean In is, weirdly, a “partner” with Amazon. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it’d be great if they got together and figured it out because right now it doesn’t seem like they’re Leaning In Together.
One side says give women equality. The other says give them diapers.