Somehow last week I managed to hide under a rock, and I did not hear about the death of Dave Goldberg until this weekend. Dave Goldberg was chief executive officer of SurveyMonkey and husband of Sheryl Sandberg, author of NY Times bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead. According to many media sources, Dave was the man behind the successful woman. He was a supportive and involved spouse. And, Forbes said, “[his feedback] played a critical role in giving the book its heart.”
I’ll be honest and say I have not fully bought into the Lean In movement, since I’m not sure that encouraging women to increase their ambition and acquire more power is going to solve the inequalities we face in our current culture. However, what I do buy into is the role of men in the movement. Men who want to support and encourage women, to do their part in building an equal world, and to be true partners in marriages, families, and relationships, are critical to achieving equality.
I believe we gain the most ground by inviting men to be allies in any feminist movement. We also gain ground by allowing and encouraging men to step outside the gender box – to be stay-at-home dads, share domestic responsibilities, and be involved in family life. Fortunately, I have had these types of men in my life, starting with my dad. I have also had male mentors, teachers, advisors, co-workers, and friends who have supported my ambition and success.
One of the most important and supportive men in my life is my partner. My partner’s name is Aaron. He is my hero – a combat veteran, a provider, an educator, a role model, and my daily emotional support. He likes guns and trucks. He has a lot of traditional values and beliefs. And, he may not look like your typical feminist. But Aaron is supporting the feminist movement in an important way.
Aaron helps me to be the best mom, friend, daughter, and professional that I can be. He consistently asks, “how can I better support you? what do you need? how can I make things easier for you?” He listens to my problems, picks up my burdens, and lightens my load. He also fully supports my decisions.
When men are partners with women at home, encourage them to seek growth opportunities, use respectful language, and praise their accomplishments, men become heroes in the movement towards equality. It takes a man who is smart, brave, confident, and fair – all qualities of a great hero – to embrace an equal partnership. It is with supportive men behind us, or better yet beside us, that women can have it all.