My comedy idol, Bill Burr, once humorously justified the wage gap as a “surcharge” for our understanding that men aboard a proverbial Titanic must relinquish their lifeboat spot to women. Although Bill would surely take unkindly to my paraphrasing his joke, I wonder how Isaac Newton might feel about the growing consciousness on women’s issues. (*Here I pause to hoist up Goretex fly fishing waders as I head into waist-deep rapids…*)
Newton, we know, said that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. At the height of the MeToo era, I heard people—mostly men, some women—referring to the daily news developments as a “pendulum that has overcorrected;” that yes, change was necessary, but we had swung too far to the other side. This sentiment led to terrified realizations from the country club taproom to the high-speed gondola: “I’m afraid to compliment a woman these days!” and “I don’t even know how to flirt anymore.”
From behind a corrective lens of behavior, we glimpsed a future of declining birth rates. Fear of rejection (and/or litigation) would spawn an asexual populace. The death knell of the American family, tolled by female-only communal workspaces and mandatory harassment seminars, rang out from sea to shining sea. No more corporate retreats. No more company happy hours. No more Jim and Pam. The “party” was over.
I’m kidding with this bullshit. But in truth, the birth rate in America dropped another 2% in 2018, to the lowest number of births in 32 years (NPR). When you live in New York City, you welcome that statistic. Even so, I wonder what Newton would say. What’s on the other side of all this? What new landscape will resurface the cratered-out topography of catcalls and wolf whistles? Dare I ask, will anything good come of it… for men?
Behold! My post-equality wish list for men:
- Let me be the small spoon. Not always, but at least half the time. The small spoon is a vastly superior position. To be enveloped in arms and legs, held by a cocoon of love and warmth, in a bed with tight sheets? Christ, I’ll annotate Lean In. Just because I’m the larger of us doesn’t mean I should be exposing my back and neck to the wind and the rain. Hold me and hold me fucking tight, oh ye powerful, independent women.
- My own father-daughter dance at my wedding. I’m the daughter, and I slow dance with my dad, cheek to cheek, as our guests dissolve into happy tears. People care more about the father-daughter dance than even the couple’s first dance. I want in. I love my dad. After that, we can mix and mingle the dances: mother-in-law + bride + groom, stepmom and pool boy… anything goes.
- Buy me a Peloton. I want one and I don’t care if she’s suggesting that I lose weight. I’ll take the hint, and the $2,000 present—a steal in this new age of wage gaplessness. Hell, the only gap you’ll see is the thigh gap that widens between my toned, chafed quads thanks to Christian, Matt, Cody, and Denis. Cranston here I come!
- Non-stick Cuisinart pans, a Viking four-burner stove, and an open chef’s kitchen with plenty of light. I’ll assume the cooking, but I need some fucking tools. For my money, there’s no joy equal to that of a bouquet of spicy aromas hitting you in the face when you walk through our door and say, “honey, I’m home!” I’ll take off my oven mitts, wipe my hands on my apron, and take your dripping trench coat and briefcase from you. But do me a favor? Take off those dirty shoes and pour yourself a drink; you’ve earned it. You can even turn on the ballgame! Dinner will be ready in forty-five minutes once I throw away all the shit I’ve burned and order pad thai again.
It’s not much, but progress is planted in baby steps. Here’s to gender equality in 2020.