Sheryl Sandberg wrote us a “sort of feminist manifesto” and I was like — You know what, Sandberg? I’ll take it. Because even before it came out, people were bashing you. The problem is, Sandberg is apparently too rich to give advice. Her “Lean In Campaign” held little for most women, according to the Washington Post.
I was immediately reminded of my undergrad studies when I was taking project management. We were supposed to read a self-help business-type book like “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” and the book I had turned up with, Mireille Guiliano’s “French Women Don’t Get Fired“, was written by a woman for women. I was concerned that this book didn’t work because it ignored men completely. I spoke to my instructor who shrugged and said “That’s fine — most business books ignore women.” Revolutionary! And to think, I was supposed to have been the feminist in that conversation.
Gloria Steinem, on her Facebook page, said of Lean In:
I can testify that it addresses internalized oppression, opposes the external barriers that create it, and urges women to support each other to fight both. It argues not only for women’s equality in the workplace, but men’s equality in home-care and child-rearing. Even its critics are making a deep if inadvertent point: Only in women is success viewed as a barrier to giving advice.
And how true that is. I looked up Tony Robbins and Zig Zigler — Men famous for their ability to motivate and give advice and the only “out of reach” issues that came up were those that the two men had helped people to overcome.
Sandberg’s book is well-researched and presented some quantitative data: women earn 57 percent of the undergraduate degrees in America, but only hold 14 percent of executive officer positions at corporations; we hold 18 percent of the seats in congress, and 21 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women.
She also speaks about the socialization of women and men and how that affects us. She speaks about biology and acknowledges that there are differences—ones that she learned breastfeeding two children in the middle of the night. “From the moment we are born,” writes Sandberg, “boys and girls are treated differently. Parents tend to talk to girl babies more than boy babies. Mothers overestimate the crawling ability of their sons and underestimate the crawling ability of their daughters.” So many of the things that evolutionary psychologists claim are inherent closely follow Western narratives around expectations of gender. Hmm.
What I could not shake while reading this book was the feeling that it’s not only women who should be reading this book, but men too. Sandberg speaks to equality in relationships, the need for women to lean in to their careers and men to lean in to their home lives. I had the audiobook version and was listening to it at home within earshot of my boyfriend. Sandberg talked about the distribution of chores, and how men who do more housework have more sex—and I’ll be damned if he didn’t get up and start cleaning. So thanks Sandberg—I’m leaning.
Danielle Paradis is a writer and blogger scribbling furiously across the feminist internet on Fem 2.0, Flurt Magazine, Persephone Magazine, and Paradigm Shift NYC. She’s completing a Masters in Learning & Technology at Royal Roads University. Danielle currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta while dreaming of any place warmer. Learn more at Danielleparadis.com