Being an individual who made millions of dollars but didn’t want to pay for an editor, oh excuse me, unpaid intern with relevant work experience who had to work a fixed number of weekly hours, it’s a big enough reason to be ignored, if not despised, by the Left. But Sheryl Sandberg is also a motivational speaker, author of a book that basically sums up as a regurgitation of the old “You aren’t getting anywhere because you’re lazy”. So, please welcome on the stage of the ever growing family of bourgeois feminism, Ms. Sandberg.
Unfortunately, the Facebook COO keeps reminding us where does she come from, and what’s her cultural background: From Gawker‘s Sam Biddle: “Sandberg has picked an odd choice for today’s “Lean In Award,” an imaginary honor she presents via Facebook: Paul Ryan. The same Paul Ryan who opposes, over and over again, workplace equality for women.”
The Lean In Award of the day goes to Paul Ryan, for saying he worries how becoming House Speaker would affect his children, “who are in the formative, foundational years of their lives” – and that he won’t do the job unless he can still make them a top priority.
We need work to work for parents – and having leaders who weigh responsibilities as fathers as much as their responsibilities to their jobs shows all of us what is possible. #LeanIn
Yep. That’s right. The same Paul Ryan who is an Ayn Rand–influenced ideologue, determined to stop government from taking rich people’s money (he told The Weekly Standard, “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”). The same Paul Ryan who spent the Bush years demanding larger, more regressive tax cuts than Bush himself was proposing, and urged him to be less afraid of “class warfare.”
More from Gawker:
Maybe Sandberg can look past Ryan’s categorical opposition to reproductive rights—he is a staunch pro-life zealot in both voting record and rhetoric. Lean In was never about a woman’s health so much as it was about a woman’s paycheck. Ryan seems like a bad choice for a “Lean In Award” given that he’s opposed congressional efforts to help women receive fair pay for their work, over and over again.
Paul Ryan voted against the The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and then against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Of 2009. He also opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act, another legislative effort to balance gender-based income disparities, in 2008 and 2009.
Many friends are quite pissed by my dislike for Ms. Sandberg. Some were almost horrified when I said that sharing Sandberg’s touching epitaph for her deceased husband in million posts wasn’t just empathy, but a lack of intellectual distance between us and the ultra-rich, the ultra-powerful. But some other friends decided to weigh in:
Kathleen Geier: “I’m still waiting for Sandberg and her Lean In organization to come out in support paid family leave. Neither has done so, despite the paid leave activism going on all around the country, at the local, state, and even national level. But then again, Sandberg and her one percenter buddies don’t need paid leave, and the whole Lean In scam was always all about them, now wasn’t it?”
Rachel King: “I can only imagine that she feels that his personal driveling about how important his children are to him trumps his political position of not allowing anyone who’s not able to dictate their own working life to spend time with their children. Because the personal isn’t political. Or something.”
And user flamingolingo doesn’t mind explaining why he thinks the #LeanIn thing it’s bullshit_
In a nutshell, Sandberg largely puts the burden on individual women to succeed despite sexism. Leaning in means women putting more effort in than men in order to get ahead, which is not a novel concept nor is it a particularly feminist one. Instead of challenging the institutional structures (laws, corporate policies, etc.) that make it unjustly difficult for women to succeed, she just thinks women have to try harder. That’s idiotic.
There’s also the fact that Sandberg’s version of feminism is very narrowly focused on middle-classed, white, professional women. Again, a feminism that sidelines or ignores the concerns and perspectives of women of color, sexual minorities, and poor and working class women is fucking bullshit.
Sandberg’s philosophy might be helpful and even empowering to some individual women, but it’s a watered down, neoliberal version of feminism that ultimately reinforces the status quo instead of challenging it.
Actual feminist, bell hooks, wrote a more indepth discussion of Sandberg you might want to read.
How timely this is, considering the beautiful piece (How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden) Nancy Fraser published on the Guardian a few days before:
Where feminists once criticised a society that promoted careerism, they now advise women to “lean in”. A movement that once prioritised social solidarity now celebrates female entrepreneurs. A perspective that once valorised “care” and interdependence now encourages individual advancement and meritocracy.
Considering Sandberg is a woman who made millions of dollars but didn’t want to pay for an editor, oh excuse me, unpaid intern with relevant work experience who had to work a fixed number of weekly hours, her support for Paul Ryan should come as no surprise. But as we’re in 2015, Sandberg is instead celebrated as an example of emancipatory strategies for the Left.
Make no mistake: Ryan is a liar, Sandberg is an idiot and #LeanIn ‘feminism’ is an abomination.