(Photo: Bernard Kobel / Courtesy: Etsy)
A friend of mine recently linked to an article and added an emphatic notation of “Yes!” The article was called “Recline, Don’t ‘Lean In’ (Why I Hate Sheryl Sandberg)” and I have to be honest with you — I haven’t been this disappointed in some time.
As women, we struggle every day to find our paths, to find a route that will lead us to success while still allowing us to still be present in our own lives. That path is often littered with land mines, debris and many other enormous and exhausting obstacles. That’s why taking time out of your day to publicly “hate” a person for doing something — ANYTHING — to help other women who are navigating the murky waters of work/life balance is so audacious, so counterproductive, and frankly, so very petty.
Rosa Brooks’ “problem” with Sandberg is that after reading Lean In, she felt she needed to do more in the workplace, so she increased her responsibilities, worked longer hours and ultimately sacrificed her personal life to get ahead in her career.
Maybe we didn’t read the same book, because if anything, I found Lean In to suggest the opposite. To know your limits. To learn how to set boundaries. But, above all else, if an opportunity arises that piques your interest, to go for it. Go for it hard.
Sandberg makes sure her readers know to “sit at the table.” That’s the directive she gives throughout her book and her speeches, as well as through her own example. If you aren’t interested in a seat at the table, don’t take it. But if you are, be aware of the seat, and be aware of your own power to be present at the table.
The underlying issue here is not that Brooks disagrees with Sandberg’s message; she’s certainly not the first to be underwhelmed by the book and its subsequent campaign. It’s that she immediately wages a personal attack. By saying that she hates Sandberg, Brooks has gone from sharing a constructive opinion that she has every right to own, to discrediting herself and devaluing the nature of the relationships she has with other women.
There is something wonderful about having so many intelligent women in the digital age who can and do have deep and meaningful conversations about the direction of feminism. Every movement will have criticisms — it’s what pushes evolution and furthers the cause. But when the criticism is a flat “I Hate You,” what are you really solving? How are you helping? What message are you sharing?
Let’s encourage more conversation and less snark, because in the end, the larger goal is the advancement of women, and the only way to achieve that is by working together.