Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This picture of Sheryl Sandberg on the cover of Time Magazine annoys me.

The words imply that if you're a woman you'll hate her because she succeeded where you have failed.

It sounded as if it was the voice of a man. I figured it was Richard Stengel, the magazine's Managing Editor. (I think, based on what he expressed about various  women issues,  he's chauvinistic.)

As I read the article, "Confidence Woman,"  I realized it was a woman's voice -- the cover story on Sandberg was written by Belinda Luscombe, a reporter whose interviews with celebs I've enjoyed and used in quite a few blog posts.

Sheryl Sandberg is COO (Chief Operating officer), for Zuckerberg's Facebook, handling the business, not its artistic direction. The article details her background and ascent to becoming, according to Forbes Magazine, the world's most powerful woman in business.

(Yep, I better say it again -- Sheryl Sandberg is top of the list of the world's 20 most powerful women in business.)

It's a five page article, detailing how Sheryl handles her work, does everything with "huge" energy, and is also a marvelously successful, happy, good wife and mother.

(Yep, all the things that we women strive for, Sheryl Sandberg is doing, and doing superbly, impeccably well.).

Aside from running a $66 billion tech company, she's created a nonprofit foundation with corporate partnerships, online seminars and guidelines for establishing support groups -- already embarked on an ambitious mission to reboot feminism and re-frame discussions of gender. There's been nothing like this "Lean In" idea since the launch of Ms.Magazine in 1971.

The cover story includes 42-year-old Sheryl Sandberg's summary of her recently published book "Lean In" (already a bestseller) -- it's two pages -- explaining Why I Want Women to Lean In..


I find it difficult to focus on feminism when survival is an urgent issue -- those two countries building nuclear weapons -- side-by-side with our deep concerns about gun control, health care, voter's rights, veterans, and... oh my goodness... So very much attention has been paid to women -- health, rape, abortion, vaginal this-and that -- in this year of political hot air, hot air that's supposed to get us women steamed up.

I'm saying whoa, Belinda, whoa, Sheryl....

Sheryl's strong feeling that now is the time for women to lean in and unite with one another -- it feels -- yes, FEELS -- weirdly behind the times.

My instinct is to lean out -- LEAN AWAY.

I'm picturing flowers in a vase. A dozen, two-dozen long stem-roses leaning in is just a marvelous clump of roses. But if you arrange them so that they lean away from each other, we see one rose blooming, one budding, another ready to open -- each individually interesting, fragrant, beautiful.

Being an individual -- being YOU isn't easy. You have to blot out other voices, other visions, a sense of what other women do and are doing -- all that stuff from movies, books, advertisments.

It's distracting, confusing, a lot of noise -- it can be a din, but you have to learn to listen to your own inner voice.


Carola said...

The thing that bugs me is when they say she is so successful in business and also has a happy home, children, etc. She has lots of money. She can afford daycare. She can afford to keep both work-life and home-life successful. For most working women that is not true.

Linda Phillips said...

Good advice Em!

Hindi SMS said...

I have been following Sheryl since finding a gem of a video on TED TALKS for women- Why we have too few women leaders. Her inspiring talk and her experiences resonated with my upbringing. I was taken care by my mother who too had to traverse through hellish obstacles in her life. Her experiences and in part her absence in my childhood development made me purchase this book for her birthday last week. What I did not expect was to read the whole book before giving it to her! This book is a treasure trove for people struggling to find the answers for what's wrong with the corporate world and to some terms in common households. At first glance it seems that the book is based on her personal experiences however it is written with references to many surveys and reports which I am sure that many of you will find informative. I suggest this book not only to women but even to men because they need to understand what a struggle is. Especially times like these where Indian women are subjugated to brutal crimes. This book will be a valuable asset to your intellect no matter your age, sex or religion. As a contemporary feminist I am very happy with what the book offers. A must buy.

Mary Russell said...

This was a great blog - especially the end part about the roses, a very apt metaphor.

I'm always skeptical about these women who seem to "have it all" and it's always women, isn't it? You never read about powerful men "also" being fathers. Why? Because child-rearing usually is predominantly left to the mothers. I'm suspicious that someone who is juggling so many balls really is the Superwoman that is depicted by this article. I sincerely hope she is as successful in all aspects as her life as she depicts herself to be...but I wonder if her family would paint the same picture? Therein lies the rub.

Maureen Jacobs said...

Her career is exemplary, her views have been covered with Ms. Steinem. But we do need a reminder of our need to unite. Women tend to be catty, competitive, and even stand offish. We do need to work together cohesively in order to find our strength.