A month ago I was completely turned off to read any thing that was about to tell me to “Lean In” more, as a woman. (Well, maybe not completely, but I certainly did not want to be that girl found reading that book in some coffee shop.) So, the moment my Mom brought up, over the phone, this “great, new book” she was reading, I may have mentally clocked out for a moment or so. (Sorry Mom, just being honest like you taught me.) I chimed back into the conversation somewhere when she mentioned my dad would be 2-day shipping it through Amazon to me, in time for my flight. It was just “that good.”
I had nothing against Sandberg; I knew nothing of her. Though my impression of any feminist material can be that it just seems an unnecessary fight to pick. Therefore “Lean In” seemed unnecessary to read. With issues like chemical warefare and school shootings flooding any news feed, how much should the progression of female influence and equality in our country concern us? I mean, after 2008 wasn’t everyone getting paid less than they “deserved”? Well, it turns out “Lean In” is a whole lot more than just some feminist movement.
Alas, I did give “Lean In” my attention. My flight launched off for California and with an americano in hand (give me a trip far away and a good cup of coffee and I’ll pretty much listen to whatever it is you have to say) I quickly found, my first impression was wrong. Which never happens (insert *sarcasm* here - I’ve learned, whether it be blogging or textings, I may have to be more blunt at time for those who don’t quite get that I can be sarcastic at times). In Sandberg’s book, I was expecting her main motive to have her readers on the kind of power trip that would get any timid girl to jump on a conference table and belt out “I am woman, hear my roar!” The lofty title as one of “Forbes Most Powerful Woman in the World” status may have something to do with this assumption, that and the lashing out of recent reviews she’s received, even from women my age, as if this book is some report card for the career woman of today; as if she’s telling us we’re not doing a good job. While Sandberg gives women a much needed boost of self-confidence, “Lean In” is a work of reflection, ample experience and much needed encouragement for a gender that still faces inequality and insecurities in the workplace to a disturbing degree.
Many have argued, and mainly females ironically, that Sandberg is wrong, that she is conflicted, as did a former speechwriter for the White House. Even younger woman have taken to the book like it’s some form of abuse, like she’s being “tough on us.” Maybe Sandberg sounds “conflicted” in “Lean In” because the entire topic is conflicted and quite complicated. We are talking about females after all. Maybe it feels like “she’s being tough on us”, because it’s tough leaning in, in a meeting of dominant males, who don’t look to women to speak up, because we often don’t. It can be tough being a working woman.
Encouraging confidence in women to speak her mind and share equal amount of space in a conference room isn’t making her more like a man, as some have argued, but more like a human being. Telling a woman to come take a seat at the center of the room, with the rest of “the boys,” rather than stay on the sidelines may be the message we need to hear. Infact, I think Sandberg has written the book we’ve all been asking for and her challenge to “Lean In” and ask ourselves what we would do if we weren’t afraid, may be the rubber that meets the road, that too many woman are just afraid to journey down.
We all love to talk about our need to gain more influence in the work force as women, but the moment someone writes the book on it (hello, CEO of Facebook) she’s slaughtered for it. It seems many of these negative reviews of Sandberg are insecure reactions to facts some don't want to face. Maybe some women feel Sandberg’s case is driven on too many gender studies and even sexist, though considering the facts and cases, taking such offense seems awfully resentful. I guess some of us girls never grow out of typical insecure teenage tendencies. Either way, lay off “Lean In” already.