“Lean In”, says Sheryl Sandberg. That way you won’t miss when you chuck your husband and kids under the bus.

14 Mar

Sheryl Sandberg’s admonition to women to “lean in” to their careers has ignited quite the debate in the media, especially amongst all the rich white ladies to whom she is speaking.  As expected, she gets lots of sneering contempt for being a rich white lady, mostly from other rich white ladies, who are just not quite as rich as Sandberg. The not-quite-as-rich white ladies resent Sandberg’s implication that they need to work a bit harder.


Kudos to Sandberg for at least admitting that the real problem with lack of women at the top of the corporate world is that they simply don’t make the kind of effort and sacrifice required to be there.  She’s absolutely correct with that analysis.


Where she goes off the rails is by suggesting that women deliberately, purposefully and strategically COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY IGNORE the needs of anyone they care about, and focus solely on themselves.  Don’t feel bad about abandoning your infants to the care of poor women, she says. Focus on your career and put those little buggers in daycare for MORE time.  Consider it an investment in yourself.

sad baby

Well, isn’t that precious?  How delightful for the children.

Most women see instantly that Sandberg is full of shit and more and more of them are choosing their children and husbands over a corner office, which is a heartening trend.  Susan Faludi, who wrote a very famous book called Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, takes Sandberg to task on her views about the importance of mothering, but she spins it in a very interesting, and quite frankly, alarming direction.

In a piece at CNN called Sandberg Left Single Mothers Behind, Faludi lays out a vision of the future that is both depressing and infuriating at the same time.



Our economic framework is founded on women’s subjugation.


The power structure that Sandberg wants to feminize was built to cement the power of (some) men, and on the backs of (most) women, who would not only stay out of the power suites but would make all the power plays possible by assuming every backstage duty, from minding the kids to handling the least glamorous and lowest-paid work. It’s in capitalism’s DNA, and no cosmetic paste-ons at the top are going to change the dynamic without significant change on the bottom.

Faludi goes on to quote Charlotte Bunch, who claims that “class distinctions are an outgrowth of male domination”.  Faludi doesn’t appear to have any problem with that statement.



It’s such a clever little semantic trick isn’t it?  On the one hand, Faludi and her furious friends acknowledge that power is concentrated in the hands of some men (mostly rich, mostly white) and then they use that as evidence that most women are shut out of the power structure while completely ignoring the fact that SO ARE MOST MEN, and then in a nice big giant spin of the hamster wheel, they declare our entire society to be male-dominated.



In order to advance the theory of patriarchy, you need to do two things:  ignore the fact that most men are just as powerless as most women, and ignore the fact that some women are just as powerful as some men. It’s unusual to see that played out so blatantly, though.  How in the hell can you look at an argument like that and not see the flaws?  It boggles the mind.

Ah well. So it is.

Let’s look at the rest of Faludi’s article.  After declaring that male-dominated society perpetuates class as a means of maintaining their domination, Faludi turns her attention to a large class of subjugated women:  single mothers.  She has a little moan about the fact that single mothers are held responsible for their own choices, and has a little weep over the fact that in the US, taxpayers are ever reluctant to hand over their cash to pay these women for making terrible decisions.

The U.S. provides the worst support structure for single parents of any economically comparable nation, a recent major study by Legal Momentum found.




And it’s only getting worse, as politicians aim to slash welfare programs, enforcement of child support, child tax credits and anything else they can think to deny single mothers, as they blame them for all that’s wrong with society.


Oh, boo hoo.  That’s so mean.  Why can’t I have a baby with no means to pay for it?  Why can’t you pay for it?  What, you’re paying for your own children?  Well too bad.  Pay for mine, too!

Now Faludi gets to the heart of her vision for the future:  why, she asks, can’t women like Sandberg CHAMPION single mothers?  Promote them as the ideal vision of what our society should be? Single mothers, you see, are the key to women’s independence.

She is an adult woman with responsibilities who is not supported by a man. Symbolically, she stands for the possibility of women to truly remake the patriarchal structure. That would require a movement built not around corporate bromides, but a collective grassroots effort to demand the fundamental social change necessary to grant independent mothers a genuine independence

Let’s look at this very carefully, shall we?

She is an adult woman with responsibilities who is not supported by a man.


Except for the 47% who receive child support payments.  From a man (potentially the biological father of the child, but not necessarily).


money tree

And except for the 35% who receive government benefits, which, astonishingly, do not grow on money trees in the fairy garden. Most of that money comes from MEN, who carry more of the tax burden than women, because they tend to make more money than women.


In the UK, for example, men pay over 70% of the taxes collected. So anyone receiving state benefits is most certainly dependent on a man.  On all working men, in fact.

Symbolically, she stands for the possibility of women to truly remake the patriarchal structure.

Leaving aside for the moment that the power structure is an aristocracy in which both rich men and women exploit the poor who, are also both men and women,  what is this power structure going to be transformed INTO?

Faludi answers her own question:

Consider instead the benefits of a campaign that bore down on the causes behind the negative endings that mar so many single mothers’ lives. It would not only be confronting a problem that affects huge numbers of women, it would be mounting a significant challenge to a system that will otherwise continue to stand between women and full emancipation.


Emancipated from what, pray tell?  And now we have the entire point of the theory of patriarchy, don’t we?  Women are to be emancipated from the domination of men.  Men will contribute two things:  sperm and cash.  Give me babies and give me money.  And then kindly go fuck yourself.


I can’t quite figure out why men object to this. It’s not like we’re going to DOMINATE you, lads.  We’re just going to make the most of what you have to offer.  Money and babies, money and babies, la la la la la.

That would require a movement built not around corporate bromides, but a collective grassroots effort to demand the fundamental social change necessary to grant independent mothers a genuine independence

Know how to grant single mothers genuine independence?  Let them pay for themselves.  Let them lie in the beds they have made.  You want to have a child without a man’s support?  Then accept that you will NOT HAVE A MAN’S SUPPORT.

Why the hell should MEN pay for a social system that is designed to reduce them to strict utilities, unless some woman graciously consents to allow them to be fathers and husbands and yet retains the right to reduce them to functionality at any given moment?


The whole point of the early women’s movement was to ensure that WOMEN were not treated as mere cattle to bear offspring, although that was never the case to begin with.  While women were considered the “property” of men, men had the corollary obligation to pay for the upkeep of their “property”.  Obviously, that is distasteful and the declaration that women are not property was both necessary and just.

How is it possible that Faludi cannot see that she is arguing for a cultural change that would define MEN as property? The collective property of all women.  And how on earth can she imagine, for one second, that men won’t fight back?

You wanna talk Backlash, Susan?


Just watch.

Lots of love,


13 Responses to ““Lean In”, says Sheryl Sandberg. That way you won’t miss when you chuck your husband and kids under the bus.”

  1. happycrow March 14, 2013 at 17:14 #

    Methinks Liz is going to like your choice of imagery. 🙂

    Yeah, Sandberg is the bitch who can’t remember how old her kids are. Faludi is the unreconstructed Redstocking-style retrograde feminazi. Let’s hope they both lose.


  2. Liz March 14, 2013 at 17:57 #

    LOL! I am starting to think she’s choosing pictures to torture me.


  3. Leap of a Beta March 14, 2013 at 19:00 #

    Hah. The slate article you linked at the top was hilarious. The author showed she really doesnt understand (as most women don’t) how risk works in a man’s career. We say we can do things not because we’ve done them before but because we have faith in our ability to learn through hard work and Ingenuity. We also know how putting a personal life first in emergency can gain respect, but abusing the systems personal days, time off, sick days etc will kill your career. Or wielding authority to get superior products rather than just to weild it.

    To the author and many women these dont make sense, which is why women are either unliked, miserable, but ‘successful’ or dont get into the place they want in their career.

    Sandberg seems to get a vague outline of the not problem she sees as a problem. Just enough to be successful and likely ruin more lives of women using her as a role model

    Alternatively, women could just start doing what they’re good at rather than make up the lies of feminism to try and be something they’re not


  4. sqt March 14, 2013 at 19:46 #

    I was actually surprised to see such a backlash against Sandberg. Not because it isn’t warranted, but because I figured she’s the feminist ideal. But, as you noted, her biggest mistake was in telling women that they need to do the work themselves to get to where she is (family be damned) and not simply blame the patriarchy like everyone else does. It would seem that accountability is a dirty word in the feminist milieu no matter what.


  5. Alex March 14, 2013 at 20:06 #

    it’s silly how they think they’re independent of men when quite a few of them are using government services which are either provided for by men or have men as the majority taxpayer for them, or both. someone should tell them to look at what happens with their financial life before they can say they’re independent


  6. happycrow March 14, 2013 at 21:40 #

    Feminism is a grievance-cult. She’s tellling them “lean in.”
    They’re hearing “if you can’t make it’s your own damned fault, you lazy bitches.”

    And of course, for fifty years now they’ve been saying “you can’t make it and it’s THEIR fault.” So yeah, it’s not a surprise that the knives are out.


  7. TMG March 14, 2013 at 22:17 #

    Ancient Rome taxed bachelor males for a time to pay for the care of unmarried women.


  8. Marlo Rocci March 15, 2013 at 04:29 #

    I would say there is a backlash in the crashing marriage rate. So it’s entirely expected that they would want to compensate by using the government as a replacement for the father.

    I just sit back in my confortable unmarried lifestyle and watch the train wreck we call the american family crash and burn, amused.


  9. Liz March 15, 2013 at 13:25 #

    Worked for Ebenezer Scrooge.


  10. Apollo March 16, 2013 at 13:39 #

    How is it possible that Faludi cannot see that she is arguing for a cultural change that would define MEN as property? The collective property of all women.

    Shes blinded by her own solipcism and is incapable of seeing that this negatively affects men. Or maybe she does understand what shes advocating and just doesnt care about the negative effects on men. Because Patriarchy. Or perhaps because she thinks working for the benefit of women is just what men “do”, that we are just womens beasts of burden, and not people with our own wishes, hopes and desires. She wouldnt be the only woman to think that.

    And how on earth can she imagine, for one second, that men won’t fight back?

    They havent done much fighting back so far. And with some of the pathetic male specimens we have these days, its hard to believe they ever will. If this current period of affluence ends, and things get difficult however, a lot of these weak men will die off, or toughen up by necessity. And the hard ones that remain wont be looking too fondly at those fish who didnt need bicycles.


  11. Ashley March 16, 2013 at 22:03 #

    How can people misinterpret Sandberg’s message so badly to think she suggests women forget about their families and focus only on themselves?


  12. Jack Strawb March 30, 2015 at 07:13 #

    Faludi is a Reparations Feminist, don’t you know. Being “the collective property of all women” is simply the debt men owe. Or so she believes.


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