I probably didn’t even need to read Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In,” because by the time I actually picked it up, I had read so many reviews, and had seen so much commentary about the book and about her everywhere – and I mean everywhere – that I felt like I already knew its basic premise (but for the record, unlike some bloggers who have written about her, I did read it.)
It’s essentially a 4th wave feminism theory. It’s not that we need to burn our bras for independence (1st 20th century wave.) It’s not that we have to dress like men with floppy bow ties and shapeless suits to make our way up the corporate ladder (2nd wave.) It’s not that we have to be superwomen, balancing work and family seamlessly and pretending that it’s all rose petals and perfection, and at the same time, fight the backlash against women in the world, a la Susan Faludi (3rd wave.)
It’s that we are still trying to find a way to be the working women we want to be, the moms we want to be, the spouses and partners we want to be, and the people we want to be. And we need tools and support to make that happen.
It’s actually a really good message, despite its detractors. Sure, many have criticized Sandberg for being elitist, for being wealthy and white, for being high up on the corporate ladder where few women rest and therefore not being able to see down the rungs behind her, for being hetero-normative, for being married to a partner with the ability to be flexible and allow her to stretch her limits with a safety net, etc. etc.
All of this is true. And there is the whole nagging other side of the question that she doesn’t really address – how the work world does (or does not) support and accommodate women and men and families. But none of this makes her message any less resonant in my mind.