WTF happened to feminism?!
I usually don’t talk about feminism per se, because honestly I usually don’t think about it. Thanks to role models like my mom, who was an MIT co-ed in the ’60’s and an original nerd, helping develop the internet at Bolt Beranek and Newman and teaching computer science at UMass Boston, I’ve never for one second doubted my personal right to be a thoughtful, argumentative, and ambitious woman. I learned from my mom, and from other trailblazers, that I can pursue my personal interests and trust that the world will welcome my contributions.
Two events in the past week have made me think about how confusing this message has become for today’s growing girls, however.
First, the Sheryl Sandberg thing. To be honest, I haven’t read the book. But I have read this Washington Post article describing the book, and here’s my take on it: a corporate branding campaign loosely tied to women, but mostly pushing forward the agenda of how to be a company drone. From the article:
Sandberg’s understanding of leadership so perfectly internalizes the power structures of institutions created and dominated by men that it cannot conceive of women’s leadership outside of those narrow spaces. Does this also explain why, for Sandberg, the biggest threat to our ability to occupy a position of leadership is a woman’s desire to have a child? This is what men have been telling us for years.
Sandberg may miss so many women in her movement simply because her brand of gender equity is almost entirely privatized, doled out from employer to employee. Women, she advises, will find their way to the top through telling employers upfront about their childbearing plans, through learning how to negotiate pay raises (say “we” instead of “I,” Sandberg cautions, though the collective here is the corporation), through comportment exercises, as taught through Lean In’s web videos.
Like I said in this post, wouldn’t an actual feminist agenda include saying “The hell with this!” to a corporation that is so stifling that all our imaginations could bring us is better maternity leave negotiation tactics with the Borg? Resistance is futile, man!
Answer? As it turns out, anything where you have an opinion and they feel intimidated by you. Solution? Dumb it down, sex it up, and act like a toy. That way, in her words, you’ll be empowered, because they’re all calling you back, and the choice is yours. The choice, I’d add, from a long list of wimps. No thank you.
Can we do better than this, people??