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bell hooks Leans In On Lean In

Mass media (along with [Sheryl] Sandberg) is telling us that by sheer strength of will and staying power, any woman so inclined can work hard and climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top. Shrewdly, Sandberg acknowledges that not all women desire to rise to the top, asserting that she is not judging women who make different choices. However, the real truth is that she is making judgments about the nature of women and work – that is what the book is fundamentally about. Her failure to confront the issue of women acquiring wealth allows her to ignore concrete systemic obstacles most women face inside the workforce. And by not confronting the issue of women and wealth, she need not confront the issue of women and poverty. She need not address the ways extreme class differences make it difficult for there to be a common sisterhood based on shared struggle and solidarity.

It’s never too late to hear from bell hooks! The author, feminist and social justice activist just penned a review of Sheryl Sandberg‘s best-selling book Lean Inwhich many have celebrated for encouraging women to break the corporate glass ceiling, and it is on point. I read Lean In and while I found it had some interesting and helpful advice for someone like myself (a white chick in a managerial position at a media company), I was also bothered by how much more hoopla surrounded its publication in comparison to the many other truly radical and revolutionary books from feminist thinkers who take women of all races and economic statuses into consideration. bell hooks full review of Lean In is well worth a read — or three. [Feminist Wire]

 

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • Courtney

    I think some of us are reading more into Lean In than was intended. At no point in Lean In does Sheryl Sandberg claim to be writing a one-size-fits-all book that applies to all women. The reality is there are other women in situations similar to her (women of all colors and ethnicities) and there are choices that we make in terms of partners, family and career that alter our trajectory. This book was not meant for the low-income woman struggling to make ends meet – every book does not need to be for everybody. This book was for women who are educated and who have opportunities to achieve “great” things, however, you interpret that. It makes you aware of the little and big choices you make in your daily life that affect your prospects for success. Obviously, every thing is not applicable to everyone – I am not a white woman (I’m black), did not befriend Larry Summers at Harvard and am not married to a man who is a millionaire. Nevertheless, I am an Ivy-league educated lawyer at a top NYC law firm and her book gave me a lot to ponder. Yes, there are barriers and issues that are specific to my experience as a black woman that she can’t understand and about which she can not speak, and I didn’t think it was here duty to do so. I think dialogue is great and we should never miss an opportunity to discuss issues of race and wealth and the barriers that race poses in the attainment of wealth (and how there is a large segment of the population for whom Lean In will never be applicable because of those barriers), but there’s no need to criticize Sandberg for not doing so.

    • Beks

      I agree with everything you said (everything ain’t for everybody) but I am hesitant about your point that we shouldn’t critique her for leaving the all women voices out. It is important, when speaking with universal language (women need to…), to point out those holes in whom is being included in the term women and which women are being left out. No one, no theory thought nor text is perfect – we only win when analyze, fix or respond to relevant feedback and hook’s point only strengthens Lean in if taken seriously.

    • Mandii

      I think that what is problematic when others women’s voice are left out is that women who “lean in” and assimilate into a system that is inherently patriarchal and born out of white supremacy they become complicit in a system that promotes class gender and racial oppression. The edify the very system that oppresses they women left out of the discussion.

  • Brenande Mossita

    This is so funny because I have seen a lot of white women to tell Sandberg to sit down! bell hooks definitely tells Sandberg that this false new conservative feminism needs to be looked at for what it is. It is a white woman stating that racism, sexism and patriarchy are in the past and if you put yourself out there then you will make it! Sheryl Sandberg needs to have a seat!

  • Eduardo

    There are feminists who are rather compatible with conservative ideology. This is one example. Too many feminists are obsessed with “women in the boardroom” and cannot be bothered -for example- with white working class women.