Thursday, March 20, 2014

Leaning Out - My Brief Response to Sandberg's White Capitalist Feminism

By Ana

As some of you know,  I've been a longtime skeptic of Sheryl Sandberg's magic two-word solution to gender inequality in the workforce. ("Leaning in")

For one thing, Sandberg's an unqualified guru, peddling a pro-capitalist quick fix to a long standing issue of social justice.

Like every symptom of oppression, workplace inequality is inextricably linked to the structural interworkings of gender, class and race... Meanwhile Sandberg's "analyses" only  deals with issues of gender. (It's almost as though class and race were completely irrelevant to a rich white lady...)

And speaking of rich white lady, I also find it off-putting that someone in her position could so confidently walk up to a nation of struggling women, and [all but] declare "I have the answer to your problems!" (Really? because generations of women's studies scholars still haven't come together to make an announcement like that...)

The third reservation I have with Sandberg's purported secret to success is that it basically boils down to "try harder!"

For many women in Sandberg's position, trying harder could easily represent the final key to getting ahead. But to a Latina domestic worker, "leaning in" means absolutely nothing. And how exactly is an underpaid inner city schoolteacher supposed to benefit from a go-getting commitment to getting ahead? (And will this inspiring brand of optimism magically equip her classroom with the textbooks and materials she needs?)

All of this brings me back to that one quote: "My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit."

Because ultimately what Sheryl Sandberg is feeding us, is some white capitalist bullshit.

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