“Lean In?” I’d Rather Not…

By Bri Lopez

I have to say that I was a little disappointed in myself when I realized how famous this book has become and that I still had not read it or ever heard of it until now. Then I read the article Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In, from The Feminist Wire, and now I can safely say that I have not read the book, do not intend to, and I am A-OK with that.

Maybe if I found a free copy lying someplace I might give it a gander, but otherwise, there are many other feminist works that do more challenging work with more inclusive attitudes than Sheryl Sandberg has done with her book Lean In. The author is being heralded as the new leader of feminism and some, such as Time Magazine, have even gone as far as ranking her “one of, if not the most important people in the world”…because I guess bell hooks and Audre Lorde were just kidding this whole time with their feminist writings? OH! Silly me, wait a minute, I forgot that to be praised like this you have to be rich and white, not to mention the array of other privileged identities that Sandberg not only encompasses, but speaks to in her book. Her vision of feminism seems to leave out trans folks, as well as people of color.

To add insult to injury, this book doesn’t really seem like it is challenging patriarchy at all, not any form of it, but rather offers guidance on how to work within patriarchy, conform to it in ways that benefit you, that is, if you are a white, rich, upper class cis-woman with a whole lot of privilege to begin with. If I am going to continue to spend money to read about feminism after all I’ve spent on an education about it, I want to read things that affirm and empower my identities and experiences. I want to read books that tell me how to cope with the experience of sexual violence, racialized violence, cultural appropriation, and other forms  of oppression that harm me on the daily, not tell me how I can keep quiet and appeal to the dominant culture to succeed (if one can even call that success). Sorry Sandberg, but I’m gonna call this one an epic fail.

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