Have you ever read a book for pleasure only to discover it had a homework kind of vibe to it? That is how I felt when reading Lean In.
What kept me going was the fact tat it was only 175 pages. Since I’m not in grad school, I didn’t have to read the 50 pages of footnotes.
I agreed with most of what Sheryl Sandberg said, disagreed with some, and was frustrated by her ultimate message that women should sit at the table except when they shouldn’t. The exceptions to the rule seemed arbitrary to me.
Part of the reason I waited for my turn in the library queue for this book was my quest to feel strongly about women’s issues. It all started by being motivated by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Since then, I have tried to be inspired to volunteer for women’s issues. I even went to an American Association of University Women meeting. Only then did I discover that their priorities were not my own.
I have no idea where I stand on the “feminist” label. Do I think that 51% of the population should be discriminated against because of their gender? No. That’s pretty much as far as I go on the topic.
In thinking about it, though, I think the reason I was so drawn to The Feminine Mystique was its historical significance and how true much of it still sounded. I learned in Lean In that Betty Friedan refused to work with or even shake the hand of Gloria Steinem. Immediately my mind drew the parallel to the Civil Rights movement. There was only one meeting of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
Dr. King was afraid that the radical nature of the Nation of Islam would damage the equality cause as a whole. It was the same concern in the feminist movement.
What bothered me most about Lean In is that I don’t want to be in a job where I am still working on vacation. I don’t see myself as committing my life wholeheartedly to any job like that. For me it has nothing to do with the “feminist” label; it is a matter of not having any job hijack my entire life.
Despite the fact that I will not be taking the issue to the streets myself, I thought Independence Day was the perfect for being appreciative of the women who did fight the battle (and those that continue to fight to maintain the rights already won) that have given me the choices I have today. Without the right to vote, reproductive freedom, the legal right to equal pay for equal work (whatever your opinion on where that stands today), I wouldn’t be able to have the life I have, especially since I don’t handle blood well, and I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. I am grateful for the pioneers who fought, often silently, to expand the world of women beyond the scope of the household and reproduction for those that choose that path.