But Sheryl was prepared for that. She addresses that disconnect early in the book. By quoting women from the developing world and acknowledging her advantages, she tries to make her message non-offensive to non-working moms, to single moms, to women who aren’t anywhere near her league.. (because let’s face it: if she addressed an audience of her peers, it would be a pretty small audience).
But that’s the problem — her league is entirely too dominated by men. And there are many many things in our culture that contribute to that. But even poor working schmucks like me and women without children can move the needle. “Lean In” is a somewhat unfortunate title for her book because it sounds like she is saying “Work Harder” — and a common reaction to that is probably, “Who are you – a privileged Queen B-, to tell me that? I am working my tail off! And I ain’t got time for your book!”
But I’m feeling Sheryl’s message, because what she has to say is just about being a woman — whether your aspirations include the Fortune 500 or you just want the best for yourself and your family. Her message speaks to our insecurities, our damaging inner dialogues, our acceptance of stereotypical societal definitions about what we “should” be like.. our fears… She asks us to examine our selves and, indeed, the feminist movement (Oh yeah, I said the F word) and just claim the 50 percent of the world’s power that we deserve.
That’s the kind of ‘Yay-Rah,’ round-kick, fist-bump stuff I think should be repeated. It’s not quite self-help that she’s offering — she’s offering a roadmap to navigate all the CRAP that gets thrown at all women. The ridiculousness of unpaid maternity leave in the U.S. That weird way men can be “ambitious” and it’s cool — but ambitious women are just “ballbusters.” The trickiness of sharing household duties equally.
And if there is one thing I’ve learned as a woman/mom — as a being that can transform her body — literally create another being and then feed it, dress it up in snappy oufits, and trot it out into the world every day — sometimes even without coffee! — We are woefully underestimated. And if we can rally around each other and support those of us who want to “Lean in” to whatever we do, then we’ll have more women in Sheryl’s league, more laws that improve our lot, and heck — maybe even better pay. And who doesn’t want more money for designer clothes and bon bons?