Ugh, You Lean In

I haven’t even read Sheryl Sandberg’s book yet, and I’m already tired of talking about it. This is not Ms. Sandberg’s fault, necessarily: whatever her original message is, it’s been co-opted by people who just can’t get enough of talking about how women should be living their lives.

On the one hand, we’ve got Lean In, which we seem to be choosing to represent the Women Must Be Big Successes in Business camp; on the other, we’ve got this horrifying nonsense about the retro wife. (God, some days, I swear I don’t care what becomes of feminism. Just spare me having to hear about one more woman who keeps bees on the roof of her brownstone and weaves her own tampons. I can’t.)

I recognize it’s weird to be talking about a book I haven’t read yet, and I wouldn’t, but here’s the problem: I’m so tired, I don’t think I could possibly press the button on my Kindle to download it. I seriously do not have the strength. The chatter around it has done me in.

My problem is two-fold.

In the first goddamn place, I do not believe that we need to choose between work and home. I’m not saying that Sheryl Sandberg wants us to, or even that the creepy housewives in that NYMag piece want us to; I’m saying that the media, which needs our clicks to survive, wants us to fear that we need to choose, so we’ll keep clicking and fretting and clicking and fretting. It reminds me of my first journalism-y job, in which an editor told me his rules of story craft: 1) scare the pants off of them, if you can; 2) don’t be afraid to make up statistics, but if you do, use a decimal. 96.8 percent of Americans will believe you, if you do.

In the second goddamn place, I’m over this war between men and women, and women and women, and parents and children, and Big-Endians and Little-Endians. I’m just flat over it. The bees — you know, the ones our imaginary housewife is keeping on her roof — are dying, Congress is full of assholes, there’s never anything good on TV, and I have no idea what I’m even supposed to eat anymore, because apparently everything is bad for you. I’ve got a lot to worry about, and someone else’s work-life balance isn’t even on the list.

Let’s all agree that there’s no one-size fits-all solution for any person or people or family. I won’t tell you what to do if you don’t tell me. In fact, even if you do, I still won’t tell you what to do, because I just don’t give the teeniest of pebble shits what you do with your life. I hope you’re happy, but if you’re not, well, there are a lot of unhappy people in the world. The good news is, you’ll fit right in.

The only solution that I can see is to try to be a little kinder to one another — and to remember that we never know what the world looks like from inside someone else’s skin.

leanin
Image: cactusmelba/Flickr

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