women's rights

Quotes to remember: bell hooks on Leaning In

Mass media (along with Sandberg) is telling us that by sheer strength of will and staying power, any woman so inclined can work hard and climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top. Shrewdly, Sandberg acknowledges that not all women desire to rise to the top, asserting that she is not judging women who make different choices. However, the real truth is that she is making judgments about the nature of women and work – that is what the book is fundamentally about. Her failure to confront the issue of women acquiring wealth allows her to ignore concrete systemic obstacles most women face inside the workforce. And by not confronting the issue of women and wealth, she need not confront the issue of women and poverty. She need not address the ways extreme class differences make it difficult for there to be a common sisterhood based on shared struggle and solidarity.

Read this amazing and analytical piece by bell hooks on Sandberg and “Lean In.”  Spot. On.


2 thoughts on “Quotes to remember: bell hooks on Leaning In”

  1. Ruchi Asher says:

    Thanks for sharing this article, Akhila! I do think that part of Sandberg’s success is the fact that she packaged, marketed, and sold empowerment in an easy-to-digest form. While it’s critical to understand the nuances of what feminism means, selling the “product” that is feminism is also important. Too many ambitious women (myself included!) have not internalized the process of stepping up, asking for what we want/need, and not apologizing for it. If a catchphrase reminds us to do that (I caught myself telling someone I had a lean-in moment today), then we’re on the right track, right?

    1. Akhila says:

      Certainly, agree that the framework can be useful for women like us who have these opportunities. However, a lot of the book is simply not applicable to those who do not have access to such opportunities, and I think the message bell hooks is trying to impart is to simply be more mindful of that and to also be inclusive in your message and consider intersectionality when you are a feminist.

      I do agree that learning to step forward, ask for what we want, not being afraid to have a voice is all very important for women. I am not discounting that, but only stating that 1) it is not necessarily an inclusive message and applies to a small group of women, 2) implies that fitting into the current framework/structure is the best thing to strive towards, with no discussion of whether an alternative societal model is a better one. In the short run, however, since society isn’t going to magically change, I agree that these tips are useful. Finally, a lot of things Sandberg talks about are not things we can really control — how can women really step up in their careers when this country does not offer maternity/paternity leave for example?

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