What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Hoopla Around Sheryl Sandberg's Book

Cynthia Ruccia

Ok----I haven't even READ the book. I meant to read it. I intended to download it into my kindle and stay up all night Monday to read it. And then I meant to write about it on Tuesday. Clearly none of that happened as I got too busy with other things.

However that hasn't stopped me from being inundated with comments about the book and reading much of what has been written about it both online and beyond. Sad to say, once more a woman has stuck her neck out and is paying the price for it. Now I don't mean to sound whiny about this. As Harry Truman famously said, if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen. And he is correct.

But beyond the normal criticism of anything there remains about the criticism of Sandberg and her book more of the "Women Are Their Own Worst Enemy" syndrome mentioned in my last piece. I believe she is receiving the same blowback that Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and other women often receive who deign to stick their necks out, raise the standards, and simply get too uppity for people to deal with.

I work with all women and have for the past 30 years. I am the boss, not in the classical sense, but enough so that I can claim it. At any given time, my organization has had 150 women in it more or less. I have had experience working with women. And even though I haven't read Lean In, much of what I have read about the claims Sandberg makes about why women aren't rising to the top I agree with. The bottom line on that issue is that we are having to invent this new role for women, that of the boss and hopefully in large numbers, and we haven't figured it out yet.

Sandberg apparently puts out there that women don't always have the real expectation of success and therefore don't always know to do the right things to get there. We've lived in a world where the underlying theme is that men are hard wired to lead and women aren't. That fact alone is fact, not a whine about the patriarchy. And as such, if you are imbued with the worldwide cultural meme that women aren't cut out to lead, how in the world will we ever grow the idea after thousands of years of being taught otherwise? THAT is the dilemma women face and having worked with women for many years to encourage them to spread their wings, fly, and become all they are capable of being, I know a thing or two about the cultural conditioning and obstacles women face in getting there.

I was commenting to a friend this morning that the way women tear each other down is different from the way men do it. The men go after each other to establish who is going to be the top dog. In doing so, it becomes a tactical game so that at least the loser can admire the strategy that the winner used.

For women it is something else entirely. I repeat----there will always be criticism when one puts themselves out there-----always. It goes with the turf. Women are faced with a many edged sword. They can choose to play the man's game. Many times the women are oblivious to the man's game and they automatically lose by not playing. But add to that the crazy way women can't handle someone who raises the bar, and it becomes well nigh impossible for hardly anyone to thread that needle.

For women, we are often overcome with jealousy when someone else gets the golden ring. The behavior that this brings out is unique to each person, but we can't deny it exists. I have often believed that the knee jerk, visceral reactions from women are a result of having to share a very small pie and by being disempowered. The ways to deal with this state of affairs are passed down from generation to generation, and these coping strategies are the strategies of the powerless. It is hard to cheer someone on and honor their achievements when there is only one achievement to be had and she has it and you never will and it all seems so unfair. So we become our own worst enemy.

I have watched amazing women go down when they stick their neck out. The list starts with Hillary Clinton, continues on with Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina, and you can add on your own favorites to this list. The blowback is now happening to Sheryl Sandberg. I honestly have enjoyed reading many of the criticisms of her book. And while some of it is perfectly legitimate, a good portion of it is mean and catty, the lamentations of the powerless. We are NOT so powerless ladies, not at all. We must find a way to encourage each other. "Praise people to success" as my mentor Mary Kay Ash put it. We've got so many obstacles facing us, why add on more? Can't wait to read Lean In!!!!!!!


  1. I haven't read the book yet either so I don't have any comments on the contents.

    As to the latest yowling catfights over it, I would just like to say that Sandberg is a remarkably successful woman -
    I'm happy for her.
    She has written and published a successful book -
    I'm happy for her.
    Judging by her success, she seems to have found the lifestyle that makes her happy -
    I'm happy for her.
    She's rich enough to have choices, freedom, and to be comfy the rest of her life -
    I'm happy for her.
    She has a great sense of style and is sooo well put together -
    I'm happy for her.
    She has a husband and children she loves -
    I'm happy for her.

    Whatever choices she has made in her life, and however she was able to navigate her way through a tough climb to the top, I appreciate her willingness to share her story and point of view with the rest of us.

    Every time I have seen her interviewed she seems blissfully happy - and I am happy for her.

  2. well put Thia----your is an attitude we all need to strive for!!

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  4. Thanks for the reminder. I've been meaning to get the book. Just ordered it today from Amazon.