There’s lots of good stuff in this essay, most of the main themes I’ve highlighted on this blog before so I won’t repeat them in this post. But there’s something new in this essay that I want to think about some more… and that is the notion that personal anecdotes, which can be very feminist by nature and which I am a big fan of (thus I write a personal blog!), can also be used to build intimacy and sell ideas that maybe we shouldn’t be buying. Personal anecdotes are compelling and difficult to debate.. is that a problem?
Sandberg is most seductive when sharing personal anecdotes. It is these true-life stories that expose the convenient lies underlying most of her assertions that as more women are at the top, all women will benefit. She explains: “Conditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns.” This unsubstantiated truism is brought to us by a corporate executive who does not recognize the needs of pregnant women until it’s happening to her. Is this a case of narcissism as a potential foundation for female solidarity? No behavior in the real world of women relating to women proves this to be true. In truth, Sandberg offers no strategies for the building of feminist solidarity between women.
She makes light of her ambivalence towards feminism. Even though Sandberg can humorously poke fun at herself and her relationship to feminism, she tells readers that her book “is not a feminist manifesto.” Adding as though she is in a friendly conversation with herself, “okay, it is sort of a feminist manifesto.” This is just one of the “funny” folksy moments in the book, which represent her plain and ordinary approach – she is just one of the girls. Maybe doing the book and talking about it with co-writer Nell Scovell provides the basis for the conversational tone. Good humor aside, cute quips and all, it is when she is taking about feminism that many readers would have liked her to go deeper. How about just explaining what she means by “feminist manifesto,” since the word implies “a full public declaration of intentions, opinions or purposes.” Of course, historically the best feminist manifestos emerged from collective consciousness raising and discussion. They were not the voice of one individual. Instead of creating a space of female solidarity, Sandberg exists as the lone queen amid millions of admires. And no one in her group dares to question how she could be heralded as the “voice of revolutionary feminism.”
How feminist, how revolutionary can a powerful rich woman be when she playfully admits that she concedes all money management and bill paying to her husband? As Sandberg confesses, she would rather not think about money matters when she could be planning little Dora parties for her kids. This anecdote, like many others in the book, works to create the personal image of Sandberg. It is this “just plain folks” image that has been instrumental in her success, for it shows her as vulnerable.
From the brilliant bell hooks at The Feminist Wire with “Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In”. I meant to link to this forever ago and I’m finally catching up on half-written posts now, so….
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We also see outrageous voices wielding disproportionate influence in elections, independently vetting candidates, anointing or tarring the contestants, particularly during primaries. This has been most evident on the right, where outrage media are more abundant and mature. Finally, we believe outrage to be increasingly divisive in the world of congressional policymaking, as it works to brand collaboration, open-mindedness, and compromise as weak. This stigmatization of cooperation has particular gravity because public servants are well aware that key votes will be closely monitored by outrage venues and heralded as tests of ideological purity.
Attention. Great new book coming out from my friend, Sarah Sobieraj and her colleague, Jeffrey M. Barry – The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility. You can read an excerpt in Salon.
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First, I love my real Christmas tree with all my heart.
Second, I could not have that lovely Christmas tree defiled by bad decorations, no matter the sentiment. Not this year, I’m too fragile… and houseproud. So, I was clever this time. I gave the kids free rein in decorating the tree but I only made the decorations I like available to them. I am at peace with the result.
The kitsch angel most definitely made the cut.
Christmas decoration shadow.
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Into the sea.
Spontaneous dinner in my garden.
Lauca flying. (You were very brave, little button).
Cousins and cat.
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In each of these cases, the rudeness occurred in the context of doing something helpful or special for the kids involved. It was all just tokenism. The fake-gold medal, the swimming certificates decorated with smiley-face stickers, the special games for the class, and the extra help with homework were all designed to bolster self-worth, but were all undercut by a lack of basic patience and consideration.
I’ve done these types of things myself all too often. I’m impatient. I’m exasperated. I’m tired. I predict the worst behavior and then react to it before it happens. I’m not saying that the tutor or the teacher or the swimming instructor or the mom are bad people. Hell, there’s a better-than-even chance that they’re kinder, more patient people than I am. Some other guy is probably wrapping up another blog post right now based on something awful he heard me say to my kids. For one reason or another, it just really struck me today, for the first time, that even the most well-behaved kids get talked to this way every single day. Our collective inability to treat kids with basic respect provides one consistent message: you’re irritating and in the way.
From “Why aren’t we rude to grown ups the way we’re rude to kids?” by Ben Martin in The Good Men Project. Thanks to Penelope D. for the link.
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Keep your eye out for this film by John Pilger.. despite being critically acclaimed I believe it is struggling to get cinema release in Australia.
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Needless to say, hair ish is exhausting for the entire family. I’ve been seriously considering creating a set of business cards for her to hand out to the overly inquisitive. On one side of the card would be several images of the amazing versatility of Black girl’s hair. On the other, there would be these simple sentences: To paraphrase Prince, “my hair is something you will never comprehend.” Just let it go.
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