Since Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, was published, there’s been debate about whether or not this was next step for women’s equality. Sandberg has now partnered with the NBA as part of a Lean In Together PSA, designed to get men involved in the fight for equal rights.
The hashtag is full of feel good pics of men that equate with being basically decent people, like parenting their kids and helping take care of their homes.
The message on the Lean In Together homepage reads as follows.
“Children with involved fathers are happier, healthier, and more successful.
Couples that share responsibilities have stronger marriages.
Diverse teams and companies produce better results.
Men, show the world you’re in for equality. Women, celebrate men leaning in.”
There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about that. Families (heterosexual, two-parent ones, anyway) do better when mom and dad work together; what’s offensive about that? Not much, argues Julia Carrie Wong at Salon, which is part of the problem.
“But the assertion that ‘equality is not a zero-sum game’ belies a fundamental hollowness at the core of Lean In Together’s brand of feminism that ignores the realities of our capitalist society where resources and power are finite.”
In discussing the effect that Lean In has had on women, the BBC notes the following.
“Many reviewers deemed the book too narrowly focused on women like Sandberg: educated, white, wealthy and with opportunities beyond the reach of most women.”
After all, Sandberg’s challenges to women that they value themselves, demand raises, and challenging gendered language in reviews, ring pretty hollow when you’re working minimum wage just to keep a roof over your children’s head. Many critics, according to the BBC, also suggest that the Lean In manifesto focuses too much on the behavior of individual workers, without addressing the systematic issues that come into play for many women.
The “lean in” concept was most recently in the news in the recent dust-up over Jessica Williams, and the hope on social media that she might take over the role of hosting The Daily Show when Jon Stewart leaves. After several weeks of speculation, Williams put rumors to rest saying that she was “under-qualified” for the job. A blogger took issue with that, telling Williams to “lean in” because the opportunity would be good for both women, and specifically women of color. Williams’ now somewhat famous reply was as follows.
“I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours. No offense, but Lean the F**k away from me for the next couple of days. I need a minute.”
After all, this is far from the first time feminists have called on men to get involved. Emma Watson, as reported on the Inquisitr, asked the same things last fall. #HeForShe trended for a couple minutes, and then the world’s attention moved on. It remains to be seen if #LeanInTogether will manage to generate any more lasting attention, or if it will let people post a bunch of happy messages about their husbands, brothers, and dads, without doing any of the hard work of actually creating equality.