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3.31.2014

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg


My initial problem with Lean In, which read like a self-help book for women aspiring to climb the corporate ladder, is the very same problem that I have in looking up to Marissa Mayer; Sheryl Sandberg has cultivated one of my most-loathed platforms for social media.  I hate FaceBook (why?---omg, all the TMI sharing of information, the freakishness of exposing our private lives on the internet), and use it only the interest of actually having some friends, since (for a certain type of person anyway) it has become a basic form of communication.  (My current mentality towards the platform is that if you're getting raped, just lay back and enjoy it--since it also can be fun.)


Sandberg's premise of book is that "the goal of true equality [of the sexes] still eludes us [and] will only be achieved when more women rise to the top of every government and every industry." (pg 159)
Clearly, then, she's defining equality economically--and the corner office as the seat of supreme power.  In a book almost entirely committed to commentary on the sexes she never acknowledges that there are any fundamental gender differences; and implies in fact that gender ought to be largely ignored.  "Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go thorugh life without being labeled by my gender," and "I know an engineer....who removes her earrings before going to work so coworkers won't be reminded that she is....not a man."  An image of an angrogonous woman with a butch haircut who dresses in baggy flannel plaids starts to emerge.


Sandberg rejects this image, however, both implicitly and explicitly.  In the current (April 2014) issue of Vanity Fair she's dressed in a sexy well-fitted red dress, and looks *good* for her 44 years--quite frankly, I'd like to read a book about her workout routine and who she's consulting for personal training.  And throughout the book she recoils against any labeling of herself as a bra-burning feminist.


Vanity Fair, April 2014
The book is remarkably well researched, and includes a 35 page bibliography for articles and quotes she references, plus an index (not even the 9-11 Comission Report can boast of such an accomplishment!), and she really sees all the sides to an issue.
She makes the very interesting point that parenting today (for 'working' and stay at home parents) involves more hours of primary childcare (meaning reading to a child, or fully focused attention on the child) than it did in 1975; arguably making the point that working mothers are still having the same amount of interaction and bonding with their child than a stay at home mom in the 70s.  And she also stresses the need to blur the lines between professional and personal in the workplace; that women and men can feel free to express emotion (and even cry) in the workplace rather than suppress emotion. I started to see a more well-rounded, I'm-sexy-and-I-know-it-plus-I-sell-girl-schout-cookies-with-my-daughter-on-the-weekend kind of a woman.  And she cleverly calls check-mate on any woman critical of her when she quotes Madeline Albright, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." 


"I hope that you--yes, you--have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world." Sandberg quotes from her now famous speech at Barnard College.  OMG.  What she fails to point out (or possibly even herself realize) is that a) it's fundamentally impossible for everyone to rise to the ranks she has--this is the self-help book that promises that so long as you believe in yourself, that you can rise from the ashes and direct and star in the next wonder-hit Rocky movie.  And additionally that, for a woman (or a man) to lean in on her career to the extent that Sandberg has fundamentally requires others to lean in as well in quite unspectacular areas of work; house-cleaning, nanny-work, and probably  house management as well.


But the biggest problem I have by far with Lean In is that implicit in her entire book is the belief that all women have the choice to either a spectacular career or a wonderful, fulfilling life as a stay at home mom.  Is she living under a rock?  Here we go back to my point in the previous paragraph; someone has to do the menial work; for every corner office position there's at least a dozen middle managers and scores of underlings~people in fact vying for the underling jobs!  Not to mention, how many women out there in their 20s, 30s and 40s are dying for a husband and have only experienced a depressing deluge of worthless, uninteresting and/or unaccountable men?


And so by the final chapter I came to a more accurate of this woman; at the end of her work day she arrives at her mansion to a Mexican woman cleaning her toilets, a nanny changing her babies' diapers, and sits down in a living room plastered with photograph of herself on the cover of every magazine published in America.  Then she drafts her next speech explain how we, too, can have it all.
And I suppose I'm condemning myself to a special place in hell when I say goddamn her.

3.21.2014

Why You Should Stay In Rather than See Mom's Night Out

I recently had the painful experience of watching "Mom's Night Out."  Still not quite sure exactly how I ended up at this pre-screening, except that a friend of a friend got tickets from an unknown source, and I made the mistake of accepting the invitation before watching the trailer.....so yeah, I would have walked out after 4 minutes, but since I couldn't abandon my friend, I instead walked the bathroom, puked, then braced myself and walked back into the theater.

The movie set out to be a wholesome take on mommies doing their best to be good mommies; it even includes the line "the hand that rocks the cradle is the ruler of the world"  Ah geez.  It has a very upbeat pro-family, pro-marriage message, which is great; the executive producers introduce themselves at the beginning as a couple who's been at it for 22 years now, etc. etc.  And the movie has a thinly veiled Christian theme; some of the paraphernalia we were given had Bible quotes, and the leader 'blessed us' all when he left .

The huge problem that I had with the movie were the characters, or maybe I should just refer to them as caricatures.  The central 3 or 4 mommies looking for a night out are church-loving, God fearing upper-middle class Caucasians who throughout the movie get juxtaposed with motorcycle-riding, tatoo-ridden, god-forsaken men.  Not only do I find these sterotypes boring and banal, it makes me furious to see that, once again, these wholsome women have claimed exclusive rights to Jesus; they are the gate-keepers within church communities, seeing to it that they are welcome within their community, but that people who are not like them (for example, people who are not upper-middle class married Caucasian women, but who wear tatoos, are single, on a different economic bracket, ride motorcycles, etc etc.) are cast out as god-forsaken pariahs.

(Where, btw, in the Bible does it say that having a tatoo is essentially the gateway to hell?)

Perhaps becuase I've seen versions of this dynamic played out over and over again in real time, it really infuriated me to see they same dynamic in the movies.

But no, I need to point out that the theater was full of these kinds of women; and that some of the immediate feedback after the theater was how 'hilarious' and 'true-to-life' this movie really was.  Which leads me to recommend this movie to anyone who is a Church-attending, Jesus-loving, middle class Caucasian mommy.  You really might enjoy it.





3.14.2014

Buzzsaw from LipTV

I was broken hearted tonight to discover that the Alternative News Program Buzzsaw has come to an end.  It's hosted by Tyrel Ventura, Tabatha Wallace, and Sean Stone, and in its rather meager stint has  had 113 episodes.  It started last year just after the Boston Marathon Bombing, and since then has provided some of the best interviews I've seen ever, anywhere, hands down.  Some of those that most stand out were the JFK interviews with Roger Stone and James DiEugenio, Abby Martin, Professor Griff of Public Enemy discussing the Illuminati, John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", Chris Hedges, Oliver Stone, Marianne Williamson, investigative journalists, and hypnotists.   Woah, such good material; discussing subjects such as the use of hypnosis within the Obama administration, the Illuminiati, the rolling out of martial law within the US, and the New World Order.  Sean Stone has such a moderate and reasonable approach to these issues, and I was constantly blown away by the depth of his knowledge on a variety of subjects.
I could cry.
Let's hope they will be back.

3.08.2014

Alec Baldwin

Even though it was nearly 2 weeks ago and so practically old news by now, I have just a few things to say about Alec Baldwin's rant in Vulture.  (In which he said, more or less, that he was so enraged over being named the worlds biggest homophobe that he would be leaving public life entirely, and so move to LA to live off the grid ~ and that he would continue to act.)



a) do you think that it will be possible for Alec to remain out of the public spotlight?  I mean geez, the guy has hosted SNL more than any other actor, he's been featured in multiple Vanity Fair articles (not always notoriously!), has his own podcast, and, hmmmm, what else?  A lot else!
We'll see.  It just seems to me that he gets a lot out of being in the public eye, and that it's gonna be real hard for him to give it up.  A baby and 20-something wife might not prove sufficient after a few months.

b) Judge Alec by his fruits.  His podcast, 'Here's the Thing' is quite good.  He's interviewed SUCH a wide variety of people on there; David Letterman, Kristin Wiig, Dick Cavett, Dylan Avery (an interview which, even more than any of Marc Maron's, has changed my life), George Will, Rosie O'Donnell, Jill Abramson....I could go on.  And he asks them informed questions.  He's an intelligent, free-thinking, interested guy.  Not so much the homophobic-I-scream-obscenities-at-my-daughter-and-vulgarieies-to-the-paparizzi-dick that certain MSM outlet's have pegged him to be (and which he's retaliating against).

c) did you read the part about his trials with bringing his podcast onto MSNBC?  The disparity between the substantive interviews that he wanted to do--Debra Winger, JFK-conspiracy icon Mark Lane, Ellen Barkin--vs. the one that MSNBC picked for him.....Rob Lowe.  OMG, if nothing else, that section of Alec's rant is a testament to why we need to cut ourselves off entirely from the MSM, and get onto twitter (following the right people!), listen to podcasts and alternative news stations exclusively just so that we can have a little bit of substance in our lives.  After all, Man does not live on WonderBread alone.....and being fed an interview with Rob Lowe would have been just that.

d) and, yeah, so I do have to compare this to Woody Allen's similar rant from a few weeks back.....something about them seemed uncannily similar.  Is it just that these two men are so huge, and people seem to care about their lives so much, that they can write 3k plus words about themselves and the bones that they have to pick with people.....and the rest of us actually CARE? .....or is it something else?  Well there's some sort of point that can be made comparing these two exposes!  I'm gonna figure it out.  Just not today.

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