Black Snob's Danielle C. Belton weighs in on the smoldering debate surrounding Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's comments about women holding themselves back at work, arguing that the conversation is more nuanced and should really revolve around promoting better family leave for all workers.
On 60 Minutes this Sunday there was an eye-opening interview with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg where, pushing a new book, wondered if women were the ones holding women back.
While Sandberg makes some valid points about women downplaying their worth or being afraid to negotiate for raises (this goes back to how often women, especially white women, are socialized to "be happy just to be here" then "apologize for existing"), her story is lacking in how myopic her view is. She's wealthy, accomplished, has an equally successful and supportive husband, nannies and had a career shepherded by a powerful man before blossoming as an executive and becoming the leader she is today.
Basically, she's the best case scenario.
But to say women are holding women back is too broad when she really means "Upper-middle-to-upper-class women hold themselves and each other back in a debate over whether or not they want equality or for men to simply be nicer to them." This is not a debate we're all having in the lower classes and ethnic groups. Our lady lament is more like "why isn't family leave time universal," "why won't my job let me take time off to attend to my sick kid," "why did I stop getting promotions just because I got pregnant," "why do I get such crappy wages compared to my male counterparts," "I wish Jim in accounting would stop hitting on me it makes me uncomfortable," "I wish my husband — if I have one — was more supportive or would at least wash the dishes sometimes" and so forth. Essentially problems that have little to do with the "lady within" but everything to do with the patriarchal world without. Where pregnancy is talked about by some like it's a disease and people think your womb (and what does or doesn't go in it) needs regulation.
Read Danielle C. Belton's entire blog entry at Black Snob.
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