Pompom Girl for Feminism

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					SHERYL SANDBERG is not one to settle for being the It Girl of Silicon
Valley.

Nor is the chief operating officer of Facebook willing to write a book
that people might merely read.

One of her friends from her Harvard days told Vogue that the brainy,
beautiful, charming, stylish, happily married 43-year-old mother of two,
one of the world’s richest self-made women, has an “infectious
insistence.” (She would have to, having founded Harvard’s aerobics
program in the ’80s, wearing blue eye shadow and leg warmers.)

Now that she has domesticated the Facebook frat house, Sandberg wants to
be “the pompom girl for feminism,” as she calls it. She has a grandiose
plan to become the PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots reigniting
the women’s revolution — Betty Friedan for the digital age. She wants
women to stop limiting and sabotaging themselves.

The petite corporate star is larger than life, and a normal book tour for
“Lean In,” which she describes as “sort of a feminist manifesto” mixed
with career advice, just won’t do.

“I always thought I would run a social movement,” she said in “Makers,”
an AOL/PBS documentary on feminist history.

Sandberg may have caught the fever to change the world from Mark
Zuckerberg, or come by it genetically. She writes that her mother, at age
11, responded to a rabbi’s sermon on tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of
repairing the world, by “grabbing a tin can and knocking on doors to
support civil rights workers in the South.”

The charmed Sandberg is no Queen Bee. Unlike some other women who reach
the top, she does not pull up the ladder, or jungle gym, as she prefers
to think of it, behind her. Many women found it inspiring when she said
in “Makers” that she left work at 5:30 to go home to her kids, even while
they acknowledged that you might have to be Sheryl Sandberg to get away
with that.

Sandberg, who worked at the Treasury Department for her mentor, Larry
Summers, and at Google before going to Facebook, started a group called
the Women of Silicon Valley to listen to celebrity speakers and swap
stories.

She knows there is slow evolution or even erosion in women’s progress in
some areas, and that many younger women don’t want to be called
feminists. Professional women often take their husbands’ last names these
days without a thought.

Her book is chockablock with good tips and insights, if a bit
discouraging at times. She urges women in salary negotiations to smile
frequently and use the word “we” instead of “I.” And she encourages
employers and women to talk upfront about plans for children, which
employers may fear is lawsuit fodder.
She seems to think she can remedy social paradigms with a new kind of
club — a combo gabfest, Oprah session and corporate pep talk. (Where’s
the yoga?)

Sandberg has been recruiting corporations to join her Lean In Foundation,
which will create the Lean In Community and Lean In Circles, which are,
as The Times’s Jodi Kantor wrote, like “consciousness-raising groups of
yore.” The circles will entail 8 to 12 peers who will meet monthly and
use “education modules” to learn the skills to pursue equality. (Like how
Rosa Parks used bus modules.) The debut assignment is a video on how to
command more authority by altering how you speak and sit.

Women are encouraged to send in stories about leaning in, but no sad
sacks allowed: “Share a positive ending about what you learned from the
experience,” says the instructional material for Lean In Circles. And no
truants: “Don’t invite flakes.”

That leaves me leaning out.

Sandberg has already gotten some flak from women who think that her
attitude is too elitist and that she is too prone to blame women for
failing to get ahead. (Not everyone has Larry Page and Sergey Brin
volunteering to baby-sit, and Zuckerberg offering a shoulder to cry on.)
Noting that her Facebook page for “Lean In” looks more like an ego wall
with “deep thoughts,” critics argue that her unique perch as a mogul with
the world’s best husband to boot makes her tone-deaf to the problems
average women face as they struggle to make ends meet in a rough economy,
while taking care of kids, aging parents and housework.

Sandberg describes taking her kids to a business conference last year and
realizing en route that her daughter had head lice. But the good news was
that she was on the private eBay jet.

Sandberg may mean well, and she may be setting up   a run for national
office. But she doesn’t understand the difference   between a social
movement and a social network marketing campaign.   Just because digital
technology makes connecting possible doesn’t mean   you’re actually
reaching people.

People come to a social movement from the bottom up, not the top down.
Sandberg has co-opted the vocabulary and romance of a social movement not
to sell a cause, but herself.

She says she’s using marketing for the purpose of social idealism. But
she’s actually using social idealism for the purpose of marketing.

				
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Description: Feminism 4.0? Sheryl Sandberg launches a book tour designed to make her the Betty Friedan of the digital age.