by Brianna Suslovic ’16
Since the arrival of Sandberg’s book Lean In last year, feminists and non-feminists alike have been in an uproar about how sensational and controversial Sandberg’s narrative has been. Some see Sandberg’s book as a rallying cry for the “ordinary” American woman (yes, the one that’s afraid of those bra-burning, man-hating “feminists”). Others, like hooks, choose to critique Sandberg’s ignorance of race and class in what has been lauded as a new feminist manifesto.
hooks’ piece is definitely worth a read–it offers some serious analysis and critique of what hooks calls faux feminism, this brand of feminism that shies away from the militancy and theory-heavy feminism, leaning instead toward a more neoliberal or capitalist slant.
While I personally find myself leaning more towards hooks’ brand of feminist thought, it’s hard for me to not Lean In. Who’s to say that there’s only one way to be a feminist? For me, feminism is about individual experience and thought, and labeling brands of feminism as better than others seems a bit alienating and nonproductive. Is Sandberg making feminism accessible to a broader audience, or is she alienating the feminists who don’t connect to her white, straight, cisgendered, upper-class narrative?
I don’t have an answer to that question, but I’m torn between the valid critique of hooks and my fear of feminism’s death within the general public. I wonder if, without Sandberg’s book, even fewer individuals would be interested in feminism in a modern context. Dear HCWC blog readers, I’ll leave that answer up to you.
On bell hooks:
On Sheryl Sandberg:
- NPR interview with Sheryl Sandberg
- Bloomberg Businessweek‘s critique of Lean In
- Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk