“Sheryl Sandberg isn’t the perfect feminist. So what?”

2 Mar

“Sheryl Sandberg isn’t the perfect feminist. So what?”

(Jessica Valenti on the backlash to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s not-even-released-yet book, Lean In.)

The view that Sandberg is too rich and powerful to advise working women is shortsighted; it assumes that any sort of success is antithetical to feminism. The truth is, feminism could use a powerful ally. Here’s a nationally known woman calling herself a feminist, writing what will be a wildly popular book with feminist ideas, encouraging other women to be feminists. And we’re worried she has too much influence? That she’s too . . . ambitious?

The cutting down of feminist leaders is nothing new. Writer and activist Jo Freeman said in a 1976 Ms. magazine piece that “trashing” within the feminist movement had become a toxic, yet accepted, form of policing other feminists — especially those perceived as successful.

“To do something significant, to be recognized, to achieve, is to imply that one is ‘making it off other women’s oppression’ or that one thinks oneself better than other women. . . . The quest for ‘leaderlessness’ that the Movement so prizes has more frequently become an attempt to tear down those women who show leadership qualities, than to develop such qualities in those who don’t.”

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