I Tried “Leaning In” But I Leaned Too Far and Fell Over; A Non-Mom’s Thoughts On Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Book “Lean In”

I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”. Ok, I technically listened to it on Audible, which means that I was working while I was listening to it, which I think means I was leaning in more than most women. Not that it’s a competition, but it kind of is.

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and wrote a book for women on how to be more successful. The idea behind it is how to stop letting ourselves cave to outside pressures that many men don’t have to deal with. This book seems to be the feminist “ra ra we can do it” manifesto of this year, and many of her thoughts are nothing new, just repackaged so she can get a little financial slice of the feminist pie (which is presumably bushy).

Those who know me know that I’m not much of a feminist in the “man-hating” definition of the word, nor Sandberg’s apparent “you must procreate to be a worthy woman” take on the word. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a woman president, and will fiercely debate my pro-life friends that, they aren’t truly pro-life if they aren’t stepping up to adopt or donate money to unwanted children; they’re just judgemental assholes. But I’m not out their burning my bra. I don’t even know if women are still burning their bras, to be honest. So there’s that.

But I wanted to give it a try because I saw a lot of my female friends recommending it, and I love books, so, why not?

Right off the bat, if you are a child-free woman, this likely isn’t the book for you. In Chapter 2 she began talking about the demands of working moms and I had hoped it was just for that chapter, but unfortunately by chapter 9, she was still rattling on about moms. Also, apparently, there are a lot of women out there with crappy husbands – she even makes her own husband kind of sound like a dick at times. An entire chapter focuses on how to get your husband to do more housework, as well as ways to get him to help take care of the children more. She also says that men get laid more when they do more housework. I guess that again must be a mom-thing because, if Calm-ass Husband tried to do the dishes as a form of foreplay, we’d have an issue on our hands.

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For someone who comes off as a feminist, I was disappointed to see her mainly pander to women who are mothers. The child-free movement is growing quickly, and largely stems from our rights to chose whether or not we want children. To assume that we all have kids seems counterintuitive to the fundamental idea around feminism. I find it bizarre that so many women like Sandberg complain that they are discriminated against in the workplace because they have children, while discriminating against women who chose to not have children. Pot, kettle, black.

I think one of the biggest fallacies that surrounds women without kids is that we somehow have it easier than those with kids, but a reminder: having kids was a conscious decision made presumably out of a desire to have them. I think one of the greatest disservices a woman can do to her children is to act as if they, or the life resulting from having them, are a hardship. We’ve all met our fair share of self-righteous moms who love to paint themselves as the martyr who sacrifices so much for her family, while working and keeping the household together. They almost act as if kids were something that just happened to them, rather than a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to have mom friends who do a great job at managing all of the responsibilities in their lives without constantly feeling the need to smugly lord it over the heads of others like some sort of trophy. Those also seem to be the moms who actually enjoy motherhood instead of treating it like a cruel inevitability of life. If I were to ever start complaining that I felt lonely without kids, everyone would look at me and say, “You chose this path, suck it up”. Why don’t we say that more to those who want to complain about their lives with kids?

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The fact is, being child-free does not exempt you from struggles, sacrifice, and hardships in life, they’re just different. Yet Sandberg continues to beat the mom-thing to death throughout her book, as if only moms deal with these issues. She reminds me of a friend of mine, a mother of two, who will listen to me vent a frustration I’m having about an issue, and then sum it up with, “Well, at least you weren’t up last night at 3am with a vomiting child,” as if it’s some sort of pissing contest, and her vomiting child trumps my heartbreak at having to watch my husband be forced to take steps to put his own mother in jail. Is there some level of disconnect from reality that clouds some womens’ brains and make them complete narcissists once they have a child?

I even double checked the title of the book, it said “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. It didn’t say “Lean In: Moms, Work, and the Will to Lead”. So in a sense, Sandberg actually managed to write a book about how women are alienated in the workplace, while alienating a portion of the women who read her book. Well done, Sandberg.

One thing she did mention that was helpful is the phenomenon called “Imposter Syndrome”, which I think is an important syndrome of which to be aware. I Wiki’d that syndrome (you know it’s true if it came from Wiki) and found out,

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

Basically, when you are receiving accolades, promotions, or a job offer because of your amazing accomplishments, there’s a part of you that says, “I don’t deserve this, I didn’t earn this, they’re going to figure me out eventually.” I know a lot of people, myself included, who have experienced this, so it was nice to hear that someone in a position such as Sandberg experiences it as well.

Overall, Sandberg has valuable things to say to moms, and I’m sure that moms will get a lot out of the book – I even bought it for a mom friend of mine. Unfortunately, for women who don’t have kids, we’ll just have to wait for a successful non-babyhead to be the beacon of inspiration in the murky waters of corporate America.

WINK Wednesday: A Review of Jen Kirkman’s Hilarious Book About Being Child Free, “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself”

Me: I need like, an hour warning before you come home from work today so that I can shower.
CAH: k…
Me: I realize that sounded shady as shit. I want to have dyed my hair and already showered before you get home, but I’ve been reading that new book by Jen Kirkman, so I am procrastinating doing it.
CAH: Oh ok!

This is what happens when I am half-reading, half-IM’ing my husband. I sound like I’m trying to get my side piece out of the house, and shower in time for the husband to come home.

I knew I wanted to do a review of Kirkman’s book for WINK Wednesday as soon as I heard about it, because it is about choosing not to have kids from a very funny lady who I first heard on my second favorite podcast, Ronna & Beverly. Since it IS WINK Wednesday, and this book involves not having kids, it seemed the perfect pairing.

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Speaking of pairing, WINK Wednesday means that there must be wine involved. I’d say this book pairs well with a wine juice box and some Vicodin.

BEFORE I CONTINUE THIS REVIEW THAT INCLUDES MY OWN COMMENTARY:

I want to mention some great mom friends to whom the upcoming commentary does not apply*:

1. Persephone

2. Spectacu-tits

3. Misty

4. Blah blah

5. Tanqueray Trickmommy ***

6. Magic Mountain **

7. Ham Sandwich

8. El Chupa Mombra

9. Shannon

* In the interest of privacy, I have changed all their names. But those of you mom friends reading this, you know who you are and feel free to assign yourself whichever name you’d like.

** Yes, I know, this is the name of a sexual position. It’s actually how her kid was conceived.

*** To S: I know you will want to be Tanqueray Trickmommy, but in my head, you’re Spectacu-tits.

Jen Kirkman hit the sperm on the pill-protected egg when it comes to being a woman who doesn’t want kids in today’s overly-obsessed baby society (that sounds obnoxiously book-reportish, but I’ve rewritten it at least 6 times, so it surprisingly sounds less book-reportish than the original sentence). It’s like she emptied my brain and put it on paper, but peppered it with her own stories, which are way more interesting than mine.

Here are some key takeaways from Kirkman’s book:

1. Pretending you are a few weeks pregnant at a nail salon may just get you some free neck massages AND a free mani/pedi from the overly-baby-enthusiastic salon workers, which is fucking brilliant. (Don’t judge. How many of you pretended you were pregnant just to get your ex-boyfriend to call you back? This is nowhere near that on the “Fucked up things you’re trying to get out of faking a pregnancy” scale)

2. I’m not the only one who finds that mothers inappropriately talk about their own bodily functions, as if the rest of us non-parents are OK with listening. I totally get that, once you’ve given birth and all of your self-pride and ability to be embarrassed are out the door because you’re crotch-up in front of an audience with every concievable bodily fluid spurting out like a Twirly Whirly Sprinkler, you have a way different view on bodily functions. But for the love of God, stop feeling free to be flatulent in front of me, or talk to me about you pooping. Because I have not had a drink of that Kool-Aid and I find it disgusting.

3. My favorite quote of the book: “I think that childfree by choice is the new gay. We’re the new disenfranchised group. People think we’re irresponsible, immoral sluts and that our lifestyle is up for debate.” THANK YOU! I know, you’re reading this thinking, “But being gay isn’t a choice and having kids is.” It’s all about how we live our lives and what makes us happy. If having kids makes you happy, great, but don’t assume it’s for everyone.

Jen Kirkman has some great new insight into the life of women (and men) who don’t want kids, but perhaps what I love best is that she echoes a lot of things that many of us DINKS/WINKS have been saying for ages. I find the echoed sentiment just as important as her own unique insight because I’m hoping that, if enough of us unite and continue to repeat the same stupid questions and commentary we get, eventually it will get back to the twat waffle moms and, the minute they open their mouths to regurgitate their proclamations over how we are wasting our lives, they will realize it is, in fact, cliche at this point, and just shut it.

The truth is, there are a lot of great moms out there who aren’t self-righteous twat waffles. And in reality, self-righteous twat waffle moms are just self-righteous twat waffles in general, but now they have a new lens through which to project their twat-waffliness.

And let me end with something that has been popping up a lot recently: those of you saying that being a parent is an underappreciated job, or a full time job, or a thankless job. I’m actually not going to debate that you’re probably unappreciated, overworked and totally tired. I just wanted to let you know the definition of job, because I think you are confusing “job” with “self-imposed responsibility.” A job is a “paid position of regular employment” (dictionary.com). It is where one trades goods and/or services for money. Unless your baby is helping me pick out a cardigan to go with my new red Gap jeans, this is not a job. Your child is of absolutely no service to me or society. And don’t give me the whole, “Well, s/he could someday cure cancer,” because s/he may also be the future Florida face eater or Joseph Kony (I finally got to mention that guy’s name and can now point to a useful reason that I watched that fucking video).

It is a responsibility of huge magnitude, there is no denying that. But it won’t be long before your kid asks you for a new pet. You will likely grant that child their request, on the condition that they promise to help take care of it. When, 3 months down the line, the kid complains about the responsibility because it is cramping their X-box/dolly dress up time, you will remind them that it is something that they wanted and that it is their responsibility. So for those of you complaining now, let us remind you that, those kids are something that you just HAD to have and we TOLD you it was going to be a big responsibility when you drunkenly confided in us over martinis that you stopped taking your pill a month ago and hadn’t told your husband. We are not going to applaud your decision for having unprotected sex just because your suddenly feeling unappreciated for your choices. We TOLD you!

To the above mentioned 9 ladies I know personally, you’re all doing a great job, don’t change a thing.

Get Jen Kirkman’s book, I can barely take care of myself.

Five Things I Learned While Reading Victorian Porn (Complete with Semi-Pornographic Victorian Pictures)

Why am I looking at Victorian porn, you ask? Perfectly reasonable question.

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Well, aside from my curiosity over the assertion of others that women used to have pubic hair, I’ve been quietly writing a book. The book is a historical fiction, and even though it is fiction, it is still historical. Therefore, the book should probably be somewhat accurate so that when it gets published and becomes wildly successful, the history snobs can’t sit there and be like, “Well Worthington (historical snob name), she would have a perfectly fine book on her hands were it not for the fact that she described the house’s study as having a copy of Emile Gallé’s Écrits Pour l’art 1884-89, which is preposterous since her story takes place in 1907, and we know that Galle’s book was not published until 1908.” And then Worthington would be like, “Mmmmm, quite right Alexander. Perhaps in her next book she will claim the lady of the house was using a tea bag in 1902.”

Fucking Worthington and Alexander. Judgemental bastards.

Because there are seedy elements in this book, I am doing major research on the seedy life of the Victorian era. Those were some kinky mo fos.

Thanks vintagelovelies.com!

Thanks vintagelovelies.com!

I won’t even touch the rampant incest that is lacing Victorian porn, but I will say that incest was seriously no big deal. I guess the sex-pool was scant back then? I don’t know – that is a question for Worthington and Alexander – but there were a lot of siblings getting busy.

Ew.

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But brother-lovin’ aside, here are five things I learned while reading a lot of Victorian porn:

1. They were really into hair. Like, not just in the normal spots it grows, but a girl with hairy nipples, or hair on her back, was considered a serious sex pot. The hairier, the merrier.

2. Casual sex often meant addressing the person formally, like, “Oh Mrs. Rose, do let me kiss your thighs.” I find it charming – when did booty calls become so informal?

3. Instead of turning out the lights, they shut off the gas. Of course, naughty Victorian girls left the gas on.

4. They often referred to the man’s penis as “the little gentleman.” How cute is that? It makes me picture a dignified penis, wearing a top hat and a monocle. I’m kind of thinking of renaming CAH’s to “the little gentleman.” I’m not sure if he will be up for that. He is definitely not up for the tiny top hat and monocle. I already asked.

5. The vagina is referred to as “Lady Jane.” Some may know this euphemism from the book Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but turns out that D.H. Lawrence was not the originator of this formal style of vaginal address. Of course, I do not know if “Lady Jane” was used across all classes. Lower class women’s vaginas were probably called, “Mrs. Jane,” like how servants were addressed. Or if it were an unmarried vagina, “Miss Jane.” Of course, it would have been “Ms. Jane” if it was a progressive vagina.

“But referring to a vagina as ‘Ms.’ does not denote a feminist vagina. The term Ms. was actually first proposed in 1901 to save people embarassment from improperly addressing a woman whose marital status was unknown.”

Shut up, Worthington.

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