Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Brave New World

Andrew Ferguson's review of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook provides a look at the world as a feminist envisions it will be:
An hour with the Lean In Collection allows us to glimpse what our world will look like as it races toward perfection. The titles of the photos are self-explanatory. “Portrait of woman working in a machine shop.” “Female surgeon using digital tablet after work.” “Two women doing pushups with dumbbells in crossfit gym.” There’s a soldier, several surfers, some mountain climbers, and one nervy woman tiptoeing along a slackline. It’s important to note that “Female woodworker nailing custom cabinet in workshop” is working on a custom cabinet; artisanal craftsmanship replaces mass production in the Lean In world. They can afford it! When you see “Two smiling mature women sitting outside on patio having appetizers,” you will swoon over the rustic getaway and know that one of them bought it with cash.

Women will spend a great deal of time in coffee shops in the Lean In future, either singly or in pairs. Mobile devices are their ever-reliable companions. ... They get tons of exercise, too, young and old and middle-aged, in airy, skylit gyms, which explains why none of them is fat. You can tell they aren’t fat because they wear yoga pants usually.

There will be very few books around, unless you count office binders. There will be even fewer men. The men who do sneak into the empowered world will be used for changing diapers, listening politely to a Lean In manager while admiring the charts on her whiteboard, and playfully holding children aloft, at arm’s length. Women will play with their children too, in educational ways that involve devices with flat screens. But mostly women will be working, and mostly in offices. Their offices will be exceptionally tidy and bare. ....

Quite often they will be working late. It’s notable how many of these images are crepuscular: “Professional wo-man working late in city,” for instance, and “Business woman on tablet at night.” The twilight quality of the collection is unmistakable, as though we are coming to the end of something. Working late or early, Lean In women spend much of their time looking out the window, pensively, with a hint of a thousand-yard stare, until the Guatemalan cleaning ladies come clambering to disturb the reverie. Is it nosy to ask what the Lean In women are thinking?
How comforting. Men will be relegated to nursery maids. But the women will be barren. Where will they get their children?

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