Lean and Mean


OK, so as The Kraken even my Sundays are not devoid of rage and spittle and yesterday was no different. See, as I leafed through the Sunday Times I came across Eleanor Mills’ column which, like a squirrel with an age-old nut, tackled the issue of women in the workplace. So far, so what, until I got to the part where I read that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, has a book and campaign called Lean In. That’s when the Sunday shit hit the weekend’s fan.

See, Sandberg is at the helm of a scheme which encourages women to be ambitious in the workplace, chasing promotion, cracking the glass ceiling and inhabiting boardrooms like an infestation of cackling weevils. She claims that this campaign is all about women leaning into the workplace and their ambitions, focusing not on what they cannot do but on what they can do. Fuck me. Really?

Well, ‘scuse me Sheryl, love, but haven’t we heard this bag of festering bollocks before? See, because even though you sound supportive and positive, this campaign is still all about women fitting into the male workplace and I, for one, am sodding well up to here with this being the only way to get to the boardroom without getting carpet burns on my knees.

In fact I am so done with ‘leaning in’ that I may have permanently damaged my back, especially when I’m being continually being made to lean into a male workplace. And whatever anyone says, it is a male workplace if only because men got to the office lamppost first and pissed all over it. So my question is when is this workplace going to start fucking well ‘leaning out’?

By ‘leaning out’ I mean the workplace becoming flexible, accepting and not utterly panic-stricken when a bonus-bashing female account manager becomes pregnant or needs to take a snivelling child to the doctor. It’s also about being willing to see women as credible colleagues and understanding when not every employee can manage sixteen-hour willy-waving days while merrily taking their mobile phones to Corfu with them.

Otherwise, once again it’s all about women busting their sweating balls to fit in, isn’t it? It’s not about men taking the flak for why there are so few women in the boardroom, it’s about why women haven’t compromised, changed, sacrificed or grovelled enough to get there. Well thanks for that. Thanks, working world, for sticking a fat middle finger up at professional women before blaming said women themselves for not being cut-throat enough. Tell me, does the argument that women are to blame for a man’s behaviour remind you of another issue? How about women’s behaviour being blamed for the fact that a man has raped them? Really, swap the business suits and take-out coffee for the short skirts and shots and they’re the same scenarios.

According to Mills’ article Sandberg also suggests that women get on by doing things like tackling emails when the kids have gone to bed, an idea that makes me so deranged with rage that my left eye just popped out and rolled under the table. Sandberg can fuck that for a start. Why in the giddy frig should I do my emails at 9pm at night when the men of the workplace are doing them as part of the nine-to-five? If I’ve spent my day juggling memos and deadlines with feeds and bedtime stories I fucking well want to collapse  in the evening, not make it OK for my boss to keep shitting on me by agreeing to flog myself until I’m face down on my laptop.

Which means that Sandberg can take her philosophy of leaning in and shove it right up her Facebook account. Perhaps when you get to her position in one of the most influential businesses in the world you get to call enough shots that you no longer need to cry in the toilets from the strain of it all. Oh, and I take her book as evidence that she had time to spare to fucking well write one.

So screw leaning in. I’ve done all the leaning in I ever intend to do. It’s time for the rest of the world to lean out and, if she gives even the slightest shit about transforming the workplace, that includes Sandberg too.

What do you think? Does Sanberg have a point? Or may I be onto something? You know how to tell me, kraken-lovers…

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2 Responses to Lean and Mean

  1. Hairbear says:

    Bloody hell! How out of touch is this woman?! There is literally a ton of evidence to show women in the workplace who happen to be parents are more efficient, have less sick time , better time managers, etc, etc, however all this aside, what about men in the work place who also happen to be parents? Are they somehow exempt from parental responsibility too? Once they’ve managed to impregnate you is that it? FFS!! Why is it just women who are deemed less capable once they’re sprogged up? This makes me puce with rage!! Shouldn’t we be acting as CO-parents? Sharing responsibility? This woman’s is offensive to both male & female parents.
    Maybe I’m an evil harridan but I expect my partner to care for our children equally, he’s cleaned up plenty of sick, wiped plenty of arses and taken time off to look after them, does he deserve a medal for it, fuck no, it’s part of being a parent.

  2. A++++
    I am agreeing with you so hard. And yes, it’s the same kind of woman-blaming that can be found in all other walks of life! Sheryl Sandberg gives me a major case of the twitch-eye too. Just what the misogynist mainstream wants and needs. She happens to be a complete wunderkind of the Ivy League, apparently, and it’s ridiculous that a woman like that should be telling the masses how to *make themselves* successful. This whole rat race for the best positions and the best pay is really the opposite of solidarity, anyway. I wouldn’t mind having a comfy, secure future ahead of me, but I’m not going to dedicate my life to “making it” in a world I despise while my sisters and poor brothers are dying. There is much more important work to be done. Besides, in capitalism, one person’s advantage tends to be another person’s disadvantage, and there are not enough well-paid, even remotely fulfilling jobs out there for everyone to have one. Jobs are only going to get fewer as technology advances further. Meanwhile populations skyrocket and competition becomes harder and increasingly draining on body and soul as well as on the planet. No thanks. We should all see through this social-darwinist lie and devote ourselves to working toward collective success, without competition, for the prosperity of all. We have to do away with this rags-to-riches individualist shit. The American Dream is a delusional nightmare, as is all of capitalism.

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