One of the womens book clubs I belong to read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg for the month of August. The discussions at the book club meeting was controversial, to say the least.
One woman at the meeting claimed that women didn’t need men and believed that there is no point in getting married unless you were having children. She also scuffed about how she didn’t believe that Sheryl Sandberg would cook dinner because she probably has her own personal chef.
Thankfully, there were other ladies at the book club meeting who were married with children who didn’t think a childless marriage was pointless (I did not admit to the first lady that I happened to be one of those women who has been in a childless marriage prior to my divorce) And I think “So what if Sheryl Sandberg has a personal chef?” If I was a single mother with such a demanding job that allowed me to financially afford hiring help, I would as well!
The discussion reminded me of the much-discussed topic of fat-shaming mothers. These women who have accomplished being physically fit after birth have apparently caused women who were not as successful in accomplishing that to feel shamed. I think none of these fit mothers were trying to shame other mothers but were aspiring to inspire other women the possibility of being fit after giving birth.
Likewise, single women don’t have to shame married women for being married and married women do not need to shame single women for being single. Working mothers do not need to make stay-at-home mothers feel bad about not working outside their homes and stay-at-home mothers do not need to make working mothers feel bad about not staying at home with their children full-time. I also loved that there was mentioning of not shaming stay-at-home fathers.
It’s bad enough that people make themselves feel bad for not being good enough. And I think it comes down to reasons why most bullies are mean to people. Everyone has insecurities, some more than others. I believe that people become mean when they project their own insecurities onto other people, taking out their anger or frustration.
While I do not have aspirations of being an executive at a Fortune 500 company like Sheryl Sandberg per say, I don’t think there is a need for me to compare myself negatively to a woman who clearly has great things going for her. In reading her book, I was still able to relate to my own world of being in a male-dominated place where I teach, practice and compete as a martial artist.
One of the other things I nodded in agreement with Sheryl Sandberg was her take on way women dress in the business world. For me, the issue dissipates as soon as I put on my martial arts uniform because I am wearing the same uniform as all the men. However, I do not make the effort to dress more “manly” when I am not practicing martial arts and would still prefer to wear a sports bra underneath my uniform to provide support for my inevitably feminine anatomy (hey, at least I don’t have to wear a groin cap!) After all, I am not trying to “outman” another man but simply proving my worth as a woman.
Whether you are a man or a woman, we all have our feminine sides and masculine sides. And I certainly have learned to embrace those sides of me over the years. One of the ladies at the book club meeting expressed her lack of staying interested in the book because she felt that she was not able to relate to Sheryl Sandberg. I personally feel the point of the message conveyed by the book was representational of our book club members – how wide our demographic is but how we embrace our differences as women and can choose to be supportive of each other.
My Other Observations, Comments, and Thoughts on the Book:
While the book disclosed personal experiences that were candid, it did include a lot of statistics and findings about men vs women in the workforce. So you will probably find (as I did) that there were a lot of pages at the end of the book dedicated to siting sources. Therefore, the actual length of the main body of the book is not as lengthy as it appears from the outside.
Though there are many repeat characters from her professional and personal life mentioned in her experiences, there weren’t any photos in the book. I understand that the main objective of the book wasn’t to really have it be an autobiography, but it might have been a nice touch.
Thank you for reading about me reading!