Leaning In to a Contradiction

Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In' is full of conflicting views because she is conflicted herself.

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I've ghostwritten several books, and the problem is when you ask people of a certain caliber to give you comments on the draft, you pretty much have to include them in the book so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. If a senior White House adviser has written "pages and pages" of comments for you, as Sperling did here, you'd better find a place for them. And if Arianna Huffington sent in comments on drafts "from all over the world," you'll feel obligated to include those too. Even blowing off your sister-in-law's comments, which she gave for every chapter multiple times, is awkward. The result is a gender studies textbook with conflicting comments and stories shoehorned in. It doesn't seem authentic to me.

Overall, Sandberg sees everything in terms of gender, or more accurately, gender inequality. She sees it everywhere: in conference rooms, in marriages, in schools, in child-care arrangements, even in the number of women who drown. In Chapter 2, she says women too often credit their success to good luck and help from others, because of an "internalization of failure and the insecurity it breeds." Others might say it's because they are gracious and charming.

The book is full of conflicting views, I believe, because Sandberg is conflicted herself – torn between her high-powered job and her young children, torn between the success she's achieved and the feminist agenda she feels she must promote, and most of all, torn between all the contradictory comments she got while writing this book.

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