Leaning Out—of This Fight

I am leaning in just a little as I write this. OK, I’m not. But I am feeling a little sick as I ponder the next unpleasant installment of the “mommy wars” that’s hurtling toward us.

This past Friday, The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor assembled the ingredients for yet another bitter and prolonged back-and-forth about women and work. At its center is Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, a new book that purports to show American women the way out of our relative powerlessness. In it, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, gives women advice on how to assume leadership roles by, among other things, understanding our strengths and reassessing how we hold our bodies in business meetings. On the other side of the ring, we have Anne Marie Slaughter, the Princeton Professor and former Obama Administration official, who with her viral “we can’t have it all” essay in The Atlantic this past summer, can serve as a foil to the first. Finally, critically, we have the media, who (myself included—so sorry) serve the essential and unfortunate role of stirring the pot. Let the battle begin!

Or not. Here’s wishing we can avert this particular conversation that will have little bearing on the issues most American women face. After all, the idea that these two incredibly powerful, wealthy, white professionals can represent the “dueling perspectives” on the majority of women is pretty silly.