March 13, 2014

Andy Ferguson on the "Lean In Collection"

Andrew Ferguson writes in The Weekly Standard:
Brave New Stereotypes 
Behold the Lean In Collection 
MAR 17, 2014, VOL. 19, NO. 26 • BY ANDREW FERGUSON 
Partly because I’m a guy, partly because my professor insisted on holding our Feminism and Culture class at 8 a.m., making it impossible for me to attend, I find myself now, decades later, far behind the curve of gender empowerment. The curve is shifting heavily to the distaff side. Can I still say “distaff”?

The statistics proving the point come in bite-size, journalist-friendly squibs: ... Over the last 30 years, their wages have risen 25 percent while those of men have fallen 4 percent.  
I like to think that my Feminism and Culture professor, whatever became of her, would be pleased at the turn of events—view it indeed as a kind of triumph and vindication. But I can’t be sure. She might be pleased, or she might be one of those people who nod vigorously while reading the boffo bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. The book was released a year ago this month, and has been in the top 10 of the bestseller list ever since.

... Rich as Croesus, successful beyond the dreams of all but a handful of industrial titans, Sandburg is animated by the same itchy agitation and discontent that have always animated the feminist cause. She insists, as feminists always have, that there is always more to do to empower the sisterhood and herself. And she continues to try to spread the word. Having more money than she knows what to do with, she started a foundation, the Lean In Foundation.  
What does the foundation do? According to the mission statement, Lean In “is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions” and “changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do.” It is “offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.” It will “talk openly about the challenges women face and work together,” and thereby “change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone.” 
Focusing, encouraging, supporting, offering, conversing, talking, changing, and working together: not much, in other words. The website also plays brief video lectures, such as “Be Your Own Hero,” “Own the Room,” and “Managing Difficult Conversations.” You can watch as many as you want, no charge. It’s on Sandberg’s dime. 
The foundation’s latest and most tangible initiative, announced toward the end of February, is a partnership with Getty Images, one of the world’s largest suppliers of stock photography—those generic, instantly forgettable pictures that editors use to illustrate their magazines and websites and that marketers use to make their advertisements irresistible to the plain folks. Getty is now curator of the Lean In Collection. Editors and marketers who can afford to will be able to buy stock photographs “devoted to the powerful depiction of women, girls, and the people who support them.” Profits from the Lean In Collection will go to the Lean In Foundation, which supports the Lean In Collection. We can expect much focusing, offering, conversing, and talking in the years ahead.

... 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.  ...
Even the old women (“Glamorous mature woman smiling”), while unavoidably wrinkly, toss cascades of glowing white hair and beam from tanned faces, suggesting the undying sensuality that is the Lean In woman’s birthright.

About a dozen years ago, I was hiking in Topanga Canyon when a beautiful woman in her mid-fifties with waist-length grey hair walked past. "Who looks like that?" Oh, yeah, Emmy Lou Harris of Topanga Canyon looks like that. And, indeed, it was the 1970s songbird.
... Pondering the images I thought again of my feminism teacher. I do think she’d be pleased with today’s state of affairs. The Lean In Collection makes our current condition plain. The collection isn’t about “empowering women”; it’s about flattering women who are already empowered, riding high in the saddle rather than marching in the streets, placards in hand. The collection itself is today’s placard. It says: “Congratulations .  .  . to me! I won!”
 
A huge fraction of culture has always consisted of flattering the powerful -- "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" But contemporary good taste consists of flattering the powerful not for being powerful per se, but for being empowered.

Notice the difference?

Me, neither.
 

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul Walker's death sunglasses 4 sale:

"For Sale: A Cool Pair of Sunglasses That Paul Walker Died In"

http://gawker.com/for-sale-a-cool-pair-of-sunglasses-that-paul-walker-di-1543227747

"A witness to the car crash that killed actor Paul Walker last November is selling a few things he looted from the accident scene, including "a soiled pair of Maui Jim sunglasses" that Walker was wearing when he died.

A listing on the auction site BidAMI tells the tale of how the seller "walked the scene in disbelief and grief" before grabbing everything he could find, including the Fast and Furious star's shades, a fire extinguisher, and some "residual car debris."

BidAMI is donating its 10% cut of the auction to SavingAmericasMustangs.org, in "acknowledgement of Paul Walker's immeasurable charitable contributions.""

dearieme said...

"the Will to Lead": der Führerprinzip .

Anonymous said...

Sandberg's astroturfed non-profit is merely a launching pad for eventual fulfillment of political ambitions. It establishes a base and serves as a CV bullet point.

Anonymous said...

When men ran the world, they were open to blame for all the world's shortcomings, from gravity to chicken pox.

However, women will soon rule the world, and when that day comes, men will be open to blame for all the world's problems, from gravity to chicken pox.

Steve Johnson said...

So in other words when people look at media and assert that all the innocuous images are being scrutinized and picked to fit a specific agenda...

they're right.

Gotcha. Everything the media produces is propaganda.

You'd think you'd want to hide that sort of thing.

slumber_j said...

I look forward to seeing how Sheryl Sandberg deploys her zillions to quietly undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign.

We can only have on First Woman President, after all. And one of the two is just so much more youthful, vigorous and capable than the other, with better ideas, and greater achievements when you think about it, and, and and...

Anonymous said...

Steve, whenever you write about the cause of feminism, you inevitably bring up that there's too much fraternizing with the enemy for it to make major headway.

Whenever I read such articles I tend to wonder: Are you sure about that? Or do you mean that there's a lot of fraternizing in the majority? Because some of these minorities seem to be of the type of "We're fierce, we're feminists, and we're in your face," type of thing.

May have to just write that segment off or at least consign it to the 'nope, most likely they aren't gonna fraternize much."

Anonymous said...

Empowered women are inherently the greatest people in the world. I learned this in school years ago.

Wonder how their worshiper trawling is going amongst young women though. Do the youngsters find them admirable, or condescending? Do the rich old ladies find the youngsters approriatly worshipful, or dismissive?

Hopefully those billions will help poor Sheryl find a sense of self.

Nicely done Andy and Steve, btw.

josh said...

"not for being powerful per se, but for being empowered.

Notice the difference?

Me, neither."

Steve, your a national treasure. I'm going to send you some money.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Her Facebook CEO-ing has kind of reminded me of when Jessie Ventura was governor of Minnesota.

There's lots of self-promotion going on, but The Last Psychiatrist thinks Facebook's approaching the user sex ratio of no return, and that guy seems pretty smart to me.

Dave Pinsen said...

TLP's posts on Sheryl Sandberg and Randi Zuckerberg are worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read about tne next foundation sponsored by an oligach, soryy, a highly successful professional, it reminds me about the elite overproduction symptom as described by Peter Turchin.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I am so excited for all these empowered women.

I hope they all work very hard and don't get distracted with "kinder, kirchen und kuchen". I'd hate to see them reproduce and contaminate the future that my five children are going to be a part of shaping by the mere fact of their existence.

Mr. Anon said...

Just what the world needs - another pushy billionaire shouting "Look at me! Look at me! Aren't I fantastic?!"

"The website also plays brief video lectures, such as “Be Your Own Hero,” “Own the Room,” and “Managing Difficult Conversations."

Isn't that all rather non-inclusive? If you are "owning the room", than everyone else in it are not. If you are managing a difficult conversation (to your benefit, presumably) then the other person is not managing his difficult conversation, rather he is being managed. Aren't these all just smarmy, manipulative tactics for shafting other people and taking advantage of them?

"... 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.”

One need only google the phrase "woman working in a machine shop" to discover how truly common such a thing is.

Anonymous said...

Dave Pinsen said...
TLP's posts on Sheryl Sandberg and Randi Zuckerberg are worth reading.

3/13/14, 9:27 PM


Correction. Those posts should be studied. That dude is absolutely brilliant. Wish he posted as often as Steve.

Anonymous said...

Gotcha. Everything the media produces is propaganda.

You'd think you'd want to hide that sort of thing.


Absolutely! I take a grim satisfaction in the propaganda in that, unlike other aspects of The Agenda, it's blatant. Quite literally in your face. Come the day of reckoning they will have no defense, we'll know what they did, we can see it.

silly girl said...

Have you ever noticed that these feminism chicks are never into stuff like service or sacrifice? It is never about the common good, just about amassing their own personal power? These hard broads always want every other woman to embrace feminist ideals and they don't give a rat's rear about what women really want or the fact that normal women aren't interested in butting heads all day in the work world.

Anonymous said...

It’s on Sandberg’s dime.
Didn't you say Foundation?
Every foundation, whether it does good or ill, is a tax dodge.
So not her dime, yours.

Anonymous said...

"TLP's posts"

The Lost Prophet ?

The Last Preacher ?

Tired Lesbian Plumber ?

Trafford Lister-Proust ?

Do tell.

David said...

Let's face it: most people would prefer to see the step-in collection.

(cymbal crash)

Rev. Right said...

Steve Johnson said...
You'd think you'd want to hide that sort of thing.

There is obviously no need to hide the obvious when no one is looking.

Maxwell Power said...

Was "The Devil Wears Prada" a story of empowerment; oppression; or transpowerment

Anonymous said...

The Last Psychiatrist