So the gist of this article in Slate is that white privileged, successful middle class women don’t like the word ‘feminism’, and they’re successful and those not informed or educated about the history of feminism think it’s unnecessary or negative and man-hating.
And if successful women like Mayer at Yahoo dislikes feminism and being called a feminist, and Sandberg thinks mentoring younger women is “therapy” and excludes, ignores and rejects the value of feminism because of these flimsy excuses, should we accept it just because they’re female CEOs? (What’s the difference between an ignorant/sexist statement coming from a woman instead of a guy? Answer: no difference at all.) To accept their arguably anti-feminist and frankly sexist and stereotypical characterisation of feminism and feminists would not only be blindly ignorant but self-loathing of women as a whole class of people.
It is precisely only thanks to the countless women over hundreds of years who have fought for women’s rights that Sandberg and Mayer are able to be in the privileged, elite position they are at now. Without feminism they wouldn’t have had access to education (and their white, privileged, middle class backgrounds must surely have enabled an easier route to elite education) and no path to such power as they have now.
The other irritating thing about the article is that its author as well as Mayer and Sandberg seem to think equality of the sexes is a given. There’s also no mention of impact of those in poverty, on impact of the double bind of racism coupled with gender, of challenges to access quality education, of violence against women everywhere (irrespective of class, sexuality, race or views; and of all types: physical and sexual and racist assault, psychological, and killing), of the everyday sexism women and girls face everywhere: home, at work, school, travelling, on public transport. There’s no reflection in the article or by Mayer or Sandberg of women having to deal with and fight against the pressures of right wing, conservative sexist politics that deny all women full health care choices and the many challenges that involves and – well, the list goes on.
Ignorance is bliss, clearly, for those too privileged to care about the majority of women not having equality compared to men with regard to freedom of choice, politics, class, gender, race, sexuality, environment, geography or economic circumstances — or a conflation of these dynamics.
One thought on “Ignorance is bliss – Mayer, Sandberg & the attack on feminism”
My name is Alex and I am a Communications Manager at Barnard College. I am reaching out to you today with an idea for your blog. Being perfect and powerful, being a feminist: these are among the most popular topics of conversation among today’s young women. Barnard College’s new podcast series, Dare to Use the F-Word, tells the story of today’s feminists through the ideas, art, and activism that define them. Barnard President Debora Spar, in her new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power & the Quest for Perfection, explains that while most women today struggle with the idea of perfection, they also struggle with the concept of feminism itself. Are the two connected? Read President Spar’s thoughts in this exclusive post: https://barnard.edu/news/web-exclusive-president-spar.
As a communications manager at Barnard, I want to continue these important conversations among feminist thought-leaders like you. I ask you to republish and share this post on your blog. Pose these questions to your audience; they may dare others to join us and use the f-word.