Joanne Bamberger is one of those Vichy feminists so often to be found on the left side of the political spectrum. She can be found variously posting stuff to HuffPo, her blog, PunditMom, or speaking before Netroots Nation on the wonders of political activism via Twitter. She lives in Washington D.C. and works from home now that she’s a mom, and spends her time wearing her badge of woman-momdon to further the causes of Democrats. Like most Vichy feminists, she is not in the habit of questioning her ideals or her allegiances.
Which is why she has caught herself in the newest, latest, greatest of catfights among upper-crust feminists of the world. There is an old saying about monkeys in trees looking up, and all they see is assholes. So it is with life, thus so it is with women. Bamberger is naturally upset that the niche she’s carved out for herself is being threatened by women with higher attainment than her. Those damn monkeys at the top, you see, want to make changes to workforces that don’t apply to her, but may indeed cause her to be judged.
Enter Sheryl Sandberg, that nepotistic, privileged bitch, and Marissa Mayer, the ungrateful CEO of Yahoo, who are shaking up things up for the comfortably pajama-clad mommy-blogger. But not just her, you see, but for all women, who are entitled to highly successful careers, even if they have to wear their pajamas at home to do it.
Sandberg, who is the COO of Facebook (and, it should be noted, Mark Zuckerberg’s sister), has just published a book, which, if Bamberger had anything to do with it, would be titled Lazy Women and the Bosses Who Pay Them. As it is, the book is actually called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which is about women making different choices that might, you know, actually lead to leadership positions. Stuff like, stop gossiping at the water cooler and go gossip with the boss like the big boys do. And, of course, Yes, you will have to work late–a lot–if you want to make Vice President.
Mayer, for her part, had the unmitigated gall to have a baby and only take two weeks off, and as if that weren’t enough to set women back to the 1890s, she followed it up by eliminating telecommuting positions at Yahoo. How dare she! Expecting people to show up at work in the age of computers? Oh, hell no, boss, I’ve got a puking kid to cuddle. He pukes every. single. day. I’ll meet my deadlines after, thank you very much.
This is all very ironic, I think, considering where first and second wave feminists were actually coming from, and considering the major rhetorical error Bamberger makes in her USA Today editorial. In it, she says:
The message coming from these C-suite moms is less about empowerment and accountability than it is about guilt. Guilt for women wanting to work remotely in order to manage their lives and provide for their families. Guilt for not acting with more ambition. Guilt for daring to put their children and spouses on equal footing with their careers.
Guilt is never a good motivator. Mayer and Sandberg, even if they have good intentions, are setting back the cause of working mothers. Sandberg’s argument, that equality in the workplace just requires women to pull themselves up by the Louboutin straps (though she does acknowledge the need for a shift in national policy for working families) is just as damaging as Mayer’s office-only work proclamation that sends us back to the pre-Internet era of power suits with floppy bow ties.
Oh my, we can’t have the floppy bow-ties back, now can we? And why in the world would you want power suits, when there’s, like, pajamas, for reals? Read more…