I finally read Lean In. Having read many articles debating the book’s principles, I felt that I knew what to expect.
What I did not expect was how much of the book was about pregnancy. Sheryl Sandberg had really difficult pregnancies. At one point, she had gained 70 pounds and was constantly vomiting into the office toilet.
While working at Google, she marched into the offices of Larry Page and Sergey Brin and demanded the establishment of expectant mother parking. Brin immediately agreed; he’d just never thought of it before. Sandberg’s conclusion is that, if more women are in positions of power, there will be women around to think of these things. Sure, sort of, sometimes. I have limited belief in the efficacy of trickle-down feminism.
(For an incisive feminist analysis of Lean In from an absolute living legend, please see bell hooks‘ Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In.)
But my shrugging approval of the pregnancy parking situation was greatly overwhelmed by the thought, “OMG, if I’m throwing up multiple times a day, I sure as hell don’t want it to be in a public bathroom.”
In other words, are you really at the very peak of success when your profession requires you to drag your sorry-ass, bloated, nauseated body into an office by 9am every morning and to stick around until evening — regardless of how much value you’ve created or whether you’re in the best place to accomplish your work — for show and solidarity?
But that’s just me. I live on Wall Street, and every time I go get coffee at 10:45 or lunch at 2:30, or use the gym from 3-4, I think about how I’m pretty sure I “have it all,” in the sense that I’m enjoying the Art Deco skyscrapers (my gym used to be an art deco bank!) and the old Dutch buildings while other people are spending all the good daylight hours sitting where their boss tells them to sit.
It seems clear that I have an obsession with — or, more nicely put, a commitment to — my own physical freedom. You may not share this. But you obviously have your own requirements and priorities.