|The congregation swooned as she bounded on stage, the prophet sealskin sleek in her black skinny ankle pants and black ballet flats, a lavalier microphone clipped to the V-neck of her black button-down sweater. “All right!! Let’s go!!” she exclaimed, throwing out her arms and pacing the platform before inspirational graphics of glossy young businesswomen in managerial action poses. “Super excited to have all of you here!!”
“Whoo!!” the young women in the audience replied. The camera, which was livestreaming the event in the Menlo Park, California, auditorium to college campuses worldwide, panned the rows of well-heeled Stanford University econ majors and MBA candidates. Some clutched copies of the day’s hymnal: the speaker’s new book, which promised to dismantle “internal obstacles” preventing them from “acquiring power.” The atmosphere was TED-Talk-cum-tent-revival-cum-Mary-Kay-cosmetics-convention. The salvation these adherents sought on this April day in 2013 was admittance to the pearly gates of the corporate corner office.
“Stand up,” the prophet instructed, “if you’ve ever said out loud, to another human being—and you have to have said it out loud—‘I am going to be the number one person in my field. I will be the CEO of a major company. I will be governor. I will be the number one person in my field.’” A small, although not inconsiderable, percentage of the young women rose to their feet.
The speaker consoled those still seated; she, too, had once been one of them. When she was voted “most likely to succeed” in high school, she confided, she had begged a yearbook editor to delete that information, “because most likely to succeed doesn’t get a date for the prom.” Those days were long gone, ever since she’d had her conversion on the road to Davos: she’d “leaned in” to her ambitions and enhanced her “likability”—and they could do the same. What’s more, if they took the “lean in” pledge, they might free themselves from some of those other pesky problems that hold women back in the workplace. “If you lean forward,” she said, “you will get yourself into a position where the organization you’re with values you a lot and is therefore willing to be more flexible. Or you’ll get promoted and then you’ll get paid more and you’ll be able to afford better child care.” If you “believe you have the skills to do anything” and “have the ambition to lead,” then you will “change the world” for women. “We get closer to the goal of true equality with every single one of you who leans in.”
The pitch delivered, Lean In founder and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg summoned her deacon to close the deal. Rachel Thomas hustled onstage, a Sandberg Mini-Me in matching black ensemble (distinguished only by the color of her ballet flats and baubled necklace, both of which were gold). She’s Lean In’s president. (Before Lean In hit the bookstores, it was already a fully staffed operation, an organization purporting to be “a global community committed to encouraging and supporting women leaning in to their ambitions.”) “I really want to invite you to join our community!” Thomas told the assembled. “You’ll get daily inspiration and insights.”
Joining “the community” was just a click away. In fact, the community was already uploaded and ready to receive them; all they had to do was hit the “Lean In Today” button on their computer screen . . . and, oh yeah, join Facebook. (There is no entry into Lean In’s Emerald e-Kingdom except through the Facebook portal; Sandberg has kept her message of liberation confined within her own corporate brand.) [...]
In 1834, America’s first industrial wage earners, the “mill girls” of Lowell, Massachusetts, embarked on their own campaign for women’s advancement in the workplace. They didn’t “lean in,” though. When their male overseers in the nation’s first large-scale planned industrial city cut their already paltry wages by 15 to 20 percent, the textile workers declared a “turn-out,” one of the nation’s earliest industrial strikes. That first effort failed, but its participants did not concede defeat. The Lowell women would stage another turn-out two years later, create the first union of working women in American history, lead a fight for the ten-hour work day, and conceive of an increasingly radical vision that took aim both at corporate power and the patriarchal oppression of women. Their bruising early encounter with American industry fueled a nascent feminist outlook that would ultimately find full expression in the first wave of the American women’s movement.
Capitalism, you could say, had midwifed feminism.
And capitalism, Sandberg would say, still sustains it. But what happened between 1834 and 2013—between “turn-out” and “lean in”—to make Lean In such an odd heir to the laurels of Lowell? An answer lies in the history of those early textile mills. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—Shelby says Cordray nomination to CFPB 'dead on arrival':
|No surprise to anyone since he's said it before, but Richard Shelby asserts that the nomination of Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board is "dead on arrival." Unless, that is, President Obama gives in to Republican demands to restructure the bureau into a watchdog with neither bark nor bite.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published today (available to subscribers only), amid blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the housing crisis, the Alabama senator (who is the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee) rejected accusations that proposals Republicans have made to change the bureau are an effort to eviscerate it.
That's not how consumer groups see it for the obvious reason that the GOP has been trying to gut the CFPB since failing to strangle it in its crib after failing to ensure it was stillborn. What could be more rancid than Shelby posturing as an advocate for consumer rights against a "concentration of power [that will be] abused or misused to the detriment of American businesses and consumers"?
This is the guy, you may recall, who just four months ago labeled as a "regulatory shakedown" the settlement proposal sought by state attorneys general to get mortgage lenders to provide modest restitution for their larcenous abuses of American borrowers and credit card holders. There is a concentration of abusive power he's concerned about all right. The one that has him firmly wedged in its back pocket and another part of its back side.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin's news round-up got the show grounded after a long weekend out of the country, and the distraction of NN for many of my other online news lifelines. "Goodbye to the Republican Wave?" Warren's "11 commandments," and yet another shot at the "she should run" argument. Gop doesn't care for its own, in one chart. Gates vs. Biden. RFK, Jr.: anti-vaxxer. Krugman reminds us once again that the "debt crisis" is imaginary.The best party in Icelandic politics? More discussion on Krugman. Anti-vaxxer Gingrey freaks out: refugees might not be vaccinated! MO Gov. vetoes "arm the teachers."