Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

January 2, 2019 Women get blamed for lack of ‘achievement’
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

I was one of many people who celebrated when Michelle Obama called out the idea of “Leaning In.” By now we are all familiar with Lean In, the book written by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. “Lean In” (according to Sandberg herself) means “to be assertive, to move toward a leading, rather than a following, role.”

There is nothing wrong on the face of that message. I’m sure that for many women and girls, it is good advice.

Michelle Obama’s criticism is not that. Obama’s criticism is that the whole idea behind “Lean In” is that individual success is completely up to each individual woman, who just needs to pull herself up by her bootstraps. It is putting lipstick on a pig – in this case, the old American myth of rugged individualism. And that is crap.

We live in a world where literally billions of women are second class citizens. They do not enjoy the rights that men enjoy, and various combinations of government, religion and big business are comfortable keeping them subjugated.

Things are better in the global West, but only when in comparison to the rest of the world.

In America, women still only make about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. We still have policies that punish motherhood. And wealthy white women, like Sandberg, pile on by blaming women themselves for their lack of “achievement.”

When Johnson County raised the minimum wage in 2015, I was struck by the fact that it affected many more women than men, and that many of those women were mothers. Why are we blaming these women for that situation?

When the Iowa Legislature convenes in a couple of weeks, you will hear all kinds of stuff from leaders in businesses, education and politics about how Iowa needs to do more to train its workforce. While I am certainly not against training, that is not the issue!

I would love someone to stand up at one of those meetings and say, “Want workers to do better? Why don’t we raise the minimum wage? Why don’t we mandate paid sick leave? Why don’t we offer free community college? Why don’t we ensure that every Iowan has adequate health care? Why don’t we address our childcare crisis? Why don’t we do more to promote public housing and public transit? Why do we continue to blame all our problems on a lack of training?”

Women didn’t cause our problems. The men who run big businesses and the mostly-male politicians who grovel at their feet caused these problems. They should be held to account.

Unfortunately, Sheryl Sandberg joined her fellow big business partners in blaming women workers for our current state of affairs. Fortunately, Michelle Obama keenly noted that women workers are not the problem.

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