September 18, 2013

"Leaning in" evolves into coffee-sipping wishful supportiveness.

Here's an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about how some women in Madison are "forming 'Lean In' circles to offer career support":
Madison yoga therapist Natalie Buster invited female colleagues to gather one morning in July to form a "circle" of support.

She chose Lazy Jane’s on Williamson Street for the meet-up because the breakfast spot is owned by a woman — Jane Capito. "It evolved into something more than I thought possible," Buster said. "We really got lost in each others’ stories and lost in each others’ connections."
It's nice to have friends and to go out for coffee and get lost in each others' stories and connections, but how is this "leaning in"?!

Oh, well... it "evolved."

Did it evolve into the realization that you don't really want to lean in?

If you can bear to keep reading you'll see that there's a Lean In Foundation where you can register your "Lean In" circle and there are actually 7,000 registered circles. This is all very nice for the Chief Leaner In Sheryl Sandberg, she of the book "Lean In." It's her branding. You want to get her branding on you? That furthers her leaning in, but what does it do for you — you, over there in that circle in a coffee shop getting lost in the evolving cross-currents of mutual support?
For Buster, who spent a dozen years as an actress in New York City before coming back to Wisconsin, the meeting at Lazy Jane’s exceeded expectations. Women who might be in competition with each other professionally should be able to improve each other as well, Buster said.

“I really want mentorship to happen,” Buster said. “I want cross-advocation and support of each other.”
That sounds like the opposite of leaning in. You're openly expressing aversion to competitiveness. It's more like hanging back. 

30 comments:

fivewheels said...

You know what women just don't do enough of? Sitting around and talking talking talking instead of doing work.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Ugh. I'm so sick of the 'lean in' thing. Basically, it seems like yet ANOTHER excuse for women to conflate their jobs with their value as human beings, their hobbies, and their social lives.

You know why men don't need to lean in? Because they don't make the mistake of thinking that their jobs are the entire point of their existences.

The FEMINISTS are enslaving women, by insisting that their economic value defines their value as a human being. How is this any better than treating women as chattel?

Matthew Sablan said...

Ultimately, calling them lean-in groups seems more like status signalling than anything else. Before the book, this was known as networking.

David said...

“I really want mentorship to happen,” Buster said. “I want cross-advocation and support of each other.”

"I want buzzwords. I want bullshit. I want mindless pap. Most of all I want coffee with the girls."

David said...

“I really want mentorship to happen,” Buster said. “I want cross-advocation and support of each other.”

"I want buzzwords. I want bullshit. I want mindless pap. Most of all I want coffee with the girls."

Peter said...

An attempt to institutionalize insipidness?

MadisonMan said...

I couldn't get past the part in that article where they got lost in others' stories and connections. (shudder) A perfect parody, but written as if it's serious. Oy.

The whole revamp of that Wednesday Section of the State Journal is hilariously bad. Something for working women (check). Something for harried housewives (check). A column (that's really an ad) for an Organizing Service (check). All that was missing was a front-page ad for Lonely Housewives' Male Revue -- but that'll show up for Gun deer Season.

SGT Ted said...

I despise and distrust pop culture buzz phrases. "Lean in" is just the latest one.

How about they "just STFU and get to work"? That's a buzz phrase I can get behind.

damikesc said...

Nice of them to include men in this. Because men haven't been impacted negatively at all by the downturn.

Equality...for some.

lemondog said...

Hey, HEY.....talking is work!

Just look at calories expended talking

Five hours of that will burn off, what, almost one donut....?

Marshal said...

Matthew Sablan said...
Before the book, this was known as networking.


Maybe that's the tie in. Feminists seem to have convinced themselves the old-boy network (and other discrimination) is the only reason they aren't CEO's [based on their omission of comparative accomplishments, training, and ability when describing female underrepresentation]. So maybe they interpret lean-in as a call to network.

elkh1 said...

Are the Circles Obama approved IRS tax-exempted?



Edward Lunny said...

Yea, didn't these used to be called sewing circles ? Except, that then, something was accomplished, something productive, i.e. sewing. I suppose these are more of the coffee klatch "thing", and I'm not sure that these women see the flaw in their new found groupings. Ah well, if it keeps them off of the streets and out of trouble I guess it can't be all bad.

Anita Gravelle said...

What's wrong with women wanting to support and mentor each other, instead of competing with and tearing each other down?

MadisonMan said...

What's wrong with women wanting to support and mentor each other, instead of competing with and tearing each other down?

Are you asking me, or a bunch of catty women?

Support/mentorship will work only up to the point that the support/mentorship works in favor of the mentor. As long as everyone understands this, the answer to your question is nothing.

Inga said...

Noting that this comment section is beginning to sound like the He Male Women Haters Club again. Anita, for some strange reason, males and an occasional female here hate the fact that women can be supportive of one another.

Buzz words can be annoying, like "low information voter" which the rightists here have repeated ad nauseum. See you're not exempt from using silly catchphrases. Or how about this one, "this is another reason to repeal the 19th Amendment", used on almost every thread by a commenter or two when Althouse makes blog posts about women.

Misogyny is alive and well.

Inga said...

Another thought, competitiveness is essential. Women realize this, however being competitive doesn't have to include backstabbing and the variety of negative workplace behaviors. Men have business organizations in which they support one another also, why such negativity on a woman's organization that serves a similar purpose, with a feminine twist?

Broomhandle said...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with women supporting women, just as men have mentored other men since time immemorial. It's the vomitous, Oprahesque, douchey, navel-gazing that's so repellent.

Marshal said...

Anita Gravelle said...
What's wrong with women wanting to support and mentor each other, instead of competing with and tearing each other down?


Nothing is wrong with it. The question is: how is this "leaning in?".

Marshal said...

Buzz words can be annoying, like "low information voter" which the rightists here have repeated ad nauseum. See you're not exempt from using silly catchphrases. Or how about this one, "this is another reason to repeal the 19th Amendment"

Or "He Male Women Haters Club".

Matthew Sablan said...

"Men have business organizations in which they support one another also, why such negativity on a woman's organization that serves a similar purpose, with a feminine twist?"

-- Talking isn't feminine. Despite the stereotypes, men are relatively open with each other and talk about serious issues.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, "women supporting other women" often just acts as a new iteration of the classic "gossipy office clique." It's why I prefer to work in mostly male environments. The men are happy if everyone does their job and goes home. The women want to make it all about supportive relationships and bonding and over-analyzing every social interaction.

So, if you're an introverted woman who just wants to do a good job and who has a life outside of work... these circles of 'leaning in' are positively Dante-esque.

Inga said...

Yes, tiresome isn't it Marshal?

I've heard so many rightist women here express the same preference for working in a mostly male environment. What's up with that? I have theories, one which tops my list is that these women have a problem with identifying with their own sex. Or they pander to males for some reason unkown and not understood by me. It seems to be expressed mostly by libertarian/ rightist women. I find that dissconnect from their own sex so strange.

The idea that working women feel that their importance in the world is somehow greater than SAHMs is silly IMO. Many working women are also mothers.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, I've found it's easier to get 'mentoring help' from a man than from another woman.

All you need to do is send an email--

"Hey Bob. I'm having a problem with X on the Y project. Any idea where I cam start looking for answers?"

Then, 15 minutes later a helpful reply comes back.

Female coworkers, on the other hand, seem to expect small talk and 'sharing' before you can cut to the chase.

But I've always been told that I have a very manful approach to my work. (As a complement.)

Stephen Reynolds said...

Well it looks like they are supporting Jane Capito anyway

Mike and Sue said...

These comments are awesome.

And so are women...when they are not "leaning in".

David said...

Inga, the term "low information voter" is not a right wing invention. Apparently the term was first put into use by Samuel Popkin, a political scientist from California was was, among othr things, a Gore advisor. LIV was for a long time an epithet hurled by lefties at Republicans, who claimed that the Republican base was by definition a bunch of low information voters. (How could people with high information ever vote Republican.")

Now conservatives have started using the term as well, a development I regret. It's a dipshitty concept, condescending and insulting. Plus it's wordy. Why not just say "ignorant" if that is what you mean.

The Godfather said...

I often feel out of it, so I read Althouse to find out what the smart people are saying and thinking. I understand from context that "lean in" means that women should be more assertive in business and other environments. That's fine. What I DON'T understand is why this particular phrase has been chosen to describe that. Why "lean in" and not "speak up" or "cut the sh*t" or whatever? Can anyone explain that (without making me read the book)?

Larry J said...

Inga said...
Yes, tiresome isn't it Marshal?

I've heard so many rightist women here express the same preference for working in a mostly male environment. What's up with that? I have theories, one which tops my list is that these women have a problem with identifying with their own sex. Or they pander to males for some reason unkown and not understood by me. It seems to be expressed mostly by libertarian/ rightist women. I find that dissconnect from their own sex so strange.


My wife is a retired nurse who often said she preferred working with men instead of women, which is unfortunate given her career choice. Your theory is full of shit. She said she preferred working with men because they were more likely to get the job done without all the drama and backstabbing. She said that it seems many women never progress past the junior high bitch phase when it comes to dealing with other women in the workplace.

Lipstick&Lace said...

There is far too little information about the meet-up to conclude they're "leaning back." How can we say how much value they are getting out of this support? There is plenty of research that shows that group support catalyzes our own growth and success.

This sounds like there first meeting. What did you expect to happen? If you haven't heard much from Sheryl, check out some of her interviews or speeches. She wanted to start something to make changes. Lean In isn't about her. Negativity and criticism isn't productive but at least awareness is being spread.