On The Benefits of "Leaning Out"

for julia

Soon, the rewards of leaning in doubled.

Then they quadrupled. Then they began to increase exponentially.

I leaned in some more. I ate protein bars and made important telephone calls during my morning commute. I stopped reading novels so I could write more articles and memos and make more handicrafts to contribute to the school auction. I put in extra hours at work. When I came home, I did radio interviews over Skype from my living room while supervising the children’s math homework.

And I realized that I hated Sheryl Sandberg.

Because, of course, I was miserable. I never saw my friends, because I was too busy building my network. I was too tired to do any creative, outside-the-box thinking. I was boxed in. I wondered if foreign-policy punditry was just too much for me. I wondered if I should move to Santa Fe and open a small gallery specializing in handicrafts made from recycled tires. I wondered if my husband and kids would want to go with me.

—Rosa Brooks, The Washington Post.  Brooks’ piece looks at what happens when a woman takes Sheryl Sandberg’s advice and leans in (spoiler: good things at work and exhaustion at home). She posits that maybe the answer lies in a different kind of feminism manifesto, a “Manifestus for the Rest of Us,” wherein women fight for the right to “lean out,” relax a little, and maybe even find time “for the kind of unstructured, creative thinking so critical to any kind of success.”

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Julia Wick is a contributing editor for Longreads.
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