For all her accomplishments, few things mattered more to Sheryl Sandberg than being in the voice of contemporary American feminism.
We now know that Sandberg, who is stepping down as Meta’s COO after 14 years, is nothing more than another Silicon Valley monster monetizing her personal history and exploiting everyone and everything she can. Feminist leadership was just Sandberg’s Trojan horse. It still is.
In July, the Meta gave Nebraska police access to private Facebook messages between a 17-year-old girl and her mother. The girl was 23 weeks pregnant and was planning an abortion, which since 2010 has been banned in the state after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The prosecutor in the case said it was the first felony charge of its kind since Rowe, ousted in June, prevented states from legally enforcing their own bans for up to 24 weeks. The Nebraska state attorney charged the girl’s mother with a felony after reading her Facebook correspondence with her daughter.
This is from a company that emphasizes how much they value user privacy. A company that has vowed to cover the travel expenses of any employee who needs access to an abortion.
Not that Sandberg had anything to say about this latest hypocrisy – except for a Facebook post shortly after Rowe was rescinded in which he called the decision a “huge failure.” For ourselves, for our daughters, and for each succeeding generation, we must continue to fight. Together we must protect and expand access to abortion.”
Just another sentiment without reinforcement. It’s very symbolic of Sandberg, who doesn’t mention the countless scandals she’s faced in her resignation letter. No, don’t you know, she does it for the sisterhood.
“I’m not entirely sure what the future will bring,” Sandberg wrote on Facebook in June. “But I know this will include more focus on my foundation and charitable work, which is more important to me than ever given how important this moment is for women.”
Says the influencer who reportedly tried twice to spread a Daily Mail article about her then-boyfriend, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who got a temporary restraining order against him from an ex-girlfriend in 2014. Sandberg reportedly threatened the Mail’s future working relationship with Facebook.
The company denied any such interference: “Sheryl Sandberg,” Facebook said, “never threatened MailOnline’s business relationship with Facebook to influence an editorial decision.”
Then there is her 2013 bestselling book Bend Over: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which addresses a very thin section of women: namely, those already successful and wealthy. From Oprah to Katie Couric to elite college campuses, Sandberg, who for some reason could not call her book a “feminist manifesto”, argued that women themselves are to blame for career stagnation.
Not pre-COVID corporate structures, not the demands of motherhood, not gender inequality, not the pay gap or lack of housework (single mothers, by the way, Sandberg ignored). Not the women who don’t have nannies or housekeepers or billions in the bank or private jets like Sandberg’s—no, that’s our fault. Just be more like Cheryl!
The retrograde advice that Sandberg gave in “Lean In” – which had a co-writer who, I guarantee, did all the hard work – included such gems as “relentlessly pleasant” and “appropriate” femininity, whatever that means.
As Michelle Obama said in 2018, “It’s not always enough to lean on because this shit doesn’t always work.”
It wasn’t until Sandberg faced her own tragedy, the sudden death of husband Dave Goldberg in 2015, which she turned into another bestseller with co-author Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, that she admitted to accepting her privilege as due.
“I really didn’t understand how difficult it is to succeed at work,” she said, “when you are depressed at home.”
In a contemporary Time magazine cover, Sandberg also raved about our evil overlord, Mark Zuckerberg. “Mark is one of the people who really carried me,” Sandberg said. “More than that, I believe I’m working with the greatest man in the world.”
What happened then. Now that Sandberg has appeared in court in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and is under internal investigation for using the company’s resources to fund her book, her recent wedding and her foundation, and using Facebook employees for personal tasks – well, Cheryl Sandberg is no longer an added value.
She is also no longer the heiress of Gloria Steinem. As the Wall Street Journal reported last September, nothing has been done even after an internal investigation found that teenage girls have been particularly affected by what they see on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), an addiction the company encourages as and Big Tobacco.
So far, Sandberg hasn’t said anything. Want to bet she still keeps her kids off social media like most Silicon Valley executives do — even though we now know her company is aimed at kids? That’s right: no Facebook or Instagram for her kids, she said.
So goodbye and goodbye to Sheryl Sandberg, who couldn’t help when it mattered most. Women and girls are better off without you.