Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In—a kind of workplace feminism manifesto—has inspired a range of reactions from critics. Some were positive; some less so. But none was as negative as the response Sandberg spokeswoman and former Facebook flack Brandee Barker had for Katherine Losse, an erstwhile Zuckerberg speechwriter whose rigorously critical take on Sandberg's book was published in Dissent this week:
Brandee Barker who used to run Facebook PR just sent me a message that says "there's a special place in hell for you."— kate losse (@fake_train) March 27, 2013
Barker is, according to her Twitter profile, "helping Lean In ignite change." Her identification of a special place in Hell is, we should note, probably a formulation of Taylor Swift's favorite quote about "women who don't help other women"—an odd call for solidarity, given that Losse charges Sandberg with placing the well-being of her company over the well-being of her female employees:
By arguing that women should express their feminism by remaining in the workplace at all costs, Sandberg encourages women to maintain a commitment to the workplace without encouraging the workplace to maintain a commitment to them. And by launching a feminist platform, Sandberg is able to contain the broader threat that a feminist critique poses to Facebook's business, simultaneously generating more power for herself and her organization - Silicon Valley "revolution" at its finest. This maneuver, as I learned in my years at Facebook, is how the game is played, and both Sandberg and Zuckerberg play it well. The question the rest of us have to ask is, what does the game do for those not at or near the top? Are workers playing or are we getting played?