I am not in the habit of telling people what causes they should advocate for, nor is it de rigueur these days to infringe on the modern concept that everyone, despite what Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, is entitled to their own facts. However, I think Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, would be wise to turn her attention to her co-stars in the video promoting her “Ban Bossy” campaign.  Forget about those evil grade school boys, who call their female classmates the “b-word” (that’s right, bossy), and consider the crowd Sandberg surrounds herself with in this video:

  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appears in the video and says that we need to tell girls that “it’s OK to be ambitious.” OK to be ambitious, but perhaps not OK for them, when they get older and have kids of their own, to ambitiously advocate for their own children and criticize elements the Common Core curriculum. In 2013, Secretary Duncan said he found it fascinating that “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — (discovered that) their child isn’t as bright as they thought they were…” I suppose if the criticism were coming from black, urban moms then it would be legitimate?
  • Beyoncé tells us that she’s not bossy, but that she’s “the boss.” However, she has made millions of dollars off of song lyrics that frequently employ an apparently acceptable b-word ending in “itch” for females, and her husband Jay-Z doubles down on the practice.
  • Jennifer Garner demonstrates the liberalism of the group when she confidently (bossily?) proclaims that “being labelled something matters.” This last utterance really typifies why it is most average Americans roll their eyes when a bunch of celebrities or politicians get preachy. They insist on seeing the world through the prism of labels – that’s how a liberal thinks and it is from that standpoint that all of their thinking flows.

(Don’t ask me how Condoleezza Rice got roped into this nonsense.)

It should come as no surprise that Sheryl Sandberg has surrounded herself with run of the mill liberals like Duncan, Beyoncé, and Garner, who apparently share her view that in order to be empowered, women must focus on wordplay and not on the vast biological, systemic, and cultural barriers that women face in competing for jobs with men. Sandberg’s worldview is neatly summarized on page seven of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, the co-authored book that launched her recent advocacy for a new view of women in the modern workplace: “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” Reading liberal boilerplate like that only makes me think that Sandberg is setting the table for a future run for public office, probably in California where stuff like this sells.

As a conservative and a budding devotee of the liberty movement, I am troubled by where the obvious extension of Sandberg’s logic might take our society. Does Sandberg, who has moved at the highest levels of business and government, envision a society where quotas are kept based on gender, despite the relative strength or weakness of a person’s qualifications for running a company or executive department? In Sheryl Sandberg’s world, would her binders full of women have been more readily embraced by the media than Mitt Romney’s binders full of women solely because her binders were created by a female? Are we striving to create an equal society in which numbers on a Census Bureau ledger prove perfectly equal, or a more just society in which a woman, should she so choose, would have the same opportunity to achieve success as a man would?

In Ms. Sandberg’s world, stick and stones may break our bones, but words and labels will always do the most harm.


Kyle Sabo | Hunter College | @kps427