A few weeks ago people were complaining that Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In mantra are too elitist to be very valuable. And then today some of those very same people joined the chorus of outrage on behalf of Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of The New York Times and literally a case study for Leaning In, after some anonymous carping in her newsroom was published online.
That outrage was, of course, justified. But it also shows how it's a lot easier for people to muster solidarity with powerful women under duress than women exercising the perks of power.
In response to this Politoco "scoop" by Dylan Byers about a supposed mutiny brewing at the Times because of a testy Abramson who is "very, very unpopular," many journalists have come to the defense of the Times editor, calling the portrayal and the anonymous sources who created it "whiny and sexist."
"Newsroom w/sexist, anonymous criticism of a woman? Wow, that never happens. Gnat on your shoulder
@JillAbramson," tweeted Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. But reviewing Sandberg's Lean In for the Washington Post review, she concluded: "It is impossible to forget that she, like many of the female friends she quotes, is a wealthy, white, married woman with a 'vast support system.'" Yet, it is somehow possible for this moment to forget that Abramson is also a wealthy, white, married woman with a vast support system. Lisa McIntire, a social media specialist who has worked for Emily's List, made a similar argument on Twitter about Sheryl Sandberg. "There is still a universe of difference between Sheryl's situation and that of most women in corporate America," she wrote. But today, she tweeted about Byers' piece, "I struggle to find any specific behavior of Abramson's that is critiqued here other than the tone of her voice."