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Lean Out

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  451 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Sheryl Sandberg’s business advice book, Lean In, was heralded as a defining moment in attitudes to women in business. But for all its commercial success, it proposed a model of feminism that was individualistic and unthreatening to capital.

In her powerful debut work Lean Out, acclaimed journalist Dawn Foster unpicks how the purportedly feminist message of Sandberg’s book n
Paperback, 87 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Repeater
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  451 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
YES. Short, but everything it needs to be: a succinct denunciation of corporate feminism with revolution at its heart.
Moira Burke
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is frustrating in that Foster poses great points about structural inequalities that hamper women's economic progress but demonizes Sandberg for focusing on "women's self-defeatism." Foster covers some topics well: "pink collar" jobs that require undervalued emotional work; "zero-hours" service-industry contracts, in which a worker's hours can be reduced to zero but not qualify for unemployment; why "trickle-down feminism" doesn't work (minority leaders are less likely to hire other min ...more
Laura Dawkins
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This was all right on point and engaging but I'm not sure who the audience was meant to be. There's maybe a hint of preaching to the converted, as many Dawn Foster fans and Repeater book buyers will be familiar with the material covered. It would also have been nice to have a broader range of materials cited; there were a LOT of Guardian articles. That said, I'll be gifting this to several of the Sheryl Sandberg fans in my life, as Foster is a far more charming critic and feminist advocate than ...more
Taylor Trauger
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dawn Foster’s takedown of capitalist-approved feminism will destroy your dream of breaking the glass ceiling—in the best way possible. Forget leaning into a sexist racist ableist nationalist white supremacist and all-around oppressive system in the interest of getting a few more marginalized people at the top of a structure that thrives on exploiting the bottom 99% for the benefit of 1. Lean OUT and take this system DOWN.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Àt seeing the title of “Lean Out” I was pretty biased towards it as a concept, and it fully met my expectations as a great read. The book takes its name from Sheryl Sandberg’s problematic “Lean In” project, and takes down the kind of “trickledown feminism” of “the 1%” which Sandberg and those in similar positions promote as a lifestyle brand rather than a political idea. Foster’s book is a short, snappy and well written manifesto calling for meaningful anti-capitalist, anti-racist feminism(s) wh ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A clear rebuttal to Sandberg's individualistic approach of "Lean In", a book which neatly placed all the onus on women to carry the responsibility for their position in contemporary life. Lean Out shows clearly how this approach offers nothing for the majority of women in society. Sandberg's approach is that all women have to do to achieve more is to assert themselves more. Lean Out exposes the structural inequality that exists in society to make this impossible in practice: to quote "A woman wo ...more
Dee Michell
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to enjoy this pamphle...I mean book, but I didn't. How frustrating that those who aren't into binaries when it comes to sex - which is a good thing - are into binaries when it comes to individualism vs collectivism!

Dawn Foster makes a number of good points in arguing for structural change - and I'm in agreement that structural change is needed - but she insults many potential comrades along the way.

Academic snob that I possibly am, I fail to see how quoting extensively from the media -
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very good, short introductory book about the pitfalls and contradictions of “mainstream feminism”. I didn’t learn anything new but would definitely recommend it to those who don’t understand how the fight for women’s rights must happen in the context of class, race and capitalism.

Also: it was a bit weird to read something from 2015 and feel like it was written a lifetime ago, when we were all having the “who’s a feminist?” debate. Good lord.
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, queer, politics, feminism
Short, digestible statement on how feminism is NOT white supremacist capitalism for wealthy cis women. Not everyone is a riot grrrl. Not Thatcher and May. Not Sandberg and other hashtag girlbosses. Not the Scandinavian model. Not those who campaigned to ban Page 3 but did not give a toss about the rest of The Sun. Action and unity are important. This book is important.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
YES! Thank you Dawn Foster! This methodical dismantling of white feminism is both a delicious critique of the left and the right. A short and tart knock out.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Short and efficient summary of the many dimensions of womens oppression in the workplace and beyond. Doesn't just list bad things, though, it gets into ways that working women resist and think about themselves in their communities.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"it's wry and sarcastic when it needs to be, because the world is a tiring and unfair place, and we cannot live in it without humor" writes Nina Power in the forward

Yep !

Cameron Mitchell
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Dawn Foster's work for the Guardian and Jacobin. This short and very readable book is an excellent takedown of feminism which centers around individual success narratives does nothing to challenge entrenched power structures.

I see some reviewers criticizing the book for being too much like an extended opinion piece... I'm not sure why that's a criticism when that is effectively the intention. Foster isn't an academic, she's a columnist and she's not trying to be anything otherw
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
I've not read Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In', so perhaps it's not entirely fair to judge what she says based on Dawn Foster's criticism, but what the heck, I'm going to anyway. Foster's book is a succinct and precise dismembering of Sandberg's 'corporate' feminism, a form of feminism (although it hardly deserves that name), which puts the blame for women's lack of fair representation at the highest level in business on their failure to play men at their own game. But as Foster points out, it totall ...more
John  Mihelic
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I first read the Sandberg book that this takes its name from, I was excited.

Basically, here was a feminism that someone can do on your own. No mass movement needed.

But I was thinking in context of the world that Sheryl brought us into. It was one of privilege and one that couldn’t be changed, so it must be navigated. It’s actually a really pessimistic book, and one that only will work for the educated white-collar classes who have some say in the terms of their own exploitation under ca
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This short little read was excellent. It's expresses the problem of "corporate feminism" and it's focus on individualizing the marginalization that women experience in society by critiquing Lean In. Dawn Foster expertly debunks "corporate feminism" as a ploy to circumvent working-class feminism. She evaluates the ways capitalism loves "leaning in" as a way to reduce female roles in leadership to tokenism and more importantly ignore millions of working-class women by saying feminism will "trickle ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's plenty to admire in this book - unlike other feminist texts I've read Dawn Foster engages in debate regarding intersectionality feminism and addresses head on that 'corporate' and 'capitalist' feminism benefits only the already privileged and redirects the focus onto social action. It definitely made me reevaluate how I think about feminism, and the internal snobbery that comes with it - Foster firmly places the emphasis on group action rather than individual identity and encourages wome ...more
Beanie Watson
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this SO hard to finish. I was gritting my teeth the whole time.

Quite aside from my views, I found most arguments lack in independent research. A guardian article is not an independent source.

This is an extended opinion piece, so treat it as that.

I don’t feel inspired, nor am I clear what the author is now expecting.

There are many contradictions (e.g. see the bit where she says woman to be realistic about their ambitions and then conclude that those leaning out lack ambition).
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on feminism ever; a must read! Eagerly looking forward to more from this writer.
Morgan Schulman
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you do not define your feminism as helping to make rich white women as rich as rich white men under hyper-capitalism, this is the book for you.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Best for: Folks who claim the feminist title; folks who thought there was something off about Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”

In a nutshell: Foster picks apart the main themes of Sandberg’s best seller and points out all the ways that it is harmful to feminism; namely, that it doesn’t acknowledge the bigger issues at play, such as patriarchy and capitalism.

Worth quoting:
“A woman may be as ambitious as she wants, but the people hiring and firing have their own preconceptions, in a society that mainta
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dawn challenges the view that women can achieve anything by the strength of their ambition and that every woman is in control of their destiny no matter what.
When she wrote it a billionaire American woman had produced a popular volume “Lean In” claiming all women needed were cojones to become as rich as Crœsus and if a woman hadn’t grown them, it was their fault.

That assumes everyone wants to have more money than they could ever need. I certainly don’t! That would be such a burden. Enough is e
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING. a really thorough exploration of all that's wrong with contemporary/mainstream feminism, framed loosely as a response to sheryl sandberg's lean in. really really enjoyed this - looks at all the different types of feminisms currently abound (corporate, imperialist, choice, etc) and lots of interesting examples/anecdotes/statistics. i also liked that this was so short and easily digestible. i did find the analysis to be more bark than bite at some points though, in that sh ...more
Wendy Liu
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Ultimately, all Sheryl Sandberg's vision of leaning in offers is an OK job, and the opportunity to see your children at the same time. In terms of ambition, it's sorely lacking. Both aims are meagre and quite frankly dull [...]" (from the last paragraph)

This is a wonderful and concise read. Recommended if you distrust the anodyne message of Lean In and want a more intellectually rigorous alternative.

Side note in case you were expecting, from the title, that the focus would be on Silicon Valley:
Kate McGhee
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. As razor-sharp relevant on the cusp of 2020, as no doubt it was at the time of its pre-Referendum pre-Trump publication, in 2015.

Convincing real world rebuttal of the damaging mythology of the “I did it and so can you” have-it-all glass-ceiling breakers.

“Super Mums... when asked about how they manage, they never respond: ‘I hired a number of women to work for low wages, cleaning and running my household, carrying out life admin, organising my diary, and raising my children.’”

Sweet b
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although Lean In was written seven years ago--and this book is from 2015--it's still quite relevant, and has useful insights. Foster is writing from a British perspective, which gives her a good vantage point to comment on the kind of corporate, capitalistic approach to feminism promoted by Sheryl Sandberg in her 2013 book. I appreciate Foster's critique of "trickle-down-feminism," the idea that any woman in power is necessarily good for feminism.
Ian yarington
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm glad that someone was able to reach into the corporate culture of coopting and taking advantage of what they find to be "popular" at the moment. As long as they continue to make money hand over fist they will coopt feminism, racial justice, you name it, whatever helps them keep up the facade of caring. I think for a lot of people this is daily life but for others it can be eye opening and I certainly hope those folks are the ones that pick this book up.
Nora Blue
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Foster residing in the UK, demonstrates how sexism, class and economics together force women to live in poverty and become disenfranchised from the political system. Rather the Lean In advice Sheryl Sandberg advocates, Foster says Lean Out is more effective suggesting women join in groups to address social and political inequality.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lean Out Together

A quick read that brings together a number of examples to enlighten the reader that feminism is more than fighting for the corner office. Women are disproportionately hurt by inequality and poverty, and ‘popular’ feminism rhetoric often leaves this fact out.

Everyone should read this book, the contents impact all of us.
Alan Fricker
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Really glad to finally get round to reading this counterpoint to Lean In. I got a lot from Lean In at the time - while the life experience that book is grounded in is clearly not that of many people I felt there were important points that I took on board. This is a better book for being much more realistic about where we are and what the issues are. A recommended quick read
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Goodreads Librari...: Two distinct entries for Lean Out 3 113 Mar 16, 2016 09:56AM  

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San Francisco is a gold rush town. There aren’t many books about people in their 20s who move to Silicon Valley with dreams of earning a living...
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“Fighting for equality is often misunderstood as simply being offered the same terms as men on paper. In many ways we already have that. What we don't have is emancipation: the opportunity to be free of social and external shackles that perpetuate inequality and women's lower position. Women around the world are now demanding more: paid work, a life for their children, but also the right to be listened to, a political voice, direct democracy, and the right to a full civic life. That isn't won by keeping quiet: it's won by physically and psychologically going on strike, by shouting back, and leaning out.” 2 likes
“Feminism now means you don't always do the dishes, or that you look down your nose at women's magazines, rather than meaning you fight capitalist systems that enable continued attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable.” 0 likes
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