To some who have been on the front lines fighting this fight for so many decades, this sounds very retro indeed, and they want to sigh and say to the younger generation of women, “There you go again!” Perhaps some older feminists are looking at these Silicon Valley hatchlings who’ve made it big and fast, and in mostly a young man’s world, and wondering if they are somehow heartless Frankensteins. Who might even turn on us! Maybe that is where some of the horror—and the snark—is coming from.
But I say pity these women, for the very same reason Sandberg is put off by the mentor seekers. Pity them because with such a dearth of women at the tippy-top, we want to—no, we insist that we—own them. We assume their every move and utterance symbolizes the advancement (or denigration) of our own cause. We want them to be the feminist queen or messiah we have been waiting for. We thrust all our hopes and dreams on women like Sandberg and Mayer, then are horrified when they don’t behave exactly as we would wish them to.
The real pity, however, is for us: that there are so few successful women in the public eye that we have not yet had the time to work out our own transference issues. And God(dess) help Hillary if she decides to run in 2016!
Lesley Jane Seymour is the editor-in-chief of MORE magazine.
For more about women and work: How To Be Employable in 10 Years.
For more great stories like this one, sign up for our weekly newsletter.