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In her new book, ‘The Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug,’ Sarah Lacy says women should fight back, not ‘lean in’

Amusingly, Lacy says Facebook — whose COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote “Lean In” — rejected ads for the book because of the word "uterus."

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Cover of Sarah Lacy book, “The Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug”
The cover of Sarah Lacy’s new book, “The Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug”
Courtesy Harper Collins

Women are being lied to on a massive scale, Pando CEO Sarah Lacy says, and they might not even realize it.

On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Lacy talked about her new book, “The Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug,” which is part memoir and part guide to “overthrowing the patriarchy.” She based it in large part on her own experiences as a divorced mother of two working full-time, and all the cultural baggage those labels carry.

“The lie that I was told for so long is that it would be this untenable, horrible thing,” Lacy said. “And I found after I had kids, I was better at everything: I was more confident, my voice as a writer was better, I could write quicker, I was more productive, I became more successful — the exact opposite of what I was told would happen, happened! If only you had a uterus, Peter, think of how much more successful you’d be!”

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In particular, Lacy sought to rebut the version of feminism advanced by books like Sheryl Sandberg’s hit, “Lean In.” She said this genre of “careerism feminism” doesn’t help enough women, and teaches them the wrong lessons.

“It’s this idea of, ‘Let’s all accept we live in a patriarchy,’” Lacy said. “‘Here’s how you, as a largely educated upper-middle-class white woman can hack your way through this system and have a good career on your own.’”

“My book, and the moment our country is in right now, is very much about, 'We need to overturn the system, and the system isn’t okay,’” she added. “One of the biggest disagreements I have with the ‘Lean In’ canon is the whole idea that the solution is a 50-50 marriage. These books are telling women to negotiate with their spouse, to kind of sell him on this idea that they should have a career and why it’ll be great for him. I don’t think women should be selling anyone on the life they want to lead.”

Lacy said she wanted to advertise the new book on Sandberg’s home turf, Facebook, but the ads were rejected — not because of Sandberg, but because the site considers the word “uterus” inappropriate.

“If only the Russians had been trying to promote uteruses!” Lacy said.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcastor wherever you listen to podcasts.
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If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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