REVEALED: Facebook Exec Sheryl Sandberg’s Wacky 1991 Feminist Thesis

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The Harvard thesis of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s quasi-celebrity COO, has been shared with Breitbart, casting new light on the depths of the ardent feminist’s gender politics and the possible ideological preoccupations of the social network she now helps to run.

Revealed during a week the progressive bias of Facebook’s top staff has come under intense scrutiny, the thesis suggests that the upper echelons of the company may be even more radically progressive than previously believed.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated last week that he would be reaching out to influential conservativesafter it was revealed that the site was ignoring and deprioritising conservative news sources.

Breitbart executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon and editor-in-chief Alex Marlow responded that they weren’t interested in a “photo op” but wanted “transparency and the truth” from the social network. Instead, Breitbart challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a public debate on camera with me.

Sheryl Sandberg’s senior thesis, overseen by former Clinton staffer Larry Summers, might suggest why Facebook has developed a problem with conservatives. It provides a rare insight into the psychology and politics of a senior executive at one of the most powerful tech companies in the world.

In the thesis, Sandberg uses bizarre, discredited statistics and fashionable but shaky arguments about the “pervasive influence of the patriarchy” to explain domestic violence. The full thesis can be read below.

The Facebook COO appears to have wholly bought in to feminist pseudo-statistics, making the extraordinary claim that 95 percent of domestic violence victims are female. The true ratio of male to female domestic violence victims is now known to be far more even, with meta-analyses of over 200 studies showing a rough gender symmetry in domestic violence.

Sandberg can’t be excused by the date of publication (1991). By then, researchers had long been aware that men and women abused each other on a roughly equal basis. By 1988, this research had already been published in mainstream journals. 

At one point in the thesis, Sandberg does acknowledges male victims, noting that she does “not mean to imply that men are not also subjected to acts of violence by their partner,” but later goes on to approvingly cite an argument from two academics – without evidence – that “by and large” most women who attacked men did so “to defend themselves.”

In the thesis, provided to Breitbart News by journalist Charles Johnson, Sandberg makes it clear that men, “traditional attitudes” and “western society” are the driving forces behind domestic violence. “Intimate violence is not only fostered by traditional attitudes towards marriage, but by the hierarchical, male-dominant nature of Western society” writes Sandberg.

She does not find space to compare the state of women in the Islamic world with their peers in Europe and the United States.

“The pervasive influence of patriarchy in society has resulted in the widespread acceptance of the ideology of male dominance,” Sandberg writes.

With growing awareness about the hidden epidemic of male domestic violence victims, male users of Facebook – particularly those affected by domestic abuse themselves – may be concerned that such a high-ranking member of the company apparently believes them to be in such a tiny minority.

Those seeking to understand the achingly right-on progressive politics at Facebook will be reading Sandberg’s thesis today with keen interest.

Sheryl Sandberg's 1991 Harvard Thesis

We reached out to Facebook requesting a comment from Sheryl Sandberg. Facebook’s Director of Strategic Communications Anne Kornblut responded: “This was a college paper written over 25 years ago. It’s amusing — or maybe sad — that anyone would try to take lines and footnotes from this 90+-page paper and use them out of context.

“And it’s too bad that more people in 2016 aren’t concerned about domestic violence and its victims – women and well as men.”

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