Penelope Trunk, Show some respect to Sheryl Sandberg!

Ms. Sandberg’s husband tragically passed away while on vacation with his family last week. His cause of death was not immediately revealed by his family, so it led to a much speculation as his cause of death and that it was not due to natural causes. We know now it’s not due to natural causes, he fell off his treadmill and hit his head and paramedics weren’t able to revive him. It’s a tragic accident and he leaves behind his family and his 2 little girls no longer have a father. Due to the family silence on the cause of his death, some people have speculated that he committed suicide and the most prominent voice in the startup blogoshpere is Penelope Trunk, she wrote an entry called ‘Dave Goldberg’s cause of death? I think it’s suicide’ , there were some cryptic tweets that were then quickly deleted that pointed to a death that was not natural. The title of the article was written to provoke as Penelope Trunk does so well in her advice columns. Ms. Trunk is unique that she gives career advice that are contrary to the mainstream and advice that cater to people that out of the mainstream, such as herself, she suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and she’s had a tough time in tech startup worlds where emotions are nuanced, things are read in between the lines and many feelings are not explicitly stated. Sometimes her articles serve to provoke, to say what everyone is thinking but don’t dare say and she can get away with it because she has Aspergers and she is not afraid to tell people so.

But this article went one step too far. First, he didn’t commit suicide, he had a tragic accident on gym equipment, so she’s wrong there. And unless the family chooses to disclose otherwise, I will not jump on the conspiracy theory wagon. She then implied that Dave Goldberg committed suicide because all of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Leaning In’, Trunk claims that she gets to ask this invasive question because: “Because Sheryl Sandberg, who was married to him, is not only Facebook’s COO, but she is also the author of the book Lean In. That book tells women that they should have a career like Sheryl’s. And, most significantly for this post, that women should pick a spouse like Dave.Sheryl has said over and over again that it is because of her spouse that she is able to Lean In ( which, loosely translated, means work insanely long hours and have kids and have a great marriage).” And Trunk closed with the final salvo: “But really, I just want to know how Dave died. Because I think he killed himself. And if he did, this might tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In.”

I agree that Sheryl Sandberg is hard to like. I found her interviews for her book ‘Lean In’ patronizing and unrealistic. She is using her life’s experiences and projecting them onto how all women should treat their careers and is indirectly implying that the reason why women didn’t get where they want to be is because we didn’t ‘Lean In’. No Sheryl, that’s not why, most women do not get to choose their careers, it most likely chooses them due to life’s circumstances. A lot of women don’t get ahead is not because they didn’t Lean In, they did, but were pushed out by bosses who don’t appreciate them. And Sheryl Sandberg’s whole schpiel about finding a husband that shares 50/50 of the housework? Now, that’s how I know she’s not cued into reality. She didn’t have a husband that did half the child care and chores, she was able to pay for someone else to do them. And if I can pay for a top grade nanny, cook, house keeper, house cleaner, yes, I’d have a fantastic career and be totally relaxed about it and be able to attend to the needs of my husband too.

All of this doesn’t matter right now. Her husband has died, show some respect Penelope Trunk! It’s unbecoming of you to write a post like that, even your Asperger’s Syndrome doesn’t excuse you from that. Yes, Sheryl Sandberg was very vocal about her life, career and marriage but it was done in the spirit to help other women become like her. It was very misguided and the advice is not realistic but she was trying to give back in her own way. She doesn’t deserve this kind of vitriol, she has two young children who are in terrible shock, she doesn’t need attention seeking people to make what is a trying time for them even harder.

Penelope Trunk’s follow up to her speculative article that Dave Sandberg committed suicide was no less provocative, and yes, we get it, Sheryl Sandberg held him up to be this perfect husband, the reason why she was able to go do what she does and how all men should be more like him.

She portrayed them to have this perfect marriage of combining high powered careers and family life, showing up to tech conferences holding hands. It’s all nauseating and totally misleading. But again, Ms. Trunk, her husband died, show some respect. As for your inquiry if she has nannies or help? Of course she does! You don’t need her to confirm that, anyone who makes over six figures and doesn’t hire help is officially crazy. So there’s your answer.

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