Our president wrote, “Yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because that’s what they expect of all men.”
Early yesterday, I woke up to a beautiful fairytale in a Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.”
Don’t get me wrong, it was pleasant to run across something said by a politician that wasn’t cringe-worthy, and I happily gulped down a lump of feminism, a la POTUS, along with my morning tea. Oh, how I’m going to miss the Feminist-in-Chief, an apologetic husband and father who recognizes that during his early law years he missed many of the joys, challenges, and responsibilities of parenting his and Michelle’s two daughters. His land of hopes and dreams is part of the reason why I love him so dearly. I can still hear the chants of “Yes, we can!” every time the Obama family crosses the White House lawn.
So when he said…
“We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.”
I responded with an out loud “Yaaaas!” Did our POTUS acknowledge his privilege in a way that other men can understand?
“And the reality was that when our girls were young, I was often away from home serving in the state legislature, while also juggling my teaching responsibilities as a law professor. I can look back now and see that, while I helped out, it was usually on my schedule and on my terms. The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle.”
Meanwhile, the First Lady doesn’t treat the job of being a mother as a burden – instead she SLAYS (Yep, I just made a Beyonce reference.). Michelle Obama has used her post for some heavy-hitting issues and dedicated her time in the White House to promoting programs that improve the health, education, and confidence of her daughters and daughters around the world.
I’m going to miss having our forty-fourth president who writes and talks about women as if they are his own daughters. His hopeful words acknowledged the gains that have been made for equality.
“The good news is that everywhere I go across the country, and around the world, I see people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles. From the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault, to the young women who became the first female Army Rangers in our nation’s history, your generation refuses to be bound by old ways of thinking. And you’re helping all of us understand that forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.”
But this message still falls short in acknowledging that all of these accomplishments are currently under attack…Some of these very advances are being challenged in North Carolina and across the nation, not to mention that women still do not earn equal pay.
Obama’s fairy tale-like dream has to be balanced on the heels of reality, especially given our political options. We have an uber-qualified female nominee who has been accused of playing the “Woman Card.” She’s running against a male nominee whose advice to his daughter, should she ever be sexually harassed, is simply to quit her job.
“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Donald Trump disturbingly shared with USA Today. This comes as no surprise considering his incessant referencing of women’s features and creepy description of daughter, Ivanka. This is the guy who went on television and said things like, “I don’t think Ivanka would do that, although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
His son Eric, (Some call him “Trump the Lesser”) defended his father’s statement by saying, “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.”
These two have a lot to learn about the very real problems of sexual harassment and consent.
Meanwhile…Once Upon A Time there was a president who swooped in when things seemed hopeless, when things seemed bleak and aspects of our freedoms were stagnant or advancement seemed stifled. There in the midst of uncertainty we looked for someone to bring about change.
Every knight has a few chinks in his armor, and magic unicorns are hard to come by in 21st century fairy tales of feminist presidents. And while I’m all for women holding our heads high as princesses and queens, it’s going to take all of us to wade through the moat of muck to slay the dragons. This fall, we can help create a future that doesn’t seem like a fairytale in a far-away land.