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President Obama Gets Feminism

By Emily Chambers | Social Media | August 5, 2016 |


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Oh, the universe, sometimes you’re really good to us.

Despite yesterday being Obama’s birthday (his last in office), the President decided to give us a present. Namely a 1500-word essay he penned for Glamour magazine about why he’s a feminist.

And why is he a feminist?

As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave.

Sweet merciful crap! It’s like someone bothered reading about what feminism is, and was then able to capably articulate that. Men and woman are assigned and then confined to specific gender roles. The differences between those roles creates disparities. This is a bad thing. The end. Nothing about hating men or putting women on top. Nothing, SJP, about keeping people separate.

He also understands that just because something can’t be legislated doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be solved.

And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.

In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves.

How exactly do we change ourselves then? We have to stop being assholes, mostly.

So we need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.

We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.

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.

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”

And while Obama discusses why his feminism is important in part because of his daughters, he acknowledges that knowing and loving woman isn’t the only reason people should feel compelled to call for equality. Because given that feminism is about remedying the ways in which both men and women are injured by rigid gender roles, addressing sexism isn’t exclusively for the benefit of women.

That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.

Goddamnit, I’m going to miss you, sir.
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