President Obama's 'Glamour' Essay On Feminism Shows He's Fighting For Women's Rights In A Big Way
Well, he's done it again — President Obama just proved he's leaving behind an amazingly feminist legacy as POTUS. On Thursday morning, Glamour published an essay on feminism by President Obama. Yup, that's right, the President just wrote a personal essay on feminism — an essay that proves that POTUS wants his fight for gender equality to be a big part of his presidential legacy.
While it shouldn't be a big deal in 2016, every time President Obama proclaims he's a feminist is a big deal — before Obama, presidents simply did not proclaim themselves feminists. Unbelievable, I know. However, in his Glamour essay, the President took the time to elaborate on why he's a feminist, and unsurprisingly, it has a lot to do with his daughters, Malia and Sasha:
Now, the most important people in my life have always been women. ... So I'd like to think that I've been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face — it's what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you're the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.
However, the President's essay was self-reflective, too — he wrote about the First Lady always caring for their daughters, while as a father, he was not expected to do so:
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.
Yet, the President's essay was largely hopeful — he wrote about how far women have come in the last century, and of course mentioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's historic presidential nomination.
Perhaps most importantly, in his essay, the President explained that men, too, need to fight against sexist stereotypes and standards (POTUS acknowledged that gender stereotypes are harmful to men, too).
It is absolutely men's responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.
Clearly, POTUS wants to influence other men (and women) to become feminists, too.
President Obama has passed multiple policies during his presidency that have helped further women's rights (for instance, the President has supported reproductive rights legislation, and worked to end sexual assault on college campuses); therefore, it may come as a surprise that the President did not focus on said policies, instead writing:
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.
Yes, POTUS is totally right — laws are not enough, it's individuals who have to change their ideas about, and approaches to, gender. Luckily, Americans have a president willing to publish an essay on feminism — an essay that will hopefully help others do what the President has clearly done: think critically about gender, and of course, become a feminist.
Here's hoping President Obama has set a new precedent — wouldn't it be fabulous if all presidents were feminists from now on?