Friday, November 22, 2013

Michelle Obama: "feminist nightmare" ??

I read Feministing every day and this morning I saw a post called 'How to be a feminist, according to Politico.' Feministing didn't link to the Politico post, but critiqued it for defining a "real feminist" as a woman who cares about "Big Macho Male Politics", not "womanly" issues like reading to children and taking care of veterans. Reading through the Politico article, the author is criticizing Michelle Obama for focusing on too many domestic issues as First Lady, and not taking on more "serious" policy issues given her impressive qualifications, and Feministing contends in response that the Politico author is relying on discriminatory double standards that ask everything of the First Lady - to be the good feminist, the good mom, the good wife, the good policy advocate - and blast her if she falls short by failing to do it all and do it perfectly. Personally, I'm not a fan of the Politico post. The author repeatedly mentions how Michelle was expected to be a "superwoman" but it "wasn't meant to be." There's no such thing as a superwoman, though! Is it not just an unachievable standard created to keep women in their place by making it impossible for them to reach it...? I can sympathize with the politico author's desire for a more politically active first lady, but I think she was very unfair in her critiques of Michelle Obama.

Either way, I think this discussion makes a really interesting contribution to our discussion of first ladies, maternalism in politics, and public perceptions of women.

Feministing, "How to be a feminist, according to Politico":
Politico, "Leaning Out - how Michelle Obama became a feminist nightmare" :

Also, here's another response to the original Politico article (also from Politico):

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting, Shannon. I also think that Cottle's critiques of Michelle Obama are really unfair. The article brought me back to a point I've brought up several times in class about feminists policing women. Why are people, especially some feminists, so quick to criticize women in politics and hold them up to unrealistic standard? Why do we criticize Michelle Obama's actions more than we celebrate her triumphs as a woman of color in U.S. politics?

    Also, I'm gonna go ahead and bring up race because I can't pretend that it's not a factor here. I do find it questionable that Cottle and other women quoted in the article are hypercritical of Michelle Obama and hoped that she would "lean in" to her "aura" of an "ass-kicking, do-it-all superwoman." Could it be that these feminists were hoping for a more "assertive" black female stereotype in Michelle Obama's political activity?

    You should check out the article I'm about to post on the blog that fleshes some of this out more.