Aug 05, 2016 10:13AM

Obama Gets Intersectional In Great Feminist Essay

"When everybody is equal, we are all more free."

President of the USA/ultimate dad Barack Obama has done a cool thing and written a personal essay about how proud he is to be a feminist. Published by Glamour, it's not only a really great read, but also a timely reminder of what we'll be missing out on once he leaves office. Obama, you haven't been perfect, but you've been pretty damn great.

The Pres starts off his essay by reflecting on his seven and a half years in office, and how that's impacted on his family life. After noting that his commute to work has been shrunk down to 45 seconds (from living room to Oval Office, niiiice), he says it's allowed him to spend more time with the fam:

"As a result, I've been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women," he says. "That isn't always easy, either — watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we've made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist." This is literal music to our ears. 

He goes on to highlight all of the positive changes for women that have occurred within his lifetime, from financial independence to improvements in reproductive rights. He deplores gender stereotypes. He writes that his heroes have always been women. And he notes that, while he was on the path to becoming POTUS the task of raising his children "disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle".

Next, he talks about the unfair expectations that society places on both men and women, and gets a bit vulnerable talking about his own experience of growing up without a dad and trying to figure out who he was. "It's easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there's a right way and a wrong way to be a man," he writes. "But as I got older, I realised that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren't me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself."

The next part, on breaking down those dumb binaries is so good that is deserves to be reproduced in full:

"We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticises 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, stigmatises full-time dads, and penalises 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 colour. 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'."

We see you getting into some intersectionality there, Pres! This is great stuff. Finally, he talks about how important it is for dudes to take up the cause, saying, "It is absolutely men's responsibility to fight sexism too," and then finishes up with some thoughts about the upcoming US election. 

"Two hundred and forty years after our nation's founding, and almost a century after women finally won the right to vote, for the first time ever, a woman is a major political party's presidential nominee," he writes. "No matter your political views, this is a historic moment for America. And it's just one more example of how far women have come on the long journey toward equality.

I want all of our daughters and sons to see that this, too, is their inheritance. I want them to know that it's never been just about the Benjamins; it's about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part to ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will.

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

Hell of an essay. You'll always be President of our hearts, Barack. 

PS: Just when you thought you couldn't feel any more feelings, Vice Pres Joe Biden goes and makes an Obama friendship bracelet. </3


It is possible we will never recover from this. 

Photo: @FLOTUS

Nadia Bailey