In a passionate essay for Glamour Magazine’s September issue, Obama is calling on men of all ages to declare themselves feminists and help put an end to gender stereotypes.
“It’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men,” Obama wrote of his daughters.
Proud feminist President Obama wrote about fighting sexism and the importance of gender equality in a powerful and personal essay for the September issue of Glamour.
He spoke about the progress of women’s rights in the past 100 years, how optimistic he is for his daughters’ futures and elucidated the changes he wishes to see in gender equality going forward.
“Gender stereotypes affect all of us, regardless of our gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” said Obama. He urged men to fight against sexism, saying he’s tried to be an example for Sasha and Malia.
“It’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men,” said Obama. “It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.”
Obama wrote about the disproportionate burden that wife Michelle had to take on as a working mother when their children were young and he was working in the state legislature. He addressed the “particularly unforgiving light” that shines on women and girls of color.
“Michelle has often spoken about this,” said Obama. “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.'”
Obama was raised by a single mother and said that the most important people in his life “have always been women.” He spoke about overcoming the need to succumb to masculine stereotypes imposed by society and said, “Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.”
POTUS also took time to honor Hillary Clinton’s historic achievement of becoming the first woman nominee of a major political party in the United States. He said regardless of one’s political affiliation, it’s something to be celebrated.
“That’s what 21st-century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free,” said Obama.
On how America needs to change in regards to gender equality:
“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.”
On raising Sasha and Malia to speak out against sexism and racism:
“As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race — or when they notice that happening to someone else.”
On how Michelle Obama carried most of the childcare responsibilities when their daughters were young:
“I’ve seen how Michelle has balanced the demands of a busy career and raising a family. Like many working mothers, she worried about the expectations and judgments of how she should handle the trade-offs, knowing that few people would question my choices. 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.”
On Hillary Clinton becoming the first female nominee of a major political party in the U.S.:
“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.”