On Aug 4, Barack Obama's birthday, the president gave women in this country a gift by writing a pro-feminist op-ed in the women's magazine Glamour.
In an exclusive with Glamour magazine entitled, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” President Barack Obama penned an op-ed about his experiences with the women he serves, watching his daughters grow up, the progress we’ve made as women, and the work that remains to be tackled.
“In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives—about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent,” the president said.
He continued, “So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. 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.”
President Obama goes on to say that “the most important women in my life have been women,” waxing poetic about the contributions made to his life and work by his mother, grandmother, wife Michelle, his daughters, and the various women he collaborates with professionally and personally as president.
“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,” President Obama wrote. “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.”
He concludes by detailing the societal changes that must occur for women to be seen as equals in all aspects of society.
“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.”
Thanks, Mr. President, for making your own birthday all about us! Read the full op-ed here.