President Barack Obama has said that, “it is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too”, in a recent essay explaining why he is a feminist.
The essay came in a week that saw Saatchi & Saatchi boss, Kevin Roberts claim that the gender equality debate was ‘all over’; Clint Eastwood referred to society as a ‘pu**y generation, walking on egg shells’ when it came to racism; and a recent study showed women in sport are commonly referred to as ‘aged’ and ‘unmarried’ in the press.
The essay also touches on the advancements that have been made in the last century; credits that the most important people in his life have been women; and describes the sacrifices made by his wife, Michelle.
Obama also spoke of Hillary Clinton and the historic moment when she became the Democratic nomination for president – the first woman to do so. Obama wrote, “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. 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.”
Obama goes on to write, “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.”
“We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes 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.”
Continuing he wrote, “Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel fairly unjudged based on their gender or race – or when they notice that happening to someone else. It’s important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.”
“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.”
Obama concludes, “That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.”
You can read the full essay in Glamour magazine here.