How Far Does Michelle Obama Have to Lean In to Be a Feminist?

First lady Michelle Obama First lady Michelle Obama Carolyn Kaster/AP

Apparently Michelle Obama, an Ivy League-educated lawyer, mother of two, and America's only black first lady, is a "feminist nightmare." So says Michelle Cottle, in a Politico magazine piece that seems to deem anything short of "Angry Black Woman" Michelle as a catastrophic setback to Gloria Steinem's good work. Cottle manages to downplay the race lines Obama toes while also creating a stricter feminist standard for her than for (mainly white) women who "lean in" like Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.

Last week Obama became the ambassador to the "North Star" program that will hopefully increase the percentage of Americans going to college, focusing especially on lower-income communities. "Here, finally, was an issue worthy of the Ivy-educated, blue-chip law firm-trained first lady, a departure from the safely, soothingly domestic causes she had previously embraced," Cottle writes. "Gardening? Tending wounded soldiers? Reading to children?" Linda Hirshman, the feminist author, guffaws to Cottle that Obama "essentially became the English lady of the manor, Tory Party, circa 1830s,” she said.  

Cottle, and the FLOTUS-detracting feminists she interviews, have three complaints. First that Michelle has always been too traditional. As Cottle wrote way back in 2008 for The New Republic, Michelle is familiar because she knows how to relate to housewives. She made jokes about her husband and got a baby sitter when he couldn't help her out around the house. Cottle called her a traditionalist wrapped in the modern exterior, which was good for Barack's campaign, but meant she wasn't "a mold-shattering new breed of First Lady, or even the fierce symbol of feminism that was Hillary Rodham Clinton circa 1992."

Read more on The Wire

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.