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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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