When I heard Michelle Obama was finally going to write a book, I can't be the only American woman who had high hopes. A powerful woman and a feminist icon gets a book deal; I could hear it being shouted in the streets. Finally, one of the most inspiring women on today's political scene will put pen to paper and wow us with her thoughts ... on gardening?
Wait, that's ... it? We have a First Lady who graduated from Harvard, and all you'll let her write about is the White House garden? Paging 1950, you can have your first lady back. We'd prefer our version be allowed to tackle something a little more meaty.
It may sound unfair to gardeners, and to their big brothers, the farmer, to say this. For that, I apologize. Gardening is a respected hobby and lifestyle both. Agriculture maintains one of the top spots in the nation's economy. It is quite literally what feeds us, and for that I'm a grateful citizen.
What little is out about the book -- which will be published by Crown, a subsidiary of Random House, which also published former President George W. Bush's Talking Points -- indicates it will talk not only about the White House garden that Mrs. O. created, but also community and school gardens across the nation. Interesting stuff, maybe. In any other context, it would be fine.
But when compared to other major markers of Obama's life, it seems an unfair use of her time, her talents, and her name on the book cover. Mrs. Obama is a Harvard and Princeton graduate. A former lawyer. A one-time associate dean at the University of Chicago, one of the nation's top colleges.
To ignore all that in favor of a book about gardens smacks of the '50s-style approach to educating our women: They can get a degree. But that's just a little something to do until they catch themselves a husband and get back in that there kitchen!
I'd like to think that the strong woman who swept into the White House would instead focus on something grander. Like Let's Move, the program that has turned the war on childhood obesity on its head, thanks to Mrs. Obama's hard work? It was, after all, her creation. Or perhaps a tome on what it's like to be black in America, written by the wife of the first black president? Even a memoir on what it's like to give up one's job for your spouse and still make an impact on society would do for feminists' sakes.
Mrs. Obama is so much more than her garden. But this book feels like a cop-out for the strong woman she has been for so many of us.
Were you disappointed to hear about her publishing deal?
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