President Obama's New Essay Is a Feminist Dad Manifesto

"It's not just about the Benjamins; it's about the Tubmans too" is how President Obama summed up his essay, which was basically a master class on modern feminism published in Glamour magazine. Feminism is something he cares deeply about, and he makes a flawless argument on why you should, too. 


He talks about raising his girls and about how the majority of the responsibility fell to his wife (a working mom) when they were younger. He talks about his gratitude for his time in the White House because it kept him close to his daughters. He talks about his single mother, who juggled raising him and her own career, and his grandmother who, like so many other women, was held down by the glass ceiling.

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He even quoted Shirley Chisholm: "The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, 'It's a girl.'"

But despite all of that, in his informed opinion, "...this is an extraordinary time to be a woman."

He's right. And in no small part the reason women are making such strides is because of the example he and Michelle have set for the country.

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"The progress we've made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist."

And he's more than just talk on women's issues.

The very first piece of legislation Obama signed during his presidency was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He appointed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He's #WithHer.

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And in his personal life, as he explains in his essay, he and Michelle try to do their level best to empower their daughters:

As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged 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.

Obama points to the men who work on his It's On Us campaign to stop college campus sexual assault, the women who were tough enough to become the first Army Rangers in American History, and the first woman nominated by a major party to be president as signs we're making real progress toward gender equality. But I don't think he gives himself enough credit.

Obama is the one who gave sexual assault the full power and attention of the presidency. Obama is commander in chief of the armed forces which no longer discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. Obama is the one who lent his megawatt charm to a rousing endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the woman whom he would like to call our next president. He alone isn't responsible for these things -- that's not what I'm suggesting -- but his fingerprints are all over them.

Our country has much to be grateful to Barack Obama for, but his feminism is something that will be a big part of his legacy. Obama is the first president to show Americans that the leader of the free world is what a feminist looks like.

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And the world has been forever changed because of it. Not just for his daughters, but for all of our sons and daughters. And for all of us moms and dads, too. "We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers," he writes of feminism beginning at home.

Because, as President Obama put it, "that's what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free."

Obama out.



Image via WhiteHouse/Twitter

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