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So, I was over at Beth’s the other day, when the link to this post caught my eye. The post was written by some broad called Dana Goldstein. It was entitled, The Indignities of First Lady-Dom.

Ms Goldstein writes:

Don’t get me wrong — I adore Michelle Obama. She will undoubtedly be one of the smartest and most accomplished first ladies in American history. She survived right-wing attacks to become a force to be reckoned with on the campaign trail this fall.

But tooling around on the transition web site last night, I couldn’t help but feel discouraged by the washed-up old gender ideologies reflected there. The president-elect’s bio is built around a story of pulling himself up by his bootstraps and forging a public service career. Michelle’s bio, on the other hand, leads with the comforting news that she puts her children first — no Hillary-style meddling in politics for this first lady! It defines Michelle Obama primarily by her personal relationship to others:

“When people ask Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’t hesitate. First and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.
But before she was a mother – or a wife, lawyer, or public servant – she was Fraser and Marian Robinson’s daughter.”

Sorry, but is this supposed to be a bad thing? The fact that she puts her children first, and has no intention of meddling in her husband’s work, is wrong somehow?

Goldstein continues:

Of course, this tone shouldn’t be surprising. The job of the first lady is, essentially, to fulfill arch-traditional wifely expectations. One’s career or academic successes are almost wholly irrelevant. It is, as Echidne of the Snakes writes, “the job with no paycheck.” And in that way, it provides the perfect opportunity for us to think about the unpaid labor done by every stay-at-home mom and wife:

What an utterly ridiculous and pointless column.

I can’t believe that she’s judging Michelle Obama for describing herself as a mother first and foremost. I’m pretty sure there are more heinous things in life, than somebody actually taking his/her job as a parent seriously.

As somebody who’s pretty career-oriented, as well as being a borderline feminist, if I had children, damn right I’d put them before my job. This doesn’t mean that I expect everybody to feel the same, but in my opinion, if you aren’t going to put your children first, why have them in the first place?

Michelle Obama is not going to be president, her husband is. What’s so hard to understand about that? Surely Americans don’t want a First Lady who’s going to be delegating from the wings?

And to those commenters who felt ‘uncomfortable’ about Michelle Obama’s alleged ‘Leave It To Beaver’ bio, get an effing grip, and belt up.

If more people were as dedicated to their children, the world wouldn’t be so effed up, and eight year old kids wouldn’t go round shooting people.



  • Personally, I lose all respect for people who make it clear they DON’T put their children first.


  • What Shiloh said!

    When will “feminists” realize that they don’t further their cause by smacking down the women who choose raising their children above all else? A woman can have a career and be a good mom–a woman can also make a career of being a good mom. There is nothing wrong with either choice. But damn, these women who insist that going for their own glory should be more important than the citizens they have brought into this world simply should not procreate.


  • THANK YOU!!! As an unashamed, unabashed feminist, it’s bugged the shit out of me how “feminists” are mourning the “powerful” professional Michelle. Personally, I imagine this is a private choice the Obama’s made and that they’ve stuck with it. If Barack is going to be one of the most powerful men in the world, then something’s gotta give if you want to raise those girls right, and they chose this. My husband and I have made similar choices. I think they’re all very happy with their choices and should be left alone. Surely feminism is about the right to CHOOSE, rather than being forced into something “for our own good”?


  • From Goldstein,

    this demeaning role

    Huh? demeaning how? are now women’s choices demeaning if they don’t align with ultra first wave feminist views?

    I call bullshit.


  • I can’t help but wonder if at times those who cry “demeaning” aren’t just trying to cover up the fact maybe they’re pretty lacking as parents or spouses themselves? And why shouldn’t anyone’s family come first? If there is an afterlife I do believe we’ll spend it with those we love, not the money or fame we may have on earth, nor our earthly careers.
    Kudos for Mrs. Obama!


  • If you’re not going to do parenting right, don’t have kids. You can’t, or shouldn’t, half-ass parenting like you can your other jobs.


  • Ahhhh, my hot button Karen. I’ll take it one step further–putting your kids first should be **instinctive**. Not just lauded by folks at one end of the idealogical spectrum and opposed as demeaning or less than fulfilling by folks at the other end. It should be fucking instinctive folks. Pure, base instinct.

    And yeah, I know it doesn’t appear to be for many…but I will never in my lifetime be able to fathom why.


  • I’m a feminist who realizes her children need her to put them first, especially when they are young. It’s the job of *any* parent. I get bashed by those who use “feminism” to decry my decision to quit my job and stay home with my kids some years ago (even as I vocally support those women who either can’t make the choice or don’t want to) as well as getting attacked for what I write.

    Feminism shouldn’t be about only respecting “some” choices. That’s not the feminism I’m teaching my children or frankly,the feminism responsible for getting me where I am today.

    Michelle Obama is an incredibly accomplished woman. She’s had a very high powered career and as first lady, she’ll most certainly be of huge influence in whatever sphere she chooses to work on. But she’s the mother to two young children whose lives will be forever changed by what is happening to their father. Of course she’s going to concentrate on that. Thta’s what you do. It’s not good mothering, it’s mothering, for goodness sake. It’s not idealogical, it’s just what you do.


  • What Sarah Frantz said. Feminism is about having CHOICES. If a woman chooses to place her children first, WTH is the problem with that? So instead of aplauding a woman willing to place her family first, she’s being in a “demeaning role?”
    Hello? Without the “mothers” pushing for more rights for women, we wouldn’t even BE able to have the choices we do. Before people start toting around how a feminist should act, please study the history and progress first.

    I am a total feminist and when I was in my women’s studies class, the exact same thing happened. Well, geez, I felt just as proud of women whom chose to stay at home to take care of their families as I do women whom became CEOs. Of course, I got attacked over it that I didn’t “understand.” What I understand is I don’t want anyone to be FORCED to become something s/he did not choose.

    People like this gives feminists a bad name.


  • Randi
    November 21
    7:10 pm

    This whole concept, plus the man-bashing, is why I have a hard time with hard core feminists. It’s my feeling that, as a woman, I am inherently a feminist, but don’t tell me what I should or should not be doing, simply based on my gender. Men have been doing that for centuries and women who do it are no better than that. The whole point of the feminist movement was so that women could pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in the same vein as men.


  • I think this is one of those no-win situations. If she highlights her career, she’s gonna be called out on that. Don’t forget that whatever you think of her, that exact thing happened to Palin (who of course was actually running for an office). So you pick your public persona and go with it. I don’t think anyone dreams for a moment that Michelle is not bright and accomplished because she’ll be under a microscope as the first lady.

    And I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough of First Lady politics. Pretty bummed about the whole Sec of State thing. Whatever–that’s a whole nuther subject.


  • Bev Stephans
    November 21
    10:24 pm

    I really don’t know much about Michelle Obama, but I’m glad that she is putting her children first. That goldfish bowl called the White House can be very intimidating and scary to young children.


  • **I thought Sec of State wasn’t done and they’re still negotiating over pay and purpose.**

    Michelle Obama has never given any indication in this campaign that she would do anything other than put her children first. THIS IS HOW SHE DEFINES HERSELF, not just a marketing spin on a website. She’s been doing that all along, making sure they have as much normalcy as possible. The girls are middle grade for goodness’ sakes–what else do people expect her to do?

    Part of the reason they’ve seemed to take all the hoopla surrounding Dad in stride (“Dad made history? Whatever. We get our puppy now? Kewl!”) is because Michelle Obama has put them first (and their dad does too, with frequent calls and “date nights” with his daughters.)

    Just because Michelle Obama continues to put her children first doesn’t mean that’s all she’s going to do while in Washington. Goldstein acts as if Mrs. Obama will enter the WH and never be seen except to take the kids back and forth to school. She’ll have plenty of things to do as First Lady, including being the most senior of advisers to the President. And there’s going to be a First Grandma in the White House too.

    The First Family hasn’t even moved in yet. Can we not wait until the moving van pulls away before we start criticizing?


  • Kelly Bishop
    November 22
    2:10 am

    We ALWAYS seem to have a problem with our first ladies – because as a country we can’t seem to agree with what their role should be & we are uncomfortable with the influence they have.

    So Carter, Reagan & Clinton’s wives were criticized for being too powerful. The Bush wives were sometimes criticized for fading too much into the background.

    They really can’t win either way.

    Kelly B.


  • Kelly, you’re right…and I think it’s a kind of sexism, isn’t it? Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    I don’t think I personally know one person who would agree with this journalist’s take. It’s another example, IMO, of the media CREATING a story when there is no story.


  • Nora Roberts
    November 22
    10:31 am

    She actually said ‘demeaning’? Serious, loving, prioritizing motherhood is demeaning? What crap.

    I don’t consider anyone a real feminist who would say or think that.

    We have a strong, intelligent, interesting woman, one whose husband–now the most powerful man in the country–seeks and values her opinion. And because she considers her role of mother her priority, because her children are obviously her heart (and his) this person considers her ‘less’?

    As it’s been said in this thread several times, real feminism is about choice.

    I also think it says a great deal about our incoming First Lady that she so values and respects her own mother, and that the Obamas together have such a vital understanding and commitment to family.


  • joanne
    November 22
    7:30 pm

    “I can’t help but wonder if at times those who cry “demeaning” aren’t just trying to cover up the fact maybe they’re pretty lacking as parents or spouses themselves?”

    And I can’t help but wonder how many of those who cry “demeaning” are actually parents or spouses themselves. It’s much easier to throw stones when you have no real understanding of another’s choices or responsibilities.


  • Someone needs to thwack her lightly with a Clue Stick. Feminism outght to be about choice: the choice to choose, family, a career, or both. Goldstein and others like her are just as bad as those who criticized Sarah Palin for her political ambitions. Feminism ought to be about letting powerful women make their own damn decisions and not about dissecting the First Lady’s life.

    SOMEONE has to keep those kids sane. If it were President-elect Michelle Obama, Barack had better have been devoting most of his time to his kids!

    Either you have one parent as the primary caregiver or you split time between them. Barack works all day, and of the two careers, I would hazard a guess that they both think his job took precedence a couple of weeks ago. Therefore, Michelle takes care of their children until he’s not President any longer and they can make another arrangement. How hard is that to figure out?


  • Karmyn
    November 22
    8:35 pm

    Her children are still fairly young. They need to be her first priority. These children are going to spend the next four to eight years of their life in the spotlight and have their every move analyzed. They need a mother who will be there to love and support them through everything.
    Being the First Kid isn’t easy, but for the most part, they turn out okay. Well, maybe not the Reagen kids.
    I didn’t vote for Obama, but I do think he and his wife are great parents.


  • Anon76
    November 22
    9:28 pm

    What utter bullocks. Feminism is first and foremost about choice. To have the same rights as men as to whether we choose home and hearth, or corporate glory. Or, to balance the two.

    But the most important of all is, if you choose to bring children into this world, you must put them at the top of the priority list. And this goes for both genders. We have long ago grown out of the old “maternal and paternal insticts”.

    IMHO, a bad parent is worse than no parent at all. Just because you can breed doesn’t mean you should.

    I applaud every person who thinks long and hard on their personal situations and make the best choices, whether it is being in a stay-at-home spouse situation, or going for the gusto.


  • cecilia
    November 24
    12:23 am

    I don’t think she’s judging Michelle Obama for putting her kids first. I think she’s judging the official bio for taking a woman of many accomplishments, and making it seem everything important about her is her relationships to others; at the same time, the bio of Barack Obama is all about the accomplishments. It’s not that being a mother is looked down on, it’s that they’re turning a very multi-talented and multi-faceted pair of people into a couple of gender stereotypes.


  • vulcan girl
    November 24
    3:09 pm

    Michelle Obama has always come across as someone whose relationships are very important and central to the person that she is. She’s accomplished a lot careerwise and was the primary breadwinner, but I think that she is a person who is not defined by what she does. In her life, it’s not the things that she can do, it’s the people. Her life didn’t begin when she graduated from Harvard Law, it began with her family, and I just see her as someone who’s really grounded and secure in that.

    Yes, Barack’s bio is all about his accomplishments, he’s about to be the POTUS. That’s what we need to know about him.


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