Category Archives: feminism

This is what a leader looks like




            Every time I tried to listen to Obama’s Cairo speech while nursing Lilah, she turned around to see who had just come into the room and begun expounding on the Middle East in her bedroom.  I could only watch it the last feeding of the day, when she is so absurdly tired that a mariachi band could be playing on the changing table without eliciting so much as an eye flutter.  It took a couple of days to get through the entire speech.

            So it was that Sunday evening, with the baby multitasking by both sleeping and nursing on my breast, I came to the forty-third minute, when my President stood up in front of the world and said, “I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons.”  For some reason, this was the moment it struck me for the first time: there is a feminist in the White House.

            Yes, I subscribe to Ms. Magazine, and yes, I stared for many a day at that sexy cover photo of Obama tearing open his shirt to reveal a t-shirt reading “This is what a feminist looks like.”  But, until that moment, feeding my only daughter as my sons settled down to sleep in the room next door, it hadn’t really sunk in that there is a real role model in the White House.

            Not a man who marries a strong woman but then treats interns as sexual playthings.  Not a man who calls himself a sports fan and then guns for Title IX. 

            A Feminist.

            A man who sees gender issues as part and parcel of his international policy.  A man who acknowledges there is work to be done right here in his own country.  A man who nominates Latinas to the Supreme Court and appoints ballsy former first ladies as Secretary of State and who created a White House council to address women’s issues and stands by my right to choose despite his strong personal opposition to abortion.

            All my kids were born during the second Bush administration.  But the first President they remember will be a man who is not afraid of the f-word.

            So go ahead, it’s your turn. I promise not to be offended if you disagree with me, but I really want to know.  What do you think of Obama’s feminism?

The feminists’ son

            Usually, I am into excessive narrative, but this conversation really requires no commentary.  It took place as I pushed three-and-three-quarters Zachary in the stroller home from the birthday party of a classmate.  Benjamin was home with a sitter, and I was starting to feel that third trimester creeping up on me.

Zach: It’s really hard being a boy.  I don’t want to be a boy and a man.  I want to be a girl or a woman.

Me: Why, sweetie?

Zach: I don’t want to have to work in an office.  I want to work at home.

Me (putting the break on the stroller and getting down to eye level): Zachary, lots of women work in offices.  E’s mother works in an office.

Zach: But you don’t.

Me: I used to.  We’re really lucky I can be home with you.

Zach: Was it before I was born?

Me: Yes, it was.  We’re really lucky that we can have me home working and with you and Benjamin.  But, baby, lots of mothers work.  C’s mother works in an office.

            Oh, sweet petunias, what are we teaching our boy?


Updated to add: He was referring, I think, to the non-Mommy work I do: the writing.  He simply sees that as easier or more pleasant.  But, I worry even more for what he seems to be inferring about the quality of his father’s life.  Does he seem that unhappy to him?