You know you do it. I know I do it. I think everyone does it. Vanity checks itself in and we just can’t help ourselves. I want to look my best, I want people to think I look like that all the time, no really, that’s how I look.
What am I talking about? You know. When you post Facebook or Flickr pics or some carefully crafted Shutterfly photo album, you make every effort to upload only your most flattering pictures.
Not that one, my head looks big. Oh not that one, one eye is shut. DEFINITELY not that one, holy muffin-top pouring out of the top of my jeans.
I read a post on BlogHer titled Own Your Beauty. And while a beautifully written post, it challenged each reader to start a self-potrait project and take pictures of yourself everyday. An interesting idea indeed. But I pushed it aside. I’m not sure I had the energy or care to really pony up, snap and post my own picture everyday. Yawn. Who needs it.
But then I kept thinking about it. Would I even have the ovaries to post a pic of myself everyday in the first place? On the days when I don’t like how I feel. On the days when my muffin-top seems to pour out and smother any “feel good” vibes I may have had about myself? No way. I don’t want to. I don’t think people want or care to see it. I don’t think it’s worth it.
And then I got to thinking about the things I don’t like about myself. And how relative it all is. I am well aware I’m just up in my own mind about it. I know these are my own weird particular issues. And I know all of these things drag me down, blind me to the rest of it and render me impossibly self-conscious.
It is so frustrating. Because on the flip side I understand (in a very secure, logical way) that I’m a regular woman and I look just fine. I get that these insecurities are all just silly. I know I’m better than that anyway.
Because I’m a feminist, dammit. I read The Beauty Myth in college (required reading for every woman, totally changed my life). I GET IT. I know how messed up our standards of beauty are in this country. I KNOW we need to love ourselves and not let any of this misogynistic crap get us down. To hell with them!
So why do I look over at my husband and shyly tell him I feel awful about myself sometimes? What the hell is that about? How can I claim these rational ideals with pride but they still can’t push me past my own hang-ups?
Because everyone has their stuff. I have my stuff.
I hate my glasses. They represent some ugly ducking part of my childhood that I wore over my face. Growing up, I truly believed that no cute boy would ever really see past them. And then I said, screw it, glasses are who I am. Rock on. It’s MY identity. And yet, when I got contacts at 20, I felt like some new person. As if I had just gotten reconstructive surgery and they had just removed an enormous wart off my face. I was free!
I hate my front tooth. Long story but it was shattered by a piece of a telephone when I was 15. And I have not had the funds to really fix it. I hate hate hate it.
I could go on. But the point is WE ALL COULD GO ON. With a laundry list of stuff we can’t stand about ourselves. And I would bet every single dollar in my savings AND my Kia that even the most lovely women in the world have a list as equally long as yours and mine. And you might say “F them, what have THEY got to complain about?”
Yeah, exactly. None of it makes sense. Beauty may be something society determines but WE have ourselves all carved up and hidden thanks to our own subjective, warped preconceptions.
So, as a small form of social protest, here’s my salute to my own beauty this morning.
(This will be my only pic. In fact, I do NOT have the ovaries, the time or the focus to take pics of myself everyday.)
I’m not showered. My teeth aren’t brushed. My split ends haven’t been trimmed since June. I am wearing an old T Shirt I got at BlogHer 08. My recently obsessed over lines on my face are smiling back at you. And my fab, in need of a prescription update glasses are front and center. And so is my stupid tooth, glaring out for the world to see.
But it is me. And I swear to you — taking a deep breath and infusing my heart with every lesson I ever learned in The Beauty Myth right now, I swear to God — I look just FINE. Really.
But don’t get me wrong. I won’t be posting my muffin-top, one eye closed, tooth glaring pics on Facebook from now on or anything. Hellllll no.
I’m just being “SELF-AWARE” right now. And promising to you all that “I GET IT”.
Damn. What a mess.
Vanity, self-worth, beauty, all of it.
There is no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever.
Here’s hoping you find your beauty and hold on to it tightly whenever and where ever you find it. TIGHT I tell you. Those pretty days, those awesome hair days, those I look SO DAMN CUTE in my jeans days… hold on to them. Revel in them. Roll around in them. And take pictures and pin them up and remind yourself that THAT is YOU.
Now excuse me. It’s time I go have a shower, get on with my day, and (good Lord woman, brush your hair at least) stop fixating on everything I see in the mirror.
Do you remember watching that? On Saturday mornings in between cartoons? I adored Schoolhouse Rock. And (convinced as most parents are that their children should experience everything they did) when I saw the DVD on sale about a year ago I bought it and put it away for a rainy day. Of course, I promptly forgot all about it.
But a month or so ago my three year old’s teacher brought it up. She thought that since my kids are so into educational music, they might really learn from and enjoy Schoolhouse Rock. And wouldn’t you know it? They can’t get enough of it. So we “Conjunction Junction” and “Lolly Lolly” all around our house these days. Because Schoolhouse Rock…well, rocks. Truly.
Anyway, while watching it one afternoon with my boys piled onto my lap, we happened to be watching “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage” (a catchy little ditty all about the 19th Amendment, because Schoolhouse Rock actually has the skillz to make a song about such an amendment “catchy”.).
And my three year old turns to me and says: “That’s YOU Mommy!”
Oh. The little cartoon feminist within me blushed. And sat up a little straighter with chin held high. And thanked him profusely. What a compliment. My sweet boy sees me as someone jumping around, hollering, celebrating and singing about women’s rights in patriotic flare pants and a half shirt. With LOTS of hair.
(He wasn’t there with me in college but wow. I have to wonder.)
I was a Barbie freeeak when I was younger. I’m not sure what it was exactly about those dolls. It certainly was not about the whole fashion, try her in a million outfits thing. Sporting some outrageously colored, polyestered, peter pan collared hand me downs and tinted glasses – while a victim of it, I was not very concerned with fashion. For me, I think my obsession was having a little adult that I could put into made up situations. It was about wondering what it would like to be a grown woman someday. And so I created these elaborate story lines about going on trips and meeting people and having a job with a real computer (a novelty back then) and doing grown-upish things.
Did I yearn to be the blond, unrealistically proportioned bean pole that she represented? Well. Not consciously. Do I think Barbie sets unrealistic body image ideals in girls minds? Um, yeah I do.
But I still loved playing with them. And the glorious imaginary world I created (and escaped into) with them was worth whatever mind melding she did to me. Yeah, I hate my baby belly and wished I could tighten up some and my chest is so far from the example she set for me… but whatever. Barbie was a blast!
And back then, my Barbie came something like this.
The other day I gathered my courage and braved Toys R Us. I rarely set foot in there. It gives me a headache. Too much plastic. Maybe its a BPA thing.
But it’s that time of year again (you know – the most wonderful time of the year?), so I headed in during a rare child-free moment. And. I will admit something. When I walked past all those aisles in Toys R Us, I slowed right down when I saw all the pink.
The Barbie Aisle.
I remember all of those wistful moments spent in the pink aisle of Toys R Us as a little girl, day dreaming about all the cool Barbies and extras and houses and cars and horses and fun I could have. So I couldn’t help but sneak a peak and see whats in there. Yes, even with the stupid body image crap that I so wish Barbie didn’t perpetuate, I would have bought Barbies for my daughter if I had one.
So there I was the other day. Checking out the goods, slightly wistful, at the ripe old age of 36.
And that’s when I saw this new Barbie being sold.
What the hell?
(And please note. She has been turned demurely here for the pic. The plunge is much “plungier” when seen full frontal, so to speak.)
Ok, so I could forgive the big boobs and wasp like waist before because Barbie was wearing clothes that actually covered up those distorted parts. For the most part. But this one? Wearing “a striking black dress with plunging neckline”???
Oh no. Not ok. Sorry Barbie. A dress cut down to your navel is not part of the Barbie world I come from. Nor should it be for any little girl. I just can’t push my feminist tendancies aside for this (must crack horrid holiday pun here… wait for it…) “Ho Ho Ho” look.
And so is the slightly oversized, Brat doll-esque head that gives the illusion that her strangely disproportionate body is even tinier than it was before. Yep, Barbie has slimmed down so much, her head – with hardly much substance to hold onto – may loll off its own body and roll away.
Don’t call this fashion. Don’t call this keeping up with your market. Don’t call this anything but a reeeeally bad idea. Oh. And you know what else I’d call this doll.
I used to be such a good liberal American. Years ago, I was passionate about every issue, outraged, engaged and pro-active. Ok, so predictably – yes - I was my most progressive back in my college days. But now, on the verge of 36 and home raising two young boys – what’s happened to me? Do I care enough anymore? Especially now that I have children and should be more invested in the future of our country, am I staying informed enough? Am I a good liberal mom?
Yes, back in college – the glory days – I enjoyed debate in the classroom, sought out political speaking events (and fondly remember when Alec Baldwin came to speak for the College Democrats), marched to Take Back the Night, protested all kinds of good stuff (don’t ask me what, but it was good stuff), was a proud member of a feminist A Capella group (Ani DiFranco was wonderful, required listening), and my dorm room was covered in pro-chick, anti-discriminatory, peace loving posters. Oh yeah. And I didn’t ALWAYS shave my legs. (…What? So!?)
Now fast forward fifteen (cough, sputter) years, and I ask you: when was the last time I went to a political rally?
For someone who gets all uppity about political issues, this is shameful. Even during one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime, did I stand in line with the masses to go see Obama when he was in my area?
You see, I have to keep my two year old on his nap schedule and I have to use these coupons up before they expire during a grocery trip before said nap and that nap has to happen before its time to leave and drive a half hour to get my five year old from school who is always hungry when I get there so I better have snacks packed too. …And who wants to juggle a 40 lb. two year old and a hungry five year old at a political rally anyway? Well. I don’t. Yup. I’m just not hard core enough anymore.
It bothers me that I have let my edge go. I have let my immediate life seep in and block out a lot of the larger context. Because for me, my child’s well balanced lunch and nap are ultimately, above all else, my priority.
But its not as if daily pedicures, appointments with my tennis coach (I swear I don’t have a tennis coach) and coffee dates with my girlfriends trump my interest in political issues either. Caring for my children just trumps everything. I don’t do the pedicures and coffee dates either. Well, once in awhile. In a great while. But bottom line, its about the kids right now.
Is that a cop out though? I mean, mom’s bring their kids to see politicians speak all the time. They drag them along to rallies and meetings and community organizations. Moms multi-task, they figure it out, the kids get used to it and know how they are expected to behave. Having children doesn’t mean cutting down the person you are, does it? No. So whats my problem?
Do I care less now?
No, I care more I think. So what is it?
It goes back to my previous point. It’s not really about me right now. I mean, it can be sometimes. But my full time, around the clock priority is maintaining my children’s routine, happiness, education and daily normalcy. And you know what? It’s exhausting. The air gets let out of my political sails and by the time they are asleep, my brain is simply fried. Yes, and as I sink into the couch with remote in hand, I even find myself switching from the amazing Rachel Maddow to American Idol. (Head hung in shame.) I know. I’m not proud of it. But its just my reality right now.
I don’t think it will always be like this. In fact, as my boys grow older, I see changes in my freedoms daily. I will be participating in the March of Dimes walk this year with my family for the first time because I think the kids will be fine for it. And I was able to drag my boys to one small community Obama meeting before he was elected. Sure we had to leave early due to their wrestling, but change is coming (to steal a certain liberal theme these days).
And in the meantime, I’ll step up onto my soapbox here. Writing doesn’t require packing snacks-drinks-diapers-wipes, stuffing the stroller into the trunk, getting shoes on kids, bringing games and books, strapping kids into carseats and breaking up “he’s touching me again” fights. I can still rally, speak up and speak out right here. My blog can be like a dorm room poster and my posts can be my classroom political debates. Yes. I can still do this. So while I may not be a liberal college kid anymore, I am certainly still a liberal mom.
This is my thirdpost in a series written to honor Women’s History Month. My life has been profoundly influenced and affected by women writing and advocating on my behalf. And now, as I spend my days in a thinking, blogging, posting frenzy, I fancy myself a writer of sorts too. So, it’s high time I acknowledge the women that inspire. Here is my list of top 20 recommended women political bloggers, in no particular order.
Before we get started, please note that I did ask my fellow bloggers and readers who they read also. So this list includes my favorites along with those who have been recommended to me.
Ok then. Here we go.
1. Momocrats: While this is in no particular order, I still must put the Momocrats at the top of my list. As hardworking mothers and progressive thinkers, it often seems as if these women are speaking and advocating exclusively on my behalf when I read their posts. They are amazing writers, they know what they are talking about and the world is sitting up to listen to them.
2. Punditmom is my “go to” political blogger. When something is going down, I want to know what a smart, liberal minded, feminist pundit has to say about it. PM comes through for me every time. And sometimes you’ll even catch her speaking her mind on CNN and Fox too.
3. Julie Pippert is probably smarter than all of us put together. She’s extremely well informed, passionate about her politics and is a mother like so many of us.
4. Queen of Spain is kind of political blogger celeb in my mind. She landed an interview with President Obama during the election and has been seen on TV and at major political events ever since.
5. Writes Like She Talks is a fantastic political blogger and has written for Newsweek.com, has made several appearances on CNN and is a columnist. She is certainly a political blogger to be reckoned with.
6. Sairy is a Momocrat who’s found herself reporting from a White House Press conference, amongst other things. Here is her full bio – she is an important voice worth following.
7. Angry Black Bitch: Straight forward, very brilliant and never afraid, I met Shark-Fu on my first day of BlogHer 08 and have been reading her ever since.
8. Viva La Feminista writes as a feminist, Latina and mother – her voice is powerful, her message is important.
9. Mombian is an established lesbian family blog which discusses political topics affecting rights (or lack thereof) for same sex parents.
10. Feministing “is an online community for feminists and their allies.” The women here have created a talented and diverse community as they advocate for equal and human rights.
In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.
Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?
So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:
Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.
With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!
While it may come as no surprise to you, I still think I need to fess up: I am a news and politics junkie. And in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to share with you my favorite women pundits, correspondents, news anchors, bloggers and political writers. Women news sources are still in the minority so this is my simple way of supporting every woman out there reporting on what will certainly become history some day.
Now how could I ever sum up the women I support in one concise post? Exactly, it’s utterly impossible. So this will be a three part post – and even then I am quite sure I’ll be skimping on you. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot. This week, I will share with you my picks for the best women television news sources that you need to turn on and follow. Sure, do it for the future of women’s journalism, do it for women’s solidarity but really just do it because they are accomplished professionals making an important impact on mainstream media.
Until the early 1960’s, news reporting was strictly a man’s gig. So first things first – let’s give a shout out to some of first women who reported the political goings on in Washington. Nancy Dickerson was in fact the first woman television reporter. She opened the doors for such news greats as Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Ann Compton, Lesley Stahl and more recently, Katie Couric. The stories I’ve read about how difficult it was for these women to break into journalism makes the hairs on my neck stand up. They deserve respect and credit for the ceiling they have all cracked together.
Today, there are a number of television pundits and correspondents who have established themselves as top news contributors. But who tops my list? None other than the amazing and brilliant Rachel Maddow. If you don’t watch her MSNBC show at 9pm every weeknight (or follow her on twitter), you are missing something impressive. Ann Marie Coxis often a guest on her show and I have become a fan of hers also.
Another good perspective comes from Campbell Brown and her show “No Bias, No Bull” is my “go to” when I am not watching Keith Olbermann (and while he’s a “he” and therefore does not fit the bill for this post, I am a loyal viewer of his also). And by the way, Alison Stewart(previously of MTV fame and Emmy award winner) does a fabulous job filling in for Maddow and Olbermann – I hope to see more of this amazing news contributor in the future.
Gwen Ifill is the Moderator and Managing Editor on PBS’ Washington Week. Along with the stiff shirts of the McLaughlin Group, my father watches her regularly. I am a big fan myself and think she handled the vice presidential circus debate with grace and professionalism.
And while I stare at my monitor most afternoons, I usually have MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell quietly on in the background. She’s smart and does a fantastic job asking the right kinds of questions. And then Norah O’Donnellis the MSNBC chief washington correspondent and also hosts the 3pm hour of MSNBC.
While not your traditional political pundits, I have to mention the women on The View. They have made a significant impression on this country with their ideals and fiery political debates. Say what you will about The View being an actual news source, Whoopi Goldeberg and Joy Behar have my utmost respect.
And finally, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, deserves every bit of recognition she has received including the Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards and has been named the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). She speaks three languages and fearlessly positions herself at the epicenter of war, chaos and international instability on a daily basis. There is no question that she has earned my deepest admiration.
The only way we will see more women reporting and commenting on important news stories is if we support the women currently doing just that. Take note of who sits around the table during Meet the Press or gather in the White House Press conference room. Is our women’s perspective represented? Let’s hope it will be the case more frequently in the future.
Feel free to comment about some of your favorite women journalists below. And stay tuned for next week’s second post in this series about my picks for favorite women political newspaper journalists and writers that deserve their place in history.
So I’m a woman. And many years ago, I was a working woman. I earned a nice-ish little income, I had a title, an office with a view, I wore suits and shared smart ideas about important stuff with other smart, important people around lacquered cherry wood conference tables. There were women and men in our office. And I assumed our pay was equitable. Or was it?
According to Women on Business, women nationally make 77c to every dollar men earn. That is not equitable. And let’s say a woman has proof that she does not make as much as a male counterpart, does she have the resources, the support – heck – even the laws in place so that she can file a lawsuit arguing inequity in her office place? Well sort of – and not until very recently.
So who is Lilly Ledbetter and what does she have to do with this issue? Last week, a new Fair Pay Act was named after her. Why? After working almost two decades for Alabama Goodyear Tire, Ms. Ledbetter filed a suit against the company with proof that she was being paid inequitably compared to her male counterparts. However, she could not win compensation due to some fine print found in the Civil Rights Act. That fine print stated that if 180 days had passed since an employee received a paycheck, a complaint regarding inequitable salaries could not be filed.
What? After working with Goodyear for almost two decades, how was she supposed to know if her pay was considered inequitable and thus know when her 180 days had expired? Why was this situation her fault?
Last week, President Obama signed a bill to change this, allowing workers to more time to file such types of law suits. It seems an obvious change and one that should never have been over-looked – and yet this bill was only signed days ago.
The reality remains, however. Inequity in the work place will not just go away now that companies have to watch their own backs more carefully.
So how do other bloggers feel about the new Fair Pay Act? Do they feel this Act enough? Martha Burk at the Huffington Post feels more is needed and that we should look to New Mexico as an example:
“Not only will the state as an employer have to study and report its own pay practices when it comes to gender and race, so will private sector companies that want state contracts. Richardson [Governor of New Mexico] has declared overcoming pay inequity and job segregation a priority, and established a high-powered task force to implement the needed changes.”
“…the truth is that the Ledbetter Act simply restores employment-discrimination law to its pre-Ledbetter v. Goodyear standard. It doesn’t actually create new protections for workers, protections Ledbetter herself could have used — like a prohibition on employer retaliation if workers compare salaries.”
Punditmom agrees that this Fair Pay Act is a step in the right direction but questions whether the President is overlooking many other important issues in need of immediate attention for women such as increased health services. This apparent “tip of the iceberg” step towards fair pay seems to smack a bit of a quick fix, something to tide women’s rights activists over for the time being.
“This is not only an Act that will protect women like Lilly Ledbetter, but also countless other people paid less because of their race, national origin or religion. This Act clearly won’t be the remedy for all discriminatory pay decisions, but it’s a good start and sends a great symbolic message as Obama’s first law.”
Clearly, passing the Ledbetter Act alone will not solve discrimination issues in the work place. It seems simply the clarification of a detail. There is still so much more work to be done to truly establish equity amongst employees. But I suppose we all need to consider this a “glass is half full” moment. Thanks to this new Act, women can file a discrimination complaint and actually have a chance at compensation. Even if the Ledbetter Act is only considered one symbolic deckchair tossed impressively off the Titanic – it is still one step closer to a little something we all consider more American than apple pie: equal rights.
The December holidays are finally winding down. Decorations are to be packed up, our homes are being put back into order and left over holiday goodies are being cleaned out of refrigerators. So naturally, as we are fed up with our past week of excess, what comes to mind during the December wind down? Resolutions. And lots of them. But I am a realistic person and I know that my personal resolution lists rarely pan out. So this year, I am doing it a little differently. I would like to consider what sort of resolutions Obama might want to make for 2009. Perhaps you may have a few to add to his list as well.
On the eve of a hope-filled New Year and his first inauguration, Barack Obama’s resolution list has got to be about a mile long. Although, I’m not sure how he can discriminate his resolution list from the endlessly unfurling to-do list draped over his desk right now.
In the midst of all that is to be taken seriously in the New Year, The Red Stapler Chronicles had some resolutions for Obama that gave me a good laugh. For example:
Fix the leaking faucet in the Oval Office to immediately save tax payer’s money
Make sure new puppy gets along with Biden’s new dog to avoid dog fighting scandal.
Now it’s my turn. Here are a few suggested resolutions this liberal minded mom might add to President-elect Obama’s list:
Prepare that pedestal.
With so much work ahead of him, folks may shove him right off that pedestal if he doesn’t change things on day one. Or, it could go the other way. Any difference he makes at all could officially establish his superhero status and permanence on that pedestal. Either way, he needs to ready his pedestal and be prepared for anything.
Keep that ego in check.
With all the inauguration fanfare and Obama mania ringing in the streets, he needs to keep a grounded perspective. I am expecting Michelle to see right through it all and remind him who Barack really is.
Keep it real.
President or not, he must remember his roots, his family, his heritage and the real reasons he got into politics in the first place.
Don’t forget the moms.
With his wife and mother-in-law dropping everything to raise his children, he better recognize the kind of work mothers actually do and that women nationwide are expecting more focus on rights for working mothers during his presidency.
Keep a sense of humor.
President-elect Obama is a funny guy. There is not much to laugh at right now but his sense of humor will serve him and this White House well in the midst of it all.
Stay squeaky clean.
After our last democratic president, I shudder to think about what sort of damage one stupid, selfish decision could do right now.
Keep those promises.
As any politician does during an election, Obama has made a lot of them. The difference is that this time if he doesn’t keep those promises and we don’t see change happen, a recession will be the least of our problems.
Play with your kids.
There is no better way to keep perspective and maintain sanity than to play with your children after a long day at the office solving the world’s problems.
And finally, I would like to wish the President-elect, his family and this entire country a very happy and hopeful New Year indeed.
And here’s a hand, my trusty friend And gie’s a hand o’ thine
I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.
There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play. They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.
I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.
However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach - she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.
In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned.
“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] – the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”
She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.
“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”
She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.
But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?
“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”
And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.
“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”
Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.
“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”
And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how. There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.