If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
The first couple has dealt with their share of backlash since President Barack Obama took office back in 2009 and apparently, this will only continue. In a piece for the November 21st issue of Politico magazine, titled “Leaning Out,” writer Michelle Cottle calls the First Lady out as a “feminist nightmare.” What did Mrs. O do to earn such a dramatic title, you ask? Well, it looks like her recent 106 & Park appearance where she discussed her new educational indicatives may have had something to do with it. According to Cottle’s article, the FLOTUS should probably spend more time worrying about more hard-hitting issues and policies and less time assuming the mom-in-chief role.
“As President Obama claws his way through a second term, the sense of urgency for his well-educated wife to do more—to make a difference—may well be mounting. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In fact, East Wing officials I spoke with stress that Michelle Obama is not about to tap her inner wonk—she will focus on young people, not policy—and while the task of promoting higher ed may be new, speaking directly to kids is simply what Michelle does. Sure enough, in a sit-down with BET’s 106 & Park the week after the Education Department rollout, there was the first lady in full mom mode, lecturing students about nothing more politically controversial than the need to do their homework and get to school on time,” Cottle wrote.
“So enough already with the pining for a Michelle Obama who simply doesn’t exist. The woman is not going to morph into an edgier, more activist first lady. The 2012 election did not set her free. Even now, with her husband waddling toward lame duck territory, she is not going to let loose suddenly with some straight talk about abortion rights or Obamacare or the Common Core curriculum debate. Turns out, she was serious about that whole “mom-in-chief” business—it wasn’t merely a political strategy but also a personal choice,” she continued.
Many have since responded Cottle’s piece, refuting her claims that Michelle Obama has somehow harmed feminism and questioning exactly which feminists have an issue with the way Mrs. O does her job as First Lady.
MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry also responded to Cottle in this week’s letter.
“Dear Michelle Cottle,
Are you serious? You–or your handful of “feminist” sources–claim that first lady Obama is not a feminist because she says her most important job is being “mom-in-chief” to her two daughters,” Harris-Perry writes
“Given how simplistic your piece is, let me make this very simple: you are wrong. You’re wrong to write off the first lady’s priorities as fluff. She is fighting childhood obesity, one of the biggest public health crises of our time. And she’s not out there just flexing her biceps and mom-dancing with Jimmy Fallon–her Let’s Move campaign has helped thousands of child care programs offer healthier food and more exercise. And for the first time in years the CDC says there’s a significant decline in obesity in pre-schoolers,” the MSNBC anchor continues.
She went on to slam popular belief that Mrs. O is playing it safe to dodge being pegged as an “angry Black woman.”
“The first lady is not playing it safe with this work. She has drawn plenty of right-wing criticism. No, Ms. Cottle, not everyone loves a vegetable garden. You seem to think she is steering clear of the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype. But when she calls herself mom-in-chief, she is rejecting a different stereotype–the role of Mammy. She is saying that her daughters–her vulnerable, brilliant, beautiful black daughters–are the most important thing to her.”
“And on a strategic note, Miss Cottle: before we enter the 2016 election cycle and the feminists come asking black women for our support for your candidate, you might want to read up a bit on black women and our feminism. I can send you a syllabus,” she eventually concludes.