President Barack Obama has done it again. He has shaken loose old ideas and practices in the American way of being. Obama is the most progressive president since Lyndon B. Johnson on social justice and rights for those who have been disenfranchised. Now, he has declared himself a feminist for the world to hear, see and digest. What a pill to swallow!
Earlier this week Obama spoke briefly at the United State of Women, a summit that tackled many women's issues.
"We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs," Obama said. He also called himself a feminist by referring to himself and saying, "I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.”
Girls and boys should learn the true meaning of feminism.
By calling himself a feminist, he's setting an example for current generations, and especially our kids, to think of feminism not as a dirty word but as a movement we should all embrace, one that advocates equality of social and political rights for women. Girls and boys should learn the true meaning of feminism and grow up to respect and understand each other regardless of sex or any other qualifier.
In this speech Obama addressed deep-seated practices and beliefs born in a patriarchal system that has historically treated women as property. And although women are no longer the property of their fathers or husbands and are culturally sovereign, the level of shaming that takes place when a women is sexually free and unapologetic is as prevalent as it ever was.
We’ve clearly seen the huge divide between the treatment of the genders in the case of Brock Turner, a Stanford student, who was convicted to six months in jail for being caught in the act of raping a young woman while she was unconscious. In this case we see how the prospect of prison and a conviction on the record of the rapist was raised before the court as something just too unbearable for a young white Stanford student. Conversely the prospect of having to live with the knowledge of being sexually assaulted by a stranger was not an issue for the young woman.
Cases like this one are not unusual. They sadly demonstrate the systematic thinking that grants men permission to do as they please with little or no consequence. A victimized woman, on the other hand, is lucky to be deemed a victim—as often as not, she is considered to have somehow “asked for” the abuse.
President Obama has taken a stand for women, just as he did with the LGBT community four years ago.
His influence went far in changing the way our country legally treats our LGBT brothers and sisters. Obama backed his evolving beliefs up with legislation that eventually led to federal laws granting marriage to all. I’m hopeful that the president will propose similar legislations for women's rights. And while he has already taken the lead on behalf of women in the form of the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to covers preventive health care and contraception to women, and in his support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, there is still much to be done. So grayer or not, thank you, Obama, for your endless support as a feminist.