This past week, Barack Obama published, via Glamour, a beautiful, tear-jerking essay about his deep love for his daughters and his devotion to the concept of feminism.
Obama discusses the feelings that most any dad who has a daughter leaving for college experiences: immense happiness, bone-shattering nerves, and Earth-shaking pride. The President also expresses the relief he feels knowing his girls will enter the working world at a time when women have more opportunities than ever.
Women can vote, choose if they have a baby or not, can work anywhere they want, and they certainly don’t have to marry to make it through life.
But Obama also knows that there are plenty of people in the United States and around the world who don’t view women equally to men. That depressing reality is why we need feminism more than ever. There are men and women who don’t value feminism–and some who even think it’s an outdated concept. And that’s why it’s so important that President Obama declared that he is, indeed, a feminist.
“As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave,” Obama says.
“One of my heroines is Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination. She once said, ‘The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, it’s a girl.’ We know that these stereotypes affect how girls see themselves starting at a very young age, making them feel that if they don’t look or act a certain way, they are somehow less worthy. In fact, gender stereotypes affect all of us, regardless of our gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”
Obama gets that it’s going to take a long time for people to look inside themselves and change their opinions regarding women in order for worldwide shifts around women to occur. And while he knows that’s a daunting concept, he’s optimistic that people can make that leap.
“In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves,” he writes.
With any luck, whoever moves into the White House come January 2017, is ready to further the cause for women on our soil, and around the world.
Image of the president via Shutterstock