Barack Obama: 'This is what a feminist looks like'

The essay was published as the president turns 55

Andrew Buncombe
New York
@AndrewBuncombe
Thursday 04 August 2016 14:20
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Barack Obama: 'This is what a feminist looks like'

“The most important people in my life have always been women.”

So writes Barack Obama, in an essay published in a young women’s magazine, in which he urges men not just to fight blatant sexism, but also to work to change people’s everyday attitudes.

“We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticises our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear,” he writes.

“We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.”

Throughout his presidency, Mr Obama has spoken proudly of his family and has stressed how his daughters and wife have been a grounding influence. He has told how he places them at the centre of everything, despite their dislike of being in the spotlight.

Mr Obama wrote of the achievement of abolitionist Harriet Tubman 

In his essay in Glamour magazine, Mr Obama draws attention to the historic election, one in which a woman is for the first time the candidate of a major party.

“Two hundred and forty years after our nation’s founding, and almost a century after women finally won the right to vote, for the first time ever, a woman is a major political party’s presidential nominee,” he says.

“No matter your political views, this is a historic moment for America. And it’s just one more example of how far women have come on the long journey toward equality.”

Mr Obama say that during the course of his presidency he has seen progress being made - “people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles”.

“I want all of our daughters and sons to see that this, too, is their inheritance. I want them to know that it’s never been just about the Benjamins; it’s about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part to ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will,” he adds.

“That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free."

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