As I was deciding what to post today, I came across and article written by our President for Glamour Magazine. As I read it, tears hit my eyes and a swell of pride hit my chest. This is my President. He gets it. So rather than give you my commentary, I decided to just insert his words. Thank you Mr. President and Thank you Glamour Magazine.
You can read it below or online at Glamour Magazine where the article originated. Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like."
"There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.
But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years my life was consumed by long commutes—from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.
But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds—the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women.
That isn’t always easy, either—watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.
In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives—about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent.
So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.
In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves.
This is something I spoke about at length in June at the first-ever White House Summit on the United State of Women. As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave. 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.
Now, the most important people in my life have always been women. I was raised by a single mom, who spent much of her career working to empower women in developing countries. I watched as my grandmother, who helped raise me, worked her way up at a bank only to hit a glass ceiling. I’ve seen how Michelle has balanced the demands of a busy career and raising a family. Like many working mothers, she worried about the expectations and judgments of how she should handle the trade-offs, knowing that few people would question my choices. And the reality was that when our girls were young, I was often away from home serving in the state legislature, while also juggling my teaching responsibilities as a law professor. I can look back now and see that, while I helped out, it was usually on my schedule and on my terms. The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle.
So I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.
And those same stereotypes affected my own consciousness as a young man. Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.
So we need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.
We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.
We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.
We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”
As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race—or when they notice that happening to someone else. It’s important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.
It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.
The good news is that everywhere I go across the country, and around the world, I see people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles. From the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault, to the young women who became the first female Army Rangers in our nation’s history, your generation refuses to be bound by old ways of thinking. And you’re helping all of us understand that forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.
This fall we enter a historic election. 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. 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.
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 just about the Benjamin's; i'ts about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part the ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will..
That's what twenty-first century feminism is about, the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free."
boom. microphone drop.
What a great way to get inspired before the weekend.
Last week, our nation experienced a historic moment. Much has been said about this moment, both positive and negative. Me being me, I would like to focus on the positive. The positive is simple.
96 years ago on August 18th the 19th amendment was ratified. This amendment gave women their unalienable right to vote in the United States of America.1
Less than 100 years ago, women like myself were unable to take a stand and vote in this, our progressive country that promises equality for all. Now, anyone who has a television, computer, phone or is just reading the good old fashioned newspaper knows that this country hasn’t exactly lived up to its “equality for all” promise. Those same media outlets I mentioned about will probably offer varying opinions on the validity of my statement and I am not here to start an argument or debate with any one.
I am here to say that many women have used their voice, intelligence and strength of character to get us to this moment. The excitement of the first women receiving the honor of being a major political party nominee for the office of the President of the United States is just that, exciting.
I realized the other day, however that the weight of this moment might not fully be understood by everyone because for some reason, the concept of representation isn't understood.
It matters because despite having faith, too often in a culture that has at your fingertips accessibility to just about everything, seeing is believing.
For much of the last two centuries, every sitting United States President has represented one basic group. Caucasian and privilege. While this does not automatically mean that they do not have the good of the people in mind as they enact laws and regulations for this country, it certainly does provide some distance from some of our countries most glaring problems and inconsistencies.
When Barack Obama used the slogan "Yes We Can" as part of his platform for election, it resonated because it involved inclusion and an understanding of the plight of people beyond just the status quo. Millions of citizens who had been denied the right to vote based on their race were able to not visualize change for themselves. They could see someone "just like them" rise to the highest office in this country. That means something.
We have seen and heard it time and time again in the world of media, where people saw someone that looked like them and realized that there was possibility out there. So, why not in politics?
Well, that same concept was realized last week as Hillary Clinton accepted a major parties nomination to be their candidate for the United States of America. Young girls and women were able to see for the first time something amazing...
The possibility that change can indeed happen, even at the highest levels of bureaucracy. This change is not without its challenges. Just look at the questions and media attention that surround this female candidate opposed to her male counterparts thought the entire run thus far. Look at the amount of free air time given to her opponent (understandably, this is for soundbites, just as much as gender bias). So much free air time in fact that her opponent, has needed to do little to know actual campaign ads, in contrast with record spending for Hillary to get her message out to the people.
But, as with any trailblazers, you get burned quite a bit setting a new path. With each ditch, burn and road block, you get up, you start again. Because of her, other women have this possibility. Because of women before Hillary, like Victoria WoodHull (1872), Gracie Allen (1940), Shirley Chisholm (1972), Linda Jenness (1972) and Jill Stein (2012) who all ran for president to varying degrees of success, Hillary saw the possibility.
These were not the only women to blaze a trail towards the most coveted office of the land. Here is a list of others who also ran for the office of President of the United States and put a crack or two into the ceiling. (SOURCE:)
cracks in the ceiling
Victoria Woodhull (1872)
Belva Lockwood (1884, 1888)
Laura Clay (1920)
Gracie Allen (1940)
Margaret Chase Smith (1964)
Charlene Mitchell (1968)
Shirley Chisholm (1972)
Linda Jenness (1972)
Patsy Takemoto Mink (1972)
Evelyn Reed (1972)
Ellen McCormack (1976, 1980)
Margaret Wright (1976)
Deidre Griswold (1980)
Sonia Johnson (1984)
Gabrielle Holmes (1984)
Isabelle Masters (1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)
Patricia Schroeder (1988)
Lenora Fulani (1988, 1992)
Willa Kenoyer (1988)
Gloria E. LaRiva (1992)
Susan Block (1992)
Helen Halyard (1992)
Millie Howard (1992, 1996)
Monica Moorehead (1996, 2000)
Marsha Feinland (1996)
Mary Cal Hollis (1996)
Heather Anne Harder (`1996)
Elvena E. Lloyd-Deffie (1996)
Gerogina H. Doerschuck (1996)
Susan Gail Ducey (1996)
Ann Jennings (1996)
Diane Beall Templin (1996)
Joanne Jorgensen (1996)
Elizabeth Dole (2000)
Cathy Gordon Brown (2000)
Carol Moseley Braun (2004)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008, 2016)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Michelle Bachmann (2012)
Peta Lindsay (2012)
Jill Stein (2012)
Roseanne Barr (2012)
Carly Forinia (2016)
As I was researching items for this post and watching the Democratic National Convention I noticed an awesome hashtag #centenariansforclinton. It was awesome, because it was mainly being promoted by women over the age of 100. This mean that these women, born when it was illegal for them to vote can potential see the possibility of a woman in office before the end of their life. I dare anyone to tell these women that representation doesn't matter.
As for me, I am recognizing the moment and reflecting on the possibility.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I want to have a life of experiences. I'm talking about big, scare the crap out of you, never regret missing out experiences. I do my best to do the things I have always wished I could do. Here’s the thing though, I let life get in the way sometimes. I don’t know why, but I guess I just let fear and anxiety get in my way. I suppose I’m not alone in this. There’s a multi-million dollar book industry out there called “self help” to prove that I’m not alone. We really are our worst enemy sometimes, or at the very least our biggest obstacle.
Why do we block our blessings when they are so obviously heading straight for us like a freight train? What are we so afraid of? Better yet, how do we move past this type of thinking? How do we move from fantasizing about the life we want and start living the life we want?
I saw this sign at the Denver airport that said “no waiting” and it suddenly clicked. I now knew the answer to everything. I took my picture which you can see below and went on my way. For weeks afterward I sat myself down to reflect on what appeared so simple at the airport. Only it didn’t seem so simple anymore. “No Waiting”. The phrase and the picture (a photographic gem if I do say so myself. Thanks Hipstamatic) speak to me. I just can’t seem to fully hear what the words are really saying. It’s almost as if it is a whisper or worse, a riddle that I have to figure out. It can’t really be that easy, can it? Stop waiting?
Or can it?
What happens if we stop waiting? Well…I suppose we stop waiting! But what are we waiting for anyways? Someone to tell us it’s okay to be happy, successful, content, delighted, loved? Come on, we are grown ass men & women here (excuse my language). We know our worth, right? We know that we deserve all of those things I listed and much more, right? We tell our friends and loved ones all the time, that they deserve better than what they are accepting, don’t we believe the same for ourselves?
I think we do. I KNOW I do.
So, after a lot of time trying to complicate the matter I have decided to follow the direction of the sign, as I am convinced that it was just that, a sign. I am not going to wait. I’m gonna stop waiting for life to happen. I’m gonna stop waiting for someone to tell me what I think I want to hear. I’m gonna stop waiting for something easy to come along.
Now I’ve heard it all before, “you have to be patient” but I believe that there is a difference between patience and ambivalence. I think people live lives of ambivalence a lot of the time, waiting for someone, anyone to tell them it’s okay to LIVE and enjoy life, to experience it in all of its glory. So I will exercise patience when it is needed, but I will no longer wait for the sake of waiting.
I’m going after the life I want. I’m taking every opportunity to grab every piece of happiness, love, pure unadulterated joy, success and delight that I can and I’m bringing you with me, because…well why not?
Before I leave, I thought I would share a few quotes about waiting from some people who know/knew what they were talking about.
So, my question for all of today is...
what are WE waiting for?
Yesterday The President of the United States joined Twitter. His goal is to continue with more transparency with the public.
Upon tweeting for the first time, a number of people decided to greet him with what can only be described as hate. Using derogatory and racist language.
As you know my goal here is to focus on positive content that lifts up other people. So I am not going to post these tweets here or even give any more attention to them than the sentence above.
So, why am I mentioning it at all? It is simple really, I believe in speaking out and speaking up. I am NOT here to argue politics. I AM here to spread love and positivity. We should all be here to do that.
We have to BE BETTER.
Regardless of how you feel politically, regardless if it is the President of the United States or your neighbor down the street, we are supposed to love each other. We are supposed to support each other, lift each other up and wish for only good things to happen
People that use their voice to spread negativity do nothing except create more negativity.
SO again, why am I writing this? I realize my thoughts are slightly scattered and for that I apologize but when I saw this on the news I cried, literally cried out loud. How is it that people can be so cruel? How can they hide behind a social media handle? How can this type of negative, racist thinking still exist? Who teaches hate?
I am writing this to remind people that
WE ALL HAVE A VOICE!
What we do with that voice is a huge responsibility. You get to decide if you use it to change the world for the better or contribute to negativity and hate.
If you never read another word I write, disconnect me from social media, do me one favor.
use your voice for something better.
how will you use your voice?
I will continue to use mine to be a positive voice online and beyond that lifts people up through storytelling and experiences. I will return to normal posting Friday but had to get this off of my mind. Thank you for understanding.