Tracking first ladies through history is a tour of women’s development from disenfranchised chattel to champions of choice that also offers a glimpse into how conflicted we remain about women’s proper role. What upsets so many in Obama’s own political camp is that this first lady has so vividly chosen family over career, finding expression in the most elemental of endeavors — digging her hands into Mother Earth and offering nourishment to her young.
Such an explicit embrace of a traditional female role is nothing short of heresy to some. In fact, it is a brave stance by a wise woman whose priorities deserve to be celebrated.
It’s not one big dramatic choice. Michelle Obama isn’t “choosing family over career” so much as she seems to be living her life as best she can within the boundaries of being, you know, married to the leader of the free world. What were her other options? Divorce his ass when he won the election? Keep practicing law? I suppose she could have done the latter, but I’m trying to imagine a judge who wouldn’t recuse himself from having to rule against her when the Air Force works for her spouse.
Ugh. Increasingly I’m less interested in conversations about how women can “have it all” and more annoyed that women are the only ones tasked by our culture with figuring this shit out. We life each other endlessly about how and when and if we parent, how much we work and where, what economic power we wield, and no matter what we do, we’re doing it wrong, which Parker actually points out.
I don’t like how the cultural conversation about careers and families always focuses on women, because it absolves men of responsibility for thinking about how they’re living their lives, handling their “work-life balance” and pressures. And it prevents them from processing this stuff like they’re equal partners, even when they are, or want to be.
Plenty of dudes wonder if they’re doing this right, too, and instead of talking about how life works for all of us and how to make it better, we’re crabbing our way through the Mommy Wars, volume eleventy-billion and six.