How to be a feminist, according to Politico

Michelle Obama

What’s your personal feminist nightmare? The Handmaid’s Tale? A meeting of the Texas GOP, circa 2013?

According to Politico’s Friday cover (which we won’t link to and satisfy their troll-baiting thirst), the true “feminist nightmare” is Michelle Obama. Yes. That Michelle Obama. Rather than focus on actual feminist critiques of the First Lady, Politico tore down her work for failing to look like either Big Macho Male Politics or the magazine’s blurry vision of grassroots feminist organizing. (It also attributed a quote to the Feministing staff that we didn’t write. But whatever.)

The article boils down to four Politico criteria for being a real feminist. Here they are:

1. Only talk about Serious Manly Problems.

Are you interested in childhood literacy? Veterans’ homelessness? Access to nutritious foods?  Sorry, lady, but these aren’t political issues. Politics is only about guns and bombs and oil and… education reform? But I guess only ed reform for big kids who already know how to read, because “reading to children” is apparently too feminine to be political.

2. Don’t dress well.

Are your feet “fashionably shod?” Do you have sartorial tips to share? Sorry, lady, but that means you aren’t a feminist. Although if you’re not super toned and fashionable we’ll probably ignore everything you say. Just FYI.

3. Be medium-angry.

If you’re not rabid enough, we’ll say you’re not a feminist. Then again if you’re really angry – particularly if you’re black and really angry – we’ll probably call you a terrorist. Sorry, lady, but like Goldilocks you need to make sure you get it juuuuuuust right. “She tried Mama Bear’s porridge and it was anti-feminist. She tried Papa Bear’s porridge and it was terrorist. Then she tried Baby Bear’s porridge and it was perfectly tone-policed.”

4. Don’t raise your kids.

Sorry, lady, but if you’re serious about serving as “mom-in-chief,” you’re obviously not serious about anything else. If you’re not, we’ll probably shame you incessantly for neglecting your children and denying your maternal nature and being a witch. But at least we’ll think you’re a respectable feminist.


Alexandra Brodsky has this one weird nightmare about small spaces and the letter Z.

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    The medium angry point is so true. I think Michelle is at such a disadvantage because of the “sassy/ angry black woman” stereotype. But even other First Ladies who want to get things done, like Hillary, were perceived as just an angry feminist. Too intense is not okay but taking “feminine” political issues is too wimpy. Oh the double edged sword…

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