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5 Things from Obama’s Letter On Protecting Women

President_Obama_family_portrait_2011

President Obama knows a few things about controversy. But it can also be argued that lately his family has been taking the heat. From the blatant disrespect of Michelle Obama at the RNC, to uproar over Malia Obama at Lollapoolza, to critiques of Sasha Obama getting a job, the Obama women have been seemingly under attack.

And it’s not just them.

We’ve seen tragedies around Black women that often go ignored by mainstream media, most recently the case of Korryn Gaines, the woman who was killed for not submitting and more. It’s important that men begin to speak up for women’s rights and President Obama is leading the charge.

Taking the time to craft out an important letter to women and those that should protect them, POTUS addressed being a feminist, the importance of women in his life, and the trials that Black women face.

Below are five key take-aways:

On Where His Respect For Women Comes From

“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, work 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. 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.”

On Breaking Stereotypes And Recognizing Our Heroes

“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.”

President-Obama-with-Malia-and-Sasha-Obama

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

On Raising Girls 

“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.”

On The Effects of Growing Up Without A Father

“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.”

On Speaking Up For Women, Especially Women Of Color

“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 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.””

Read the full letter on Glamour.