Last week, Politico writer Michelle Cottle (intentionally?) created a bit of a shitstorm with her ridiculous article "Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare," in which she dismissed the First Lady's efforts and campaigns during her husband's time in office as "soothingly domestic causes" that somehow have let down her entire sex.
The internet — including the feminist media — responded with a resounding "Shut up, Michelle Cottle," but no argument has been quite as complete and succinct as the one delivered by true feminist hero Melissa Harris-Perry during the "Open Letters" segment of her MSNBC show this Sunday.
"Dear Michelle Cottle, are you serious?" Began the incredulous Harris-Perry. "You and your handful of 'feminist sources' claim that First Lady Obama is not a feminist because she says her most important job is being mom-in-chief to her two daughters...Given how simplistic your piece is, let me make this very simple: you are wrong."
Harris-Perry then went on to detail Michelle Obama's true contributions to the Obama administration in a way that's far more detailed and analytical than any written by Cottle. More important, however, is Harris-Perry's overarching argument on how white feminists tend to really miss the mark when it comes to understanding black feminism.
"You misunderstand the place that Michelle Obama occupies as the first African American First Lady," the MSNBC host pointed out. "You seem to think she's trying to steer clear of the angry black woman stereotype. When she calls herself 'mom-in-chief,' she's rejecting a different stereotype: the role of Mammy. She is saying that her daughters — her vulnerable, brilliant, beautiful black daughters — are the most important thing to her. The First Lady is saying, 'You, Miss Anne, are going to have to clean your own house because I will be caring for my own' and instead of agreeing that the public sphere is necessarily more important than Sasha and Malia, she has buried Mammy and has embraced being a mom on her own terms. So you can call that your feminist nightmare, but for a lot of us, it is our black motherhood dream."
"Also, on a strategic note, Ms. Cottle," Harris Perry concluded. "Before we enter the 2016 election cycle and the feminists come around asking black women for our support for your candidate, you might want to read up a little on black women and our feminism. I'm happy to send you a syllabus."
That's good advice not only for Michelle Cottle, but for white feminists everywhere — this site included.