Feminism's Stars Not Quite Aligned For Michelle Obama

Illustration for article titled Feminism's Stars Not Quite Aligned For Michelle Obama

Jessica Valenti, the founder of Feministing, has a piece in The Guardian today decrying the sexism leveled at Michelle Obama. Valenti notes, rightly, that many of the feminists who created a ruckus when Hillary Clinton was the target of misogyny and sexism have been suspiciously silent with regards to attack leveled at Michelle Obama. It's a good and important reminder of something that seems to have fallen off the radar screen since Michelle began her Make-over Tour. But when she wonders where mainstream feminists have been in defending Michelle Obama, we sort of decided to check out what Feministing itself has been doing about it.And we found out that the answer is... well, not a ton. Ann Friedman covered The Fist Bump that shook the world on June 5th, Jessica Valenti wrote ten words about Fox News' "Obama Baby Mama" on June 12th and a few more on June 18th. Courtney Martin linked to Michelle Obama Watch on July 8th, and Ann (again) linked to a video on July 11th. That's, um, sort of exactly the few-and-far-between coverage that Valenti herself is decrying. Which is not to say that anyone else has done a perfect job about it. My coverage of it started on Glamocracy on June 11th and then the 12th and then moved over here where, in addition to mentioning the "Baby Mama" event in Crappy Hour, Dodai and I have hit it up several times since then. But it's been a while since we had a hook to revisit the issue (so, thanks Jessica!) and we can all probably do a better job beating the drum that sexism — whether it's about Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama or directed at Kathleen Sebelius — is always abhorrent. And with Michelle's speech coming up on Monday and the campaign getting uglier, there will sadly be plenty of opportunities to remind people of that. The Baiting of Ms Obama [The Guardian] Michelle Obama Sexism/Racism Watch [Feministing] Michelle Obama Sexism/Racism Watch (Fox News edition) [Feministing] Michelle Obama Sexism/Racism Watch ("Angry Black Woman" edition) [Feministing] Quick Hit: Michelle Obama Watch Continues [Feministing] Fox trashes Michelle Obama: The lowlight reel [Feministing]

DISCUSSION

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How is the "uppity black woman" stereotype not a racial AND sexist issue? Using it as an example of racist issue is fine, but it's also an example of ingrained sexist ones as well. I'm just curious why it's been using as example of one and not the other in this thread.

Also, yes, I think a HUGE part of the problem here is the refusal by a lot of white feminists to acknowledge their privilege over women of color. Michelle Obama has to deal with racism and sexism, and one is not worse than the other. Feminism is about equality for everyone, and racism is every bit as important as sexism. I don't know how we got to a place where some people don't see that...