This is 2008, not 1978, so why are reporters debating whether high-powered career woman Michelle Obama will be able to adjust to being First Lady, as if the title required her to suddenly become a Stepford wife who meekly hides in her husband's shadow? This clip from CNN really rankled me. Nicole Lapin and Susan Roesgen discuss whether Michelle Obama will be able to retain her identity without her job. Give me a flipping break! Just because the majority of First Ladies have put on that enigmatic, Marabel Morgan face, don't think they're sitting daintily at home, drinking tea with the other Washington wives. At the very least, our First Ladies have been representatives for the United States, traveling around the world on goodwill missions, supporting issues that are important to them, and if there are young children, doing their best to create normalcy for their kids in one of the most abnormal situations imaginable. At best, they're Eleanor Roosevelt.
But that only scratches the surface of what offends me about this video. What I find really disgusting is that it bows to the outdated notion that a woman who has a career has no heart, that since they have satisfying work, their family life and marriage must logically take a back seat. The majority of married-with-kids career women — and from all signs, Michelle Obama is in that majority — have the ability to balance work and family, and give priority to whichever needs the most attention at any given moment. And most women, even those whose careers are their lifeblood, will always put their children's needs first. Women with big careers aren't ball-busting freaks — well, some of them are, just like some men with big careers are misogynistic assholes. But most are human beings who care about their families more than the next big promotion. And guess what? Most men are too.
As I watched the Obamas campaign for the presidency, I was impressed by Michelle in many different ways, but what I liked the most about her was that she seemed real, she seemed sure of herself, and she had the ability to be a supportive wife and good mom without losing her identity as someone strong and powerful. She's not some outmoded cliché — either the career-lusting harpy or frail flower who lives only to sit home and bake cookies. She's someone who does what needs to be done, like find new schools for her daughters, lovingly give her husband reality checks, and who has the smarts to make the most of her new job as First Lady.
So I'm not worried that Michelle Obama will be frustrated by her new role in the White House. On the contrary, I think it's a challenge she'll embrace and she'll make the most of it.