Gender Black Lives Matter Politics

Why We Should All Read Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” To Learn More About Gender and Race

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is the inspirational story of how a working-class girl from the South Side of Chicago came to have such an influence in US politics. Although some may think that her influence came from the sheer luck of marrying the man who would become President of the United States, this would, in fact, be taking away the credit from a strong-minded woman who hoped to make a change to the world years before meeting her future husband.

As a female reader, this autobiography was inspirational to me in many ways, as well as continuing to point out the sexist nature of society. Michelle’s every move was under attack by the media, including things as trivial as her outfit choices, and she had to be awake hours earlier than her husband so that her hair and makeup team could make certain that she was ready for the cameras.

Two moments, in particular, stood out to me, and although they were both very different, they still illustrated similar messages. The first was from before Obama was President, however, he still constantly travelled and worked late nights. Michelle Obama described how she wanted to wait for her husband to return home before putting the girls to bed so that he could kiss them goodnight, but as he started to arrive home later and later she realised the message that she was sending to her daughters – that their whole lives revolved around the man of the house.

Once she realised this, she set a strict bedtime and it was up to Barack whether or not he made it in time to see them to bed, to show them that men can choose to make time for them and that they don’t need to change their whole lives around for a man. Another passage was during her time as First Lady on a trip to London when she had a brief interaction with the Queen where they laughed about how they were both standing around with sore feet because of their uncomfortable shoes while they waited for the men in suits to be finished with their conversations.

Both of these sections of the book made me think about the differences in the expectations that are placed on men and women, and that even the Queen found it somewhat amusing that they were complaining about their sore feet while waiting for the male politicians to finish discussions.

While reading this book, it made me feel hopeful about the people in the public eye that do care about the lives of others, and dedicate their money and time to try and give everyone equal opportunities. Michelle Obama has become a role model for both women and people of colour, to emphasise that it is possible to make a change in the world no matter your gender or the colour of your skin, even though it may feel like everyone is conspiring against you.

The sad reality of Obama’s successor hit me towards the end of the book, as Michelle began to explain that she would never forgive Donald Trump for claiming that Obama wasn’t born in America to try and make him lose the Presidency. Although this made the last few pages harder to read, I tried to remember the overall message of the autobiography – that regardless of background, it is important to try and reach for your dreams and make a difference in the world.

Michelle Obama Becoming
Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

written by Rosie Dickins

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