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ICYMI: Essay on feminism by President Obama in ‘Glamour’ magazine

‘This is what a feminist looks like’

When the president of the United States refers to himself as a feminist, it’s about time we stop and listen.

The first United States of Women Summit took place on June 14 in Washington, D.C., and the topics focused on specific gender issues. President Barack Obama was one of the speakers.

After his remarks, Glamour magazine published an essay titled, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.” The essay is online at Glamour.com and will be published in the magazine’s Sept. 9 print edition.

This Is What a Feminist Looks Like

By President Barack Obama

There are a lot of tough aspects to being president. But there are some perks, too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.

But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years, my life was consumed by long commutes — from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.

But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds — the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women.

That isn’t always easy, either — watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as president but also as a feminist.

In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives — about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent.

So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies — from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights — there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.

In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all — and that’s changing ourselves.

Read more at Glamour.com.

And check out the president’s full speech from the United States of Women Summit below.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.