August 6, 2014

When Michelle Obama says "life is short and change is needed and women are smarter than men"...

... it's highlighted at Breitbart, but why? I suspect the Breitbart folks think it shows that MO is arrogant and feminism has gone too far and want to stir up readers to say Look! Now men are being oppressed and civilization doomed unless we get a vigorous injection of social conservatism.

But I'm hearing the First Lady's rhetoric as corny and old school, like the way men of the so-called Greatest Generation used to talk about their wife, their better half. It was once standard etiquette for a professional man to aver that his homemaker wife was, of course, much smarter than he. It was part of maintaining the old order. And Michelle Obama has taken the behind-the-scenes homemaker role in relation to her husband. She's being old fashioned and speaking in an old fashioned way.

And yet those who feel true nostalgia for the past won't acknowledge this, because they don't like where her husband wants to take us. So perhaps I'll stand alone in what I'm saying, but I'm old, and I remember. I lived through the 50s and the 60s, the pre-women's movement era, and I remember the kind of talk that I hear resonating in her words. It drove me mad, and it still makes me mad. I don't think it's feminism and I don't think it's good for women. It might be good for men... if they understood how to use it... like the Greatest Generation guys they imagine they can emulate.

127 comments:

SteveR said...

If it weren't for all the other things she's said and done, I might agree with you.

TCR James said...

Yeah, men just suck since WWII. They just don't measure up. Nobody in this generation would go to war for their nation, go to school, get a corporate gig, and start a family. Giants, they were...

Birkel said...

I wonder if Michelle Obama will be proud of her country on January 21, 2017. My guess is she will just be a rude, entitled millionaire with an entourage and a Secret Service detail.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeah, men just suck since WWII. They just don't measure up…."

You're doing what the last paragraph of this post predicted you would do.

Do you think men of my father's generation talked like that? Do you think you are improving the stature of men by resorting to that kind of butt-hurt sarcasm?

holdfast said...

I always say that my wife is the smarter, nicer and better looking one. The last two are indisputable. The first is probably up for grabs depending on the subject being tested.

But it would be weird if she said it about herself, which is what M.O. is essentially doing here. Hell, she probably is smarter than her dork of a hubby, but it's still very weird to say it herself.

traditionalguy said...

But a team is stronger than a division into two competitors with the city not big enough for the both of them.

The leadership role can be a smart woman, but the leadership role can also be a traditional strong man supported by a strong wife...oops, I just went all patriarchal in public.

TosaGuy said...

Considering that everything the Obama's do is aimed at a political purpose, the best course of action is to understand what they are doing, but not to engage the flamebait.

Ctmom4 said...

Actually, I will give her credit here. What she said about Laura was lovely and gracious .

dreams said...

Sorry, but I just can't relate or work up much sympathy for elite upper middle class women who have a grievous about their perceived gender inequality.

Seeing Red said...

"If women ran the world, we'd still be living in caves."

Messy, Val and Hil did/are doing a hell of a job!

CatLover said...

@holdfast

I agree. I lived through those times too. A man might say his wife is smarter than he, but the wife did not make this same statement. I don't agree with AA's interpretation here.

tim maguire said...

I know you have a blind spot when ti comes to the battle of the sexes, but you only ever heard the men publicly refer to their wives as their better half. The wives might have thought it, might have said it when speaking to their friends, but they did not say it out loud in public.

There's nothing old school or old fashioned about the first lady's remarks.

I fail to see why you object to Breitbart highlighting an offensive statement made by the First Ldy of the United States, who, not incidentally, has a history of making offensive or scary statements.

Lance said...

Obama was born in 1964. She didn't live through the pre-women's movement era.

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said..."Yeah, men just suck since WWII. They just don't measure up…."

You're doing what the last paragraph of this post predicted you would do.


Common error of logic--anticipating an objection and refuting it are 2 different things.

Heather said...


The two issues are first that Michelle Obama said it about women. When a spouse says it about their significant other it is a complement.

Michelle Obama also generalized it to all woman. There is a difference says my wife is smarter than I am. To saying women are smarter than men.

rhhardin said...

Michelle is the personification of stupid to men.

Smilin' Jack said...

It drove me mad, and it still makes me mad. I don't think it's feminism and I don't think it's good for women.

But on the other hand, women really are cute when they're mad.

Jim said...

... and whites are smarter than blacks.

Whoops - can't say that - that would be an "ist" of some kind, unlike what Ms. O said.

campy said...

Did the old-school wives go around calling themselves the "smarter," "better half"?

Ralph Hyatt said...

Breitbart readers don't strike me as all that socially conservative. They seem, to me, to lean libertarian.

But I agree that serious men don't use snark or "butt-hurt sarcasm." Love that phrase by the way.

Speaking of serious men.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=god+father+be+a+man&qpvt=god+father+be+a+man&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=77CD89060ECBFFD5DDF177CD89060ECBFFD5DDF1

rhhardin said...

It was part of maintaining the old order.

The wife needs something to show her friends that she got.

Women are like that.

Anonymous said...

I think it was John Adams who said that our fathers must study politics and war, so that our children one day may go into debt to study diversity and maybe write for a magazine.

broomhandle said...

Althouse's interpretation might be valid if M.O. shares the same frame of reference. Pretty sure she doesn't.

Hagar said...

With presidential couples it is well that we have some confidence that the one we elected is the president.

Michael K said...

I cannot listen to Michelle and Barack induces an antibody reaction in my brain.

When I hear the feminist nonsense, I think of my mother, born in 1898, who went back to work when I was in 8th grade because she did not like to ask my father for money.

She wanted her own income and worked until she was finally asked to retire by her company because they told her no one knew how old she was but everyone who had been there when she started had died. She had to be over 65 and they were going to get into trouble with their health insurance.

She finally admitted she was 77. She died at 103. She gave up her own apartment when she was 100 and moved in with my sister.

A generation of wimps.

Roy Lofquist said...

"But I'm hearing the First Lady's rhetoric as corny and old school,"

What I hear is old SNL - Al Franken's Stuart Little.

Chuck said...

Anybody but Michelle Obama; you might rightly conclude it was just a lighthearted joke.

I don't think she was really joking in the way Althouse suggests.

And as others have noted before me; Michelle Obama making jokes about how women are smarter than men would be like Jeff Sessions making a joke (he never did this, by the way) about how whites are smarter than blacks.

Sigivald said...

Did the men of the Greatest Generation she's supposedly aping suggest that the "change" that was "needed" was women running things?

I find it impossible to read her remarks as "old fashioned".

(And what holdfast said. Y saying "X is smarter than me" is different, socially, than X saying "I am smarter than Y".

Heather is equally correct that "women are smarter than men" is a vastly different statement than "my wife is better than I am", and not only because "better half" is not limited or even strictly related to smarts.)

dwick said...

It's fine for Michelle Obama, as other First Ladies have done, to 'use the position to highlight their personal interests'... My antipathy with MO begins when she engages the force of government regulation to 'highlight' her personal interests (e.g., her wildly popular school lunch program changes) It's one thing to advocate for one or more causes - strong-arming change via the federal bureaucracies is another thing entirely. Michelle Obama was not elected anything.

Boltforge said...

Thanks, Christian White Men!

http://youtu.be/dSuF-ygmUEs

- Andrew Klavan

TMink said...

What holdfast said. This is not The President talking about the First Lady, it is the First Lady talking about herself. And that is not at all what Althouse is recalling.

Trey

Lucien said...

Ms. Obama's comments were frivolous, and offensive, reflecting no thoughtfulness. Does she really want to espouse the position that so long as such statements are made by those in the majority, then minorities may not complain?

Anonymous said...

Here is the difference.

If Crack came here and said, "White people are smarter than black people." he would be doing something known as Self Deprecating. And it's pretty common in our culture even today. You don't need to go back 50 years to hear husbands say of their wives, "She is my better half."

It's something entirely different though if Crack says, "Blacks are smarter than whites." That's not self deprecating at all. Or if I wife says, "I'm smarter than my husband." that's just ego.

I'm surprised you aren't able to see the difference here, Professor.

Tim wrote;

"Ann Althouse said..."Yeah, men just suck since WWII. They just don't measure up…."

You're doing what the last paragraph of this post predicted you would do.

Common error of logic--anticipating an objection and refuting it are 2 different things."

Yeah, it's also known as poisoning the well. It's a logical fallacy that Althouse has been using here a lot lately. Anticipate the arguments that will be used against her in comments, and poison the well for anyone who dares use them.

bgates said...

Michelle Obama has taken the behind-the-scenes homemaker role

You're discussing a statement Michelle Obama made on camera, on a stage. That's the exact opposite of "behind-the-scenes"! The stage is where "the scenes" are! She was on stage, at a public event, which was recorded by the press for even further dissemination.

In what sense has Michelle Obama taken on a "homemaker role" in relation to anybody? She has a large staff which reports to her. She not infrequently goes on vacation without her husband or children. Exactly what aspects of a "homemaker role" do you see her embodying? The fact that the audience for her speeches is usually smaller than her husband's?

exhelodrvr1 said...

A higher percentage of women voted for OBama, right?

Bob Ellison said...

I thought "my better half" meant something like "we two are one together, and that half is a better person than I". It was a self-deprecating compliment, not snark, and not referring to intelligence.

Portia said...

testing

Portia said...

Nobody cares what MO says, no one is listening to her or her husband.

SJ said...

@Ann,

But I'm hearing the First Lady's rhetoric as corny and old school...

You are assuming that this First Lady has a sense of humor that supports "corny".

While I can't claim to know her better than you, I don't have the impression that she has a sense of humor that would do "corny".

I would expect her humor to be more ironic/detached than corny.

But I can't even remember hearing a humorous quote of any kind from Michelle Obama.

So I can't say...except that I don't have the impression that Michelle Obama says humorous things in public.

Anonymous said...

Althouse -

Do you really see an equivalence between

A. You are better than me.

vs.

B. I am smarter than you.

as old-timey tropes?

Doug said...

What a two-fer: Zerobama swamping Jimmah Carter for the crown of Worst President Ever, and Aunt Esther lapping the field (which maybe consists of Hillary!?)for the Most Hated First Lady Evah!

Birkel said...

chrisnavin.com:

I think that was in the autobiographical book "Stuff John Adams Said" Second Edition. I only know that book because I keep it beside my autographed copy of the First Edition of "Seriously, Thomas Jefferson Went There" which Jefferson wrote, published posthumously.

I started to buy the complete works of "Things Liberals Know to be True, but Aren't" but I didn't have the money for all 9,387 volumes of that collection. Lost opportunity there...

Witness said...

Claiming that someone else is smarter than you is humility.

Claiming you're smarter than someone else is the opposite.

Even I didn't need my better half to explain that one to me.

Ann Althouse said...

"Common error of logic--anticipating an objection and refuting it are 2 different things."

No, you are misreading me. I predicted that men would bot know how to use something that could be to their advantage if what they wanted was to emulate the men of pre-women's-movement times and the commenter I quoted demonstrated an inability to think and speak in the manner of that earlier time. That's not an effort to refute an objection but a fulfilled prediction of present day male incapacity.

Ann Althouse said...

In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority. That's why it worked. You stay home because you're such a fine soul, and I'll go out into the mean old world of commerce.

Fen said...

Althouse wants its both ways. Truth is, you and your kind killed the man you now long for:

"I should discuss how manliness and its brother, gentlemanliness, went out of style. I know, because I was there. In fact, I may have done it. I remember exactly when: It was in the mid-'70s, and I was in my mid-20s, and a big, nice, middle-aged man got up from his seat to help me haul a big piece of luggage into the overhead luggage space on a plane. I was a feminist, and knew our rules and rants. "I can do it myself," I snapped.

It was important that he know women are strong. It was even more important, it turns out, that I know I was a jackass, but I didn't. I embarrassed a nice man who was attempting to help a lady. I wasn't lady enough to let him. I bet he never offered to help a lady again. I bet he became an intellectual, or a writer, and not a good man like a fireman or a businessman who says, "Let's roll."

But perhaps it wasn't just me. I was there in America, as a child, when John Wayne was a hero, and a symbol of American manliness. He was strong, and silent. And I was there in America when they killed John Wayne by a thousand cuts. A lot of people killed him--not only feminists but peaceniks, leftists, intellectuals, others. You could even say it was Woody Allen who did it, through laughter and an endearing admission of his own nervousness and fear. He made nervousness and fearfulness the admired style. He made not being able to deck the shark, but doing the funniest commentary on not decking the shark, seem . . . cool.

But when we killed John Wayne, you know who we were left with. We were left with John Wayne's friendly-antagonist sidekick in the old John Ford movies, Barry Fitzgerald. The small, nervous, gossiping neighborhood commentator Barry Fitzgerald, who wanted to talk about everything and do nothing."


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB122451174798650085?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB122451174798650085.html

Fen said...

Claiming that someone else is smarter than you is humility.

Claiming you're smarter than someone else is the opposite.

Even I didn't need my better half to explain that one to me.


Be careful. Or our smarter-than-thou hostess will have another meltdown and close comments again.

Fen said...

Worse, she'll release The Cracken on us again and we'll all be subjected to Criticial Whitey Theory 101 again.

Bob Ellison said...

Well, let's try to be simple about this. According to the Breitbart article, Michelle Obama said this:

“We can’t waste this spotlight, it is temporary and life is short and change is needed and women are smarter than men. And the men can’t complain because you’re outnumbered today."

That is disgusting speech. Is she just stupid, and meant to say something else? Is she an idiot, or a feminazi?

"Can't complain because you're outnumbered"? I would infer that she means that the majority can impose its wishes on the minority.

Did she really say these things? It's not in the video. Did the audience really laugh?

Todd said...

Ann Althouse said...
In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority. That's why it worked. You stay home because you're such a fine soul, and I'll go out into the mean old world of commerce.
8/6/14, 2:05 PM


Really? Is that really why you think most women stayed at home and most men worked outside the home? That is was a condescending structure enforced by men? Maybe to some degree but at that time most jobs were hard and dangerous and money was tight. Families needed someone to run the home and someone to work outside of the home to generate income. It made sense to have women (generally smaller, weaker, and for a married couple often times pregnant) stay home, take care of the home and raise the kids while the man took all of the risks inherent in going outside the home to earn. It might not be the best system ever but it worked for thousands of years.

"She is my better half" was and is in no way a derogatory term but recognition that your wife typically was the embodiment of compassion, caring, and support that enables a family to function. How someone can see it otherwise, I find strange.

And as others have pointed out, there is a big difference between saying "she is my better half" and saying "I am smarter than him".

Hagar said...

"No, you are misreading me. I predicted that men would bot know how to use something that could be to their advantage if what they wanted was to emulate the men of pre-women's-movement times and the commenter I quoted demonstrated an inability to think and speak in the manner of that earlier time. That's not an effort to refute an objection but a fulfilled prediction of present day male incapacity."

Huh???

Fritz said...

That just proves how stupid she is. Everyone knows men are smarter.

Brando said...

There does seem to be something old fashioned and "putting on a pedestal"-esque about this whole "women are smarter than men" or "women are more virtuous than men" thing--almost like it goes along with patting a woman on the head. I remember in the 1996 presidential debate when Clinton made some comment about how both he and Bob Dole had "married up" and it was considered gracious towards their wives--and showed a bit of humility that both men seemed to agree on that.

I dont' think it would play well for Hillary (or Liddy Dole) to tell an audience that she's smarter than her husband, even if she thinks it's true.

libertariansafetyguy said...

So her language is either a) sexists against men or, b) patronizing (in exactly that meaning) toward women.

Or it's designed to be funny and I could live with funny. But I think Michele Obama has made so many grossly out of touch statements in the past that I'm not sure she gets a pass the way say, Barbara Bush, might.

bgates said...

No, you are misreading me.

I think the problem that gentlemen are having in this conversation is assuming we're on the same intellectual level as Althouse. Every discussion of feminism on this blog demonstrates that's not the case.

In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority.

You've come a long way, baby.

n.n said...

It's not strictly a dichotomy. Men and women need to reconcile their natural differences. Living is not a progressive process. Life is, from conception to death.

Delayna said...

"Obama was born in 1964. She didn't live through the pre-women's movement era."

She also didn't live through slavery or Jim Crow, but boy is she oppressed!

hombre said...

If women are smarter than men, it isn't apparent from their recent voting patterns.

Seeing Red said...

Nag? Scold? Shrew? Harpie? She could barely afford to give her kids ballet lessons on $300k/yr.

She took away bake sales and spews anti-science creeds.

Seeing Red said...

Did I write screeds or creeds? Whatever.

Carol said...

The BS is false modesty and it shows men still have the upper hand.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Michelle is a beard, first and foremost.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

I agree with others here, and never thought of "better half" as meaning "smarter half." I thought it meant the wife was a finer person, kinder and less inclined toward improper behavior.

Anonymous said...

Birkel:

I've read 'Benjamin Franklin Drank Craft Beer' And 'Don't Shoot Opponents In A Duel If They're Just Being Ironic. Some Men Are Pussies Who Talk A Good Game But Can't Back It Up.'

Ann, you're also missing, as an imperative, the relation between men, sex, love duty, honor and work.

You can go full honor and warrior as in Islam, separating the sexes, and you can go full secular ideology, and claim no differences between the sexes under a stultifying totalitarianism.

Making men through rites of passage and the vast social apparatus to do so has been severely disrupted in the past few generations.

I understand you see such ideology as a trap that kept women behind the walls of social convention, and lured them into a potentially false sense of superiority and traditional legal and social inferiority.

It kept some women in a child-like state.

The changes away from this has been to your good, the good of many women, and potentially all of us (utilitarian logic is the best I've seen, but has flaws).

I see an old system with deep flaws and injustices, yet often cartoonishly mischaracterized by many radicals driving change, and most women having access to more opportunity, but a lot of signs pointing towards a Euro-state, slower economic growth, and less dynamism.

Recognizing that many women are not as competitive, prefer working with people, not things, while thinking and behaving differently in ways from men that are a complicated mix of nature/nurture is just common sense.

But it's tough to maintain common sense with so many competing and ideological interests in the public square.

Laura said...

Voraciously Reading Housewife (Mercilessly Plagiarizing Betamax 3000)Duly Notes:

The pre-women's movement era was the 1950s and 1960s; suffragette and temperance movements and the experiences of working class women be damned.

What is true for one woman must be true of the whole, despite other anecdotal accounts of women's achievements throughout history.

Any teamwork where a woman is not in charge must be held invaluable.

Behind-the-scenes roles are not as important or influential as those "in the spotlight." And smarts and ethics should be mutually exclusive in the quest to access power, for the eunuchs will always carry poisoned children and rivals out of the harem.

Oooh, goody, "Dirty Jobs" is back on. Really enjoyed learning about recycling at the animal rendering plant, and am not in the mood to rearrange kitchen to where it was before sister came for visit.

broomhandle said...



"Ann Althouse said...
In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority. That's why it worked. You stay home because you're such a fine soul, and I'll go out into the mean old world of commerce."

You don't have to be a feminist to see that that line was a shuck. Icing on the cake of practicality.

Anonymous said...

The Professor is a little bit schizophrenic about this topic. She notes that typically, scientists and media will portray any gender difference as a sign of women's superiority, and that's silly.

But she spins herself dizzy (Michelle is hearkening back to 50's culture, really?!) trying to justify the bigotry of saying that women are smarter than men. If Michelle had some understanding of statistics and had spent years poring over test results, we might give this kind of statement some credence. (Of course, when Lawrence Summers did that and came to the opposite conclusion, he was crucified). But of course, this statement of fact ("women are smarter than men") wasn't based on any facts. It was a statement of religious belief; because it is Michelle Obama's religious belief that women are in fact smarter and better than men.

She's a bigot, and the Professor goes to great lengths (including mocking men as being "butt-hurt") to defend bigotry.

garage mahal said...

The awesome thing about Michelle Obama is not only her smarts, it's her elegant beauty, inside and out. She is just positively radiant. HUBBA HUBBA.

Anonymous said...

"In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority."

Fantastic. And since that was multiple generations ago, it has absolutely no relevance to this discussion. But you keep returning to it; why? You think that social conditions that haven't held for many decades animated Michelle Obama's thinking?

Anonymous said...

@Lance -- deploying facts is misogynist mansplaining.

And you're obviously butt-hurt, resorting to such despicable argumentative techniques as stating facts.

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said...No, you are misreading me.

Apparently I was, I didn't see it as a prediction. More a requirement that objections must be styled in a particular way to be effective.

Kirk Parker said...

chrisnavin,

Interesting comments at 3:18pm.

I'd go even further and say:

Does today's version give much more freedom, opportunity, and even (problematic as the word is) fairness to individual women? Of course it does, quite obviously.

But is a society organized along these lines sustainable? That's a much more difficult question.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, let me see if I understand. A particular woman made some arrogant remarks in a public forum, and it's made you angry at us men? Do I have that right?

lemondog said...

When Michelle Obama says "life is short and change is needed and women are smarter than men"...

1. Is she planning to run for *Arrrrrrgggghhh* president?

and women are smarter than men"...

2. If her frame of reference is BO, she may be correct.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeah, it's also known as poisoning the well. It's a logical fallacy that Althouse has been using here a lot lately. Anticipate the arguments that will be used against her in comments, and poison the well for anyone who dares use them."

First of all, I'm not anticipating an argument but predicting an attitude and a style of reaction, a failure to be able to use something that I am telling you would be useful if you know how to use it.

Second, I have not said anything that fails logically, and anticipating and dealing with an opponent's argument isn't a logical fallacy. I think you're attempting to talk about a rhetorical device. There's nothing logically wrong with what you are describing, even assuming that's what I did.

Ann Althouse said...

Hagar at 2:29 PM said "Huh???" and I can see that I typo'd "bot" for "not" (writing on my iPad in a low light). Does that help? I apologize for the confusion, but I do think it was obviously a typo. If that wasn't the problem, did you find the rest of it hard to fathom?

Ann Althouse said...

On that term "poisoning the well"… it doesn't normally refer to simply anticipating and dealing with an argument.

From "76 Fallacies":

Poisoning the Well Description: This sort of “reasoning” involves trying to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or false) about the person. This “argument” has the following form:   1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented. 2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.   This sort of “reasoning” is obviously fallacious. The person making such an attack is hoping that the unfavorable information will bias listeners against the person in question and hence that they will reject any claims he might make. However, merely presenting unfavorable information about a person (even if it is true) hardly counts as evidence against the claims he/she might make. This is especially clear when Poisoning the Well is looked at as a form of ad Hominem in which the attack is made prior to the person even making the claim or claims.

LaBossiere, Michael (2012-07-17). 76 Fallacies (Kindle Locations 3511-3526). . Kindle Edition.

Anonymous said...

Kirk Parker,

I often wonder the same thing myself. The trade-offs will be different, that's for sure. Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Fen said...

I'm reminded of the Wise Latina who's recent opinion re Hobby Lobby has us all wondering if she's just another diversity hire.

Only issue I have with Michelle's nonsense is that its hypocritical. Can you imagine the outrage if a male had said "men are smarter than women"? Larry Summers doesn't need to imagine, it got him fired.

So once again, its the double standard:

Women are smarter than men? Enlightening!
Men are smarter than women? Sexist!

MayBee said...

I just put it in the category of "What if a male politician said these things about women?" .

He'd be done.

Birkel said...

As to Althouse corrects:
The mistyped "bot" could have been "both" instead of "not". It was confusing.

Big Mike:
You meant "we men". Don't get the grammariar Althouse going as the feminist one is already on duty.

As to the whole point:
I think the audience has misunderstood Althouse. We should criticize Obama, Althouse and others from a position of intellectual strength by acting as men should act. We can criticize Obama using her rhetoric as both a sword and a shield. She is attacking a strawman dressed as a mysoginist but will immediately turn to a "poor dear" if her rhetoric is challenged, calling on the very chivalry she is criticizing as a defense.

It's a difficult trap. It's duplicitous. Those of us who would stop her attempts to consolidate power in the federal government must face this challenge and not be defensive when answering.

"garage mahal" of course shows the sort of sexism that I find repulsive. It is her ideas that concern me. I will leave to her husband concerns about her physical being.

Smilin' Jack said...

In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority. That's why it worked. You stay home because you're such a fine soul, and I'll go out into the mean old world of commerce.

Whereas nowadays women have bought into the ideology of their equality, so we get to bang them for free. Seems like progress to me.

Anonymous said...

Birkel -- I wouldn't presume to tell the Professor how she should act because she's a woman. "As a woman, you should do X, Y, and Z, as did some women I vaguely remember from many decades ago."

I mean, that kind of statement just looks silly and faintly insane. But, with apparently no hint of irony, the Professor deploys exactly the same argument against men. "You should do this, and that, and say these particular things, because you are men, based on anecdotes about men that have been bouncing around in my brain for literally a half-century."

MayBee said...

How is speaking in the manner of the time supposed to be useful to men and when are they going to use it on a Michelle-Obama level?

Ann Althouse said...

"Whereas nowadays women have bought into the ideology of their equality, so we get to bang them for free. Seems like progress to me."

Yes, you have freely given away your manhood, and you don't even recognize the loss. You feel better off. It's all working out as planned… by idiots.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your take and while a bit younger, I am close enough to Michelle's age that I consider her a peer.

I sometimes miss the old, purple-shift-dress Michelle who was so outspoken that her handlers had to muzzle her during the campaign; she would then act out and order way too much champagne and caviar up in her hotel room/holding cell.

I'm convinced that her spending and overly luxurious travel expenditures are, on some level, due to her transitioning to an updated, but more traditional role. (Diet and Exercise and Root Gardens? Really? Actually, scratch "traditional", let's just say ass-backwards.)

Still, I can understand why anyone would make that choice given the opportunity. There's only so much time, why spend it doing more stressful things when you could be chilling out with your kids or taking care of yourself?

It is easy to get used to the gilded cage, and she's well used to it by now. She probably fits the role at this point in real life, just like Sarah Palin traded it all in for what was behind Door Number 2 and went from a Calamity Jane/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington hybrid to a mere C-List celebrity personality.

I also prefer the Hillary that bitched about cookie making. People need to be less insecure about stuff like that. You can still be a force and enjoy your cookie-making, but let's not pretend that it's not a different gauntlet to run.

retired said...

You are giving her too much credit. She isn't capable of being that calculating in what she says. She has been carried aloft by the AA system. She certainly doesn't live up to the claim that women are smarter.

Hagar said...

Yes.

CStanley said...

In the old days the women bought into the ideology of their superiority. That's why it worked. You stay home because you're such a fine soul, and I'll go out into the mean old world of commerce.

I think this is somewhat true, but distorted.

The ideology that was accepted truth by both men and women throughout most of Western civilization, was that men and women have complementary attributes. At a time when most labor really was physical and dangerous, the division of labor made more sense, and it was helpful for each partner to respect and affirm the other's attributes.

That some men abused their economic powers doesn't discredit the ideology as a whole, and women didn't have to allow the attitudes to be so patronizing. Furthermore, the feminist position could have embraced the historical relationship in its proper form (calling for corrections so that respect was real instead of condescending) and more flexibility so that women could participate more in the changing economy.

Instead I think feminists have tried to assert that women and men are the same, and yet the ideology persists among many women that they are actually superior. Since the truth is that neither gender is superior yet males and females are also not the same, the assertions ring false to men and simply create resentment and aggravation of the disrespect.

Kirk Parker said...

chrisnavin,

You're much more nonchalant than I am, if you can talk about questions of survival as just being "different tradeoffs".

Krumhorn said...

First of all, I'll concede the obvious: MO is smarter than BO. Lots smarter.

What seems to be missing here is an acknowledgement of the context of her remarks. I gather that this was a discussion about the treatment and status of women in third world countries. It's hard to argue against the proposition that most third world countries would be vastly safer and better places if women played a more prominent role in the respective governments and social structures.

I imagine it was her point that rather than slicing off their love buttons with a rusty knife, they'd be far better off if girls were given education and acceptance as social equals.

I don't like MO particularly, but there is nothing she said here that is offensive to me outside of the context in which her statements were made. While I usually try to absorb Ann's point, I'm not sure why she was upset.

-Krumhorn

furious_a said...

...women are smarter than men.

Sorry, women have a brain a third the size of men. It's science.

Andy Krause said...

If you're taking advice from Ann on how to be a man, you're really lost.

furious_a said...

A higher percentage of women voted for OBama, right?

*Single* women. Romney carried the married women's vote.

Big Mike said...

@Birkel, nope. "Us" is correct. If you diagram the sentence you'll see that "men" is the object and therefore the third person plural pronoun is correct.

Skeptical Voter said...

Every once in a while everybody--male or female--or I also suppose LGBT, is entitled to go off the rails. And this blog post by Althouse, and some of her comments among the "comments" indicate that today is her turn.

So I'll cut her some slack.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Bob Ellison said..."Can't complain because you're outnumbered"? I would infer that she means that the majority can impose its wishes on the minority.

That is disgusting speech. Is she just stupid, and meant to say something else? Is she an idiot, or a feminazi?

Did she really say these things?


I mean, I'm not exactly a fan of the Obamas' but in the context of a lighthearted statement as part of a meeting of the First Ladies of a number of nations I don't think this is really so dire. Lighten up, there, Bob!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Now, yes, of course, if a man had made a similar statement (complimentary to men) it would be a huge deal and you'd see denunciations 24/7. But look, if it weren't for double standards the Media wouldn't have standards at all.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Whereas nowadays women have bought into the ideology of their equality, so we get to bang them for free. Seems like progress to me."

Yes, you have freely given away your manhood, and you don't even recognize the loss. You feel better off. It's all working out as planned… by idiots.


Oh I disagree, lots of men recognize the loss! But it'd be silly not to also recognize some small benefits to the new order, you know, and at least look on the bright side once in a while. The old order didn't give up with out a fight, but hey, they lost! It just seems mean to criticize them both when they complain that things are worse and when they don't!

Fandor said...

"...feminism has gone too far..."

Yes, it has.

Howard said...

Dr. Althouse: I always took that "better half" line in the 60's as being true: a wise man marries a smarter woman so that their offspring will be even more successful. It's a laissez-faire form of eugenics.

The intense hysteria (just look at the Brightbart comments) from teabagger men over all things Michelle Obama is the same self emasculation pathology exhibited by TCR James. They don't have the balls to marry a smart woman who will call them on their shit when needed.

dreams said...

"Yes, you have freely given away your manhood, and you don't even recognize the loss. You feel better off. It's all working out as planned… by idiots."

Women have suffered too. Men don't have the respect that we once had for women. All the unhappy single women out there is in part caused by the feminists and also the sexual revolution.

Howard said...

HoodyDoody: No one took your balls, you willingly gave them up. How can I tell? It's the "It's not fair, blah blah blah double standard, oh woe is me" mantra. The kicker is how women dominate men's rights! You can't make this shit up.

dreams said...

"First of all, I'm not anticipating an argument but predicting an attitude and a style of reaction, a failure to be able to use something that I am telling you would be useful if you know how to use it."

No, you're projecting.

Anonymous said...

Kirk Parker,

I think it's quite serious, but I've become perhaps more realistic, perhaps seemingly nonchalant, hopefully not glib, about what can actually be done.

Having written for a while, I'm also more humble about what I've got right at any given time.

This is deep in the culture, and much public sentiment (often the root of political and conventional wisdom) is working against the kind of common sense discussed.

Birkel said...

Big Mike,
You are correct that the preposition "at" deserves an object pronoun. And in pointing that out I now see that my attempt at humor failed. Internet humor is hard.

*sigh*

Birkel said...

HoodlumDoodlum:
The criticism Althouse made about selling manhood cheap would be right if the men had a choice in the transaction. After all, it was women who castigated every man who might have pointed out the flaws in the feminist thinking. But that didn't stop women from claiming that women were bicycles who didn't need a fish. (Is that close? LOL)

When men interpreted that thinking into "Well, if she's a bicycle I guess I'll ride until I find a better/newer bike" they were wrong... AGAIN!

It's almost as if feminism is the idea that everything any man does is wrong. And that remains true even for a post-op transvestite.

David said...

The video at the link goes to a clip that does not have the statement Althouse quoted. Apparently it did at some point.

Rather Mrs. Obama is shown in a long clip saying that we need to prioritize education of "our girl." Essentially she is saying that girls are not given priority in education. The background seems to indicate they were discussing Africa, and Laura Bush does, but Mrs. Obama seems to be referring to the United States.

When 58% of the college students are female, why is she still saying that?

As to the comment quoted, it depends on how she said it. I doubt she really believes it or would seriously maintain the position. But it's the kind of thing that's a little to easy to say, when everyone else gets so upset about slights.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

oodyDoody: No one took your balls, you willingly gave them up. How can I tell? It's the "It's not fair, blah blah blah double standard, oh woe is me" mantra. The kicker is how women dominate men's rights! You can't make this shit up.

Swing and a miss. The fellas are safely in place (last time I checked) and laughing is about as far away from "woe is me" as one can get. I'm not really familiar with men's rights groups [movement?] so I'll take you word for who runs things there!

averagejoe said...

Fen said...
"I'm reminded of the Wise Latina who's recent opinion re Hobby Lobby has us all wondering if she's just another diversity hire."

Allow me to correct the record, brother Fen. Sotomayor went on the 39 page rant about Afirmative Action, and how it was necessary because someone once told her she spoke with an accent, and another time someone asked her if she was Puerto Rican, and another time someone made fun of her glasses etc. It was Darth Vader Ginsburg who made the ignorant sexist bigoted and stupid remarks about the Hobby Lobby case because MEN!...

the wolf said...

A man calling his wife "his better half" is self-deprecating; MO calling woman smarter than men is self-promoting.

Fen said...

averagejoe, my bad, thanks for the correction.

Also, a hat tip to our hostess for allowing critical remarks through. Whatever her faults may be, they are trumped by her love of free speech.

Fen said...


Howard: The intense hysteria (just look at the Brightbart comments) from teabagger men

Howard goes for the homo slur. But he's really just trolling for cock. See, Howard wants to suck my balls till my cum marinates all hot and juicy for him to swallow.

Thats what teabagger means. It you wouldn't say the above in public, why would you go with the euphamism? Have some fricken shame, Libtard.

Fen said...

"It's hard to argue against the proposition that most third world countries would be vastly safer and better places if women played a more prominent role in the respective governments and social structures."

When we were in Somalia (Restore Hope) it was obvious why the society performed so poorly for so long. Everywhere you looked, a woman loaded down like a pack mule following some slacker male with empty hands. The males "work" till noon then spend the rest of the day chewing on khat (wiki - "an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria).

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Birkel said...

The criticism Althouse made about selling manhood cheap would be right if the men had a choice in the transaction. After all, it was women who castigated every man who might have pointed out the flaws in the feminist thinking.


Right, I understand your point and when I said to the Prof. that it was mean to criticize men [defenders of the old order, I guess?] both for opposing the change and for embracing one aspect of it they perceive as positive (easier access to sexual activity) I meant much the same thing. I think one can recognize they've lost without giving up (per se) or being fatalistic. I'm not a part of the generation(s) that hashed most of this out so admittedly I mainly take potshots from the sideline pointing out inconsistencies, etc.
Prof. A's point about Mrs. Obama's comment is consistent with her stated ("old school") feminists beliefs although as I mentioned I think in the context Mr.s Obama's statement was made it's much less of a big deal than others here think. Prof. A's stated reasoning behind her criticism of the line of attack she expects some men to take is harder to square.

Big Mike said...

@Birkel, went right over my head.

LordSomber said...

When you boil it all down, it's just a humblebrag.

Laura said...

Voraciously Reading Housewife Duly Notes:

How exactly does one leverage a part-time job that pays $103,633 without Ivy League credentials? Even that online proofreading gig will only hire Ivy Leaguers. And lucky Olivia Wilde, wonder what the magazine paid for that spread with the breastfeeding pictures.

Bah, idle curiosity. And a manager that screamed and harassed coworkers really was no smart reason to quit my newspaper job. If using bonuses to avoid paying overtime were really illegal, corporate accounting and his female supervisor would have caught it right? Stupid, stupid pregnancy hormones.

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Whereas nowadays women have bought into the ideology of their equality, so we get to bang them for free. Seems like progress to me."

Yes, you have freely given away your manhood, and you don't even recognize the loss. You feel better off. It's all working out as planned… by idiots.


Not sure what that means...the plans of idiots don't usually work out. I'll try to give it some more thought, if I have the energy after tonight's threesome.

dave in boca said...

MO is rapidly nearing the end of her shelf life and proving worthy of Rev. Wright who presided over her nuptials.

As a quibble, IQ tests over the last 100 years have shown men average 3 points above women. Of course, read Outliers by Gladwell to see the emotional baggage a higher IQ may have to carry.

Brando said...

Reading the whole article and seeing the quote in context, it's clear that Obama was being humorous with the "you can't complain" comment, and as she was discussing African societies where women are genuinely oppressed I don't think it is out of line for her to make an exaggerated point about women being smarter. I can agree that societies are better off where neither gender is being held back.

If Michelle Obama says something truly outrageous, then fine, take her down a peg--we all have to own our public statements. But a lot of the criticism of her seems to come from people who give her no benefit of the doubt and really want to be outraged. My suggestion is that as you'd do for someone on your own side, consider the context and the possibility of misspeaking.

After eight years of seeing leftists do this crap to Bush and Co., it doesn't "right" matters to pull this crap on the other team.

Rusty said...

I think, Ann, you're imparting meaning that isn't there.

CStanley said...

I agree with those who are pointing out the context and the obvious attempt at humor. I have noticed both Obamas use that line of marital humor a lot (when they are attempting humor at all, not their strong suit.) .I think they have both talked about POTUS not picking up his socks and such. It always comes across kind of lame, IMO, because I don't think it's a true reflection on their relationship and it feels like an attempt to connect with the ordinary folks.

All that said, a failed joke still shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Birkel said...

Brando:
Thanks for sharing your concerns.

Brando said...

"Brando:
Thanks for sharing your concerns."

You're very welcome! I'll be sure to continue sharing my many concerns.

Birkel said...

Brando the Concern Troll is concerned.

Seriously, dude. Get a new schtick.

caplight45 said...

Stop trying to take away a good game of "Gotcha" at Michelle's expense. It's not only fun but the smug feeling of self-righteousness it gives me is intoxicating.