Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Michelle Obama on Display

Here are two great responses to the Salon article First Lady Got Back: An Appreciation of Michelle Obama's Beauty and Booty.

Over at Michelle Obama Watch Gina invokes the image of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and says:

Erin Aubry “Balrog” Kaplan, handmaiden of misogyny, your foolishness and chicanery shall not pass. In the name of Sarah Baartman we rebuke your intellectually-challenged, historically-ignorant, self-hating assault on the dignity of our new first lady! ( Yes, its hyperbole, but so was that crappy article on I guess any Black person with a byline can get paid these days if they are “sensational” enough.)

And Mark Anthony Neal reminds us:

Underlying this notion of "realness" that Michelle Obama embodies are notions of accessibility and availability. If there is anything that the history of black women in this country should teach us, is that the idea that black women's bodies were accessible and available to any--and all--concretely frames our understandings of black women's histories whether it be the spectacle of the "Hottentot Venus" (Saartjie Baartman), the tragedy of Crystal Mangum or the nameless and faceless victims of sexual violence and rape.

While it is useful to remember that this kind of scrutiny and obsession with the hair, clothes, and body of women in the public is par for the misogynist course (can you imagine a Salon article speculating on the size and shape of Obama's black penis?), I find Neal's argument compelling. Maybe it's because I am a black woman and I parent two little black girls, but there is something especially disturbing about the way the figure (in all senses of that term) of Michelle Obama is available to the public. Yes, all First Ladies have their clothes choices and hairstyles dissected ad nauseum, but I find it difficult to imagine that we would ever be talking about Laura Bush's, or even Hilary Clinton's, breasts.


Susie Bright said...

I couldn't agree more.

jody said...

And this is barely the beginning of the stupidity we'll read and hear.