Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Crossposted from user nj mom at dailykos
Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 09:07:43 AM PDT

By superficial measures, you might mistake me for a Republican.

Having put on hold 10 years ago a very successful career, I am a dedicated full-time mother with three young children who is an active community volunteers and, yes, even occasionally bakes cookies.  As a practicing Catholic, I go to church regularly, think life is sacred and work actively to instill a sense of values in my children.  My husband works in finance, and we benefitted from the Bush tax cuts.

I could be a Republican but yet I am a true progressive Dem, bringing my children with me to political rallies, the Million Mom March, door-to-door canvassing, phone banks, and most recently the Women for Obama event in NYC.  I'm not alone--there are millions of women like me. Michelle's speech gave me hope that the Obamas get women like me.

While I understand the struggles of the generation before me, I am often frustrated by some proclaimed feminists' narrowness in defining a fulfilling life. I exist in the grey edges of the traditional democratic demographic.  I could easily be Republican, but I'm not.  Understanding women like me can grow our coalition.  An enthusiastic supporter of Obama, I waited and hoped he'd bring a nuance understanding of today's women's issues in the same way he has a nuanced understandings of race.  With Michelle Obama's speech last night, I have hope.

If I ask myself, given my profile, what makes me a passionate, active progressive Democrat, it comes down to one main thing:  empathy and a deep understanding of the value of community. It is the "we" and not just the "me".

Partly, this comes from my background. My husband and I live a comfortable life now, affording me economic freedom to choose to put my career on hold while my children are young--a choice sadly becoming less and less of an option for most Americans.  Yet I was raised in a single-parent home for most of my childhood, with my mother briefly on welfare in the early 1970's when she was newly divorced and alone with two young babies and had to practically beg to be taken seriously enough for a decent job to support her family.  As a result, I have empathy for those who occasionally need a hand to help through a rough spot and empathy for parents who struggle to raise children on their own or a child who grows up, as Barack did, with a hole in their heart from a missing parent.

What the Obamas recognize--and frankly what Republicans have emphasized is that families are built---they don't just happen. They take time and energy and choices from both men and women. When I see how Michelle and Barack have struggled to keep their family strong, even in the midst of a national campaign, I know that they get it.

It is within our families that we first learn about empathy for others ("How do you think your sister felt when you grabbed that out of her arms?"), it is where we move beyond ourselves to understand that we are not solo in this world but interconnected--like the thread Michelle spoke about.  It is within our families and our other communities that we learn we have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to others as well.  It is why I would fiercely attack anyone harming a child in my presence, regardless if that child is my own.  It is why I spend the time volunteering in my children's schools and as a Girl Scout leader and a volunteer for local civic organizations.  It is also why I think there should be universal health care, and why we need to protect the environment and, frankly, it is why we pay taxes. It is why I am a Democrat.

When I see the overblown media reports of hard-core PUMAs and McCain's political plays for die-hard Clinton supporters, I see an attempt to drive a wedge between women and especially between the old feminists and the new. PUMAs, unfortunately, are the ultimate manifestation of "me"--so wrapped up in their identity politics that they'll bring the community down with them. When you look at the choices I've made in my life, especially those that don't involved climbing a career ladder or breaking a glass-ceiling, some of yesterday's feminists might say I'm wasting my time. I say building communities whether that is your family, or your township, or even your network of women executives at the office, is NEVER a waste of time. It is the heart of and soul of what gives life meaning and value and something that we, as women who bring life into this world feel intensely in our being. The Obama's get that in a fundamental and real way.  Indeed, much of the success of their organizing efforts, I would argue, are centered around understanding the power of "we."

In Michelle and Barack's love for each other and struggle to find a way to balance their own professional goals with their family needs, I see them struggling what all of us struggle with -the right balance between "me" and "we".  Today's feminists recognize there are many different paths that lead to a fulfilling woman's life, and that my choices don't diminish yours.  Today's feminists recognize there are many different ways to balance the needs a families and individuals, while recognizing the self-care needs of both women and men.Today's feminists recognize that all women and even men struggle with these issues and have a common thread regardless of the outward look of their choices. Today's feminists recognize that kids don't raise themselves and communities don't build themselves. In the great words of Hillary Clinton, it truly does take a village. We are part of that village and today's feminists -vast and diverse and strong--recognize the "we" as well as the "me".  The Obamas--Michelle and Barack together-- get that in a powerful way.  Don't let the GOP or the media or anyone else tell us othewise.

Tags: Democratic Convention, DNC, feminism, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama (all tags)

Comments

32 Comments

Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Nicely written.

by JDF 2008-08-26 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

I have never seen a more innocent post troll-rated. Unbelievable.

by LandStander 2008-08-26 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

I has to be a mistake, IMHO.

by lollydee 2008-08-26 11:58AM | 0 recs
Oh yeah, that was a mistake

tonedevil would never TR a comment like that.  It's these drop-down rating boxes, they're easy to goof up.

by chrisblask 2008-08-26 01:16PM | 0 recs
I messed up...

Sorry just noted I had 1 rated that, it should never have happened I fixed it now.

by tonedevil 2008-08-26 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Bravo!

by LandStander 2008-08-26 11:40AM | 0 recs
Technical question,

Am I correct that I leave good feedback to this great diary by typing "Yes" in the box and then hitting 'set.'  If not, how do I leave love and kisses for this one so I can make sure the diarist gets it?

by Christy1947 2008-08-26 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Technical question,

It depends on how long you've had your account.  Brand new accounts cannot recommend diaries.  I think you have to wait a few days.

When you are viewing a diary, in the upper right hand corner, you'll see a link that says "Who's reccomended this diary?"  At some point, you will also see a button that says "Recommend."  If you click it, you'll rec that diary.

Some posters will also leave a comment near the top of their diaries where you can rate them and leave them 'mojo.'  The ability to rate a comment also comes with time.

I'm afraid I don't know the exact time frames.  It's probably covered in more detail in an FAQ somewhere on the site.

by Dreorg 2008-08-26 01:04PM | 0 recs
We have something in common....

Women like me, too!!

I jest!

She is an American woman. Her upbringing and experiences are uniquely American....familiar to all of us. She and Barack have an American family with its highs and lows.....also familiar to all of us. Their struggles are uniquely American, and familiar to us all. I don't know how anyone, even the PUMAz, could watch and LISTEN to Michelle's speech and not come away touched and amazed.

Rec'd.

by Kysen 2008-08-26 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

"PUMAs, unfortunately, are the ultimate manifestation of "me"--so wrapped up in their identity politics that they'll bring the community down with them."

That's funny.  Many PUMAs would say exactly this of Barack Obama.

by Sabrina Duncan 2008-08-26 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

No they wouldn't. They are too busy saying much dumber and worse things.

by JDF 2008-08-26 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

No they wouldn't....

Seriously... how many African American Democrats did you see lining up behind Alan Keyes?

The PUMAs are all wrapped up in the "what's in this for ME" meme.  They are forgetting that this election is not just about ME, it is about US.

by JenKinFLA 2008-08-26 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Recced. Tipped. I should leave it at that but...

never mind.

by Terminus 2008-08-26 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--
Well, it's nice that you have the ability to stay home and raise your children. In today's economy, that's simply not a choice for many women. I must give you kudos for getting out there and volunteering, and supporting Obama- also not an easy thing to do with kids.
The older feminists you speak of were those who went to work during WW2, and showed that women could work just as hard as men and do just as good a job. Those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s were fighting to be recognized as equals in the workforce, and we kind of lost sight of the fact that a mom's job is the hardest of all.
But in the end, we're all still on the same side, aren't we?
by skohayes 2008-08-26 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--

sko are you prochoice or prolife.

Litmus test for so many folks during this primary.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-26 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--

It's good that the young ladies and gentlemen have this choice. I think that might just be want angers so many of the folks, men and women, who worked hard so that you and your contemporaries could choose. Your life. Your choice. Not always so.  

Way back.

Think about it.

In 1972, Iamold, when you were a baby? I was sporting a tshirt that said,

"A woman's place is in the house and the Senate"

And these old feminists were marching to see that today's woman had a choice...

For such things as birth control and abortions.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-26 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--

That's a pretty great shirt :)

by LandStander 2008-08-26 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--

Thank but you'd think by now there would be no glass ceiling to break.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-27 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--

Thanks but you'd think by now there would be no glass ceiling to break...

This is why the missed oportunity to have a highly qualified female on the ticket is just beyond belief. Especially after her speech. It just boggles the mind that folks actually think she wouldn't be a good pick on the ticket.

I can understand why the anger.

Once again a highly qualified female passed over for a male.

Folks with that tshirt, who weren't babies in the 70's, get that. That's what they fought so hard for. Choice. Wheither she wants to stay home and raise grand kids or run for president.

Everytime I hear folks say well she's better in the Senate? I think of folks who've said oh you don't really want to (insert choice here).

LOL Yes they do otherwise why bother.

Hugs.

Iamold.

I don't think that being a "stay at home mom" is the fringes of feminism. It's choice. It's a woman's choice. The problem was that women either didn't have the choice or it was made very difficult for the ones who did choose.

As you know it's not easy.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-27 10:59AM | 0 recs
Great diary - rec'ed

Thanks for sharing your perspective with us.

I'm proud to see women like Michelle, and Hillary cope with being strong independent professionals  and also coping with being mother's, wives, daughters, or sisters.

I have a pretty broad vision of feminism - and about who fits under that tent.

As a black woman - I am also very pleased that the relationship between Michelle and Barack sends a strong message to the young people in my own community, as well as a national one.

by NeciVelez 2008-08-26 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me

Rec'd with mucho gusto - I'm not a woman but I have 1 wife, 4 sisters, 2 daughters, and many cousins, aunts, and nieces - each of whom has nothing but my highest respect for their abilities and work ethic, and who are all telling me they will be voting straight Democratic tickets this Fall as they always have and always will, and that if I know what's good for me I will be, too.

by QTG 2008-08-26 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me

I'm curious if you know if the author of this diary is prochoice or prolife. Big issue in the Dem Party?

Are you by the way? Or the female in your family?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-26 04:57PM | 0 recs
Could you please

give us the link to the diary at Dkos?

by kevin22262 2008-08-26 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

I enjoyed reading this diary because your life is quite different from mine. I was wondering if you think or feel it is easier to be a stay at home mother as a Democrat or a Republican?  Thanks again Rec

by canadian 2008-08-26 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

PUMA's demonstrating their intelligence in Denver..

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/26 /chris-matthews-experience_n_121468.html

by nogo postal 2008-08-26 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Is that Daragh Murphy?

by iohs2008 2008-08-26 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

No it is Christi Adkins. She's a PUMA founder & founder of Clintons4McCain.

by wrb 2008-08-26 03:42PM | 0 recs
PUMAs are Repubs and/or Self Loathing

It has to be the dumbest thing, cutting off your nose to spite your face.  But...

Is it truly possible that Hillary supporters would rather that she languish in opposition, at least partially being blamed for a lost chance at a Dem Presidency, than that she be quickly named to a senior cabinet or other position where she can do America good?

It is outright lunacy that a true Hillary supporter would actually rather vote for McCain than Obama.  Even at his absolute worst, Obama would still be the best of bad choices from any rational perspective.  But even if we play devil's advocate and accept for argument sake,  the notion that he has somehow been sexist, do PUMAs forget these memorable McCain comments (not to mention his 95% voting record with Bush):

http://fromtheleft.wordpress.com/2008/04 08/mccain-calls-his-wife-a-cunt

http://dirtyelection.com/chelsea-clinton -daughter-of-janet-reno/clinton/

Quite simply, those PUMAs that actually follow thru with their threats to vote McCain are simply Republicans and/or acting out of vindictiveness and spite, not any legitimate principle.

John McCain will not advance progressive rights for anybody.

by jv 2008-08-26 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Good diary.  And, compared to most, you are not old!  (At least, if it's true that you were a "young baby" in the "early 1970's")

by pontificator 2008-08-26 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Among the reasons I continue to read this blog are the rare but wise posts from Iamold

by wrb 2008-08-26 03:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

Great Diary.  This should be promoted to a Front Page post.

by yitbos96bb 2008-08-26 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Women Like Me--Michelle's speech and PUMAs

This is an interesting diary entry.

Just curious are you pro choice or pro life?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-08-26 04:55PM | 0 recs

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