One of the things I like most about President Obama is that he appears to be a genuine family man who loves and is devoted to his wife and daughters. This quality has been sorely lacking in too many modern American politicians no matter their campaign rhetoric or political party. His recent article in Glamour magazine contains much to be thankful for as the president, who calls himself a feminist, rightly celebrates many things that have changed for the better regarding the cultural status of women in America over the last 100 years.
Nevertheless, his Glamour magazine article also exposes some of the most troubling things about President Obama, including his unceasing commitment to promote abortion and gender confusion. One of the achievements President Obama touts as a marker of women gaining equality and freedom is “protecting reproductive rights.” It is a perverse notion that taking the life of defenseless babies in the womb is a celebratory mark of women’s empowerment. The truth is that abortion ends the lives of little girls and often devastates the mom as well. It is also tragically noticeable that the president failed to mention the publicly exposed profiteering of Planned Parenthood from selling little girls’ body parts for profit.
The president’s article also continues his championing of gender confusion as a cultural triumph. You are probably familiar with his labor to redefine marriage by supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage and his recent bathroom edict to public schools that would allow a student to use the restroom according to the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex. His Glamour article is personal, and he argues his case all the way down to the grassroots level.
The president writes, “All too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave.” What becomes apparent is that President Obama thinks that any training toward uniqueness in role distinctions is inherently sexist and should be repudiated. Sexism certainly exists and should be condemned and repudiated by all people. Donald Trump has become the public face of abhorrent sexism when he says things like, “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of *%$” (Esquire, 1991) or tells Howard Stern, “A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10” (2005). Such grotesque objectification of women is horrific.
But President Obama argues that recognizing people as male and female based on their biological sex and asserting marriage as a union between one man and one woman are unhealthy sexist gender stereotypes. He critiques the social clues and limitations that he believes undergird oppressive sexism and need to be rejected. What are these sexist social clues that lead to oppressive restrictions that the president describes as “outmoded” and “rigid”? He explains,
We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.…forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.
The president’s insistence that we need to change “the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality” appears to be a pointed barb at the pro-life movement. Protecting the lives of unborn children is a part of what the president considers rigid and outmoded thinking. But the president is also scandalized by rearing children with a view to unique male and female role distinctions and characteristics. Of course, such differences can be overdone, but that does not invalidate the differences or the appropriateness of recognizing the distinctions. As a Christian, who believes the authority of the Bible, I do not subscribe to an evolutionary view of gender that argues we have evolved and our present enlightenment demands us to abandon the outdated bondage of gender distinctiveness. According to the design of God, we are gendered image bearers who should delight in and celebrate, not be embarrassed by, our distinct maleness or femaleness.
As the father of eight children, three sons and five girls, my wife and I take our responsibility to teach our children gender clarity seriously. Our sons and daughters complement one another in our family rather than compete with each other, which is the example my wife and I try to model before them. One example is that we demand that our sons open doors for their sisters and that our daughters be thankful that their brothers serve them in that way. We also expect that our sons give up their seats for their sisters (or other women) if necessary. It seems that the president would consider my family guilty of unhealthy sexist gender stereotyping. But I am not convinced. I have no intention of joining him in exchanging gender stereotypes for gender confusion; our goal is gender clarity.