Friday, January 16, 2009

Barack Obama: Superfeminist?

I have mixed feelings about the Ms. cover featuring Barack Obama:

I understand the Superman reference, and that is part of the problem. Obama has already been deified too much, made into a superhuman figure too many times. I suppose he could be something of a Teflon president, like Reagan was; but these sorts of inflated expectations could also cause unearned resentment and disappointment when Obama fails, as he will inevitably, to cure cancer and global warming, and restart the global economic markets in his first six months in office. Obama is an impressive individual, but Superman he is not.

Which leads me to my second issue with the cover, and that is that Obama may very well be a feminist, but he is not a Superfeminist. And it grates my cheese to have him portrayed as this superhero of feminism when he has not, as of yet, done or said anything superheroic. I love him in the "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like" tee shirt; but the imagery that accompanies it, the Superman look there, only further highlights the minimal involvement cookie system we've got going on in terms of men and their accomplishments or ideals. It is very much like the Marlin thing in Finding Nemo to me; Marlin is the best dad in the ocean because he goes to get Nemo; he's a Superdad! But if Marlin had been a Marlena, she would have just been doing what women and mothers are expected to do.

I love that my president will be feminist-friendly, and feminist to boot. To tell you the truth, seeing the cover gave me a sense of hope and pride - both of which I had before, in abundance, but that were made all the stronger. But it still is somewhat "gah" worthy for me, to have this as the cover. He isn't a savior, of feminism or of humanity. And it is eye-rolling to me for Barack Obama to be Superized when other, more superfeminists, go without their Superfeminist covers because they're women and we expect more from them for the bare minimum of feminist actions and statements.

1 comment:

John said...

I think the thing I'm most offended by is the poor quality of the photoshopping. Alex Ross has already done that image, and done it ten times better (though wearing a different shirt underneath.)

*puts on tinfoil hat* I'm sure the Right is encouraging this deification of our president-elect precisely because it will make him fall that much harder when he doesn't bring about world peace, environmental protection, clean & free power and massive economic growth within his first 100 days. They'll want every advantage they can get if they're bringing Palin back in 2012!