. . . get back in the kitchen.
I find Barack Obama’s anger at criticism of his wife to be charming, and entirely appropriate. But that’s the rub. I also tend to support traditional roles for men and women.
Had any other close supporter, associate, doner, or friend of Obama’s said the very same things that Mrs. Obama said, would those comments not be entirely appropriate grounds for criticism?
In short, we finds ourselves in an interesting situation, culturally speaking. If a wife is an equal partner with her husband in all respects, and if there are no pre-set roles for men and women, then she is simply a free, adult individual. Hence criticism of her opinions, is entirely appropriate. Only when women are home-makers, and not professionals with a stong interest in politics does the older model make sense. In fact, the two ideas go together. But it still, somehow, rubs us the wrong way when people criticize the candidate’s wife.
That reaction, of course, is probably due to our instinctive respect for a more traditional understanding of marriage--the very thing that liberals tend to oppose as passe and anachronistic.
In principle, what is wrong with criticizing the ideas (as opposed to the person) of someone who is now a public figure, and who is very close to the person who will probably be the next President? Is the wife of the candidate to be the one person who can hit the campaign trail, but not be criticized for what she says?
In practice, at least for now, that may very well be the case. After all, even if Mr. Obama is, in fact, a supporter of sexual equality (and it might be that here his instincts trump his ideology), it is useful to him to portray his opponants as mean-spirited people who attacked his poor, defenseless, wife. And why does the reaction resonate? Might it have something to do with the nature of men and women and their relationships?