Michelle Obama's arms: A Threat to Decency Everywhere
Of all the crap that I've read about Michelle Obama over the last two years, I don't think there's anything crappier, or more ridiculous, than this call for her to cover up her arms. What year is this, anyway? 1909?
I realize that among a certain breed of Christian cultists
...is regarded as appropriate attire for women. But when did we get so prudish that a First Lady who wears sleeveless dresses is somehow a Threat to the Established Order of Things®? Doesn't anyone remember this First Lady?
If Jackie Kennedy in a sleeveless dress wasn't a scandal in 1961, why should Michelle Obama in a sleeveless dress be one nearly fifty years later?
Maureen Dowd, who for once is smitten enough with another female to not do her standard Mean Grrl schtick (perhaps because she knows Michelle Obama could kick her ass from here to Mars and back again without breaking a sweat), finds the foofarah ridiculous
In the taxi, when I asked David Brooks about her amazing arms, he indicated it was time for her to cover up. “She’s made her point,” he said. “Now she should put away Thunder and Lightning.”
I’d seen the plaint echoed elsewhere. “Someone should tell Michelle to mix up her wardrobe and cover up from time to time,” Sandra McElwaine wrote last week on The Daily Beast.
Washington is a place where people have always been suspect of style and overt sexuality. Too much preening signals that you’re not up late studying cap-and-trade agreements.
David was not smitten by the V-neck, sleeveless eggplant dress Michelle wore at her husband’s address to Congress — the one that caused one Republican congressman to whisper to another, “Babe.”
He said the policy crowd here would consider the dress ostentatious. “Washington is sensually avoidant. The wonks here like brains. She should not be known for her physical presence, for one body part.” David brought up the Obamas’ obsession with their workouts. “Sometimes I think half the reason Obama ran for president is so Michelle would have a platform to show off her biceps.”
During the campaign, there was talk in the Obama ranks that Michelle should stop wearing sleeveless dresses, because her muscles, combined with her potent personality, made her daunting.
Is this yet another manifestation of the right-wing male's terror of strong women? Especially when said strong woman is black, evoking memories of Pam Grier in Foxy Brown
? It's odd that it's primarily, but not exclusively, men who are kicking up a fuss, given that there are millions of women in this country who would sell their souls to have the kind of triceps that look good in sleeveless dresses into our forties. So I wonder why there's this big fuss about it being somehow "unseemly" for a First Lady to have sleeveless dresses as a signature look, especially when you consider things like Rich Lowry's delusional "starbursts" after deciding that the image of Sarah Palin on TELEVISION was winking specifically at HIM
. In other words, what kind of synapses in the conservative brain make it OK for a MILF with cotton between her ears to have access to the nuclear launch codes, but a gorgeous and smart First Lady who's in great shape is somehow a scandal?
I think it has something to do with the idea conservatives have that the President is supposed to be some kind of national Daddy. This is why they love Ronald Reagan so much -- he was the ultimate Daddy. And if Mommy (which is what Saint Ronnie actually did call his wife) was a bit of a flake, well, she always gazed adoringly at Daddy, and so we knew when we were tucked in at night that all was well. George H.W. Bush was a national Daddy, and God knows no one ever thought of Barbara Bush as a MILF -- probably not even George H.W. himself
Then came Bill Clinton. I'm convinced that a good part of the reason for the outrage over Clinton's out-there infidelity is because Americans don't want to think about Daddy fucking the baby sitter in his home office. It's useful to note that Hillary-hate only started to wane after the Lewinsky affair. America had never related to her as Mommy until she became the aggrieved wife. And still, conservative America was delighted to have the often abrasive Hillary replaced by Laura Bush the thorazine zombie. With her glazed eyes, Joker-smile
, and "knowledge of her place" in the background, she may have been the Mommy who never got out of bed because she was too depressed, but at least she was a Mommy figure -- and a chaste-appearing one at that.
And now we have the Obamas, who are clearly still nuts about each other after twelve years of marriage and two kids. But Michelle Obama is more than just traffic-stoppingly gorgeous -- she works out like a demon and looks more like she belongs in a leather catsuit, roundhouse-kicking bad guys than hosting teas for the Daughters of the Keepers of the Memory of the Glorious War Dead. And I suspect that more than one conservative man gets a few starbursts looking at the strong black woman with the brilliant mind who resides in the White House for the next four years.
And it scares the living daylights out of them.
Labels: Michelle Obama