First Lady Michelle Obama wants a new generation of parents to start raising their children differently to help break down cultural norms about gender.
During her global tour to promote women’s education, the First Lady talked about the difficulties with “outdated norms and assumptions” regarding the differences between men and women.
“You can start with how you raise your own children if you choose to have them,” she said. “Maybe it means telling your sons that it’s okay to cry, and your daughters that it’s okay to be bossy.”
The First Lady made her remarks during an event in Madrid, Spain where she urged parents to press their daughters to do things typically associated with boys.
“Maybe it means encouraging your daughters, not just your son, to study math and science and sign up for the football team,” she said. “And if there isn’t a team for girls, maybe it means asking why not.”
The First Lady complained that in spite of progress on gender issues, cultural norms still discriminated against women pursuing a career and an education.
“Maybe you know what I’m talking about — how when a father gets home from a long day of work and changes a diaper, he’s practically considered a hero,” she said. “But when a woman changes a diaper, no one really notices because that’s what’s expected of her as a mother, even if she works outside of the home.”
When men spent long hours at the office, she said, cultural norms rewarded them for being ambitious. But when mothers did the same, she was accused for neglecting their children.
“Often, when men are assertive or argumentative at work, they’re viewed as strong and powerful,” she said. “But women who act that way aren’t always viewed so positively.”