Sounds potentially ugly. So what exactly is it that guys used to do that was so demeaning that the first lady still looks back on it with resentment? Was she a victim of racism?
Actually, she says she was that, too (more shortly), but in this particular case the -ism visited on her was sexism.
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross explains that “men used to whistle at her while she walked down the street,” and Mrs. Obama understood it for the dehumanizing slight that it was.
During a speech at the “Let Girls Learn” initiative in Argentina, the de facto queen of female empowerment said:
As I got older, I found that men would whistle at me or make comments about how I looked as I walked down the street as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own.
As a child, she went on to observe, she was taught that her “voice was somehow less important; that how my body looked was more important than how my mind worked; that being strong and powerful and outspoken just wasn’t appropriate or attractive for a girl.”
For someone who puts so much stock in gray natter, she certainly spends a lot of time — and money — on her looks. When she met the Pope last September, she wore a number designed by Carolina Herrera that set her back a cool $2,290. And the floral ensemble she wore during the Cuban phase of the current trip cost 23 times average annual salary in Cuba, Talk about saying one thing, and doing another!
On the topic of racism, Obama has complained that during her husband’s first run for the presidency, she was held to a different standard because of her color. Ross also reminds us of her famous incognito shopping spree at Target when another customer asked to retrieve something from a high shelf. Obama imputed this to her being viewed as “the help,” discounting the possibility that the customer noticed she is unusually tall for a woman — she is 5’11” — and more easily able to reach items high up.