A point to ponder over is that Michelle did not blame it on the “society” per se but on women. In other words, she is of the opinion that it starts from mothers in the domestic units.
In her words,
“It’s like the problem in the world today is we love our boys, and we raise our girls.”
“We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men and I think we pay for that a little bit.”
While there are certainly exceptions in Obama’s perception, it appears we may not successfully rule out that fact especially in male-sensitive societies. Conservative regions of the world fit into the picture.
Coming from the African setting, this may actually have a cultural as well as a psychological backing.
From the African cultural perspective, having a male child is a big issue for most families. One major reason is that a male children logically gives hope for the continuity of the family lineage- they carry on the family name.
Most African women go miles medically and even spiritually to get a male child for that reason.
Thus, with this cultural sentiments and somewhat validation, the boys by default have that strong sense of worth and value from infancy. While the boys are also expected to possess a significant level of strength and a sense of responsibility, it almost seems as though there is a cosmic law that makes them feel entitled to respect in the society.
On the other hand the girl from birth is being conditioned to the thought that someday she’ll be a mother and a wife; the builder of the home. This psychology alone frames the child around developing a sense of responsibility to fit into the societal/cultural expectation.
Some mothers who fall prey to the extreme boy-girl cultural sentiments often commit the error of being less strict with the boys and more with the girls.
As modern as the world is presently, the African society still finds it an embarrassment that a woman does not know her way around the kitchen. There are professional male chefs springing up from the continent at present. More men are cooking now; still, the average African man would prefer his wife to be the master of the kitchen and all that goes in there.
In the same vein, a man’s faults never used to be an openly discussed topic until now because, their “ego” is taken into consideration.
From Michelle Obama’s point of argument, it is not rocket science that over-protecting people and making excuses for them makes them feel entitled.
“It’s powerful to have strong men, but what does that strength mean? You know, does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion?”
“Are we protecting our men too much so they feel a little entitled and … self-righteous sometimes? But, that’s kind of on us too as women and mothers, as we nurture men and push girls to be perfect.”
Judging the former first lady by her own conclusions, Michelle in 2011 publicly said Barack had been cigarette-free for about a year. Incidentally, Barack was reportedly found chewing Nicorette during a meeting with the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Boehner in the same year.
Nicorette is a nicotine product(pills, patches, gum or lozenges) designed to help one quit smoking. According to Daily Mail, Nicorette is only supposed to be used for about two weeks after quitting smoking.
Whether it was a relapse or not for Mr Obama, Michelle’s position in this case may be a pointer that she actually knows what she is saying. Women- mother, wife, daughter, sister, spouse/partners- largely have the common trait of protecting men.