What Does Obama’s New Most Popular Tweet Say About Modern Masculinity?

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  1. Nothing. Loving your wife has always been part of the masculine ideal.

    • Yes. And loving your children is also not a new development….

    • icegoaliemom says:

      Totally agree Copyleft – absolutely nothing. Loving your wife and being an actively engaged dad has most certainly been part of the masculine ideal. So ironic that many (not all….please don’t say I’m generalizing) of the Obama supporters are sadly missing this part of the ideal.

      I get it….our Country leans democratic…. Obama, despite the misguided and absent leadership and downright dishonesty at times, has somehow gotten the privilege of keeping his job……Our Country is changing ….more than I even realized…..to a what can you do for me Country instead of a what can you do for your Country…… So yes, I get why this happened and why he is so loved now….But PLEASE……do not make Obama out to be the new image of a “masculine ideal”…..because he is simply doing what he is supposed to as a man. That is just too much and its insulting to all the great men who have come before him.

    • I disagree that this changes nothing. Having spoken to quite a few men and done some work with regards to modern masculinity this does change things. While loving your wife and children may seem like it has always been common practice the way that love has been shown has varied. I agree with Micah on this one that being publicly vulnerable and emotional for a man in power is a fairly new thing. There is still the idea with many men that never having laid a hand on your partner is the ideal, yet yelling and screaming is inevitable. It is scary to me that there is still a prevalence of lack-of-violence being the goal and not the bare-minimum. We need good communication and support as well and I think Barack and Michelle demonstrate that.

      Over the past 5-7 years we have become a more hetero-centric and sexist society. We are returning the male dominated power and women being there as an object for men. Of course we are making strides in certain areas but in the media, marketing and messages we send, we are reverting. I am seeing that start to change back but slowly, I do hope we pick up pace in that area.

      Nothing about praising Obama for the love he shows publicly for his wife and daughters is insulting to other men and I fail to see how that connection was made.

      With regards to Obama and his children what is great to see is that he makes them a priority. He is able to work hard and still be there for his children in a very healthy, supportive yet challenging way. Michelle Obama is also a very strong role model and the support that they show each other is a great message.

      I want to make sure that what I am saying is clear, I am not putting other people down. I am saying that Obama is a great role model for men to be able to show love in a non-possessive way where he demonstrates his appreciation for Michelle and their partnership.

      I would also like to see this focused more on masculinity and the messages that sends than having it get political. We don’t need to insult candidates, for this to be a place to discuss masculinity then we need to keep it that way and not bring politics into it. Lets keep this civil.


      • Nothing about praising Obama for the love he shows publicly for his wife and daughters is insulting to other men and I fail to see how that connection was made.

        It’s not that it’s insulting to other men (and I fail to see how Copyleft’s comment implies any such insult). To me it’s that in the face of him being fairly silent when it comes to directly talking about masculinity and men this one image, as uplifting as it is, is being presented as if it is some grand symbol of a changing masculinity.

        In his capacity as a role model for men I do agree with you but with his position I think that he has a lot more influence than that at his disposal. Case in point back in 2008 and 2009 he chose Father’s Day to go to a church and go on about how men are not fulfilling their responsibilities as fathers. That’s nice and true and all but at the same time when he is in a position to speak for the countless dads out there that are fighting to be in their children’s lives (and for the last few years I’ve managed to find a story or two on/around nearly every Father’s Day about a dad that spends that day basically crying himself to sleep because he was unfairly pushed out of the lives of the very people that Obama says he needs to be taking responsibility for) he is silent.

        No mention of the unfair treatment that dads get in family court? No mention of how mother’s are able to legally stall and dodge the father of their children so they can put them up for adoption? No mention of how playing in the park with their kids can sometimes get the cops called on them? No metion of how when a mom is unfit to care for a child court systems would rather put the child straight into foster care without even contacting the father to see if he is wanting/ready/willing/able to take care of them?

        Now this is not to mean that the irresponsible men out there should get a free pass. But at the same time when men that need help are actively ignored in favor of painting up examples of the bad apples being representative the whole bunch I think there’s a problem.


        I would also like to see this focused more on masculinity and the messages that sends than having it get political. We don’t need to insult candidates, for this to be a place to discuss masculinity then we need to keep it that way and not bring politics into it.

        But the problem is politics are deeply wouldn’t up in gender and I think trying to keep politics out of it (I can agree with not letting politics take over though) might be a mistake.

      • icegoaliemom says:

        Paul – since I’m the one that said it was insulting to all of the good men that came before him, I will defend my statement. I am clearly not an Obama supporter – this much is obvious in my post – but even I am not saying that praising Obama for displaying love and affection to his wife and children is insulting. In fact, I think this is one thing you can praise him for. What I took issue with is the suggestion that somehow Barack Obama is responsible for leading the charge on this masculine ideal. I just thought to myself – oh my goodness, does he not have enough hero worship already now we have to credit him with being responsible for inspiring loving husbands everywhere? My loving husband is my best friend and partner, and has been a stay at home dad for 8 years. And he is one of many (probably much like yourself) that decided it was okay to be a good guy long before we knew the name Barack Obama. I realize that there are still all those guys out there that think its more manly to not show affection or that choose to be armchair dads and sadly, like small minded people everywhere, they will always continue to exist regardless of what picture Obama chooses to tweet. My apologies for over-politicizing my first post —- it is a very bitter morning for half the Country — but I didn’t intend to take away from the purpose of this forum.

  2. Such a photo isn’t going to say much because a man embracing his wife and kids when he makes a big accomplishment isn’t exactly new ground.

    No in order for Obama to make a statement about modnern masculinity he is going to have to do something fairly ground breaking like say, actually giving a damn about men in some capacity that is more than, “how useful are men when it comes to improving the lot of women?”.

    And frankly that’s what I want to push for. If he is intersted in saying something about modern masculinity then he can start by addressing the proposal for the White House Council for Men and Boys that was brought up a few years ago (but is pretty much collecting dust in a filing cabinet somewhere now).

    If he is interested in saying something about modern masculinity he can say something about the way male abuse victims (and their children) are left in the cold when it comes to a violence discourse that basically starts and ends with “domestic violence is something that men do to women”.

    If he is interested in saying something about modern masculinity he can chime in on why in 2012 it still argued whether or not a man can be raped by a woman in not just personal spaces and courts of public opinion but on the law books and in courts of law.

    • This photo is representative of their relationship. He chose this to be the photo for his “acceptance tweet”. It shows the partnership and bond between the two.

      In order for us to move men forward we need to move everyone forward and work to make changes across the board.

      If we bring sexual assault into the discussion we cant make it about how unfair that is to men. It is an unfair system to everyone. The entire criminal system is seriously flawed when it comes to sexual assault and we as a society make it worse. It is still ‘cool’ for a man to hook up with a lot of women and it still make her a ‘slut’ for doing so. That dynamic needs to be changed for things to get better.

      Yes male sexual assault is grossly under reported and it is much more difficult for a man to report than for a woman, but women get dragged through the mud much more than men do.

      The way for us to move forward on all the issues you point out (they are important ones) is not to look at the issues facing men as mutually exclusive and counter to women’s issues, we need to look at them and progress them together. This us versus them mentality is part of why we are in our current reality. Him signing the Lily Ledbetter Act is not an act against men, it is an act for people. So while I agree that we do need to make sure male victims are supported, I disagree that Obama is anti-men.


      • If we bring sexual assault into the discussion we cant make it about how unfair that is to men. It is an unfair system to everyone. The entire criminal system is seriously flawed when it comes to sexual assault and we as a society make it worse.

        It’s not a matter of making the discussion about how it is unfair to men. It’s about adding the unfairness towards men to the discussion, which I believe is very much missing from the overall discussion. I agree that we don’t want to just “swing the pendulum to the other side” and go from all about women to all about men. But I’m sure that we can agree that the unfairness towards men needs to be brought into it. When it comes to sexual assault women are most certainly treated unfairly. But that unfairness is also very different from the unfairness that men face. Well if the “entire discussion” about the unfairness is limited to the ways that are unfair to women then how can the unfairness of men be addressed?

        (Yes I can understand that you want to head off bitterness over how men have been left out but truthfully the bitterness is justfied, no matter how counter productive it is in the long term. But that bitterness is a sign of very valid greivances about the discourse on sexual crimes.)


        It is still ‘cool’ for a man to hook up with a lot of women and it still make her a ‘slut’ for doing so. That dynamic needs to be changed for things to get better.

        And good way to help change this dynamic for the better is to pressure men into hooking up with a lot of women as a validation of their manhood under pain of having their manhood questioned (remember while “stud” might be on one side of the sexual coin for men, “loser” is on the other side and also remember that “virgin” is a label used in a pretty derogotory manner towards males). There is plenty of discourse on not holding women to the unfair sexual expectations that weigh on their shoulders and I hope it keeps going, I’d like to see the same done for men is all.


        Yes male sexual assault is grossly under reported and it is much more difficult for a man to report than for a woman, but women get dragged through the mud much more than men do.

        It really doesn’t matter who gets dragged through the mud more. What matters is that the fact that men are being dragged though the mud and it is being ignored, or in some cases even defended, for the reason that “women have it worse”. They are both being dragged though the mud and they both need help.

        I would say the same about suicide. Even though men are more likely to kill themselves than women I wouldn’t say that speaking to women about suicide prevention and seeking help isn’t important because men kill themselves more often.


        The way for us to move forward on all the issues you point out (they are important ones) is not to look at the issues facing men as mutually exclusive and counter to women’s issues, we need to look at them and progress them together.

        I don’t recall saying that we need to look at the issues facing men as mutually exclusive and counter to women’s issues. It’s understandable that one may think I’m calling for that given that issues that women face are looked at as not mutually exclusive and counter to men’s issues (which has had a hand in generating a lot of the justified bitterness I spoke) but seen as the entire whole of the issue as well (I can’t count how many “discussions of domestic violence” claim to be all inclusive but quickly turn into discussions of male against female violence).

        But in order to look at them and progress them together don’t you agree that at the very least the issues that men face need to be brought to the table as well? I’m not trying to argue that the issues that women face should be pushed off the table. I’m arguing that they can’t be treated as exclusive to men’s issues nor can they be treated like they are the only issues that matter nor can they be treated as the sole representation of the entire issue as a whole.

        For example I mentioned the things that were brought up in the proposal for a Council on Men and Boys. Truthfully if such a council is not made I’d be fine with it as long as some serious care and attention is paid to the items in the proposal. Would it really hurt women to look at these things? Apparently it would because the loss of foucs on women (or assurances that men as a class how power as if that proves that the issue in question is really not an overall issue, just millions and millions of isolated occurance I suppose) is often the point used to argue against looking at men’s issues.

        This us versus them mentality is part of why we are in our current reality. Him signing the Lily Ledbetter Act is not an act against men, it is an act for people. So while I agree that we do need to make sure male victims are supported, I disagree that Obama is anti-men.
        Agreed. Which is why I don’t say that Obama is anti-men. I wouldn’t say that Obama actively wants men to fail but rather that he (and a lot of these powerful leaders that I am constantly told I have some sort of rapport with because I share gender with them, despite what the record actually shows) doesn’t seem to care that men are hurting and with attempts to bring up men’s issues being met with accusations of privileged whining and being a front for trying to hurt women it’s not surprising he is not so receptive.

        If you’ll notice in my comment it wasn’t about trying to say that women have had enough helping hand. It was about trying to lend men a helping hand.

        I understand warning against the possibility of making men the sole spot light when it comes to gender (although I can’t help but notice that some of the people that are worried about that seem to have no problem with the spotlight being squarely on women….). But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about actually bringing the issues that men face to the table of discussion rather then the illusion that men have no issues (exception being when the issue is something that men are doing to women, then yes we are a collective) or that they are being taken care of by “our fellow men” or that they are not as important as women’s issues or whatever other nonsense.

        Again I’m all for looking for ways to bring the issues of men and women together. But that is going to be a hard road when trying to bring up men in their own right is in and of itself seen as anti-woman or when men can only be brought up when it’s through mention of women or as a footnote on the discussion about women or when telling men what we need to be doing in order to help women or make ourselves better for women (such pleas are often more about chivalry than unity).

      • @Paul: At least where I live, the idea that women can’t and don’t have as much sex and with whom ever they choose isn’t true is simply a fallacy. How many sexual revolutions does one need to feel free. This whole slut shaming paranoia in today’s world, is over the top. Madonna gets more popular every-time she fuuks somebody else’s husband or boyfriend. And there are millions of women out there in the world like her. Are there some men who do this,of course there are. But there are also men who ALLOW their female partners to have outside sexual relationships without the hint of social condemnation. There are many who swing or do orgies or other types of behaviors, like poly amorous. It long over due that women stop applying to all men the mores and values of some men..
        The mores from which this kind of slut shaming ideology comes from is more specific to certain demographics than others. And men, who fuuk around can be and are slut-shamed also;or have you never heard of Bill Clinton to name just one of many examples.Finally, it is not shaming to prefer someone how hasn’t had much sex as a partner.

      • @Paul: I don’t know that the president is anti male but I don’t trust him to be male positive either.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I think the distinction here is that he CHOSE (along with his team) THIS photo to post at the biggest moment of the entire year. What does that mean?

      Not so much the existence of the photo, or even the popularity, but rather — what does it mean that they chose THIS one? And then it went wildly viral.

      • I appreciate you trying to get some conversation going but I’m not sure the choice of photo means a lot, much less any implications about modern masculinity.

        Now if the photo has the effect of saying something about modern masculinity that cool and all. I’m doubting that making a statement about modern masculinity was actually taken into consideration when that photo was chosen.

        I supposed you could argue that not taking it into consideration in itself could be a statement…

        And I would wonder if the millions and millions that gave it record making attention do so for the sake of making such a statement.

    • @Danny: You are so right in your analysis. For me the president’s obvious desire, along with the Huff-post, to play the” new” male card, falls flat. I don’t find him to be a strong supporter of any significant male positive policies or ideas. All he does is point out how bad we are( never women) and he thinks the answer to male problems , if he even thinks they exist at all, is to man up.
      It is interesting to me that so many women and men will praise this photo yet ignore how men get screwed by the courts and the system for trying to BE fathers and presumably hug their children in the process. The only time we seem to want to support men is when he is doing something for women or children.

  3. It says that it is OK for a masculine man to be publicly vulnerable and emotional. A wonderful thing to behold.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    Is it just me, or is “four more years” a pretty ambivalent slogan? Some people are happy about this, others are terribly depressed about this. (I’m in the former group, but I’d be happier with a more dynamic slogan. This is hardly the stuff of motivational rhetoric.)

  5. There is room for compassion in politics, not just singular glory.

  6. Joanna Schroeder says:

    I think it looks a little bit like, “Four more years of hugging!”

    Which I think we can all support.

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