“It’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time,” Obama said in response to the “lean In’ mantra made famous by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book by the same title.
At the same time, Obama also took aim at the idea of “having it all”.
“That whole ‘so you can have it all’. Nope, not at the same time,” she said, according to The Cut.
Why? Well one reason is that “marriage still ain’t equal, y’all,” according to Obama.
“So oftentimes, it’s not equal, and you feel a bit resentful about it. And so then it’s time to go to marriage counseling,” she said.
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Five years since Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead was published, the career advice that women need to “lean in” to their ambitions is being questioned more than ever. Seemingly, “leaning in” still hasn’t been enough.
Obama also apologised for her language, saying she “forgot where I was for a moment” although the upfront language did help the crowd erupt. “I thought we were at home, y’all. I was gettin’ real comfortable up in here. Alright, I’m back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t work.”
She spoke on stage with poet and essayist Elizabeth Alexander, and opened up about why she wrote about marriage counseling in her memoir. “People are like, ‘Oh, why’d she talk about marriage counseling?’ I’m like, ‘Duh.’ Marriage is hard, you know. It is hard,” she said according to Vanity Fair. “I love my husband, and we have a great marriage—and we’ve had a great marriage—but marriage is hard work.”
Obama said that marriage should be hard work, given it involves two independent individuals coming together to build a life forever — also, she was blunt about how kids can cause havoc on a relationship. “Kids are an interrupter; they mess it all up. Barack and I say that’s why they make ’em cute—’cause if they weren’t cute, you’d just leave ’em in a basket.”
Meanwhile, she also spoke about the world being a dangerous place for women. “It’s usually men who make it dangerous for us,” she said according to Hello Giggles. “And it doesn’t always look like physical abuse. It doesn’t always look the same. It’s those little cuts. Those little negative comments. it’s somebody, when you’re walking down the street and some man looks at you and makes a comment about you, as if you wanted… that’s a cut. That’s a slice into a woman’s self-esteem.”
Obama added that talking down to a woman, saying something that may damage her self esteem, is also a cut. Then there are the deep cuts that involve abuse, rape, and sexual assault.
“I want our men to understand that about what role they are playing to make us feel safe or unsafe.
“I grew up in safety and security. I grew up where I trusted men to take care of me. And I think that gave me a level of strength that carries me through to this day.”