First lady Michelle Obama has caused controversy in the past due to her frequent use of race-based rhetoric in public addresses. During a recent interview, she prompted similar backlash by sharing her thoughts on gender equality.
The supposed gender wage gap and similar issues have been frequent themes of Obama’s advocacy over the past eight years. Speaking before the United State of Women Summit in D.C. last week, however, she extended the conversation to include what she believes is an unfair division of labor between men and women.
Though her husband recently issued a directive instructing schools not to divide students based on traditional gender markers, Michelle Obama told interviewer Oprah Winfrey she has identified a clear difference between the sexes. When it comes to making time for the important things in life, she declared, men have it much easier.
Winfrey, whose first public presidential endorsement was for Barack Obama ahead of the 2008 election, asked the first lady for any tips she could offer overextended mothers across America.
“I actually took this on even before I became first lady,” Obama replied. “Even as a lawyer, even as the vice president at a hospital, one of the things I realized is that if you do not take control over your time and your life, other people will gobble it up.”
Her advice to “prioritize yourself” was generally well-received, but it was her next declaration that upset many viewers of both genders.
Winfrey declared that she has never “heard a man say, ‘You know, I just don’t have the time. I just don’t. I don’t find a way to balance.’”
The reason, Obama insisted, is that men cannot relate to the struggles women face.
“You know why?” she shot back. “‘Cause they don’t have to balance anything. Sorry.”
Social media critics were quick to rebut Obama’s assessment with a mix of sarcasm and ire.
— Bleuteaux Fett (@bleuteaux) June 20, 2016