A tale of two first ladies

Earlier this week I read an article on USA Today about Ann Romney and Michelle Obama. A mere two weeks from the election, the article did not focus on their charity work, their undying support of the husbands, or their personal victories as women prominent in today’s political limelight. Instead, the article addressed the outfits they wore to the final presidential debate.

I found this … irritating. Once I moved past the initial shock of seeing the headline “Ann Romney wears de la Renta for debate” emblazoned on USA Today’s webpage, I scrolled down to look at the comments left beneath the article.  Most were calls to action from other readers reminding people to vote, complaints about the last four years or celebrating the prospect of the next four, or, in the case of a few particularly irate users, an argument over whether the cost of Ann Romney’s dress could have been put to better use feeding a family of four for a month.

What I didn’t see as I skimmed the article, however, was a comment on what bothered me most about it. I care about my appearance when I leave the house in the morning more than many of the people I know. I put lots of time into getting ready, but I was appalled that, so close to the election, the most insightful thing a reputable online news reporter could say about our nation’s First Lady is that she “recycled a look she’d worn earlier in the campaign season.”

Four years ago, Hilary Clinton lost the Democratic National Election. This year, there are no women in our two-party system vying for Commander in Chief. What we must realize, though, is that even as we elect our nation’s president, we will be electing a First Lady as well. This means we are electing a role model for young women in our nation.

Especially now, given the hullabaloo caused over student Katherine Fenton’s question about equal pay for women at the debate, women in this country need to be sure of their footing with a the First Lady. Fenton was berated by many a reporter and internet blogger for having dared beg questions of female equality, based simply on the claim that she was irresponsible. Evidence cited was from her personal twitter account, which, though removed now, allegedly shared her penchant for alcohol and sexually-suggestive jokes. Regardless of her personal life, a woman has the right to know why she’s paid seventy-five cents on the man’s dollar for equal work. More than a man, I think women need another woman in the White House to champion their importance.

So which potential First Lady would that be? I don’t see myself putting much stock in a woman who spends more time defending her husband than championing women’s rights, or who would agree with an intolerant stance on gay marriage. I don’t see that ostracizing one minority helps at all to raise another. For me, I see Michelle Obama as much more suited to our generation’s Rosie the Riveter. Four more years sounds fine.