"Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race — or when they notice that happening to someone else," Obama wrote. "It's important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it's important that their dad is a feminist, because now that's what they expect of all men."
In the piece, Obama acknowledged the disproportionate burdens his mother and wife faced as working women. He then admitted that raising two daughters has opened his eyes even more to the social pressures and challenges young women face today.
Recognizing his own male privilege, he wrote, was the first step toward seeing how gender inequality affects men and women alike.
"It is absolutely men's responsibility to fight sexism too." — Barack Obama
"We need to break through these limitations," Obama wrote. "We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs."
Although Obama has publicly self-identified as a feminist before, it's still disappointingly rare for American men to label themselves feminists. In January, a national survey published by the Washington Post suggested only about 23% of men actually considered themselves feminists.
Obama's essay is a step toward encouraging men to view feminism as a universal human struggle, not strictly a women's issue. He also emphasized how important it is for men to work at creating equality at home and in their personal relationships, in addition to pledging their public support for gender equality.
"It's easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there's a right way and a wrong way to be a man," he wrote. "But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren't me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself."
Four more years, please?