At the inaugural Obama Summit in Chicago on Wednesday, Michelle Obama had some tough (but true) words for the male population: “Y’all need to get you some friends,” she said, to laughter from the audience.
“Get you some friends and talk to each other. Because that’s the other thing women do, we straighten each other out on things … Go talk to each other about your stuff. Because there’s so much of it. It’s so messy. Just talk about why you are the way you are.”
Obama appeared in conversation with poet Elizabeth Alexander, touching on everything from Twitter to childrearing in an almost hour-long discussion. But it was her comments on gender relations and how we can prevent the existence of, for example, men like Harvey Weinstein, that have gained the most traction. The former First Lady posited that many of the problems our society is facing when it comes to rape, sexual assault, and violence stem from how we raise boys.
“The problem in the world today is we love our boys and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit,” she said. “And that’s a we thing because we’re raising them.”
“When we think about women, in particular, we ask them to speak up, we ask them to speak their mind, to speak out against sexual harassment, to speak out against inequality, but if we don’t teach our young girls to speak at an early age, that doesn’t just happen. It takes practice to have a voice. You have to use it again and again and again before you can say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘don’t touch me’.”
Obama added that she is focusing on ensuring that her daughters, Sasha and Malia, are “sturdy and able to exist” in a world that’s very often “dangerous for women.”
The Obama Summit also featured appearances by Gloria Estefan, Aziz Ansari, Chance the Rapper, Rashida Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Prince Harry, Common, and, of course, the former President himself.