During the '08 campaign season, I cringed at comments made about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's "hotness" and at the idea of the porno "Nailin' Sarah Palin"--even though Palin's politics, her demeanor, and pretty much everything about her, made me throw up in my mouth a little. And to be sure, if Palin had become vice president, continued objectification of her and ongoing commentary about her of sexual nature would have bugged me to no end--even as I packed up and headed to Canada. And yet...
I think President Barack Obama is smokin' hot.
I haven't wanted to say that publicly. But it seems that in my silence, I may be in the minority. From the hosts of "The View" to Jane Q. Public, many American women haven't minced words: They think Barack Obama is sexy. To be sure, sexiness is in the eye of the beholder, but why are we even beholdin' the Leader of the Free World in those terms in the first place? Shouldn't we focus solely on his policies, his leadership, his character? Is it a double standard for someone with feminist sensibilities to even notice? Further, is talk of Obama's sexiness merely a 21st-century expression of America's long-standing stereotype of blacks as hypersexual or primarily carnal beings? After all, what other American president has had a dildo fashioned in his honor?
I posed these questions to some of my closest Facebook Friends, and here's some of what they said:
Sexy takes on an entirely different meaning when it is attached to President Obama. He is more than the carnal ramifications often attached to the word along with the usual images that word conjures. Obama sexy brings intelligence, power, presence, commands attention just by entering a room. He is strong, decisive, articulate, funny,attentive, awesome speaker...need I go on? And let's not forget that he definitely has swagger! Undeniably so!--Mari Walker
I think it's human nature to assess the relative desirability of other people - it's not whether one notices but whether one talks about it. It seems that the current direction of feminism is towards "what is good for the gander is good for the goose"- easier to follow the model of behavior established by men than to change their behavior.Another topic of conversation!] And if it is a given that women will also talk in terms of sex appeal - well, to begin with Obama's the best-looking president we've had since JFK. Add to that intelligence, eloquence, charm, and - oh yes - power and you have a veritable recipe for sexiness. Perhaps it's inevitable that it would be mentioned. That we dwell on it rather than on his policies is probably symptomatic of our
celebrity-obsessed, hyper-sexualized culture...--a mama-artist in Pittsburgh
Sexy is as sexy does.--M.O.
Mari said it the best, he is sexy but his sexuality encompasses so much more.--Y.C.
As an expert on Sexiness, I confirm Mr. President as zszszsexy! Poise, Confidence, Big Brains, Sense of Humor really nice and symmetrical facial features, beautiful skin, and super fit bod. Sounds like a package to me. OH YEAH, forgot to mention that he is the President....immediately triple the value of the characteristics listed above and add that he is the LEADER of the Free World. MEOW!--RBS
Power is exhilarating, and exhilaration is sexy. How else do you explain how many women Bill Clinton got - even pre-presidency? Ugh. But President Obama has the unique combination of good looks, charisma, power and an honest, you can depend on me kind of face. Combine it with his incredible mind, and meeeeow. It only helps that he's the president trying to lead us out of one of the country's most depressed times in decades.--J.S.
I do think some of us feminists may have painted ourselves in a corner by adopting a mind-body split rhetoric, that we want to be seen for more than our busts and butts. It was absolutely necessary in order for quite a few individual men and the patriarchy to take us seriously. Thankfully, with the 3rd Wave, sex-positive feminists, are correcting that rhetoric, that we are moving towards being able to say, "Yeah, I'm a body and a brain. Take both of them seriously and respectfully." And we can say the same about men, esp, the man leading our country right now.--A.P.
I thought he was sexy the first time I heard him at the DNC in 04(?) It wasn't just a physical "ooh he so fine" type thing. It was his delicate-featured, high-yellow cute boyishness combined with that booming, commanding voice and confidence that made me a little weak in the knees. The juxtaposition of softness (his looks) and hardness (his personality) is what's sexy to me. He's a little light, a little skinny and he smokes, but he could get it. ...lemme put it this ridiculous Mary way: If DeBarge had a 6th member -a rapper, it would be Obama. He'd fit in cause he's light, skinny, slightly feminine in that 80's androgynous way, but he can spit fire like a thug nucka! That's so hot!! --Mary C-W
Some Friends pointed to Bill Clinton and JFK as Obama's sexy-prez predecessors. (I've heard "Bill Clinton" and "sexy" used in the same sentence, but I don't find him sexy. In his heyday, I found something about him mesmerizing--charisma?--but I never found him sexy.):
First, Obama is hardly the first heartthrob president — in recent memory there were similar reactions to Clinton and Kennedy, and I'm sure if you look back in history, there were others seen this way too. I really object to this idea that somehow feminism means that we can't think of "serious people" sexually.Sexuality is a powerful part of our humanity that affects everything we do — perhaps we should take *it* more seriously. Personal magnetism is a powerful force in politics — if our president is a hottie, that's just one more level of influence he can use on our national behalf.--EPB
Hasn't Bill Clinton had a dildo fashioned in HIS honor? If not, he ought to have. I DO think Obama is sexy, for the same reasons I think anyone is sexy: he's smart, funny (for a politician) and cares deeply about the work he does. Be STILL my heart. Honestly, though, I think people thought about Bill in a more physical way than they do our cerebral Barack.--N.S.
Is Obama sexy? Heck, yeah! I've even had a couple of 'sex' dreams about him, except in the dreams there's no actual sex, we're just sitting together talking companionably. I read what the other women wrote and it got me thinking as to what is sexy. Concerning Presidents, I found JFK, Clinton, and Obama all to be sexy. I would guess it's a combination of their politics, their intelligence and common sense, their looks, their charisma, their values, their total package. After finding out about JFK's and Clinton's affairs, they did not look nearly as sexy or appealing to me as they had. JFK had the total package, a youthful, good looking man with a lovely wife and kids, and you believed the Camelot picture of a loving relationship and family. After the truth came out we felt betrrayed. Obama has that same total package, poltics I agree with, intelligence, grace, charm, good looks, lovely wife and kids, but you also get the feeling that's it's totally genuine, that he and Michelle truly love each other, and his family is of the utmost importance to him, and that years from now there won't be the betrayal because it was all a sham. It rings true. He's genuine. I find that damn sexy.--M.L.
About the Clinton dildo...I never found former President Clinton sexy. At. All. Intriguing? Brilliant? Charismatic? Yes to all three. But not sexy. I think it's because he had no "bodily relationship" with his wife, Hilary. They look almost awkward with each other, at least deeply uncomfortable with each others' bodies. ([And] his infidelities don't help that.)Why I find [Obama] so absolutely sexy is not only that he has the brains and can break down what's in his brain so that folks can understand (the sign of a great teacher) and he seriously rocks a suit, he seems very comfortable with his body and with those he loves the most, his daughters and especially his wife. It's as if he flows towards First Lady Obama whenever he's around her. It also helps that he's being a bit of a global citizen.--A.P.
Other Friends found little or nothing "racially sinister" (to steal commenter "J"'s phrase) about the Obama sexy-talk:
Definitely not racially driven. As others have pointed out, Kennedy and Clinton were portrayed similarly. I think people talk about Obama being sexy because as a nation and a culture, we are starved for the ideals he seems to represent physically, emotionally and spiritually.--C.S.
For me smart IS sexy. Well not just smart. Smart, pointed, and dare I use the term, "articulate?" Just listening to him gets me going. Granted, if Obama looked like the Troll King, he might only be ear sexy but not eye sexy. But he doesn't. He is an attractive man. Not pretty or glamorous, but he has a face that draws you in. The whole family is attractive. Are there racial connotations in this appraisal? I do not believe so. I think we are naturally drawn to what is attractive. Kennedy got similar appraisal and Wild Bill Clinton was said to have an incredible magnetism in person that was sexy. The only thing not sexy about President Obama is his smoking. That's just nasty.--Liana Roxanne Clark
Well, I for one think both the Obamas are sexy. It may have race-based connotations in some corners, but I also think it's age-related. They are young and they are very fit in a way that let's say, Bill Clinton never was! People thought the Kennedys were sexy too, for similar reasons. I think it has more to do with that--youth, fitness, style, cute kids. People are just in love with them. I know I am. The race-based piece of it for me is that the historic nature of having the Obamas in the White House adds to my giddiness at them. I like Obamas politics, I LOVE that he's broken down the race barrier to the presidency; I love that Michelle and the girls are there for my own Black daughters to see and learn that they can be anything and go anywhere in life. It's all so exciting. And "sexy" is short hand for "exciting" in our culture.--Shannon LC Cate
I never particularly found Bill Clinton sexy...freaky, maybe, but not sexy. Hilary didn't do it for me, either. Interestingly (to me only, I'm sure) on Sunday I watched a DVR recording of a Discovery Channel piece on sexual attraction, and despite learning about all types of brain parts that were rather unsexy, I did find it very enlightening and liberating to better understand how our definitions of "sexiness" and our ways of quickly discerning it are largely driven by our most basic physical drive to procreate. The things many of us find sexy in Barack Hussein Obama (besides the fact that he can actually have that name *and* be called Leader of the Free World) are probably the things some hard-to-remember-the-name-of part of our brain is telling us are good mating partner characteristics. I'm not sure exactly where I was going with that, except to say...I want one, too? I do, however, think that there must be some line in how our appreciation of someone's sexual attractiveness drives our treatment of him or her and therein lies the problem. The reduction of women to merely sexual beings has been a factor in the subjugation of women. Not so for men. And, frankly, even though there is the also the issue of race, I think that because he just doesn't fit into many of the Black boxes that have been reserved for Black people in this country (by others or by ourselves), he isn't as "vulnerable" to the racial implications of acknowledging his sexiness. I really think that for other folks, even though, yeah, he's Black, he's perceived as a different kind of Black and that allows him to step through some stuff that might catch someone else in an ugly web of sexual stereotypes.--T.M
Physical beauty, grace, intellect, charm, humor, an apparently genuine appreciation of women, power... what's not to lust after? (D, I think NOT fantasizing at least a little about Obama would be more indicative of some kind of oddly biased response!). But I posed your question on my FB page, and the most succinct, quotable response so far is local parenting essayist Anne-Fitten-Glenn's "It's all in the ears."--Genie Maples
As for the race aspect: I still think there's a held-breath anxiety underneath some people's statements of finding him sexy is tantamount to thinking the speaker is harboring some Mandingo fantasy about the man. Of course, that's not true all the time. "Oh, I think the man is hot," IMO, is fine. And sometimes we have to acknowledge that his particular gene mix manifested into a uniquely physically hot-looking man. The way *his* hair grays, the way *his* mocha skin looks like, as my mom says of him, he just patted off the last shower-drops or looks like he just came in from a good walk, the way *his* lean musculature eases into a room or runs on the beach. By saying that doesn't equal to us saying, therefore, *all* Black and/or biracial men are the same way. And the compliment may imply that, yeah, we want to do *him* 12 ways to Sunday, but that doesn't mean we think he's inherently Mr. Long Schlong 'cause he's a Black man and, therefore, all Black and/or biracial guys are that way.--A.P.
I have nothing more to add. I totally agree with Mari's redefinition of what sexy is. With Erika about history and power. With Shannon about the whole Camelot/JKF allure of all the Obamas. Race is not a downside in this one. YAY!--F.A.
To find the picture of President Obama used on this post, I searched Google images for "Obama full body"--and found that the same search had been conducted about 795,000 times. Clearly, there's interest.
Obama-mania--appreciation for his style as well as his substance (and the appreciation for his marketability--I see you, Pepsi)--has inspired the use of his physical image in ways that range from the ridiculous to the sublime to the seriously problematic. Here are two that I find particularly...mentionable.
For the true Obama fan
President of Kickassistan?...Seriously?