An alert reader wrote in just a little while ago to let us know about something he’d spotted on Fox News Wednesday afternoon. During a segment discussing conservative attacks against Michelle Obama, the wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, the network described the former as “Obama’s baby mama.” (Salon, video follows)
I’ll take the time to insert the top two definitions of “baby mama” courtesy of Urban Dictionary:
That’s funny, Michelle Obama doesn’t fit any of those definitions. It’s as if Fox is attempting to feel out exactly how much race baiting they can do without getting caught while seeing how negatively they can portray Michelle without getting caught all while trying to seem cute and invoking popular culture (Remember Baby Mama the movie guys? That’s tooooootally the sentiment we were going for!).
Now I’ve heard political analysts saying that women may in fact rally behind Obama after these attacks on his wife keep coming down the pike. I eagerly await feminist outrage at a married woman–in fact, any woman being painted as a whore for having a child. And I just know that people will pick up on the negative connotations directed at the Obama’s audacity to be black and have children–after all I’m sure everyone in the media remembers the damage the imaginary Welfare Queen myth caused to black women and how awfully these women continue to be treated in the media. People simply won’t stand for this…right?
Not to mention, the concept of “baby mama” depends on the couple being unmarried–so they’re using it wrong anyway. I also feel that it’s an attempt to try and force Michelle to the background–you know how the media feels about strong, intelligent women who don’t back down. They’re bitches and they need to know their place. I will be heartily disappointed if Hillary supporters don’t see the same sexist game being played against Michelle Obama while employing language and stereotypes that would never pass the sniff test if applied to a white candidates wife. Long story short–this shit has to stop and I would like to see women actually band together and stand up to it instead of shirking any such duty for the sake of racial solidarity in the political scene (I’m looking at you McCain defectors).
First and foremost, they’re trying to portray Michelle as a racial radical, conjuring up images of some supposed speech, that they’ve demanded the Obama campaign prove doesn’t exist, wherein she espouses radical views about “whitey”. Likewise, they’ve tried their hand at the “big scary emasculating black woman” myth by saying that she’s scary and frightening. How dare she have a voice and be an equal partner with her husband? They turned a fist bump into a possible terrorist symbol of solidarity because husbands and wives simply don’t greet each other this way. They are employing all of the methods used to try and frame Hillary Clinton as the bitch from hell who doesn’t know her place, but they’re also using tired racist rhetoric to call upon viewers supposed innate fear of blacks and of black women. She’s not tiny and does not defer to her husband and so she must be a threat–there is something wrong with her and they will find it. This latest “baby mama” crack is an attempt to embarrass her. It does have a negative connotation and a racist connotation. It says that she is not a wife and mother but just a baby mama–because black women can never be more and Michelle Obama certainly shouldn’t think she’s better than the way they view black women in general. “Know your place” is all I can hear in the litany of attacks from Fox news. Can you hear it too?*
I also hear a third grade level giggle at how Obama and Mama rhyme. Tee hee–his name is funny.
(The Huffington Post notes that Michelle Obama referred to Barack as her “baby’s daddy” in 2004 for fairness’ sake. However, I must say there’s a distinct difference between in group and out group–not even racially speaking although I do call upon that here but also for the couple. Teasing coming from within is much different than coming from without and playful teasing is not the spirit in which “baby mama” is being used here. Fox hates her and makes that much clear daily. Believe me, I’d like to believe they didn’t mean anything by it, but they’ve made it their job to lob attacks at Michelle from jump street in the hopes that something will stick. This is one of their more subtle jabs, meant to call upon prejudices they presume their audience has and will understand that will color their opinion of Michelle. Fox has been doing its damnedest to prove just how black and Obamas are. Calling upon their limited “black vocab” is one way to try and get that message across–they’re not like us. If you are still in doubt, imagine someone calling Hillary Clinton or Cindy McCain “baby mama” doesn’t work? Ask yourself why.)