Looks like everybody is about to stop talking about Jenna Bush Hager's "Hidden Fences" Golden Globes flub and her recent family secret reveal that her grandmother Barbara Bush only has 8 toes. Her new claim that her father, former U.S. president George W. Bush, is a feminist has quickly grabbed everybody's attention.
The former first daughter, her husband Henry Hager, and their daughters Mila, 4, and Poppy, 20 months, were recently featured in People's Most Beautiful issue, landing a portrait in the "My Beautiful Family" section. In the accompanying interview, Bush Hager discussed how her own upbringing influenced the way she's chosen to raise her children.
"I think the thing that my parents did so well and might surprise people, although I don't know why, is that they really wanted us to be curious, independent thinkers," the TODAY correspondent told People. "They wanted to raise us to have our own views and to be able to articulate them." She went on to say that, as a child, she and her twin sister Barbara Pierce Bush "felt sorry" for the little boys in their class, because of the confidence that former President Bush had instilled in them: "Our dad led us to believe that we were the smartest, most capable kids out there."
"People laugh at this, but I think my dad was a feminist," Bush Hager said of her father. "He showed us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. I want my girls to feel that way. I want them to feel strong and capable and feel like they can conquer the world."
As The Huffington Post points out, much of the "surprise" people might feel when hearing the conservative 43rd President be called a "feminist" has to do with his less-than-ideal track record when it came to women's rights policy during his presidency. During his first term, Bush's administration attempted to close the United States Women's Bureau, an agency within the Department of Labor that informs women about workplace rights. His presidency also saw the limiting of abortion access with the "Partial-Birth Abortion Act," which criminalized doctors knowingly performing later-term dilation and extraction abortion procedures, in 2003.
While respecting his own daughters and believing in their capabilities is certainly a good start, I'd argue that true feminism is actually a widespread respect of all women, outside of those you're genetically tied to. Regardless of his presidential legacy, it's good to hear that Bush Hager is committed to raising her daughters to be "independent thinkers," something that will hopefully turn the tide for future generations when it comes to women's rights and gender equality.
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