Regarding the Jan. 21 news article “Feminists split by first lady’s ‘work’ ”:

Count me as a feminist who is not unhappy with Michelle Obama’s choice to put her career on hold and be “mom-in-chief” for a while. In fact, count me as a feminist who is unhappy with other feminists telling any women what they must or must not do. We seem uncomfortably close to the original problem — the one that feminism was supposed to address.

Feminism was about removing barriers and expectations and opening opportunities for women to make their own choices about what is right for their careers, families and reproductive lives. If we all must conform to a specific lifestyle, we have merely replaced one set of rules (“Stay home with your family or else become a nurse, secretary or teacher”) with another (“If you are not working for pay and climbing the corporate ladder, you are hurting the women’s movement and your work has no value”).  

Have we not gotten past this old quarrel? I salute those who have chosen (for personal or economic reasons) the struggle to balance work and family life. I also salute those who have chosen to remain at home and be mom-in-chief, even if it means sacrificing some of their own opportunities. And, yes, I salute those who choose to have careers and not families.  

The common theme here is choice. If feminism has succeeded, women should be able to put their careers on hold for a time, to address their own or their families’ needs, as the first lady has done.

Lois Rawson, Alexandria