George W. Bush is a feminist, daughter says
Jenna Bush Hager thinks her father, President George W. Bush, is a feminist, pointing to the way he raised her and twin sister Barbara.
Speaking to People Magazine for their World’s Most Beautiful issue, the former first daughter acknowledged that people laugh at the idea.
“People laugh at this, but I think my dad was a feminist. 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,” Bush Hager, 35, said.
Bush Hager said she and her sister “always felt sorry for the boys in (our) class because our dad led us to believe that we were the smartest, most capable kids out there.”
The idea of the former president as a feminist isn’t new: His 2004 campaign targeted women voters with a project called “W stands for Women.” And one of his major post-presidency initiatives is expanding women’s rights in Afghanistan.
More than eight years after her family left the White House, Bush Hager credited both of her parents for raising independent thinkers.
“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. They wanted to raise us to have our own views and to be able to articulate them,” the former teacher and current NBC correspondent said.
Proof of that independence: Sister Barbara attended a fundraiser for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Paris in October 2016. (Their father did not vote for a presidential candidate himself.)
Bush Hager declared herself a “proud” feminist in 2015.
“There is nothing wrong with the word ‘feminism.’ Anyone that’s for women — which I am, as a woman, as the mother of a little girl, and as someone who’s worked with women all over the world, what’s wrong with supporting women? There’s nothing wrong with that. I would say I’m a feminist, and a proud one,” she said in a conversation at South by Southwest.
Some feminists may disagree that all of the 43rd President’s policies completely lined up with feminist rhetoric.
In 2009, for example, his administration changed a Title IX requirement, allowing the university to prove it was meeting the athletic interests of women by carrying out surveys of students’ interest and abilities in sports. And in 2001, Bush restored the “Mexico City policy,” which said taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for or promote abortion.
Bush Hager is perhaps the most public member of her family today, appearing on NBC’s Today Show nearly daily. She recently got into some trouble on the air, revealing a closely held family secret: Grandmother Barbara Bush only has eight toes.
“Ganny, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said it. But it happened with age!” she said.