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Opening Arguments

First Lady Felix

President Obama, on Michelle's influence:

First Lady Michelle Obama has played the role of Felix to her husband’s Oscar during their entire 20-year partnership, President Obama revealed.

“I had this little bachelor apartment that Michelle refused to stay in because she thought it was a little, uh . . . you know, pizza boxes everywhere,” President Obama says in April’s Vogue.

“When she came, I had to get her a hotel room.”

The first lady chimed in, “That place caught on fire.”

So while the president might look like America’s debonair leader, it takes an executive order from Michelle for him to put his coat on a hanger.

“And what Michelle has done is to remind me every day of the virtues of order,” the chief executive said. “Being on time. Hanging up your clothes. Being intentional about planning time with your kids.”

She civilizes him, in other words. The writer and social critic George Gilder created a minor controversy, especially among some feminist thinkers, when he said essentially that -- women are a civilizing influence on men -- in his 1986 book "Men and Marriage."

Gilder, in his seminal Men and Marriage, states that “the crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and male biology to the long term horizons of female sexuality.” He argues that females are the basis of civilization and that they are the ones responsible for the future that men usually try to escape from. “Once the man marries he can change,” writes Gilder. “He has to change, for his wife will not long have him if he remains in spirit a single man. He must settle his life, and commit it to the needs of raising a family…He must submit…to the values of maternal morality and futurity.” Gilder also argues that women are more confident in their identity than men because of their physical processes. Thus, men, to a large extent, must learn masculine identity.

I think time has been kind to his theory and more people are willing to accept it now. Maybe a better way to put it so that can't be labeled sexist is to say that we bring out the best in each other.