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Michelle Obama Doesn't Think Women Can Have It All

Can a woman really have it all: a healthy relationship, a flourishing career, balanced family life, etc.? Probably not—at least, not at the same time, according to Michelle Obama. Speaking at the Brooklyn, NY stop on her Becoming book tour, Michelle Obama opened up about her struggle to balance her marriage and career and advised the audience to abandon the notion that "having it all" exists.

During the conversation, the night's moderator, Elizabeth Alexander, brought up a line from the book in which Michelle Obama stated, "Even a happy marriage can be a vexation," to which Obama replied, "[Marriage], it is hard."

"I love my husband and we have a great marriage and had a great marriage but a marriage is hard work. And I say that because I see too many young people who frivolously enter into marriage, they think the love and the courtship part has something to do with what marriage is and it doesn't," she explained. 

Elsewhere in her response, Michelle recalled her struggle to reconcile that marriage isn't exactly equal. While Barack was campaigning to become senator of Illinois, Michelle was left to take care of their two children, Malia and Sasha Obama, and balance her career as a lawyer. 

"Marriage still ain't equal y'all, it ain't equal. I tell woman that whole 'you can have it all...' nope, not at the same time--that's a lie. And its not always enough to ‘Lean In,' cause that sh-t doesn’t work," she continued, as the crowd erupted after witnessing the Former First Lady swear. Michelle was referencing Sheryl Sandberg's "lean in" approach, which was the cornerstone of the Facebook COO's 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

In it, Sandberg suggested women have the blueprint to drive workplace equality, from negotiating tactics to taking a seat at the table, and believed woman can "have it all." However, in a 2017 interview with USA Today, Sandberg recognized that four year since the book's release, women were still overlooked. 

"My goal is very clear, and I wrote about it in Lean In, which is that women run half our companies and countries and men run half our homes. As much as I wish that could happen in four years, I don't think that's a likely time period," she explained. "But I think it can happen sooner than we think. Part of it is having that aspiration and that goal. I think we too often suffer from the tyranny of low expectations."

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