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Michelle Obama on How Women Treat Each Other and Men Who 'Fail Up'

Michelle Obama

Obama said she is "concerned" about the message it sends to girls when more than 50 percent of women held Hillary Clinton to a higher standard and voted for Trump. 

Recalling the 2016 election and the majority of white women who voted for a man who bragged about grabbing and kissing women without consent over Hillary Clinton, former First Lady Michelle Obama told a group at the United State of Women summit--a forum to work toward empowering women and girls--in Los Angeles this weekend that she is "concerned" for women.

During a question and answer session with actress Tracee Ellis Ross, Obama leaned into the idea that Clinton was held to a higher standard than men who've run for the presidency and that it sets a bad precedent for young women and girls.

"In light of this last election, I'm concerned about us, as women, and what we think about ourselves and about each other. What is going on in our heads where we let that happen. So I do wonder what are young girls dreaming about, if we're still there?" Obama said, according to CNN. "When the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did instead, I mean, that says something about where we are, if we as women are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar that we don't have for men ... if we're not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president, compared to what?"

"I wish that girls could fail as bad as men do and be okay, because let me tell you, watching men fail up, it is frustrating to see a lot of men blow it and win," Obama said, adding that girls are still "taught to be perfect."

Obama has spoken about a need for solidarity among women before. At a conference last September she said that women who failed to vote for Clinton, "voted against their own voice," but her remarks this weekend were particularly pointed toward examining the past and building a better future for women:

"I think if we want our daughters to dream bigger than we did, then we have more work to do," she said of the next steps she believes women need to take to help one another. So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we're still too grateful to be at the table to really shift the thinking. And that's not a criticism, because for so many of us just getting to the table was so hard, right? So you're just holding on! But now we have to take some risks for our girls."

While Obama's point was to encourage women to fight for one another, she did not let men off the hook, and it wasn't the worst kind of offender she addressed. She leveled her comments at those fathers with daughters who tolerate a lack of diversity on the job.

"The workplace you work in -- the times you turn your head, you look the other way, the times you're sitting at a table where there are no people of color, no women," Obama said, according to Variety. "If you're tolerating that, that's the workplace that is going to be waiting for your little girl. You've sold her a bill of goods! You told her she could be anything, but you're not working to make sure that can be actualized."

Obama also didn't sugarcoat her answer when asked about whether or not she would run in 2020.

"Change starts close to home. So looking for the next person to run, and I don't mean to cut that off, but that's been our distraction. We're just going to wait for the next person to save us," Obama said, adding that people looked to her husband President Barack Obama to end racism and that didn't work.

"We still didn't get 'Yes We Can' right. It's not 'Yes You Can' it's 'Yes We Can.' Until we get that right, it doesn't matter who runs. I don't think I'm any different from Hillary [Clinton]," Obama said.

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