Happy Presidents Day! Here’s the Women Who Did All The Work.

Happy Presidents Day! We thought about doing a Top Ten about nice things our dear American presidents have done for the homogay community, but unfortunately nobody has really ever done anything for us until like last year. So instead I proposed “Ten Hottest First Ladies” but somehow that seemed inappropriate or objectifying or something so we changed the title to:




10. Edith Wilson (28th)

Edith was the first female president of the United States. Because of the patriarchy, her husband Woodrow Wilson is commonly cited as the 28th president of the United States. However, Woodrow had a stroke in 1819 so Edith just ran the g-ddamn show and nobody even knew that Woodrow was sick until he died in 1924. They’d never get away with this now because of TMZ and the internet, hello look what happened to Jed Bartlett.


9. BETTY FORD (38th)

Probably when your children have children, they’ll just think Betty Ford was a famous Interventionist because of the Betty Ford Center (home-away-from-home for our Lady Lohan) and they will not even know that Betty wasa housewife who argued passionately for equal rights with women, a mother of four who mused about drugs, abortion and premaritial sex aloud and without regret” or that she was pro-choice, a staunch feminist, and big into the equal rights amendment. According to one source, Betty Ford wore a mood ring once, which are a sign of devil worship and evidence that you went to the bowling alley and put a quarter in that thing and got a mood ring from when things were still groovy.

Also, Betty Ford is from Michigan! GRAPIDS 4LYFE.


7. Abigail Adams (2nd)

“In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could…

Abigail Adams was a feminist before feminists burned bras because instead they wore corsets or whatever. In that picture it looks like she has a nice rack, but that could just be the artist. Anyhow she had this idea that women should be allowed to go to school too and that slaves shouldn’t be slaves, which back in the stone age was very revolutionary.

Also she did not let these pressing issues get in the way of her passion for fashion, because she “believed that the more revealing Napoleonic-style clothing then popular were too indecorous.” I don’t even know what that word means, but I bet girlfriend was speaking the TRUTH.


6. Rosalynn Carter (39th)

All of you who are crazy, which includes most of the people who work here, should get down on your knees and thank Rosalynn for being such an advocate for Mental Health. She even testified before a Senate committee on behalf of the Mental Health System Bill (second first lady to ever testify before the Senate committee) because you know, what would I do without my Wellbutrin and what would you do without your Seroquel. Yell at each other, that’s what. And everyone should be really nice and be in love all the time, forever and ever.

She made the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism (giving journalists the cash to do serious reporting on mental health/mental illness related topics to promote public awareness and erase stigma) and worked on legislation and lawmaking which contributed to the 2008 passing of a bill requiring parity in health insurance coverage for mental illness.

She does a million other things too, like Habitat for Humanity, which was the only thing I knew about her husband until whenever we learned that part of history in school.


5. Lady Bird Johnson (36th)

Lady Bird Johnson wrote a really good blog. Like a really fucking awesome blog. However this was back in the paleolithic era, before computers or blogs existed, so it was called ‘a diary.’ It wasn’t Just Another WordPress.com Weblog, it was the story of what it feels like for a girl who becomes First Lady after everybody’s favorite human was assassinated in Texas. While acting as Second Lady, she often traveled with JFK in Jackie O’s place b/c Jackie O was preggers.

She was totally prepared though because she was a total NERD and FIRST LADYSHIP JUNKIE who knew everything about the spot before hanging her first boxy blazer in the closet (like the people who go on Survivor and they already know how to win Survivor ’cause they’ve been watching it since before Elisabeth Hasselbeck became a living breathing Bedbug from Hell).

Lady Bird was a Civil Rights advocate, the first First Lady to hold the Bible during her hubbie’s swearing-in (if I ever become president I would like to be sworn in with one hand on Stephen Dunn: New and Collected Poems sidenote), planted wildflowers all over the country, beautified highways, helped create the Head Start program and was the first First Lady to have her own press secretary and go on her own “whistlestop tour,” whatever that is.


4. Jacqueline Kennedy (35th)

She had style she had flair she was there, and so just like The Nanny, Jackie O became the first lady. Jackie O’s primary focuses included being pregnant, redecorating the white house, making The White House more historic and lovely and then making video tours of it, and looking super foxy.

Most importantly, Jackie O was related to Little Edie and Big Edie of Grey Gardens, and they talked about Jackie A LOT.

Have you seen The House of Yes? Totally weird movie, right? But also awesome.


3. Hillary Clinton (42nd)

I mean — DUH x500. I turn this over to my BFF Haviland Stillwell, who is REALLY into Hillary For REAL:

“Hmm…well I do love the hillary. She’s smart. She and Bill worked together during his presidency. They were a team. She worked extremely hard to get healthcare reform passed, and even though it didn’t, her plan paved the way for universal healthcare. She dealt gracefully with the hideous, ridiculous personal insults and scandals that were sadly brought into her marriage and Bill’s administration. Powerhouse human being, great example for all of us on overcoming drama and staying professional, keeping calm and carrying on.”

Also in this photograph they remind me of my parents:

Also she supports gay rights and Planned Parenthood and this happened:


2. Eleanor Roosevelt (32nd)

Eleanor Roosevelt was queer as a three-dollar bill, which is why she’s pictured on the three-dollar bill, which is so rare that some might say it’s non-existent. That’s how that expression came about. I know! You totally didn’t expect to become so educated about history today, and now here you are, learning shit on your day off! Ellie had an affair with a lady-reporter Lorena Hickok and wore a ring from her during FDR’s swearing-in ceremony, like in the Indigo Girls song.

FDR was sick with polio for a lot of his presidency so she did a lot of the talking and communicating and traveling and stuff, like Carmen Sandiego, and also wrote a weekly newspaper column which, if it existed today, would probably be on Autostraddle. Eleanor Roosevelt was “very busy” as a first lady and was a go-to gal for the African-American community w/r/t Civil Rights issues.

Also, although I initially credited Cosmo magazine with this life-changing piece of advice, Eleanor Roosevelt was actually the one who said “do one thing every day that scares you.”


1. Michelle Obama (44th)

Sorry, but the thing about Michelle Obama is that she is really, really, really, REALLY, really really good looking. She’s seriously the hottest thing to step into the White House since Jackie O, she has serious sartorial elegance. Furthermore, she’s advocated for things I care about like poverty awareness, the importance of organic food, arts education, supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service and promoting healthy eating and physical activity for the little ones.

Also, she’s tall and smart.

Here I’ve made a Michelle Obama collage for you:


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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3202 articles for us.


  1. I want to hug this list, Riese. I love first ladies. Like a lot.
    I am also REALLY INTO Hillary Clinton. She’s my number one feeling basically all of the time. That is not an exaggeration.

    Hillary is the Harry Potter of my heart.

  2. Ohhh Riese. You just made my whole week. I’m so glad you included Betty Ford, and SO PUMPED for GR shoutout. I miss the homeland.

    That photo of Hillary and Bill looks like my parents, too. It makes me want to look at my their’ wedding photos. I think they thought I was laughing at them when I would thumb through their photo albums for hours, but really, I was just excited to have evidence of their former hipness.

  3. I paused Tegan and Sara to watch that video of Hillary’s badassery. She is such a boss. Four for you, Hillary.

  4. Pretty cool, but why were there IM abbreviations in some of the captions? It seems silly when so much is written out.

    • it took me a long time to figure out what you meant by “IM abbreviations” — w/r/t I picked up from reading a lot of David Foster Wallace, who uses that even in his formal writing. I don’t know, I guess I just really didn’t think about it.

  5. I love the Indigo Girls reference! It gives me hope that people relatively close to my age still like these awesome women. Haha

    And fantastic list, this totally makes up for the fact that I am sitting in class right now because my university refuses to acknowledge Monday holidays.

  6. i’m a public-schooled Canadian, so I may be wrong here, but [SPOILER ALERT]

    I’m pretty sure Eleanor was steppin’ out on Franklin, not Teddy … In fact, I’m pretty sure Theodore R. is her uncle

  7. This is my new favorite list of anything maybe ever.

    “According to one source, Betty Ford wore a mood ring once, which are a sign of devil worship and evidence that you went to the bowling alley and put a quarter in that thing and got a mood ring from when things were still groovy.”

    Maybe I’m just crazy tired, but that had me doubling over with laughter. Real life actual doubling.

  8. what is president’s day? and how does one celebrate?
    today is family day in canada … whatever the fuck that means

  9. Fuck yeah Michelle Obama collage! (right click, save)
    I almost feel like the secret service is going to come after me for saving that picture to my hard drive.

  10. Eric Mathew always talks about how one of his grade school history teachers had this poster in her room that was just a big picture of Eleanor and underneath it said, “History set the record a little TOO straight”

    Best poster ever.

  11. I’ve seen The House of Yes. It’s totally weird – I’ll give you that. Interesting dialogue but I don’t know if I would watch it again knowing how it ends.

    Hillary Clinton will always be no. 1 with me. So much so that I’ll ignore the fact I hate Chris Matthews and watch President of the World tonight, in which they’re bound to talk about Hillary a little bit.

  12. in my professional canadian opinion, betty ford and lady bird johnson look exactly alike. that is all.

  13. That Hillary video is from 2009, actually, not last week – it’s just been floatin’ around again because of all the PP shtuff going on.


  14. am i the only one who scrolled back up to look at the rack on the painting of abigail adams


  16. This article is smart and funny. Well done.

    Hillary Clinton and I share a name; so I love her too.

  17. Being brought up in a conservative republican home (thanks Dad), I was taught that Hillary was a scary witchy woman. But hearing that little video clip, just that, made me realize that perhaps I am totally toooootally wrong.
    I wanna boom bang bang with ya Jacki O.
    That is all.

    • Are you my sister, because it sounds like we have the same dad?
      (He also hates Rachel Maddow with a burning passion)

  18. This is the best history lesson EVAR.

    Also, Hillary owned that shit. She makes me feel better about the state of our government actually.

  19. i spent an entire semester of college in a class about the 1st ladies of america. this was just as informative and i think i learned the same amount of stuff.

    also WOO WOOO abigail was born in my home town (watch BLOW, that guy grew up legits straight across the street from her house). it was a good field trip in 5th grade.

  20. Riese,

    Great article! What about writing another one on foreign female presidents? Michelle Bachelet for instance did a great job in Chile. Hope you consider the idea!

  21. Is it just me or does Jackie O look kind of like Spencer’s sister on Pretty Little Liars?
    Oh and I love this article, duh.

  22. Hi ladies,

    As a History Teacher and a strong proponent of women’s rights, I must say that Hillary and the “progressives” were really not on the correct side of things if you do some research. Woodrow Wilson who Hillary modeled herself after, who was President in 1913-1921, was actually a major roadblock for us women and the suffrage movement.
    Also, I actually have in my possession, a “Votes for Women” banner that was worn in a 1913 D.C. parade protesting Woodrow Wilson.

  23. Laughed my ass off/will never look at Abigail Adams the same again. Thanks.

    “Abigail Adams was a feminist before feminists burned bras because instead they wore corsets or whatever. In that picture it looks like she has a nice rack, but that could just be the artist.”

  24. Pingback: Epic First Ladies | Pour Les Femmes

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