Benedictine College / Youtube

The internet has blown up with debates about women and motherhood after Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered a commencement speech at the Catholic Benedictine College. Butker, who is also Catholic, admonished the graduating class to embrace traditional Catholic values such as being pro-life. He criticized COVID policy, abortion, IVF and surrogacy, and Pride month. Yet he sparked the most controversy when he addressed the women in the room.

“How many of you are sitting here now, about to cross this stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” he said. He then referenced his wife, Isabelle, and credited her role as homemaker for enabling his successes. The two met in high school, have been married since 2018, and have two children. “I’m on this stage today and able to be the man that I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” said the clearly emotional Butker. Critics accused Butker of misogyny, with a petition started online to have the 3-time Super Bowl champ fired. The Kansas City Star recommended firing Butker and replacing him with a female kicker. “For poetic justice after Harrison Butker’s Neanderthal outburst — and because the pipeline of talent is real — the Kansas City Chiefs’ next kicker should be a woman,” read the piece. The NFL also distanced itself from Butker’s views with a statement, saying, “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

While conservative outlets like The Blaze, The Daily Wire, and Fox News came to Butker’s defense, even some traditionally liberal pundits defended him. The View’s Whoopi Goldberg said that Butker has a right to his own views. “I like when people say what they need to say. He’s at a Catholic college, he’s a staunch Catholic. These are his beliefs and he’s welcome to them. I don’t have to believe them, I don’t have to accept them, the ladies that were sitting in that audience don’t have to accept them,” she said. Bill Maher stated he was “confused” by the controversy. While noting that his opinions vary vastly from Butker’s, he said he didn’t believe Butker said anything controversial. “I don’t get the thing he said, talking to women, ‘Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world.’ OK, that seems fairly modern. ‘But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.’ I don’t see what the big crime is, I really don’t,” he said, quoting Butker’s speech. Tavia Hunt, wife of Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, also defended Butker. “I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God). But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer,” she wrote on Instagram. “Affirming motherhood and praising your wife, as well as highlighting the sacrifice and dedication it takes to be a mother, is not bigoted. It is empowering to acknowledge that a woman’s hard work in raising children is not in vain. Countless highly educated women devote their lives to nurturing and guiding their children. Someone disagreeing with you doesn’t make them hateful; it simply means they have a different opinion. Let’s celebrate families, motherhood and fatherhood.”

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