Harrison Butker for the Win

Motherhood Over Careerism

Yes, some schools are still having spring commencements, but that does not mean they are immune from mobs. Mobs of feminists are gunning for Kansas City Chief placekicker Harrison Butker, who praised motherhood and criticized feminism in the Commencement Address at Kansas’s Benedictine College. Butker warns Catholics (and Christians generally) against compromising their faith to fit in with America’s “degenerate cultural values and media.” His big point: Christians have “always been countercultural” and they should remain so.  

Christian elites are ashamed at Christianity’s countercultural mission in big ways. Bishops, priests, and church leadership generally caved on COVID lockdowns, neglecting the sacraments and allowing the faithful to die alone. The current occupant of the White House made the sign of a cross at a pro-abortion rally. Christian leaders encourage believers to keep their faith “private, hidden away and harmless.” Many also compromise and prevaricate to accommodate our queer constitution.

Big, loud abandonments of the Christian mission are easy to see. Butker also worries about corruption in the “small ways” that involves living out one’s vocation, including how men and women prioritize family in their lives. Higher education leads many women to favor careerism over motherhood—and this is often true even at (and especially at) “conservative” Catholic schools like Benedictine. Generally, the more education, the later the marriage, the fewer the marriages, the less childbearing, and the later the childbearing. 

After congratulating the “ladies present” on their “amazing accomplishment” of graduating from college, Butker addressed the important questions of life priorities. Women have had the “most diabolical lies” told to them.  “Many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage,” Butker said, “and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career,” yet, he ventures, that “the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.” He praises the wife “who leans into her vocation” as mother. Benedictine students stood and applauded Butker’s message. 

Many additional lies support the “diabolical lie” deprioritizing motherhood. Women are lied to about fertility. Many women, especially educated women, do not know or want to know that fertility rates decline so steeply with age. Finnish women think 37 is just as good as 23. Canadian women are similar, as are women in Sweden and United States, and as are American reproductive healthcare providers. (Answer: It goes downhill slowly at 26 and markedly at 33.)

Nor are career women happier, as girls are often told throughout their education. Certainly there are more career oriented women than there were in 1974, when only a third of American mothers of three-year-olds worked; today, that number exceeds two-thirds. Married mothers and fathers are the happiest Americans, according to general surveys, and married women with children are happier than married men with children. 

Nor is deprioritizing motherhood the only lie affecting the sexes. “What plagues our society is this lie that has been told to you [gentlemen] that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities.” The absence of men in the home “plays a large role in the violence we see all around our nation.” And the confident assertion of tradition follows from vigorous male cultural leadership and encouraging men to leave their comfort zones and do hard things. Scads of evidence supports Butker. 

No matter the evidence. Our anti-human media scolds practiced ritual denouncing. Merely repeating Butker’s words was thought enough to refute him. USA Today’s Michael Freeman, for instance, wondered: “Her vocation? Really? Did I slip and fall into a time machine and travel back to the 1950s?” Ignorant journos and the harpies who are trying to hound the Chiefs to cut ties with Butker pretend anyone opposing the girlboss option simply would consign women to lives of misery and slavish, unrecompensed devotion. Comments under Butker’s speech are moronically splenetic. The memes are boring

This tired feminist trope—either you are 100% with deprecating motherhood or you want women consigned to be barefoot and pregnant—is as stupid as it is a requirement of our civil rights laws. 

Indeed, Butker’s speech is subtle. Never does he blame women for working or using their education. Never does he argue for taking away anyone’s right to work. The speech reflects a profound truth that there are two parties among women—one-third or so of women are careerists and would rather forgo motherhood or emphasize career, while two-thirds or so would rather prioritize motherhood. The ambitions of fly-over women, as Carrie Gress calls them, are all but forgotten in the American mainstream. 

The rubber will soon be meeting the road, though: will Benedictine students live like they clapped? Even those committed to prioritizing family have a tougher time living out that commitment today. The battle of the sexes rages ever more. As fewer marry, the battle intensifies. Marriage is the best or perhaps the only peace treaty in that battle. 

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Scott Yenor

Scott Yenor is Director of State Coalition at the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life and a professor of political science at Boise State University. His Recovery of Family Life (Baylor, 2020) is now out in paperback.

24 thoughts on “Harrison Butker for the Win

  1. Unfortunately for conservatives, they see the speck in the eyes of other ideologies. The speck being the compromises that those other ideologies require of Christians. But because they fail to see the logs in today’s Trump conservatism, they conflate it with Christianity and thus practice and encourage others to do the same their own compromises with the Christian faith.

    How is following the science and participating in the lockdowns during a deadly pandemic a compromise of the Christian faith? And how is supporting a candidate whose personal morals would require Christians in Apostolic times to personally shun such a candidate and who verbally inspired and cheered on the Jan 6 insurrection not a compromise of the Christian faith? How is supporting a candidate who admires and wants to please many of the world’s dictators not a compromise with what is American? How is supporting a candidate who wants the Presidency, when he is President to have totally immunity from criminal prosecution for any crimes he commits not a compromise with the rule of law?

    Falling birth rates is not bad for our nation. We can’t have forever growth in a finite world and in a nation where there is one of the highest carbon footprints per capita.

    As for Harrison Butler’s speech, his all-or-nothing rejection of feminism only shows that he is living so far in the past that he isn’t able to distinguish what to accept from what to reject from feminism. Hopefully his all-or-nothing rejection of feminism isn’t pointing to an arrogance that accompanies the belief that one has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.

    1. Please, take a break from commenting to read some books on logic and how to write. You are not contributing anything to the discussion.

      1. JW,
        I need improvement with editing my comments, but the logic is there and clear.

        The problem with insulting comments like yours is that they are too general to help. And I guess that is good when the intention to help is not there.

        1. Curt,

          I’m trying to be helpful. The comments section here used to be good.

          Here are some specific examples:

          Your statement, “…he is living so far in the past that he isn’t able to distinguish what to accept from what to reject from feminism,” is an ad hominem and a non sequitur.

          If you want to persuade someone here, you would need to use acceptable premises. The premise that one needs to be humble to learn something from feminism is not a good premise for readers of the American Reformer.

          Likewise, you have an unstated premise that having a large carbon footprint is bad. Probably not a good premise for this audience.


          1. JW,
            Asking a question in a non rhetorical manner is not an ad hominem attack. The question invites further thinking.

            In addition, what is celebrated about Butker’s statements in the above article is that they are expressions of traditional values. And so referring to the past is very relevant. I am asking if we, including Butker, need to think about those traditional values and see if they need some modification in substance or application in today’s world.

            Also, I don’t think that premises should be automatically ruled out because of their acceptability. That they would not acceptable to many in the American Reformer audience is irrelevant when one considers the issue(s) being addressed. Some premises need to be brought up and so it becomes a matter of selecting one’s battles.

            In addition, the audience for this and almost all websites includes a wider scope of opinions than just those who agree with the contributors here. When I disagree with what is written here, which is often but not always, I am trying to give another Christian’s take on what was written.

            Thank you for your feedback. I really struggle with editing at times and due to age, which is above being in my 60s, there isn’t always a clear communication with what I am trying to say and the fingers. And I often do not catch that gap between what I thought I was writing and wrote.

          2. JW,
            BTW, I just realized that I wasn’t asking a question in the line you quoted. Was it ad hominem? Again, what was being celebrated in what Butker said was traditional values, the past. And so bringing up the past was relevant.

            But I referenced the past in a way that one could say that I begged the question of its legitimacy, and I think that would be valid criticism.

            Could I have said things better? Yes. Whether I do or not depends on whether I am emotional when writing. Sometimes, I rewrite a comment and those comments come out better.

    2. I have learned something from feminism, and it’s that my wife and I want nothing to do with it!

      1. Andrew,
        Neither of you want nothing to do with feminism? But there have been 4 waves of feminism and each wave had its set of concerns.

        For example, the first wave had to do with women’s political rights and ended with women getting the right to vote. Should Christians be concerned with women’s suffrage?

        The second wave of feminism sought equality in society including the workplace, education, and home. But it because it coincided with the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-War movement, it touched on minority rights. Not to be interested in the second wave of feminism would include not being concerned about abortion. But it would also include not being concerned with other means of birth control, protection from domestic violence, equal pay, and an equal place in society. Do you see any issues with which Christians should be concerned?

        The third wave of feminism focused on protection from sexual harassment at the workplace, the absence of women in positions of power, and intersectional issues such as how women from minorities suffered from discrimination and oppression for multiple reasons. And so should it matter to Christians that women are sexually harassed or when they are discriminated against for multiple reasons?

        The fourth wave of feminism saw a continuation of concern about sexual misconduct at work as well as intersectionality. It was also concerned about the systems that allowed sexual misconduct to continue with relative impunity. But it was also marked by the means of communication that were used by feminists to get out their message.

        Within each wave there are different approaches taken by different groups of women. Some of their approaches were more radical in nature than others. Some were tied to certain ideologies such as Marxism.

        And so when one looks at the scope of concerns that feminism addresses, should a Christian not share any of those concerns? Here we need to distinguish between having concern over issues from agreeing with how some feminist address those issues.

          1. Andrew,
            Your comment could be misunderstood.

            Do you mean to say that it doesn’t matter to you if women are not treated as being equal to men such as in the past when women were not recognized as having the same rights as men?

    3. You wrote that Butker is “living… in the past.” This is an attempt to tar him as bad while avoiding the substance of what he said. That’s ad hominem.

      If you want to persuade, you must start from a point of agreement, i.e., an acceptable premise. If you’re not trying to persuade the people here, what are you doing?

      Many of your comments are in bad faith. You impute bad motives, “all-or-nothing thinking,” arrogance, etc., to your interlocutors and avoid the substance. If you want to contribute to the discussion, try making an argument on the substance. Otherwise, find a different hobby.

      1. JW,
        My response to your comment here is that you are confusing observations with pejorative labels. Making legitimate observations are and stating them are not ad hominem attacks. Using labels as pejoratives on people are ad hominem attacks. The key part of the definition of ad hominem attacks is the relevancy of the claim.

        And so saying that Butker is living in the past refers to his traditionalist views. And those traditionalist views are celebrated here and by Butker. So saying the he is living in the past or so far in the past is not an insult. To think it is an insult might be because one does not sufficiently realize how loyal to the selected parts of the past traditionalists are.

        At heart, traditionalists are ideologues where their ideology is from the past. And the more ideological one is, the more loyal one is to it. And the more loyal one is to something or a group, the more tribal they are. And so, the more of as traditionalist one is, the more loyal one is to a past ideology or group, the more tribal that person is. Therefore, to say that one is living so far in the past, is shorthand for saying they are so loyal to their ideology, that they are tribal.

        And so by saying that Butker is living so far in the past is stating an observation referring to his loyalty to traditional views. Could I have explained that adequately after saying that he is living so far in the past? Certainly. Could I have worded it differently? Yes. But did I insult him by saying that? No. And so you were correct in intent and feel when you criticized how I used that phrase, but not correct in substance.

        As for talking about arrogance, remember how I said it. I quoted King on those who believe that they have everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them. So as people here first talk about others or a group or ideology in ways that are totally dismissive or discrediting, I apply King’s statement. Or when King first said that, was he using an ad hominem on the West? The full quote is below:

        The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just

        I then suggest that we substitute a fill-in-the-blank for the word ‘Western’ so as to apply that saying to any person, group, or ideology that shares that attitude so that we are all subject to that judgment. That is why one person asked me in another thread is there anything I can learn from Doug Wilson who is a Christian Nationalist and I said ‘yes.’ And so I use the word arrogant to apply to anyone, including me, who believes that they have everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.

        To say people are employing all-or-nothing thinking is not a pejorative label. If it was, you would be correct in your assessment of my use to the term. To say someone is demonstrating all-or-nothing thinking is an observation from what someone is saying. When someone paints a group or idea as being all good or all bad, one is employing all-or-nothing thinking. When one embraces a black-white worldview where others are either with one or against one, that is a form of all-or-nothing thinking.

        It seems to me that what you are saying is that to be logical is that one must start with an accepted premise and then use contradiction to show where they are going with their arguments. Certainly that is one way to go. But showing contradiction is not the only logical approach to take nor is it always the preferred approach to take.

        What I would criticize in my comments here is that sometimes I am too quick to respond with the way I am responding, which is sometimes aggressive, and would do better to revise how I want to say things. The aggressive part is something I become when I am heavy, a relative term for me, into weightlifting, which I am now because I lost a lot of strength from complications from surgery. I’ve noticed that tie between my aggression level and weightlifting in the past. If you said that I am too aggressive at times in my writing, I would agree. That is something I have to watch for.

      1. Matt,
        Some of her views are all-or-nothing. An example of that would be the use of the Pill. The Pill is prescribed for other reasons in addition to contraception. And even for that reason, I see no reason to oppose the Pill. Many married couples use is as well a non-married couples. She is correct about men and women commodifying themselves, but that is more of a result of the consumer society we live in. When we commodify others in our sexual relationships with them, we depersonalize them and allow them to return the favor. And that kills a large non-physical, personal part of sex. Our partners are evaluated as either restrooms where we find relief or amusement rides where our value is measured by and we measure the value of others by the thrill one person gives to the other. Again, the personal has been done away with.

        When it comes to feminism, where we see the most prevalent all-or-nothing divide is between those conservatives who only adhere to domesticity vs those feminists who try too hard the flatten the differences between the sexes in an effort to be free. The latter group confuses equality and being identical. Another all-or-nothing division can be found in those who only promote the feminism of care or the feminism of freedom rather than trying to promote a hybrid of the two.

        The way she initially approaches feminism issues is not in an all-or-nothing manner but some of her final approaches seem to go that way. Again, her approach to the Pill is an example of where she finishes with an all-or-nothing approach.

        What do you think? Do you agree, partially agree, or completely disagree?

        1. Only women labor and deliver; that is an office (in a non-ecclesiastical sense) that is limited to women and excludes all men. Only a woman was going to give birth to God. I could see Harrington telling young women to lean into their vocation of laboring and delivering.
          Regardless of what she’d say…

          Affirming the unique role of women in the command to be fruitful and multiply (and their unique role in the Abrahamic promise) is proper “feminism” in that it values and encourages women in their God-given design. Of course, that’s not all women do; for example, there’s the theological teaching women perform (see Timothy). But, telling them to lean into their procreative vocation (as opposed to lean away from it) inherently values and encourages them as women. It’s similar to telling a preacher “Preach!”
          So, I’d say Butler does not have an all or nothing view of feminism – even if he doesn’t know that. His views, however one wants to categorize them, are necessarily seasoned with an appreciation of women.

          1. Matt,
            Where I have to disagree with you is this, feminism in the context in which we are conversing is the modern movements for which there have been 4 waves. So do you think that he has an all-or-nothing view of modern feminism? Do you think that modern feminism has perspectives and views from which we can learn?

            Also, is it ok for women to want other things in life in place of being a mother?

      2. Matt,
        The difference between log and speck depends on whose eye the object is in. If it is in the other person’s eye, it is a spec. If it is in one’s own eye, it is a log. There is a redemptive reason for that distinction.

  2. Butker said “it is through our marriage that, Lord willing, we will both attain salvation.”

    American Reformer claims to confront issued facing American Christians today. And yet here is a prominent man proclaiming to be Christian, teaching a false gospel, and you’re discussing the socio-political elements of his speech rather than the theology. This is a salvation issue, of primary importance, and Butker has it wrong. That’s the first thing that any Christian should be thinking about.

    1. David,
      Thank you for your comment. I think that you are making a very legitimate criticism.

      At the same time, I believe that Butker is referring to a specific passage in one of the letter by Paul which he might be wrongly applying.

      1. I believe that’s a standard Roman Catholic doctrine and it’s directly at odds with the doctrine believed by the authors of this site. They’re in direct disobedience to scripture by discussing his speech without pointing that out.

          1. I’m not here to debate theology. It’s a fact that what Butker said is at odds with what evangelicals believe. I know for a fact that the folks that run this website disagree withim theologically.

            They’re elevating the culture war over theology. Thats a sin.

  3. Some further information on Butler’s speech. From CNN:

    Commenters and social influencers also picked up on another piece of information that appears at odds with Butker’s worldview. His mother, Elizabeth Keller Butker, is a medical physicist at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta and holds, among other academic accolades, a degree in chemistry from Smith College, a private women’s liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

    And from Forbes:

    The Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Scholastica, one of the founding institutions and sponsors of Benedictine College, denounced Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker’s controversial commencement speech there for not representing the school’s values—the latest fallout from Butker’s address.

    Was Butker wrong in talking about the value of marriage and motherhood? No. Where he was wrong was that he seemed to have reduced women to only having the roles of wives and mothers rather than recognizing other fulfilling roles women could have either apart from being a wife and mother or in addition to. He didn’t recognize that feminism has some things of value to say to women. And one reason for that lack of recognition is his strong ties to the past–that his failure to speak about contributions that came from feminism is at least partially due to living too far in the past.

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