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Garvey: The Butkers are doing fine. What about the others?

By Georgia Garvey - | May 21, 2024

I’m not thinking about Harrison Butker.

He seems to be chugging along, doing OK for himself. After all, he’s a family man, a professional football player — a placekicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, namely — and he’s clearly a devout Catholic who finds solace in his religion.

What I can’t stop thinking about, though, are the others.

In a much talked-about speech Butker recently gave at a small Catholic college in Kansas, he preached to the graduating class about all manner of sins — IVF, Joe Biden, premarital cohabitation and masses held in living languages.

Butker told the ladies in the graduating class — all victims of pernicious lies, he said, about feminism and jobs and education — that he knew most of them were more excited about getting married and having babies than they were about their careers. He urged them to reject all other pursuits in service of achieving the only title that matters, the one of homemaker.

He talked about his own wife, whose dreams, he said, “of having a career might not have come true” but who he was certain would answer “heck no” if she were asked whether she had any regrets.

Let’s put aside for a minute the lost dreams of Isabelle Butker.

We can safely, I think, place her in the category of those who have made their own beds, or at least have paid someone else to do it for them. I hope, for her sake, that her husband never leaves her, that he never gets horribly ill or abuses her or dies prematurely. I hope that she does not find herself, at 60, with nowhere to go during the day other than to her children’s homes to straighten their sheets and criticize their cooking. I truly hope that she’ll find her sacrifices worthwhile.

Instead of her, though, I worry about the others, the billions of women here and in other places and other times, the ones who had and have fewer options and even less money than Isabelle Butker, the ones who are different due to their fate or their limitations, their blessings or their mistakes.

I think about the women who were left with too many children, children for whom they and their partners could not provide, after being told by the Catholic Church that they were headed for hell if they used birth control to postpone or limit their procreation.

I think of the women of my, my mother’s and my grandmothers’ generations, the ones who could not or did not get job training or high school degrees (let alone college ones). The ones who dropped out of or passed up on school to cook, clean or take care of siblings. I think of the ones who married and had children young. I think of the ones who were left unprepared for life’s financial demands after a breadwinner’s death, illness or departure.

I think of the women who would love to spend their time making a home but instead wind up, through necessity, working in factories or in grueling or demeaning jobs, the ones who would trade Harrison Butker’s right leg for a fulfilling career, one where they could get a steady paycheck, a retirement plan, health insurance and perhaps even a sense of personal achievement.

I also think of the brilliant and gifted women, the ones who have become pediatricians, poets and obstetricians, the scientists and the artists and the lawyers, the ones who work not because they must but because it brings them joy and it enriches the world.

I think of the women who cannot or do not want to get married or have children. I think of the women still trying to find the good love of a kind person. I think of the ones who had difficult childhoods or difficult parents.

I think about all of them.

Now, a mother adores her children — loves them with a fierce and protective fire that can burn up almost every obstacle. Some of us stay home with them, and it’s a blessing to have that choice if you want it. But even those of us who make homes should be prepared for a time or a circumstance when we will need or want to work. All women should be educated and grounded in a career — even if they leave it for Butker’s favorite vocation.

After all, Butker’s comments about women are fine — boring, even — in every regard other than in the limitations imposed on them by his self-absorption. The assumptions behind his thoughts (that all women are the same, all families are the same, all homes are the same) make the advice he offered so specific as to render it meaningless.

I mean, it’s all well and good for Isabelle and Harrison Butker.

But what about everyone else?

To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.


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