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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Harrison Butker’s commencement speech is a painful representation of the tribulations women have been experiencing for centuries

The Today Show
Harrison Butker giving his controversial commencement speech at Benedictine College.

In this day and age, I am constantly reminded of the harrowing treatment women have been subjected to for centuries. From America Ferrera’s speech in the blockbuster film Barbie highlighting the misdemeanors women must accept to be respected by men, to the Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1975 Warren Court decision of Roe v. Wade two years ago, which ripped away women’s rights to their bodies, I have unfortunately realized that most men will continue to believe women can never be equal to them. This simple fact makes my blood boil in anger every single day.

Only a week ago, another perfect example of this treatment was showcased by Harrison Butker, who is the kicker for the famous National Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs. He was invited by Benedictine College—a Catholic college in Kansas—to speak at their graduation ceremony as a commencement speaker. In Butker’s speech, which lasted about 20 minutes, he lobbied against Pride Month, equality for LGBTQ+ people, and President Joe Biden’s response to the COVID-19 breakout in 2020. Not only did he have the audacity to denounce these establishments, but he also made an incredulous statement about women. 

About halfway through the speech, Butker took a turn in his script, declaring to all the young women in the audience who were graduating thatthe most diabolical lieshad been told to them. He went on to say that some of the women in the audience would go on to become successful, but all of them should be the most excited about their upcoming roles as wives and mothers. As his backup evidence to this insane statement, he went on to describe how he converted his wife to Catholicism after their marriage and that she embraced one of the most important titles of all: a homemaker.

As a women’s rights advocate, I cannot explain how shocked I was upon hearing this. The first thing I thought of when I heard his claims was the ideal of republican motherhood, an 18th-century term that emphasized women as mothers to uphold their children’s republican morality. These women were confined to the home and had little to no social and political rights whatsoeverWhat’s most upsetting is the fact that Butker’s beliefs are incredibly similar to those of people who lived mainly in the 1790s, when slavery was rife and discrimination of minority groups was common. We are living in the year 2024, about two and a half centuries later. And yet, progress is impossible among individuals who still believe that women should be powerless and shouldn’t be able to vote. 

However, through the empowerment of young girls and representation of strong women in the media, such as the characters directed by legendary filmmaker Greta Gerwig, I’m confident that women will continue to make an impact on the unfortunate misogynistic world we live in today.

The backlash to Butker’s speech was evident, with thousands of people flooding the Chiefs’ social media with comments. User @aciarrocchi said, can’t watch, I don’t have a husband or children, so my life hasn’t started yet.” In addition, user @cody.l.sully said, “The Chiefs had no issues profiting off of Taylor Swift and her fans last year but haven’t addressed Butker’s misogynistic and bigoted comments. Make it make sense. All of these people have proven the point that the Chiefs won’t stand up for women’s rights and act against misogyny by firing Butker. 

However, the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, a founding institution of Benedictine College, released an issue stating that Butker’s words “don’t represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested” (USA Today). Additionally, students who graduated on that day spoke out on his speech, declaring it an insult to women who were graduating with degrees in subjects they are passionate about. 

The NFL did release a statement, but a sparse one at that. Senior vice president of the NFL, Jonathan Beane, said, 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” (CNN).

If the NFL is socommittedto inclusion, then why hasn’t Butker been fired from the Kansas City Chiefs yet? Discriminating against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community should be a near-criminal offense, and yet nothing has been done. I cannot help but relate this to how the federal government so often deals with critical issues. For example, take gun violence. School and public shootings are now widespread, with 314 deaths and 622 injuries from gun violence in the single week of May 9-15, 2024. Events such as the Lewiston shooting, the Uvalde school shooting, and the Sandy Creek school shooting have continually sparked public outrage and protests for the United States government to take accountability. Yet, not a single law limiting the use of guns has been passed in recent years. Their method of dealing with issues such as gun violence and social discrimination is to ignore them and instead focus their efforts on banning a nearly harmless social media app, TikTok. 

Fighting for women’s rights is a never-ending battle, one at times, I’m afraid will never be won. Women are indeed undermined and disrespected in every industry, often being sexualized and belittled by men. However, through the empowerment of young girls and representation of strong women in the media, such as the characters directed by legendary filmmaker Greta Gerwig, I’m confident that women will continue to make an impact on the unfortunate misogynistic world we live in today. 

A morally sound person named Taylor Swift delivered a commencement address to New York University’s class of 2022, much more worthy of remembrance and recognition than Butker’s. She said,Please bear in mind that I, in no way, feel qualified to tell you what to do. You’ve worked and struggled and sacrificed and studied and dreamed your way here today, and soyou know what you’re doing…I will, however, give you some life hacks I wish I knew when I was starting out my dreams of a career and navigating life, love, pressure, choices, shame, hope, and friendship” (Billboard).

And that is how to deliver a successful graduation speech. 

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About the Contributor
Maylee Ohlman
Maylee Ohlman, Staff Writer
Maylee Ohlman is a sophomore going on to her first year on The Central Trend.  She spontaneously decided to join Writing for Publication this year and is now excited to keep writing for the rest of her time in high school. She dances on the FHCVDT in the winter. In her free time, she loves to read, swim at the beach, and try new bubble tea spots across Michigan. Maylee loves to feel like a tourist anywhere she goes and aspires to travel as much as she can in her lifetime. Besides reading and traveling, she's always loved movies and good food, and hopes to eventually combine her passions into a journalism career. Favorite book: I Hope This Doesn't Find You by Ann Liang Favorite TV show: The Last of Us Current favorite song: No One Knows by Stephen Sanchez and Laufey Go-to bubble tea order: A peach milk tea with lychee jelly and tapioca pearls

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    Autumn VanSolkemaMay 28, 2024 at 8:07 am

    Maylee this is so good omg, the ending especially. Amazing writing as always!