Hello, Harrison Butker? Women can be heroes, too


If history has proven anything, it’s that the world wasn’t set up for women to succeed.

Countless trailblazers have incited change, but there is still an overarching prejudice against us. The struggle that we internalize may vary, but I think we can agree that some days, it’s just hard to be a woman.

Every time our gender makes strides, it’s easy to be humbled — by something someone says, by something someone does. And it’s easy for us to deflect, and say, “Well, that’s just the way things are.” But why are we OK with the way things are?

A few weeks ago, as universities around the United States began holding commencement ceremonies, a well-known athlete spoke to the graduates of Benedictine College, a Catholic institution in Atchison, Kansas.

Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, addressed the crowd of young men and women. And it wasn’t his presence, but rather what he said, that created an aura of polarity.

“For the ladies present today,” Butker said, “congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.”

Butker went on to say that while “some” of the graduating women might lead successful careers, he’d “venture to guess” that the majority of them were excited about marriage, and the children they will bring into the world.

I have nothing against opinions, and I respect everyone’s right to voice their own. But all that comes to mind as I reread Butker’s words is, really?

The internet jumped to his defense, but let me riddle you this: He chose to single out “the women.”

Imagine being a young woman in Benedictine’s graduating class, who at the very least just completed four years of college. She deserves to be celebrated for her degree, and instead she’s told that it’s more likely that she’s looking forward to a life of marriage and motherhood.
The concepts of modern feminism are broadly misunderstood, by men and women alike. A true feminist would support a woman on any path she chooses, whether it be a career, a home life or something in between, and it was insulting and ignorant of Butker to project that most women in the audience would want to devote themselves to their partner and their future children.
On the days when women feel the most unsupported, by people in their lives or public figures like Butker, they should remember that there are always things to turn to. I find it exceedingly important to read and watch content that is created with the best intentions for people just like us. For women.
What do I mean?
A few months ago, as I enjoyed some time off from work in Florida, sitting poolside at my cousin’s house on International Women’s Day, I picked up “The Women,” a novel by Kristin Hannah, released earlier this year. Hannah is an extraordinary writer who has been telling the tales of important women for decades, and this book is no different.
I’ve read several of her novels over the past year, and I’ve come to love the way Hannah crafts stories of inspiring women, and the positive effect she has on my self-worth, every time I finish one of them. “The Women” offers readers an in-depth look at what it was like to be a nurse during the Vietnam War, and what it was like to return home afterward. If you love history, this read is for you.
In the first few pages, you’ll stumble across a striking notion. Women can be heroes.
So, to the women reading this — and the men — internalize that. All of us can be heroes.
And while people like Harrison Butker may continue to make speeches that threaten to strip us of everything we’ve worked for, remember that what we choose to do, in every walk of life, matters. Our accomplishments and choices, at home or in the workplace, matter.
And our feelings, and the way we view ourselves, matter, too.

Jordan Vallone is a senior editor who writes for the Bellmore, East Meadow and Merrick Heralds. Comments?