NFL Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has set the internet ablaze after his speech at Benedictine College went viral. 

For context, Benedictine College is a Catholic university. Catholics statistically tend to marry at higher rates and are less likely to divorce than other groups in the United States. It is important to note that Butker was speaking to a particular audience for a specific time. 

Butker criticized the current Biden administration and other cultural grievances; in doing so, he addressed the female graduates, saying:

For the ladies present today, 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. 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.

I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I’m on the stage today and able to be the man 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.

She is a primary educator to our children. She is the one who ensures I never let football or my business become a distraction from that of a husband and father. She is the person who knows me best at my core, and it is through our marriage that, Lord willing, we will both attain salvation.

I say all of this to you because I have seen firsthand how much happier someone can be when they disregard the outside noise and move closer and closer to God’s will in their life.

Butker congratulated the female graduates and recognized the women who would lead successful careers. He never diminished the female graduates’ accomplishments. Instead, he considered working and motherhood equal, emphasizing motherhood’s significant and lasting importance by attributing his success to his wife.

Many critics of Butker’s speech have only grievances with the strawman argument they have created. Their knee-jerk reaction to his emphasis on motherhood only displays the misunderstanding of embracing motherhood. 

As a Gen Z woman, I have multiple degrees, a successful entrepreneurial business, and a full-time career. Yet, my accomplishments do not diminish my desire to one day be a mother. 

I am not alone. Many Gen Z women are ditching the boss babe for a more traditional lifestyle. A Refinery29 article wrote: “Traditional marriage is the key to Black women’s liberation from being overworked, economic insecurity, and the stress of trying to survive in a world hostile to our survival and existence.”

The wife of the Chief’s CEO took to social media in defense of Butker and cautioned people from taking short clips out of context, saying, 

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.

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.

We should respect all women’s decisions, whether they choose not to work at all, to work from home, or to pursue careers outside the home, just as we respect women’s other individual career choices.

Rather than being angry about the importance of motherhood, we should advocate for solution-based policy solutions to empower women as mothers. 

In its 2024, Working for Women report, IWF offers reforms that can help women who choose to work while balancing other priorities:

  • Protect independent contracting from reclassification as employees that allow women to be self-employed or freelance
  • Create Personal Care Accounts (PCAs) in which people can invest pre-tax dollars used to replace or supplement income during periods of family or medical leave;
  • Offer tax credits for small businesses that provide paid leave time for employees; and
  • Reform the Fair Labor Standards Act (which established the 40-hour work week back in 1938) and allow private sector employees to choose paid time off or a flexible schedule instead of overtime pay.

These are important discussions to be had. Some find the idea of college-educated young women prioritizing motherhood as their highest calling controversial. We don’t and want as many young women to know the options available to them as well as to destigmatize motherhood. 

A healthy economy generating higher pay and greater opportunities delivers women the choices to pursue what’s best for them. That may be as a homemaker—a worthy vocation. Society crumbles without mothers.