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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Harrison Butker, my life begins far before marriage.

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Yes, I too saw the video. In fact, I watched the entire 20-minute speech waiting for the moment at the end when Harrison Butker would say, “sike.” Unfortunately, that part never came.   

If you haven’t seen the horrendous video that I’m speaking of, let me break it down for you. Butker, the Kansas City Chiefs kicker, gave the commencement speech for Benedictine College, a small Catholic school in Kansas. In his 20-minute address, Butker managed to tell women to stay in the kitchen, call pride month a “deadly sin,” state his stance on abortion and birth control, and disregard the success of every female graduate in that room.  

Once again, still waiting for the “sike.”  

Butker began his speech by making his beliefs and ideologies known. He went into his religious beliefs and spoke about how he is a dedicated Catholic, which speaking at a Catholic school, is not out of place.  

Yet, things took a turn for the worse when, suddenly, his blatant homophobia came out of left field.  

As he talked about the AP article regarding the Catholic church stepping back in time, Butker used it as an opportunity to take a stab at the LGBTQ+ community.  

He began by saying the reporters at the AP could not have imagined they would be met with excitement and pride after releasing an article he believes was meant to rebuke and embarrass places like Benedictine.  

“Not the deadly-sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify him,” Butker said.  

Butker has never hidden his religious beliefs from the public, especially in the past few months when he has been outspoken on many political topics. Once again, perfectly normal for a Catholic school commencement speaker to share.   

However, a good majority of the things Butker spoke about in this speech have no place at a commencement of any sort. I mean, if you’re writing a speech to give to a room full of college graduates, and you find yourself putting the words “birth” and “control” next to each other, I strongly recommend reconsidering. 

The part that many people took to social media to protest was when, halfway through his speech, Butker addressed the women in the room.  

Sir, as a man, you have no place to address or ultimately speak for the women.  

But nonetheless, he said, “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.”  

He continued to tell them that some of them may go on to lead successful careers but openly guessed the majority of them were most excited about marriage and children. He went so far to say that his wife's life truly began when she became a wife and a mother. 

Wait, sorry, just to clarify, do you believe life begins when you get married or at conception? 

The blatant insanity of addressing a room of women who spent the past four years working to obtain a degree and telling them none of that matters because the best thing they will ever be able to do is push a baby out of their womb is absurd.  

Butker’s speech resembles the ideologies of the 1950s, a time when women were not allowed to own a credit card, serve on a jury, practice law or simply keep their job if they got pregnant. You’re telling me a cisgender white man who wakes up every morning and reaps the benefits of the patriarchy wants it to stay the same? I’m shocked. 

All of this comes right after Butker quotes his “teammate’s girlfriend” Taylor Swift. Ironic to choose one of the most influential women in the country right now, who also happens to be unmarried, childless and have an honorary doctorate degree.  

The biggest irony of this whole speech is that his mother, Elizabeth Butker, is a medical physicist. The women in his family have done miraculous and incredible things far beyond just getting married and having kids. Yet, he devalued them down to one word: homemakers. 

Don’t get me wrong, in no way is being a mother or a homemaker a simple task — it is incredibly hard work. But, here is the beautiful thing about the world we live in today: as women, we have the right to choose.  

It is our choice whether we go to college and get a degree, whether we want to go into the workforce, whether we want to have children or be their primary caretaker. This isn’t the 1950s. So, we won’t go back.  

To all of the women and little girls who may have heard this speech and questioned what your value is to the world, please know it is more than what a man who doesn’t believe in a future for you outside of the house says. You can do and be anything you want to be. To the women who just graduated college, your life does not begin when you become a wife. Your life has already begun. You are simply on another stepping-stone to becoming the greatest version of yourself. The world is in your hands, and you have a choice about what you do with it.  

Gentry Keener (she/her) is a senior studying journalism and political science.  

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