Home World Maria Shriver joins condemnation of Harrison Butker’s ‘tradwife’ speech

Maria Shriver joins condemnation of Harrison Butker’s ‘tradwife’ speech


Maria Shriver has joined the chorus of people online blasting Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker for his sexist college commencement speech last weekend, during which the NFL player told female graduates at a Catholic liberal arts college that the “most important title” a woman can hold is homemaker.

Shriver, a famed TV journalist and mother of four, responded Wednesday with a lengthy statement posted on Instagram, which began, “As a woman who has leaned into my vocation of living a meaningful life inside and outside the home to not only raise good humans but also raise up our country in various ways, I think it’s demeaning to women to imply that their choices outside of wife and motherhood pale in comparison to that of a homemaker.”

FILE - Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks to the media during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE – Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks to the media during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) 

Shriver acknowledged that the athlete had a right to say what he wants because free speech is one of the benefits “of living in a democracy.” But she added that “those of us who are women and who have a voice have the right to disagree with Butker.”

Butker ignited some of the biggest debates in America’s culture wars with his speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. During his speech, the NFL player also railed against abortion, Pride month, DEI and Covid-19 lockdown measures, CNN and NBC News reported.

Butker also incited the ire of Taylor Swift fans by taking a dig at the mega-star girlfriend of his teammate Travis Kelce. Butker quoted one of the lyrics from her song, “Bejeweled,” to present an analogy for why Catholic priests should not cater too much to the feelings of their parishioners, CNN reported. “As my teammate’s girlfriend says, ‘familiarity breeds contempt,’” Butker said, drawing murmurs from the crowd.

But the portion of his speech that drew the most backlash, including from Swifties, had to do with his praise of traditional gender roles. NBC News said his comments share similarities with some of the more extreme ideas around gender roles that have gained traction in communities that promote “tradwife” lifestyles. Members of these usually conservative Christian communities believe that a woman’s place is in the home, cooking, cleaning, tending to their children and submitting to their husbands, the New York Times also reported. 

In his speech, Butker told the women in the audience of about 500 graduates that the “most diabolical lies” have been told to them.

“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?” Butker asked. “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.”

To make his point, Butker praised his wife Isabelle, saying she “would be the first to say her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

Through a spokesperson, the NFL sought to distance itself from Butker’s remarks, saying that the player “gave a speech speech in his personal capacity” and his “views are not those of the NFL as an organization,” CNN reported.

“The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” Senior Vice President Jonathan Beane, the league’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said.

GLAAD also issued a statement, calling Butker’s speech “a clear miss” and “woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women,” CNN also reported.

For her part, Shriver took aim at Butker’s praise of his wife’s choice to be a homemaker. While saying she’s glad that Isabelle Butker is “happy” with her domestic vocation, Shriver also said her choice is “a luxury” at a time when “the vast majority of women have to put food on the table, while also raising kids, caring for aging parents … the list goes on!”

Shriver, the former first lady of California who is divorced from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, also discussed the many “revolutions” it took for women to get the right to vote, to sign their names on checking accounts, to access to birth control and to even get “anything close to pay equity.”

Shriver furthermore disputed Butker’s contention that “men set the tone for culture.” She said, “Can we all not set the tone for the future? Women, men, gay straight — of course we can.”

“I will not tell Mr. Butker to stick to kicking, but I would suggest next time bespeaks to women first and listen to someone with a clearer take on where most women find themselves in 2024,” Shriver concluded her statement.

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