Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS the Leading Ladies of Hollywood Want to Be Asked More, They Need to Get Their Facts Straight<p> Two Hollywood stars made headlines at the Oscars in the name of women&rsquo;s empowerment.</p> <p> Best Actress nominee Reese Witherspoon stepped up to the microphone to highlight the #AskHerMore hashtag campaign, which encouraged interviewers to ask actresses about something more than their fashion choices. And she gave a poised red carpet interview herself about her production company. But Patricia Arquette, who won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in&nbsp;<em>Boyhood</em>, inadvertently made the case for why many leading ladies of Hollywood might want to stick to dresses and jewelry.</p> <p> Here was Arquette&rsquo;s convoluted statement about the state of women&rsquo;s rights in America:</p> <p> &ldquo;To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else&rsquo;s equal rights. It&rsquo;s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.&rdquo;</p> <p> Quickly, the enthusiastic applause from the duo of Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez became a meme of excitement. They reacted as if someone offered them a donut after fasting all day to fit into their designer gowns.</p> <p> Seeing people cheer for equal rights for women is no surprise &mdash; across the political spectrum, we all want equality for women.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why women have been legally equal in the United States for decades. Arquette seems to be primarily concerned about wage equality for women in America, the idea that women are routinely paid less than men for performing equal work, resulting in a pay gap. But the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in pay. We also have had Title VII of the Civil Rights Act since 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sex. Since then, there has been legislation proposed (and some passed) on enforcement mechanisms, penalties, and more, but the basic question of whether it is legal to pay a woman less just because she is a woman is resolved.</p> <p> Arquette must be buying into the debunked (from writers on the right and left) claim that the statistic that women make 77 cents for each dollar men make is evidence of rampant discrimination. Yet even the&nbsp;<a href="">White House explained</a>&nbsp;that&rsquo;s not what the wage gap actually means. The simple explanation is that the statistic doesn&rsquo;t take into account a number of choices &mdash; education, years of experience, and hours worked, among others &mdash; that profoundly impact earnings.</p> <p> Arquette, who is&nbsp;<a href="">reportedly worth</a>&nbsp;more than $20 million and is starring in a new show&nbsp;<em>CSI: Cyber</em>&nbsp;out next week, may be directing her comments at Hollywood.&nbsp;<a href="">Leaked Sony emails</a>, for example, show that the two female stars of American Hustle received two percentage points less of the profits than their male counterparts. If this is her issue, she would have been more effective by going after that specific problem.</p> <p> Overall, Arquette could have better encouraged women&rsquo;s advancement if she had accepted her Best Supporting Actress Oscar with an inspiring message trumpeting the value of hard work, perseverance, or humility.</p> <p> On Instagram, Witherspoon wrote that she would like to be asked questions such as these:</p> <p> &ldquo;What&rsquo;s the biggest risk you&rsquo;ve taken that you feel has paid off?</p> <p> &ldquo;What accomplishment are you most proud of?</p> <p> &ldquo;What potential do filmmakers and characters have to make change in the world?&rdquo;</p> <p> Arquette might have delivered a powerful speech if she would have answered one of these. If Hollywood women like Arquette want to be asked about more than just fashion, they should start by at least talking about issues accurately.</p> AgnessFri, 27 Feb 2015 10:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum12 Women Explain What Women Want In 2015<p> With a presidential campaign&mdash;and especially another Hillary Clinton run&mdash;looming, one might assume the women&rsquo;s beat would be an obvious growth industry for the media. But&nbsp;<em>The</em>&nbsp;<em>Washington Post </em>recently announced that <a href="">it was canceling</a> &ldquo;She the People,&rdquo; a three-year-old news platform covering the &ldquo;intersection of women and politics and culture.&rdquo;</p> <p> The blog&rsquo;s demise might be yet another example of readers grown weary of reading one-sided news from the front-lines of the so-called &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo; Consider She the People&rsquo;s January post, <a href="">What leading feminists want to accomplish this year</a>, which failed to include leading right-of-center feminist voices.</p> <p> For former readers of the She the People blog, here are some policy proposals, suggestions, and agendas from 12 right-of-center women leaders on what they would like to accomplish in 2015:</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ea425b;"><strong>CARLY FIORINA &bull; More Opportunities Everywhere</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;My definition of feminism is when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses&mdash;whether that is home schooling her children or running a company. I hope that we recognize and unlock the potential of all the women in this country, allowing them to be judged on merit and to live lives of dignity, purpose, and meaning. We must advocate for conservative policies that increase workplace flexibility and move away from the job crushing policies of this administration that have left a record number of women in poverty.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Carly Fiorina, Chairman of the Unlocking Potential Project, @carlyfiorina</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>APRIL PONNURU: An End to Policies that Increase Living Costs</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 97px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I would like to see politicians get to work on a serious cost-of-living agenda.&nbsp;Most women are running just to stay in place, and they need relief from policies that increase the cost of college, health care, and raising kids. And I would like Washington to realize that women know how best to meet their own needs, and they deserve to keep more of their own money.&rdquo;</p> <p> -April Ponnuru, Policy Director at the YG Network, @aprilponnuru</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH &bull; Deregulations, for Small Business&#39;s Sake</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 97px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;Many women own small businesses and need better jobs to move up in their careers. I hope Congress can move on tax reform, immigration reform, and reining in the EPA and the NLRB so companies can go on creating jobs. &lrm;Congress needs to be ready to pass healthcare reform in case SCOTUS overturns premium subsidies in the 36 federal exchanges.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at The Manhattan Institute, @furchtgottroth</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>CARRIE LUKAS &bull; An Honeset Conversation about Tradeoffs</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I hope this year we have an honest conversation with women about tradeoffs, rather than the usual political scare tactics and over-promises.&nbsp;I think women are waking up to the realization that government promises&mdash;whether it&#39;s &lsquo;free&rsquo; contraception, &lsquo;free&rsquo; daycare or preschool, or new, required paid leave benefits&mdash;don&rsquo;t pan out as they are supposed to, and none of what government offers is actually &lsquo;free&rsquo; at all. Government&rsquo;s one-size-fits-all solutions ignore that real women aren&rsquo;t a monolith; we need a system that respects that and lets us make the decisions that make the most sense for us as individuals.&rdquo;<br /> -Carrie Lukas, Managing Director at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, @carrielukas</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>LINDSEY BURKE &bull; Better School Choice Access</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 96px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I hope 2015 becomes the year that a significant number of families have access to innovative school choice options like education savings accounts, and we begin to shift the conversation about what &lsquo;public&rsquo; education means. I hope to help make the case that &lsquo;public&rsquo; education means publicly funded, but that education can be delivered through a multitude of options: private schools, online learning, and private tutoring, to name a few.&rdquo;<br /> -Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, @lindseymburke</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>CHERYLYN HARLEY LEBON &bull; Action for Failing Public Schools</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I hope that Congress, activists, and grassroots leaders recognize the needs of children of color in communities like Ferguson, and put forth an agenda to reform failing public schools to help improve the educational and employment opportunities for inner city children.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Cherylyn&nbsp;Harley LeBon, National Co-Chair of Project 21, @harleylebon</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>CARRIE SEVERINO &bull; An ObamaCare Alternative and Courageous Judges</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I hope to see the Supreme Court enforce the Affordable Care Act as written in&nbsp;<em>King v. Burwell</em>, followed by Congress passing&nbsp;a workable alternative to the unpopular and dysfunctional&nbsp;law. I&nbsp;want to see&nbsp;presidential hopefuls&nbsp;recognize&nbsp;the importance of appointing judges who have a track record of fidelity to the text of the Constitution&nbsp;and the courage to hand down decisions that are legally correct,&nbsp;even when&nbsp;the decision&nbsp;is unpopular or doesn&rsquo;t suit their own political preferences.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network, @jcnseverino</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>PENNY NANCE &bull; Protections for Society&#39;s Weakest Members</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;In 2015 Concerned Women for America will continue to work to protect the weakest of society including unborn babies, senior citizens and those with disabilities. We will advocate for Constitutional principles, Judeo-Christian ethics and above all fight to protect freedom for generations to come.&nbsp;We are thankful for our First Amendment rights and plan to fully utilize them to promote Liberty.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, @pynance</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>MARILINDA GARCIA &bull; More Female Forays into Civic Activities&nbsp;</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 98px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;I hope it will be a year when more young women than ever step up and get involved in civic governance. Whether that means running for office, taking on leadership roles at school and at work, or getting more involved in their communities, it is all important and valuable.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Marilinda Garcia, former New Hampshire State Representative and 2014 New Hampshire Republican Congressional nominee, @marilindagarcia</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>ASHLEY THORNE &bull; Open Campus Discourse and High-Quality Classes</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 98px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;On college campuses this year, I&rsquo;d like to see students and administrators show new openness to listen to others, rather than dis-inviting speakers they disagree with. I&rsquo;d like to see colleges giving students the best education they can instead of worrying so much about being politically correct.&rdquo;</p> <p> &nbsp;-Ashley Thorne, Executive Director of the National Association of Scholars</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>PATRICE LEE &bull; Freedom for Entrepreneurs</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 99px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;This year, I&rsquo;m working to help our generation of women fully realize the potential of the role entrepreneurship can play in their lives&mdash;from lifestyle and wellbeing to economic opportunity. Young women are increasingly aware of the ineffectiveness of top-down, inefficient government solutions, and I want to harness that knowledge and direct it towards grassroots advocacy to start putting our innovative ideas into action.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Patrice Lee, Director of Outreach at Generation Opportunity, @patricepinkfile</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ea425b;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>HADLEY HEATH MANNING &bull; Health Care Choices</strong></span></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="width: 100px; height: 98px; margin: 2px; float: left;" />&ldquo;Women are the primary consumers and decision-makers in health care, and they are acutely aware that this is a personal issue that affects each family, each patient, and each budget differently. What women really want out of our healthcare system is more choices, more customization, and more competition (which would lead to lower prices). That is the opposite direction of where ObamaCare is taking us, so my hope would be that our leaders realize this and can offer a better, more market-driven, patient-centered healthcare policy.&rdquo;</p> <p> -Hadley Heath Manning, Director of Health Policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, @hadleyheath</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow for the </em><a href=""><em>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></a></p> AgnessTue, 27 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Most Women Don't Want a Feminist Boyfriend<p> Opinion pages brim with self-help advice this time of year -- from dieting and exercise to how to make those resolutions stick. Some will even include advice most readers never knew they needed. A recent Washington Post column, for example, offered tips on&nbsp;<a href="">how to find a feminist boyfriend</a>.</p> <p> It&#39;s unlikely that most Americans--and particularly most women--are hoping to attract a feminist mate in 2015.&nbsp;<a href="">Only 20 percent of Americans</a>, including just 16 percent of men and 23 percent of women, self-identify as feminists.</p> <p> There was a day when being a self-proclaimed feminist signaled to society that a person believed women deserved equal rights and opportunities. Today, American feminism has largely abandoned its egalitarian roots to focus instead on debates that pit men and women against each other. Its brand has been tarnished.</p> <p> While its leaders talk about empowerment, their actions convey the opposite. Take the effort to ban the word &quot;bossy&quot; in the name of helping girls achieve. Or the attempts to sell a &quot;war on women&quot; narrative to scare women into voting for more government assistance. And don&#39;t forget&nbsp;<em>Cosmopolitan</em>&nbsp;magazine sending male models in a party bus to recruit women to go to the polls as if women aren&#39;t smart enough to vote on issues.</p> <p> Do women really want someone associated with such insulting efforts?</p> <p> Today&#39;s feminism has become an exercise in groupthink. Anyone who questions feminist orthodoxy faces criticism. Most recently, actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who reportedly earns $1 million per episode as one of the highest paid actresses on TV,&nbsp;<a href="">joined the ranks of celebrities who walked back their rejection of the feminist label</a>. During an interview with&nbsp;<em>Redbook</em>&nbsp;magazine, she didn&#39;t embrace the feminist label. After public pressure, she issued a clarifying statement through Instagram.</p> <p> Of course, when it comes to finding a mate, many women will hope to find someone who shares their values. And having a feminist boyfriend might sound idyllic to some -- a partner with whom to go to protests, discuss the latest Lena Dunham headline, and strategize how to &quot;lean in.&quot;</p> <p> But many single women are hoping for someone who doesn&#39;t view the world through the prism of win-lose struggles between the sexes.</p> <p> Yes, a feminist boyfriend may have read&nbsp;<em>Lean In</em>&nbsp;and cheered during Beyonc&eacute;&#39;s performance in front of a large &quot;FEMINIST&quot; display at the 2014 VMAs. But has he studied the scholarship or is he aware of the research on women&#39;s preferences beyond just succeeding at the workplace?</p> <p> After all, not all working moms prefer full-time work. According to a&nbsp;<a href="">Pew study</a>, only 37 percent of today&#39;s working moms and 22 percent of non-working moms prefer full-time work. And that&#39;s ok.</p> <p> Today, most women have the chance to live their lives according to their preferences. Choice doesn&#39;t mean all women are going to choose full-time careers. Women should look for a man who believes in truly empowering women in their career choices -- including the choice to slow down or even opt out of a full-time career. And someone who will support her however she chooses to &quot;lean in,&quot; whether in business suits leading meetings at the office or in sweatpants pushing strollers at the playground.</p> <p> To the original feminists fighting for equality for women, America in 2015 would probably have looked like the promised land.</p> <p> Fewer obstacles than ever before stand in the way of women wanting to pursue careers and climb the corporate ladder at whatever speed they choose. And men are taking on more housework and childcare. The options for women to balance their lives have never been better.</p> <p> I&#39;d guess that the original feminists -- fighting for women&#39;s equality decades ago -- wouldn&#39;t have recognized today&#39;s gender wars. And even they probably wouldn&#39;t have wanted a man who would appeal to today&#39;s self-proclaimed feminists.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the<a href="">&nbsp;Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a>.</em></p> AgnessWed, 14 Jan 2015 17:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBanning "Feminist" In 2015?<p> If you could ban any word for 2015, what would it be? For <em>Time</em> magazine&rsquo;s readers, the word &ldquo;feminist&rdquo; took a surprising early lead over &ldquo;influencer,&rdquo; &ldquo;kale,&rdquo; &ldquo;literally,&rdquo; &ldquo;obvi,&rdquo; and others, in the magazine&rsquo;s annual poll to decide which term to scrub from the American lexicon. Facing a backlash and petition drive, <a href="">the magazine eventually apologized</a> presumably for offending women who consider themselves feminists.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="">Only 20 percent</a> of Americans, including 23 percent of women, self-identify as feminists. Taking a look at some feminist efforts in 2014, it is no wonder that the term feminist provokes a negative reaction, and why so many women reject a term that was once synonymous with their empowerment.</p> <p> Modern American feminism is becoming increasingly irrelevant because its causes and narrative don&rsquo;t quite fit with the lived experience of American women. There is too much of a focus on getting attention no matter the means. And the underlying message often conveyed is that women are victims who can&rsquo;t stand up for themselves. Welcome to feminism in America in 2014. Here are some lessons we learned from feminism gone wrong in America this year.</p> <p> <strong>Banning Adjectives Isn&rsquo;t the Way to Help Girls Succeed </strong></p> <p> Take the Ban Bossy campaign. In March, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of&nbsp;<em>Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead</em>, and Anna Maria Ch&aacute;vez, CEO of the Girl Scouts, partnered to launch a campaign to encourage girls to succeed. It&rsquo;s safe to assume that these accomplished women are extremely adept at navigating workplace relationships. How do they want to help girls succeed? <a href="">By starting a social movement to ban the use of the adjective &ldquo;bossy.&rdquo;</a></p> <p> The way to succeed isn&rsquo;t by banning every mean word tossed at girls&mdash;but by teaching girls how to overcome the challenges they will face as they climb the career ladder. While this effort garnered some headlines, it hasn&rsquo;t turned into a popular movement. Instead, it sent an embarrassing message: Are women so weak that they can&rsquo;t face the word bossy?</p> <p> <strong>Teaching Little Girls to Use the F-word for Attention Isn&rsquo;t Cool</strong><br /> While some feminists attempted to ban the word bossy in 2014, others used much more offensive language to try to make their point. Apparel company FCKH8 posted a video, &ldquo;F-Bombs for Feminism,&rdquo; featuring young girls dressed as princesses in full make-up using the f-word and gesturing with their middle fingers to try to bring attention to sexism. Adults appear toward the end to sell &ldquo;This is what a feminist looks like&rdquo; and &ldquo;Girls just want to have fun-damental rights&rdquo; t-shirts. The video ends with a young girl saying, &ldquo;Swear jar? I don&rsquo;t give a f**k.&rdquo;</p> <p> The video got attention&mdash;more than 1 million views on YouTube. It also elicited a backlash. Teaching little girls curse words isn&rsquo;t true empowerment. With shock-value videos like this one claiming to be &ldquo;feminist,&rdquo; it&rsquo;s no wonder so many mainstream women want to disassociate with the label.</p> <p> <strong>Using Male Models to Get Women to Vote is Insulting</strong></p> <p> For the first time, <em>Cosmopolitan</em> magazine, a magazine that is supposed to be empowering for women, participated in the midterm election this year, adopting the Democratic Party&rsquo;s talking points on what benefits women. All of the candidates the magazine endorsed were Democrats. <em>Cosmopolitan </em>apparently couldn&rsquo;t find one Republican woman to endorse.</p> <p> As part of its effort, <em>Cosmopolitan</em> ran a contest asking college students their plans to get their peers to vote, with the prize being a party bus to shuttle students to the polls &ldquo;stocked with snacks, prizes, shirtless male models, and more.&rdquo; The magazine delivered. A bus of male models was dispatched to North Carolina State University to take students to the polls.</p> <p> What message is this sending? That college women don&rsquo;t care about issues and wouldn&rsquo;t vote without some eye candy ushering them to the polls. Women don&rsquo;t need male models to vote. This is insulting. It also sends the message that the way to empowerment is to objectify members of the opposite sex.</p> <p> <strong>Enough with the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo;</strong></p> <p> Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke hit the national stage when she testified on Capitol Hill to advocate for her religious university to provide birth control. She quickly became a feminist icon and the face of the so-called &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo; In November, she lost her race for the California state Senate to another Democrat. Her race was barely a blip on the radar of election night.</p> <p> Fluke&rsquo;s loss is symbolic of the broader failure of Democrats&rsquo; &ldquo;war on women&rdquo; campaign tactic, which could be felt in races across the country, from Kentucky to Colorado. Alison Lundergan Grimes, a 35-year-old woman running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, for example, lost by double-digits. And Democrat Mark &ldquo;Uterus&rdquo; Udall, who dedicated his campaign to reproductive issues, lost his Senate seat to Republican Cory Gardner.</p> <p> In fact, Republican women had several historic victories in the midterms: Take Elise Stefanik&mdash;the youngest woman elected to Congress at age 30. Stefanik promoted a vision of limited government that allows liberty and entrepreneurship to flourish. Try as much as Democrats did to sell women on the idea that the right was waging a &ldquo;war on women&rdquo; and they needed Democrats to come to the rescue, women saw through this messaging campaign tactic.</p> <p> In 2015, feminists should focus less on attention-grabbing antics and more on substantive solutions that respect women as being smart, capable, and in control of their own lives, rather than as damsels in distress in need of assistance. At the very least, they could try to keep &ldquo;feminist&rdquo; off the list of words people want to ban next year.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the&nbsp;Independent Women&#39;s Forum&nbsp;and founder and president of the&nbsp;Network of enlightened Women. </em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> AgnessWed, 31 Dec 2014 07:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTop moments for feminist in 2014 • Rick Amato Show AgnessMon, 22 Dec 2014 14:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Obamacare Shuffle<p> I&nbsp;received a letter from my health-care exchange last month informing me that I could keep my health plan. In all caps, the letter included the following sentence: &ldquo;If you are satisfied with your current plan, you do not have to do anything.&rdquo;</p> <p> What a relief! This letter indicated that there was at least some competence associated with Obamacare, and I was happy that I wouldn&rsquo;t have to spend more time searching for a new plan. Lots of other Americans probably received a similar letter and had similarly positive reactions.</p> <p> I flipped to the last page, and it was a voter-registration application. Why did my exchange include a voter-registration form in the mailing about my health care? That seemed odd.</p> <p> Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a letter directly from my health-insurance provider stating that my plan will not be offered next year. This time in bold letters: &ldquo;Important: We Will Not Offer Your Health Plan Next Year. But You Have Options for New Coverage.&rdquo;</p> <p> This administration, which fought for health-care reform in the name of accessibility, affordability, and quality of care, is playing politics again. With all of the administration&rsquo;s bloopers in other areas, it might be easy to forget about Obamacare, specifically last year&rsquo;s disastrous rollout and the negative effects of the new law. But before sending new representatives to Washington, Americans ought to recall how the ill-conceived law and its botched rollout have hurt millions.</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s not forget that Obamacare&rsquo;s second enrollment period was supposed to kick off in October, but the administration wisely decided to postpone it until November 15, just after the midterm elections. That may be good strategy for Democrats&rsquo; election prospects, but it&rsquo;s bad news for Americans who want to hold their government accountable. Even those who just want to start budgeting for next year&rsquo;s increased health-care costs before the elections won&rsquo;t be able to do so, since won&rsquo;t display 2015 premiums until afterwards.</p> <p> A year has now passed since the failed rollout of Last October, the president described the program&rsquo;s massive technical problems as &ldquo;glitches&rdquo; that needed to be worked out. But continued problems with Obamacare suggest that it wasn&rsquo;t just glitches, that in fact the government bureaucracy may just not be very good at running a health-care market, and that Americans can expect another enrollment period plagued with problems.</p> <p> Even without a reminder this fall of how poorly Obamacare&rsquo;s exchanges have worked, a majority of Americans reject the new health-care law and want a different approach. A<a href="">&nbsp;recent Gallup poll</a>&nbsp;shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare. And Obama&rsquo;s overall approval rating hit a new low of 40 percent this summer, according to an NBC News/<em>Wall Street Journal</em>&nbsp;poll.</p> <p> In these final moments before the midterm elections, congressional Democrats are doing everything they can to avoid the topic of Obamacare, and many are trying to distance themselves from Barack Obama himself. But Americans should keep the problems with Obamacare, not just the renewal letters, at the top of their minds on Tuesday.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> AgnessMon, 3 Nov 2014 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLadies, don’t be fooled by Cosmo<p> From the wardrobe to the bedroom,&nbsp;<em>Cosmo</em>&nbsp;is known for offering women advice about the most intimate aspects of their lives.&nbsp;But the magazine has found a new&nbsp;aspect&nbsp;of women&rsquo;s lives they&rsquo;d like to shape&mdash;their decisions in the voting booth.</p> <p> Cosmopolitan magazine, yes, the magazine with headlines such as, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s Sex O&rsquo;Clock! The Time He Wants You Most,&rdquo; &ldquo;7 Days to Gorgeous Skin,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Best. Sex. Ever. #HellYeah!&rdquo; (all from the September 2014 issue), announced yesterday that it will be endorsing candidates for the first time on record. <a href="">Politico</a>, which broke the story, concludes that, &ldquo;The Cosmo endorsement criteria fall squarely into the liberal camp&mdash;equal pay, pro-choice, pro-birth control coverage, anti-restrictive voter-ID laws.&rdquo; Cosmopolitan magazine Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles doesn&rsquo;t hide her agenda:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &ldquo;People keep saying, &lsquo;Oh, you&rsquo;ve made the magazine much more political,&rsquo; but I feel that these are about lifestyle issues for women. The biggest single decision which will impact your life is when you have a child. I want women to have control over that, not a bunch of old white guys sitting in D.C. That to me is why I am doing this.&rdquo;</p> <p> Women, don&rsquo;t be fooled by Cosmo. Women should be wary about ceding their political decisions to Cosmo and other purported &ldquo;women&rsquo;s magazines.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s fine to trust their advice on your nail polish color, your bathing suit style, and maybe even your perfume scent, but are you going to let them choose your political candidate? And let them influence policy and in turn, your opportunities?</p> <p> Take the equal pay issue, for example. The real issue isn&rsquo;t equal pay. Across the political spectrum, liberals and conservatives alike agree men and women should be paid equally, and there are already laws in place that make sex-based wage discrimination a crime. The issue is whether women buy into the debunked claim that women make just 77 cents for each dollar that men make. Even feminist <a href="">Hanna Rosin</a> has criticized using the number this way, as it doesn&rsquo;t account for a number of choices. Big government supporters push this misinterpreted figure in an effort to add more regulations and restrictions on workplace freedom. Maybe that is too complicated for a magazine that is used to writing stories about the best sex moves.</p> <p> But if you aren&rsquo;t with them on &ldquo;equal pay,&rdquo; you won&rsquo;t get their endorsement.</p> <p> Or if you are pro-life? Forget about an endorsement from Cosmo. This ignores data like the <a href="">May Gallup poll</a> finding that 46 percent of U.S. adults and 41 percent of women are pro-life.</p> <p> In addition to endorsements of Senate, House, and governor candidates, as part of its #CosmoVotes campaign, the magazine will feature stories written by feminist Jill Filipovic and roll out a social media effort to encourage women to vote.</p> <p> Don&rsquo;t expect unbiased, nuanced reporting and don&rsquo;t expect Cosmo to simply convey the facts and let the readers decide which candidate is best for them. Filipovic&rsquo;s first article for the Cosmo website headlined, &ldquo;How the GOP&rsquo;s Block of the Minimum Wage Bill Hurts Women,&rdquo; included this gem: &ldquo;The Republican Party serves two distinct but sometimes overlapping factions: Big corporate interests and social conservatives.&rdquo;</p> <p> The &ldquo;Save the Date&rdquo; card to kick off the social media effort reads more like an invitation to a fraternity party than a political discussion. It features a picture of Beyonc&eacute; sporting red, white, and blue finger nails and the caption, &ldquo;If you liked it then you shoulda put a vote on it.&rdquo; Obviously, Cosmo is trying to make political participation &ldquo;feel like a party.&rdquo;</p> <p> Oh good, a college frat party illustrates just the serious and sober-minded attitude Cosmo suggests we take toward national elections.</p> <p> Don&rsquo;t worry ladies, it won&rsquo;t be too complicated. Amy Odell,;s editor, said she&rsquo;s going to make sure the election is not &ldquo;boring and difficult to understand.&rdquo;</p> <p> But that&rsquo;s the problem. Is relying on empty slogans and one-sided reporting empowering? Or is it more empowering to actually understand the different positions of the candidates and think independently?</p> <p> And isn&rsquo;t it ironic? Cosmo&mdash;a magazine that routinely reduces women to sexual objects that exist solely for men&rsquo;s pleasure&mdash;is attempting to establish itself as an authority on women&rsquo;s political empowerment. Surely women can see through this.</p> <p> Rather than addressing political issues with the seriousness they deserve, it looks like Cosmo is going to mislead women with biased, one-sided reporting and &ndash; oh yeah &ndash; a cool party approach. Women accustomed to trusting Cosmo&rsquo;s influence over their wardrobe and accessory decisions should be cautious about the magazine&rsquo;s influence on their (much more consequential) political decisions.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the&nbsp;Independent Women&#39;s Forum&nbsp;and founder and president of the&nbsp;Network of enlightened Women.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> AgnessFri, 5 Sep 2014 12:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe New Republic Waters Down Women’s Studies Criticism<p> <span style="font-size: 12px;">&ldquo;Women&rsquo;s Studies Departments Are Failing Feminism&rdquo; &mdash; this is a&nbsp;bold headline. Apparently, it was too bold for&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: 12px;"><a href="" target="_blank">The New Republic</a></em><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <div itemprop="text"> <p> The original, provocative headline has now been watered down to the anodyne, &ldquo;If We Want Feminism to Have a Real Impact, Then Let&rsquo;s Stop Teaching So Much Theory.&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">See the difference here</a>.</p> <p> The original headline caught my eye&nbsp;Monday, but then I noticed the different headline when I returned to the article later this week. Was criticizing Women&rsquo;s Studies Departments too politically incorrect?</p> <p> The author is Elizabeth Segran, who taught &ldquo;feminist theory&rdquo; to undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley. She doesn&rsquo;t attack Women&rsquo;s Studies Departments from the Right. She wants Women&rsquo;s Studies courses to become more effective conduits for feminist activists.&nbsp;This is what might make it all the more frustrating in the eyes of Women&rsquo;s Studies supporters. One of their own is publicly criticizing Women&rsquo;s Studies Departments.&nbsp;Segran calls out these courses for being &ldquo;weighed down by theory and jargon&rdquo; and longs for their early &ldquo;consciousness-raising&rdquo; days:</p> <p> When the first Women&rsquo;s Studies programs were created in the late sixties, &ldquo;the personal is political&rdquo;&nbsp;was the rallying cry. &ldquo;Consciousness-raising&rdquo; led to the realization that problems women assumed were personal could, in fact, be the result of systematic patterns of oppression.</p> <p> Segran advocates for a more activist and less academic direction for these programs:</p> <p> The turn toward abstraction is not unique to Women&rsquo;s Studies. Across the humanities, there has been a widespread shift to theory and jargon, rendering many fields inaccessible to those outside academia. While&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">many critics</a>&nbsp;have pointed out how problematic this is, it is particularly tragic for departments&mdash;like Women&rsquo;s Studies, African American Studies, Native American Studies, and Latino Studies&mdash;that were born out of student activism. In the late 1960s and early &rsquo;70s, universities created these departments to respond to student demands for courses that would give them the knowledge and skills to tackle problems in their communities. Without their activist spark, these fields lose their purpose.</p> <p> I, too, have pointed out some of the problems with Women&rsquo;s Studies Departments, but I have a different take on the activism component of these programs. Here is a link to my online course,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Deconstructing &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s Studies.&rdquo;</a></p> <p> Such discussion of the purpose of these programs should be welcomed by academia.&nbsp;<em>The New Republic</em>&nbsp;did itself, and Women&rsquo;s Studies, no favors by watering down the criticism.</p> </div> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"></iframe></p> AgnessSat, 16 Aug 2014 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGentlemen, Welcome To The Work-Life Balance Convo<p> It&#39;s not just women who are discussing the challenge of work-life balance these days. Max Schireson announced last week that he is quitting his job as CEO of MongoDB, a database company, to spend more time with his family. In a blog post entitled,&nbsp;<a href="">&quot;Why I Am Leaving the Best Job I Ever Had,&quot;</a>&nbsp;he documents his conundrum -- he has three kids ages 14, 12, and 9, anticipates flying more than 300,000 miles this year, and appreciates, but thinks it&#39;s unfair, how much his wife takes on. So he is stepping down as CEO to assume the less prestigious, and less demanding, position as Vice Chairman.</p> <p> Lots of people make similar trade-offs each and every day. But what stands out is that Schireson is a man talking about work-life balance. That has garnered headlines. While men and women have been making choices such as this for years, Schireson is being vocal about his, and is thus joining what has traditionally been a public conversation dominated by women.</p> <p> Good for Schireson. It is helpful to the larger conversation for Schireson, and others like him, to bring light to the fact that work-life balance challenges don&#39;t simply affect women. That men face struggles in this area adds perspective to the conversation women are having. Gentlemen, welcome to the conversation on work-life balance.</p> <p> Schireson began his blog by noting that, unlike his female counterparts, he has never been asked about balancing his roles as father and CEO. Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, how she balances her role as mother and CEO. Indra Nooyi, head of PepsiCo, was asked similar questions. Even in politics, questions are raised as to how female candidates, such as former Governor Sarah Palin, can balance serving in elective office with being a mother. It will be interesting to see if the media starts asking men more of these questions.</p> <p> In her famous article,&nbsp;<a href="">Why Women Still Can&#39;t Have it All,</a>&nbsp;Anne-Marie Slaughter chronicled her battle to balance her job as the first female director of policy planning at the State Department with raising two boys. Her candid account showed the prioritizing, sacrificing, and sometimes impossible balancing she had to do. Her article pushed the ongoing conversation on this topic into high gear and spun off more articles, books, and discussions.</p> <p> Too often, these discussions are one-sided. Maybe women are more comfortable talking about such personal challenges, but it seems that many of these conversations leave out that men face challenges in this regard as well. Yes, there are some differences, as women bear the kids. But men struggle too.</p> <p> According to a&nbsp;<a href="">Pew survey</a>, 56 percent of working mothers and 50 percent of working fathers say it&#39;s &quot;very&quot; or &quot;somewhat difficult&quot; for them to balance work and family. More than half the population struggles with this, yet we often just talk about these struggles in the context of women.</p> <p> Let&#39;s welcome the men to the conversation. And let&#39;s hope this will encourage women to see men more as teammates than competitors in this struggle. Sometimes this conversation quickly devolves into painting men as holding women back. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Arlie Hochschild&#39;s&nbsp;<em>The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home</em>, in which she wrote that women who work outside of the home still took on a greater proportion of work at home compared to men, leading to a &quot;second shift&quot; for these women. This &quot;second shift&quot; language has become a popular way to talk about how women take on jobs, but then are still expected to do more of the housework. This has contributed to the women versus men aspect of this conversation.</p> <p> Shireson&#39;s candor about his choices indicates that maybe it&#39;s time to change the us versus them dynamic of this discussion. Schireson, by the way, praises his wife -- he recognizes that she has quite a balancing act as doctor, professor, wife, and mother. He adopts a tone that should be a model to us all when we have this conversation.</p> <p> Schireson might quickly become known as &quot;CEO Dad&quot; for his decision to leave his position in the name of work-life balance in a public way. Welcome to the conversation.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the<a href="">&nbsp;Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a></em>&nbsp;<em>and founder and president of the</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="">Network of enlightened Women</a></em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> AgnessFri, 15 Aug 2014 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum“Lean In” to Life<p> Mattel has a new Barbie,&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;Entrepreneur Barbie,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;hit shelves this summer, complete with a tablet, smartphone, and briefcase. For only $12.99, you can own this Barbie who is&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;ready to make a bold business move and strike out on her own to achieve her career dreams.&rdquo;</a>She is&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;breaking through plastic ceilings and inspiring girls to follow their dreams,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;and now has her own LinkedIn profile, hashtag, and billboard in Times Square with the slogan, &ldquo;If you can dream it, you can be it.&rdquo;</p> <p> Entrepreneur Barbie&rsquo;s entrance into the &ldquo;girl power&rdquo; discussion is a good reminder that girls not only can choose among a variety of careers, but would be wise to try to think entrepreneurially about building a fulfilling life both inside and outside of the workplace. Young girls shouldn&rsquo;t just think about &ldquo;leaning in&rdquo; to work, but also &ldquo;leaning in&rdquo; to life&mdash;which includes discussions of marriage and family. Barbie now has over 150 careers&mdash;from registered nurse to Olympic athlete to astronaut to presidential candidate. And, as just about any young girl can tell you, she also has Ken.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a message that often causes much hand-wringing among those on the Left who are laser-focused on seeing more women Fortune 500 CEOs. It&rsquo;s okay to encourage women to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; at work, but the truth is that most young women also care about how to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; to life outside of work, including building a marriage and family.</p> <p> Sheryl Sandberg&rsquo;s book,&nbsp;<em>Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,</em>&nbsp;has inspired women across the country to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; at the workplace&mdash;by speaking up in meetings, taking on bigger projects, and asking for greater responsibility. Highlighted copies of the book are being shared, women speakers are being brought in, and Lean In Circles are popping up at corporate headquarters. There is some good advice in her book about how to move up the career ladder. But the problem is more complicated since most women want more than just a fancy title&mdash;they want a fulfilling life inside and outside of the workplace.</p> <p> The large majority of Americans aren&rsquo;t just focused on careers, and this includes college women. The 2012 Her Campus&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;Ultimate College Girl Survey&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;of 2,589 girls ages 17-23 from 677 colleges across the country found that more than 80 percent of respondents wanted to be married by age 30&mdash;17.1 percent under age 25, 46.5 percent between ages 25-27, and 20.9 percent between ages 28-30. And a majority wanted to have kids by age 30&mdash;including a quarter who wanted kids by age 27. By age 27, which is traditionally five years out of college, over 60 percent want to be married and a quarter want to have kids. Where are the serious articles, books, circles, and foundations discussing this?</p> <p> Susan Patton hit the national stage with a letter to the editor to The Daily Princetonian advising women to search for husbands while on campus. Now known as the &ldquo;Princeton Mom,&rdquo; Patton has parlayed this message into op-eds, TV appearances, and a book deal. Her initial observation hardly should have been controversial: She reminded Princeton coeds that they are in an environment which includes the highest concentration of eligible men who share their interests and dreams that they will likely ever find in their lives. So it makes sense to look for a spouse. She&rsquo;s since taken this message in a more controversial direction&mdash;she does have books to sell&mdash;but that her original piece received so much mocking signals how far the pendulum has swung to making it taboo to acknowledge marriage as a life goal.</p> <p> It shouldn&rsquo;t be that way. We should have honest conversations about getting ahead in all aspects of life&mdash;and not just give women advice on the career aspect.</p> <p> Young girls would be better off if so many &ldquo;girl power&rdquo; movements didn&rsquo;t focus on single-minded careerism. Instead of just discussing how to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; to work, we should broaden the discussion to how to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; to life. After all, when we think of Barbie, we don&rsquo;t just think about her career, but also Ken.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, RNC Rising Star, and president and founder of Network of enlightened Women.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> AgnessThu, 7 Aug 2014 07:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNot Your Mother’s Women’s Studies Course<p> Is it possible to get a balanced education when it comes to women, history, and policy on college campuses? The 2014 graduation season suggests not&mdash;Ayaan Hirsi Ali&rsquo;s invitation to speak at Brandeis University was rescinded because some students objected to her views, Condoleezza Rice withdrew as the commencement speaker at Rutgers University after leftist students and faculty protested honoring the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, and IMF Chief&nbsp;<a href="">Christine Lagarde withdrew</a>&nbsp;from speaking at Smith College after a student petition condemned her for her alleged role in &ldquo;strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.&rdquo;</p> <p> Too many traditional academic institutions seem to have given up entirely on the idea of free speech and the value of a diversity of opinions. Fortunately, there are new options for students who want alternative viewpoints and to learn to think critically about these topics:&nbsp; They can take an online course launching this month&mdash;<a href="">Sex, Lies and Women&rsquo;s Studies</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> Part of a new&nbsp;<em>Conservative University</em>&nbsp;initiative, class topics in this course cover feminism, pay inequality, healthcare reform for women, the &ldquo;war on women,&rdquo; and the current state of women&rsquo;s studies programs on campus. And it&rsquo;s free. The course gives students the ammunition they need to better understand these issues and serves as a resource for students when only one side is presented in class.</p> <p> This is not your mother&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s studies course.</p> <p> Lecturers include syndicated columnist Mona Charen, Manhattan Institute Scholar Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum Health Policy Director Hadley Heath, author Kate Obenshain, and President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education Star Parker.&nbsp; These women challenge much conventional wisdom on campus. The course trailer is&nbsp;<a href="">now</a>&nbsp;available.</p> <p> The course kicks off this week with my lecture on women&rsquo;s studies. What&rsquo;s wrong with women&rsquo;s studies departments? There is plenty to discuss, since women&rsquo;s studies departments, centers, and other programs on campus overwhelmingly present a one-sided view of how women should view society, and what we should seek in our personal lives, as well as from the government. These institutions mold how young women view politics and policy today. We see their influence in how we talk about women and policy&mdash;think &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo;</p> <p> It doesn&rsquo;t have to be this way.&nbsp; Many students are eager to take classes on the history of feminism and learn about how women gained rights in this country, such as the right to vote, but don&rsquo;t know what they are getting into with women&rsquo;s studies courses.</p> <p> Women&rsquo;s studies grew out of the women&rsquo;s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and has been explicitly dedicated to promoting feminist activism. Even the website tagline for the National Women&rsquo;s Studies Association reads, &ldquo;Leading the field of women&rsquo;s studies in educational and social transformation.&rdquo; This is not about learning about the past, but activism.</p> <p> The first women&rsquo;s studies department was created in 1970 at San Diego State University.&nbsp; Now students can take these classes all over the country&mdash;there are more than 900 programs in the U.S. with over 10,000 courses and an enrollment larger than that of any other interdisciplinary field, according to a&nbsp;<a href="">Ms. Magazine study</a>. And there are programs in more than 40 countries.</p> <p> Women&rsquo;s studies departments emerged partly because of concern that other academic fields ignored or distorted the experiences of women. These academic pursuits are foiled, however, when teaching becomes replaced by social organizing and serious scholarly inquiry is replaced by an unquestioning political agenda. Sadly, that&rsquo;s what we have today, and it is especially visible as we see how women who hold more conservative views about femininity, sex differences, and ways for women to live fulfilling lives are rejected by the women&rsquo;s studies establishment.&nbsp;<a href="">Sign up</a>&nbsp;for the course to learn more.</p> <p> Students tired of hearing one side of issues on campus and who want to hear alternatives will benefit from spending an hour listening to these lectures.</p> <p> <em><a href="">Follow Karin Agness on Twitter.</a></em></p> AgnessSun, 22 Jun 2014 20:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCommencement Conservatism<p> This graduation season, seniors will sit through what seem like endless speeches full of life advice. Many will hear from politicians &ndash; at least a dozen Senate and House members, a majority of the members of President Barack Obama&rsquo;s cabinet, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Colin Powell, among others, are scheduled to speak &ndash; but this won&rsquo;t be an easy crowd for those politicians.</p> <p> According to the most recent data released in April from Harvard&#39;s Institute of Politics&rsquo; &ldquo;Survey of Young Americans&rsquo; Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service,&rdquo; 62 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds agree with the statement that &ldquo;elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish reasons,&rdquo; and 58 percent agree with the statement that &ldquo;elected officials don&rsquo;t seem to have the same priorities I have.&rdquo; Even Obama doesn&rsquo;t have a majority of support of this demographic. While his approval rating has increased 6 percentage points, from 41 percent to 47 percent, since the November survey, it is down 9 points from the first survey conducted, during the 2010 midterm election cycle. And more than twice as many young Americans believe things are on the wrong track rather than the right one.</p> <p> This disillusionment with politicians might be to the advantage of young people, because it will encourage them to question slick proposals offered by government officials to fix problems. Take Obamacare. For Obamacare to work, it depends on young, generally healthier people signing up to share the cost of care for older, generally sicker people. We&rsquo;ve seen a number of efforts by the administration to try to get young people to enroll in Obamacare &ndash; the president appeared on &quot;Between Two Ferns,&quot; the administration recruited celebrities to promote Obamacare, and Obama&rsquo;s team created a &ldquo;Health Care for the Holidays&rdquo; website to provide a guide for parents on how to talk to their kids about enrolling. And this doesn&rsquo;t even include ads by outside groups, such as the infamous &ldquo;brosurance&rdquo; ad, which encouraged young men to sign up with a keg stand. Yet only 39 percent of young Americans support Obamacare in the Harvard survey. But just disapproving of Obamacare isn&rsquo;t enough.</p> <p> If young people want things to get better, they must take stock of the world they are entering upon graduation, learn from their mistakes and vote for policies that will improve society and particularly the economy for the next group of graduates.</p> <p> With distrust at these levels, you&rsquo;d think young people would be ready to vote and vote for changed leadership. But according to this survey, less than one in four (23 percent) young Americans say they will &ldquo;definitely be voting&rdquo; in the upcoming midterm elections, a decrease of 10 percentage points since the fall survey. There does seem to be more enthusiasm among traditional Republican constituencies &ndash; 44 percent of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 say they are &ldquo;definitely voting&rdquo; versus 35 percent of 2012 Obama voters who say the same.</p> <p> New graduates should do a reality check. Young people were one of the president&rsquo;s most loyal constituencies. Yet, his policies are making it more difficult for them to get a job out of college, let alone to embark on a path to true success. Graduating seniors still face high unemployment. It&rsquo;s time to recognize that this generation deserves better and hold elected leadership accountable for their failures.</p> <p> Twenty-nine percent of 18 to 29 year-olds agree with the statement that &ldquo;political involvement rarely has any tangible results.&rdquo; That means almost a third of this demographic doesn&rsquo;t believe that joining the political process leads to change.</p> <p> But they should also consider this: Not getting involved in politics guarantees that their interests won&#39;t be taken seriously. Politicians delivering graduation speeches will try to inspire the students to change the world. Graduates instead should take a look at the world around them and use their distrust of government to fight for a new era of rolling back government&rsquo;s power and returning it to citizens like them.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.&nbsp;</em></p> AgnessFri, 16 May 2014 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCosmo: Swapping Fashion For Liberal Politics<p> A recent lead story,&nbsp;&ldquo;<a href="">How the GOP&rsquo;s Block of the Minimum Wage Bill Hurts Women</a>,&rdquo;&nbsp;was hard to miss at the top of the homepage &mdash; it was in bright pink under &ldquo;Must Read!&rdquo; and was directly above the headline, &ldquo;4 Problems All Women With Big Boobs Have While Shopping.&rdquo;</p> <p> Anyone who still claims women&rsquo;s magazines are harmless when it comes to politics should take a look. Conservatives in particular must go where the battles are to win women, and that includes women&rsquo;s magazines with headlines on diet tricks, guy tips and fashion styles because that&rsquo;s not all that is in them. Despite none of the major categories listed on the navigational toolbar (Relationships, Celebs, Beauty &amp; Fashion, Health and Work) mentioning politics, politics seeps in, sometimes covertly and sometimes more obviously.</p> <p> And Cosmopolitan is increasingly entering the political realm. In April, Cosmopolitan announced that it hired Feministe blogger and&nbsp;<em>Guardian</em>&nbsp;columnist Jill Filipovic to cover politics. In her first article in this role, she begins by hitting hard on Republicans:</p> <p> <em>In case Republicans hadn&rsquo;t made their view of women clear in their crusades against contraception and their&nbsp;<a href="">closure of abortion clinics</a>, they&rsquo;ve moved from your uterus to your pocketbook. First came their unanimous rejection of a bill that would have guaranteed&nbsp;<a href="">equal pay for women</a>. And yesterday, Senate Republicans&nbsp;<a href="">blocked a measure</a>&nbsp;that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current rate of $7.25. That&nbsp;<a href="">legislation</a>&nbsp;would have allowed women across the United States to earn a livable wage, narrow the pay gap, and keep their families above water.</em></p> <p> Cosmopolitan should hire someone to write a response piece, or if not, at least disclose that it is a mouthpiece for liberal policies and the Democratic Party.</p> <p> A response piece would debate a number of her points.</p> <p> Though Filipovic is right that economic policies, such as the minimum wage, are women&rsquo;s issues, she doesn&rsquo;t acknowledge how raising the wage results in job loss and therefore can harm the same people it&rsquo;s supposedly trying to help. As any good shopper knows, when something costs more, you can buy fewer of them. And in fact, the&nbsp;<a href="">Congressional Budget Office</a>&nbsp;estimated that if the minimum wage went up to $10.10 as proposed, 500,000 jobs would be eliminated. Where is the sympathy for the hardship these women will face?</p> <p> Then comes equal pay legislation. She repeats the debunked line that women make just 77 cents for a dollar a man makes. This is willfully misleading. Even feminist&nbsp;<a href="">Hanna Rosin</a>&nbsp;wrote that using the number in this way doesn&rsquo;t add up, because that statistic doesn&rsquo;t take into account the differences in hours worked, industries chosen, and years of experience. In a much talked-about press conference, Jay Carney acknowledged this while justifying why the White House itself has a considerable wage gap under the 77-cent logic used by Filipovic.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s worse is that Filipovic directly bashes the Republican Party. She writes, &ldquo;The Republican Party serves two distinct but sometimes overlapping factions: Big corporate interests and social conservatives.&rdquo; Apparently, that&rsquo;s it. She doesn&rsquo;t take into account people who choose the Republican Party because they believe that limiting government&rsquo;s power is the best way to preserve liberty and help Americans. It wasn&rsquo;t that long ago that Americans elected a Republican president, and Republicans control the House today. In caricaturing what the GOP stands for, she dismisses a huge part of the population.</p> <p> The Republican Party is aware it has work to do when it comes to women. The Growth and Opportunity Project report, an autopsy on what went wrong in 2012 released by the Republican National Committee, noted that President Barack Obama won women by 11 points and he won single women, who make up 40 percent of female voters, by 36 percent.</p> <p> With stories like&nbsp;<a href="">this one on</a>, it is no wonder that the Republican Party is having a difficult time winning over single women. But Republicans cannot give up &mdash; we need to call out blatant bias wherever we see it, and make sure that women&rsquo;s magazine readers are also getting the other side of the story.</p> <p> <em>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.</em></p> AgnessWed, 7 May 2014 13:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCollege students need intellectual diversity on campuses • Rick Amato Show AgnessTue, 6 May 2014 08:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTime for More Uncomfortable Conversations<p class="p1"> <span class="s1">I was recently in New Orleans participating in what was supposed to be a debate at Tulane with a professor. This professor, who has a Ph.D. in Women&rsquo;s Studies, began her presentation by stating that feminism taught her to reject the &ldquo;debate&rdquo; construct, and, instead, to have &ldquo;uncomfortable conversations.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Regardless of what this feminist professor says, for the benefit of students, true debates are needed on feminism and what it means to be a successful woman today. The Left has taken hold of this movement and incorrectly defined empowerment for women today.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Sometimes true debate is the last thing these feminist professors want. Earlier this semester, I was invited to debate another outspoken feminist professor, but then the student organizers informed me that this professor turned it down because she didn&rsquo;t have an advance copy of my opening speech. Another professor, who was less knowledgeable on the subject, agreed to participate as a matter of principle, and the feminist professor attended the debate instead &mdash; this is hardly a show of strength for her beliefs.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Administrators also seem uncomfortable with a rigorous discussion of competing ideas at times. Rutgers University president Robert Barchi thwarted an effort by the <a href=""><span class="s2">Faculty Council at Rutgers University New Brunswick</span></a> to rescind Condoleezza Rice&rsquo;s invitation to speak at commencement this spring. Rice served at the highest levels of the government &mdash; first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State &mdash; but the faculty denounced her because she held these positions in the George W. Bush administration. As a result of continued faculty and student protests, Rice withdrew, not wanting to become a distraction.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The president of Brandeis University ran the opposite direction. Brandeis University announced it was no longer going to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree at commencement after complaints about her past comments. The official statement said, &ldquo;We cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University&rsquo;s core values.&rdquo; Somalia-born Hirsi Ali suffered genital mutilation as a child and escaped an arranged marriage by obtaining political asylum in the Netherlands. There she became a member of parliament. She is an outspoken defender of women&rsquo;s rights around the world.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The <a href=""><i>Wall Street Journal</i></a> published an abridged version of what she would have said if given the opportunity to speak at Brandeis: &ldquo;We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking, where all ideas are welcome and where civil debate is encouraged. I&rsquo;m used to being shouted down on campuses, so I am grateful for the opportunity to address you today. I do not expect all of you to agree with me, but I very much appreciate your willingness to listen.&rdquo; The students didn&rsquo;t have the opportunity to hear her. The silver lining is that at least this controversy started a larger discussion on intellectual diversity on campus today.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">It is one we need to continue to take seriously. Students benefit from intellectual diversity on campus, whether in the classroom or as a part of extracurricular events. Even at commencement, we see an imbalance. According to a study of high-level former and current officials and operatives conducted by <a href=""><i>Campus Reform</i></a>, Democrats outnumber Republicans as commencement speakers by a two-to-one margin.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">After visiting a dozen campuses this semester, I can tell you that we need more debates on feminism today. Women&rsquo;s institutions on campus overwhelmingly present a one-sided view of what women should seek in their personal lives as well as from the government.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Conservatives must push back. At the same event at Tulane, I pointed out the problems with the Life of Julia infographic created by the Obama campaign during the last election showing what life would be like under President Barack Obama, which involved government interaction at every major stage in a woman&rsquo;s life. A Tulane student asked what was wrong with this, as she said she wanted to be able to rely on the government. I was gratified to be able to provide my opinion to her, explaining that I don&rsquo;t believe this is what previous generations of women&rsquo;s-rights advocates fought for &mdash; the idea of women dependent on the federal government. She may not have agreed with me at that moment, but I hope that it gave her something to think about and opened her mind for the next time she saw an infographic or read an article about women and public policy.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Our &ldquo;uncomfortable conversation&rdquo; taught me that we must engage more on campuses to give an alternative view and encourage students to think more critically about issues. After all, that&rsquo;s what an education is supposed to be, isn&rsquo;t it?</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s1">&mdash; <i>Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.</i></span></p> <p class="p2"> Follow Karin on <a href="">Twitter</a>.</p> AgnessMon, 5 May 2014 17:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum