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 A Fright: Counseling For Offensive Costumes At The University Of Florida<p> As Halloween approaches, Americans young and old are readying their costumes for a night of fright and fun. Besides the usual ghosts, superheroes, and witches, some people are likely planning creative costumes that make light of current events. Expect to see more than a few donning &ldquo;Make America Great Again&rdquo; hats or pantsuits and blonde wigs to imitate our presidential candidates.</p> <p> At the University of Florida, students who are offended by these or other Halloween costumes now have the option to take advantage of around-the-clock counseling.</p> <p> According to a <a href="">University of Florida memo</a>,</p> <p> If you choose to participate in Halloween activities, we encourage you to think about your choices of costumes and themes.&nbsp;Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people.&nbsp;</p> <p> The memo informs students that if they are offended, they can email the U Matter, We Care program and &ldquo;there is a 24/7 counselor in the Counseling and Wellness Center available to speak by phone.&rdquo;</p> <p> Furthermore, students can inform the Bias Education and Response Team, which is ready to, &ldquo;respond to any reported incidents of bias, to educate those that were involved, and to provide support by connecting those that were impacted to the appropriate services and resources.&rdquo;</p> <p> Intervening in Halloween costume choices is the latest example of college administrators treating students more like delicate children than mature adults.</p> <p> Unfortunately, the University of Florida isn&rsquo;t the first university to send such a memo.</p> <p> Last year, <a href="">The Intercultural Affairs Committee</a> at Yale sent an email to students&nbsp;on Halloween costume guidelines to discourage students from wearing offensive costumes. In response, Erika Christakis, Associate Master of Silliman College and Lecturer at the Yale Child Study Center,<a href="">&nbsp;emailed students</a>&nbsp;of the residential college, challenging them to think more deeply about the issue&mdash;about what is offensive, the role of the university and the role of students.</p> <p> Christakis wrote, &ldquo;we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween.&rdquo;</p> <p> Her email continued:</p> <p> American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people&rsquo;s capacity &ndash; in your capacity &ndash; to exercise selfcensure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?</p> <p> Her comments outraged students and <a href=";list=PLvIqJIL2kOMefn77xg6-6yrvek5kbNf3Z&amp;index=3">upset students publicly confronted her husband</a>, Nicholas Christakis, the Master of Silliman College and a Yale Professor.</p> <p> The suggestion that Yale students should be able to think through Halloween costumes without intervention from administrators and deal with any costumes they consider offensive on their own was considered treason to many Yalies. Erika and Nicholas Christakis cancelled their spring courses and resigned from the residential college within the year.</p> <p> Some people make bad decisions about costumes. But the University of Florida and other universities should be working to cultivate an environment in which students make good decisions and can manage a situation on their own when others offend them.</p> <p> The role of the university is not to remove any and all distasteful or offensive occurrences from the students&rsquo; lives.</p> <p> Maybe a student will dress up as a mature college student this year&mdash;university administrators don&rsquo;t seem to think they exist anymore.</p> AgnessMon, 17 Oct 2016 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat Hillary Clinton Should Learn From Margaret Thatcher<p> Today would have been Margaret Thatcher&rsquo;s 91st birthday. The Iron Lady was born on October 13, 1925. During her lifetime, she rose to become a leader on the world stage and a true ally to the United States. While she was Britain&rsquo;s first female prime minister, she is more well-known for what she did in office than her sex. Thatcher fought the perils of socialism at home and communism abroad.</p> <p> Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should learn this lesson from Margaret Thatcher.</p> <p> Thatcher certainly didn&rsquo;t take on the feminist label and famously said, &ldquo;I owe nothing to women&rsquo;s lib.&rdquo; Allan Mayer, her biographer, <a href="">wrote</a>, &ldquo;In Margaret Thatcher&rsquo;s view, her sex is an irrelevancy, and she is annoyed by people who make too much of a fuss over it.&rdquo;</p> <p> While Thatcher didn&rsquo;t ignore her sex or the sex of voters, she did not make it the justification for her campaign and leadership. For example, <a href="">she said</a>, &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve got a woman&rsquo;s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.&rdquo;</p> <p> And she said, &ldquo;Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.&rdquo;</p> <p> Clinton has had an uneasy relationship throughout her two presidential bids with the historic nature of her candidacy. She downplayed it in 2008 compared to 2016 until the end of her campaign. At her last campaign rally at the National Building Museum, <a href="">she said</a>, &ldquo;Although we weren&rsquo;t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it&rsquo;s got about 18 million cracks in it.&rdquo;</p> <p> She has taken a different approach in 2016. At her first campaign rally, she mentioned her sex right away. <a href="">Clinton said</a>, &ldquo;I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I&rsquo;ll be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.&rdquo; And then her<a href=""> campaign released</a> a &ldquo;44 boys is too many!&rdquo; video advertisement featuring girls reading letters to Clinton encouraging her candidacy. She has continued to bring up how much her victory would mean to little girls in America and made that a campaign theme.</p> <p> Yes, if Clinton wins, she will be the first female president. That will always be part of her legacy. But if she wants to be remembered for more than her sex, which she should, then she would be wise to learn from Thatcher and not make that her central focus.</p> <p> A true victory for American feminism would be that the first woman president is remembered for being a great president, not just the first woman president.</p> AgnessThu, 13 Oct 2016 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat To Expect In The Second Presidential Debate<p> The work week ended with two bombshells&mdash;<em>The Washington Post</em> obtained and posted a 2005 video of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump saying inexcusable things about women and WikiLeaks released alleged Clinton campaign emails showing excerpts from paid speeches that she has refused to release herself. Americans don&rsquo;t have to wait any longer for October surprises.</p> <p> But many are anxiously awaiting to see what the second presidential debate on Sunday night will bring.</p> <p> One of the key questions for the debate on Sunday is whether Trump will show up prepared for it or not, assuming Trump is still in the race.</p> <p> Trump won the support of legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight who was known for his extreme game preparation when he was coaching. In a stump speech during the hotly contested Indiana primary, <a href="">Knight said of Trump</a>, &ldquo;You folks are taking a look at the most prepared man in history to step in as president of the United States, that man right there.&rdquo; This was not the case at the first debate.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active end ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> Much talk leading up to the first presidential debate on September 26 centered on a contrast between Trump taking a more relaxed approach and Clinton leaving the campaign trail to practice. It showed. Trump was unprepared for predictable questions and missed opportunities to nail Clinton on her weaknesses. Take a question on cybersecurity&mdash;why didn&rsquo;t he hammer on her email scandal?</p> <p> And then there is the woman question. <a href="http://will%20a%20question%20about%20women%20trip%20up%20trump%20this%20time/?"><strong>Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.</strong></a>, it was predictable that either the moderator or Clinton would press Trump on his inappropriate statements about women. After all, he has struggled on these questions from Trump&rsquo;s first debate with Fox&rsquo;s Megyn Kelly raising the issue. Trump failed to answer Clinton&rsquo;s question on his use of language when talking about women.</p> <p> Now there is the &ldquo;Access Hollywood&rdquo; video of Trump boasting to Billy Bush about the terrible way he treats women as sex objects. That issue is going to come up. His comments are indefensible. He needs to be prepared to apologize again and respond sincerely. Prominent Republicans are withdrawing their support and more and more are calling on him to step down. Senator Mike Crapo, who had endorsed Trump, issued a statement this morning rescinding his endorsement and asking for Trump to step aside. In an interview with <em>The Washington Post</em> this morning, <a href=";tid=ss_tw">Trump said</a>, &ldquo;I&rsquo;d never withdraw. I&rsquo;ve never withdrawn in my life.&rdquo;</p> <p> The person who could replace Trump is his Vice Presidential running mate Governor Mike Pence. Pence hands down won the one and only vice presidential debate on Tuesday. Pence came across as calm, measured and trustworthy&mdash;characteristics that voters want in a president and vice president and are sorely missing this election cycle. His opponent, Senator Tim Kaine, came across as an annoying dog nipping at heels. Pence did what he needed to do&mdash;made America more comfortable with him after the debate.</p> <p> As for Clinton, she has been on the national political stage for more than two decades, so her expectations are higher. She needs to get better at answering questions about her scandals from the deleted emails to the latest from WikiLeaks. And she has to continue to try to get people excited to vote for her, including those staunch Senator Bernie Sanders supporters and Independents. One way to do this is to win people to her side, and the other, is to turn more people against Trump.</p> <p> There are so many sensational stories this election cycle, it is no wonder that important policy issues like the failures of ObamaCare aren&rsquo;t getting their due.</p> <p> Tune in at 9pm EST Sunday to see some inevitable fireworks and maybe some policy discussions.</p> AgnessSat, 8 Oct 2016 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMillennials Need New Policies, Not New Hashtags<p> The White House held its <a href="">Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit</a> on Tuesday for young people to come together and share how they are going to persuade their peers to sign up for ObamaCare. The fourth Open Enrollment period begins November 1, 2016.</p> <p> According to a June Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services <a href="">media release</a>, younger and healthier adults are more likely than average to remain uninsured. The CMMS lists how young people benefit from having insurance, such as protecting against catastrophic costs from a serious illness, and then hits at the larger issue&mdash;young people signing up &ldquo;contributes to a more balanced Marketplace risk pool and lower costs.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s the key.</p> <p> For ObamaCare to work, younger, healthier people must sign up to subsidize older people who generally consume more healthcare.</p> <p> This Administration has all kinds of &ldquo;new&rdquo; strategies to try to reach young people who have not signed up for ObamaCare, operating on an assumption that millennials aren&rsquo;t signing up because they don&rsquo;t know about it or don&rsquo;t realize the supposed benefits&mdash;not because young people might be weighing their options and purposely opting out.</p> <p> There is a public-private partnership with Lyft for discounted rides to attend Open Enrollment events, a faster email response plan, and even a #HealthyAdulting hashtag campaign. This echoes a long history of efforts to try to get young people to sign up&mdash;from encouraging <a href="">parents to talk to their kids during Thanksgiving</a> to celebrity spots to President Barack Obama appearing on&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis&rdquo;</a> to pitch young people on signing up for ObamaCare and ensuring them that, &ldquo; works great now.&rdquo;</p> <p> Millennials don&rsquo;t need new hashtag campaigns. What they need are new policies.</p> <p> Two conservative women&rsquo;s groups, the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and the Network of enlightened Women (see my affiliation in my bio), are leading the way, by offering the <a href="">Working for Young Women report</a>. This Report includes more than a dozen policy reform ideas to create a more dynamic society in a responsible way&mdash;not just suggesting more &ldquo;free&rdquo; government programs that will shift costs to the next generation or new slick advertisements trying to fit millennials in old programs. The Report encourages millennials and in particular, young women to rethink old issues.</p> <p> Take health insurance. According to a <a href="">Gallup poll published in August</a>, only half of millennials plan to stay with their company one year from now. Changing health insurance regularly is a headache. Millennials should advocate for unlinking health insurance from employment.</p> <p> Or student loans. Despite increases in government loans, which are intended to make college more affordable, college costs keep rising. Approximately 70 percent of graduates leave college with student loan debt, averaging $30,000. There seems to be an endless number of administrators, deans and provosts on college campuses. Millennials should push for accountability in higher education and make cost-conscious decisions. For example, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels imposed tuition freezes to force Purdue to rethink spending. This caused pressure on other universities in Indiana to freeze tuition as well for fear of losing good students.</p> <p> Conservative policy reforms will benefit young people, including young women. These policies are about returning power to individuals and creating a more flexible, dynamic society.</p> <p> Millennials don&rsquo;t need more slick marketing campaigns from the White House. They need new policy ideas, and conservatives have them.</p> AgnessFri, 30 Sep 2016 12:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat To Watch For In The First Presidential Debate<p> Two-thirds of registered voters expect to watch the first Trump-Clinton debate, <a href="">according to a recent Morning Consult poll</a>. It is on track to become the most watched debate ever and might even get close to Super Bowl viewing numbers. The first Republican primary debate shattered records. 24 million people tuned in to watch the first Republican primary debate, <a href="">the highest-rated primary debate in television history</a> and bigger than the MLB World Series games.</p> <p> Republican nominee Donald Trump knows how to make good TV and people want to see what he will do, which explains much of the interest. Instead of focusing only on the entertainment value of the debate, here are some things we should be watching for:</p> <p> Will a question about women trip up Trump this time?</p> <p> From <a href="">&ldquo;Woman Cards&rdquo;</a> being sold on her campaign website to a <a href="">video</a> showcasing little girls reading letters to Hillary Clinton encouraging her candidacy, Clinton has made the possibility of making history by becoming the first female president a key narrative of her campaign. She relies on this narrative to different extents depending on the circumstances.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> Women were an important constituency to President Barack Obama winning in the last presidential election. Obama won women by 11 points, and won single women, 40 percent of female voters, by 36 percent. It is no wonder Clinton offers many policies in the name of helping single working women.</p> <p> Trump has struggled in previous debates when it comes to &ldquo;women questions,&rdquo; so expect some question that will hit on this from the moderator or a comment baiting Trump from Clinton.</p> <p> A memorable moment in the first primary debate occurred when Fox&rsquo;s Megyn Kelly asked Trump about some of the comments he had made about women, specifically calling them &ldquo;fat pigs,&rdquo; &ldquo;dogs,&rdquo; &ldquo;slobs&rdquo; and &ldquo;disgusting animals.&rdquo;</p> <p> In a later debate, Carly Fiorina was asked if she would like to respond to a disparaging remark Trump made that people wouldn&rsquo;t vote for &ldquo;that face,&rdquo; her face. She said she would let the comments speak for themselves: &ldquo;I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.&rdquo;</p> <p> Will the candidates focus on issues?</p> <p> The three topics of the debate are &ldquo;America&rsquo;s Direction,&rdquo; &ldquo;Achieving Prosperity&rdquo; and &ldquo;Securing America.&rdquo; According to a <a href="">Washington Post-ABC News poll</a> out this week, 32 percent of registered voters say that the economy and jobs is the most important issue in choosing a candidate, while 23 percent picked terrorism and national security.</p> <p> There has been much talk about which candidates have detailed plans on these issues and what those plans entail. The debate will be an opportunity for Clinton and Trump to lay out some more specifics.</p> <p> But will Clinton and Trump resist the temptation to take shots at one another?</p> <p> This month, Clinton claimed half of Trump&rsquo;s supporters fit into a &ldquo;basket of deplorables.&rdquo; She later expressed &ldquo;regret&rdquo; for this comment. And this weekend Trump responded to Clinton inviting outspoken Trump critic Mark Cuban to attend the debate by tweeting that he &ldquo;perhaps&rdquo; would invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate. While NBC&rsquo;s Lester Holt may try to keep the candidates on the planned topics, we all will be watching to see who throws the first personal attack.</p> <p> Which Trump will show up?</p> <p> Throughout the primary season, Trump promised Republicans that he would become more presidential during the general election. He often seems to be playing a game of one step forward and one step backward in this regard, but has shown some discipline to stay on message lately. This is his time to get beyond the Trump rally attendees and make his case to tens of millions of Americans.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> Will America like the candidates better after the debate?</p> <p> Perhaps the biggest question of all is whether either candidate will be able to leave a more favorable impression on viewers after the debate. 57 percent of registered voters have an <a href="">unfavorable impression of Clinton</a>. Trump has the same unfavorable number. In a <a href="">survey this summer</a>, millennials rated Trump and Clinton with higher unfavorables than Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series.</p> <p> It is difficult to win the vote of people who view you unfavorably. Tune in at 9pm Monday night for the 90 minute debate to see if either candidate can win over voters.</p> AgnessSun, 25 Sep 2016 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum'Pinksourcing' Is The Latest Misleading Equal Pay Effort<p> Many celebrities have issues that get discussed in very public ways, even on reality TV shows such as <em>Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew</em>. The issue a new comedy HuffPost series, &ldquo;Celebs Have Issues,&rdquo; tackles in its <a href="">first episode</a> isn&rsquo;t about a failed relationship or addiction, but instead a public policy issue&mdash;equal pay for women in the workplace.</p> <p> Dressed in pink, actress Kristen Bell makes a pitch that the way for companies to save money is not through outsourcing production &ldquo;to far away countries like India, China and Narnia,&rdquo; but through &ldquo;Pinksourcing,&rdquo; hiring a female labor force, because women are paid less than men. As she strolls through cubicles, she says, &ldquo;With Pinksourcing, women are a bargain at the workplace, since you only have to pay them 77 cents on the dollar.&rdquo;</p> <p> Added bonus? &ldquo;They smell nice&rdquo; and bring in baked goods.</p> <p> Bell&rsquo;s jokes may be funny, but the video further misleads American women about the facts regarding pay in the workplace.</p> <p> Many women have embraced the 77 cents on the dollar statistic as evidence that they face systematic discrimination in the workforce and as a reason to support additional federal legislation.</p> <p> The Equal Pay Act, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy, made sex-based discrimination in pay illegal and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate based on sex in the workplace.</p> <p> The 77 cents number is more complicated than Bell lets on.</p> <p> The statistic Bell cites compares the <a href="">median earnings</a> of full-time working men and women overall in our economy, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.</p> <p> It doesn&rsquo;t compare two men and women working in the same job. It doesn&rsquo;t take into account a lot of choices that men and women make that no doubt impact earnings&mdash;including choices such as education level, years of experience, type of job and <a href="">hours worked</a>.</p> <p> Bell then mocks those women who choose to leave the workforce, &ldquo;Women don&rsquo;t even really want to be working anyway. They&rsquo;d rather be home taking care of the family, while their husband gets to make life choices and follow his dreams and play fantasy football.&rdquo;</p> <p> While this is a comedy series, Bell makes it sound as if no woman in her right mind would ever make this choice. Some women do make the life choice to leave the workforce. That&rsquo;s ok. Women who leave the workforce to take care of their families should be treated just as equally as women who forge ahead to the C-suite. The women&rsquo;s empowerment movement should be about empowering women to make that decision.</p> <p> It is not just celebrities who get the equal pay issue wrong.</p> <p> When misleading information a celebrity is spreading is part of a narrative that could influence legislation, it especially needs to be debunked.</p> <p> Presidential candidate <a href="">Hillary Clinton has repeatedly raised the equal pay issue and tweeted</a> on April 15 this year, &ldquo;A typical woman working full-time is paid just 79% of what a man makes, but there&rsquo;s no discount for being a woman.&rdquo;</p> <p> The 77 cent or now 79 cent statistic is often used by Clinton to justify new equal pay legislation that would increase federal government regulation of employment pay decisions. But Clinton doesn&rsquo;t talk about the secondary effects of the legislation, such as making it more expensive to hire employees, including women.</p> <p> Bell, who sang with other celebrities at the Democratic National Convention, is taking on an important policy issue. Just as actresses get to know the characters before taking them on, Bell should get to know the equal pay issue before speaking out about it.</p> <p> Before women of America embrace Bell&rsquo;s &ldquo;Pinksourcing&rdquo; video, they should take a closer look at the 77 cents on the dollar statistic and the misleading way it has been used to justify calls for more equal pay regulations.</p> AgnessFri, 16 Sep 2016 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConservative Women Are The Underdogs On Campus<p> In a recent interview on the popular blog Humans of New York, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton <a href="">described one of the obstacles</a> she has overcome in her long journey towards the White House. While taking the law school admissions test at Harvard, Clinton was one of the only women in the room. &ldquo;I was feeling nervous,&rdquo; she explained. And a group of men heckled the women with comments such as, &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t need to be here&rdquo; and &ldquo;There&rsquo;s plenty else you can do.&rdquo; One even warned her that she was threatening to take his spot, which would result in death from being drafted to Vietnam. &ldquo;And they weren&rsquo;t kidding around,&rdquo; Clinton said, &ldquo;It was intense. It got very personal.&rdquo;</p> <p> In the early 1970s, it is easy to imagine that a go-getting woman like Clinton might draw hostility from college men who were threatened by her ambition. Back then, women <a href="">made up just 10 percent of first year students enrolled in law school</a>. This type of treatment fanned the flames of feminism in the 1970s as women looked for camaraderie and to change the system.</p> <p> But in 2016, it is difficult to imagine that many women on college campuses today feel similar pressure. After all, women make up almost 50 percent of first year enrollment in law schools and earn a majority of bachelor&rsquo;s degrees.</p> <p> Unfortunately, bias and even harassment remains a real problem on America&rsquo;s college campuses. In many cases, it&rsquo;s conservative students who are the subject of unwanted pressure and hostility from their fellow undergraduates and faculty. The irony of the current underdog story on college campuses is that it&rsquo;s Clinton&rsquo;s feminist standard-bearers who are often to blame for marginalizing conservative women.</p> <p> I was laughed at by a staff member when I asked our Women&rsquo;s Center at the University of Virginia if they would be open to cosponsoring an organization for conservative women.</p> <p> As the leader of what became a national organization for conservative young women, the Network of enlightened Women (known as NeW), I hear stories semester after semester from women who are frustrated that their campus feminist counterparts mock them, insult them and try to shut them down. From peer attacks on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app, to very public organized protests against conservative female speakers, conservative women receive the message that they don&rsquo;t belong.</p> <p> Conservatives need to take a page out of the playbook of the 1970s feminists who transitioned from &ldquo;consciousness raising&rdquo; groups into a larger public movement to cause change and recruit new members. It is time for conservative young women to stop hiding their conservative views and shout their conservatism.</p> <p> To facilitate this, today NeW is launching the #ShesConservative social media campaign as part of a national effort to create a community for young conservative women. The initiative gives women a platform to share their stories of why they are conservative. <a href="">In a campaign video</a>, the students interviewed mentioned being called, &ldquo;unintelligent,&rdquo; &ldquo;ignorant,&rdquo; &ldquo;uneducated,&rdquo; &ldquo;anti-women,&rdquo; &ldquo;stupid&rdquo; and &ldquo;heartless&rdquo; when asked how people respond to finding out they are conservative.</p> <p> The #ShesConservative campaign shatters stereotypes about what young women believe today and who makes up the conservative movement. Not all young women are liberals. As part of the effort, students took photos in a &ldquo;This Is What A Conservative Looks Like&rdquo; t-shirt and submitted essays.</p> <p> Paige Lisicki, a student at American University, <a href="">wrote</a> that she knew she was conservative, &ldquo;when I received my first paycheck at age 16 and found out the government didn&rsquo;t think I was smart enough to save for my own retirement and forced me to pay into social security, a failing big government program.&rdquo;</p> <p> Ashley Sheek, a student at Western Carolina University, <a href="">wrote</a>, &ldquo;I am a God-fearing, free-market-loving woman who doesn&rsquo;t need government to be strong and successful.&rdquo;</p> <p> Harvard student <a href="">Emily Hall wrote</a> that she is conservative because she believes in the Constitution, personal responsibility and &ldquo;defending our freedoms.&rdquo;</p> <p> These young women are the faces of conservatism.</p> <p> Over and over in her campaign, Clinton has said that her victory will ensure that girls know they can do anything they want to do. Well, these young women speaking out are letting other women and the world know that young women can be pro-woman and conservative. This might encourage their detractors to at least come to the table for dialogue, rather than automatically dismiss them.</p> AgnessMon, 12 Sep 2016 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLessons We Can Learn From Phyllis Schlafly<p> The conservative movement has lost an early organizer and leader with the passing of 92-year-old Phyllis Schlafly, the Founder of Eagle Forum, author and mother of six children. Regardless of your politics, Schlafly&rsquo;s story is worth knowing. At a time when many Americans feel powerless with the direction of the nation, her life shows the difference one person can make.</p> <p> Schlafly began her public leadership fighting Communism in the 1950s. That ideological war sometimes seems like a long time ago, but it was real for Schlafly.&nbsp;She was never afraid to take on a big fight</p> <p> She self-published the first of her 27 books, <em>A Choice Not An Echo</em>, in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater securing the Republican Party&rsquo;s nomination. She steadfastly engaged in Republican platform and nomination battles until her death.</p> <p> Schlafly is most well-known (and resented by feminists) for her work to stop the Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment that proponents argued would ensure equal rights for men and women under the law. Schlafly had a different opinion and skillfully launched her &ldquo;STOP ERA&rdquo; movement&mdash;&ldquo;STOP&rdquo; stood for, &ldquo;Stop Taking Our Privileges.&rdquo; Schlafly argued that women would be left worse off with the ERA for a variety of reasons, from giving more power to the federal government to eliminating legal structures that protected many women.</p> <p> The ERA had broad support, having passed Congress and been ratified by 30 states, by the time Schlafly decided to wage a campaign against it. The ERA even had the support of First Ladies from both sides of the political aisle, Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter, and movie stars.</p> <p> Schlafly successfully galvanized women nationwide to join her grassroots movement. She did it in her politically savvy way&mdash;for example, encouraging stay-at-home moms to take homemade bread to state legislators and directly engaging with feminists.</p> <p> Throughout her life, she seemed to have a special ability to infuriate feminists and she took pleasure in it. She used to enjoy beginning her remarks by thanking her husband for letting her come because, &ldquo;I always like to say that, because it makes the libs so mad.&rdquo;</p> <p> Betty Friedan, author of <em>The Feminine Mystique</em> and a founder of the National Organization for Women, said during a debate with Schlafly, &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to burn you at the stake. I consider you a traitor to your sex. I consider you an Aunt Tom.&rdquo;</p> <p> To her opponents, challenging the feminist party line meant that Schlafly didn&rsquo;t count as a woman.&nbsp;Mentioning Schlafly&rsquo;s name to this day draws a strong reaction from feminists and those on the Left.</p> <p> Here are three tweets less than 24 hours after the announcement of her death:</p> <p> Upon learning of her death, <a href="">Ella Dawson from Femsplain tweeted</a>, &ldquo;Am I&hellip; am I allowed to be happy? Is that okay?&rdquo;</p> <p> Glenn Thrush, Chief Political Correspondent at POLITICO, <a href="">tweeted</a>: &ldquo;RIP, Phyllis Schlafly. No woman ever worked so tirelessly, ventured so far on behalf of the belief that other women should do none of that.&rdquo;</p> <p> And @Spectralfeminst&nbsp;<a href="">tweeted</a>, &ldquo;Phyllis Schlafly died today. I&rsquo;m celebrating! Holding a party of one &lt;3#feminismwins&rdquo;</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> The ERA was never ratified. Karen DeCrow, president of NOW in the mid-1970s <a href="">said</a>, &ldquo;Would the ERA have passed without Phyllis? That&rsquo;s the $64,000 question.&rdquo; Schlafly used to like to joke that as soon as she died, the feminists would try to ratify it again.</p> <p> Feminist writer Rebecca Traister has <a href="">already tweeted</a>, &ldquo;So &hellip; can we ratify it now?&rdquo;</p> <p> Knowing that a mom from the Midwest could lead a national movement to stop a constitutional amendment teaches that everyone can make a difference in our political system, as dysfunctional as it may be at times.</p> <p> Schlafly also taught the next generations of conservative women how to take on modern feminists with poise, fearlessness and a sense of humor.</p> AgnessTue, 6 Sep 2016 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDean Warns Freshmen That University Of Chicago Values Academic Freedom<p> After being accepted by a college, students receive all types of preparation&mdash;from handbooks to orientation weekends. Students at the <a href="">University of Chicago</a> might have received the most helpful material of all. John Ellison, Dean of Students in The College, sent incoming freshmen a letter posted on <a href="">Intellectual Takeout</a>, informing them that the University takes academic freedom seriously. He wrote:</p> <p> Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.</p> <p> Before students step foot on campus, they are being warned that this university actually values academic freedom, even if it may cause &ldquo;discomfort&rdquo; in students. This is a very different attitude than what we are seeing on many campuses. Last September, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt wrote a piece for <em>The Atlantic</em>, <a href="">The Coddling of the American Mind</a>, about the trend on campus &ldquo;to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.&rdquo;</p> <p> This phenomenon is real and rears its ugly head in students demanding trigger warnings be issued before they have to read or hear something that might possibly offend them. We also see it in student protests demanding that speaker invitations be rescinded. In his letter to the Class of 2020, Ellison stated his position in no uncertain terms on these speech-limiting tactics. He wrote:</p> <p> Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called &lsquo;trigger warnings,&rsquo; we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual &lsquo;safe spaces&rsquo; where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t the first time the University of Chicago has publicly reaffirmed its support for academic freedom. Last year, The Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago <a href="">issued a report</a>&nbsp;on the University&rsquo;s &ldquo;overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the University&rsquo;s community.&rdquo;</p> <p> What a sad state of affairs in higher education that a top university has to inform freshmen that it takes academic freedom seriously. That should be the rule, not the exception. But good for the University of Chicago for&nbsp;its dedication to academic freedom.</p> AgnessThu, 25 Aug 2016 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIf 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 Forum