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 for Misogyny in the All the Wrong Places<p> <em>The Guardian</em>&rsquo;s Jessica Valenti&mdash;author of several books including&nbsp;<em>Sex Object</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Full Frontal Feminism</em>&mdash;recently tweeted her latest complaint:<em>The Guardian</em>&rsquo;s Jessica Valenti&mdash;author of several books including&nbsp;<em>Sex Object</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Full Frontal Feminism</em>&mdash;recently tweeted her latest complaint:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> There have been so many times I&#39;ve been introduced to men who won&#39;t look me in the eye, or talk as if I&#39;m not there.</p> &mdash; Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) <a href="">March 17, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> It&rsquo;s nice that she notes that it&rsquo;s not only knuckle-dragging conservative males whom we should assume consistently ignore women, but also enlightened liberals. Yet a survey of some of my (mostly conservative) female friends rejected the entire premise of this tweet. None of them felt that it was at all common to be ignored by a man speaking to your husband or that, as women, we are less likely to be pulled into conversations while in social settings.</p> <p> In fact, my girlfriends felt the opposite was often the case: among the people we know, women often tend to be more talkative and more socially gregarious than their husbands, and, if anything, it was the guys who were more likely to be left out of conversations.</p> <p> Are we really hanging around with more egalitarian, women-friendly men than feminists like Jessica Valenti? That&rsquo;s certainly possible. But I suspect what&rsquo;s really going on is that my friends and I aren&rsquo;t looking for offense&mdash;for any slight that we could possibly attribute to gender bias&mdash;and Valenti is.</p> <p> Feminists and women&rsquo;s studies types might counter that this is just evidence that my friends and I are so beaten down by the patriarchy that we are blinded to how mistreated we are. But I disagree. The men I know and come into contact with, almost without exception, see the women around them as their peers. These men are interested in our work and opinions, regardless of whether we are working for pay or full-time mothers.</p> <p> There&rsquo;s a reason for this. I was born in the early 1970s, and by and large, my generation was raised in an era of women&rsquo;s equality. The boys I grew up with knew that the girls in their class were just as smart and capable as they were. In fact, the honors programs in my elementary and high school heavily skewed female. We cheered for each other&rsquo;s sports teams, competed for college slots, and then worked side-by-side in those grueling, administrative-heavy, starter jobs. And eventually we all started marrying each other. At no point did these men morph into misogynists who saw women as not worth their time.</p> <p> Certainly, men and women in my generation&mdash;like any other&mdash;can treat each other poorly at times; there are plenty of messy relationships, inappropriate jokes, and unhelpful stereotypes. Domestic violence and sexual assault remain real problems. But the contemporary professional-class cocktail circuit is hardly a hotbed of&nbsp;<em>Mad Men</em>-style sexism or even a place rife with milder forms of sexist snubbing.</p> <p> Working toward more perfect gender relations is a worthy, ongoing goal. Yet we shouldn&rsquo;t miss the bigger picture of how far we&rsquo;ve come and ignore the basic decency of most men. Moreover, while it&rsquo;s certainly important to push for progress in your own country&mdash;the existence of people suffering from true deprivation elsewhere in the world doesn&rsquo;t mean we shouldn&rsquo;t want to help those struggling to get by in America&mdash;it&rsquo;s important to recognize where the real battle for women&rsquo;s rights needs to be waged. And that&rsquo;s in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East where women are still denied basic human rights. We need to speak out on their behalf and raise awareness by pushing foreign leaders to make progress in terms of their treatment of women in their countries.</p> <p> Valenti could do a great deal of good on that end by pushing back on the leader of the recent Women&rsquo;s March, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian Muslim American who appears to overlook this reality. Sarsour minimizes the harm these women are suffering, and even advocates for Sharia law. For example, in 2014, Sarsour tweeted:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> 10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes PAID. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) <a href="">November 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <p> We can disagree about whether extensive government paid leave is good public policy, but surely feminists of all political leanings agree that freedom of movement&mdash;the right to decide where to go and with whom&mdash;is far more precious than any amount of money you could get from the government.</p> <p> Valenti and other feminist leaders should make clear that they reject any system that would deny women the right to vote, deny their decision on whom to marry, punish women who engage in extra-marital sex, or curtail their right to work for pay. Advocating for Sharia law&mdash;or any legal system that truly treats women as lesser citizens&mdash;ought to be out of bounds for any woman&rsquo;s advocate.</p> <p> American women are among the world&rsquo;s most fortunate. We enjoy such effective legal protections and live in such a positive, pro-woman society that people like Jessica Valenti get to worry about whether they are being slighted at a cocktail party. I&rsquo;d encourage women not to bother being offended by a man who first addresses the male standing next to him, and not to assume misogyny is at the heart of every awkward conversation. Instead, let&rsquo;s save our anger and direct our criticism to where it is truly deserved.</p> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> L. LukasTue, 21 Mar 2017 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConservatives Should Follow Ivanka's Lead on Paid Leave & Child Care Policies • RT BOOM BUST L. LukasMon, 20 Mar 2017 16:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Trump Meets with Angela Merkel and FY 2018 Budget • MSNBC Live L. LukasMon, 20 Mar 2017 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWho’s Afraid of Ivanka Trump?<p> Ivanka Trump has been the target of a boycott, scorn from progressive feminists, and ridicule from late-night comedians. Yet many conservatives are also wary, because they see her as threatening to push the Republican party left, especially on issues such as child care and paid family leave. This is a mistake. Conservatives need to follow Ivanka&rsquo;s lead and talk more confidently about these issues, which are critically important to many American women and families. This doesn&rsquo;t mean conservatives should embrace government-growing policies, but that they should focus on supporting White House reforms that help women and are consistent with conservative principles.</p> <p> Conservatives don&rsquo;t want the government mandating that all businesses must provide paid leave for workers, since that would do to our compensation system what Obamacare did to health care. Such a one-size-fits-all regime would ignore the different preferences of our 140 million working Americans, encourage job consolidation, and, ironically, give workers less flexibility.</p> <p> But it&rsquo;s worth noting that, while the president and first daughter talk often about the need for businesses to do more for workers, thus far, neither of them has&nbsp;publicly floated such a mandate. The Trump campaign&rsquo;s sole paid-leave proposal would expand the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system to assist new mothers who lack job-based paid-leave benefits. Yes, this would expand an entitlement program, but the expansion would be narrowly targeted to those who need it most: lower-income women who might otherwise lose their jobs and potentially turn to public assistance for a far longer period of time.</p> <p> This suggests that the Trump administration&rsquo;s goal is to help those falling through the cracks, rather than implementing a broad mandate or a new entitlement program. Conservatives should have a similar focus. They should imagine a single woman who is working hard and earning $35,000 a year for a small business that can&rsquo;t afford to provide paid-leave benefits. If she has to give birth via c-section, how can we help her? No one wants her to lose her job or her housing when all she needs is a little support until she&rsquo;s back on her feet. We conservatives have policy ideas to help her and others in similar situations; we should be more eager to offer them.</p> <p> This is important, both because helping people in need is the right thing to do and because helping those in the most need might have an added strategic benefit for those concerned about government growth: It could discourage the push for city- and state-level leave mandates, which not only burden the people in those jurisdictions, but threaten to push national businesses to support progressive, one-size-fits-all federal policies just to standardize what&rsquo;s expected of them.</p> <p> Conservatives opposed to using the UI system as a means of helping needy new mothers should offer alternatives. This could mean a new tax-advantaged saving vehicle. It could mean personal-care accounts to be funded by employers, workers, and charities used during employees&rsquo; unpaid absences from work. It could mean a new refundable tax credit, modeled after the Earned-Income Tax Credit, to help low-income workers who need to take leave for a Family Medical Leave Act qualifying event but lack employer-provided paid-leave benefits. Or it could mean providing tax credits to small businesses who give their employees paid leave.</p> <p> Meanwhile, the crux of Trump&rsquo;s child-care proposal is greater tax relief for families with children, which has long been a priority for the many conservatives who believe our current tax code unfairly favors those who make other investments, like mortgages, over those who choose to start a family. Importantly, the administration has indicated that it wants tax relief not just for families that spend money on day-care centers, but also for those with stay-at-home parents, grandparents, or other relatives who step up and make significant sacrifices to care for young children.</p> <p> Increasing the child tax credit could accomplish this, and it could be scaled based on income and children&rsquo;s ages (to help those with younger children who face the biggest costs). Conservatives are loath to make such tax credits refundable, since that effectively creates a system of welfare payments, but they might be more open to this approach if it were&nbsp;coupled with the consolidation of other child-focused tax credits and ineffective government programs. Head Start, for example, used $8.6 billion in federal funds last year, but a congressionally mandated study found no observable, lasting benefits to those who participated in the program. Conservatives should applaud efforts to reallocate funding for such ineffective bureaucracies and programs directly to low-income parents.</p> <p> Issues such as child care and paid leave aren&rsquo;t going away. Working women and families with young children want to know that their representatives understand the challenges they face and are eager to help. By joining Ivanka in this important conversation, conservatives can head off Democrats&rsquo; inevitable &ldquo;GOP war on women&rdquo; campaign smear by showing that they actually do care deeply about women and families. Even better, they can prove that the progressive approach is inferior to the conservative one, which preserves true flexibility and economic opportunity while creating a better system for all Americans.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &mdash; Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and the vice president for policy of Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice.</p> L. LukasFri, 17 Mar 2017 07:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA "Deep State" in the Trump Administration? • MSNBC Live L. LukasSat, 11 Mar 2017 10:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLego's New Set Of Female Heroines Shows Young Girls How To Look Forward - Not Bitterly Look Back<p> Lego&rsquo;s new &ldquo;Women of NASA&rdquo; collection is a breath of fresh air sweeping through the stale negativity and tired politicking of Women&rsquo;s History Month. Instead of lamenting all the barriers that face girls and women, Lego has taken a different approach: highlight women who have changed our world and put them into the hands of the little girls who will take up their torches.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s certainly a better way to inspire young girls. Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride (pictured above), Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison show what is possible, rather than a fixation on how old vestiges of sexism continue to hold women back.</p> <p> &ldquo;Day Without a Woman Strike,&rdquo; which once again pushes the idea that women are all disadvantaged victims.</p> <p> This message&mdash;that society&rsquo;s deck is still consistently stacked against women&mdash;is also sent in more subtle ways, even in spite of the best intentions. For example, in his recent speech to the joint session of Congress, President Trump reiterated his commitment to partner with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada to &ldquo;help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.&rdquo;</p> <p> Certainly, this effort is well intended, but it is ultimately condescending. It reiterates the presumption that women are disadvantaged and need government&rsquo;s help to have a chance at success. The evidence is much more encouraging. According to research from the Institute of Women&rsquo;s Policy Research (IWPR) cited in the Atlantic:</p> <p> [a]bout 29 percent of America&#39;s business owners are women, [and] that&rsquo;s up from 26 percent in 1997. The number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007, compared with 47 percent for all businesses.</p> <p> Furthermore, women account for more than half of all professionals and are more than half of all managers in businesses. Clearly women are increasingly playing a more prominent role in companies large and small&mdash;a trend we can expect to continue in the years to come as young women, who tend to be better educated than their male peers, enter and move up in the work world.</p> <p> According to the, International Women&rsquo;s Day is &ldquo;a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women,&rdquo; and Lego is certainly acting in that spirit. There are so many inspiring women in history and among us today who we can look to for inspiration and motivation. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Sandra Day O&rsquo;Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Myer, Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Kellyanne Conway and many other women on both sides of the political aisle are readily available examples of achievement and progress.</p> <p> The theme of this day shouldn&rsquo;t be &ldquo;we could if only &hellip;&rdquo; It should be &ldquo;we did, and let&rsquo;s keep going!&rdquo; This message is far more powerful in setting up the next generation to succeed.</p> L. LukasWed, 8 Mar 2017 21:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPenny Nance: Women make America work<p> Just when we thought gender identity politics was officially old school, the left, angry about the election, gives it another go.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Certainly the &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s March,&rdquo; which excluded pro-life feminists from their ranks with the efficiency that would make mean-girl Regina George proud, garnered enough media attention to merit round two.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Therefore, on March 8, we get the next installment of their outrage in the form of a strike dubbed &ldquo;A Day Without Women.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script><noscript>Watch the latest video at <a href=""></a></noscript></p> <p> One wonders what second-wave feminists make of this strategy. The women who shattered the glass ceiling by hard work and grit, making a way for all of us to compete, should be appalled.&nbsp; In a rambling treatise of general aggrievement the organizers urge women to stay home to oppose policies that &ldquo;perpetuate oppression.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><em>Not every woman has achieved her goals, but to be part of the solution one has to show up.</em></span></p> </blockquote> <p> Oh, where to begin.&nbsp;</p> <p> First with some truth. Even Hillary Clinton acknowledged that there has &ldquo;never been a better time in history to be born female,&rdquo; in her April 2015 speech to the Women in the World Summit. And she is right.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=6YgAyoHWZyRMFX6suMun436a0CbqKk8dZbJJF7V-UYs&amp;e=" target="_blank">According to</a>&nbsp;the Department of Education, women are more likely to graduate from college, graduate school, or become doctors than men. Census data&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=NS5hDw5e3mPyIixXFDUvX8sSZ76MG9j_SoYn0ViV_kY&amp;e=" target="_blank">shows</a>&nbsp;that women in their twenties are outearning men in metropolitan America. <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum,&nbsp;</span></span><a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=RFWcYs04XbeYskgZWbNPl63n7r0JPHYzcw62rqBk0yQ&amp;e=" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">pointed to a 2010 study</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;of single, childless workers in urban areas between the ages of 22 and 30 that showed women earned on average&nbsp;eight percent&nbsp;more than men.</span></span></strong></span> It is even estimated that in four years &ldquo;one third&rdquo; of American jobs&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=D5eaUF3GHzqC7PNH0SITY42V_c1LTcqknlr-W0Pt6O0&amp;e=" target="_blank">will be generated</a>&nbsp;by companies owned by women. (Roshania, 2011)</p> <p> A&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=10AJZ4J6uAzyETTA41ncaVjQr__dFAf60Mk-KDzJFp4&amp;e=" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;done by American Express OPEN found that as of 2013 in the U.S.:</p> <p> &middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There are estimated to be more than&nbsp;<strong>8.6 million women-owned businesses&nbsp;</strong>generating revenues over $1.3 trillion and employing 7.8&nbsp;million people.</p> <p> &middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Between 1997 and 2013, the number of women-owned firms increased at a rate of&nbsp;<strong>one-and-a-half times&nbsp;</strong>the national average.</p> <p> &middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The number of women-owned businesses was up&nbsp;<strong>59 percent</strong>, employment in them was up&nbsp;<strong>10 percent</strong>,&nbsp;and revenues produced by them were up&nbsp;<strong>63 percent</strong>, which topped the growth rates of all privately held businesses during this time.</p> <p> &middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Women-owned firms continue to diversify into all industries and, since 2002, women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth rates in&nbsp;<strong>eight of the 13 most populous industries</strong>.</p> <p> Kay Hymowitz, in Foreign Policy,&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=Kcx8QxUcGmH0nQBPaO0Ln17XcibAMyhy0uLwqXbPhFo&amp;e=" target="_blank">shows</a>&nbsp;how well women are doing in the business world: We are as likely as American men to be company managers.</p> <p> The U.S. has the highest proportion of women in senior management positions (<strong>43 percent</strong>) of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (women comprise&nbsp;<strong>47 percent&nbsp;</strong>of the U.S. labor force); the U.S. was ranked eighth globally in gender equality by the World Economic Forum;&nbsp;<strong>24 percent&nbsp;</strong>of working American women are in professional fields (compared to only&nbsp;<strong>16 percent&nbsp;</strong>of working American men);&nbsp;<strong>46 percent&nbsp;</strong>of American firms are owned or co-owned by women.</p> <p> But here is the reality check.&nbsp; In addition to the above-mentioned gains, Hymowitz&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=Kcx8QxUcGmH0nQBPaO0Ln17XcibAMyhy0uLwqXbPhFo&amp;e=" target="_blank">noted</a>&nbsp;that women are still hitting the &ldquo;glass ceiling&rdquo; in some areas. In the legal profession, we make up&nbsp;<strong>47 percent&nbsp;</strong>of law school students, but only&nbsp;<strong>21 percent&nbsp;</strong>of law school deans,&nbsp;<strong>20 percent&nbsp;</strong>of law firm partners, and&nbsp;<strong>23 percent&nbsp;</strong>of federal judges. In medicine, we make up&nbsp;<strong>48 percent&nbsp;</strong>of medical school graduates, but only&nbsp;<strong>13</strong>&nbsp;<strong>percent&nbsp;</strong>of medical school deans and department chairs, and only&nbsp;<strong>19 percent</strong>&nbsp;of full professors. In business schools, we earn&nbsp;<strong>37 percent&nbsp;</strong>of the MBAs, but we account for only&nbsp;<strong>14 percent&nbsp;</strong>of executive officers,&nbsp;<strong>18 percent&nbsp;</strong>of senior financial officers, and&nbsp;<strong>four percent&nbsp;</strong>of CEOs.</p> <p> But the answer to the above numbers is complicated. Children change the wants and needs of women. Ivanka Trump has that right. But the mish mash of leftist organizers for &ldquo;A Day Without Women&rdquo; have gotten it backwards. Women don&rsquo;t make it to the board room by pouting. We reach these illusive roles by being the best, and one becomes the best by first showing up.&nbsp;</p> <p> Secondly, forty-seven percent of women&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=YIB-8r7WJ9mZxvf28jldgMuPdeaQLDzsr-9ELaxDee0&amp;e=" target="_blank">identify</a>&nbsp;as feminists.&nbsp; Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway&nbsp;<a href=";d=DwMFAg&amp;c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&amp;r=kaAUPcZhpO1MvBc6jwa0VBiGZWXka6ART1tFuyQjLfc&amp;m=bz60Qb0dObb1oV0-VL6W-xhTQCFsYi6qMuBtInPduOg&amp;s=jj7nDOXUGwNyOdBRYUzJI6qvMEhk9C7v2Eb5kOK4R5g&amp;e=" target="_blank">recently remarked</a>&nbsp;that she is a post-feminist, saying, &ldquo;I consider myself a postfeminist. I consider myself one of those women who is a product of her choices, not a victim of her circumstances.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> This is part of the reason why feminism has lost its appeal to especially younger women. Women no longer see ourselves as aggrieved. We fully expect to compete and win.</p> <p> To target women who are employed and, by and large, are winning, they undermine their own credibility. The funders of these efforts no doubt want more action for the cameras, but real ideological feminists will most likely take the long view and resist the temptation to join the &ldquo;resistance.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> Women are not a small special interest group. We are the majority of the population and diverse in our views and values.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Concerned Women for America is the nation&rsquo;s largest women&rsquo;s public policy organization, and we respectfully dissent from the left&rsquo;s characterization of women.&nbsp;</p> <p> In fact, we will be hitting social media on March 8 to urge women to not only go to work but to kill it at work.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Women are not only a vital part of the economy, we also profit from the free market.&nbsp;</p> <p> Not every woman has achieved her goals, but to be part of the solution one has to show up.&nbsp;</p> <p> Finally, join us on March 8 in declaring the truth that #WomenMakeAmericaWork.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Penny Young Nance is president and CEO of&nbsp;</em><em><a href="">Concerned Women for America</a></em><em>, the nation&rsquo;s largest women&rsquo;s public policy organization. She is the author of the forthcoming book &quot;<a href="" target="_blank">Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women</a>&quot; (Zondervan 2016).</em></p> L. LukasWed, 8 Mar 2017 05:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen Don’t Need to Be “Brawny” to Earn Praise<p> Parents raising daughters in the age of &ldquo;grrl power&rdquo; face a lot of questions. Having never experienced any inkling of discrimination themselves&mdash;in fact, hearing only explicit cheerleading about all that girls can accomplished, often laced with the implication that they are more capable than their brothers and male peers&mdash;young women are surprised to learn that it wasn&rsquo;t always this way. Why, exactly, weren&rsquo;t women involved in creating the Constitution and founding our country? Why has there never been a female president?</p> <p> Explaining the history of discrimination is pretty straightforward: An unfair system prevented women from participating in many aspects of life, from business to politics. Brave women (and men) had to fight to change the laws and challenge societal norms to give women and girls all the opportunities that we take for granted today.</p> <p> What gets complicated is when our pop culture tries to paper over real differences between men and women, and celebrate women for what they are&nbsp;<em>not.</em>&nbsp;For example, in honor of women&rsquo;s history month, Brawny paper towels&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">replaced</a>&nbsp;their lumberjack male icon with a woman. If the point is merely to convey that the paper towels are strong enough to tackle the biggest spill, then a woman is certainly &ldquo;brawny&rdquo; enough to be up to that challenge. But why do we need to try to pretend that the average woman is &ldquo;brawny?&rdquo;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a scenario you&rsquo;ve seen play out on just about every sci-fi flick or law enforcement drama: A gorgeous, 110-pound woman (usually with long blonde hair and sporting stiletto heels) beating the stuffing out of a six foot, 200-pound muscle-strapped adversary. She&rsquo;ll knock him down with a few acrobatic kicks and well-placed jabs.</p> <p> This has no relation to reality. Sure, there may be some real women out there capable of overpowering plenty of guys. But any woman truly strong enough to take on a 200-pound man would also have to look a lot more like him. She&rsquo;d have arms thick with muscles and have enough heft that she likely no longer looks quite so sexy in her leather cat suit. Hollywood&rsquo;s ninja Barbie characters may be a fun fantasy, but it creates a warped perception about how such face offs would inevitably play out in real life.</p> <p> When my oldest daughter learned that her physical education class would be separated by sex, she was incensed. I had to fill in some facts of life that must have been left out of an otherwise pretty thorough sex education curriculum: Just as boys and girls have different parts, they also have different physical attributes and strengths. The average male is simply physically stronger and faster than the average female, which is why there are often different teams for boys and girls. Otherwise, the boys would always win.</p> <p> The good news, I told her, is that in today&rsquo;s world, it&rsquo;s really not such a limitation that women are less physically strong than men. In fact, that&rsquo;s why Dad carries the heavier suitcases. These differences in strength don&rsquo;t come up much in everyday life anymore, but for their own good, girls need to be aware of this reality. I certainly don&rsquo;t want my daughter to become a teenager not fully knowing that even a nonathletic, scrawny-looking guy could absolutely overpower her if he wanted to. Awareness of that vulnerability is an absolute must as a first line of protection.</p> <p> There is so much to celebrate about women, and women&rsquo;s amazing history. Women are making records each day in the world of business and politics and leadership in civil society. And we don&rsquo;t need to highlight women&rsquo;s accomplishments only in terms of economics and political power. Girls should also be encouraged to take pride in women&rsquo;s history as mothers and caretakers too. It&rsquo;s a strange tendency, in fact, during women&rsquo;s history month, to downplay the celebration of anything feminine. Of course, it&rsquo;s important that we&rsquo;ve moved far beyond the days when women were limited to pursuits as mothers and homemakers, but those are still valuable and important endeavors. Women don&rsquo;t need to be &ldquo;brawny&rdquo; to have value.</p> L. LukasMon, 6 Mar 2017 14:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Trump, an Unlikely Champion of Affordable Child Care<p> In his address to Congress Tuesday evening, President Trump leaned on some of his standard crowd pleasers: immigration, jobs, terrorism.</p> <p data-para-count="229" data-total-count="365"> But he also revived one of his more surprising proposals, first introduced on the campaign trail last year: &ldquo;My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p data-para-count="263" data-total-count="628"> That rhetoric makes Mr. Trump sound more like Hillary Clinton than Ronald Reagan. And a potential debate over child-care policy could offer the rare opportunity for the president and Democrats to cooperate &mdash; or at least have a dialogue &mdash; over the coming year.</p> <p data-para-count="333" data-total-count="961"> Mr. Trump is not the first Republican president to demonstrate an interest in child-care policy. During his 1968 campaign, Richard Nixon promised to expand access to government-funded day care. But three years later, influenced by the rise of the Christian right, Mr. Nixon&nbsp;<a href="">vetoed</a>&nbsp;the only universal child-care bill to pass Congress.</p> <p> Although a few of today&rsquo;s mainstream Republicans, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have promoted child-care proposals, the official G.O.P. platform does not mention the issue. Conservatives tend to view government-funded child care as an expensive and unwanted intrusion into family life. The position of House Speaker Paul Ryan &mdash; whose support Mr. Trump would presumably need to enact a child-care plan &mdash; is a case in point. In his 2014&nbsp;<a href="">report on poverty</a>, Mr. Ryan fretted over the results of research on Quebec&rsquo;s public child-care program, which is known for its&nbsp;<a href="">lax educational standards</a>. Such subsidized care &ldquo;encourages married women to enter the labor force,&rdquo; the Ryan report said, leading to &ldquo;a number of negative behavioral and health outcomes for the children.&rdquo; (What Mr. Ryan didn&rsquo;t mention: a competing body of&nbsp;<a href="">research</a>&nbsp;showing that high-quality day care helps children thrive academically.)</p> <p data-para-count="718" data-total-count="2603"> Arguments about the wisdom of working motherhood tend to ignore the fact that working motherhood is the norm.&nbsp;<a href="">More than half</a>&nbsp;of American mothers work in the year after giving birth, as do 64 percent of women with children under the age of 6, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Working parents require child care, and the typical American family spends&nbsp;<a href="">29 percent</a>of its after-tax income on child-care costs, compared with 10 percent or less in many other Western democracies, where child care is provided for or heavily subsidized by the state. Average annual tuition at an American day care center is&nbsp;<a href="">nearly $10,000</a>, and as much as $30,000 for a high-quality program in cities like New York and Los Angeles.</p> <p data-para-count="443" data-total-count="3046"> The issue has been something of a political orphan in recent years. Feminist organizers have focused more on equal pay and paid parental leave, while education reformers have rarely emphasized the period between birth and pre-K enrollment &mdash; even though those years are crucial for cognitive development. President Barack Obama&rsquo;s 2015&nbsp;<a href="">plan</a>&nbsp;to increase existing child-care tax credits to a maximum of $3,000 a child from $1,050 went nowhere.</p> <p data-para-count="495" data-total-count="3541"> As a presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton introduced an ambitious proposal to cap child-care costs at 10 percent of a family&rsquo;s income. But during a campaign season dominated by scandal, Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s plan got little attention. Mr. Trump&rsquo;s tentative forays into child-care policy and paid parental leave &mdash; another traditional Democratic issue that he mentioned Tuesday in his speech &mdash; have attracted more interest, in part because they are unexpected from a Republican standard-bearer.</p> <p data-para-count="354" data-total-count="3895"> In the past, both Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence&nbsp;<a href=",9171,2071119,00.html">spoke</a>&nbsp;<a href="">critically</a>about mothers who work outside the home. But the child-care cause is important to Mr. Trump&rsquo;s older daughter, Ivanka. In recent weeks, Ms. Trump has&nbsp;<a href="">met with business leaders and members of Congress</a>&nbsp;to promote the&nbsp;<a href="">child-care proposal</a>&nbsp;her father first rolled out last September.</p> <p data-para-count="674" data-total-count="4569"> Under the plan, individuals earning up to $250,000 a year, and couples earning up to $500,000, would be able to deduct from their taxable income the average cost of child care in their states. The benefit would be modest; for example, a reduction of $840 in federal taxes for a family earning $70,000 a year and paying $7,000 for child care. The plan would offer low-income workers child-care rebates, paid once a year through the earned-income tax credit. The proposal also calls for dedicated savings accounts in which families could invest pretax income to cover child care and&nbsp;<a href="" title="More articles about elder care.">elder care</a>&nbsp;costs, as well as incentives for employers to provide child care in the workplace.</p> <p> Those without wages, like unemployed single parents seeking work or attending job training, would not benefit from the Trump subsidies and are underserved by existing programs. The Child Care and Development Block Grant was created in 1996 as part of welfare reform and was intended to help the poorest parents afford day care. Those benefits currently reach only one out of every 10 eligible children,&nbsp;<a href="">according to</a>&nbsp;the National Association for the Education of Young Children.</p> <p data-para-count="472" data-total-count="5518"> Despite its limited reach, the Trump plan is expensive.&nbsp;<a href="">An analysis</a>&nbsp;by the Tax Policy Center found it would cost $115 billion over 10 years, most likely making it a nonstarter for Republicans. The proposal also offers little to the working poor, a potential problem for Democratic champions of child care, like Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders. The average annual benefit would be just $10 for families earning $10,000 to $30,000 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.</p> <p data-para-count="403" data-total-count="5921"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">It is difficult to square President Trump&rsquo;s child-care plan with his other budget priorities. Carrie L. Lukas, managing director of the conservative Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, supports Mr. Trump&rsquo;s efforts to help families with child-care costs. But &ldquo;he also talked about the need for tax simplification,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;which is inconsistent with using deductions&rdquo; as a social policy strategy.</span></strong></span></p> <p data-para-count="414" data-total-count="6335"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Still, Ms. Lukas is enthusiastic about some aspects of the Trump proposal, including the fact that married couples with one stay-at-home parent would be able to claim the same tax deduction as many dual-income couples whose children are enrolled in child care. That is an unusual element of the plan; after all, parents who care for their children at home do not incur costs for day care tuition or nanny salaries.</span></strong></span></p> <p data-para-count="350" data-total-count="6685"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Traditionally, many European nations that enacted government-supported child care had the goal of encouraging maternal employment. More working women means more tax revenue, and better, more accessible child care helps convince parents that they can afford to have more children, who in turn will become future taxpayers supporting the welfare state.</span></strong></span></p> <p data-para-count="365" data-total-count="7050"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">That is not a conservative vision. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be about pushing to get people into 9-to-5 jobs and kids into day care,&rdquo; Ms. Lukas said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s not an appropriate role for government. I&rsquo;ve got five kids, and there are a lot of nonworking parents in my community. They are not only taking care of their own kids, but they are volunteering at school.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></p> <p data-para-count="544" data-total-count="7594"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Though she describes herself as a &ldquo;a libertarian conservative type of person,&rdquo; Ms. Lukas enrolled her own children in Germany&rsquo;s government child-care system when the family was stationed in Berlin for her husband&rsquo;s job. The day care centers &ldquo;were very expensive for taxpayers,&rdquo; she said, but she was impressed by the quality of the staff, whose training is subsidized by the German government. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very serous profession, a very respectable career to pursue,&rdquo; Ms. Lukas said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s not always the case in America.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></p> <p data-para-count="126" data-total-count="7720"> Indeed, the median salary of an American child care worker is about $20,000 a year, a problem the Trump plan does not address.</p> <p> Elaine Maag, senior research associate at the Tax Policy Center, said the president&rsquo;s proposal would not &ldquo;increase the amount of child care available, nor will it increase the quality of care that low-income families will be able to access.&rdquo; However, Ms. Maag said she was willing to give the president at least a little credit. &ldquo;I would characterize the plan as identifying an important problem,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p style="margin-left:56.25pt;"> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 2 Mar 2017 14:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Aide Bannon: "Economic Nationalism" Top Priority • MSNBC Live L. LukasMon, 27 Feb 2017 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFor job benefits like maternity leave, somebody pays<p> First Daughter Ivanka Trump has stressed the importance of maternity leave and child care, even meeting with business leaders about the policies. President Donald Trump <a href="">has signaled an interest</a> in these issues, as has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.</p> <p> <strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I think it&#39;s great to kind of be having this conversation about the costs and benefits,&quot; says Carrie Lukas of the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. &quot;I hope we&#39;re moving in a positive direction and recognize that we need to keep in mind that as we know that flexibility is so important for women, that we need to have flexible solutions and not have government come in and try to mandate flexibility, which can really backfire on women and workers.&quot;</span></span></strong></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Lukas has made similar points in the past, as the push for family and medical leave is not a new idea. Liberals have been pushing it for years now, while conservatives have pointed out that it won&#39;t be cheap and could impact jobs and/or paychecks.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Anytime you&#39;re giving somebody a benefit, that&#39;s a cost,&quot; notes Lukas, &quot;and it&#39;s not only coming out of the business&#39;s pocket but also the worker ends up paying for it in terms of having lower take-home pay and compensation.&quot;</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Even then, Lukas says women aren&#39;t the only ones wanting or needing additional time off work. Many fathers, she says, are involved with their families and also want time away from work.</span></strong></span></p> L. LukasFri, 24 Feb 2017 12:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon’t Define Your Neighbors by the Fringe<p> People hoped that after the election, political tensions would recede. You&rsquo;d be able to return to your social media feed to see baby pictures, funny jokes, and what your friends are having for dinner, without having to brace for political warfare. While that&rsquo;s happened a little bit and politics isn&rsquo;t as front-and-center as it was last November, tensions are still high.</p> <p> Contributing to these bad feelings is a tendency to define the average person by the behavior of the fringe of their party. I frequently receive articles, sent by friends as well as strangers, describing something horrible that a Trump supporter has supposedly done. They know from my commentary that I am a libertarian/conservative, and voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. They ask what I think about those terrible things.</p> <p> I find such questions a little bizarre: Of course I think it&rsquo;s terrible if someone is threatened or called names, and I don&rsquo;t support white supremacist groups or other hate groups.</p> <p> Do I really need to say that?</p> <p> It wouldn&rsquo;t occur to me to send any of my friends who supported Hillary Clinton stories about that&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">terrible crime</a>&nbsp;in Chicago where four teenagers tortured a disabled man while making statements against Trump. Nor would I send them&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>&nbsp;of Trump supporters being&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">beaten up</a>&nbsp;outside the anti-Trump&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">protests</a>. I trust that they are just as horrified by those incidents as I am.</p> <p> I assume that conservatives are more frequently challenged to disavow the fringe elements of their party than liberals are. Since the overwhelming majority of journalists are liberal themselves (and that&rsquo;s a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">fact</a>, not paranoia), news coverage of the left&rsquo;s fringe tends to put their bad behavior in perspective as atypical. Thus those who riot at the left&rsquo;s marches are depicted as the outliers in otherwise peaceful events, while a single bad actor at a conservative rally is portrayed as emblematic of violence that lurks, barely contained, at the movement&rsquo;s heart.</p> <p> But perhaps my Democratic friends are also receiving similar questions and being challenged to disassociate themselves from the behaviors of certain fellow Hillary supporters. They shouldn&rsquo;t have to. They have chosen a side in our political system along with 100 million plus other voters. Voting for the same person doesn&rsquo;t mean that you share the same beliefs about every&mdash;or even most&mdash;issues, and it certainly doesn&rsquo;t mean you endorse everyone else&rsquo;s behavior.</p> <p> Before the internet and the explosion of social media, politics was truly local. People didn&rsquo;t hear about every scuffle or off-putting remark or sloganeering poster made in the name of a candidate. Instead, they drew conclusions about members of a political party based on national and local leaders, as well as those they met in real life. You may have thought that the people you knew who voted for the other candidate didn&rsquo;t understand economics or had the wrong priorities, but most of the time, you also knew that they were decent people who wanted the best for their family and country, and had just come to different conclusions about how to get there.</p> <p> Today it&rsquo;s tempting to assume that the people we know and like who aren&rsquo;t on the same page with us politically are the outliers of their party. We focus on the worst stories and examples about our opponents, and assume that the fringe represents their core. That&rsquo;s a mistake. Most Americans of all political persuasions are good people who want the best for the country and those around them. They may be cheering for one political party, but they recognize that both sides have their flaws and baggage. Keeping this in mind may be a first step to de-escalating political tensions among social networks, both online and in real life, and getting back to rooting for each other.</p> L. LukasTue, 21 Feb 2017 09:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Faces Off with the Press • MSNBC Live L. LukasTue, 21 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClassified Hypocrisy<p> While I agree with the overall thrust of Jonathan Tobin&rsquo;s remarks regarding selective leaks from the U.S. Intelligence community of classified information, with the intent of undermining President Trump, I think Jonathan has missed the mark when he comments that:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Those who point out Trump&rsquo;s hypocritical response to the leaks are not wrong. On the stump during the campaign, he was positively gleeful in describing the e-mails written by John Podesta and DNC officials and published by WikiLeaks. But liberals have engaged in the same hypocrisy, screaming bloody murder about WikiLeaks while touting each new anonymously sourced revelation about the Trump administration.&nbsp;</p> <p> I submit there&rsquo;s a big difference &ndash; a yuuuge difference, even &ndash; between a candidate being pleased his opponents were lazy or negligent enough to not secure their private, but unclassified, emails, and deliberate leaks of classified government secrets by people sworn to keep this information secure. Russia, which allegedly got into DNC email accounts, is like a force of nature: If it can steal sensitive U.S. information, it will, and it&rsquo;s incumbent on the political parties to protect private information they think might be embarrassing. Candidate Donald Trump had every reason to be happy the Democrats fell short in this regard and that, despite efforts by the mainstream press to ignore the emails, the public got more insight into the true nature of Hillary Clinton and her campaign. This was on par with NBC&rsquo;s release of a hot mic recording of Donald Trump that he never knew existed.</p> <p> The current situation, by contrast, involves federal employees breaking the law, their oaths, and betraying the public trust by leaking classified information. This is sedition, not lax private email security, and the president is right to be incensed by it. Yet those who were outraged at the mere thought of the Russians releasing private emails now cheer Americans doing much worse. There is indeed hypocrisy here, but it&rsquo;s not coming from the White House.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 17 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs The Trump Administration Doing Too Much Too Soon? • MSNBC Live L. LukasSat, 11 Feb 2017 09:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum