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 Your Own Version of Happiness<p> Political conversations about women and work tend to center on the need to get more women into top jobs. While it&rsquo;s wonderful to see a growing number of women taking on leadership roles in major companies and organizations, most women are far less concerned about reaching the corner office than finding a job that they enjoy, pays enough to make ends meet, and allows them to build the life they want.</p> <p> Consider the last time that you had to decide on a job offer. What factors did you consider? You probably thought about how much you would be paid. But you probably also considered how long it would take you to get to and from work each day; if you would like what you were doing; if it would position you for a better job next year or the year after that. Would you have to wear a uniform? How many hours must you work each day and how much flexibility is there?</p> <p> You may have asked about benefits, like paid time off or health insurance subsidies. You likely also considered if you would like your boss and coworkers.</p> <p> People prioritize different elements of jobs. Some really want to make as much money as they can, while others most want a job they find personally rewarding.</p> <p> Research conducted on women&rsquo;s workplace preferences show that, on average, women who have children place a higher value on flexibility, while those who don&rsquo;t have kids care more about salary. And, unsurprisingly, men and women tend to have different priorities: Men are willing to commute farther and travel more for a job, while women are more likely to prefer jobs that are closer to home, even if that means they earn less.</p> <p> None of these preferences is wrong. If you decided to take a job that paid a little less because you loved the people you&rsquo;d be working with and the hours worked for your personal goals, then that&rsquo;s a great decision for you. If you decided to take a different job &mdash; the most demanding job, with the longest hours and a heavy travel schedule, because it paid well and would set you up for the career of your dreams &mdash; then that&rsquo;s also a great decision.</p> <p> Only you know what your dreams are: Whether you aspire to be a millionaire and high-powered professional or if you want a job that you enjoy and helps support your other dreams of being an active member in your community or head of the PTA or something in between.</p> <p> These individual decisions and considerations get lost when we look simply at aggregate data about the workforce. When people see the Department of Labor statistic showing that working women on average earn about 80 percent of what male workers earn, they tend to assume that something has gone wrong. Sexist bosses or societal attitudes are holding women back and keeping us from achieving equality.</p> <p> Yet really, most of the differences in earnings are driven by the decisions individuals make about what kind of work to do and how many hours they want to spend on the job, and these are a reflection of individual preferences, not a problem that needs to be solved.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m sure that most of the men I went to college with are earning a lot more than I do. But I work for a nonprofit doing work that I love and that I believe is important. I work plenty of hours, but those hours are flexible, which means that I have been able to spend a lot of time with my young children. These were the right choices for me, even if I&rsquo;ve failed to maximize my income or missed my chance to be on a corporate board.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s important that women and girls know that they can be anything they want to be. Equality of opportunity &mdash; making sure that women have the same opportunities as men to pursue the career of their dream &mdash; is paramount. But we shouldn&rsquo;t expect women and men to follow the same paths when it comes to work.</p> <p> So long as women and men are freely making the choices that make sense for them, we shouldn&rsquo;t fixate on those statistics. People need to pursue their own versions of happiness.</p> L. LukasFri, 20 Jan 2017 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Women Who Won't March: 'Silenced' Conservatives Vow To Stay Home<p> For Mindy Finn, Saturdays are cherished times to be with her family. The Republican political operative and founder of <a href="">Empowered Women</a>, a not-for-profit group focused on inspiring women in civic life, relishes the slower pace after a long workweek. This Saturday will be just like any other: she&rsquo;ll eat breakfast with her husband and two young boys, maybe take her kids to the park, and definitely sneak in some shuteye during their naptime.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas also plans to spend Saturday with her family. Lukas, the managing director of the conservative policy group the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, will take her daughter to a writing contest, and then take the rest of her kids &ndash; five in all &ndash; to visit their grandparents.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> And Sarah Isgur Flores, who served as deputy campaign manager to the Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, will spend the day clad in cozy pajamas, snuggling up with her cat and catching up on Sherlock episodes.</p> <p> One thing they all know for sure? Though they all live in or near Washington, they won&rsquo;t join the thousands of women descending on the capital for the <a href="">Women&rsquo;s March on Washington</a>.</p> <p> The march&rsquo;s organizers are planning for some 200,000 people: women of all races, creeds and sexual orientations, their partners, their kids.</p> <p> But conservative women &ndash; though divided during the campaign on their support for Donald Trump &ndash; won&rsquo;t march. They&rsquo;ll be on the sidelines, praying that their unexpected standard bearer will actually deliver on their long policy wishlist.</p> <p> The march isn&rsquo;t called the Leftwing Women&rsquo;s March on Washington, or the Democratic Women&rsquo;s March. It&rsquo;s billed as simply the Women&rsquo;s March on Washington. But despite its intersectional, all-inclusive mission, prominent conservative women say the event doesn&rsquo;t represent all women &ndash; particularly, well, themselves.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a whole bunch of people standing up and saying, &lsquo;You&rsquo;re not a real woman if you don&rsquo;t agree with us,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Flores, who works as the spokeswoman for Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump&rsquo;s pick for attorney general. &ldquo;But the great part about being a conservative woman is that we know who we are, we know what our beliefs are, and we know how many women agree with us.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Throughout the campaign, Trump has flouted long-held GOP positions on healthcare, taxation and </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">more</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. In response, those who disagree with Trump have had to differentiate themselves as conservatives rather than Republicans. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not a Republican organization,&rdquo; Lukas tells me of IWF. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re a conservative organization that stands for certain principles. Not for people, nor for a party.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> As Trump continues to <a href="">change his mind</a> on core policy views, conservative women are sticking to their own beliefs more than ever. Those beliefs are at odds with the unmistakably liberal platform of the Women&rsquo;s March, which advocates for gender equality, reproductive freedom, paid family leave, an end to police brutality, among other stances.</p> <p> Conservative women, meanwhile, have more modest aims: they&rsquo;re hoping for another rightwing justice to fill Antonin Scalia&rsquo;s long-vacant supreme court seat, one who is unabashedly opposed to abortion rights. They wholly embrace the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Obama&rsquo;s signature healthcare law. And their policy goals aren&rsquo;t confined to stereotypical &ldquo;women&rsquo;s issues&rdquo;.</p> <p> &ldquo;I find it condescending, insulting and a little demeaning,&rdquo; <a href="">Tomi Lahren</a>, the 24-year-old firebrand host of Tomi on The Blaze TV, says of that buzzy term. &ldquo;To think that women only care about abortion, and birth control, and paid maternity leave, I think, does a disservice to a lot of conservative women that care about immigration and national security, and <a href="">Common Core</a>, and the other things that are facing our nation and facing our families.&rdquo;</p> <p> Trump&rsquo;s spotty record as a conservative, along with his seeming disregard for democratic norms, hasn&rsquo;t assured conservative women that he&rsquo;ll be their champion &ndash; far from it. And his open boasts of sexual assault don&rsquo;t make him an easy person to unite behind. But, after eight years of a president who challenged their core beliefs, Trump at least claims the Republican party mantle. And in Washington, institutional power is the key to passing any serious policy agenda.</p> <p> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure that there may be women who are just secretly and behind closed doors shaking their heads, and thinking, &lsquo;I can&rsquo;t believe this guy actually just said that, please don&rsquo;t hold any more press conferences,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Ronnee Schreiber, a professor at San Diego State University and author of <a href="">Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics</a>, referring to Trump&rsquo;s bizarre tangle with the media last week.</p> <p> But national conservative organizations, she predicts, will look past that. &ldquo;What they&rsquo;re going to do is say, &lsquo;Hey, let&rsquo;s celebrate the fact that,&rsquo; for example, &lsquo;we&rsquo;re a pro-life organization and we have a president who claims to be pro-life. Now, we have a chance to actually get an appointment to the supreme court who&rsquo;s pro-life.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p> Trump&rsquo;s position on abortion rights, like most of his beliefs, is far <a href="">from set in stone</a>. But until he proves his mettle in office or fails spectacularly, the conservative women I spoke with told me that even if they didn&rsquo;t support him during the campaign, they were hoping for the best.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s horrible when the president-elect says something that&rsquo;s offensive about women,&rdquo; says Lukas, who, though she would have preferred many of the other 16 GOP candidates who initially entered the primaries, ended up voting for Trump. &ldquo;But then I look at things like the possibility for healthcare reform, and I&rsquo;m super excited about that. For tax reform. Tax reform and the problems with starting businesses and job creation, that&rsquo;s a huge women&rsquo;s issue. And I feel very optimistic about that.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> &ldquo;Mr Trump is not a conservative,&rdquo; she continues. &ldquo;He doesn&rsquo;t come from the conservative movement, the policy movement that I&rsquo;ve always been a part of. But I&rsquo;ve got hope.&rdquo;</p> <p> Just after the election, in the &ldquo;Final Thoughts&rdquo; segment of her eponymous TV show, Tomi Lahren went on a tear against anti-Trump protesters. Or, as she called them, &ldquo;a bunch of sore losers&rdquo; throwing a &ldquo;tantrum&rdquo;.</p> <p> &ldquo;President-elect Donald Trump has opened his arms to all Americans,&rdquo; Lahren chided. &ldquo;No one is asking you to bow at his feet. But your protests and tantrums aren&rsquo;t doing anything for this country. You have every right to do it. But you&rsquo;re just kind of making fools of yourselves at this point.&rdquo;</p> <p> This Saturday, Lahren will be in Washington &ndash; she will travel from Dallas to attend the inauguration of Trump, whose campaign she advised on social media starting late last summer.</p> <p> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t wake up every day and remind myself that I&rsquo;m a woman. I know that I&rsquo;m a woman,&rdquo; she says, charging that there&rsquo;s been a concerted effort by Democrats &ldquo;to silence and quiet conservative women, or to diminish conservative women, or to repeal the woman card of conservative women&rdquo;.</p> <p> For a moment last week, it seemed that the Women&rsquo;s March organizers had reached across the yawning political chasm to include a major plank of conservatism. On Friday, the March announced that one of its hundreds of organizational partners would be the New Wave Feminists, an anti-abortion group based in Texas. &ldquo;Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,&rdquo; one of the event&rsquo;s co-chairs <a href="">told</a> the Atlantic. &ldquo;We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.&rdquo;</p> <p> Backlash was swift. The feminist writer Roxane Gay <a href="">tweeted</a> her indignation: &ldquo;Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That&rsquo;s not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism.&rdquo; By Monday, the organizers had backtracked, releasing a <a href="">statement</a> clarifying that the March&rsquo;s platform &ldquo;is pro-choice, and that has been our stance from day one&rdquo;.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">When I talked to Lukas before the flap, she said the exclusion of conservative women was par for the course for progressives. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m looking at their little website now,&rdquo; she said, reading the march&rsquo;s stated </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">mission</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">: &ldquo;&lsquo;Recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.&rsquo; Well, maybe.&rdquo; She laughed hollowly. &ldquo;Maybe they think that. But they sure don&rsquo;t think that diversity of thought is of any interest. They sure aren&rsquo;t interested in people who don&rsquo;t support their political agenda.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> Flores agrees. &ldquo;This leftwing playbook is down to one page,&rdquo; she says, getting into &ldquo;feminazi&rdquo; character: &ldquo;&lsquo;If you don&rsquo;t vote our way, we will call you a racist, we will call you a misogynist, we will call you anti-woman. And if you are a woman, then we&rsquo;re going to call you a traitor, and we&rsquo;re going to say you&rsquo;re not a real woman. You&rsquo;re not the right type of woman.&rsquo;&rdquo; Those charges, she adds, can be frustrating. But she takes heart that this cycle &ndash; despite the overwhelming pressure to support Hillary Clinton on the basis of shared gender &ndash; it didn&rsquo;t succeed.</p> <p> &ldquo;That weaponized feminism,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;is losing its force.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>&lsquo;It&rsquo;s time for all women to identify what is truly important&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> The first time Mindy Finn ran for office, it made national news. In October, she jumped into the race for vice-president on a long-shot independent ticket with <a href="">the former CIA counterterrorism officer Evan McMullin</a>, hoping to serve as a conservative foil to Trump&rsquo;s distinct brand of erratic Republican ideals. The pair didn&rsquo;t get far, failing to even make the ballot in many states.</p> <p> But Finn, a veteran GOP operative who has worked for George W Bush and Mitt Romney, isn&rsquo;t backing down from defending her conservative, #NeverTrump values. Along with her former running mate, Finn plans to launch an advocacy effort that will catalyze a &ldquo;new conservative movement&rdquo; to defend the constitution against Trump.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s time for all women &ndash; and I can say this as a conservative &ndash; to identify what is truly important, and to guard those principles and those values, and advocate for them regardless of who is president, or what party is in power,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a country over party moment.&rdquo;</p> <p> Finn hopes Trump puts &ldquo;the public&rsquo;s interest ahead of his own&rdquo;. But after a long campaign of quite the opposite, she says she&rsquo;s &ldquo;skeptical&rdquo; of his capacity to respect democratic norms. Under Trump, conservative women may be pleased with cabinet appointments, supreme court justices, executive actions. But there&rsquo;s also an underlying fear that &ldquo;America as we know it will cease to exist&rdquo;.</p> <p> &ldquo;President Bush, you could disagree with him on a series of things,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;But I think people would say he respects human rights and has a strong moral compass. And that&rsquo;s not something that I am confident that we can say about Donald Trump.&rdquo;</p> <p> Ultimately, Trump&rsquo;s ever-shifting policy whims don&rsquo;t dictate what conservative women believe. And despite the identity crises, Lahren says now is a pivotal time for right-of-center women.</p> <p> &ldquo;Now, our first female president can be someone that&rsquo;s not scandal-ridden. Can be someone that didn&rsquo;t have a rap sheet a mile long. Can be someone that was not investigated by the FBI,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So I think it&rsquo;s actually an exciting moment for women.&rdquo;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 19 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum(Some) Women March on Washington<p> Alexandra DeSanctis wrote here yesterday that leaders of the &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s March on Washington&rdquo; have disinvited the pro-life group that had sought to take part in the effort. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s really no surprise that March organizers and hard left feminists like Jessica Valenti would reject support from a woman&rsquo;s group that differs with them on an issue like this.&nbsp; This March &ndash; like the progressive feminist movement &ndash; isn&rsquo;t about supporting women, so much as it is supporting a specific, far-left progressive agenda.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> The March&rsquo;s website claims to be inclusive &ndash; &ldquo;recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country&rdquo; &ndash; but they really aren&rsquo;t interested in diversity of thought or belief.&nbsp; As I wrote recently for&nbsp;Acculturated, the Left has long been able to get away with claiming to speak for &ldquo;women&rdquo; while ignoring any woman who has different views or beliefs:&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Just as the Women&rsquo;s Centers on nearly every university campus in America provide an entirely liberal vision of women&rsquo;s issues and marginalize any student with conservative leanings, these march organizers felt free to call it &ldquo;The Women&rsquo;s March on Washington,&rdquo; not &ldquo;progressive women&rdquo; even though that&rsquo;s what it is in fact, and leave out conservatives or anyone with different perspectives. They can rest safe in the knowledge that the sympathetic press would never challenge their presumption to speak for all women.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s something that may be changing though.&nbsp; At some point, the mainstream media is going to have to recognize that they no longer completely control the narrative.&nbsp; Despite their Herculean efforts, they weren&rsquo;t able to destroy Trump, even among women.&nbsp; Yes, Hillary Clinton won the women&rsquo;s vote overall, but more than four out of ten women voters still gave their support to Trump.</p> <p> If they want to regain credibility with more of America, they are going to have to stop just parroting the left&rsquo;s claim that they represent &ldquo;women&rdquo; and recognize that women truly are diverse.&nbsp; And not just the kind of surface level diversity that the March organizers fixate on&mdash;color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.&nbsp; Women actually have very different outlooks and perspectives on myriad issues.&nbsp; A group or march truly interested in bringing people together, and helping women live the lives that they want, would be focused on creating a system that gives people more freedom and control over resources&nbsp;so they could make choices that make sense for them.&nbsp; &nbsp;But that&rsquo;s the antithesis of&nbsp;the progressive feminist movement that seeks bigger government and more stringent regulations designed solely to advance their idea of what women should want.&nbsp;</p> <p> They say it&rsquo;s the &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s March,&rdquo; but they sure aren&rsquo;t marching for me.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasTue, 17 Jan 2017 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: Promoting Child Care Choice<p> Raising children in the United States is expensive, and child-care costs are many families&rsquo; biggest single expense. Full-time care at an organized daycare facility even costs more than tuition at a public university in many states.</p> <p> Policymakers ought to consider reforms that will help ease the financial burden on families and make child care more affordable. However, as they do so, they should focus on supporting parents and leave the question of what kind of child care they use to them. Directly subsidizing daycare facilities or providing tax breaks solely for those families that use organized daycare facilities unfairly favors some families over others, and creates an incentive for more families to use daycare rather than family or other informal ch ildcare arrangements.</p> <p> Currently, only about one quarter of children under age five are in daycare facilities. Many families&mdash;including many with modest incomes&mdash;make big sacrifices to have a family member at home when their children are young because they think it&rsquo;s best. These families deserve financial relief too.</p> <p> Policymakers can help by consolidating existing tax credits and government spending on children and returning that money to families through an expanded child tax credit. Relief could be targeted to help those with younger children and lower incomes. Such tax relief would help all parents better afford whatever child-care option works best for their families.</p> <p> <a href="">Click here to continue reading the 6-page policy focus &gt;&gt;&gt;</a></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasMon, 16 Jan 2017 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy The Women’s March on Washington Isn’t Inclusive<p> The day after Donald Trump is inaugurated President, tens of thousands of women&mdash;maybe more&mdash;are expected to arrive in Washington for an event called &ldquo;<a href="">The Women&rsquo;s March on Washington</a>.&rdquo; Their mission statement is one that Americans of all political stripes could rally around:</p> <p> &ldquo;We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families&mdash;recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.&rdquo;</p> <p> Even the fine print will resonate with most, including those pleased to see the Obama-era end and a new Republican president come in. The event&rsquo;s website argues &ldquo;the rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us.&rdquo; Few would argue that the rhetoric of the campaign was anything but a series of new lows and needlessly divisiveness.</p> <p> Yet once you read a little more, it sure doesn&rsquo;t seem as if the purpose of this march is really to bring people together or improve the tenor of political discourse. The <a href="">New York Times</a> recently highlighted the infighting that has occurred even among the March&rsquo;s most engaged activists. On the group&rsquo;s Facebook page, white women were being told that they need to &ldquo;talk less and listen more&rdquo; and &ldquo;check their privilege,&rdquo; leading some women to give up on joining the effort altogether.</p> <p> Given feminism&rsquo;s difficult past&mdash;in which the particular challenges facing women of color were often overlooked in favor of the concerns of professional, white women&mdash;it&rsquo;s not surprising that there are some hard feelings around race. However, the overall tone indicates that issues of race and privilege are the march&rsquo;s true theme, rather than the broader cause of &ldquo;women&rsquo;s rights.&rdquo;</p> <p> Consider the March&rsquo;s list of those who were insulted during this campaign: &ldquo;immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault&mdash;and our communities are hurting and scared.&rdquo; March organizers made no specific mention of Catholics, even though there was plenty of reason for them to feel offended in 2016 with the revelation that DNC party leaders dismissed their religion as a &ldquo;bastardization&rdquo; of the faith. And no mention of those groups that might have felt particularly slighted by the charge that they are &ldquo;deplorables&rdquo; for supporting Trump.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s clear that this march isn&rsquo;t a place for anyone who supported Donald Trump. Diversity of thought or political ideology isn&rsquo;t a kind of diversity that this March has any interest in. That&rsquo;s no surprise: Leftist feminists have always claimed the term &ldquo;women&rdquo; for their cause, even though they are really only interested in representing women who share their political agenda. Just as the Women&rsquo;s Centers on nearly every university campus in America provide an entirely liberal vision of women&rsquo;s issues and marginalize any student with conservative leanings, these march organizers felt free to call it &ldquo;The Women&rsquo;s March on Washington,&rdquo; not &ldquo;progressive women&rdquo; even though that&rsquo;s what it is in fact, and leave out conservative or anyone with different perspectives. They can rest safe in the knowledge that the sympathetic press would never challenge their presumption to speak for all women.</p> <p> Of course, women are much more politically diverse than these groups would have you believe. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the women&rsquo;s vote, but <a href="">42 percent</a> of women still voted for Trump. That&rsquo;s hardly a group that deserves to be dismissed as merely an outlier.</p> <p> I hope that The Women&rsquo;s March on Washington is cathartic for its participants. Undoubtedly, their concerns are heartfelt. Yet I also hope that they recognize that while they represent a lot of women unhappy with the incoming president, there are many others who feel that the country has been headed in the wrong direction and welcome change. And we are women too.</p> <p> Yes, we also weren&rsquo;t thrilled with every comment the incoming President made about women, but we were more concerned about other matters, such as our crumbling health care system, growing joblessness, and rising prices. Today, we are hopeful that help may be on the way.</p> <p> Of course, the women marching on Washington&mdash;like all of us&mdash;will be on the watch for any policy or action taken by the Administration that actually threatens women&rsquo;s rights. And they should speak out against any policy that they oppose. But they would gain more credibility if they were also open to being pleasantly surprised when Republicans don&rsquo;t turn out to be as bad as they feared, and if they were a little more honest about their March&rsquo;s lack of diversity.</p> L. LukasFri, 13 Jan 2017 15:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumYou Can't Blame Coca-Cola For America's Health Problems<p> &ldquo;Taste the Feeling&rdquo;&mdash;that was the slogan that the Coca-Cola company debuted in 2016. Right now, the company is stuck with the bitter taste of facing a lawsuit from a California-based nonprofit alleging that it engages in misleading advertising practice and hides the health risks associated with its products.</p> <p> Never mind that <em>Ad Age</em>&#39;s look back at 130 years of Coca-Cola slogans shows that it&#39;s been more than a century since the company suggested that Coke provided any sort of health benefit. Coke has long been using feel-good catch phrases to tie its products in with good times and happiness, not as a health elixir. Such a charge would be easier to make against a company primarily pushing fruit juices and &ldquo;energy drinks,&rdquo; which are often just as high in calories and rich in sugars, and typically fail to providing any meaningful nutritional advantages over a plain old Coke. Yet the nonprofit group singles out the Coca-Cola company, presumably because of its iconic status, for its lawsuit and to drive it&#39;s public relations point.</p> <p> The left-leaning <a href="">Center for Science in the Public Interest</a>, which is litigating on behalf of the Praxis Project, the nonprofit behind the lawsuit, even went so far as to compare the beverage provider to the tobacco industry for its supposedly deceptive marketing techniques. That&#39;s about the worst charge you can levy against a consumer-goods provider.</p> <p> This inflammatory rhetoric, and the headlines it helps generate, are probably the primary goal of the lawsuit. But not surprisingly, these overwrought claims have little relations to the truth when it comes to the health effects of soda. No one argues that full-strength sugar soda or even lower calorie diet alternatives are health foods, but it&#39;s inaccurate to single out soda for the nation&#39;s obesity problems or the rise in diabetes.</p> <p> As the <a href="">American Diabetes Association </a>explains, the causes of diabetes are complicated. Yes, drinking sugary drinks is associated with higher rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is why the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting intake of <em>any </em>sugar-sweetened beverages including &ldquo;regular soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks.&rdquo; The important takeaway is that people need to be careful about overall calorie and sugar consumption, not that having a sweetened drink is the health equivalent of having a smoke.</p> <p> Cornell University researchers reached a similar conclusion after studying the soda, candy, and fast food consumption habits of 5,000 adults. They failed to find a link between consuming these empty calories and weight gain in 95 percent of the population. The real problem and driver of obesity was overall consumption levels, not how Americans were getting those calories. <a href="">David Just,</a> the lead research for this study and co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, put it simply: &quot;Because of the bad habits we have, with all our food, just eliminating junk food is not going to do anything. ...We are eating too much generally. We need to cut back on our total consumption. We need to be better about exercising...There is nothing flashy about that advice. It&#39;s not magic; there is no silver bullet here.&quot;</p> <p> That&#39;s good advice, but it doesn&#39;t make for the same colorful headlines as painting Coca-Cola, a company as American as apple pie and baseball, as an greedy evil monster purposely fattening up the public. Of course, the Coca-Cola company already offers numerous lower calorie and sugar free alternatives to its sugar-laden soda lines. And, in fact, research shows that most obese people have already made the switch to diet soda and are <a href="">less likely</a> than their thinner peers to drink full-calorie soda. So much for the idea that ridding the world of regular soda will cure obesity.</p> <p> Coca-Cola, like others in the industry, are already trying to make their products more appealing to an increasingly calorie-conscious consumer base. Soda consumption has fallen in recent decades, so these companies need alternates to succeed. This kind of market pressure, not half-baked litigation or new busy-body regulations, ought to be the impetuous for such change.</p> <p> The biggest problem with this type of litigation and public relations&#39; stunt is that it sends the message that companies and certain products are what is making people overweight. But soda&mdash;or juice, or french fries, candy bars, pasta or Caesar salad dressing&mdash;aren&#39;t the problem. Such indulgences can be a part of a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation; it&#39;s the moderation part that Americans struggle with. Blaming soda pop and pretending that we can litigate our way to better health sounds easier and therefore more attractive, but sadly it&#39;s never going to work.</p> L. LukasTue, 10 Jan 2017 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFederal Government Needs To Focus On Cyber Warfare • MSNBC Live L. LukasSun, 1 Jan 2017 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen Are Making Progress… Let’s Not Allow Government to Get in Their Way<p> Women frustrated by workplace challenges are sometimes invited to imagine how much better it would be if women held the reins of corporate power. Female bosses would treat employees better, providing higher wages and superior benefit packages with greater flexibility. These generous policies would improve the bottom-line, as satisfied employees perform better, bolstering profitability. Of course, women would end sexist policies against other women, so women would rise through the ranks and have insights into female customers (who make most major purchasing decisions today), further improving company performance.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s the dream anyway. And it may&mdash;in part at least&mdash;be reality. Writing in <a href="">The Atlantic,</a> Alana Semuels highlights encouraging research on how employees and businesses fare when women are in charge:</p> <p> &hellip;women who are high-performing and already successful tend to see their prospects improve under a woman&rsquo;s leadership.&nbsp; In one study, for example, a group of Italian researchers looked at the compensation of individual workers at big Italian manufacturing firms between 1982 and 1997. They found that female leadership had a positive effect on wages for women in more senior roles (and, as it happens, that firms with more women leaders performed better).</p> <p> What causes this? The study&rsquo;s lead author Luca Flabbi, a professor of economics at Georgetown, told me that he believes that women are better than men at reading other women and assigning them to the jobs commensurate with their experience. When a female executive replaces a male executive at a firm, she can better see the talent of senior women and put them in positions that match their talent. Since this is a better fit for these women, they do better work, and enhance the firm&rsquo;s performance. &nbsp;&ldquo;She puts them in more productive positions, and she is right, and that&rsquo;s why the performance goes up,&rdquo; he told me.</p> <p> Semuels notes that it&rsquo;s not all good news for female employees. Research also suggests that women at the lower end of the salary and performance scale fare worse under a female boss. Yet that result isn&rsquo;t necessarily a surprise or a bump on the road to women&rsquo;s advancement: Female supervisors may look past sexist stereotypes to promote high-achieving women, but they may also feel less constrained by concerns that they will be charged with sexism if they demote a poorly performing female worker. That&rsquo;s progress too. Treating all workers as individuals and recognizing achievement (and the lack thereof) regardless of gender should be the goal.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s also why Semuels errs in suggesting that Norway is a &ldquo;good testing ground&rdquo; for what happens when women are in charge. As she explains, Norway has a law requiring that public companies&rsquo; board of directors are at least 40 percent female. So, at least when it comes to such statistics, Norway appears ahead of the game in terms of women&rsquo;s progress. But studies of Norway have found that the law has had only a limited impact, helping a few women at the top, but changing little else. As Semuels put it:&nbsp; &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no evidence that the quotas had any effect on women lower down in the companies, nor that the companies hired more women. They also found no evidence that women were inspired to go to business school, pursue business careers, or delay having children to &lsquo;fast-track&rsquo; their careers once they saw more women in the boardroom.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s hardly a surprise when you consider how such quotas work in the real world. A woman worker who knew that management had been required by law to give a set number of board positions to women would be unlikely to think that compliance with this quota represented a new attitude toward working women. She&rsquo;d likely (and rightly) assume that those new female board members won&rsquo;t be taken as seriously as those who had been there before the law was passed. Moreover, like any quota system, such a law might even backfire by tainting the achievements of women leaders across the board. Perhaps some of those Norwegian women deserved those board positions on their own merits, but the mandate will lead many to assume that they got those top slots at least in part their because the company had no choice and those women aren&rsquo;t as qualified as the male board members who are there in spite of the deck being stacked against them.</p> <p> In fact, Norway should be a cautionary tale of how not to try to advance women in the workplace. Far better for the slow but steady increase in female corporate leadership to continue naturally than to short-circuit that process with a government mandate.</p> <p> Yes, growth in the number of female executives at major companies may be slower than many would like. But it is heading in the right direction and we can expect that to continue as more women rise and show that they are capable, successful leaders. That&rsquo;s great news not just for women workers, but for everyone who will benefit from a stronger more dynamic economy that&rsquo;s putting people&rsquo;s talents, regardless of their gender, to better use.</p> L. LukasFri, 30 Dec 2016 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBeware Outsource Parenting: You May End Up Missing the Good Stuff<p> Couples imagining the joys of parenting tend to think of those quintessential Hallmark moments&mdash;babies cracking their first gummy smiles, hand-made crafts scrawled with &ldquo;I luv Mommy,&rdquo; excited kids arranging cookies for Santa Claus. Few look forward to well-known parenting horrors like the 2 am shift with a colicky infant, potty training an obstinate three-year-old, or caring for a child racked with stomach flu. Yet, in my experience at least, these parenting rites-of-passage tend to end up seeming like part of the good stuff&mdash;at least in retrospect.</p> <p> Thirty-four-year old mother of two, Katy Landrum, recently created a minor <a href="">social media firestorm</a> with her provocatively-titled article, &ldquo;<a href="">I Paid Someone to Sleep Train My Infant While I Went On Vacation</a>,&rdquo; for Redbook. She explains:</p> <p> When our son was born, my husband reminded me that early sleep training would benefit everyone in our family. As a self-employed realtor who works full time, I regularly receive inquiries from clients looking to buy and sell homes, and I knew that in order to properly function, sleep was a necessity. Our daughter is now two and a half and she&rsquo;s still a great sleeper, so I knew we needed to do it again. Our wonderful night nurse referred us to her friend Deb, a seasoned sleep trainer with nearly a decade of experience helping babies achieve peaceful slumbers. At $30 an hour, bringing a professional in to manage the process seemed like a no-brainer. It&rsquo;s so painful for me to listen to my babies cry, and I knew I didn&rsquo;t have the strength to do it again.</p> <p> So, I booked myself and my husband a little getaway in Ojai. I didn&rsquo;t want to be in earshot of Bo&rsquo;s weeping. Treating ourselves to a restful retreat meant we could try to enjoy ourselves instead of dwelling on what was taking place at home. After a couple of cocktails, an afternoon of sun, and a few intimate minutes with my breast pump (I dumped the contents), I settled into a Swedish massage at the spa.</p> <p> I sympathize with Landrum: Sleep deprivation is a serious situation and one that smart parents don&rsquo;t allow to linger for too long. Allowing a baby to cry instead of immediately receiving comfort so he or she can learn how to go back to sleep naturally is a legitimate way to encourage healthier sleep habits. I disagree with many of Landrum&rsquo;s critics who imply that there is something inherently wrong with employing an expert to take on a parenting job.</p> <p> Yet before outsourcing what sound like unpleasant aspects of parenting, parents should do the full cost-benefit analysis and not overlook the big upsides to these experiences. Yes, consoling an inconsolable child or hearing a baby cry through the door are painful experiences, but they tend to be coupled with profoundly gratifying moments&mdash;seeing your baby sleeping peacefully, having your sick child gratefully hold your hand, seeing the pride of the newly potty-trained youngster.</p> <p> Landrum had already sleep trained her first child and said she didn&rsquo;t want to suffer through it again. She describes sharing a bottle of wine with her friend when she made the decision, and tearfully listening to her baby&rsquo;s own tears and struggling through the process, which took days. It sounds like a vivid memory. Is it really one that she wishes she&rsquo;d missed?</p> <p> Sit with any group of mothers and you&rsquo;ll often end up hearing them exchange parenting battle stories, usually with lots of laughter and obvious pleasure. That&rsquo;s no surprise: People tend to value experiences and accomplishments that they&rsquo;ve had to invest in and sacrifice for. The pride of being a Marine in part stems from having endured the grueling training program; surviving fraternity hazing builds a feeling of camaraderie among those who shared the experience. Having invested so much, people&rsquo;s psyches find ways to help us see our investments as good ones.</p> <p> This may explain the counter-intuitive results of some of Europe&rsquo;s social programs. Their governments invest heavily in helping parents and making raising children less taxing. Throughout most of the EU, once the lengthy, government-mandated paid leave following the birth of a child is over, parents are expected to drop their one-year-olds off to spend the bulk of their day in a heavily-subsidized, government-provided daycare center. Why are birth rates so stubbornly low when parenting has been made so much easier? Perhaps that&rsquo;s exactly why. Eliminating the intense demands of parenting has also robbed parents of some of the glue that makes the whole experience seem worthwhile (and likens the experience to a demanding yet prestigious club that not everyone has the grit to enter).</p> <p> Clearly, many parents embrace suffering as a virtue and needlessly compete for who has it worse. That&rsquo;s silly, and parents ought to try to make the experience of parenting more joyful and to continue enjoying their lives as individuals even while raising their kids. Yet, we as parents also shouldn&rsquo;t discount the selfish satisfaction derived from living through the sleepless nights and messy moments that, ironically, often end up among our fondest memories.</p> L. LukasWed, 21 Dec 2016 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat's Next For Germany After Terrorist Attack On Christmas Market? • Marc Cox Show L. LukasTue, 20 Dec 2016 10:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParents, Make Less Screen Time New Year’s Resolution #1<p> With parents busy juggling the run-up to the holidays, it&rsquo;s nice that the media is taking a break from their usual alarmism and guilt-mongering. A recent <a href="">report</a> from Common Sense Media about technology use among parents elicited gentle rebukes, such as this from <a href="">PBS</a>&lsquo;s Laura Santhanam:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;If you want to scold your teen or tween for their screen time on smartphones, tablets and computers, think twice: You may be setting their example.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> On average, parents of children ages eight to eighteen consume screen media for more than nine hours each day, and of that, these parents devote nearly eight hours to watching movies, playing video games and scrolling through social media . . . .</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> And nearly eight out of ten parents surveyed said they were &lsquo;good media and technology role models,&rsquo; according to the report that is consistent with&nbsp;previous research.&rdquo;</p> <p> The write-up encourages parents to consider how they are using their time, recognizing that while some use of technology&mdash;watching a family movie or working on an educational research project, for example&mdash;can be valuable, much of it isn&rsquo;t.</p> <p> And that&rsquo;s an important message for parents to hear. Parents who worry incessantly about their children becoming addicted to their smartphones need to take a &ldquo;heal thyself&rdquo; approach first. Nine hours a day in front of screens&mdash;and work-related computer use accounted for less than two hours of that total time, compared to about seven spent watching TV, playing video games and checking out social media or websites&mdash;is a pretty jaw-dropping investment of time, and one that isn&rsquo;t paying any returns for the family or personal mental health.</p> <p> This massive amount of time spent online is particularly important since feeling rushed and harried is an accepted part of contemporary parenting culture. Stand around any school at pickup time and you&rsquo;ll undoubtedly hear parents complaining about how busy we all are, juggling work and children&rsquo;s extracurricular activities and school, with the many projects and homework assignments that seem to fall on Mom and Dad as much as on junior.</p> <p> All that certainly feels true, especially at this time of year (this week alone I have three different desserts to prepare for class parties, two holiday concerts, and a series of specific costuming needs for my kids). But if parents are somehow managing to cram an average of seven hours of non-work-related screen time into their days, then perhaps the real problem is not that we are too busy, but that we are losing too many hours to entertainment and online nonsense.</p> <p> Getting away from screens is no easy feat. It&rsquo;s often important to have our phones on us to stay connected to those we love, as well as to keep the ball rolling at work. Once the phone is out of our pockets, it&rsquo;s easy to move from whatever relatively important message we need to read to other tasks that aren&rsquo;t important at all&mdash;checking emails, responding to friends&rsquo; posts on Facebook, checking the sales, or clicking on the latest outrageous celebrity headline.</p> <p> Even when we aren&rsquo;t pulling out our smart phones, screens tend to be all but ubiquitous in America. They are blinking in front of me when I fill my car with gas; as often as not, they are in the bars and restaurants I go to in hopes of reconnecting with friends or family, but which can easily become another invitation to watch cable or some obscure professional sporting event that&rsquo;s being played on wall-sized televisions. My children&rsquo;s elementary school, rather than acting as a partner in trying to peel kids away from electronic devices, pushes them into our hands. Sometimes that&rsquo;s for a good reason: the internet offers access to a wealth of information and educational platforms that bring subjects to life and make learning fun. Yet it becomes hard to police what&rsquo;s useful and what is ultimately just another video game with a slightly educational theme. As parents we are expected to visit online sites for each of our kids&rsquo; classrooms, check in on schedules and sign up for classroom activities, all of which pulls us back in to the technology vortex.</p> <p> Parents should aspire to do better in the new year, and truly model a healthy relationship with technology, which has to include major chunks of time entirely free from it. Time management guru <a href="">Laura Vanderkam</a> encourages people to think of their time, which she breaks into thirty-minute blocks, as tiles of a mosaic that we use to paint a picture of our life. Most of us are happy to have part of our mosaic include lazy time watching the latest, great Netflix series or sharing pictures with friends on social media. But surely we don&rsquo;t want technology and screen time to be our picture&rsquo;s focus. Sadly, too often today, it is.</p> L. LukasTue, 13 Dec 2016 12:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy the Left Doesn’t Like Kellyanne Conway’s Message About Work-Life Balance<p> Kellyanne Conway recently became the first woman to successfully lead a winning presidential campaign. It&rsquo;s not the first time she&rsquo;s been a ground-breaker: Conway started her polling company in 1995 when she was just twenty-eight years old. In different circumstances, she&rsquo;d be feminist favorite and heralded as a role model. Yet because she&rsquo;s an unapologetic conservative&mdash;and even worse, one that helped elect Donald Trump&mdash;she&rsquo;s reviled by the Left, and a target for <a href="">vicious attacks</a>.</p> <p> Conway&rsquo;s latest sin is her candid remarks about why she decided not to accept a top White House job. According to <a href="">Politico</a>, here&rsquo;s how Conway described explaining her decision to male colleagues:</p> <p> I do politely mention to them the question isn&rsquo;t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who&rsquo;s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to . . . Would you want the mother of your children to? You really see their entire visage change. It&rsquo;s like, oh, no, they wouldn&rsquo;t want their wife to take that job.</p> <p> <a href="">Slate&lsquo;s Suzanne Monyak</a> bristles at Conway&rsquo;s thought experiment and&mdash;surprise, surprise&mdash;finds a way to read an implicit insult of other working women into Conway&rsquo;s remarks. In her piece entitled, &ldquo;Kellyanne Conway Suggests that Women with Kids Shouldn&rsquo;t Take Jobs in the White House,&rdquo; Monyak writes:</p> <p> Donald Trump&rsquo;s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that mothers should not accept high-powered career opportunities&mdash;a standard that does not apply to fathers, in Conway&rsquo;s opinion . . .</p> <p> The problem with Conway&rsquo;s comments is not that she values her family or spending time with her young children. It&rsquo;s that she seems to believe that it is the onus of the woman in a family to sacrifice her career opportunities so that her husband may have his. Even more troubling, Conway implies that no good mother should take on such a job&mdash;an attitude that feels ripped out of Mad Men.</p> <p> Yet that&rsquo;s not what Conway said at all, and it would be bizarre if she did offer such sweeping pronouncements about what constitutes a good mother. After all, Kellyanne has been running a major polling company the entire time she&rsquo;s been a parent. She&rsquo;s just spent the last several months leading a round-the-clock presidential campaign. This is hardly June Cleaver lecturing other women not to lean in.</p> <p> Rather, what Conway dared to do was to describe honestly how most married couples approach major work-life decisions without the politically correct caveats that the Left wants people to use. If that had been her style, she might have added: &ldquo;Of course, there are women who would jump at the chance for a West Wing job and they could still be wonderful mothers, and there are some husbands who would happily cheer them on. That&rsquo;s great for them!&rdquo; Or, &ldquo;Certainly plenty of women, upon hearing that their partners are considering such a time-consuming job, would forcefully object. Men have balancing acts too!&rdquo;</p> <p> But she didn&rsquo;t bother with that. She spoke about her own experience and her desire to be the hands-on parent, which she knows is also how many women approach such decisions. We can debate endlessly why women disproportionally assume the primary parenting role, if it&rsquo;s nature or nurture or some combination thereof, and how it might possibly change. Yet that&rsquo;s reality today, and Conway simply has the sense and candor to put it out there.</p> <p> President Obama&rsquo;s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett encouraged Conway to reconsider: &ldquo;I encourage Kellyanne to try it . . . You can always leave. You can always leave if it doesn&rsquo;t work out.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s great advice&mdash;especially for those of us who would like to see Kellyanne Conway in a leading role in the next administration.</p> <p> But Jarrett isn&rsquo;t the only woman who&rsquo;s had something to say about the experience of balancing work and family life while working in an Administration, even under a supposedly in-tune-to-women&rsquo;s-needs boss like President Obama. Anne Marie Slaughter, who had been the director of policy planning at the State Department, wrote &ldquo;Why Women Still Can&rsquo;t Have It All&rdquo; in <a href="">The Atlantic</a> after quitting her job because she felt she had lost too much time with her sons. Slaughter wrote that she&rsquo;d been told, &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t say that!&rdquo; when she described her plans to write the article, but she did write it. Naturally, Slaughter (a liberal feminist in good standing!) was mostly applauded for her piece, especially since she intoned about how the work world should change to make it easier for parents (but particularly women) to balance powerful jobs and family life.</p> <p> Conway recognizes that such demanding positions aren&rsquo;t easy to reshape, even when people are committed to helping working women balance their work and home lives, as Conway says the President-Elect is. She also knows she&rsquo;ll have a role to play the next four years, but is waiting to make sure that whatever position she accepts fits her goals, both professional and private. Good for her. She&rsquo;s not discouraging other women from pursuing their dreams; she&rsquo;s showing how a powerful woman doesn&rsquo;t have to settle and can instead shape the life she wants. Isn&rsquo;t that what feminism is supposed to be about?</p> L. LukasFri, 9 Dec 2016 10:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJudge’s Decision to Halt New Overtime Rules Isn’t Just a Victory for Business—It’s Good News for Workers<p> The press is covering a federal judge&rsquo;s&nbsp;decision to halt the implementation of the Department of Labor&rsquo;s new overtime regulation as a victory for Republicans and business groups and a blow to workers. But many workers should&nbsp;also celebrate this news.</p> <p> Analysts tend to present this new regulation as all upside for workers who would become newly eligible for overtime when they work in excess of a 40-hour week. But, as labor policy expert Tammy McCutchen explained in testimony before the U.S. Senate, this also takes away their guaranteed income:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &hellip;while exempt employees do not receive overtime for working over 40 hours in a week, they also are not paid less if they work less than 40 hours in a week. If an exempt employee works as little as one hour in the week, and then takes the rest of the week off because of a family emergency, that employee will still be paid her entire weekly salary. A non-exempt employee need be paid only for the one hour she actually worked. A non-exempt employee who takes an afternoon off to attend a parent-teacher conference will not be paid for that time, but an exempt employee will be paid her full guaranteed salary.</p> <p> So while some workers may earn more because of overtime, others may end up making less as a result of the new rules. Moreover, many workers simply don&rsquo;t want to have to track their time and inform their bosses exactly when they are leaving early and when they are working late. Moving to an hourly position entails a loss of prestige for some workers, who prefer to feel as though their contributions to the company are bigger than just their time logged.</p> <p> One survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 85 percent of restaurant and retail managers believe changing employees from salaried to hourly workers will have a negative effect. Nearly half believe that the change would hurt morale, making people feel they were in a job rather than a career. And these respondents aren&rsquo;t just speaking for their employees. After all, many of the managers in restaurants and retail shops may also be newly eligible for overtime, and 86 percent reported that their perceptions of their own positions would deteriorate if they were moved to an hourly status.</p> <p> This costly new regulation would have been a blow to flexibility for workers and created a costly administrative burden for businesses. It&rsquo;s welcome news&nbsp;that its implementation has been delayed.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 23 Nov 2016 06:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMegyn Kelly Fails to Fit the Feminist Mold—and That’s a Good Thing<p> Is Megyn Kelly a feminist hero or villain? That&rsquo;s a question that many feminist writers have been grappling with for the past year, but one that has become more pressing as the host of Fox News&rsquo; popular &ldquo;The Kelly File&rdquo; has just released a memoir, <a href="">Settle for More</a>.</p> <p> As Anna Silman <a href="">writes</a> in New York magazine:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> liberals, perhaps grateful to hear from someone who doesn&rsquo;t always toe the party line, have rushed to claim Kelly as a feminist hero, a breath of fresh air wafting through the dank chambers of Fox News. &lsquo;Kelly has emerged as an unlikely feminist warrior&rsquo; writes&nbsp;Emily Nussbaum in&nbsp;The New Yorker. Others are less enthused. &lsquo;Megyn Kelly Is Hardly A &lsquo;Feminist Icon,&rsquo;&rsquo; argues&nbsp;Media Matters. (Conservatives have similarly strong feelings.) Indeed, nobody seems to know what to make of Kelly, a confusion that feels tied up in feminists&rsquo; broader struggle to understand how&nbsp;so many women in this country&nbsp;could have cast their ballots for President-elect Trump.</p> <p> Silman tiptoes toward the larger issue in that last sentence: Really, all the machinations about Kelly tell us a lot more about the modern feminist movement and its attitudes toward women than they do about the Fox News star.</p> <p> Silman dissects how Kelly has upheld feminist standards&mdash;&ldquo;defending <a href="">maternity leave</a>, advocating for <a href="">working women,</a> and <a href="">eviscerating misogynists on air</a>&rdquo;&mdash;and weighs this against her sins against feminism, such as questioning statistics about the wage gap and &ldquo;affirmative consent&rdquo; policies on college campuses, and not being sufficiently fixated on how sexism has been an impediment to her career.</p> <p> This process for determining if Kelly deserves the title of feminist is exactly why Megyn Kelly herself affirmatively rejects the term, which she describes as &ldquo;exclusionary and alienating.&rdquo; Kelly is exactly right: For all their talk about diversity and tolerance, the progressive feminist movement has a rigid view of how women should think and seeks to divide women into two camps. Only good women who embrace the entire progressive political agenda and carefully adhere to all the rules of political correctness deserve to be called feminist. Those who don&rsquo;t follow their rules, the non-feminists, are traitors to their sex, and feminists prefer to depict them as cartoonishly conservative: white, church-going, middle-aged mothers who lack college degrees and professional jobs, vote Republican, and wear pearls. These backward women are feminism&rsquo;s antithesis and can be dismissed as either the tools or the unwitting victims of the patriarchy; they are too far gone to be salvaged.</p> <p> Take The Guardian&lsquo;s Jessica Valenti. <a href="">Writing</a> in 2014 after another disappointing election for progressives, <a href="">Valenti simply dismisses</a> nearly half of the women in the country:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> In a way, female Republicans almost&nbsp;bother me more&nbsp;than their male counterparts. I can almost understand why a bunch of rich, religiously conservative white men wouldn&rsquo;t care about the reality of women&rsquo;s day-to-day lives&mdash;they&rsquo;ve never had to. But throwing other women under the bus? For what? Lower taxes? Three minutes on Fox News in the 3pm hour? It makes me wonder what is wrong with you.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s really wrong, however, is Valenti&rsquo;s inability to fathom that anyone&mdash;but particularly women&mdash;could have a different, but still legitimate, approach to public policy issues. The feminist movement seems unable to conceive that women might actually believe that government&rsquo;s workplace mandates backfire on women, or object to forcing nuns to pay for contraception, or think people are better off with more freedom and lower taxes and fewer regulations. For feminists, these issues are not open for debate, and failure to agree with them is taken as evidence of avarice or some kind of pathology.</p> <p> In fact, it&rsquo;s this agenda&mdash;not the broad cause of women&rsquo;s equality&mdash;that is the centerpiece of today&rsquo;s progressive feminist movement. That&rsquo;s why they can imply that women have a duty to vote for Hillary Clinton, but then decry the election of Republican Joni Ernst and pile on against a Sarah Palin or a Nikki Haley.</p> <p> When these priorities are considered, then it&rsquo;s easy to navigate the liberal take on Megyn Kelly: They cheered for her when she challenged Donald Trump on his sexist comments, but will dismiss her anytime she fails to be useful for their cause. Undoubtedly, Kelly bothers them because she can&rsquo;t be written off as a repressed, old school housewife. She&rsquo;s smart, hardworking, successful, and unafraid to challenge political leaders of all stripes.</p> <p> Megyn Kelly is exactly the kind of woman that a legitimate women&rsquo;s movement would celebrate&mdash;which is why the feminist movement never will.</p> L. LukasTue, 22 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Childcare Proposal Ivanka Should Heed in a Trump Administration<p> During her father&rsquo;s first interview after his Election Night victory, &ldquo;60 Minutes&rdquo; reporter Lesley Stahl said to Donald Trump&rsquo;s daughter, Ivanka: &ldquo;People think that you&rsquo;re going to be part of the administration, Ivanka.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m &mdash; no,&rdquo; Ivanka Trump responded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to be a daughter. But I&rsquo;ve &mdash; I&rsquo;ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them&hellip; Wage equality, childcare. These are things that are very important for me. I&rsquo;m very passionate about education. Really promoting more opportunities for women. So you know, there&rsquo;re a lot of things that I feel deeply, strongly about. But not in a formal administrative capacity.&rdquo;</p> <p> During her speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Americans got a glimpse of what Ivanka has in mind when it comes to both priorities. During her speech, Ivanka discussed both, saying:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;Women represent 46 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and 40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners. In 2014, women made 83 cents for every dollar made by a man. Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents. As researchers have noted, gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.&rdquo;</em></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">For most conservatives listening, the speech was unlike anything we&rsquo;ve heard on an RNC stage; and not in a good way. In </span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">National Review</span></em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF) provided some much needed perspective for the auditioning First Daughter, whose talking points sounded more like a Hillary surrogate&rsquo;s than a Republicans&rsquo;. She </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">wrote</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">,</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Ivanka succeeded in showing the audience that Republicans care about these issues, rather than just allowing the Left and Hillary Clinton to dominate discussions about women in the workplace&hellip; There are dozens of conservative policy reforms that can help women, including providing more protection for equal pay, without encouraging frivolous litigation or needlessly growing government. Similarly on childcare, Ivanka correctly noted that childcare expenses are a major burden for too many working women and more needs to be done to help parents, particularly those with lower incomes, for whom childcare expenses can eat up the bulk of after-tax earnings.&rdquo;</span></em></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Coming out of the gate during the first 100 days of his administration, there are any number of policy goals on the to-do list for Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress. For many on the Right, we&rsquo;ve struggled for a long time to recapture the narrative from liberals that it&rsquo;s possible to care about families and women, and care for them, without adding additional government, bureaucracy and red tape. If Ivanka and her father are serious about enacting reforms that would help women and families, they could turn to a </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">proposal</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> from IWF on Personal Care Accounts (PCAs) for inspiration.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> The concept is similar to health savings accounts. Instead of adding to government-funded mandates in the form of universal paid leave, suppose employees and employers could add tax-free to savings accounts which could then be used for when employees need to take family leave of any kind &mdash; if a parent is sick, if a baby is born, or if a child is adopted. Any leftover money could then be rolled over into a retirement account; encouraging more savings for individuals who might have hit their maximum contribution limits on retirement accounts.</p> <p> Those in the upper and middle class could immediately see relief from the financial crunch that having a family crisis or addition can bring. But what about those at the bottom of the tax bracket? IWF encourages private charities to fill the gap, eliminating the expense of bureaucracy and middlemen that would have otherwise interfered had government taken this role instead.</p> <p> But would private individuals be able to fill this gap? Lukas thinks so. &ldquo;A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States exceeded $350 billion in 2014.&rdquo;</p> <p> Although no single proposal or initiative can solve the crisis for many American families regarding the financial pressures of balancing home life and work life; IWF&rsquo;s proposal would be an important first step towards allowing Americans to be stewards of their own financial security instead of relying on more government intervention.</p> <p> If the Trump administration is looking to highlight its commitment to America&rsquo;s women and families, a role traditionally owned by liberals, while still remaining committed to the free-market, alleviating some of this pressure via PCAs would be an important first step.</p> L. LukasMon, 21 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum