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 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 ForumTrump Aides Might Be Considering A Major Change To The President’s Maternity Leave Plan<p> When Donald Trump&nbsp;<a href="">pitched his plan</a> to extend paid leave to all new mothers in September, his campaign insisted the benefit would cover only women.</p> <p> But after critics called the proposal <a href="">unconstitutional</a>&nbsp;and said it would encourage employers <a href="">to discriminate against women</a>, the Trump administration might be considering a change of course.</p> <p> Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar in economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning research group, said she spoke in December to a &ldquo;lower-level&rdquo; member of Trump&rsquo;s transition team about the president&rsquo;s idea. Staffers were considering one key revision, she said: turning maternity leave into parental leave &mdash; a benefit that fathers, too, could access.</p> <p> &ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t want to just focus on mothers,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They were thinking about making it gender-neutral.&rdquo;</p> <p> A White House spokesperson would not confirm whether&nbsp;the president&rsquo;s policy had changed but said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a top priority of his. The president has expressed a need for a comprehensive maternity plan.&rdquo;</p> <p> The United States does not guarantee any paid time off for new parents. During his campaign, Trump proposed offering six weeks of paid time off to&nbsp;<a href="">biological mothers</a> through the country&rsquo;s unemployment insurance, which currently floats cash to workers who are laid off. The proposal&nbsp;received&nbsp;backlash from both Republicans and Democrats:&nbsp;Those on the right said the measure&nbsp;would bloat public assistance, creating a larger bill for taxpayers, while those on the left said it discriminated against fathers and adoptive mothers.</p> <p> Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have said the government should find a way to better support families.&nbsp;In 2015, for example, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida became <a href="">the first GOP presidential contender</a> to release a paid family leave plan, proposing a new tax break for companies that cover at least a four-week break for new parents. Democrats, meanwhile, have long advocated&nbsp;a national program, similar to the safety nets in&nbsp;<a href="">European countries</a>.</p> <p> Mathur, who wrote <a href=";refURL=;referrer=">a 2015 report</a> suggesting parental leave should be funded through a tax credit, said including fathers in Trump&rsquo;s plan probably wouldn&rsquo;t make it significantly more costly, considering American men rarely take paternity leave, even when it&rsquo;s fully funded through an employer.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Fewer than a third of new dads who work&nbsp;use more than 10 days of leave after the birth of a child, according to Labor Department data. Fewer than 1 in 7, meanwhile, receive pay for those days.</p> <p> Mathur said it was unclear whether&nbsp;Trump was considering offering the aid to adoptive parents.</p> <p> The Trump administration, she&nbsp;said, did not want to stray far from the original blueprint, though. The average weekly benefit, according to a campaign document, would be $300. Trump said he would pay for it by eliminating fraud in the unemployment insurance system. (Economists have said fraud payments constitute <a href="">a tiny fraction</a> of the overall program.)</p> <p> &ldquo;Providing the benefit through UI &mdash; paid for through program savings &mdash; will not be financially onerous to small businesses when compared with mandating paid leave,&rdquo; the Trump team&nbsp;<a href="">noted in a report</a>. &ldquo;The Trump plan for paid maternity leave will advance the interests of disadvantaged mothers without raising taxes.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, director of policy for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative nonprofit group, said she heard from a Trump aide a few weeks after the election. They chatted about the maternity leave proposal &mdash; specifically, the logistics of rolling it out on the state level. Lukas said gender didn&rsquo;t come up in their conversation.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re doing their homework,&rdquo; she&nbsp;said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to talk to people and not just rush out with something.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Hillary Clinton, for comparison, had proposed providing new parents &mdash; mothers and fathers, biological and adoptive &mdash; <a href="">12 weeks of parental leave </a>at two-thirds of their wages, funded through a tax increase&nbsp;on the wealthy. Trump said his plan was influenced by his older daughter, Ivanka, who <a href="">encouraged her father </a>to become the first Republican presidential nominee to unveil a maternity leave proposal.&nbsp;</p> <p> Back in November, Ellen Bravo, executive director of the national advocacy group Family Values at Work, said barring men from a paid leave program would be a blow to gender equality.</p> <p> &ldquo;This looks like a policy from someone who sees child-rearing as solely the responsibility of women and doesn&rsquo;t understand American families,&rdquo; Bravo said. &ldquo;It assumes only women take care of kids.&rdquo;</p> <p> In <a href="">a September interview </a>with Cosmopolitan, Ivanka Trump defended the plan&rsquo;s mothers-only focus.</p> <p> &ldquo;This is a giant leap from where we are today, which is sadly, nothing,&rdquo;&nbsp;she said. &ldquo;Both sides of the aisle have been unable to agree on this issue, so I think this takes huge advancement and obviously, for same-sex couples as well, there&rsquo;s tremendous benefit here to enabling the mother to recover after childbirth. It&rsquo;s critical for the health of the mother. It&rsquo;s critical for bonding with the child, and that was a top focus of this plan.&rdquo;</p> L. LukasTue, 7 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAudi’s Super Bowl Commercial Sends a Misleading Message to Girls—& America<p> Luxury car maker Audi wants consumers to associate its brand with high-minded concepts like equality, fairness, aspiration, and progress. The company&rsquo;s marketing department must have determined that people able to afford their cars (which start at $34,900) want their purchase to signal not just wealth, but also that they believe in these virtues. That&rsquo;s why they are investing about $10 million dollars on a commercial that barely features their actual product.</p> <p> Audi&rsquo;s 60-second commercial, which will air during the Super Bowl this weekend, features a handsome father watching his daughter participate in a downhill cart race. As the girl races past the boys, who fail in their attempts to knock her off course, viewers hear the dad&rsquo;s tortured thoughts about his daughter&rsquo;s prospects:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandpa is worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?</p> <p> The commercial ends hopefully, with the dad taking his victorious daughter back to their car&mdash;an Audi, naturally&mdash;thinking, &ldquo;Or maybe, I&rsquo;ll be able to tell her something different.&rdquo; The commercial closes with the flash of a written statement: &ldquo;Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.&rdquo; The uplifting music and message is sure to elicit smiles and nods from the audience who all agree that we want to live in a country that values girls just as much as boys.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> The only hiccup is that we already do live in such a country. Audi wants to differentiate itself with the audience by expressing its commitment to equal pay for equal work, but this is already the law of the land and prevails in the overwhelming majority of American workplaces.</p> <p> Undoubtedly, Audi wants viewers to think of the much-cited Department of Labor statistic showing women earn less than men on average, which is often pointed to as evidence that women routinely face discrimination. But that&rsquo;s not what this statistic shows as at all. <a href="">Study</a> after <a href="">study</a> confirms that after factors like hours worked, industry, years of experience and other factors are taken into account, the wage gap shrinks to just a few lingering, unexplained percentage points. This is good news for this worried father and his daughter: When his little girl grows up, she has the potential to earn just as much as the boys racing against her.</p> <p> Those vested in the idea that girls and women still get the short end of the stick in America will argue that women&rsquo;s different choices aren&rsquo;t freely made, but are the result of societal pressure that lead them to accept lower earnings, especially as they assume the bulk of parenting responsibilities.</p> <p> Yet parents of boys could make just as compelling a case that societal pressures actually work just as heavily against boys. The higher earnings men receive on average come at a higher personal cost: Men log longer hours on the job, suffer nearly all workplace fatalities and major injuries, and perform the most physically grueling and unpleasant jobs, from working in sewers to guarding prisons. The monetary rewards they enjoy hardly outweigh the lower life expectancy and life-quality sacrifices that men are driven to make.</p> <p> Earnings and job outcomes, of course, are just one measure of how society values people. Certainly there are some parts of the word where boys are clearly more valued than girls, but America isn&rsquo;t one of them. Statistics on adoption show that U.S. parents are more likely to seek girls than boys. In many countries, abortion is used to eliminate girls, but that does not appear to be the case in America. In fact, <a href="">according to the industry</a>, most Americans seeking help to conceive a certain sex are hoping for a girl. American girls are consistently achieving more than boys in terms of education, which means we can expect them to make additional progress in the future.</p> <p> Of course, American society ought to do better in offering positive messages for our daughters about their value. Pop culture, in particular, sexualizes girls and women, which can create unhealthy expectations. But we also need to do better for our sons, who are too often fed the message that it isn&rsquo;t masculine to be smart or studious, and that masculinity itself is something to be ashamed of.</p> <p> If the dad in the Audi commercial really wanted to send his daughter a positive message, he would tell her that she is lucky to live in a country where anything is possible. She shouldn&rsquo;t waste her time looking for sexism around every corner or assume that she isn&rsquo;t going to be given a fair shake; rather, she should recognize that her future will be determined by the choices she makes. She can build any life she wants, but she should plan wisely and work to use her talents to their fullest. That&rsquo;s an empowering message, not merely a pandering one.</p> L. LukasFri, 3 Feb 2017 09:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumProgressive Sexism<p> Those who had warned about an uptick in sexism under President Trump may have been on to something. As the era of Trump dawns, some women already are being singled out for criticism and scorn that is tinged with sexist assumptions and seems intended to force them back into roles that society decrees are a must for good women.</p> <p> Yet this isn&rsquo;t a Republican &ldquo;war on women,&rdquo; as some predicted. It is, rather, progressives and left-leaning media elites who are targeting conservative women. Take the recent Saturday Night Live <a href="">skit</a> ridiculing Kellyanne Conway, the first woman to have led a successful Presidential campaign. (Full disclosure: I&rsquo;ve met Kellyanne professionally.)</p> <p> SNL depicts Conway&mdash;the president of a successful polling company she launched at age twenty-nine&mdash;as an airhead, publicity-hound, and gold digger. Never mind that Conway has had plenty of opportunity over the years to pursue political celebrity and instead chose to focus on leading her business, or that she graduated magna cum laude from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and received a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. Conway&rsquo;s classic American story of working her way from a modest background to professional and personal success doesn&rsquo;t fit the media and progressive left&rsquo;s stereotype for conservative women, which means she&rsquo;s fair game for scorn.</p> <p> Were Conway a Democrat who had helped Hillary Clinton become the first female President, she now would be a revered feminist icon. There would be glowing profiles in the weeklies and flattering photo spreads in women&rsquo;s magazines. Conway would be heralded as a role model and as a trailblazing woman. Her frank statements about the challenges of balancing work and family life would be billed as brave indictments of women&rsquo;s struggles in the workplace, rather than as evidence that she is, somehow, <a href="">anti-working woman</a>. But since Conway isn&rsquo;t advancing the feminist political agenda, the supposedly enlightened left overlooks her accomplishments and recasts her in whatever cartoonish conservative stereotype it finds convenient.</p> <p> The left&rsquo;s double standard on women is also evident in their treatment of the new First Lady, Melania Trump. Out are commentators swooning over Michelle Obama&rsquo;s dresses. In are condescending memes and twitter rants implying Melania has been duped into a relationship with Donald Trump and cannot possibly mean it when she says she supports and loves her husband. As The Atlantic has <a href="">written</a>, Melania Trump poses a real conflict for feminists and those on the left:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;The &lsquo;poor little rich girl&rsquo; treatments in that sense do indeed engage in a kind of concern-trolling. Yet they are also decidedly feminist in their tone. The jokes pivot on the idea that Melania Trump is miserable and cornered, and therefore pitiable, in part because the alternative requires imagining a woman who is happy with her husband&mdash;that is, a woman who refuses to be as offended as they are at &lsquo;grab them by the pussy&rsquo; and &lsquo;such a nasty woman&rsquo; and &lsquo;Miss Piggy.&rsquo; The alternative requires seeing her as a woman who tolerates such talk, and who Stands By Her Man in the fullest,&nbsp;Wynettiest&nbsp;sense&mdash;a woman who has, according to the mandates of choice feminism, made a choice, even if it chafes uncomfortably against the ideals of progressive feminism more broadly.&rdquo;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s grimly amusing that feminists now have such difficulty imagining a woman happy with her husband, even when he has behaved badly, to the point they would deny her free agency. They clearly didn&rsquo;t mind a woman &ldquo;standing by her man&rdquo; when that man was a Democratic President. Bill Clinton&rsquo;s decades of demeaning treatment of women, including his treatment of his wife, were studiously overlooked because Mr. Clinton claimed to support the feminist political agenda. Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s loyalty to her husband was therefore not a sign of weakness or evidence she was a hapless dupe, but rather a badge of honor signifying service to the greater cause. Mrs. Clinton parlayed that sentiment into a Senate seat and two runs for the White House.</p> <p> One might think Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s background as a woman who rode her husband&rsquo;s coattails would have made her an awkward feminist heroine. But it didn&rsquo;t, because today&rsquo;s progressive feminism isn&rsquo;t so much about women and their accomplishments as it is about raw political power. Support the progressive agenda on reproduction, health care, and workplace regulations, and a politician can literally get away with crimes against women&mdash;as opposed to mere words&mdash;and still be a feminist in good standing. But fail to fall in lockstep with the feminist platform, and you&rsquo;re a traitor to women, simple as that.</p> <p> Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump are hardly shrinking violets: They can take whatever hate the left throws at them, cloaked as humor or not. This includes barbs that, in another context, women&rsquo;s studies scholars would label not just as dreaded &ldquo;microaggressions,&rdquo; but as rank sexism. Ultimately, these attacks tell us nothing about Conway or Trump; but they do reveal an awful lot about the hypocrisy of their critics.</p> L. LukasTue, 31 Jan 2017 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWireless Technology Is Changing More Than Communication<p> Innovation is coming whether we like it or not, as <a href="’s-Coming-Shake-Up">Patrice Onwuka wrote</a> recently.&nbsp; But while change can be scary, and I&#39;ve written about <a href="">the struggle</a> to keep technology in its place (not ruling our lives) there is certainly going to be a lot to like from ongoing technological innovation.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Consider some of the findings from <a href="">this paper</a> from the consulting firm, Deloitte.&nbsp; For example, as this report explains, the growth of wireless technology has the potential to continue to dramatically improve health outcomes, particularly related to emergencies, and deter crime.&nbsp; One study of Salt Lake City&#39;s emergency services found that a one-minute decrease in response time reduced mortality by 8 percent.&nbsp; As wireless technologies help better coordinate requests for help with the nearest response team, people are getting the help they need faster&mdash;and lives are being saved as a result.</p> <p> And of course, these technologies are resulting in tremendous cost savings.&nbsp; The use of wireless-enabled smart grids have the potential to save American families hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs, which translates into an economic boom for the economy of an estimated $1.8 trillion per year.</p> <p> Innovation in transportation has already been life-changing in many urban areas, with new companies like Uber and Lyft cutting costs for riders substantially, making it easier for people to get around and discouraging dangerous behaviors such as drunk driving.&nbsp; And this may just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.&nbsp; The Deloitte paper concludes that wireless powered, self-driving cars could ultimately create $447 billion per year in savings &ndash; that means that we will face lower costs for just about all consumer goods.&nbsp; But just as importantly, they will also dramatically reduce emissions (by an estimated 40-90%), reduce traffic, and save thousands of lives each year by taking people off the road.&nbsp;</p> <p> Mostly, when we think of the upsides of technologies like wireless we think of the phones in our pockets and the pictures we are sharing with friends.&nbsp; But that&#39;s really a very small part of what these technologies do:&nbsp; They are also making our lives richer and safer in ways that are easy to miss, but are just as real.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasTue, 31 Jan 2017 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIf You Have Lots Of Kids, Don’t Take People’s Curious Comments Too Seriously<p> Friends send me articles on the theme that the world has become less welcoming to big families and that parents with many kids face subtle&mdash;and often not so subtle&mdash;scorn. They assume that, as a mother of five, I can relate to this experience. But I don&rsquo;t.</p> <p> Some of the questions Cassandra Chesser describes in her article in <a href="">The Federalist</a> are familiar. Especially having lived in three European countries over the last decade, all with anemic birth rates making families with even three children a rarity, I have had plenty of curious looks and questions about the decision to have more children than many others do.</p> <p> Sure, a few nosy people asked about my religious affiliation and even if the kids were all from the some marriage (they are), which are certainly more personal questions than I&rsquo;d pose to a stranger. There have been a few subtle jokes about the facts of life and countless comments about how full my hands must be. But for every time there has been even a hint of implicit criticism, there have been a dozen imbued with admiration.</p> <p> When people ask me questions or make comments, I understand why. Many are asking about a path not taken, or one that they are toying going down, but worry about the unknowns. They aren&rsquo;t really asking if I find caring for or traveling with so many children hard, they are asking if <em>they</em> would find it hard. Many don&rsquo;t know women with five kids and have drawn conclusions about what that means based on their grandmother&rsquo;s stories or train-wreck reality shows.</p> <p> <strong>I&rsquo;m an Ambassador for Plentiful Children</strong></p> <p> I&rsquo;ve always tried to approach these conversations as if I&rsquo;m an ambassador for big families. I emphasize the upsides that they probably don&rsquo;t see and try to put the well-known challenges in perspective. I explain how each baby tends to get easier, when her cries are no longer a mystery and there are other little hands anxious to entertain the baby.</p> <p> Sleeplessness and tantrum-y toddler phases are never easy, but by the third, fourth or fifth child, you know for certain that this too will pass, so even dark days don&rsquo;t seem quite so bleak. Having many kids close in age means they have a great ability to entertain and support each other, which is a joy to watch now. I presume this will become even more important to our family as we all get older.</p> <p> My oldest is only 11, so I sometimes find myself staring at big families with teenagers. Especially if the family looks happy&mdash;if the kids are laughing with each other, if mom and dad seem to be enjoying themselves too&mdash;I watch for signs of what they&rsquo;ve done right. If we are sitting near each other on the plane or standing close in a line, I may be the one asking probing questions: Do they usually get along? Has it been hard? I&rsquo;m asking about them, but really I&rsquo;m asking what I should expect and if I&rsquo;m going to find it hard. I&rsquo;m looking for advice on how to prepare for what&rsquo;s ahead and hoping for encouragement.</p> <p> <strong>Some People Are Rude, But Don&rsquo;t Take It Personally</strong></p> <p> Undoubtedly, some people who make comments about how many kids I have aren&rsquo;t looking for advice or curious about big families. They think that having so many kids is irresponsible and they are bracing for our family to disrupt their experience. I vividly recall an older man groaning &ldquo;Oh god,&rdquo; as I sat down next to him in a crowded plane with a protesting 18-month-old on my lap. I ignored him, settled my little girl down, quietly read her books, and she was pretty good the rest of the flight. The man remained grumpy, sighing anytime her tiny foot dared to cross over the arm rest.</p> <p> We got through it, and after the flight an older woman nearby&nbsp;made a point of congratulating me for how well-behaved my kids were, loudly enough so the man next to me was sure to hear. People like that&mdash;offering me help and congratulating my kids on how well-behaved they are&mdash;are a far more common experience than the jerk we sat next to on that flight.</p> <p> Certainly smaller families are a trend. But it&rsquo;s also a trend to find offense and linger on any and all perceived slights. Mothers of big families should brace for interest from strangers and perhaps some awkward questions. But, in my experience, much more of the attention you receive will be positive than negative.</p> <p> You&rsquo;ll also be better off if you don&rsquo;t give power to those who appear to be judging you. A minority may actually think you are harming the world by leaving too big a carbon footprint (and forget them if they do), but they may also be jealous or simply curious and clumsy at trying to find out more about what your life is like. You&rsquo;ve got enough going on and don&rsquo;t need to waste time feeling insulted, but rather ought to have confidence that your decision to have a big family will pay off with plenty of people to love and support you in the years to come.</p> L. LukasMon, 30 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Women’s March And The March Of Time<p> For many, the unthinkable has happened: Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States. If you took seriously the doomsday predictions from many celebrities and leftist activists, you might have expected your world to be profoundly different today with President Trump at the helm instead of President Obama.</p> <p> This sense of fear and anger drove many people, particularly women, to take part in demonstrations across the country last weekend. There didn&rsquo;t appear to be a cohesive agenda or specific policy concern that brought the marchers together&mdash;unlike the Tea Party movement that bloomed months after President Obama took office in response to massive federal spending increases and concerns about a government take-over of health care. Rather, this march was driven by people disgusted by off-putting remarks made by the incoming President and concerned about how this might manifest in the future.</p> <p> If the President and his allies are wondering how to assuage the concerns of these marchers, the good news is that time may be the best remedy. Most women waking up today under the new Administration will find the world is still turning and their day-to-day lives continue as before: The alarm went off, you got up and made breakfast for yourself or your family, trudged off to work at the same job; later, you&rsquo;ll go home to fix the same old thing for dinner. Little will change. Of course, if you turn on the TV, the newscasts you see will indeed be different. You&rsquo;ll hear lots more critical coverage, and late night comedians will spend far more time making fun of this President than they did of President Obama&mdash;or would have dared to had Mrs. Clinton won. But if you were worried about the nightmare of a Trump Administration, you will probably enjoy this new tone and bias-confirming humor.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t to suggest that elections don&rsquo;t matter. They do. With time, the changes in policy we can expect from President Trump will ripple through the economy and society. Hopefully, they will lead to more and better job opportunities as businesses are freed from some of the weight of federal regulations. We can hope people will soon have more and better health insurance options after Obamacare is repealed and replaced&mdash;and that&rsquo;s true even for those who welcomed and liked the program. We can dream of tax reform that includes meaningful simplification so that this is the last April when millions of people waste hours just trying to riddle out what they owe. The marchers are convinced there is much to fear in all of this, but with time, they may see the benefits.</p> <p> As well, people concerned about the impact of President Trump ought to remember that&mdash;even today, after the federal government has metastasized to a three-trillion-dollar behemoth that seeks to regulate the minutiae of just about every aspect of American society&mdash;most of life will continue as before, regardless of who&rsquo;s in the Oval Office. For better or for worse, large swaths of the federal government are on autopilot and change happens slowly. Beyond this, even after an election, people will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in and impact which policy ideas become law. And life with your family, friends, and your neighborhood won&rsquo;t change much, if at all.</p> <p> This may surprise many, particularly young Americans, who&rsquo;ve been hearing for years about the Republican &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo; They&rsquo;ve been warned that Republicans want to reverse rights for women and minorities, leaving some with the impression that they need to brace for internment camps and lynch mobs. But those expectations will be disappointed. What Democrats&rsquo; characterize as a &ldquo;war on women&rdquo; is really just a different approach to public policy that many Americans, including many women, support and that could improve the economy and therefore many Americans&rsquo; lives. Undoubtedly, some progressive activists will still use the short-hand that any reduction in federal regulation or spending is a &ldquo;war on women,&rdquo; but when doomsday never arrives, more and more voters will start to recognize this hyperbole for what it is.</p> <p> Change can be scary. Political change spurred by a person you personally dislike, as many do Trump, even more so. But for those feeling despair right now, resist the temptation to wallow in the fear of the unknown, and try to imagine people with whom you disagree as well-intentioned individuals with different views, not monsters. Be open to considering the upside of coming policy changes and don&rsquo;t just listen to the prophets of gloom. And above all, remember that most of the best things in life won&rsquo;t be affected by whoever is sitting in the Oval Office.</p> L. LukasWed, 25 Jan 2017 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Were Women Marching This Weekend? • Marc Cox Show L. LukasMon, 23 Jan 2017 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPursue 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 Forum