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 RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Women’s March On Washington: What Makes Someone A Feminist?<p> Juliet Miller has no qualms calling herself both pro-life and a feminist.</p> <p> Years of soul searching, she says, led her to decide that she could not morally support abortion. Yet her women&rsquo;s studies degree also guaranteed that she would always be an advocate for women&rsquo;s rights: &ldquo;I think that to be feminist is to be invested in issues that affect women and to want women to be able to flourish,&rdquo; Ms. Miller says.</p> <p> So when she learned that an anti-abortion rights group had this week <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/01/17/pro_life_feminist_group_new_wave_feminists_removed_from_women_s_march_partnership.html">been dropped</a> from the list of official partners for the Women&rsquo;s March on Washington &ndash; a solidarity protest set for the day after President Trump&rsquo;s inauguration &ndash; Miller was disappointed.</p> <p> &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a little bit unfair to people who are pro-life and maybe have a bit of a different ideology than the typical feminist, to tell them that they don&rsquo;t get to be feminists, that they don&rsquo;t count,&rdquo; says Miller, now studying nursing at Arizona State University in Phoenix. &ldquo;It sends a really powerful and polarizing message.&rdquo;</p> <p> The Women&rsquo;s March, in its mission, invites people of <a href="https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/">all beliefs and backgrounds</a> to raise their voices on a range of issues, including civil rights, workers&rsquo; rights, and environmental justice.</p> <p> But the event is also <a href="https://twitter.com/womensmarch/status/821112766052401153">a platform</a> for reproductive freedom. Advocates of choice, fearing a conservative Supreme Court under Mr. Trump, have once more drawn the issue to the fore of the feminist movement. Already, they say, states&rsquo; recent efforts to shut down abortion clinics &ndash; which often provide key reproductive health services to poor women and women of color &ndash; have restricted access to those services, risking women&rsquo;s lives.</p> <p> Many feminists say there is no disentangling reproductive rights from other human rights. To advocate against abortion is to both cut off access to basic health care and impose a personal choice on others, they say. Both fly in the face of fundamental feminist principles: that women have the right to equal opportunity and to make their own decisions about their lives and bodies.</p> <p> &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t advocate women&rsquo;s rights as human rights and also forcibly advocate blocking women from health care,&rdquo; says Terry O&rsquo;Neill, executive director of the National Organization for Women, a feminist activist group.</p> <p> But for those who, like Miller, consider themselves advocates for women&rsquo;s rights and against abortion, the focus on choice raises questions about inclusivity. It draws attention to elements within the feminist movement that align with the liberal left, they say, and alienates potential allies with alternate political and moral beliefs.</p> <p> This, at a time when &ndash; advocates of all stripes say &ndash; solidarity among different groups is more important than ever.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;The assumption is if you&rsquo;re not part of this march, you&rsquo;re somehow anti-environment, anti-reproductive rights, anti-everything,&rdquo; says Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative nonprofit. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s frustrating to many, because it suggests that we all have to be lock-step on a certain perspective.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> &bull; &nbsp;&bull; &nbsp;&bull;</p> <p> Though Miller has always believed abortion was immoral, she didn&rsquo;t always advocate against it.</p> <p> In college, she called herself pro-choice because, she says, &ldquo;I realized that asking a woman who is pregnant and unprepared to have a child to continue that pregnancy is asking a very, very tall order of her.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a place to be punitive,&rdquo; Miller adds. &ldquo;A lot of times, people who are pro-life will say, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s your fault, so deal with it.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s not fair, not compassionate.&rdquo;</p> <p> Over time, however, Miller realized she believed that the fetus, at some point in utero, becomes a human being entitled to protections from the government, in the same way that the woman&rsquo;s right to autonomy deserves protection. After struggling with her conscience, Miller landed on the side of opposing abortion, she says. She believes there should be exceptions in cases when the mother&rsquo;s life is at stake or when a medical professional says the mother is in danger of severe psychiatric trauma, which could include rape.</p> <p> Her position often makes her an anomaly among her mostly liberal friends.</p> <p> &ldquo;A lot of people, when they find out I&rsquo;m pro-life, that&rsquo;s what defines me to them,&rdquo; says Miller, who refuses to affiliate herself with any political party. &ldquo;It becomes impossible to convince them that I care about women, and autonomy, and all these things that I really care about.&rdquo;</p> <p> Many feminists say they have nothing against people who oppose abortion. The problem, they say, is when those same people work to prevent other women from accessing abortion &ndash; and by extension, the comprehensive care that abortion clinics often provide, especially to the poor and marginalized.</p> <p> &ldquo;I am happy to recognize and honor that label they put on themselves unless and until they start trying to block women from abortion care,&rdquo; says Ms. O&rsquo;Neill. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s not pro-life, that&rsquo;s just forcing your beliefs on people.&rdquo;</p> <p> Some say that those who feel excluded from the feminist movement fail to understand its role in the crucial interplay among social justice issues. A woman&rsquo;s ability to support a family and make independent decisions, for instance, is inextricably linked to the right to a fair wage, which in turn is linked to the economic injustice facing communities of color. That injustice plays out in the quality of the environments in which they live, and their treatment at the hands of authorities.</p> <p> &ldquo;Nobody lives single-issue lives,&rdquo; says Britni de la Cretaz, a Boston-based freelance writer, mother of two, and avowed radical leftist. &ldquo;The goal of feminism for me is to end this systemic oppression of folks that are marginalized.&rdquo;</p> <p> From that perspective, the Women&rsquo;s March &ndash; with its focus on immigrants, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and communities of color &ndash; &ldquo;is incredibly inclusive,&rdquo; Ms. de la Cretaz says.</p> <p> It may feel exclusive to groups and individuals who are part of the status quo and used to having society orient around them, she says. But if those people are sincere about their intent to fight for human rights, then they would realize they have a responsibility to reach out to the marginalized, de la Cretaz says.</p> <p> &ldquo;For me, as a white woman, it&rsquo;s been a deliberate attempt to learn and expand my understanding of feminism and the world by actively seeking out conversations from people who have different experiences than I do,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p> &bull; &nbsp;&bull; &nbsp;&bull;</p> <p> Conflicting views on issues and strategies are a natural feature of any crusade. The key to forging ahead, some say, is to recognize that different people and groups will always play different roles.</p> <p> &ldquo;We have these tensions in every movement,&rdquo; says Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, vice president for the social policy and politics program at the centrist think tank Third Way in Washington. &ldquo;You need a time for people to agree on things and shore each other up and strengthen their message, and you need a time for opening that tent much wider and bringing in people who agree with you on small things.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;You need people in different places in order to take one step forward and pull the rest of the country behind you,&rdquo; adds Alice Dranger, an actor, feminist, and abortion-rights supporter who lives in Los Angeles. &ldquo;I think you need to compromise, but I also think you need someone &hellip; on the outside, saying, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s not enough.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p> <p> De la Cretaz in Boston is among those who say the Women&rsquo;s March organizers did right by taking New Wave Feminists off their partners&rsquo; list. But she says it&rsquo;s unlikely the group would be barred from marching in Washington &ndash; which New Wave Feminists founder Destiny Herndon-de la Rosa has said she still plans to do.</p> <p> &ldquo;Good for them,&rdquo; says Ms. Hatalsky. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s important for people who are called outsiders in a movement to continue to stick around. Movements aren&rsquo;t ever going to change unless people continue to identify who are not part of that base.&rdquo;</p> http://iwf.org/media/2802636/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 21 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAbout The "Women's" March: Political Debate Is Healthy, But it Requires Honesty<p> Politics makes for strange-bedfellows: Hassidic Jews and Evangelical Christians both working toward school choice. Raw-milk-loving-hippies and stay-at-home suburban moms both advocating for fewer food regulations. Conservative economists and progressive lawmakers both fearing how minimum wage hikes will kill jobs leading to higher minority youth unemployment.</p> <p> But too often in our contentious political environment and our 24-hour cable news and social media frenzies &ndash; where we are so quickly categorized into in-groups and out-groups &ndash; we forget that we don&rsquo;t have to all agree on everything to agree on some things. And perhaps more importantly, we overlook that most of us share important underlying goals and values, even if our policy prescriptions may differ.</p> <p> This is certainly the case with the upcoming Women&rsquo;s March in Washington. I assumed this was simply a protest of incoming president-elect Donald Trump &ndash; a way of demonstrating they don&rsquo;t condone the way he&rsquo;s talked about women. It&rsquo;s hard to disagree that Mr. Trump made some unpleasant comments &ndash; and unfortunately, presidents before him have also mistreated women. What&rsquo;s more, we have a long history in America of protesting presidential inaugurations as a way of raising awareness of important issues.</p> <p> But upon closer review, the Women&rsquo;s March isn&rsquo;t really about calling for a better civil discourse about women or even protecting women&rsquo;s rights. Rather, it stands for a narrow progressive policy agenda that welcomes government intervention into the workplace, the marketplace, health care and more. It&rsquo;s dishonest that these &ldquo;principles&rdquo; are largely hidden from view and disguised under the banner of &ldquo;women&rdquo;; but it&rsquo;s also a critical mistake and missed opportunity to truly unify women on shared principles and a vision of equality and greater respect.</p> <p> Like the thousands of women who will March on Saturday, I too want &ldquo;women&rsquo;s rights&rdquo; and &ldquo;human rights.&rdquo; I have chosen to live in a metropolitan city with people of every background and ethnicity. I&rsquo;m grateful that my children have fostered deep friendships with girls and boys who come from different countries, look different from them, and practice different religions.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m also a feminist who believes deeply in the idea of equality under the law. Men and women both ought to have an equal opportunity to receive an education, pursue a profession, and design a life that fits their needs and wants. I desire a clean environment, access to quality health care, and the right for individuals to craft lives of happiness.</p> <p> But I would not be wanted at the Women&rsquo;s March. And the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF) certainly was not invited to participate. And that&rsquo;s a shame.</p> <p> Because where we <em>differ</em> is in our policy prescriptions. I agree there are plenty of women who are struggling today &ndash; that&rsquo;s why IWF produced <a href="http://www.workingforwomen.com/">Working for Women</a> last year &ndash; but I think their lives would be improved if we rein in Washington, rather than expand it.</p> <p> For instance, artificially raising the minimum wage, mandating costly &ldquo;benefits&rdquo; like extensive paid leave or childcare certainly sound nice, but will lead to fewer jobs, lower wages, and less flexibility &ndash; especially for the vulnerable women who need opportunity most. I want a clean environment, but I want to make sure we allow industry to invest in the best research and development for green energy. Too often we see government &ndash; which has no resources of its own &ndash; invest taxpayer dollars into failed businesses like Solyndra. And limiting permits to drill on federal lands, for instance, distorts the energy market, drives up prices for average Americans, often leads to drilling in more dangerous places, like the deep sea. Similarly, many Americans have faced nightmarish situations with their health insurance under Obamacare&rsquo;s onerous rules, which have sent premium prices soaring while creating barriers for treatment for too many. I believe that if we put the consumer in charge, the health care market will flourish, quality of care will improve, and costs will come down.</p> <p> I know lots of women (and men) marching on Saturday. They have the best of intentions. They want political leaders who act like grown-ups, and they want all Americans to be treated fairly. But if this is to be a truly unifying march, then we should be comfortable accepting that we don&rsquo;t all have to be the same to want the same thing. In fact, protests and demonstrations are an essential part of the American fabric. It&rsquo;s a good thing when the whole country <em>doesn&rsquo;t</em> fall lock-step in line with a certain candidate or policy. Political disagreement challenges all of us to dig a little deeper, think a little harder, and work a little better.</p> <p> Having a healthy debate requires honesty. So let&rsquo;s start by recognizing that the Women&rsquo;s March comes with an agenda and it isn&rsquo;t just about women&rsquo;s rights. Then we can go from there.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802613/Sabrina SchaefferThu, 19 Jan 2017 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre Americans Likely To See Real Tax Reform With Incoming Administration? • Your Worldhttp://iwf.org/media/2802619/Sabrina SchaefferWed, 18 Jan 2017 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWill Donald Trump's Business Experience Help Or Harm Americans? • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802586/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 14 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumL.L. Bean Made Liberals' Black List For This Silly Reason • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802585/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 14 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBeing a Business Man isn't the Problem: Big Government Is<p> An important conversation is taking place about President-elect Trump&rsquo;s business interests, and how they may impact his ability to govern fairly and effectively.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s understandable why Americans might be concerned &ndash; Mr. Trump has extensive investments that span the globe &ndash; and some are urging the president-elect to divest himself from all his businesses and put them in a blind trust.</p> <p> But, stepping back, it&rsquo;s important to recognize that this isn&#39;t the first time someone from the business world has moved into the Oval Office.</p> <p> Many are familiar with recent presidents who had business interests: George W. Bush was a leading investor in the Texas Rangers; his father George H.W. Bush was a Texas oil man, helping establish the Bush-Overby Oil Development Co.</p> <p> Even farther back, however, Warren Harding was the owner of The Marion Star newspaper in Ohio, a lucrative enterprise at the time. And before assuming the presidency in 1929, Herbert Hoover had founded Zinc Corporation, and later established his own multi-national mining engineering company that spanned from San Francisco to Burma.</p> <p> These are just a few examples, but they ought to be admired. Americans so often lament the cycle of career politicians, the &ldquo;swamp&rdquo; of Washington where lawmakers move in a revolving door between Congress and lobbying shops, disconnected from the everyday challenges of most Americans.</p> <p> People of all political stripes ought to be enthusiastic about a president who doesn&rsquo;t come from Constitution Avenue, but instead has worked in industry &ndash; big or small. Someone who has experienced the trials of hiring and firing, dealt with political red tape, and understands both wins and losses.</p> <p> But while we may like the idea of political outsiders, the government has changed drastically in the decades since the New Deal. Our tax and regulatory state, as well as our foreign policy, has all grown so large and so intrusive, that there&rsquo;s really nothing Mr. Trump &ndash; or any future president &ndash; can do from a political perspective that won&rsquo;t impact his business empire.</p> <p> As the owner of a chain of hotels, major reforms to labor policy like raising the minimum wage or instituting paid leave and/or childcare mandates would certainly impact Trump&rsquo;s ability to hire and grow. Repealing and replacing Obamacare will likely open up opportunities to improve the nation&rsquo;s health care and drive down costs, but it&rsquo;s also true it would likely decrease costs for Mr. Trump and ease accounting efforts &ndash; as it would for so many <em>other</em> American businesses. And reforms to land-use and rolling back burdensome EPA regulations, which ought to spur economic growth in multiple industries, would almost certainly benefit his real-estate development business.&nbsp;&nbsp; It makes sense that people want to make sure that the incoming President sees the best interests of Americans and all American businesses&mdash;not just his own&mdash;as paramount.</p> <p> But again, this problem isn&rsquo;t new &ndash; and it&rsquo;s certainly not limited to Trump.&nbsp; Just a few years ago, we experienced a wave of corruption scandals in Washington, including among many Democrats like Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, who faced a host of ethical and possible criminal charges for their soliciting of favors from business and to advance the business interests of themselves and their allies.</p> <p> The core problem is that big-government fosters a <em>culture</em> of corruption. An expansive and uber-powerful government requires that officials choose winners and losers. It ensures that lawmakers and regulators will take from some in order to give to others. We see this in health care, in energy, in education, and in the workplace..</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why the lesson here is not that we don&rsquo;t want business leaders and others who have succeeded in civic life to run for office, or to serve in high positions as some like Rex Tillerson and Andy Puzder likely will in the Trump administration &ndash; there&rsquo;s much to be gained from their experience outside of the Beltway. The moral of the story is that we all &ndash; Democrats and Republicans &ndash; ought to be committed to reining in the state so that we <em>can</em> welcome these &ldquo;outsiders&rdquo; with open arms without fear of conflict of interest.</p> <p> The more we can get government out of the business of energy production and health care; and the more we can remove government from micromanaging the workplace; and the more Washington returns power to local municipalities and individuals, the better. Not only will we be a freer, more prosperous nation; but also it will drastically cut down on the &ldquo;winners and losers&rdquo; framework created by big-government.</p> <p> Donald Trump isn&rsquo;t the first lawmaker to talk about draining the swamp, but let&#39;s hope that this is a campaign promise he keeps. And if we&rsquo;re all really serious about reducing corruption, giving more control back to the American people, and encouraging civic leaders to serve in government, the solution is simple &ndash; it&rsquo;s time to shrink Washington back to size.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802560/Sabrina SchaefferThu, 12 Jan 2017 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Evolution of Feminism<p> The feminist movement hit a turning point this year when Monica Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair that her &ldquo;public humiliation&rdquo; in the 1990s was the &ldquo;consequence of&rdquo; her &ldquo;own poor choices.&rdquo;</p> <p> A bold and brave statement from a woman who was only 19 years old when she had an affair with the president of the United States. Clearly, President Clinton grossly abused his power; but it&rsquo;s telling that the more mature Lewinsky chose to openly accept responsibility for her role in the relationship, which didn&rsquo;t hurt only her but also her family (and his).</p> <p> Lewinsky&rsquo;s assumption of responsibility, rather than playing the victim card, represents another step away from second-wave feminism. Increasingly, women, like Lewinsky and her peers, recognize and appreciate that they can make choices that work for them &mdash; and sometimes ones that don&rsquo;t. They don&rsquo;t want to be seen as victims, but as individuals making choices and crafting lives on their own terms.</p> <p> Much of the organized feminist movement seems stuck in a woman-as-victim mentality. Whether they&rsquo;re talking about the wage gap, sexual violence on college campuses, or the color of toys, progressive feminists have too often fashioned women as objects rather than agents &mdash; victims of a persistent patriarchal society rather than a powerful group that is defining, rather than just being defined by, the culture around them.</p> <p> And that&rsquo;s what the reality is: Women today have more educational, professional, financial and personal opportunities than ever before; and the &ldquo;tear down the patriarchy&rdquo; feminist message of decades past no longer resonates with many women &mdash; especially younger women &mdash; who have never known anything different.</p> <p> American women in the 21st century are experiencing a grown-up version of feminism &mdash; one in which women value the myriad opportunities available to them but also understand the tradeoffs that come with their choices. They know that the government action that the left always presents as the solution to women&rsquo;s problems would be a step away from true flexibility.</p> <p> Women today increasingly recognize that another round of legislation under the banner of &ldquo;equal pay&rdquo; isn&rsquo;t going to help women earn more, instead they&rsquo;re thinking more seriously about the choices they&rsquo;re making and sharing best practices for how to negotiate their salaries and navigate the work world.</p> <p> Women today recognize that having it all doesn&rsquo;t mean that you don&rsquo;t have to make choices. Research that the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently conducted found that mothers and non-mothers want (and need) very different things in the workplace. In fact, mothers were willing to trade up to $10,000 in salary for additional paid time off. But that&rsquo;s not the same as what non-mothers preferred &mdash; they want to maximize their salaries.</p> <p> American women are not a monolithic bloc &mdash; they want to be able to craft different lives that fit their preferences and needs, whether that&rsquo;s striving for the corner office in the C-suite, working part-time, or embracing their role as mothers.</p> <p> Some will say that the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; rhetoric and the vitriol of recent years suggests that gender feminists are winning. But it&rsquo;s the quite the opposite.</p> <p> Recognizing that their woman-as-victim message is faltering, they&rsquo;re grasping for straws, too often refashioning women as children and discouraging them from recognizing and seizing the incredible opportunities available today. And this logic has helped justify bigger government as the answer to all &ldquo;women&rsquo;s issues.&rdquo;</p> <p> There are women and families who continue to face real economic challenges &mdash; especially at a time when the economy is still struggling and eight years of failed government policies have limited our choices over healthcare, education, even saving for retirement.</p> <p> But women support policies that give them more ownership and control over the choices they make. They want to rein in government spending so our safety net will be there for their children. They want to be able to save for time off work, so they can have control over where and when they work. And they don&rsquo;t want more top-down government policies that threaten economic growth, job creation and their own individual advancement.</p> <p> Women today are on the upswing and are crafting a choice-based brand of feminism that reflects the diversity of women&rsquo;s lives and preferences. Of course we all support the central tenant the men and women must be equal under the law and have equal opportunity, and it&rsquo;s time to turn our backs on the woman-as-victim narrative once and for all.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802503/Sabrina SchaefferThu, 5 Jan 2017 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCA Plan To Fight Trump Administration On Immigration, Criminal Justice • After The Bellhttp://iwf.org/media/2802498/Sabrina SchaefferWed, 4 Jan 2017 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDonna Brazile Wants Compromise, Should Trump Consider? • Risk & Rewardhttp://iwf.org/media/2802484/Sabrina SchaefferTue, 3 Jan 2017 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould We Stop Funding The UN? • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802497/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 31 Dec 2016 16:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs There Jealousy Of President-Elect Donald Trump? • Coast To Coasthttp://iwf.org/media/2802500/Sabrina SchaefferFri, 30 Dec 2016 16:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUnited States Not In Top 20 Of Countries To Do Business--Surprised? • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802496/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 24 Dec 2016 15:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Obama's Last Christmas Present: Banning Off-Shore Drilling • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802495/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 24 Dec 2016 15:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWill Bigger Government Solve Global Terrorism? • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802494/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 24 Dec 2016 15:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStocks Soaring Since Election Day-Will It Last? • Forbes On Foxhttp://iwf.org/media/2802353/Sabrina SchaefferSat, 10 Dec 2016 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum