A message for Harrison Butker: women shouldn’t be shamed over their life choices — no matter what they are, career coach says

Harrison Butker isn’t apologizing for his remarks suggesting that women should forgo professional careers to become homemakers.

The Kansas City Chiefs player appeared at the Courage Under Fire gala at Regina Caeli Academy on Friday, nearly two weeks after his graduation speech at Benedictine College garnered criticism.

“It is now, over the past few days, my beliefs or what people think I believe have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker, 28, said in footage shared online.

“At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion.”

NFL player Harrison Butker sits in front of a microphone during the Super Bowl LVIII opening night.

Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs on September 7, 2023.
Harrison Butker spoke at the Courage Under Fire gala. Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Butker said he’s become a polarizing public figure, but didn’t waver on his previous stance.

“It’s a decision I’ve consciously made and one I do not regret at all,” Butker said.

Butker has weathered criticism following his remarks at Benedictine College, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Kansas, on May 11. While there, he told female graduates they had been told “diabolical lies” before suggesting they were more excited to create a family than go into the workforce.

“How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career?” Butker said. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Butker then mentioned his wife, whom he said embraced “one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

“I say all of this to you because I have seen it firsthand how much happier someone can be when they disregard the outside noise and move closer and closer to God’s will in their life,” he said.

Women shouldn’t be shamed for the path they choose
Butker’s comments sparked online debates about women in the workforce.

Phoebe Gavin, a career and leadership coach, told Business Insider that women should have the space and opportunity to determine their future based on their ambitions.

Travis Kelce reacts to Harrison Butker’s ‘homemakers’ commencement speech

Jason Kelce defends wife against ‘homemaker’ hecklers, says both workCampus nuns rebuke NFL star’s graduation speech on women ‘homemakers’

“I am pro-women having choices and women being able to make those choices based on what intrinsically motivates them,” Gavin said. “There are some women who are going to choose to embrace motherhood as a primary motivation in their lives, and then there are women who are going to make other choices.”

Gavin added some women want both a career and motherhood, while others want neither. None of these choices should be ridiculed, she said.

“There are people who truly believe that is the right decision for them, and if that’s what they believe, then I fully embrace, empower, and encourage them to go down that path,” she said. “My issue is pushing those sorts of values upon other people.”

That’s why she takes issue with Benedictine College’s decision to choose Butker as a commencement speaker.

Benedictine College
Benedictine College. Benedictine College
“They should have known that he was not the kind of person that they would want to put in front of these grads,” Gavin said.

She said it was “challenging” to see young female graduates who had spent at least four years working toward professional careers “being told that they’re doing the wrong thing and that they should be doing something else.”

Jessica Schaefer, a crisis communications and reputation management expert, echoed Gavin’s thoughts. She said commencement speeches are meant to be inspiring, not a platform to share personal opinions.

“As someone who works on a lot of these commencement speeches, it’s important that you prepare. The goal is to inspire everyone that’s graduating,” Schaefer told BI. “It’s not a platform for your personal opinion. That’s not why you’re getting paid to give a commencement speech.”

Gavin added that “whatever choice a woman makes, they should be able to make that choice and live without shame.”Since giving his speech, several people have spoken out against Butker and Benedictine College.

The National Football League distanced itself from Butker with a statement praising inclusivity. Teammates Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes said they disagreed with Butker’s comments but defended his right to voice his opinion.

And nuns from Benedictine College denounced Butker’s speech, saying they disagreed with the suggestion that “being a homemaker is the highest calling” for women.

“We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years,” the statement read. “These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.”Representatives for Butker said he’s not available for further comment.

Benedictine College representatives did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider outside regular business hours.

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