How True Allies Support Women’s Paths in Life

When we talk about supporting women’s career and life choices, there’s a thick line (yes, thick) between genuine backing and those patronizing pats on the back that some think pass as support. True advocacy isn’t found in polished public statements. It’s in the daily actions and genuine words that support women.

Now, I’m not here to drag Harrison Butker through the mud. Before his speech became headline fodder, I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall. But when his commencement address started circulating, it was a nice example of how traditional conservative narratives still cling to the past, all while covertly undermining modern women’s autonomy. This isn’t an attack on him personally, or his religion. Rather, it’s a critique of a pervasive mindset that fears what it can’t control—women with agency over their own lives.

A Look at Harrison Butker’s Speech

In his speech at Benedictine, Butker chose to focus on what he saw as the ultimate fulfillment for women… becoming wives and mothers. This wasn’t just a casual mention in a broader discussion about future possibilities. It was presented as a pinnacle achievement.

Butker expressed that he believed the women seated before him would be “most excited” not about career opportunities or further academic pursuits but about stepping into roles as spouses and parents. This assertion stands out, not just for its traditional slant but for its striking disconnect with the setting. Here were women, caps and gowns in place, degrees in hand, who had just powered through years of rigorous academic work. To imply that their highest anticipation should be marriage and motherhood not only undermines their professional and personal ambitions but also narrowly defines their value by traditional roles.  It was tone def, and reflects a view that overlooks the diversity of aspirations among women.

Fear of Modernity and Autonomy

The kind of narrative presented reveals a deep seated anxiety about modern gender roles and the autonomy of women. As society progresses, roles evolve, and women continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be independent, voices like Butker’s echo a conservative panic. When women decide for themselves how to live, work, and love, it challenges traditional structures that have long dictated their “place.”

I’ve been engaging with some voices on social media who are quick to defend Butker’s speech as just a man airing his personal, tradition steeped beliefs. They insist he said nothing “wrong” and highlight that he never explicitly ruled out the validity of women pursuing higher education or careers. But they’re skating over the real issue. The crux of the matter isn’t about the words spoken aloud. For us more intuitive folks, the subtext is loud and clear. His speech was a crafty, calculated move to box women’s aspirations within a narrow frame that he and his cohort find acceptable.

Traditional roles are perfectly valid for those who choose them. But these paths should be chosen from a place of freedom,  not imposed. Recognizing the difference between the kind of “support” Butker espoused and genuine advocacy is key. True support doesn’t come with conditions or prescriptions about what women should want. It comes from listening, adapting, and standing by their choices, whatever they may be.

Signs of Genuine Support for Women’s Career Choices

1. Listening Over Speaking
Silence is golden when it comes to support. True allies actively listen, fully absorbing and internalizing without pushing their own agendas. Understanding trumps overriding every time.

2. Willingness to Adapt
Support flexes and flows. It’s not set in stone. Men who truly support women reshape their expectations to align with the changing aspirations and needs of the women in their lives. They’re partners, not obstacles.

3. Proactive Involvement
Waiting on the sidelines isn’t an option for genuine allies. They’re in the field, hands dirty, making real moves to clear obstacles from her path. Their support is active, measured by deeds, not just words.

4. Advocating Authority
Empowerment means putting women in the driver’s seat of their lives. Genuine support honors them as the chief decision makers of their lives without reservation.

5. Celebrating Achievements
Every win, big or small, deserves applause, and genuine supporters are the loudest in the crowd. They don’t just clap for the milestones but also for the steps along the way.

As women, when we receive genuine support from our man, we thrive and are more than ready to offer the same level of sincere advocacy in return.

Women are the masters of their destinies. They are the experts on their own lives. Any voice that doesn’t amplify this truth isn’t helping, it’s hindering. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. Regardless, women must remain authentically and unapologetically in charge of their paths. They are the ones with the authority to make choices that resonate with their own values and dreams. No one gets to decide what success looks like for another, especially not based on outdated ideals.

Until next time,

Ash Pariseau


  1. I read the full text of his speech and have discussed it with several fellow Catholics, all of us working moms. And then one day I got home from work and discussed with my agnostic SAHD husband. Here is our combined take:

    1) The speech is not nearly as bad as most of the detractors seem to think it is. He did not tell women to “stay in the kitchen” or anything vile like that.

    2) We agree that if you are called to marriage and family life, that should be the highest priority (for women AND MEN equally)(*)

    3) How exactly you live out those priorities and balance being able to feed, house, and clothe your family is a tradeoff that BOTH spouses navigate together

    4) So if he wanted to give a speech about marriage and family life, he needed to address BOTH men and women and talk about these things

    5) I think next year I should give the same speech but flip the genders, since that’s what reflects my family for the last 15 years. I’m 100% sure that all those people who think what he said to women is just fine and dandy will be totally fine with men being reminded that marriage and being a SAHD to their children are their highest calling and that they will find their highest fulfillment in supporting their working wives in being the best working mothers they can be.

    (*) I should clarify that some of the vocabulary and phrasing both in his speech and much of my thoughts is more common in a Catholic context.

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