Fox Moderator Trish Regan On Redefining Feminism

Tuesday evening's GOP primary debate, presented by Fox Business Network and The Wall Street Journal, is sure to be intense. Like the first three Republican debates, the event will be split into an undercard round and a primetime round. The primetime debate will be moderated by Fox Business' Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo, along with Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal. The undercard debate at 7:00 p.m., meanwhile, will be moderated by Fox Business' Trish Regan and Sandra Smith, along with Gerald Seib, the Washington Bureau Chief at The Wall Street Journal. I spoke with Trish Regan about feminism and moderating the first presidential debate to feature two female moderators.

Both the undercard and primetime debates Tuesday will focus on the economy, including job growth, taxes, and other financial issues facing the United States. The events will take place at the Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fox Business' undercard debate is of particular note, though, because the network has been less forgiving of which candidates to allow into the event. By placing a minimum polling rate of one percent on the undercard debate, Fox Business excluded Republican presidential hopefuls George Pataki, former governor of New York, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who both polled at less than one percent in the four polls the network used as its criteria. The undercard debate, which Regan, Smith, and Seib will moderate, will feature New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Regan didn't always know she wanted to be a reporter — growing up, she thought she'd be an opera singer! — but she's always been a feminist. The news anchor tells me that from a young age, seeing her mother, a magazine reporter, going on assignments and working helped form her ideas about working mothers and women pursuing their goals. Regan also says that she was told, repeatedly, that "you can be anything you want to be" by both of her parents growing up.

Watching her mother in the reporting field and living in the politically-minded state of New Hampshire, Regan eventually fell into political reporting herself. She was also proud to note that New Hampshire has seen many successful female politicians, even though equal representation in U.S. politics as a whole still has "a long way to go."

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For Regan, feminism isn't just about having more women in male-dominated fields, though — it's also about respecting all women's choices, a value she's tried to instill in her own twin daughters, who are five-and-a-half. "The most important thing for my girls is they know that they can do whatever they want to, that they're not willing to let anyone hold them back because they're female," Regan tells Bustle. "And that they're able to achieve their own independence and their own identity, whatever that may be — whether that's having a career, whether that's going into politics, whether that's going into business, whether CEO, president, or whether they say, 'I want to stay home with my family.' And if they're fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do that, then so be it."

Regan's point is an important one — too often, women feel like they're "bad" feminists for changing their name when they get married, or feel guilty for being stay-at-home parents. But in the end, feminism is about respecting all women's choices, even if they're not decisions you agree with. And it's important, as Regan says, to instill that open-minded thinking in your own children, too.

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As for the debate, Regan says she's "really honored" to be one of two female moderators at the undercard debate next Tuesday. "Not to take anything away from the guys, but we [at Fox] have just really smart, brilliant women that are incredibly accomplished, and incredibly fluent in economics, in politics, and in news," Regan tells Bustle. "And having two of us on stage on Tuesday night really speaks to that."

Regan also gave me one interesting reason why women should be particularly interested in the economy-focused event. "Women, most often, are the CFOs of their households," Regan says. "We're the ones that are making the decisions of where the money's going to go. We're the ones balancing the checkbooks and paying the bills much of the time."

Trish Regan is sure to ask the GOP presidential hopefuls great questions at the undercard debate on Tuesday. And whatever your political views, we can all get behind Regan's — as she says, the days of sexism in the United States "are increasingly going away, and they can’t go soon enough."

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