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The GOP’s Latest Obamacare Repeal Proposal Finds New Ways to Be Disastrous for Women’s Health

The GOP’s Latest Obamacare Repeal Proposal Finds New Ways to Be Disastrous for Women’s Health

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Senate Republicans are taking one last stab at repealing Obamacare before September 30, when their ability to squeeze a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill through the legislature expires. The bill Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy have proposed is the most extreme version Congress has considered so far—it would slash essential parts of Obamacare that benefit low-income Americans and those in poor health without offering any meaningful replacement.

And, like the last health care bill the Senate rejected, this one would be disastrous for women’s health. It would cut off poor women’s access to Planned Parenthood, decimate the private insurance market for abortion coverage, allow states to let insurance companies cut essential health benefits for women, and—this is some new garbage—restrict how states can cover abortion care.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal would accomplish several major rollbacks of women’s health care that Republicans have been trying to push through for years. First, it would block the use of federal Medicaid dollars at Planned Parenthood health centers, a so-called “defunding” measure. Over half of Planned Parenthood’s client base—more than 1 million patients—currently gets its health care through Medicaid. These patients would have to turn elsewhere for care. For all these patients, Graham-Cassidy would cause a possibly dangerous disruption in care; for those who live in rural areas or health care deserts, where the majority of Planned Parenthood clinics sit, it could mean an end to accessible reproductive health care altogether. The average Planned Parenthood serves nine times the number of contraceptive clients as the average federally qualified health center, which Republicans have proposed as alternate sources of publicly funded reproductive health care. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the interruption in contraceptive services caused by a nationwide block of federal Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood would result in thousands of extra unplanned, unwanted births.

Women who don’t rely on Medicaid would also see their reproductive health care access curtailed by Graham-Cassidy. The bill would prohibit the use of health care tax credits for both individuals and small businesses on private insurance plans that cover abortion care. That means any woman who gets tax credits because she neither qualifies for Medicaid nor gets insurance through her employer would not be able to purchase abortion coverage with those credits on the individual market. People who work for small businesses that use tax credits to offer health insurance benefits would also be left without abortion coverage. Right now, most private insurance plans cover abortion—but if the federal government slashed the population of people and businesses that could buy those plans, insurance companies would be likely to stop offering them, limiting coverage access for those who don’t use tax credits, too.

Like the previous Obamacare repeal bill, Graham-Cassidy would let states end rules that require insurance companies to cover essential health benefits, such as maternal health coverage. Before the Affordable Care Act mandated it, about 88 percent of health insurance plans didn’t cover maternity care. Planned Parenthood estimates that up to 13 million women could lose such benefits if Graham-Cassidy goes through. The bill would also end the Medicaid expansion, causing disproportionate damage to the health of women, who make up the majority of Medicaid enrollees and 69 percent of the 9 million people who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. More than half of all U.S. births are currently covered by Medicaid. Substantial cuts to the health program would be devastating to children, mothers, and low-income families.

The most significant bit that sets Graham-Cassidy apart from its predecessors is its introduction of block grants to states. States could spend these grants however they wished, essentially inventing their own health care programs. (As Slate’s Jordan Weissman explains, the loose restrictions on the funds would allow states to put the money pretty much wherever they wanted, making the grants more of a slush fund than a health care program.) But Graham-Cassidy would forbid states from using any parts of those grants on insurance plans that covered abortion in any cases other than rape, incest, or a life-threatening medical emergency. States that currently allow insurance coverage of abortion—including states such as California, Massachusetts, and New York, which require all insurance providers that cover maternity care to also cover abortion care—would be hampered by the rules of the grants. If they wanted to use the block grants to subsidize parts of their health care programs, they would have to limit abortion coverage to those parts that didn’t include federal money.

The GOP’s past proposals for Obamacare repeal met their end in part because of their impact on women’s health. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both Republicans who cast crucial votes against former proposals, have reliably supported the continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood through Medicaid reimbursements. Collins gave an eloquent defense of the organization in her statement on why she voted against the “skinny” repeal proposed in July. “If Planned Parenthood were defunded, other family planning clinics in Maine, including community health centers, would see a 63 percent increase in their patient load. Some patients would need to drive greater distances to receive care, while others would have to wait longer for an appointment,” she wrote. “This is about interfering with the ability of a woman to choose the health care provider who is right for her. This harmful provision should have no place in legislation that purports to be about restoring patient choices and freedom.” So far, Collins seems like the Republican most likely to oppose Graham-Cassidy, and Rand Paul has already said he won’t vote for the bill. If one more Republican doesn’t turn against the bill, millions of women will pay an exorbitant price in both their dollars and health for the benefit of the wealthy, who’ll get a little treat come tax time.

Trump’s Boy Scouts Speech Is a Reminder of How Different the Girl Scouts Organization Is

Trump’s Boy Scouts Speech Is a Reminder of How Different the Girl Scouts Organization Is

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

If you’d like to test whether your human capacity for shock has been overworked to the point of total ruin by Donald Trump’s presidency, watch his Monday evening address to the Boy Scouts of America’s quadrennial jamboree. Every beat more self-obsessed, petty, and hateful than the last, the speech found Trump cussing and alluding to sexual exploits in front of a crowd of children, congratulating himself and demeaning his ideological opponents at an event that has pretty much steered clear of partisanship for 80 years.

Plenty of member of Trump’s audience were right there with him. They clapped when he insulted the press and the specific videographers at the event. They booed when Trump made a passing mention of Hillary Clinton during an extended rant about how thoroughly he won the presidential election. They chanted “USA!” when he said that former Boy Scout and current Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price is “helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy” by getting the Senate votes necessary to start “killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us.” (If Price didn’t get those votes, Trump told the scouts, he’d fire the secretary.)

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

In some ways, the Boy Scouts represent a perfect slate onto which Trump can project his fantasies about authoritarian rule and a bygone era of white men saying and doing whatever they wanted. As Amanda Marcotte wrote in Slate in 2011, the Boy Scouts were founded in 1910 in response to a “crisis in Anglo-American masculinity.” The growth of U.S. cities had parents worried that their sons were turning into soft, urbane sissies—the cucks and betas of yesteryear. Scouting was supposed to hone a kind of pioneering, colonialist sensibility in these young men, toughening and roughening them up through outdoor excursions and wilderness skills-building. Trump won the 2016 election in part because of a related panic over the slow-declining supremacy of white men in the U.S. There is reason to believe that the proudest misogynist in public life could not have won over anyone but a woman, and that the most openly racist candidate in modern history could not have succeeded any president but a black one. Building campfires and tying knots soothed the masculinist anxieties of the last turn-of-the-century; a Manhattanite heir to a real estate fortune has soothed the masculinist anxieties of this one.

Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts, and the scouts’ demoralizing response, makes one wonder what a parallel Girl Scout event would have looked like. The Girl Scouts of the USA have jamborees, too, after all, and the organization was founded just two years after the boys’ group. Unlike their male counterparts, though, the founders of the Girl Scouts championed a more forward-thinking conception of their gender. Girls were, and still are, encouraged to embrace outdoor adventure just as the Boy Scouts did and do. “The Boy Scouts had previously backed another girls’ organization, the Campfire Girls, which incorporated some elements of scouting, but with more of an eye towards domestication,” Marcotte wrote in 2011. “Not so surprisingly, the national leadership of the Boy Scouts reacted poorly to the Girl Scouts, which had girls acting more as the Boy Scouts imagined boys should act.” Girl Scouts of the USA is still more welcoming and broad-minded than Boy Scouts of America. In 2015, weeks before the Boy Scouts decided to start accepting gay leaders, one regional branch of the organization returned a $100,000 donation after the donors demanded that the group stop serving transgender girls. For more than a century, Girl Scouts leaders have advanced a generic brand of women’s empowerment that teaches girls they can do and be anything they want—just today, the organization introduced 23 new STEM-related badges—while keeping neutral on political matters.

That hasn’t stopped right-wing organizations from casting the Girl Scouts of the USA as a band of radical leftists indoctrinating young girls into some kind of sex cult. Family Research Council head Tony Perkins has gone after the Girl Scouts for years, suggesting that money from cookie sales goes to Planned Parenthood and accusing leaders of “leaving the door wide open at the chicken coop for the fox” by hiring LGBTQ staff members. (He recommends girls join the Christian-based American Heritage Girls instead.) Some conservative groups once concocted a completely false rumor that the Girl Scouts gave a “graphic sex guide” prepared by Planned Parenthood to a group of girls at a United Nations conference. In 2014, anti-abortion activists signal-boosted by Megyn Kelly boycotted Girl Scout cookie sales after the organization tweeted a link to a Huffington Post discussion of “incredible ladies” who “should be woman of the year for 2013.” The discussion included a mention of pro-choice Texas legislator Wendy Davis, leading right-wingers to accuse the Girl Scouts of endorsing Davis and, thus, abortion rights.

Because the actual curriculums of Girl Scout troops are laughably benign—girls earn badges for first aid skills, pottery, and researching family history—the right-wing fixation on the Girl Scouts as some kind of socialist abortionist training ground seems based in the idea that a group that emits any faint scent of women’s empowerment must, by definition, contain the seeds of a misandrist revolution. Their frenzied boycotts betray the idea that any gathering of women not explicitly devoted to patriarchal ideals, as the American Heritage Girls are, is a threat. On the other end of the ideological spectrum is Trump’s address to the Boy Scouts: a speech akin to any he’d give at a rally of supporters, comfortable in the knowledge that he would not be challenged, that his audience would play along. If a group of empowered, confident girls represents a threat to oppressive systems of power, to Trump and his supporters, a group of young, mostly white men trained to be obedient represents their comfort zone: an insulated, impressionable boys’ club.

It’s no wonder some people find it hard not to politicize the very act of girlhood—female bodies are on the docket in every state and federal lawmaking body, in every legislative term. But the Girl Scouts are not inherently political, and they’re far from a political monolith. I know one Trump-supporting Girl Scout troop leader, and I’m sure there were at least a few Boy Scout troops that boycotted Trump’s speech or sat horrified through the whole sickening thing. If there had been a different outcome in last year’s presidential election, perhaps President Hillary Clinton might have addressed the Girl Scouts and attracted criticism for poisoning members’ young minds with feminist propaganda—or, in other circles, for declining to do so.

The Boy Scouts of America have defended Trump’s speech by reminding observers that his appearance was not politically motivated, since they invite every sitting president, regardless of party, to address their jamboree. Imagine hypothetical President Clinton accepting that invitation, a woman audacious enough to believe she has something to say that men and boys should hear. Would the scouts and troop leaders who cheered on Monday when Trump criticized a sitting female Republican senator, Shelley Moore Capito, have chanted “lock her up” when Clinton took the stage? Or is it Trump’s victory—a triumph of man over woman—that’s begun to erode the Boy Scouts’ capacity for nonpartisanship, respect, and common decency? Under better leadership, a single-gender group of service-minded Boy Scouts could do a lot of good. In the hands of a spiteful misogynist, a crowd of pliable young male minds goes to dangerous waste.

What Makes a Face “Punchable”?

What Makes a Face “Punchable”?

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

There’s a certain class of public figure whose face routinely gets described as “punchable.” He’s usually male; though arguably society shouldn’t be encouraging the punching of anyone (with possible exception for Nazis), good etiquette would seem to indicate that women are considered the less punchable sex. The guy with the punchable face is usually white; it’s hard out there for white men lately, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s usually young, too: What’s more annoying the know-it-all grin of impetuous youth? In addition to the privilege that being young, white, and male already affords him, he of high punchability often has a look that somehow scans as extra-privileged, a mouth seemingly born with a silver spoon in it.

Martin Shkreli, Scott Disick, Ryan Lochte, Miles Teller, Justin Bieber, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.: All these men fit the aforementioned criteria and have been described by at least one, and often many, press outlets as being in possession of punchable visages.

The most recent addition to these ranks is Ansel Elgort, 23, who broke out as the goofy-gangly-cute (post-adorkable?) male lead in the teen cancer schmaltzfest The Fault in Our Stars a few years ago. Several biographical details have always have always carried a faint whiff of punchability. First off, there is his moonlighting as an EDM DJ; his DJ alter-ego is, I’m sorry to say, Ansolo, but it is no better when he releases music under his own name—the cover art for his single “Thief” is an awful sight to behold, a tableau of unironic douchiness. Backgroundwise, he’s an upper-crust New Yorker: He went to the Fame high school, and his father is a fashion photographer. These facts, combined with his capacity to give crazy quote, all added up to a certain impression. In 2015, Pajiba cited Elgort’s mug as punchable; the site did it again just days ago, this time upgrading to “uber-punchable.” The Ringer joined the fray too, writing that Elgort “has flown past Shia LaBeouf and Miles Teller for the top spot on my list of Inscrutably Talented Actors with Highly Punchable Faces and Swag-less Swag.” So what exactly makes a face punchable? What could Elgort, Bieber, and Eric Trump possibly have in common?

The beauty of the punchable designation is that it sounds almost like an impartial fact. In Ansel’s case: Eye color? Brown. Height? 6 foot 4. (Ugh.) And face? Punchable. Last year, ThinkProgress endeavored to find out if there was a scientific explanation for what made Shkreli’s face so punchable. One psychologist interviewed for the piece posited that calling Shkreli’s face “punchable” is satisfying because it frames it as an objective truth: “When you say Martin’s face needs a fist, it seems as if the feature is out there, in Martin, and it’s objective,” the psychologist said; that “motivational” quality transfers the emotion from you to Shrkeli. It’s not that he makes you angry enough to want to punch him but that he simply needs to be punched, by anyone, as soon as humanly possible.

Shkreli seemed to reach his most punchable state when he was testifying before Congress in 2016, captured on camera looking exceedingly pleased with himself. Punching him wouldn’t have accomplished much—Shkreli would still be the guy who became a public villain for raising drug prices to exorbitant levels—but it would at least temporarily wipe that look off his face. LaBeouf’s punchability numbers have spiked around his arrests for public shenanigans and attempts to parlay his acting career into a series of “performance art” stunts—you may recall that last year it got so bad that a New York City man got punched on the street for the crime of simply resembling LeBeouf. Justin Bieber has similarly fallen victim to brushes with the law that seem to emphasize his youth and privilege. Ryan Lochte went from loveable goon to international disgrace somewhere around the time his lies about getting held up at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics started to blow up in his (punchable) face. For Miles Teller, the early promise of a critically acclaimed performance in an awards-season darling was undercut by a disastrous magazine profile and a colossal box-office flop. And obviously the Trump sons are beady-eyed paragons of smugness.

There is a relationship, then, between punchability and self-knowledge. Misbehaving so badly when they have the advantages that they do is what tends to raise the public’s hackles. Can they all be so blithely unaware of the tiredness of the “bad boy” trope, or the many overgrown babies who have already trod this ground? And yet they continue to smirk.

With the release, and success, of Baby Driver, the tide on Elgort, at least, may be turning. As New York magazine’s the Cut put it in a recent headline, “Baby Driver Will Make You Forget That You Hate Ansel Elgort.” Surely a film can’t, without the aid of computer-generated imagery or special effects, alter the bone structure of a well-known actor such that your fist is less attracted to his face. Yet if you enjoyed Baby Driver—and with a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating at the moment, it seems like a lot of critics did—the movie certainly helps recontextualize him.

In the film, it’s clear that some of the other characters find Baby’s face punchable. Baby wouldn’t keep so many spare pairs of sunglasses on him if people like Jamie Foxx’s Bats weren’t always yanking them off him in exasperation. Where he previously came off as annoying because it seemed like he found himself just so charming all the time, now he’s taking a chance on playing a character who’s cool, it’s true, but a little less obviously flattering to his self-image. Above all, in shrewdly choosing to play a punchable character, he’s demonstrating that most unpunchable trait: self-awareness.

It Is Not Sexist for a Headline to Describe an Unfamous Woman as “[Name of Famous Man]’s Wife”

It Is Not Sexist for a Headline to Describe an Unfamous Woman as “[Name of Famous Man]’s Wife”

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Kate Miller is an “actor, dancer, singer, occasional poet, and newly minted conceptual artist,” according to a profile that ran in W magazine last year. She also goes by “RosePetalPistol.” Her “art happening” is currently on view by appointment only somewhere in Greenwich Village. She has somewhere in the realm of 8,000 followers on Instagram. And she happens to be married to former Silicon Valley star T.J. Miller, who in certain déclassé circles is significantly more famous than she is.

Now Miller has written an indignant essay for Refinery29 about media coverage of her work and her marriage to T.J.. Specifically, she has a bone to pick with a headline last week in the New York Post’s Page Six: “T.J. Miller’s wife is making a name for herself in New York.” (In theory this headline could have been meant ironically, though the fact that the Post ended up changing it seems to suggest otherwise.) It was a funny because it left her nameless even as it claimed she was making her name, and naturally the Internet took notice.

In her essay, Miller (Kate, that is) takes umbrage at how she is often defined publicly in relation to her husband, reduced to nothing more than a wife:

We’ve both gained success in large part because of kindness to others, and working to see the humanity in all. And yet by not saying anything, I'm assenting to the idea that a wife, especially a celebrity wife, doesn’t deserve politeness or respect. Too often accomplished women are defined singularly by their marriages, to the point where they are literally written off and their successes and descriptions diminished.

The headline of the essay is “Please Stop Calling Me ‘TJ Miller’s Wife,’” which, I hate to point out, does not actually include the phrase “Kate Miller.” Nevertheless, the practice of objecting to headlines for referring to a woman as so-and-so’s wife has become something of a sport in the last few years. When the Chicago Tribune identified an Olympic trap shooter only as the “wife of a Bears’ lineman” in a tweet and headline last summer, the paper had to issue a hasty apology. (The athlete was Corey Cogdell-Unrein.) When Amal Alamuddin, a human-rights attorney, married George Clooney, critics clutched their pearls over headlines that failed to name her. One site submitted a cheeky revision: “Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor.” When the Huffington Post wrote a piece praising the go-girl spoof, they, too, dropped Alamuddin along the way: “This Headline About George Clooney’s Wedding Is Just Incredible.”

The only problem is that it’s not at all clear that this phenomenon is about erasing women, but rather the stickier problem of erasing boring non-famous people. Sometimes foregrounding the bold-faced half of a couple is simply the most expeditious way to smuggle marginally interesting news about an otherwise random human into the cultural attention span. Historically, this is not even a phenomenon that has been limited to the wives of famous men. Witness what happened to artist Marco Perego when he decided to take his wife’s last name after marriage: “Zoe Saldana’s Husband Just Did Something Kickass That So Few Men Ever Do.” Being a creative person married to a much more famous creative person must be legitimately emotionally taxing. That said, to pin the frustrations of such strain on America’s headline writers is hardly fair. A headline’s job is to summarize a story’s content, but also to entice idle readers to want to know more. It’s a bit much to ask it to bring about a feminist utopia, too.

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Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign

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Want Proof of the Outsized Value of Women in Public Office? Look to the Health Care Fight.

Want Proof of the Outsized Value of Women in Public Office? Look to the Health Care Fight.

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Anyone currently hosting a dance party on the grave of the Senate’s disastrous health care bill can thank Republican women for the freshly-packed soil. After Republican men failed to come up with a health care proposal their own party could abide, a desperate Sen. Mitch McConnell tried on Tuesday to simply repeal Obamacare as a half-measure that might help the legislators save face. Three Republican women—Sens. Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lisa Murkowski—refused to go along, derailing the plan.

It was almost too perfect a conclusion (for now) to a health care debate, and I use the word debate loosely, typified by its exclusion of female legislators. The House’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace shenanigans were held hostage by a sizable caucus of white men whose group photo became one of the most powerful emetic objects in modern political history. When it passed, their Rose Garden celebration looked like a cookout at the world’s oldest, most boring fraternity. On the Senate side, 13 Republican men wrote their party’s bill in secret. They insisted they were not excluding women, and yet, none of the five Republican women in the Senate gained admission to the committee. Capito was invited to meet with the committee to discuss the needs of her opioid-afflicted state of West Virginia, but never became a member.

Any of the health care bills these Republicans proposed would have meant sweeping rollbacks of women’s health care that would have reverberated for generations. They all would have cut off Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid reimbursements for at least a year, which the Congressional Budget Office predicted would cause thousands of unwanted pregnancies and unplanned births due to a steep reduction in contraception access. They would have let insurers charge women out of pocket for birth control, price women out of health care if they had a “pre-existing condition” like a previous Cesarean section, and potentially drop maternity care coverage. All versions of the Republicans’ plan could have completely dismantled private insurance coverage for abortion, keeping the procedure out of reach for most Americans.

It’s likely that the three women who stopped Obamacare repeal in the Senate were swayed in part by their fellow party members’ disregard for women’s health care and the opinions of their female colleagues. Sens. Murkowski and Collins have both been vocal and steadfast supporters of Planned Parenthood and its continued federal funding through family-planning grants and Medicaid reimbursements. Murkowski has also expressed frustration with the secrecy with which Republican men carried out their legislative deliberations. Capito has identified as “pro-choice”; she has also voted to defund Planned Parenthood. But her reasoning for opposing Obamacare repeal—“I did not come to Washington to hurt people”—echoes the concerns of Collins and Murkowski, who recognized the advances Obamacare made in women’s health care and programs like Medicaid, which disproportionately help women.

Watching three women stand against their own party to help Americans keep their health care makes a great argument for the importance of efforts to get women into political office. Numerous studies have shown that female legislators are more likely than men to champion progress in areas frequently dubbed “women’s issues,” such as child care, reproductive rights, equal pay, and women’s health. Women are also more likely to introduce legislation on education, health, and housing, though their proposals on these issues are more likely to get squashed than equivalent proposals put forward by men. A 2016 study of two decades of congressional information found that Republican women are more likely than their male counterparts to get members of the opposing party on board with their legislation. This effect is particularly pronounced on legislation related to—you guessed it!—education and health care. The defection of three Republican women from their party line on this health care issue fits comfortably in that pattern.

One 2013 study found that the more women there are in a legislative body, the more those women talk about the specific needs of female constituents and raising concerns about so-called women’s issues. The study also indicated that, weirdly, having more women in a legislature also makes male legislators more likely to talk about women’s issues. And when a legislative body reaches a certain critical mass of women, everyone starts talking more about the needs of families, children, and low-income people, resulting in decisions that better benefit the poor.

It’s no coincidence, in other words, that Murkowski and Collins, the two Republican senators who most reliably support Planned Parenthood and oppose attacks on women’s health care, are women. It’s no surprise, either, that they’ve become role models for recent efforts by Trump-opposing, centrist Republican women to get more of their kind into office. Their views are much more closely aligned than those of their male peers with public opinion, which has overwhelmingly opposed every version of Trumpcare and supported public funding for Planned Parenthood. Because there are two of them—maybe three if Capito continues to succumb to the captivating thrill of screwing up the terrible plans of arrogant men—they are enough of a bloc to draw strength from one another and have an outsized influence on policy. If three women in the Senate can save health care, imagine what 50 could do.

School Supply Lists Have Gotten Ridiculously Long and Expensive. Here’s Why.

School Supply Lists Have Gotten Ridiculously Long and Expensive. Here’s Why.

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

If you’re not a parent, you may remember shopping for school supplies as an enjoyably quaint activity: a quick trip to the store to pick out a new Trapper Keeper, and some shiny folders, along with a few boxes of crayons, pencils, and a bright pink eraser.

When I asked parents on Facebook to share their children’s lists, my inbox started filling up immediately with exasperated responses. One mother who has two kids in public school outside Dallas said she spent $180 fulfilling their “ridiculous” lists this year. Her third-grader’s extensive list includes six plastic pocket folders with brads (specifically: red, blue, yellow, orange, green, and purple), Fiskars-brand scissors (sharp point), a four-pack of Expo markers, and 48 No. 2 pencils. As the lists have become cumbersome to fulfill, PTAs and online services have stepped in to bundle supplies for a fee. (Many parents who contributed to this story asked that their names not be used to avoid upsetting their children’s teachers and school administrators.)

Today, many parents describe it differently. School-supply lists are now often shockingly long, requesting dozens of specific and sometimes expensive items. They include particular brands: Prang watercolors, Ticonderoga pencils, Elmer’s glue sticks. “Pens” are no longer good enough; only “Black Papermate Flair Porous-Point Medium-Point Pens” will do. And the definition of “school supplies” has expanded to include items like tissues, sanitizing wipes, locker shelves, and plastic baggies. The requests are the stuff of parody in parenting magazines and laments on private Facebook pages. Comedian Dana Blizzard’s response to the belly-aching was passed around widely on Facebook this week. “I’ve been noticing lately, when people are doing their back to school shopping, everybody’s complaining,” she tells the camera, tossing microwaves and jugs of glue into her cart as she wheels through Target. “My thing is: Listen. It’s the end of August. I will give you anything to take my kids.”

The lists vary widely between classrooms and schools, even within the same city. One single working mother whose daughter is starting kindergarten on the Upper East Side of Manhattan estimates that fulfilling the detailed 38-item list will cost her $300. The list includes foaming hand-soap (Babyganics or Method brand), four rolls of Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels, and Staples white shipping labels (2”-by-4”). “I think it’s absurd,” the mother told me. No working parent “has this kind of money or leisure time to surf Amazon Prime for this crap.” Meanwhile, the father of a second-grader in Park Slope, Brooklyn, got a note asking for just $20 to cover four simple items that the teacher will purchase for the students. “Over the years I have felt that school supply lists have become expensive and specific,” the teacher wrote to parents. “It is my hope that by eliminating the expense of exhaustive supply lists, budgets might be freed up for your family and field trip admission over the course of the school year.”

The short explanation for supply inflation is that as education budgets shrink so, too, do schools’ stores of basic items. Teachers routinely spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on classroom supplies, especially in poor areas. Jane Steffler, who recently retired as a kindergarten teacher outside Chicago, had free access to a well-stocked supply room when she taught at a wealthy district in the 1970s. At the low-income district she worked for in the late 1980s, supplies were kept in a locked closet but could still be freely requested. Later, the supply room closed for good, and teachers were given a small fixed budget for their classrooms—forced to spend their own money or make requests for parents if they ran out of supplies during the school year. “We really tried to not ask more of the parents than we thought we needed,” she said. “I don’t know a teacher who hasn’t paid for everything in their room.” Another teacher told me she usually spends about $500 a year on stocking her classroom. Some teachers now set up Amazon wish-lists or otherwise let parents know how they can contribute beyond basic supplies.

Long lists aren’t strictly a public school phenomenon, but that seems to be where the most public parental umbrage is focused. One teacher told me that at his wealthy private school, spare lockers were stuffed to the brim with leftover supplies, and yet some classroom’s annual lists cost parents $150 to fulfill. Complaints were rare. At the low-income public school at which he taught before that, teachers worked hard to keep supply lists sparse, but they had to account for the fact that only about half of the students would arrive in September with all the requested items. When he wanted to make sure that every child in the classroom had access to certain items, he simply bought them himself.

Paltry budgets explain why many lists are so long—though I admit it’s hard for me to peruse the Upper East Side kindergarten’s list and wonder if kids really need six different Crayola marker packs to succeed. (In case you’re curious: thin “classic,” thin “bold,” thick “classic,” thick “bold,” thick “tropical,” and “multicultural.”) But why do teachers request such specific brands and sizes? In many cases, they pool all the supplies together in order to help families who can’t afford to contribute supplies. It is not uncommon in low-income districts for some children to show up with no supplies from home. And quality really does vary widely, teachers told me: Cheap pencils snap frequently and sharpen unevenly; no-name watercolors are more like useless plastic pods than paint. Most teachers do factor in the cost for parents when making their lists. “One year some parents got together and made a large push for all eco-friendly supplies,” described one teacher, who declined the request due to cost. “While their hearts were in the right place, they were very out of touch with the population of the families at the school since roughly 60 percent fall below the poverty line."

The cost of all these pens, pencils, and Fiskars Blunt-Tip Safety Scissors is obvious. Less obvious is who is paying the price. When I asked parents on Facebook for feedback on their children’s lists, I got more than 40 responses. Two were from men replying in their capacity as teachers, and two of them were from fathers with information about their children’s supply lists. The rest were from mothers. Many of the women sent along homemade spreadsheets and described detailed plans to visit multiple stores to save money; they keep track of local sales, and devise systems for consolidating leftover supplies at the end of the school year and preparing them for next year’s requests. Meanwhile, women make up about three-quarters of public school teachers—the ones spending hundreds of dollars of their own salaries to stock their classrooms. As education budgets shrivel so dramatically that Kleenex have become luxury items, it’s women who are spending the time and money to keep schools running.

Wonder Woman Was Reportedly Funded by the Koch Brothers. That Shouldn’t Surprise Any of Us.

Wonder Woman Was Reportedly Funded by the Koch Brothers. That Shouldn’t Surprise Any of Us.

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Wonder Woman hit a major milestone on Tuesday, when its North American box-office take topped $400 million. The film is now the highest-grossing film ever made by a female director and the third highest-grossing domestic release in Warner Bros. history.

Woohoo! Feminist #win! Think of all that money flying out of women’s paychecks and into the pockets of female actresses and a female director, keeping it in the sisterhood! And also, think of the way, way, larger sums of money going into the bank accounts of the right-wing billionaires who funded it!

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

It turns out that the feminist fave of the summer reportedly counts among its investors not just any rich dudes, but the literal Koch brothers. These are the men we can thank for the Tea Party, the funding of the “education reform” movement and organized opposition to Obamacare, and some of the most concerted efforts against environmental regulations the country has seen. They are some of the wealthiest men in the world, and they use their money to influence policies that protect the rich at the expense of the poor.

The Hollywood Reporter published a piece Wednesday morning describing Charles and David Koch’s “significant stake” worth “tens of millions of dollars” in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which invested $450 million in 2013 to cover Warner Bros.’ entire slate of up to 75 movies over four years. That includes the “masterpiece of subversive feminism” that argues, according to the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg, that a world without misogyny “would be liberating and wonderful for men.” Post-Wonder Woman, misogyny is still around, but the success of the film has no doubt been liberating and wonderful for the men who funded it. (A Koch Industries spokeswoman gave THR the vague assurance that the brothers themselves and Koch Industries “do not have any involvement with this investment.”)

Full disclosure: I did not find Wonder Woman to be the tear-jerking feminist masterwork so many of my colleagues and contemporaries claim to have seen. To me, the movie baited women into the theater with some heavy-handed surface-level empowerment schtick, then gave us 180 minutes of jokes about how sexy half-dressed women are when they know how to fight. That normally wouldn’t have bugged me so much—blockbuster films are blockbuster films, and superhero movies are among the most formulaic of blockbuster genres—if critics and lay-viewers and men’s rights activists alike hadn’t made the movie out to be some kind of monumental step for womankind. Of course Wonder Woman wouldn’t star an average-looking bulked-up fighter, because they don’t look hot on movie posters. Of course the titular character would sleep with the first man she meets in her entire life, because otherwise people might think an athlete from an all-woman island was a lesbian.

I don’t think many, if any, of the people extolling Wonder Woman’s feminist bona fides believe that supporting the film meant they were supporting feminist causes in any significant way. Warner Bros. is not a nonprofit, and big profits are how big, splashy movies get made. But it’s just so rich to consider that the money it cost to send these little girls who “might make your heart explode” to see Wonder Woman now support the Koch brothers’ efforts to call climate science into question, making it measurably less likely that those little girls will grow up with a livable Earth to inhabit. The price we pay to see a woman kick ass with killer CGI effects is the continued electoral dominance of Koch-funded politicians who want to force women to give birth against their will. It’s no surprise—it’s how the system is designed. It’s what happens when unimaginable wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few white men looking out for themselves and their buddies. It’s called capitalism.

And under capitalism, in case you haven’t heard, there can be no ethical consumption. Every dollar spent in this messed-up marketplace supports exploitation, a fact that’s become even harder to swallow since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision allowed corporate entities to all but cast physical ballots for their preferred political candidates. The Koch brothers aren’t the first right-wing puppeteers to invest in a corporation that produces a seemingly feminist product, and Wonder Woman is far from the only girl-power movie to enrich men working hard to make the world a harder place for women to thrive.

In fact, one of the last blockbuster action movies with a woman in the leading role, Mad Max: Fury Road, was also funded by RatPac-Dune, the company that bankrolled Wonder Woman. One of the founders of that company, Steven Mnuchin, was the finance chair of Donald Trump’s campaign, donated $425,000 to the campaign and the Republican party to help him win, and now serves as his Treasury Secretary. In other words, if you bought a ticket to see Imperator Furiosa bust the heads of a bunch of sexual abusers, you may have helped America elect one.

North Carolina Political Leaders Say They’re Helpless to Remove Confederate Statues. They’re Wrong.

North Carolina Political Leaders Say They’re Helpless to Remove Confederate Statues. They’re Wrong.

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

On Monday evening, 22-year-old Taqiyah Thompson climbed a ladder in front of a North Carolina courthouse and looped a length of webbing around the torso of a likeness of a Confederate soldier. Once she came down, protesters pulled the rope, easily toppling the statue from its base. Its head gave way and flattened into its neck as soon as it hit the ground, a poetic coda to a rich symbolic victory.

Thompson’s action came two days after hundreds of white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of monuments to Confederate generals. In response to violence against counterprotesters that ended in one death and 19 people injured, the president applauded the racist mobs for having a permit and called some of them “very fine people.” Monuments lionizing leaders of the Confederate States of America, Donald Trump intimated, are as valid as those erected to honor George Washington.

Durham County law enforcement defended those monuments yesterday, when officers arrested 22-year-old Thompson after she gave a late-afternoon press conference. Thompson faces two felony charges—inciting and participating in a riot with property damage over $1,500—and two misdemeanors. On Wednesday, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dante Strobino, Ngoc Loan Tran and Peter Gilbert, and hit them with the same charges.

Thompson defended their actions in her address at the Tuesday press conference. “Everyone who was there, the people did the right thing,” she said. “The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage.” Tran called for immunity for the protesters, condemning a statement made by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who said that demonstrators should have waited for government entities to remove the statue—a route toward which Cooper has taken some small steps—instead of pulling it down.

But any state-sanctioned action against Confederate monuments will be a long time coming, if it comes at all. Just two summers ago, the North Carolina legislature, with then–Gov. Pat McCrory’s vocal support, passed a law specifically designed to protect statues and plaques that fetishize the militia that fought to preserve slavery. The law prevents any local governments from taking action to move or remove public “objects of remembrance” without an act approved by the heavily Republican, veto-immune General Assembly. Cooper has called for the repeal of this law, expressed support for continued removal of Confederate statues, and directed a state agency to figure out how much it would cost to move the monuments on state property to museums or historical sites. Without the legislature’s backing, these well-meaning nods to decency mean next to nothing.

That doesn’t mean Cooper or town officials are powerless in the face of this law, as they have suggested they are. For a town to face consequences for removing a Confederate monument, someone would have to sue it. That someone would most likely be Josh Stein, North Carolina’s Democratic attorney general. With enough pressure from the public and the support of the governor, who wrote in a Tuesday Medium post that “we cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery,” Stein could choose to let a principled municipal government tear down its monuments to the Confederacy with no repercussions. If leaders of liberal cities like Durham really wanted to take a stand against white supremacy, they could destroy their Confederate statues and dare the state to take them to court over it. They could appeal the verdict as high as the courts would let them, because if landing a blow against the trappings of white supremacy isn’t worth a court fight, what is?

At Tuesday’s press conference, the leaders of the Durham protest challenged their representatives in state and local government to put their ropes and wrecking balls where their mouths are. “We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted,” Thompson said. Tran expressed doubt that any official action would ever come: “We know that the only thing that's going to take down these Confederate monuments, as we saw in Durham last night, is organized people's power.” Government officials are rarely willing to engage in civil disobedience, even for the most righteous causes. Where they have failed time and again to reject unjust laws and symbols of oppression, civil rights activists have stepped in.

In today’s civil rights movement, black women are some of the boldest and most visible leaders. A video from Monday evening’s protest shows Thompson standing atop a monument dedicated “to the boys who wore the gray” in a war against black humanity, waving her arms as a crowd cheered. Her movements echoed the actions of Bree Newsome, who scaled a flagpole outside the South Carolina Capitol building in 2015 to take down its Confederate flag. This week, Newsome has been speaking with and tweeting in support of Thompson, responding with unwarranted patience to Twitter users who invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s name in defense of the cops who arrested the Durham protesters. “Pulling down monument 2 racism while harming no one is nonviolent direct action,” she informed one person who claimed the demonstrator “tarnishes” the cause. “Does Boston Tea Party tarnish the American Revolution?” Neither tea nor statues can feel, bleed, or lose their livelihoods and voting rights after a felony conviction. Nonviolent protesters on the right side of history can.

Dove | BrandStruck: Brand strategy database

Dove | BrandStruck: Brand strategy database


BrandStruck

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History of Dove Advertising

History of Dove Advertising


Preferred Perfect

The Dove brand was launched by Unilever in 1955 by positioning its main product of moisturizing soap. Dove advertised their soap product and won market share in the industry by publicizing dermatol…

Trump’s New EPA Nominee Writes “Science-Bible Stories” In His Free Time, and That’s Fine

Trump’s New EPA Nominee Writes “Science-Bible Stories” In His Free Time, and That’s Fine

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

President Trump nominated Michael Dourson last week to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical and pesticides office. Dourson is a toxicologist at the University of Cincinnati and founded a nonprofit consulting company called Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment in 1995. Before that, he spent 15 years working for the EPA. But his appointment is raising eyebrows not just because of his professional qualifications—more on those later—but because of his hobby: self-publishing books he describes as “science-Bible stories.”

As BuzzFeed News reports, Dourson is the author of a series titled “Evidence of Faith,” in which he explores the science surrounding key events described in the Bible. Messiah’s Star focuses on the astronomical events around the time of the birth of Jesus. (He theorizes that Jesus was born on June 17, 2 BC. Sorry, Christmas!) The Beginning: Let there be light, focuses on the creation of the universe. And The Linen Cloths…Jesus left behind, published in February, focuses on the Shroud of Turin, a relic purported to be Jesus’s burial cloths. The books are almost trippy in tone, melding historical and scientific evidence with narrative interpretations of how, say, the three magi would have experienced the events around Jesus’ birth.

BuzzFeed warns that Dourson’s books suggest he “may read the Bible literally.” Few conservative Christians self-identify as literalists; it’s a term that is handier as a shorthand pejorative than a meaningful descriptor. More to the point, Dourson’s books are attempts not to discredit scientific explanations for natural phenomena, but to reconcile Biblical and scientific accounts. In The Beginning, for example, he interprets the six-day creation story in Genesis as a story spanning hundreds of millions of years—hardly a Creationist-approved approach. Dourson places angels on the scene: “The angels saw unmistakable evidence of the big bang,” he writes:

[Michael] and the other angels had the privilege to experience time as God did, and they noted that it took approximately 300 million or so years for the matter from this first explosion, primarily hydrogen, to coalesce by way of gravity into large masses. And then a surprising thing occurred.
These masses self-ignited into glowing, burning objects: the first stars. The light of the second “day” had begun! “Wow!” exclaimed Gabriel, Satan, Michael, and the other angels.

It’s not exactly sophisticated, literarily speaking. Or theologically. Or scientifically. But it also doesn’t sound like the work of a fundamentalist trying to wave away science. It’s the work of a devout scientist trying to blend two belief systems. And it’s worth pointing out that it’s not unusual at all for a scientist to be religious, though admittedly few of them spend their free time spinning tales of a prelapsarian Satan witnessing the Big Bang. The work of sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund suggests that American scientists are not radically out of step with the general public when it comes to religious beliefs and practices: 18 percent of scientists attend weekly religious services, for example, compared with 20 percent of the general population. About the same percentage pray several times a day. And 17 percent of scientists identify as evangelical Protestants—that’s about 2 million people.

So it’s not Dourson’s hobbies nor his faith that should prompt questions about his fitness for the job. Rather, it’s his resume itself. A 2014 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News found that Dourson’s firm had inappropriately close connections to chemical manufacturers and other industry players, for example. Some critics are concerned about his approach to risk assessment. And the Environmental Defense Fund accused Dourson this week of a “history of failing to appropriately address his conflicts of interest.” BuzzFeed also interviewed another toxicologist who has worked with Dourson and is concerned that the nominee tends to believe the EPA overestimates risk.

As it happens, Dourson’s self-published books lend some insight into his thinking on chemical risk. In the last chapter of The Linen Cloths, Dourson peeks in on a thinly fictionalized “older medical scientist” returning home after a day at work studying chemical toxicity at a university. (This character definitely feels like a thinly veiled Dourson—even his description of his wife mirrors how Dourson has described his own wife.) The scientist had published a study on a particular flame-retardant that was toxic at high levels, he writes, but actual exposures from consumer products were relatively low and therefore harmless. (The dose makes the poison, as toxicologists say.)

Actual exposures from consumer products were much lower than this, he thought, and would not cause any harm, even in sensitive people, like his four-year-old grandson, Finn, who had just spied him from across the room and who was even then making a beeline to run into his arms. Besides, he thought as he raised up Finn for a swooping hug, I will take the flame retarding benefits of these chemicals any day because destruction of lives and property by fire was a daily occurrence throughout his country.

The question of how the EPA’s next chemical and pesticides authority approaches issues of risk, toxicity, industry standards, and consumer safety is the right conversation to have. The fact that he writes stories about the Shroud of Turin on the side is not. As Jesus himself said, in a passage quoted by Dourson: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Dove

Dove


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Betsy DeVos Plans to Consult Men’s Rights Trolls About Campus Sexual Assault

Betsy DeVos Plans to Consult Men’s Rights Trolls About Campus Sexual Assault

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

When Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education, anti-rape advocates worried about the damage she might do. The Obama administration had pushed universities to better address sexual assault on their campuses, prescribing stricter guidelines for adjudicating accusations and publishing lists of schools under investigation. DeVos refused to say whether or not she’d uphold that guidance, but the prospects looked grim. She and her family foundation had both donated money to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an advocacy group working to undo the progress Obama’s Department of Education had made on campus sexual assault.

Now that she’s in office, DeVos has to choose: Will she let the Obama guidance, which lowered the burden of proof required in sexual assault cases, stand? Or will she let schools revert back to their old practices, like forcing victims to sign nondisclosure agreements and letting accusations stand for months—or even years—without taking action?

To help her decide, DeVos is meeting with several organizations that do work on this issue. Victims’ rights organizations, including Know Your IX and the National Women’s Law Center, are on the list. So are a few men’s rights groups that see campus rape as a faux crisis manufactured to demonize and damage men and boys. Politico reported last week that the Department of Education has contacted Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), and the National Coalition for Men to set up meetings about the campus sexual assault guidance, which all three organizations oppose.

The National Coalition for Men, as its name implies, is one of the largest, longest-running, and shameless men’s rights organizations out there. It is founded on the belief that domestic violence and sexual assault are widely overreported (in other words, that women regularly invent incidents of these crimes) and that some of the blame often lies with the female victim. President Harry Crouch calls this alleged conspiracy of women, the media, and law enforcement the “men’s violence industry.” The organization has a history of harassing and intimidating alleged sexual-assault survivors, ThinkProgress points out: Chapters have published photos, names, and biographical details of women who have accused men—falsely, the National Coalition for Men insists—of rape. Its members routinely bring lawsuits against women-only networking groups and social events, crying discrimination.

Crouch has argued that women are too rarely held responsible for domestic violence they “instigate.” “I’m not saying he’s a good guy,” Crouch said in 2014 of football player Ray Rice, who knocked out his then-girlfriend in an elevator. “But if she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit. They would say that’s blaming the victim. But I don’t buy it.” He also claimed that “if a little person without a penis instigates, she will never be accountable for her actions” and wondered why the NFL can’t “have a week, or just one day, where they celebrate men?” as when the league wears pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness.

The other organizations from which DeVos plans to learn aren’t any better. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified SAVE, which opposes rules that prevent defense attorneys from entering evidence of a survivor’s sexual history in a rape trial, as a planet in the “manosphere” of misogynist online forums. SAVE lobbies against domestic violence protections, claims that the “leading reason” for abuse is “female initiation of partner violence,” and calls falsely accused perpetrators the “true victims of abuse.” And then there’s FACE, which claims that colleges are expelling innocent students “with increasing frequency” due to made-up accusations. “If the school investigators feel that there is even a slight chance that your accuser might be telling the truth, you will almost certainly be suspended or expelled,” the organization’s site says. “If your accuser had any alcohol at all, you will most likely be expelled.” This is untrue. According to federal data, of 478 sanctions dealt for sexual assault on about 100 U.S. college campuses between 2012 and 2013, just 12 percent were expulsions. That doesn’t include the cases that were dismissed with no sanctions ordered at all.

These are the experts the Secretary of Education is trusting to school her on campus sexual assault: people who lie to advance a worldview of women as pathological liars, who believe women receive unfair preferential treatment in abuse trials, and who think false accusations are the real rape problem. This is a classic case of false balance, because the two sides here do not have equal merit. Meeting with advocates for sexual-assault victims is not the same as meeting with trolls who have made it their lives’ work to defend domestic violence and end women-only happy hours. But as a representative of an administration run by a man with an interest in protecting sexual harrassers, DeVos has every reason to side with the latter.

SWOT analysis of Dove - Dove SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis of Dove - Dove SWOT analysis


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What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

The president and his wife boarded Air Force One on Tuesday morning to visit southeastern Texas and survey the devastation Harvey has wrought. It was a chance for Donald and Melania Trump to set their egos aside and humble themselves before the victims of a tragedy whose scope we are only beginning to understand.

It was also a chance for them to sell their merchandise and play blue-collar dress-up. The president showed up in a white “USA” baseball cap, embroidered with his own last name, that he sells on his website for $40. Melania opted for a satiny olive bomber, tailored black trousers, aviator glasses, and a pair of teetering snakeskin stilettos. Her shoes attracted the most criticism from internet observers, prompting a White House spokeswoman to assure the Washington Examiner that Melania was planning on changing her shoes on the plane. Vogue, a known champion of garments that serve the gods of fashion over the false idols of function, said the heels were “better suited to a shopping afternoon on Madison Avenue or a girls’ luncheon at La Grenouille” than a trip to the site of an ongoing natural disaster.

True, Melania would risk an ankle sprain by merely stepping out of a climate-controlled limousine in those shoes, never mind walking through mud and debris to comfort evacuees recouping in shelters. But the rest of her outfit was just as obnoxious. It was as if an assistant told her they’d be roughing it on a mission to an inhospitable place of unimaginable devastation, and Melania thought “war zone.” Her aviators and bomber jacket are playing at the courage and ready-for-anything spirit that defines most mainstream depictions of the military, as if she were risking anything or helping anyone at all on this trip to Texas. (She’s not.) Melania was trying to use military signifiers to simulate utility and a willingness to get her hands dirty when she’ll likely return with her manicure intact, making a mockery of those whose olive drab and aviators come standard-issue.

By the time Melania disembarked in Corpus Christi, she had changed into white sneakers, a crisp white button-down with a popped collar, and a baseball hat that read “FLOTUS.” On a trip ostensibly made to support people who’ve lost everything and the agencies trying to help them recover, Melania found a way to make her visit about herself. One wonders when that hat will be up for sale on the president’s merch page.

No one expects the first lady to traipse through flood waters to save stranded Texans—that’s not her job, and her help would be far more trouble for rescue agencies than it would be worth. She didn’t need to show up in thigh-high waders and a poncho; anything that didn’t turn her trip to a flood zone into a platform for showing off the contents of her designer closet would have been fine. But for this former model, there can be no sublimating of the wardrobe to keep the attention on those in need. Fashion doesn’t take a break, and white is a perfectly good color for a blouse in a rainstorm.

Tide

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Household products – laundry products Owner of the brand: Procter & Gamble Co. Key competitors: Purex, Arm & Hammer, Persil, All

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Abortion Access in Missouri Is Getting Easier, Thanks to Planned Parenthood and Satanists

Abortion Access in Missouri Is Getting Easier, Thanks to Planned Parenthood and Satanists

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Abortion access in Missouri is booming. Until this month, the state had only one abortion provider—a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis. On Monday, the organization announced that its clinic in Kansas City is now offering medication abortion. Its Columbia outpost will soon offer surgical abortions, too, and two others will likely follow.

For the past several years, Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics in Missouri have been targeted by restrictions that forced abortion providers to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and retrofit their facilities to meet surgical center standards. Those laws eventually became common goals of anti-abortion legislators around the country, but Missouri was ahead of the curve: In 1986, it was the first state to enact mandatory hospital admitting privileges. After the Supreme Court’s historic ruling that overturned similar restrictions in Texas, Planned Parenthood and two other reproductive rights groups took Missouri to federal court, arguing that it had four clinics in the state that could provide abortions—in addition to existing contraceptive care and health services—if the regulations were lifted.

A federal judge sided with Planned Parenthood in April and blocked officials from continuing to enforce the two anti-abortion provisions in Missouri. Now four clinics are working to get licensed for abortion care in the state: In addition to the Kansas City location, which stopped offering abortions five years ago, and the Columbia one—which stopped in the fall of 2015 when University of Missouri administrators voted to revoke its hospital admitting privileges—Planned Parenthood intends to offer abortion care at its Joplin and Springfield centers after their state inspections.

This rapid turnaround makes the state an illustration of the best-case scenario when courts reverse abortion restrictions. Other states aren’t so lucky. Often, such restrictions cause abortion providers to close completely, especially if the clinics aren’t affiliated with larger national organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which can provide some measure of stability as regulations shift. And when a clinic shuts down, there’s no guarantee that it’ll reopen once the restrictions that caused its closure fall away. A year after the Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, only two of the nearly two-dozen abortion providers that shuttered due to the two provisions axed by the court had resumed abortion services.

Missouri’s recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state’s abortion restrictions violate worshippers’ rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and “consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree” during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

The Satanic challenge to the laws began in 2015, when a pregnant Satanist from rural Missouri identified as “Mary” tried to use a religious waiver to exempt herself from the state’s many requirements designed to prevent women from going forward with abortions. Mary said she had the $800 she needed to get the abortion, but to get to the clinic in St. Louis for two separate appointments, she needed to save up for gas money, a hotel, and child care. As a Satanist, Mary said, she believes her body is “inviolable”—thus, a mandatory waiting period with no medical justification that hampers her bodily autonomy inflicts a “substantial burden” on her “sincerely held religious beliefs,” as does the law that requires she be informed that “abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” The temple filed both state and federal lawsuits challenging the restrictions; a judge tossed out the federal case in 2016 because Mary was no longer pregnant.

Missouri argues that just because the laws align with the tenets of certain religions doesn’t mean the state is advocating on behalf of those religions. But don’t tell that to the Missouri state legislator who slaughtered a chicken on camera in June to make some kind of statement against legal abortion. “God gave us man dominion over life. He allows us to raise animals properly and care for them and then process them for food so we can sustain life. And that’s what I’m doing here with this chicken,” Rep. Mike Moon said before ripping out the animal’s heart. Three cheers for Missouri, the upside-down land where Christians perform the gruesome animal sacrifices and Satanists bring the religious freedom lawsuits.

Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Testimony Was Sharp, Gutsy, and Satisfying

Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Testimony Was Sharp, Gutsy, and Satisfying

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Taylor Swift took the stand on Thursday in a Denver federal courthouse to describe the moment in 2013 when she says she was “violated” by a then–country radio DJ in a way she “had never experienced before.” David Mueller, who was 51 to Swift’s 23 at the time, “grabbed my ass underneath my skirt,” Swift said in her testimony. He “stayed latched on to my bare ass cheek as I moved away from him, visibly uncomfortable.”

Mueller claims he never touched Swift’s butt, explaining at various points that he only touched her “rib cage” and that a colleague was probably the one who groped her. They were posing for a photo, he said, and their body language was awkward but not inappropriate. On the witness stand, Swift did not suffer that argument, insisting that the grope was intentional and could not have been an accident. “It was horrifying, shocking,” she said, according to a BuzzFeed report. “He had a handful of my ass. I know it was him. I thought what he did was despicable.”

On Wednesday, Swift’s mother, Andrea, testified that the family hadn’t gone to the police after the alleged assault because they didn’t want to cause a public uproar. “I did not want this event to define her life,” she said. “I did not want every interview from this point on to have to talk about it.” Instead, they contacted Mueller’s employer—he was backstage at Swift’s concert on a work assignment when the alleged incident took place—who fired him two days later. Two years after that, Mueller sued Swift for $3 million, alleging that she cost him his job for an assault that never happened. She countersued for $1, determined to prove that she wouldn’t back down from what she says is the truth.

When Swift and her team told Mueller’s radio bosses about the alleged assault, they enclosed a photo that appeared to show Mueller with his hand behind Swift’s butt. In court this week, both parties attempted to use that photo, a sealed document that leaked last year, to prove their respective points. Swift’s side says it shows that she’s edging toward Mueller’s girlfriend and away from him, and that his hand is clearly far below her ribcage. Mueller’s attorney Gabe McFarland asked Swift why the photo shows the front of her skirt in place, not lifted up, if Mueller was reaching underneath to grab her butt. “Because my ass is located in the back of my body,” Swift replied. She offered a similar response when asked whether she saw the grope taking place. When McFarland pointed out that the photo shows Swift closer to Mueller’s girlfriend than Mueller himself, Swift answered, “Yes, she did not have her hand on my ass.”

Swift has said several times that she wouldn’t settle with Mueller or let his claims stand because she wants to be a visible example of strength to other women considering their options after a demoralizing sexual violation. Full of rightful exasperation, her testimony on Thursday was a galvanizing example of a so-called victim testimony in which the victim refused to be victimized. Swift was confident in her version of the story, unintimidated by a cross examination that implied she was a liar and unmistakably incensed when McFarland tried to cast doubt on her behavior during the evening in question. Wasn’t Swift critical of her bodyguard, who didn’t prevent such an obvious assault? “I’m critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass,” she told the attorney. But, McFarland said, Swift could have taken a break in the middle of her meet-and-greet if she was so distraught. “And your client could have taken a normal photo with me,” Swift countered, explaining that a pop star has a responsibility to her fans.

For young fans of Swift’s, hearing a beloved artist speak candidly about the emotional damage of sexual assault and stand up to a courtroom of men trying to prove her wrong could be a formative moment for their developing ideas of gender, sex, and accountability. Swift certainly has advantages most women who endure similar violations will never have: the money and time to mount a strong case against her alleged assailant, the jury-endearing privileges of white skin and a beautiful face, and millions of supporters rallying publicly behind her. And since he’s suing her for money and she’s already one of the biggest superstars in the world, detractors can’t argue, as they so often do in sexual-assault cases, that she’s making up a story for money or fame.

But Swift also faces some of the same obstacles other assault survivors endure if they bring their perpetrators to court. She must relive a distressing moment over and over again to dozens of observers, recounting in detail how her body was allegedly touched without her consent, while lawyers on the other side try their hardest to make her look unreliable, petty, and fake. When McFarland asked her how she felt when Mueller got the boot from his job at the Denver radio station, Swift said she had no response. “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t,” she said. Later, she continued: “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.” Women who allege sexual assault are scolded all the time for ruining men’s lives, even if those men are proven guilty. Swift’s sharp testimony is a very visible condemnation of that common turn in cases like these. That’s an important message for women who may find themselves in Swift’s position someday, and maybe even more so for the men who’ll be called on to support or rebuff them.

After the Outrage

After the Outrage

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Margaret Sawyer spent part of last summer driving across the country, stopping at public pools along the way to let her small children cool down and burn energy. Without intending to, she also set off a public relations crisis for the Red Cross.

At a pool in Salida, Colorado, Sawyer was idly reading some safety posters while her kids splashed nearby. At the top of one poster, pictured above, a cheerful whale announced “Be Cool, Follow the Rules.” The illustration below showed a pool in which various “cool” people follow proper water-safety procedures while other “not cool” types engage in risky behavior. A “cool” blonde girl waits her turn by the diving board, for example, and a “cool” fair-skinned dad minds his small child. The vast majority of the “not cool” rule breakers, meanwhile, have brown skin: One boy runs through a puddle, another dives too close to a swimmer, and a little black girl pushes a white girl into the pool. “How can this be, that the white kids are the ones doing good and the black kids are doing bad, and no one noticed it?” Sawyer remembers thinking.

At first, she says, she assumed the poster was a decades-old relic. But then she saw the poster at a second pool in Salida and discovered it was part of a 2014 safety campaign. Sawyer snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. “We need to hold the Red Cross accountable for the publication of this poster,” she wrote. “Horrifying that children across the country are absorbing this message.” She also sent the photo to her brother, a consultant in Washington, D.C., who called it out on Twitter. Both posts took off; the “super-racist” poster, as John Sawyer dubbed it in his now-deleted tweet, received coverage from CNN, NBC News, and Time. “What the fuck, Red Cross?” Larry Wilmore asked on The Nightly Show. Within a week, the Red Cross had removed the poster from all locations and issued an apology: “We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone.”

The 136-year-old aid organization has had more than its share of five-alarm scandals in recent years. In 2014, NPR and ProPublica exposed how the Red Cross botched its responses to Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, diverting 15 emergency response vehicles to press conferences at the height of the post-Sandy crisis. The following year brought another devastating exposé from NPR and ProPublica, this one on how the group squandered $500 million in donations for the Haiti earthquake disaster. CEO Gail McGovern had been hired in 2008 to clean up an organization that was running a huge annual deficit; her short-lived predecessor had been asked to resign after it came out that he’d impregnated an employee. After all this, the poster dust-up was, relatively speaking, a minor embarrassment. The story quickly met the fate of most outrage-provoking stories: It disappeared.

Outside of public view, however, the Red Cross was scrambling furiously to contain the damage done by its racist poster. In the days after the group’s public apology, McGovern arranged a meeting that included Red Cross executives and Ebony Rosemond, the head of a Maryland-based nonprofit called Black Kids Swim. The Red Cross went on to review all course materials for its lifeguard training and swimming programs. It opened a formal partnership with the nonprofit Diversity in Aquatics to review its aquatics-related educational programs and materials, and participated in that organization’s annual convention. And in April, the Red Cross hosted its first national aquatics symposium—with a focus on “populations where water-related injuries and drowning deaths occur at high rates, and where proactive resources are not easily accessible.”

The Red Cross’ chief public affairs officer, Suzy DeFrancis, outlined those changes to me in a lengthy email sent in response to an interview request, which the organization declined. On paper, it certainly looks like the Red Cross has “worked very hard in the past year to elevate our internal conversation on diversity and inclusion through action,” as DeFrancis put it, in a textbook example of why journalists always prefer phone interviews to ones conducted via email. But has the organization made any meaningful progress in helping make the water a safe and welcoming place for black children?

Ebony Rosemond of Black Kids Swim is skeptical. With regard to the various symposia and partnerships, she said, “I don’t know what that really does. That’s people in meetings and spending money on a fancy event. I don’t know how that helps diversify the sport. I don’t know how that helps a kid not drown.”

The Red Cross told me that its Aquatics Centennial Campaign, which focuses on water safety in “at-risk” communities with high drowning rates, has helped 9,100 children and adults learn to swim since 2014. But Rosemond wants to know why the organization doesn’t keep track of how many black and Hispanic children they have taught to swim. “That’s just bad research design,” she said. “If you want to change the statistics, then you will focus your intervention on those statistics, but they don’t.” Although DeFrancis emphasized that the program focuses on locations with “diverse demographics,” the organization’s 20-page 2016 annual report promotes the campaign but does not mention race at all. It’s also worth noting that 11 of the Red Cross’s 12 corporate officers and executive leadership team members are white; the only person of color is the chief diversity officer, Floyd Pitts. (The Red Cross provided data suggesting that both its overall workforce and management are more racially diverse than the U.S. workforce.)

The poster fracas was more than just another one-off outrage of the day. It has roots in an entrenched history of white racism and paranoia that has prevented black families from getting access to safe swimming areas. In the segregated 1920s and 1930s, many towns provided large outdoor pools for white residents, and—if anything—a small indoor pool for blacks. Desegregation changed the landscape. In 1949, when a group of black citizens of St. Louis tried to swim at the Fairground Park pool, a mob of 200 white people chased them off with bats, knives, and bricks. Many Southern towns eventually filled their pools with cement, with whites preferring to avoid swimming rather than swim with black people; private clubs and backyard pools often replaced them.

Today, black children drown at 5.5 times the rate of white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, 64 percent of black children have no or low swimming ability compared to 40 percent of white children. Just more than 1 percent of the 330,000-plus members of USA Swimming, the organizing body for competitive swimming, are black. And negative stereotypes about black children and swimming still linger in places like the Red Cross poster.

When I asked Margaret Sawyer if she was satisfied with the Red Cross’ actions over the past year, she trod cautiously. She said she’s pleased the organization seems to be having more internal conversations about diversity in swimming than they used to. But she would like to see more tangible changes, too. In particular, she had hoped the organization would consider adding anti-bias training to its lifeguard curriculum; the Red Cross trains more than 300,000 lifeguards every year. “As a lifeguard you have a lot of power,” she said. “There’s a history of pools and public parks being unwelcoming to people of color, so part of your job as a lifeguard is to go out of your way to be welcoming.”

It’s relatively simple for an individual to figure out how to be welcoming. It’s a much more challenging task for an enormous organization, particularly when the public stops paying attention and the real work begins.

These Old Photos of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer Are a Deeply Moving Portrait of Queer Love and Desire

These Old Photos of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer Are a Deeply Moving Portrait of Queer Love and Desire

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

On Tuesday, one of the heroes of the modern gay rights movement died at the age of 88. Edie Windsor, whose Supreme Court victory slayed the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, quickly rose to fame in the years that followed, becoming a recognizable face at queer benefits and celebrations. Her platinum-blond bob and impeccable style made her a ready icon, emanating the kind of joy and defiant glamour on which gay communities have thrived for generations.

If you follow a critical mass of queers on social media, your feeds, like mine, have filled with posts memorializing Windsor in the day since her death. Many include old photos of Windsor with her late wife, Thea Spyer, who died in 2009 after living for years with multiple sclerosis, just two years after the couple married in Canada. Because their marriage wasn’t recognized in New York, where they lived, Spyer’s death stuck Windsor with an estate tax bill in excess of $600,000. A legal wife would have been exempt from the tax—a fact of inequality that the Supreme Court used to justify its overturning of DOMA.

Now, that marriage serves as a vital symbol of queer love flourishing in the inhospitable landscape of a homophobic society. Scrolling through the photos that document their more than four decades together is an affirming experience unmatched by most other posthumous tributes to famous political figures. In images of Windsor and Spyer loving on one another, queer people can see themselves.

Part of the magic here is that the couple’s photos span several decades, from times that didn’t produce many photos of queer couples. Windsor and Spyer got engaged in 1967, when cameras were a luxury and film processing took some effort. Plus, back then, many gay couples lived in secret; they didn’t document their relationships on paper at all. Any old photos we see today are usually pictures of family members, famous people, or historic events. Unless one’s parents or friends are gay and past middle age, it’s incredibly rare to see a collection of photos of a gay couple that date back to the ’60s and march right up to present day. The existence of these images is a reminder that queer love has persisted throughout history, that mid-century queer life meant not only gay-bashings and clandestine bars, but also transcendent connection.

Then there are the photos themselves, which testify to a profound, radiant love. Windsor has spoken eloquently about what it’s like to care for someone with a debilitating illness, recounting how they spun around dance floors on Spyer’s wheelchair and how insulting it was when people treated Windsor like her caretaker. “I was never her nurse—I’m her lover!” Windsor once told the New Yorker. “I was just doing things to make her comfortable—and that was with loving her and digging her.” She said they never abandoned their hot-as-hell sex life, even when the physicality of the act became complicated as Spyer’s condition worsened. In images of the couple from decades past, that desire is palpable: They frequently lean on one another, press their cheeks together, lock eyes like they’re about to kiss. The photo used to promote Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, a documentary about their relationship, is bracingly intimate, as if the viewer happened upon the couple in their own bedroom.

These pictures hit me straight in the gut, both because of what Windsor gave us and because, in her love with Spyer, I see my own lovers and friends. Some of the photos seem to capture ordinary moments, when a pal with a camera saw a happy couple and hit the shutter. At the beach, in the city, in cluttered rooms and front yards, Spyer and Windsor could be any pair of lesbians navigating everyday life. I recognize their body language, the way they fit together as a butch-femme pair; I can see why Spyer made Windsor’s heart quiver and why Windsor made Spyer’s turn to mush. Even their old-school clothes, important markers of gender presentation, resonate with gays of today: I know at least three dykes with the oversized frames Windsor sported in this poolside shot and several dapper queers who would kill for Spyer’s tailored trousers and loafers this fall. They are an undeniably beautiful couple. That helps.

Long after these photos were taken, after Spyer’s death and her Supreme Court win, Windsor got remarried to a woman more than 35 years her junior. (Respect.) She spent the last several years of her life with her arms wide open, showing up all over the damn place to embrace the queer community she’d long loved, which finally got to love her back, loud and in public. Windsor was honored in several Pride parades, sure, but she also walked in the dyke marches, the more radical, in-your-face celebrations, better known for exposed breasts and protest chants than rainbow lanyards and celebrities on floats. She was one of the best of us. More importantly, in both her world-changing activism and her passionate, everyday love, she was one of us.

A U.S. Nonprofit Is Funding the Fight to Imprison Women for Abortions in El Salvador

A U.S. Nonprofit Is Funding the Fight to Imprison Women for Abortions in El Salvador

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

A U.S. anti-abortion nonprofit is funding the fight against legal abortion in El Salvador, funneling between tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to an organization that supports the Central American country’s punishing laws. Reproductive-rights activists are currently rallying behind a bill that would allow for abortions in cases of rape, nonviable fetuses, and life-threatening health complications. Since 1998, abortions have been prohibited by law under all circumstances in the country—by most accounts, the world’s strictest abortion ban.

The Guardian reports that Human Life International, a Virginia-based Catholic nonprofit, has financially supported Sí a la Vida, one of the major Salvadoran organizations behind the total abortion ban, since 2000. Between 2000 and 2007, according to the Guardian’s reporting, Human Life International gave Sí a la Vida $47,360; between 2008 and 2014, Human Life International sent $615,432 to “Central American causes,” which likely included Sí a la Vida, as Human Life International has identified the organization as its “representative in El Salvador” and “affiliate” in the country.

Sí a la Vida is still one of the biggest forces behind the opposition to any changes to the country’s abortion laws. Under the current policy, women are routinely jailed for miscarriages, since there’s no way to tell the difference between a natural stillbirth and a medically induced termination. In 2013, the case of a pregnant Salvadoran 22-year-old with a young son, lupus, and kidney failure made international headlines when she couldn’t get an abortion, even though her anencephalic fetus was nonviable. She was eventually given a Cesarean section when she was in critical condition, and the baby, predictably, died soon after. When Salvadoran women are prosecuted for having a miscarriage or getting an illicit abortion, they can be put away for years. Recently, a 19-year-old survivor of rape was convicted of “aggravated homicide” and sentenced to 30 years in prison for a stillbirth.

Human Life International leaders bankroll the advocates who lobby in support of this sadistic policy, but in public, they deny supporting punishment for women who seek abortions. “The woman who aborts usually does not have the knowledge about pre-born life or what an abortion really is,” wrote Human Life International leader Adolfo J. Castañeda in a 2007 piece titled “Women Who Have Abortions Should Get Help, Compassion Not Prison.” “If she is severely penalized by the law, chances are that will make it more difficult for her to come forward to be healed and reconciled.” The Guardian quotes another Human Life International leader as writing that “desperate women being pushed into abortion” should not be imprisoned for their actions.

These patronizing arguments are common among anti-abortion activists, who know that moderate women are less likely to support prosecuting women for things they do to their own bodies. But when abortion is illegal, punishment of women is inevitable. Women in the U.S. are already jailed for home abortion attempts, and abortion is legal in many circumstances in this country. Donald Trump ran up against this weird anti-abortion movement contradiction during his campaign, when he said women should be punished for getting abortions if abortion were outlawed. Mainstream right-to-lifers tugged their collars and tiptoed away from that statement, gently correcting the candidate. Still, 39 percent of Trump voters polled in December said women should be punished for abortions, and some anti-abortion organizations are trying to get abortion outlawed as first-degree murder in certain states. The El Salvador model isn’t too far from what the U.S. could expect if, say Roe v. Wade were overturned, allowing states to ban abortions within their borders.

If that happened, groups like Human Life International, which also supported Uganda’s far-reaching criminalization of gay people, would be well prepared to argue for putting “desperate women” in prison for terminating their pregnancies. “Abortion always destroys a life. There is nothing life-saving about it,” Human Life International President Shenan J. Boquet said in 2013, supporting the continued withholding of abortion care for the 22-year-old Salvadoran with lupus and kidney disease. The penal code he envisions lets women die in pregnancy, but calls them killers if they care for their own health and get an abortion.

Yes, women watch X-rated movies too

by aufeminin @ Womenology

In the 1970’s, pornographic movies were broadcasted without restraint in cinemas; however, with the introduction of the Giscard law in 1975, the general view began to change towards these erotic productions. By 1990, almost all pornographic cinema halls had disappeared, …

Continuer la lecture

The post Yes, women watch X-rated movies too appeared first on Womenology.

Mattel

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Kids products – toys, publishing & media Owner of the brand: Mattel, Inc. Key competitors: Lego, Hasbro

Artykuł Mattel pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Parents, Don’t Let Your Girls Join the Boy Scouts

Parents, Don’t Let Your Girls Join the Boy Scouts

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

The Boy Scouts of America are conducting a “covert campaign” to get girls into their programs, according to a stern letter the Girl Scouts of the USA sent the Boy Scouts board on Monday. The letter, obtained by BuzzFeed, says that the BSA’s plan would "result in fundamentally undercutting [the] Girl Scouts.” A BSA spokeswoman confirmed that the organization has been “exploring the benefits of bringing Scouting to every member of the family—boys and girls,” though no final decisions have been made.

If BSA leaders are considering admitting girls to boost membership numbers, as the Girl Scouts allege, can you blame them? The group is one of the best-known civic organizations in the country, but it only markets to half the population in its target age group. Little girls and parents have accused BSA of engaging in gender discrimination, pushing for the organization to let kids of any gender join a troop and earn merit badges like any other scout. And with the public-relations deficit BSA has racked up with its ban on gay leaders (which they recently reversed after much criticism) and its chillingly warm reception for Donald Trump, the Boy Scouts could use a highly publicized, progressive win.

None of that makes girls in the Boy Scouts a good idea. The organizations were founded on two very different visions of gender in America. While BSA began as a response to turn-of-the-century worries that rugged American boys were becoming urbane weaklings, GSUSA began soon after as a space for girls to explore the adventuresome, outdoorsy sides of themselves that were discouraged by mainstream society. The Boy Scouts were affiliated with a different girls’ organization for a time: the Campfire Girls, which represented a more traditional gender paradigm with an emphasis on domestic handiwork. If the Boy Scouts were founded to tether boys to stringent gender norms, the Girl Scouts were founded to challenge them.

Ever since then, GSUSA has helped girls exercise their power and test their capabilities in a space set apart from the boys by whose skill sets they might otherwise measure their own accomplishments. When girls don’t have to worry about how they’ll look if they perform a task better or worse than a boy, they’re more likely to explore the far reaches of their own potential. They also get opportunities that are harder to find in organizations where boys make up the majority—or even minority—of participants. When girls and young women must occupy all leadership roles, girls and young women learn how to lead.

According to the letter GSUSA sent to BSA leadership, the organization is considering gender-neutralizing some of its programs to appeal to millennial parents, who may see less value in signing their boys up for single-gender activities. In the U.S., much to the chagrin of men’s rights groups, most men-only colleges and civic organizations have started accepting women, while many women-only groups have resisted such integration. Perhaps young parents don’t want their kids associated with a group known for its history of regressive politics, or maybe they don’t think their boys need the roughening-and-toughening of an organized boys’ club that hasn’t much changed since their fathers were scouts in the ’60s. (The Girl Scouts, in contrast, have readily evolved with the times in both curriculum and stances on social issues.)

If boys have a special, specific need today, it’s not for a group that reinforces traditionally masculine behaviors and activities. The biggest benefit kids can get out of a single-gender social group is a chance to experience life outside the confines of ubiquitous gender dynamics. The 21st century doesn’t need Boy Scout troops with girls in them. It needs a Boy Scout curriculum that challenges and expands traditional notions of masculinity, doing for boys what GSUSA has done for girls. Instead of chipping away at the Girl Scouts’ membership, the Boy Scouts should heed its example.

Why Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” Is Such a Colossal Bummer

Why Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” Is Such a Colossal Bummer

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Whenever Taylor Swift drops a new single, her fans are quick to scour the lyrics for references to real-life beefs and beaus. Her work has been reliably, if loosely, autobiographical throughout her career, down to the secret messages she leaves with capitalized letters in her liner notes.

Well, viewing the much-hyped song Swift released late Thursday night, “Look What You Made Me Do,” through an autobiographical lens is a real bummer. The song elevates Swift’s pitiful spoken-word capabilities at the expense of her immense songwriting talent, forcing her to almost rap the chorus of a tune that describes a pathetic existence I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

It sounds like her grudges occupy so much of her psychic space that there’s hardly room for a personality, let alone anything resembling joy. “The world moves on, another day, another drama drama,” she sings. “But not for me, not for me—all I think about is karma.” While others forgive, forget, and move on to more fulfilling relationships, Swift is consumed by resentment, unable to see past those who’ve wronged her until they suffer. Instead of making a life on her own terms, she follows her nemeses around, obsessing over their slights long after they’ve forgotten them, while she waits for her revenge to chill.

Smart people have said that forgiveness offers a greater benefit to the forgiver than the forgivee, a lesson Swift would have us believe she has yet to learn. “I got a list of names, and yours is in red, underlined” she sings in “Look What You Made Me Do.” There’s another young woman with a list of names in our current pop-culture milieu, and she’s currently sabotaging her relationship with one of her few surviving family members over an affront that’s been gathering dust for several years. Arya Stark’s preoccupation with revenge makes for good, action-packed TV. In real life, the immediate gratification of vengeance soon evaporates to leave a gaping hole, a welcoming nest for a snake.

Like Stark, Swift’s self-isolation seemed empowered at first. They don’t need anybody but themselves, and their sharp tongues (or swords) are powerful weapons against those who cause them harm. But the line between self-preservation and self-destruction is thin. Swift makes it clear in “Look What You Made Me Do” that she’s crossed it. When she sings that “the world moves on” while she’s still waiting to get her payback, she’s saying that she stands apart from the world; it’s her against everyone, with no one on her side. “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me,” she sings proudly. It sounds dangerously close to “Nobody likes me / everybody hates me / guess I’ll go eat worms.”

The lyric video Swift dropped along with the song has a paranoid vibe, with messages scrawled on leafless trees, shifty eyes in rearview mirrors, and spray-painted threats inside dark tunnels. There are multiple mentions of Swift rising from the dead and killing old versions of herself, as if every time she’s hurt, she has to create a whole new person to contain the growing mass of fermenting rage that’s chomping away at her insides.

Speaking of which: The video illustrates the chorus of “Look What You Made Me Do” with an ouroboros. Traditionally, the snake eating its own tail is a symbol of regeneration, an infinite circle of life. Swift will always rise from the grave or bounce back from hardships, the image seems to say. But the snake is also nourishing itself on its own flesh. “Ooh, look what you made me do,” Swift sings as the animal annihilates itself. She has no agency, no ability to step away from the edge of the chasm her self-destructive impulses have led her to.

If this song isn’t written as an earnest description of her mental state—if, instead, it’s a send-up of the image the media has created for Swift, which, to be fair, is a real possibility—it’s a pretty lame one. “Blank Space” worked as a light-hearted tribute to Swift’s tabloid reputation as a man-eating cyclone of drama; “Look What You Made Me Do” is neither fun nor funny enough to make for a satisfying meta riff on her reputation. The narrator sounds more bitter than self-aware and, given Swift’s history of well-placed disses, the story sounds too close to the truth.

No, But Seriously, Dove Soap Is Bad

No, But Seriously, Dove Soap Is Bad


The Concourse

So yesterday, BuzzFeed's editors, in a super duper blatant breach of the tenets of their Editorial Standards And Ethics Guide, deleted a post in which staff writer Arabelle Sicardi criticized toiletries brand Dove for its sleazy, exploitative advertising. Dove, you see, is owned by Unilever—the multinational consumer goods behemoth last seen being an oversensitive penis over the definition of mayonnaise—which happens to be one of BuzzFeed's major advertising partners.

Dove

Dove


Unilever Singapore

Dove grew from a moisturising Beauty Bar into a global brand with a range of products: body washes, hand and body lotions, facial cleansers, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners and hair styling.

The History of Microsoft - 1987

The History of Microsoft - 1987


Channel 9

For Microsoft, 1987 brings the announcement of Excel for Windows, we ship our first CD-ROM application and Microsoft announces the "New Mouse" which is nicknamed the "Dove Soap Bar&qu

Texan Survivors of Harvey Can Get Free Abortion Care, With Travel Costs Covered

Texan Survivors of Harvey Can Get Free Abortion Care, With Travel Costs Covered

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Whole Woman’s Health, a group of clinics that provide abortion care and other health services, announced on Friday that it will offer free abortions to women impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Noting that women in the Houston area and elsewhere in southeast Texas may have had to miss abortion appointments during the storm, a blog post on the Whole Woman’s Health website promised to help affected women get to one of the organization’s four Texas locations for abortion care at no cost.

“During Hurricane Harvey, many of the clinics in Houston had to close temporarily, leaving women with very few options,” the post read. “Continued political attacks on abortion access make an unwanted pregnancy particularly stressful in Texas—add that to the stress of dealing with hurricane aftermath.”

Natural disasters exacerbate existing logistical and financial barriers to women’s health care access. Women on Medicaid can’t use their insurance to cover or subsidize abortion care, and low-income women may save for weeks to afford the procedure, only to find that they’re too far along to get a cheaper medical abortion or to get a legal abortion at all in the state. After losing property or wages to a hurricane, even more women may find it difficult to pay for an abortion. Where it was once merely difficult to afford child care and time off work to accommodate an abortion appointment, after a natural disaster, it can be nearly impossible. And since women are usually the default caretakers of their families, they face the bulk of the extra responsibilities that come after a tragedy, including making arrangements for relief, organizing relocation, and caring for the young and old. This further diminishes the reserves of time and resources available for their own health care.

For the month of September, Whole Woman’s Health—the successful plaintiff in last summer’s landmark Supreme Court case on abortion restrictions—will cover both travel and housing costs for Harvey-affected women who need help getting to the organization’s outposts in Austin, Fort Worth, McAllen, or San Antonio. The group will draw from its own abortion fund, the Stigma Relief Fund, as well as the Lilith Fund, a Texas-specific abortion-funding organization that has established an emergency fund for care for Harvey survivors. Slate recommended donating to abortion funds after Donald Trump’s election because they support people who, by virtue of their class, geographic location, or immigration status, can’t access abortion care, a right wealthier women will almost always be able to enjoy. It’s for this same reason—that they empower the most marginalized people exercise autonomy over their own bodies—that abortion funds are essential resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

All over the world, in all kinds of crisis situations, women’s sexual and reproductive health care is one of the first basic needs to fall through the cracks of disaster relief. Rates of sexual assault rise in crisis zones, and distraught survivors are more likely to engage in sexual behaviors that put them at risk for unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. At the same time, agencies focused on food, shelter, and first aid often neglect sexual health needs that don’t go away when disaster strikes. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that emergency health care providers stock up on emergency contraception, preventive contraception, and condoms when they help communities recover from a natural disaster. These are resources no one’s sending in their donation boxes of diapers and canned food.

Abortion care is even trickier to ensure in the wake of a crisis, since federal funds can’t be spent on abortions and politicians may be reluctant to single out a controversial medical procedure as a critical need during a time of recovery. Abortion funds in Texas are filling in the gaps of Harvey relief, because that’s what abortion funds are designed to do.

Can Someone Please Invent a Better Way to Remove Pubic Hair at Home?

Can Someone Please Invent a Better Way to Remove Pubic Hair at Home?

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Here’s a free idea for any bored engineers or energetic youths looking for a disruptable industry that hasn’t yet been disrupted: Make us a pubic hair removal device that doesn’t injure our genitals.

More than a quarter of U.S. pubic-hair groomers in a new nationally representative survey published in JAMA Dermatology said they’ve sustained at least one injury while beautifying their bathing-suit area, a truly reprehensible rate for a country whose every airport bathroom contains a machine that can completely dry a set of hands in eight seconds or less. Of those who reported injuries, 2.5 percent said the damage was severe enough to warrant surgical intervention, such as stitches or abscess drainage. Abscess drainage! From pubic grooming! We’re preparing to send human beings on a multi-year trip to friggin’ Mars, but we must still suffer drainable abscesses when we try to manage the shape and density of our bushes?

Please, ambitious innovators, innovate this. Three percent of all genitourinary injuries in U.S. emergency rooms are pubic grooming–related, researchers say. There must be a better way to do what we’re doing to our nether regions, because we’re clearly not doing it very well. Our genital wounds include cuts (61 percent of injuries), burns (23 percent), and rashes (12 percent). More than two-thirds of male pubic hair removal injuries occur on the scrotum, according to survey data. Does a cut, burned, rash-y scrotum sound like a scrotum that reflects the progress Western medicine has made in the past century?

No—that scrotum is the product of a stagnant industry led by disposable-razor barons and depilatory-cream tycoons too complacent to give us an easier way to whatever-scape. The user experience of all standard modes of pubic hair removal could use an overhaul, especially considering that more than three-quarters of Americans use some kind of removal device. Can’t we get an upgrade?

I don’t know exactly what a better device would look like—I’m not an inventor, Dyson employee, infomercial star, or start-up person. You are. Get those brain juices flowing and make a zillion dollars selling your magical pubic hair helper on QVC or Goop. The scrota of America can’t reach their full potential without you.

Lego

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Kids products – toys; Media & entertainment – theme parks Owner of the brand: The Lego Group Key competitors: Mega Bloks, Mattel, Hasbro

Artykuł Lego pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

8 Reasons to Believe Taylor Swift Was Inside the Box That Two Large Men Carried Out of Her Apartment

8 Reasons to Believe Taylor Swift Was Inside the Box That Two Large Men Carried Out of Her Apartment

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

On Monday, Splash News, an agency that specializes in celebrity news and photos, released a picture of some men on a New York City street loading a large case into a vehicle. What interest would a celebrity photo agency have in this sidewalk scene? According to a caption that went along with the photo, plenty: The men happened to be Taylor Swift’s security force, they were outside the pop star’s Tribeca apartment, and she was reportedly inside the case.

Per BuzzFeed, the mysterious caption read in full ([sic] to all spelling mistakes):

Taylor Swift has been reportedly being transported in a huge suitcase from her Tribecca apartment into her truck. A fleet of cars including two large cadillacs and three suv's arrive at Tailor Swift's apartment in Tribecca to move a large suitcase from apartment to truck. Almost a dozen of Taylor Swift security guards were present to move this package carefully as Taylor Swift remains to be unseen for a long time.

The agency soon retracted the caption. But Pandora’s box was opened, and the theory was out there: Taylor Swift! In a box! In the annals of memorable celebrity modes of transport, it would be hard to top Lady Gaga’s egg and Ariana Grande’s rumored preference for being carried like a baby, but if Swift was indeed inside that box, then the Trojan Horse would have nothing on her. And knowing Swift, despite the retraction, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. Let’s marshal the evidence.

Swift has been trying to keep a low profile lately.

Holing up in a box would be one creative way to avoid the paparazzi’s gaze. On that theme, she’s barely made any public appearances in recent months, and she hasn’t released a new album since 2014’s 1989 (though she did have a song on the 50 Shades Darker soundtrack). The star has spoken before about overexposure, and after last summer’s war with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and the end of her relationship with Tom Hiddleston, disappearing for a while made a certain amount of sense for her career. But how far would she go to disappear? Would she, say, hide in a large suitcase?

Do not underestimate her will and determination.

This is a woman who has smashed record after record, who collects squad members like trophies, and who elaborately engineered a public image so glossy that it felt like a historic feat of self-mythologizing.

Swift is not too big to fit in a box.

She’s on the tall side at 5-foot-10, I’ll grant you. That’s a lot of height to squeeze into a box. But she has a small frame and appears to be in excellent shape—you’ve seen all those stylish gym clothes she wears around. If she does any Pilates or yoga at all, which she definitely does, she can swing this.

To test out this theory, a Slate staffer (associate art director Lisa Larson-Walker) who is similar in size to Swift curled into the fetal position and we measured her.

We then compared her measurements to the dimensions of some of the cases sold on high-quality protective case manufacturer Pelican’s site, and the numbers check out. Lisa is 17" wide, 19" high, give or take lid compression, and 33–35" long, depending how much her feet are sticking out.

The suitcase itself is huge.

Rather than the type of luggage you can fit in the overhead compartment on a plane, it’s a monster protective case. Here's one plausible example: It's 28.20" x 19.66" x 17.63", so a lithe, contorted pop star could ride in relative comfort.

The company, and surely companies like it, manufactures custom cases, too: This one could totally be lined with foam and outfitted with airholes to make the chart-topping artist traveling inside more comfortable.

The case has wheels but instead of being rolled, it is being carried by two men.

A pair of human shock absorbers.

Look at the orange tape in the picture: possible airhole location No. 1?

Or just a reminder of which side has to go down so they don’t flip over the pop star inside? Or just random orange tape? All plausible!

Wait, though—if Swift’s whole reason for getting in the box was to hide from the public, how did Splash News find out?

Perhaps it was actually a bid for attention and she was only pretending to hide, a nesting doll of PR stunts but in no way too advanced a move for Swift to pull. Again, look who we’re dealing with.

The Google Anti-Diversity Memo Cribs Its Worst Arguments From Men’s Rights Activists

The Google Anti-Diversity Memo Cribs Its Worst Arguments From Men’s Rights Activists

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

White men, studies have shown, do not like diversity policies. White men feel threatened by attempts to nurture diverse and inclusive workforces, so companies create special diversity-education seminars tailored to the unique, valid needs of white men, gently coaxing them from their knee-jerk hostilities. White men, as it happens, are also the only people who don’t suffer negative consequences in the workplace for promoting diversity.

But one guy at Google took his objections to programs and policies built to advance women and people of color a few steps further than a run-of-the-mill diversity skeptic: He circulated a 10-page manifesto to fellow Google employees explaining why diversity efforts are discriminatory to men and why women are biologically unsuited to tech careers and leadership roles. Motherboard reported the existence of the document on Saturday morning; Gizmodo published the whole thing later that afternoon.

The memo makes it plain that the author has spent far more free time researching biological sex differences than any healthy adult male should. Women have inborn tendencies toward neuroticism, he writes, which may explain why women report higher levels of anxiety at Google, and they have “a harder time … speaking up and leading.” The document reeks of misplaced frustration, of a man who started with a scapegoat and a stereotype, then sought out legitimate-sounding “evidence” to prove himself right. He diminishes the mental and emotional impact of microaggressions, then complains that Google employees suffer from a lack of “psychological safety” because they’re scared to air their doubts about diversity programs.

No respectable reader will trust the gender critiques of a man who is so incensed by company efforts to advance women in tech roles that he sinks hours of his own time into explaining why lady brains cannot execute the technical, high-pressure roles occupied by men at Google. But there is a sizable built-in audience for this kind of lament for the days when men were men and women just didn’t want to do man jobs. That audience is the men’s rights movement.

The document’s arguments owe a great deal to men’s rights activists, who have maintained for years that programs devised to advance women are hurting men, the real victims. “The same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths,” the Google author writes in his manifesto. MRAs tirelessly employ this factoid in documentaries and Reddit threads to argue that men shoulder the world’s toughest burdens while women reap the rewards. The “death and injury gap” is a handy distraction tool, a foil MRAs like to present when the gender wage gap comes up in discussion, as if one gender disparity cancels out the other.

The Google guy also complains about “exclusory programs” that allow women and people of underrepresented racial groups to share skills and experiences. These constitute “discriminatory practices,” he writes, and leave “swaths of men without support.” Women-only networking groups have been some of the most visible targets of lawsuits from MRAs, who claim that such organizations are engaging in “reverse sexism.” One attorney, the secretary of an MRA haven called the National Coalition for Men, has won hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements after filing sex-discrimination suits against companies that do things like give away free baseball hats on Mother’s Day and let women into bars without paying cover on ladies’ night. He also recently got a settlement from a group called Chic CEO, a small business founded to help women become entrepreneurs, which held a women-only networking night in California. “Imagine the uproar by women business owners and entrepreneurs, feminists, and other equal rights advocates if a business consulting company in partnership with a business networking firm brazenly touted a no-women-allowed business networking event,” the attorney’s complaint argued, stating that “struggling single dads” and male “disabled combat veterans” deserve the same networking opportunities as women.

Of course, there’s a big difference between a struggling single dad (or the other “swaths of men” who earn the Google guy’s sympathy) and a struggling single mom: When the dad faces obstacles to success in his field, it won’t be because his bosses think men are too neurotic to hold leadership positions or his co-workers think men are biologically inferior at software development. Men don’t need gender-specific support in the tech industry because the industry—and, therefore, almost every general-interest industry support group—is already dominated by men. To agree with the MRAs and the Google anti-diversity man, you must believe that the world would be better off without programs to support women and other demographic groups that have been historically excluded from positions of corporate power. To believe that, you must start with the premise that human beings function without unwarranted biases, and thus gender gaps are almost entirely attributable to natural differences between men and women.

That is exactly what MRAs and the Google man believe. In his memo, the Google employee invokes evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology to explain why women don’t want or can’t get promotions into tech leadership positions. MRAs have manipulated the same fields of science to excuse rape as inbred behavior and argue that men are naturally wired to cheat on their girlfriends or dote on them in exchange for sex acts. “The movement’s use of evolutionary psychology convinced my rational mind that everything I read was a scientific fact suppressed by feminists,” one former MRA told the New Statesman earlier this year. Facile stereotypes and smears sound a lot less offensive when there’s an –ology word in the same sentence.

MRAs are undesirable company, for sure, but the Google guy’s memo aligns him with an even more despicable crowd: white supremacists. In the Google document, the author tosses in criticisms of programs that support people of “a certain race” and dismissals of calls for racial diversity. If programs designed to support women are bogus because women are naturally inclined to shun stressful jobs and analytical work, what’s wrong with programs designed to support people of color? The author doesn’t attempt to explain whatever evolutionary arguments undergird his opposition to racial diversity efforts, probably because there is a much smaller (though quite enthusiastic) audience for that kind of bunk. Blanket claims about why women aren’t born to lead are bound to go further, especially in an industry that rewards single-minded, self-promoting men.

Louise Linton’s Latest Instagram Post Makes a Powerful Case for Just How Much She Sucks

Louise Linton’s Latest Instagram Post Makes a Powerful Case for Just How Much She Sucks

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Therapists will tell you not to get too discouraged when flipping through Instagram, where everyone’s seemingly fabulous lives play out in streams of infinity pools and brunch plates that obey the rule of thirds. Those plastered-on smiles aren’t real, therapists will say—they mask the yawning void of despair that exists within us all, urging us to curate a better-looking version of our lives for the benefit and envy of others.

No moment in recent history has so perfectly captured this comforting truth than the massive muck-up committed by Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The 36-year-old posted a Monday night Instagram photo of herself stepping off a military plane onto the runway like she was someone who mattered, dressed in all white like she had all the Tide pens in the world. “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside,” she wrote, as if #people were a useful hashtag and Kentucky were a desirable daytrip location. Then Linton tagged her #rolandmouret pants, #hermesscarf, and #tomford “sunnies,” as if any being in the universe gave a crap about the provenance of the treasury secretary’s wife’s Kentucky pants.

Manicured and serene as she looked in the photo, Linton exposed her inner gremlin in the comments, where a 45-year-old woman named Jenni Miller wrote, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.” SPLURBJJJ. That noise was Miller’s remark hitting Linton’s exposed class-anxiety nerve dead on! Like the man she was in Kentucky to serve, Linton responded to general political criticism with personal insults based on a truly perverted understanding of the U.S. government. “Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” Linton wrote. “I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.” After getting guff for the comment, Linton made her account private and deleted the post, temporarily hiding her shame.

The logic in Linton’s argument could outwobble her pair of #valentinorockstudheels. Does being rich exempt hedge-fund managers like Mnuchin from criticism? Should regular people feel forever indebted to the wealthy just because they pay taxes, as is required by law? Do people whose families own literal castles, as Linton’s does, have more of a right to waste government funds than the rest of us? Maybe, maybe not—but as a public figure, Linton should have a better response to mean online comments than “lol ur poor.” If you can’t take the heat, get out of the devil’s White House!

“You’re adorably out of touch,” Linton continued in her comment to Miller, after stalking the private citizen’s Instagram account. “Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better.” Linton could have been writing this to herself in a therapy-mandated diary. Instagram sniping doesn’t dull the horror of human life on this planet. Only money does.

Dov Charney’s New Clothing Line Is Like American Apparel, But Profoundly Unflattering

Dov Charney’s New Clothing Line Is Like American Apparel, But Profoundly Unflattering

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

For a while there, the future didn’t look so hot for Dov Charney, the ousted American Apparel founder you’ve probably confused for Terry Richardson more than once. After weathering several years of sexual-harassment lawsuits and assault allegations from former employees, the man who calls himself “one of the most forward-thinking industrialists and entrepreneurs of his generation” found himself booted from his own company, which soon after filed for bankruptcy twice, in 2014. The new leaders refused a $300 million offer to put Charney back in charge before selling off the company’s intellectual property to a Canadian T-shirt maker for just $88 million.

Charney was the living embodiment of the brand he’d helmed for two-and-a-half decades. He wore a uniform of basics—white T-shirts, crewneck sweatshirts, sweatpants, and simple slacks—paired with so-unflattering-they’re-flattering thick-rimmed aviators. He matched his commitment to fair labor practices and progressive politics on issues like immigration with an unredeemably skeevy attitude toward young women’s bodies. Who would he be without the company he’d painstakingly created in his own image? What could he create, unshackled from the suffocating confines of high-waisted shimmery jeggings?

We now have an answer: the same exact damn thing. Charney’s new company, Los Angeles Apparel, is now selling a collection of tops to wholesale printers, and they may as well be hanging off the flashbulb-lit frames of 80-pound teens already. (The current models are decidedly unsexualized, though Charney has promised that “human sexuality is part of the reason that people wear clothes,” so “you’re not going to escape our sexuality from a narrative about a clothing company.”)

The slim-cut tri-blend crewnecks you gifted your boring boyfriend in college; the red-and-white raglan tees you bought when you and your friends were zombie old-timey baseball players for Halloween; the white-zippered hoodies that were as close to a fashion status symbol as hipsters got in the early aughts—they’re all here!

The company admits, or maybe boasts, the garments’ indistinguishability from Charney’s old goods. The “classic originals” Los Angeles Apparel sells “are equivalent to the styles Charney has offered in the past, from a specification, color and textile perspective,” the site reads. It also states that any other “style that was made by Dov in the past” could be available for a custom order.

If you’re looking for something a bit more cutting-edge that could give Los Angeles Apparel a leg up over its American (now Canadian) counterpart, check out the company’s “new innovations” page, where you’ll find—more solid-colored tees and sweatshirts?

These appear to be crafted from thicker and coarser fabrics than American Apparel standards, and built in baggier cuts. This has the effect of making Charney’s female model, who might have been slinking around with her nipples poking out of a sheer tank in years past, look almost comically lost in a gigantic, shapeless cube of undrapeable fabric.

Having pioneered the mass-produced fitted “women’s” tee more than a decade ago, Charney has now taken his powers of creativity in the opposite direction: making soft, flattering essentials less comfortable and more awkward to wear.

On the surface, that wouldn’t seem like a promising solution to American Apparel’s fatal flaw: nobody buying its clothes. Then again, Charney was doing elastic-ankled sweatpants and puffy-abdomened, high-waisted jeans long before anyone could have imagined they’d become long-lasting trends. If he is the marketing genius he claims to be, we can expect to be swallowed up by stiff, boxy T-shirts for years to come.

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Nivea’s ‘White is Purity’ ad renews history of racism in beauty

Nivea’s ‘White is Purity’ ad renews history of racism in beauty


theGrio

This week in advertising was nothing short of an epic fail thanks to Pepsi and Nivea, who released two of the most culturally insensitive ads we have seen in quite some.   From Kylie Jenner stoppin…

Welcome to Dove

Welcome to Dove


Dove US

Looking for hair products, skin care and deodorant to leave you looking and feeling beautiful? With tricks, tips, and products built on expert care, Dove can help.

Some of the U.S’s Creepiest Anti-Abortion Men Are Running for Office in Alabama

Some of the U.S’s Creepiest Anti-Abortion Men Are Running for Office in Alabama

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

When Alabamians go to the polls next fall, they may have more than one extreme anti-choice man to vote for. They are Sam McLure, a nutso adoption lawyer seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general, and fellow Republican Roy Moore, who is currently leading in the polls and wants to unseat Luther Strange, the Trump-backed U.S. Senator appointed to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat.

McLure, a Macklemore-looking dude with a dimpled chin, lists four main issues of concern on his campaign website. The first is “Prosecute Abortionists Who Profit from Killing Children.” The man does not mince words! Rewire has done some excellent reporting on McLure’s history as an anti-abortion activist: He claims to engage in regular “sidewalk counseling” outside abortion clinics, though the director of one of the spaces he claims to harass told Rewire that he’s a “brand new” addition to the crowds outside, just there “to get his name out there because nobody knows who he is.”

The Facebook Live video is McLure’s preferred messaging method. One from the beginning of August is titled “Babies are Murdered Here”; in it, McLure stands in front of pro-choice demonstrators holding a printed-out photo of a doctor who provides abortion care. “This woman…profits from deceiving parents into killing their children,” he says. Another video from September finds McLure pointing at abortion clinics, saying “I want to eradicate places like this.” McLure has posted links on his social media pages to one doctor’s personal information, including photos of what is allegedly her car and license plate, challenging anyone to give him one good reason why he shouldn’t prosecute her for murder. In a September 8 video, McLure says that although “it’s not nice” to dox abortion providers, “it’s not nice to kill babies” either. His repeated posts on abortion have prompted one Facebook commenter to wonder, “does he have any stances on other issues?”

McLure has argued in interviews and Facebook videos that, as attorney general, he could “eradicate legal abortion” by making life “hell on earth” for abortion providers and bringing homicide charges against them. He has proposed removing the abortion exception from the “fetal homicide” section of the Alabama penal code and establishing a state militia to defend any state official who might otherwise be jailed for disobeying federal court orders that protected abortion rights.

“A well-regulated militia is necessary for the protection of a free state,” McLure said at a summer gathering for the Alabama Constitution Party, according to Rewire. “Where is Alabama’s militia? If the governor or attorney general of our state defied the federal government and said ‘We’re going to protect babies from murder,’ and some federal law enforcement officer tried to drag our governor into a federal jail, who will protect our governor?” McLure reiterated that stance to Rewire, calling himself “a proponent of the idea that the states need to exert their sovereignty [and] ignore Roe v. Wade.”

Alabama’s got at least one other political candidate who advocates for ignoring federal laws establishing basic rights. Moore, who joined McLure in a 2012 attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that shot down Oklahoma’s proposed constitutional amendment on “personhood,” was twice kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court—once because he refused to abide the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmation of marriage equality.

On Thursday, in a debate against Sen. Luther Strange, Moore enumerated several evils that are plaguing America. “Abortion, sodomy, [and] sexual perversion” are hobbling the nation, Moore, said, in addition to a few other combinations of right-wing buzzwords, like “transgender troops in our bathrooms.” The militant wing of the anti-abortion movement loves this candidate’s commitment to the cause. Matt Trewhella, who once did jail time for blocking the driveway of a doctor who provided abortion care, is listed on Moore’s campaign website as a prominent endorser. In the ‘90s, Trewhella and several other activists signed a statement asserting that “lethal force” is “justifiable” to protect “the lives of unborn children”—in other words, that murdering an abortion provider is an ethical act. Between the company Moore keeps and his proven record of flouting federal law as a justice, it’s not hard to imagine the kind of absurd anti-woman (and, of course, anti-sodomy) shenanigans he’d get into in the Senate.

What Does It Mean If Sperm Count Among Western Men Has Shrunk By Half Since the ’70s?

What Does It Mean If Sperm Count Among Western Men Has Shrunk By Half Since the ’70s?

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Men in Western nations produce about half as many sperm per milliliter of ejaculate as their peers did in the ‘70s, according to a new research review published in Human Reproductive Update. Between 1973 and 2011, researchers found, the sperm concentration of Western ejaculate fell more than 52 percent, while the total number of sperm per semen sample fell by almost 60 percent.

“If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future,” co-author and epidemiologist Hagai Levine told the BBC. Those chemicals include phthalates, which recently had their 15 minutes of fame for being present in nearly all tested brands of macaroni and cheese mixes. Phthalates get into foods by way of plastics in packaging and processing equipment, and evidence strongly suggests that they disrupt testosterone production, leading to reduced sperm counts.

Previous studies of sperm count in men over time have been called into question over concerns such as known fertility problems among participants and changing sperm-measurement techniques, which may have overestimated sperm count in earlier studies. For this new study, researchers analyzed data from 185 studies that used the same sperm-count testing procedure on nearly 43,000 men, none of whom were selected for existing infertility issues or other conditions. After correcting for age and length of time since last ejaculation, the authors noted a decline in sperm concentration among Western men from 99 million sperm per milliliter in 1973 to 47.1 million sperm per milliliter in 2011. Researchers found a limited number of studies of non-Western men, but those that did exist did not indicate a similar decline sperm concentration.

The good news is that 47.1 million sperm per milliliter is still pretty healthy. A person’s sperm count is considered “low” when he has fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, and plenty of men with low sperm counts are still able to conceive children. Future studies should examine whether there has been a corresponding increase in men clocking in below the 15 million sperm threshold in addition to a general decrease in average sperm concentration. More good news: There are research-based behavioral changes men can make to combat sperm-count decline, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy meals, and avoiding food and drink that have touched pesticides or materials containing BPA.

The bad news, according to Levine, is that the new study’s results may foretell “the extinction of the human species” if we don’t figure out what’s causing the lack of sperm and take action. Well then! I guess it’s less gruesome to imagine the human species dying out gradually because of a lack of sperm, since for the past several years we’ve been imagining the extinction of humanity via, to name a few, climate changeantibiotic resistance, and Ebola.

How a Blogger Exploded the Hot New Theory About Amelia Earhart With 30 Minutes of Online Searching

How a Blogger Exploded the Hot New Theory About Amelia Earhart With 30 Minutes of Online Searching

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared in a twin-engine plane 80 years ago this month. Since then, seemingly every piece of flotsam and jetsam in the South Pacific has been analyzed for connections to the fatal flight: bone fragments, sheets of aluminum, “ointment pots,” and scents perceptible only to dogs. In 2011, researchers announced they would harvest the aviator’s dried saliva from envelopes and use the DNA to test future bone discoveries. One of that project’s funders, meanwhile, was the grandson of the author of Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved, a book based on “long-lost radio messages from Earhart’s final flight.” In other words, Earhart speculation has been around long enough to become a multigenerational hobby.

This past Sunday, the History Channel aired a documentary that trumpets yet another new piece of evidence: a blurry black-and-white photograph that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan milling around on a dock in the Marshall Islands. A retired U.S. Treasury agent named Les Kinney found the photograph in a “formerly top secret” file in the National Archives in 2012. Believers say the photograph proves the theory that Earhart and Noonan were not killed in a crash, but instead were captured by the Japanese, who controlled many islands in the area at the time of their flight. “When you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” said Shawn Henry, a former assistant director for the FBI who hosted the History Channel special.

Unfortunately, the History Channel’s analysis now seems to be crumbling under 30 minutes of internet research by one military history buff. Kota Yamano, a Tokyo-based blogger, found the same photograph printed in a Japanese-language travelogue published in 1935, almost two years before Earhart and Noonan disappeared. The caption underneath the photo says nothing about the identities of the people in the photograph, which apparently depicts a regular old harbor, rather than a harbor and two missing celebrities.

Yamano told the Guardian that he had never believed the theory that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese, so he decided to look for more information on his own. He did an online search of Japan’s national library for images of the Jaluit atoll between 1930 and 1940, and voila: The “lost” Earhart photo was the 10th search result. Clearly the History Channel learned nothing from Catfish: When confronted with a photo of a woman who seems too good to be true, always do a reverse image search.

Dove: the perfect success story in advertising

by aufeminin @ Womenology

In 2004 Dove launched a ground breaking worldwide advertising campaign in the beauty industry. The brand created a new way to address their public which aimed to be “real” by getting rid of the complexes that beauty product consumers suffer from. …

Continuer la lecture

The post Dove: the perfect success story in advertising appeared first on Womenology.

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Bachelor in Paradise’s Cast-Wide Convo About Consent Was a Ridiculously Transparent Bid to Rehab Its Brand

Bachelor in Paradise’s Cast-Wide Convo About Consent Was a Ridiculously Transparent Bid to Rehab Its Brand

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

This season of ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise caused controversy before it had even begun. Two months before this week’s premiere, producers suspended taping within the first week of production in Mexico amid allegations of sexual misconduct within the cast. DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios had hooked up after a day of drinking, and she alleged that she was too drunk to really remember (or consent to) the encounter. Contestants who gave anonymous accounts to media outlets said they were angry at producers who saw the encounter take place and did nothing to stop it; one producer even sued the production company for allegedly letting an assault occur.

But an internal Warner Bros. investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by any cast members, so the remaining contestants returned to carry on with the season as planned. On Tuesday, the second night of the two-day premiere, they showed up on the beach like they were returning to the scene of a tragic shipwreck, uttering breathless musings like “I don’t think anyone expected to be back here” and “I hope this is a fresh reset on love.” Before they got to work finding love, host Chris Harrison sat the cast members down to have a heart-to-heart about alcohol, racism, consent, and restoring the reputation of the Bachelor franchise.

No reasonable person would expect a reality-show host to be an adequate guidance counselor—Harrison is far better qualified to coax romantic platitudes out of fame-hungry meatheads than to lead a reflection session on sexual propriety. He had to fill that position anyway, no matter how uncomfortably the “very special episode” shoes fit, because the sexual assault allegations had called the very premise of Bachelor in Paradise into question. Unlike the regular Bachelor and Bachelorette, this more gender-balanced iteration keeps a steady supply of fresh bodies coming in as others are eliminated, encouraging contestants to partner-swap and explore new options. With an equally steady stream of alcohol flowing and the pressure to do enough interesting stuff to get airtime and stick around for the next episode, it’s almost surprising that there hasn’t been a public accusation of sexual misconduct on Bachelor in Paradise before.

The main objective of the sit-down chat about the assault, then, was to convince viewers that nothing untoward happened during taping, that the media blew the whole incident out of proportion, that Jackson was a victim of racist stereotyping, and, crucially, that the events depicted on the show are spontaneous reflections of the true selves of the cast. Luckily, Harrison is well-practiced in feeding lines to willing participants. Did the cast trust the conclusion of the WB investigation? Did they think race played a role in the unfair treatment of Jackson in the press? Yes, they all nodded. “Taylor, have you ever had a drink on any of the Bachelor shows?” Harrison asked the one sober contestant, Taylor Nolan, in a back-and-forth on how involved producers are in the show. “I’ve never had a drink on the show,” she replied. Harrison pressed on: “Have you ever been asked to have a drink?” “Nope,” Nolan answered. Those answers may be true, but they’d be a lot more convincing if Harrison didn’t sound like he was direct-examining a witness for the defense.

Drunken hookups happen all the time on the show, but this is the first time both a producer and a cast member have made allegations of a sexual assault against a contestant. That suggests that something out of the ordinary went on: Maybe Olympios looked really out of it during the sexual activity, or was drunk enough to raise questions of consent among viewers, even if investigators saw no reason for concern. Either way, the producers of Bachelor in Paradise recognized that the show looked bad for allowing it to happen in press accounts of the alleged encounter. So they took a page out of the president’s book and started casting doubt on the press. “Journalism is dead, and long gone on every level,” Harrison told Variety in a promotional interview for the show. “What really astounded me was the level of incompetence—things that were said and printed by quote-unquote reputable media, and reputable print, and even TV.” He accused news outlets of printing things that weren’t true; during the cast chit-chat that aired this week, cast members said members of the media shamed Olympios for having sex and calling Jackson a sexual predator when he hadn’t been charged with a crime. “I think there was a lot in the media regarding the producers, as if they’re not our friends, and that they’re just using us to make us do things, like we’re gonna just do whatever they say,” one contestant said. “And maybe you can explain what really does happen,” Harrison urged. Another guy explained that the producers aren’t doing the  “puppetmaster thing,” that all the friendships on the show are totally real. “You guys aren’t mindless robots?” Harrison asked with a laugh. It couldn’t have been a better plug for reality TV if they’d planned it.

For all the purported neutrality of the discussion, Olympios’ reputation came away with the bulk of the damage, while Jackson’s got a fair bit of rehabilitation. Nolan noted that the cast members shouldn’t expect to “be babysat by production,” that “the things we say, how much we drink, who we kiss, we’re responsible for all of it.” “Just like the real world,” a contestant named Derek said, shaking his head with a smirk. “If we order a drink, we order that drink. We request that drink.” The implication there is that neither DeMario nor producers should be held responsible for any overintoxication that led to a less-than-consensual sexual encounter—that any alleged harm Olympios suffered was her own fault. Harrison drove the point home: “In Corinne’s statement she referred to herself as a victim. Why do you think she did that?” The cast accused Olympios of trying to “save face” after being promiscuous, then hiding behind a vague “lawyer statement.” No one—not even Harrison, who was supposed to be leading an adult conversation on slut-shaming and consent—challenged that notion.

The most insulting part of the whole ordeal involved race, another complex topic a reality show about finding true love in two weeks is ill-equipped to confront. After Diggy Moreland, a black contestant, said he worried for DeMario’s future job prospects, a white woman, Raven Gates, chimed in with her experience as a Southerner. “We have a stigma where seeing a white woman with a black man is wrong, and that night, what happened wasn’t wrong,” Gates said. “And so I was super empathetic with DeMario, because … not only is consent important, but it’s also to get rid of the stigma that interracial couples can’t be, or blaming African-American men for crimes they didn’t commit.” Yes, there is a long history in the U.S. of black men losing their freedom and, in some cases, their lives because of white women’s false accusations of sexual assault. But invoking it in a case where there’s still a lot of unknowns trivializes a vitally important issue and may lead some viewers to question the truth of that history. Since there’s been no trial or verdict, it’s wrong to say Jackson committed a crime. It’s equally wrong to say Olympios lied, or that she did so to get Jackson in trouble.

By the end, what should have been a quick acknowledgement of the alleged misconduct and a run-through of best practices for sexual consent had turned into a self-exonerating press release for the Bachelor franchise and a thoroughly imbalanced trial of the woman who drew attention to the show’s potential ethical weak spots in the first place. Despite his leading questions, Harrison was unable to cover up one of those spots, leaving viewers with some unanswered questions. The WB investigation found “no evidence of misconduct by cast on the set,” he said at the start, choosing his words carefully. That’s the cast—what about the production team? How are the people who make the show and ultimately shape the experience of the contestants going to move forward? Harrison seemed to show concern for the safety of the contestants, but never contested any of them when they blamed Olympios for drinking too much or accused her of ruining Jackson’s life. Bachelor in Paradise could have made a genuine statement about the importance of consent without taking the side of either Jackson or Olympios. Instead, it used its platform to try and repair its reputation by making a case against the woman who threatened it. What a lesson for its national audience to learn.

Mom outraged school taped student’s wrists during slavery role play

by thegrio @ theGrio

A Southern California high school has come under fire recently for a history lesson about slavery in which students’ wrists were tied together and they were made to lie down in a dark room.

Sharde Carrington, whose son is in …

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The Mormon Church Condemned White Supremacists, and This Mormon White Supremacist Mom Is Very Mad About It

The Mormon Church Condemned White Supremacists, and This Mormon White Supremacist Mom Is Very Mad About It

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

This past Sunday, the Mormon church released an official statement expressing “sadness and deep concern” over violence surrounding white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville over the weekend. The statement was firm but vague, condemning racism and intolerance in general terms. Two days later, however, the church updated its statement with what one historian at Brigham Young University called “perhaps the most direct official statement condemning racism and white supremacy in the LDS Church's history.”

“It has been called to our attention that there are some among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views,” the updated statement, which was posted to the church’s official newsroom on Tuesday, began. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” After quoting the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, it concluded:

White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.

This was rather upsetting, as it turns out, for church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda. One Mormon who has described himself as “simpatico” with the alt-right tweeted a jab at “LDS libs” who complained about the church’s first statement and then turned around to praise the revision as “the literal Word of God,” for example. Others groused about the church “PR department” putting out statements “contrary to the doctrine of Christ’s gospel.”

But the most significant pushback has come from a Mormon blogger and YouTube personality named Ayla Stewart, a Utah mother of six who has been called the “de facto queen of the alt-right Mormons.”

Stewart has said she was scheduled to speak at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, but the violence there prevented her from appearing as planned. Her online output mixes down-home parenting anecdotes with calls to preserve “white culture,” and she has become a prominent white-nationalist voice. A long piece about the women of the alt-right in the latest issue of Harper’s describes her evolution from self-described feminist pagan to someone who hopes for the repeal of the 19th amendment. (Seriously.) She now has more than 30,000 Twitter followers.

Stewart actually seemed cheered by her church’s initial statement against racism in general, arguing that it confirmed her belief that “you cannot be anti-white and a follower of Christ.” The LDS’s stronger follow-up on Tuesday, by contrast, infuriated her. (Some observers have implied the church’s addendum may have been a response to her initial approval.) “The Church PR department, nor any member of the church I know of, has ever asked a black, Asian, Arab, etc. member of the church to renounce their culture and not promote it,” she wrote in a lengthy blog post. “So why are whites, and only whites, being singled out?”

The Mormon church infamously prohibited black men from the priesthood—a designation offered to almost all male church members—until 1978. The ban began under Brigham Young, the church’s second president, who tied the prohibition to the supposed “curse” of Cain, the Bible’s first murderer. “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane [sic] in him cannot hold the priesthood,” Young wrote in 1852. (One “traditionalist, nationalist, Mormon” lamented this weekend that “anti-whites” will soon demand the removal of statues of Brigham Young.) In the years since lifting the ban, the church has taken steps to grapple with its legacy, but the issue still haunts the modern church.

Today, just 3 percent of American Mormons are black, though that number has risen dramatically since the priesthood ban was lifted almost 40 years ago. For many black Mormons, the church’s clear condemnation of white supremacy this week was gratifying. A Mormon blogger named Tamu Smith cried tears of joy while speaking with the Salt Lake City Tribune on Tuesday. Decades ago, she was called the N-word in a Salt Lake City temple, and she has been attacked online recently by white Mormon nationalists. “For the first time, it brings us out of the margins,” she said of the church’s new statement. “We don’t have to stand alone—the church is now standing with us.” It is also standing firmly against Ayla Stewart and her allies.

“An Example of the System Gone Awry”

“An Example of the System Gone Awry”

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Current and former employees of the University of Rochester are charging the university with denying female students a safe learning environment by dismissing repeated sexual harassment allegations against a longtime professor, then retaliating against employees who objected. According to a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Aug. 30, T. Florian Jaeger, a professor in the department of brain and cognitive sciences, has made a habit of sleeping with graduate students, making inappropriate remarks about women in front of their colleagues, and pressuring underlings into compromising situations.

The complaint documents dozens of alleged instances of Jaeger’s misconduct over the past decade. But at this point, the employees who filed the EEOC complaint have exhausted UR’s options for filing misconduct allegations—the university’s internal investigation found that Jaeger did not violate any university policies—and believe the process is riddled with conflicts of interests that preclude a just conclusion. So the complainants aren’t asking for his termination or censure. Instead, they’re pushing for a complete overhaul of the system by which the university arbitrates sexual harassment claims.

The University of Rochester’s policy on student-faculty relationships is murky, as are many such policies; it’s a notoriously difficult area to legislate. Though there is much debate over the propriety of professor­–grad student sex, most university handbooks—including UR’s—include statements that submit consensual relationships with any “power differential” to stricter scrutiny than those between peers and explicitly forbid sexual relationships between professors and the students they directly teach or advise. The University of Maine’s handbook says that “faculty and staff members are strongly advised not to engage in relationships” with students. The University of Iowa warns: “There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions of power.” In UR’s case, the complainants claim that Jaeger was able to exploit gaping loopholes in university policy to get away with behavior that should have been unacceptable.

Richard Aslin, a complainant who held several leadership positions in his 33 years at UR, resigned in June over the university’s handling of the case. “I was dean for five years at Rochester in the ’90s, and saw in my role as dean some of the unprofessional behaviors of faculty members I had to adjudicate, but this one is the worst I’ve seen,” Aslin said. “That’s why I’m so dumbfounded that the university didn’t similarly judge this to be an extreme case.” One of the main EEOC complainants is Celeste Kidd, an assistant professor in UR’s brain and cognitive sciences department. In the days since Mother Jones published Kidd’s allegations and a summary of the EEOC complaint, students and alumni have written angry reviews on UR’s Facebook page and launched a petition to get the university to terminate Jaeger and re-evaluate its sexual harassment policies. On Wednesday, students planned to stage a sit-in in a classroom just before one of Jaeger’s scheduled classes, then protest at UR President and CEO Joel Seligman’s office. After the administration canceled Wednesday’s class and Jaeger stepped down from teaching the course altogether, the protest became a rally on the campus quad, where students called for a harsher university response and shared stories of sexual harassment and assault unrelated to Jaeger’s case.

Kidd first met Jaeger in early 2007, when he interviewed the then-undergraduate for a spot in the graduate program, and immediately witnessed what she believes to be inappropriate behavior. The EEOC complaint alleges that during that recruitment process, Kidd watched Jaeger kissing and “groping” a fellow graduate recruit at a conference; that she received Facebook messages from him that said he’d like to listen to her read him a manuscript while he’d “lie lazily on the couch” and she “paced around occasionally in front of the fire”; and that she learned from him that he attended naked hot tub parties with graduate students.

Once she came to Rochester, Kidd claims in the complaint, Jaeger insisted she rent a room from him because he didn’t like living alone and couldn’t afford it. His behavior allegedly got worse. Kidd says he made regular explicit comments to her, including describing the taste of one of his graduate students’ vaginas and making guesses about how Kidd’s ex-partner’s ethnicity corresponded to his penis size. At conferences, Jaeger allegedly had Kidd drive him to and from sexual trysts. When Kidd hosted a prospective graduate student at the university, Jaeger allegedly told Kidd he felt a “connection” with the student and asked Kidd to arrange for the two of them to meet alone; when she refused, Kidd says, he told her she had a “professional obligation” to go along because his research aligned closely with that of the recruit’s. Once, when Kidd was on a date, Jaeger allegedly showed up uninvited and told the date that Kidd needed to have sex because she was too “tightly wound.”

Kidd told me that she knew Jaeger’s behavior was harassment from her first interview with him but that she didn’t want to be labeled “a complainer” before she had proved her worth to the department. One previous adviser told her that she’d encounter sexual harassment no matter where she went, so Kidd made up her mind to try to live with it. When she became a professor, her attitude changed. “I knew how much productivity I lost that first year of grad school. I didn’t get as much done due to the mental anguish of trying to navigate these impossible situations that I couldn’t figure out how to escape on a daily basis,” she said. “As a mentor, you want to do everything you can to help your students be able to focus on this very difficult ask of learning these highly technical skills that are required to be successful in science. I couldn’t stand the idea of not trying to do something to protect them.”

Jaeger did not respond to Slate’s emails and calls requesting comment, but this week, he sent an email to students in the class that was canceled. “I am incredibly sorry for the emotional turmoil you must be experiencing, following the allegations raised against me in the EEOC complaint as well as news coverage,” he wrote. “Allegations of sexual discrimination, harassment, or misconduct are shocking, in particular given the long horrible history of violence and harassment against women. It is important that they are pursued rigorously.” Jaeger wrote that he is “glad that there is now generally so much support for people who speak up against discrimination,” even though many of the online comments “are personally painful for me to read (as most of these comments do not grant me ‘presumption of innocence’, to put it mildly).” In the email, he claimed that he’s been hearing from former students “expressing how positively they experienced the atmosphere in the lab (about half of those emails came from female lab members)” and promises that the 2016 investigation “presented an opportunity for me to educate myself further about how women are affected in academia, to reflect on how I acted in the past, and how I want to act in the future.”

In the complaint, other former graduate students and junior faculty members recount a number of disturbing acts that they say Jaeger committed as a member of the department’s senior faculty. They claim he once asked a group of graduate students and postdocs how to use a cock ring, invited some students (and not others) to drug-fueled “retreats” in the Adirondacks, had loud sex with a graduate student from another university in a house he insisted on sharing with UR graduate students at a summer institute, made lewd remarks about female students’ bodies in front of other faculty members, and demanded female students take meetings with him in his home instead of his office or a public place even after they expressed their discomfort. The complaint claims that Jaeger sent one former graduate student with whom he’d had a relationship unwanted photos of his penis after they had broken up. Several female students reported to faculty members that they shaped their educational experiences around Jaeger due to his pattern of behavior, avoiding lectures, conferences, and department gatherings where they knew he’d be present.

The first formal report against Jaeger came in 2013, when a then–graduate student named Keturah Bixby—one of the EEOC complainants—gave the department chairman, Greg DeAngelis, the names and contact information of several female students who had allegedly witnessed Jaeger’s inappropriate behavior. Three months later, after speaking with just two of the students, DeAngelis allegedly told Bixby that although Jaeger’s alleged behavior was “undesirable,” it didn’t violate any university policies. Previously, when Kidd had questioned Jaeger about the propriety of his sexual encounters with graduate students, he allegedly told her that senior members of the faculty and administration knew about and approved of his relationships. After Bixby’s report was dismissed, the complaint says, it seemed Jaeger had DeAngelis’ explicit blessing. (DeAngelis also did not respond to a request for comment.)

But other senior faculty members weren’t made aware of the allegations against Jaeger until much later. Early in 2016, Aslin, then the director of graduate studies in the brain and cognitive sciences department, was part of a faculty discussion about possibly hiring someone who’d had a relationship with a student or former student. One of his colleagues told him she’d be wary about hiring such a candidate because he might end up behaving like Jaeger. Aslin didn’t know what she was talking about. “I was appalled, frankly, that that kind of behavior had been going on for a number of years and no one had come forward to explicitly complain about it to senior faculty in the department,” Aslin said, noting that part of the reason the students kept quiet was Jaeger’s alleged claim that the department leadership already knew.

Aslin filed a formal complaint with the university soon after he heard the allegations against Jaeger. According to Aslin and the other EEOC complainants, the resulting investigation, which found no evidence that Jaeger had violated university policies, was unsatisfactory. It didn’t mention the fact that Jaeger had slept with an undergraduate who had worked with him for two years. The EEOC complaint claims the investigator “responded dismissively” to requests for her to interview the student, saying that since she had recently graduated when the relationship began, it didn’t count. (According to the complaint, Jaeger and the former undergraduate were still doing research together, and he was still providing her with references during their sexual relationship.)

When asked whether or not professors at UR are allowed to sleep with their graduate students, UR spokeswoman Sara Miller pointed me toward a segment in the faculty handbook on “intimate relationships.” The policy forbids faculty members from accepting any position of authority over students with whom they have a romantic history or current romantic relationship. It also prohibits faculty members from sleeping with undergraduates or anyone at the university over whom they hold “academic authority,” a term that includes “teaching, mentoring, supervising, and making professional recommendations,” according to the handbook.

In this case, the university’s investigation decided that the professor-student relationship was not inappropriate because it was consensual. Only two of Jaeger’s alleged sexual encounters with students made it into the report: One was a romantic relationship with the graduate student, identified in the complaint as “Molly Marshall,” who said he sent her unwanted sexts after their breakup. The other was a sexual relationship with the UR recruit Kidd allegedly saw him grope, who eventually matriculated at UR. The investigator decided the sexual relationship with the recruit didn’t count because Jaeger had not officially started his job at UR when she applied. But the complaint claims that the investigator omitted important information that Marshall offered up, including her allegation that she felt pressure to continue her relationship with Jaeger because she didn’t want to get on the bad side of someone with formidable power over the social scene in the department.

“The core allegations in this complaint were thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated,” Miller said in a statement. “Dozens of individuals were interviewed in two separate investigations—one by an internal investigator and one conducted by an external investigator. We have confidence in the integrity of these investigations, neither of which found any violation of the law or of University policy.”

It’s very possible that Jaeger could have had a sexual relationship with a graduate student or postdoc and stayed on the good side of UR rules, if he completely detached himself from her academic endeavors. (Indeed, the complaint alleges that the investigator was preoccupied with this point, asking Marshall leading questions such as “He wasn’t your dissertation adviser?” and “He had no direct effect on your education?”) That doesn’t appear to be the case with Marshall, who claimed in the complaint that at least one professor had told her to seek academic help from Jaeger. In any case, the university’s harassment policy is clear, even if its policy for handling it isn’t: When members of a protected class (e.g., women) are subjected to pervasive, unwelcome sexual advances “or other verbal or physical acts/conduct of a sexual or sex-based nature” that interferes with their work or creates an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive” environment, that’s sexual harassment. The allegations outlined in the EEOC complaint, if true, surely constitute a pervasive pattern of sexual conduct, and multiple students—including the one with whom Jaeger had a consensual relationship—said the conduct caused them to alter their academic or professional lives to avoid Jaeger.

The university and the complainants seem to clash on two major points. The first is whether Jaeger should be disciplined for the two relationships the investigation addressed, both of which slipped through on technicalities. The second, larger disagreement is over the veracity of the allegations themselves. In the EEOC complaint, the complainants claim that the investigator dismissed Kidd’s testimony as “not credible” and opted not to interview several students who’d said they’d lost educational opportunities due to Jaeger’s alleged behavior. This past Sunday, Seligman sent a lengthy email to all students and employees, asking them to “consider these allegations for what they are: assertions that remain unproven despite two thorough investigations.” He also compared Jaeger’s case to a notorious fabrication of a brutal assault: “Allegations are not facts, and as we saw in Rolling Stone’s withdrawn story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, even established media outlets can get it wrong.”

Kidd says Jaeger’s alleged pattern of behavior is unacceptable, even if the individual actions in the investigation didn’t violate the letter of campus law. “It’s very, very obvious how motivated your students are to please you and not piss you off. It was immediately obvious to me the first time I interacted with my first graduate student how careful I needed to be, as a responsible mentor, to not abuse that,” she said. “You might imagine, theoretically, that somebody could be abusing their power without knowing it. When I became a professor, that became implausible to me.”

Several UR faculty members allege in the EEOC complaint that university leadership retaliated against them when they appealed the investigation’s verdict and continued to press for accountability. Two deans sent an email to the entire department scolding the unnamed complainants as “regrettable and unprofessional” purveyors of “gossip” that had “fractured the department.” The provost sent an email accusing them of spreading a “wealth of rumors and in some instances misinformation.”

If the allegations in the EEOC complaint are true, this case is a good example of how university processes for adjudicating harassment claims often fall short of basic standards of impartiality. Aslin’s primary concern with UR’s existing process is the Office of Counsel, which is responsible for arbitrating claims brought against faculty members in addition to protecting the university from legal challenges. This is a conflict of interest, Aslin says, akin to a resident reporting a neighbor to a police officer who has to both investigate the complaint and represent the neighbor in court.

Without effective systems for unbiased investigation, schools have an incentive to protect any professor from allegations of repeated misconduct, because acknowledging the validity of one complaint against one professor could open the university up to lawsuits from every other possible victim. That tension is now the primary focus of the UR faculty members’ complaint, Aslin says, and the reason why he and others are still moving forward with it when they no longer work at the school. “I don’t think it’s my job to decide what the punishment is for professor Jaeger. I think it’s the institution’s responsibility to do that,” Aslin said. “Our primary focus is using him as an example of the system going awry, and needing to clean up the system so it doesn’t happen in the future, ever again.”

Republican Congressman Would Totes Duel With These GOP Lady Senators if They Weren’t Ladies

Republican Congressman Would Totes Duel With These GOP Lady Senators if They Weren’t Ladies

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

A congressman from Texas has caught a belated case of Hamilton fever, suggesting that female opponents of the Senate GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare have narrowly avoided an “Aaron Burr–style” showdown with him.

In an interview with a conservative Corpus Christi AM radio station, Rep. Blake Farenthold blamed “some female senators from the Northeast” for standing in the way of a move just 13 percent of Americans support. The four-term congressman said that if those senators were not women but “a guy from south Texas,” he might “ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr–style.” For readers not following along in their history books, that means a duel in which two political opponents spin around really quickly and try to shoot each other, leading to one participant’s tragic death, the other’s political downfall, and the centuries-later creation of a hit Broadway musical only fancy people get to see.

Farenthold is right that three Republican women in the Senate recently blocked a vote on Obamacare repeal, protecting health care access for tens of millions of Americans. But he is mistaken about their geographical provenance. Only one, Sen. Susan Collins, is from the Northeast—Maine, as it were. The other two hail from West Virginia (Shelley Moore Capito) and Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), the latter of which happens to be the westernmost state in the union. To be fair to Farenthold, it is also the northernmost. And if the International Date Line were straight instead of squiggly, Alaska’s Near Islands and Rat Islands would cross it, making them very, very far east of Farenthold.

The fact that a sitting congressman just came a nosehair’s breadth from threatening to murder three women in his party with a gun should be disturbing. Unfortunately, have you seen Rep. Blake Farenthold? The guy who goes around in public wearing duck-printed footie pajamas? He hasn’t exactly made front-page news for the kind of agility and cunning that might help him in an Aaron Burr­–style shootout. His headlines read more like “Former Staffer Lawsuit Accuses Congressman of Hitting on Her, Generally Being a Total Creep,” a 2014 ditty published after an ex-employee of Farenthold’s congressional office sued him for flirting when he was drunk, suggesting that they might have a sexual relationship, telling staff that a lobbyist had asked him for a threesome, and admitting that he had “wet dreams” about the staffer.

Farenthold also made news last October in the wake of the leaked Access Hollywood tape that showed Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, when the consummate gentleman said on television that he’d “consider” continuing to endorse Trump even if a hypothetical video showed the then-candidate saying, literally, “I really like to rape women.” In simpler terms: To Farenthold, m’ladies Collins, Murkowski, and Capito are too womanly to be subject to Farenthold’s punishment (death) for having the wrong opinions, but other women who might be raped by the president can go ahead and fend for themselves, because it would be better to have an admitted rapist in the White House than Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

It’s very convenient that Farenthold has identified his enemies as “some female senators,” since he believes a man’s moral code precludes dueling with women. That way, he never has to actually duel anyone! With the caveat that we do not condone political violence, Slate would like to suggest that Farenthold take up his Senate beef with Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who has said he would vote against Obamacare repeal. If Farenthold is as manly and murderous as he would have the public believe, he will take his anti–health care rage out on someone he’ll allow to return fire.

Critics Aren’t Taking Issue With the Content of Hillary Clinton’s New Book So Much as Its Right to Exist

Critics Aren’t Taking Issue With the Content of Hillary Clinton’s New Book So Much as Its Right to Exist

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

There is no one who loves talking about the 2016 election more than Donald Trump, who brings it up in public more than once a week on average. There is no one so keen to linger over the outcome of Election Day, to pick at old grudges, and dress down old opponents than Trump. No one, some prominent Democrats would have you believe, other than Hillary Clinton.

“I love Hillary,” Sen. Al Franken recently told Yahoo News. “I think she has a right to analyze what happened. But we do have to move on.” On the Late Show, Sen. Bernie Sanders reminded Clinton that she “ran against the most unpopular candidate in the history of this country” and still couldn’t eke out a win. “She was upset about it and I understand that,” Sanders said. “But our job is not to go backward. ... I think it’s a little bit silly to keep talking about 2016.”

Given that 2016 saw an unprecedented electoral upset that resulted in the least-qualified president in U.S. history, nine months seems an awfully short grace period for acceptable discourse on the outcome. And Clinton isn’t just talking about the worst setback of her professional life—she’s selling it. What Happened, her highly anticipated 494-page postmortem on her last campaign, hits bookstores on Tuesday, ensuring that the conversation some Democrats don’t want to have will continue for at least as long as Clinton’s book tour.

Early reviews take issue with the book’s right to exist as much as the quality of its contents. “Was this book necessary?” asks Doyle McManus in the lede of his Los Angeles Times review, suggesting that Clinton should have shoved her manuscript into a desk drawer rather than offer it up for public consumption. Doug Schoen, a former Clinton ally, told the failed candidate in a Hill piece that it is “time to exit the stage” and stop doing harm to her political party by simply showing up. “Friends don’t let friends read Hillary Clinton’s new book,” wrote a critic at the Week who refused to even crack it open before making her judgment. “Whatever you want to read this book for, chances are, there’s something else that does it better.”

Conservative media outlets show particular glee in their reporting that Clinton’s book will ravage the Democratic Party and her own future in politics. The world is “sick of hearing from her,” writes Katherine Timpf at the National Review, calling it a feat of “self-indulgent dead-horse-beating” and the product of a “selfish urge to present as many excuses as you can to absolve yourself of any blame for your embarrassing defeat.” In the Washington Times, Ben Wolfgang argues that “the American people simply don’t want to hear from [Clinton],” quoting a poli-sci professor who believes Clinton should have “not written a book and been quiet for another eight months.”

That Washington Times piece calls What Happened a “blame book”—and certainly, most assessments of the tome are preoccupied with the question of blame. The juiciest excerpts so far are those that find Clinton casting shade on Sanders (he emboldened Trump’s attacks and promised every American a free pony), James Comey (he “shivved” her and “badly overstepped his bounds”), the New York Times (it dragged her over her emails but glossed over Trump–Russia connections during the campaign). But the bigger question with which critics are grappling is whether or not Clinton claims enough blame for her own unexpected loss. “Despite seemingly suggesting the fault is hers alone, Clinton also clearly believes that a lot of other people are responsible, too,” writes Bess Levin in her Vanity Fair roundup of “People Clinton Blames for Her Election Loss.” Another Washington Times piece reported that What Happened is “yet another campaign to blame everybody she can for her crushing loss.” Schoen wrote that “the only person [Clinton] does not seem to blame is herself.” Even the Associated Press claimed in a straight news piece about the book that Clinton “has a reputation for avoiding blame for her failures.” It seems that these critics, unsatisfied with Clinton’s concession speech, are holding out for a full-blown apology.

But Clinton could hardly have been more explicit about where the buck stopped in her campaign. “I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made,” she writes in one oft-quoted excerpt. “I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want—but I was the candidate. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions.” There it is: Clinton blaming herself for her loss. If that’s where her critics would have rather she stopped, What Happened would have been a PR statement, not a book.

It's true that the democracy-defying 2016 election merits more than a five-sentence mea culpa from the woman who lost. Clinton as a bad candidate is just one sliver of the rancid pie that caused America to vomit up President Trump. Even the election analyses most critical of Clinton don’t dare place all the blame on her Wall Street speeches, email-management missteps, or comments about putting coal companies out of business. The additional facts she offers as contributing factors to her loss—Sanders’ “attacks caused lasting damage”; sexism helped make her “a lightning rod for fury”—are measured and probably true. They’re nothing readers haven’t encountered before in the thousands of thinkpieces they devoured in the months after the election. Almost nobody thinks Hillary Clinton alone is responsible for the defeat that shocked the entire world.

When Clinton acknowledges that truth, as she does in What Happened, critics portray her as a petty shirker of accountability. Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of California told Politico that Clinton is forcing the party to endure endless “media cycles about the blame game, and the excuses.” In a recent Morning Consult poll, 39 percent of 2,000 respondents said Hillary Clinton should cease all influence on the Democratic Party. Just 40 percent said it would be OK for her to write books. That the public was asked to weigh in on the seemliness of Clinton’s post-election plans is itself a marker of how personally the country takes her every move, as if she were not a politician but a despised national mascot.

What if, just like much of the rest of the electorate, she’s simply looking to make meaning out of an event that shattered her illusions about the country she calls home? The 2016 election was unlike any other: Nearly a year after the election, conversations with my friends and colleagues still occasionally end up in “what happened?” territory. Ordinary people are still piecing the 2016 narrative together. It’s no surprise that they might want to hear the loser’s perspective, even if members of her party don’t.

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More Single Mothers Are Going to College Than Ever. But Very Few Will Graduate.

More Single Mothers Are Going to College Than Ever. But Very Few Will Graduate.

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

It seems like a no-brainer—if a single mother wants to improve her income and career prospects in the long term, she should enroll in college. More single mothers are going to college than ever before: In 2012, about one in five female undergraduates and 11 percent of all U.S. undergraduates—nearly 2.1 million students—were single mothers, more than twice the population that attended college in the 1999-2000 school year. According to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, this rate of growth more than doubled that of the general undergraduate population.

But while these statistics sound like good news all around, a closer look reveals some truths that aren't so rosy. An alarmingly large share of single mother students—30 percent—are enrolled in for-profit schools, making them more than three times as likely to attend for-profit institutions as female students who don’t have children.

These numbers are “tragic,” said Holden Thorp, provost at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of the forthcoming book Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership Between America and Its Colleges and Universities. “These students have been victimized by a predatory system that’s an embarrassment to higher education in America,” he told me in a phone interview. “The data on the job prospects and earnings pretty much show that a for-profit degree doesn’t give you any advantage.” The average six-year graduation rate among for-profit colleges is 23 percent, compared to 59 percent at public institutions and 66 percent at private nonprofit schools. And because for-profit degrees usually cost far more than comparable degrees from community colleges and public universities, students who attend for-profit schools are more likely to have to take out loans to afford their education. They are also far more likely to default on those loans than those who attended nonprofit or public institutions, in part because the economic benefits conferred upon those with other college degrees don’t transfer to graduates from for-profit schools.

Single mothers are particularly susceptible to the sales tactics that draw students to for-profit colleges. Advertisements hawk flexible schedules and specific skills that seem directly applicable to the job market—skills that students could glean from far cheaper community-college programs that don’t advertise quite as aggressively. The disproportionate number of single mothers sucked in by the for-profit college industry contributes to the population’s extraordinarily low graduation rate: Just 28 percent of single mothers who started school between 2003 and 2009 got a degree or certificate within 6 years of their start dates. Married mothers graduated at a rate of 40 percent, and 57 percent of non-parent female students graduated in the same time period.

Thorp says going to college and not getting a degree is “the worst thing that can happen to a student in higher education.” Adults with some college education but no degree have about the same unemployment and earnings statistics as those with no college education at all, but they have the added disadvantage of having taken time out of the workforce and accumulated some debt. “If you don’t finish, you’re better off not going at all,” Thorp said. “Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, the students who need the most help are going to the schools that have the least money—and especially have the least money devoted to things like academic advising, the kinds of things that help students advance to their degree.”

Financial constraints and child-care responsibilities that necessitate flexible scheduling are two of many factors that might encourage a single mother to choose a school with fewer resources and a lower graduation rate. (Demographic factors also come into play: Single mothers are more likely to come from low-income families and those without a history of higher-educational attainment.) Those same factors contribute to the high college drop-out rate among single mothers. The IWPR report notes that 63 percent of single mothers in college live at or below the federal poverty line; in 2012, the average single student mother had $6,600 in unmet college tuition need, $2,000 more than that of the average married student mother. Nearly two-thirds of single mothers in college spend at least 30 hours a week on child care, 54 percent spend at least 20 hours a week on paid work, and 43 percent work at least 30 hours a week on top of child care and schoolwork. Previous research has shown an association between any amount of paid work and a decline in graduation rates among student parents, while non-parenting students can work up to 15 hours a week without having an effect on their likelihood of getting a degree. “This suggests that students have a finite number of hours that they can dedicate to paid and unpaid work outside of school, and for parents, that work allotment is consumed by unpaid dependent care responsibilities,” the report states.

There is no shortage of incentives for the government to invest in the degree attainment of single mothers. College graduates pay more in taxes, need fewer public benefits, contribute more to the economy, and raise higher-achieving kids, regardless of family demographics or income level. But the current system is only exacerbating the web of challenges that prevent single mothers from graduating from college. The Trump administration is getting ready to loosen rules that would have curbed abuses and fraud committed by for-profit colleges, and its proposed child-care plan falls far short of anything that would make a real difference in the lives of struggling parents. Without meaningful intervention on both of these fronts, single mothers’ prospects for greater economic stability through education will only get worse.

It’s Hard Not to Feel a Bit Wary About Ivanka Revealing Her Postpartum Depression on The Dr. Oz Show

It’s Hard Not to Feel a Bit Wary About Ivanka Revealing Her Postpartum Depression on The Dr. Oz Show

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Postpartum depression is a potentially serious condition with symptoms that can range from anxiety and irritability to panic attacks, suicidal impulses, and a feeling of detachment from one’s newborn. The condition affects about one in 9 women, according to the CDC.

But it’s hard not to feel a bit wary of the way in which Ivanka Trump revealed her own PPD struggle on Thursday’s episode of the syndicated Dr. Oz Show. “With each of my children, I had some level of postpartum depression,” Trump told Oz, perched on a white armchair in front of a studio audience. “It was a very challenging emotional time for me because I felt like I was not living up to my potential as a parent or as an entrepreneur and executive.” The interview was taped Monday.

The conversation included other tidbits, including Trump’s insistence that she doesn’t view it as her role to be a “voice of moderation” in her father’s administration. But the PPD reveal was the one that made headlines. It’s not clear from early clips whether Trump was formally diagnosed with PPD, or whether she self-diagnosed in retrospect. (The so-called “baby blues” are distinct from PPD, and much more common.)

There’s an interesting kernel in this otherwise anodyne bit of puffery from the land of Oz. The Dr. Oz “reveal” felt like evidence of Ivanka’s greatest talent: recognizing when a topic is innocuous enough that she can safely use it to build her personal brand at no risk to her reputation. She is against human trafficking and racism. She is in favor of “empowerment” and working women. When it comes to politics, she thinks whatever you do. “Like many of my fellow millennials,” she told the Republican National Convention, “I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat.” In June, she told Fox & Friends, “I try to stay out of politics.” Her views on controversial topics like abortion remain unknown, and her supposedly progressive beliefs on topics like climate change remain publicly unspoken.

In light of that, the revelation of her postpartum suffering makes perfect sense. It was once taboo for role-model mothers to talk about PPD, regarded as a confession of weakness or unnaturalness. But it has now become a mainstay of women’s magazines and tabloids. Adele, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Drew Barrymore are just a few of the many celebrities who have revealed their diagnoses in interviews. In the real world, there remains an intense stigma attached to mothers who are consumed by negative emotions in the early weeks and months of motherhood. In the glossy realm, though, 12 years after Brooke Shields published a breakthrough memoir about the topic, talking about PPD is no longer controversial at all.

It’s surely a good thing that another high-profile woman is discussing her postpartum depression in the public sphere. Still, it’s striking how canny Ivanka’s instinct is for feeling out when an issue has become so uncontroversial that discussing it imposes no cost on her. If she’s determined that her struggles with difficult feelings in the wake of childbirth is worth discussing on daytime television, it likely means she is confident that no one will judge her harshly for it. If only women who don’t get invited on the Dr. Oz Show had the luxury of feeling that way, too.

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Well Here’s a Weird Company Selling Stickers That Seal Your Penis Shut as a Condom Alternative

Well Here’s a Weird Company Selling Stickers That Seal Your Penis Shut as a Condom Alternative

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

While kiddos are decorating their binders and notebooks with stickers this fall, men around the country are finding more controversial uses for tiny bits of adhesive. At least, that’s what Jiftip would have you believe. The company is encouraging men to buy little stickers and affix them to the tips of their penises, sealing off the hole to keep any and all the ejaculate inside.

Wait whaaaat, you might wonder. That’s not how penises work, you may say. I came up with that idea once, too, but I was supes faded and immediately realized that shutting off a natural exit channel for bodily fluids was a) ill-advised, and b) impossible, you’re probably thinking.

It seems like Jiftip’s founders agree, which makes the product they’re pushing—an alternative to condoms, they say—seem rather strange. Jiftip’s website claims that “nothing gets in or out until you remove” the barrier, but it also says users must pull out and take off the sticker before they feel like they’re going to climax. The site also says the pasties-for-penises, designed by the founders “as a desperate attempt to avoid using condoms,” are not to be used to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

Okay, so: The pros of using condoms are that they protect against most STIs, prevent pregnancy, and don’t make you pull out or complete a task before you ejaculate somewhere in mid-air. The main con is that condoms can feel weird. The pros of using a Jiftip are—what? That it looks like a tiny fidget spinner and keeps lint from accumulating in your penis hole? The cons, obviously, are that it doesn’t perform any of the intended functions of a condom, and you have to rip adhesive off your penis in the middle of sex.

There is so much misinformation on Jiftip’s site, a Jiftip user could create a dozen 8.5”-by-11” Jiftip sticker collage versions of “Starry Night” before I had time to address them all. Here’s one of the best bits: “Healthy skin is a virtually impenetrable natural germ barrier,” the brand’s FAQ reads. “If you trust it, isn’t wearing a raincoat double-wrapping?” Gaaaah! Healthy skin does not protect against STIs! Friction during sex causes tiny skin abrasions; skin is not virtually impenetrable. Condoms, it should not have to be said, exist for a reason.

Jiftip is counting on a fair number of curious, gullible dudes to drop $6 on a pack of the stickers just to see what’s what. (They are probably also counting on some incredulous articles like this one to boost visibility.) The brand’s response to skeptics is this: “WILL IT WORK? HOW CAN YOU KNOW? HOW CAN ANYONE KNOW—UNTIL THEY TRY?” But on Twitter, the proprietors behave like people who have no clue how to run a business. They’ve retweeted Jill Stein’s invitation to Edward Snowden to be a member of her cabinet and suggested that the global HIV rate isn’t declining because people don’t like condoms and choose not to use them. They also tweeted a link to a story about a Malawian man raping children, commenting that “some cultures are practicing stupid and giving their young daughters HIV.” Is this magical, utterly useless dick sticker supposed to combat child rape, too?

At least one anonymous “beta user” claims to love the product. Well, kind of. “My partner and I can't use condoms and the pill messed up my body, hair fell out,” Jiftip quotes. Here’s her pitch for the product itself: “@jiftip has no side-effects.” A ringing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one!

There Are Lots of Women Running for Governor Right Now, and Some of Them Are Very, Very Bad

There Are Lots of Women Running for Governor Right Now, and Some of Them Are Very, Very Bad

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Much has been made of the gender imbalance in the U.S. Congress, where just 21 percent of senators and 19.3 percent of representatives are women. But the country’s record for governors is even worse: Only six women currently hold their states’ top executive office, and the most female governors the U.S. has ever had at one time is nine.

That gives the current slate of female gubernatorial candidates a decent chance of making history. If she wins her 2018 campaign, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic minority leader of the Georgia General Assembly, would be the state’s first female governor. She would also be the state Democratic Party’s first female gubernatorial candidate and the country’s first black female governor.

Then there are the Republicans. Three women are currently competing with two men for the GOP nomination in the governor’s race in Tennessee, which has had neither a female governor nor a female gubernatorial nominee from a major party. All three of the female candidates have been hardworking opponents of reproductive rights. Beth Harwell has taken up the cause of several abortion restrictions as the speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, including mandatory waiting periods and mandatory pre-abortion counseling. Mae Beavers, a state senator, was the primary sponsor behind a mandatory ultrasound bill and a ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Rep. Diane Black was the latest to enter the Tennessee race this week with a video seemingly crafted to counter the perception of women as too wishy-washy or fragile to properly hold executive leadership offices. In her video, Black uses metaphors of war and violence to describe just how not-fragile she is. She blasts “weak-kneed” members of her own party, claims most politicians are “too meek, or maybe even too weak” to “fight for the right things,” and promises to focus on “beating the liberals instead of caving into them.” “In Tennessee, we’re conservative, and we do things the right way, no matter what Hollywood or Washington thinks about it,” she says in the clip. “We believe in absolute truths: Right is right, wrong is wrong, truth is truth, God is God, and a life is a life.”

Black loves lives-that-are-lives so much, she has made disrupting women’s health care one of her primary goals in Congress. On her website, “Defunding Planned Parenthood” has its own page, in addition to and separate from the page titled “Pro-Life,” which shows the Congresswoman cuddling an infant. She accuses Planned Parenthood of being part of “the big abortion industry’s trafficking of baby body parts for profit.” In 2015 and 2016, she was an active member of the House’s investigative panel formed in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos that claimed to show fetal tissue trafficking. (They did not, and the producers were later indicted for identity theft and charged with several felonies.) Black has also introduced bills to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting federal family-planning grants and getting reimbursed for services provided to Medicaid patients.

In South Carolina, an equally hardcore right-wing woman is running for governor. Catherine Templeton, who headed up a couple of state agencies under Gov. Nikki Haley, gave a few alarming answers to questions posed at a GOP town hall this week, one of her first major events since announcing her candidacy in the spring. She promised to stand in the way of any efforts to remove monuments of Confederate soldiers, saying she was proud of the Confederacy and doesn’t “care whose feelings it hurts.” Of transgender soldiers serving in the military, Templeton said “If you sign up and join as a man, you serve as a man. If you join as a woman, you serve as a woman,” and, likewise, “If you’re a boy, you go to the boys room. If you’re a girl, you go to the little girls’ room.” And, she added, “if you’re a pervert, we throw you in jail and throw away the keys.” She didn’t clarify what she meant by “pervert.”

The moderator also asked Templeton about abortion rights in the state. “Until we can overturn Roe v. Wade, the best we can do is restrict it as much as possible,” he said. “How far can we take those restrictions? What’s the next step to make it—to protect life?”

Templeton responded with a story about carrying her now-middle-school-aged twins, boasting that she never considered aborting one of the fetuses, even when she developed “a life-threatening illness brought on by pregnancy.” She is “the only girl running” for governor in South Carolina, she said, so the question is “personal” for her. “You’re not going to find anybody that’s more pro-life than I am,” Templeton went on, explaining that she only supports exceptions in cases of incest and a threat to the life of the pregnant woman. One audience member asked Templeton to reassess her support of the incest exception, because a fetus conceived in incest “doesn’t deserve to be killed just because of the sin of the parents.” Templeton nodded. “And that’s why I’m not for the rape exception,” she said. “We agree.”

The same audience member asked the candidate about “homosexuality and transgenders,” claiming that “God says it’s wrong and it should be wrong in the law.” Templeton didn’t challenge the attendee’s assessment of the “sin” of LGBTQ people, but again invoked her love of her children, as if queer and trans South Carolinians pose a threat to their well-being.

Templeton, Black, and their kin aside, there are plenty of worthy female candidates running for governor in 2018. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, a former Michigan state Senate leader with a history of reproductive-rights activism, has broken fundraising records in her gubernatorial campaign. In May, she’d attracted about three times the number of donors as her Democratic competitor, though he’s since been closing the gap. Kate Brown, who in 2016 won a special two-year term as Oregon’s governor, was as the country’s first openly-LGBTQ person to win a gubernatorial election. (She’s bisexual.) And gender-equity advocates can celebrate the 16,000 women who’ve asked EMILY’s List about running for office since the election. The Democratic Party itself may be cool with funneling money toward politicians who vow to curb abortion rights, but EMILY’s List only supports female candidates who are pro-choice.

Update, August 7, 2017: This post has been amended with updated fundraising information on the Michigan governor’s race.

Austin City Official Refused to Meet With a Co-Worker He Thought Had a Crush on Him

Austin City Official Refused to Meet With a Co-Worker He Thought Had a Crush on Him

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

A city employee in Austin, Texas, has been taking advice from the Mike Pence handbook on interacting with women-people, according to documents obtained by the Austin American-Statesman. William Manno, the events manager in charge of orchestrating city festivals such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits, has received a written “reprimand” for refusing to meet with female employees because he feared things could turn, or appear to turn, inappropriate.

The city’s investigation of Manno’s behavior began in early July, after a female business specialist in Manno’s department reported that he had missed meetings because he thought a communications consultant who’d be there “had romantic feelings for him,” the American-Statesman reports. The specialist told investigators that Manno had floated the idea of reassigning both the consultant and a female assistant city attorney with whom he interacted at work because his wife apparently took issue with how they interacted with him. According to a memo about the investigation, Manno also canceled regular lunch meetings with the consultant, explaining to her that “I’ve been told it is not appropriate for a married man to have lunch with a single lady.” The consultant told investigators that she thought that statement was “odd,” because she’d assured him that she didn’t have sexual or romantic feelings for him and just wanted him to mentor her.

On the surface, this looks like another instance of men being incapable of interacting platonically with women. Pence, like many other religious men, abides by a self-imposed rule that says he can’t dine alone with any woman other than “Mother” (aka his wife). The implication there is that women are temptresses by nature and/or men are just giant floating balls of hormones and urges that can easily drift outside the bounds of marital fidelity toward any passing whiff of a woman’s scent. Then there’s the Rick Ross school of thought, which holds that taking on female protégées is a bad idea, because it’s nearly impossible not to have sex with them. Ross described his theory in terms a bit more vulgar than Pence’s, but the effect is the same: Women miss out on important mentoring and bonding opportunities when the men in charge see them as latent sex threats instead of regular employees with admirable skills and leadership potential.

Manno’s case is a bit more complicated, though. The business specialist who brought the complaint against him was reportedly spurred to action by a discussion with Manno’s wife, who found out that Manno had given the specialist a ride to City Hall. According to the specialist’s statement to investigators, Manno’s wife told the specialist that she and her husband were working through some troubles in their marriage and that he had promised to never again have a female employee alone in his car. There isn’t much in the way of details about why this was such an important issue in their marriage, but one can imagine a few reasonable explanations for his wife’s concern.

Last week, Manno filed a grievance contesting the investigation’s results. “I do acknowledge that I introduced personal information about my marriage into the workplace and to a subordinate,” he wrote. “I recognize that this does not foster a positive work environment and is unprofessional and inappropriate conduct in the workplace. As such, I will ensure that this does not reoccur.” But, he contended, “many of the statements included in the reprimand memo are based on misleading and incorrect information.” The communications consultant hugged Manno multiple times at a 2016 New Year’s Eve event, the business specialist’s statement to investigators confirmed, which Manno named in his grievance as the reason why he didn’t want to be alone with her.

There are many ways Manno could have dealt with this situation—starting with talking honestly to his wife about the kinds of meetings his job entails—without trying to cut off professional contact with women in his workplace. Unless the consultant was actually sexually propositioning or harassing him, which he hasn’t claimed, his actions were based on his own history and hangups with women. Women will never get equal treatment or promotion at a workplace where they’re treated as temptations lying in wait.

Update, Sept. 19, 2017: This post’s headlines have been updated to better reflect Manno’s title.

The Eternal Question

by dan carlin @ Dan Carlin

Tweet   It seems somehow very appropriate that the first ever blog post since updating our website would be about release dates for the Hardcore History show. It’s the Number One question we get. “When’s...

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Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Is a Dose of Much-Needed Therapy for Her Fans

Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Is a Dose of Much-Needed Therapy for Her Fans

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Hillary Clinton opened her What Happened book tour on Monday night with what sounded like a retort to the critics who’ve said she should have never written the book in the first place. In a bit of self-aware justification, Clinton told her interlocutor—former speechwriter and campaign advisor Lissa Muscatine—that the writing process gave her the “discipline and deadline” she needed to sort through both her own feelings and her shock at America’s election of a malicious wannabe tyrant. It was an act of “catharsis,” Clinton said. “It was my therapy.”

The product of her efforts seemed to have a similar effect on her audience. The bodies filling the seats at Washington, D.C.’s Warner Theatre quaked when Clinton walked onto the stage, giving her an ear-splitting standing ovation that shook the floor of the venue. Every minor attempt at a joke was met with riotous laughter, every dig at Trump with a lengthy round of applause. There were more than a few tears.

You’ve got to be a pretty big Hillary Clinton fan to spend up to $82 to sit in a room and listen to her say things you’ve probably heard her say before. Because it’s D.C., the theater also contained several former campaign staffers. These weren’t casual Clinton voters. They were her diehards, the people for whom the termination of a potential Clinton presidency was nearly as devastating as the bombshell of a Trump one. Their enthusiastic support wasn’t just about making the first female president, but electing this specific candidate, with her formidable resume, unflagging composure, and history of pressing on in the face of sexist attacks. The election and American democracy as we once knew it may be over, but the cult of Hillary Clinton is not.

Anyone who doubted Clinton’s “likability” or capacity to inspire hope in young women during her campaign should look to the crowds who’ll flock to her 15-city book tour to understand the magic some attributed to her candidacy. Monday’s event felt strangely intimate, with audience members eagerly nodding along as if they were at a cozy reunion with a friend they hadn’t seen in years. They erupted in cheers when Clinton spoke about turning to friends and family in the difficult days after the election. They booed and hissed when she mentioned Matt Lauer, whom Clinton calls out in the book for incessantly harping on her emails while letting Trump babble nonsense about ISIS. The audience seemed equally enthralled with Clinton the person as with Clinton the candidate, and genuinely concerned for her well-being.

Underlying their concern for Clinton the woman is a deep sense of identification with her. On Monday, Muscatine gave Clinton several pairs of nouns and had her choose her favorite: coffee or tea (Clinton chose coffee); yoga or Pilates (yoga); shower or bath (“it depends on how much time you have”); and vodka or chardonnay (“again, it depends on how much time you have”). It was silly and banal, but dozens of audience members clapped and hooted after each answer. So eager were these people to identify with Clinton that they screamed in a public place simply because she too prefers coffee over tea, like the majority of other U.S. adults. When it came time for audience questions, which were submitted in advance, several were just messages of thanks. One noted that the writer was drinking wine with Clinton “in solidarity.”

This book and attendant publicity tour will mark an important step in the grieving process for those Clinton fans who see themselves, and perhaps their own thwarted ambitions, in her struggles. For them, grappling with the daily horrors of the Trump administration has probably left little time or mental space to process Clinton’s loss. There is no shortage of policies to protest amid righteous, chanting hordes, but few outlets for feelings about the candidate herself. Seeing her onstage, back in the public eye on her own terms and in visibly good spirits, will give some a sense of closure they need. If Clinton can rebound and crank out a book after the worst setback of her professional life, maybe the rest of us can churn on, too.

Clinton made exactly this point on Monday night. “At the end of the day, everybody has disappointments. Everybody has losses,” she said. “I view this book as much about resilience as about running for president. … I want others, no matter what happens to you in life, to understand that there are ways to get up and keep going. Don’t give up on yourselves.” You know else recently wrote a book about resilience? Sheryl Sandberg, whose co-written book Option B chronicles, among other things, her emotional journey after the death of her husband. Clinton and Sandberg are acquaintances, and Sandberg starred in a prominent anecdote about women in leadership that Clinton shared on Monday. In the story, Clinton repeatedly referred to the Facebook COO’s previous book and business philosophy, Lean In, as “Lean On.”

It was a rather endearing flub-up that Clinton never caught and Muscatine was too nice to correct. But, looking out on a sea of faces eager to process their lingering devastation in the company of hundreds of other Clinton fans, the former candidate might have committed a Freudian slip. As far as advice for recovering from electoral trauma goes, “lean on” isn’t half bad.

Judge Blocks Arkansas Law That Could Have Forced Women to Notify Their Rapists of Abortions

Judge Blocks Arkansas Law That Could Have Forced Women to Notify Their Rapists of Abortions

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

On Friday night, a federal judge blocked four recently passed Arkansas abortion restrictions, including one that seemingly could require rape survivors to get input from their rapists before terminating their pregnancies. That law, in addition to a ban on the most common second-trimester abortion procedure and a requirement that doctors report teens’ abortions to the police, would have taken effect on Tuesday. A fourth provision, which would have forced a doctor to obtain and review a patient’s entire pregnancy medical history before providing her abortion care, was set to go into effect at the beginning of 2018. The decision prevents Arkansas from enforcing the laws until a full trial takes place.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a suit challenging these laws in June on behalf of Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock–based doctor who provides the state’s only outpatient second-trimester abortion care. The complaint argues that the ban on dilation and evacuation abortions constitutes a ban on second-trimester abortions, since alternate procedures are far less safe, more expensive, and more time-consuming. D&Es comprise 95 percent of second-trimester abortions in the country and 100 percent of second-trimester abortions performed in Arkansas in 2015. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade held that banning abortions before viability—around 22 to 24 weeks—is unconstitutional. The Arkansas D&E ban would have also allowed husbands and legal guardians to sue for injunctive relief to prevent women from getting D&E abortions.

But the law that caused the most national outrage was the addition of fetuses to an existing Arkansas statute requiring family members to come to agreement on the method of disposal of remains. The law could have forced abortion-seeking Arkansans to notify their sexual partners or parents of their impending abortions to get their input on fetal-tissue disposal. (A grandmother’s recent Facebook comment that she’d “notify [her rapist] with a loaded 45” if the law came into effect made her “Twitter’s newest hero,” according to Bustle.) At worst, it may have given sexual abusers and hostile family members reason to target women with physical, financial, or emotional abuse for terminating their pregnancies. At best, it would have involved other people in women’s private medical decisions and delayed their abortion care, causing her increased risk and expense.

U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker, who issued a preliminary injunction against the laws on Friday, wrote that this law “mandates disclosure to a woman's partner or spouse, even if that person is no longer in her life or is a perpetrator of sexual assault.” The fetal tissue law offers no public health benefit, she wrote, and would have undermined the “constitutionally mandated” judicial bypass option for a girl under 18 who can currently get a judge’s permission to obtain an abortion without involving her parents.

Baker also enjoined enforcement of a law that would have required doctors to report every abortion performed on a teenager under 17 to the police, even if there are no signs of abuse or coercion, and save the fetal tissue as medical evidence. (Arkansas doctors must already do this for minors under the age of 14.) The final law Baker blocked would have required abortion providers to spend “reasonable time and effort” obtaining and reviewing the medical records of a patient’s entire pregnancy history to ensure that she wasn’t getting an abortion based on the sex of the fetus. To get her records, the patient would effectively have to disclose to other institutions that she was trying to terminate her pregnancy. This would have caused unnecessary delay and privacy incursions for the sake of preventing sex-selective abortions, which aren’t a real problem to begin with. Such bans encourage racial profiling of patients, especially Asian American women.

Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas’ anti-abortion attorney general, has indicated that she will appeal Baker’s ruling, and the results of that appeal could have far-reaching effects. Several other states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, and Alabama, have passed D&E bans and seen their enforcement similarly blocked by court challenges. These bans are a recent trend in anti-abortion state legislators—the first passed in Kansas just two years ago, and the most recent passed in Texas in June—and reproductive-justice advocates are fighting to halt what they say is an unconstitutional violation of the constitutional right to legal abortion. If any one of these states’ D&E bans meets its permanent end, that would be a promising sign to women in the others.

What I Learned By Looking at 734 Playboy Centerfolds in One Sitting

What I Learned By Looking at 734 Playboy Centerfolds in One Sitting

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

There’s no wrong way to read Playboy’s new coffee table book of naked ladies. You can breeze through the encyclopedic collection of centerfolds in chunks, stopping when a shiny lower lip or well-groomed clitoral hood catches your interest. You can use the index to find a favorite Playmate, if you’re the kind of person who has a favorite Playmate. You can turn to the year you were born or bat mitzvahed and see what the residents of dudeland were drooling over that month. You can flick the pages like a flipbook, watching faces and skin blur together like a demonic wormhole that really, really wants to have sex with you.

But if you’re going to drop up to $75 on an 8 1/2-pound volume of exposed flesh, I’d recommend taking an hour or so to leaf through the entire thing, page by page. Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds, 1953–2016 offers exactly what it advertises: every single centerfold the magazine has published through February of last year. That is a remarkable number of bodies to trap in one volume. Taken together, they offer a kind of biological survey few humans will experience in their lifetimes. Even the world’s busiest doctors and most-overbooked porn stars don’t see 700-some-odd naked women in a single hour.

If you take this route, as I did on Thursday afternoon in a painstakingly sequestered corner of the Slate office, you will catalog approximately 1,400 nipples of various shades, textures, and surface areas. You will see several hundred labia and, if you have a set, think carefully about your own. You will despair at how the satin robe and garter belt industries have escaped any attempts at meaningful innovation in the past half-century. You will wonder why, in the 2010s, just as Earth was experiencing the hottest temperatures in recorded history, all women suddenly got visibly cold.

This volume is actually something of a reprint. The first edition was published a decade ago; the book that came out on Tuesday includes the most recent 10 years and a new short essay from Elizabeth Wurtzel on the centerfolds of the 2010s. Playboy is marketing it as a kind of chronology of the female body seen through the proverbial male gaze, a way to track how beauty ideals and sexual fantasies have evolved since Hugh Hefner printed the magazine’s first issue.

The most obvious signifier of the passage of time, and the thing every person has asked about when I’ve mentioned this book, is pubic hair. For the first two decades of centerfolds, there was none at all because it was obscured by strategically placed pillows, undergarments, or even roomy-cut khakis. Bits of hair didn’t start peeking out until around 1972, but by the mid-’70s, bushy vulvas were showing up in almost every photo. A decade later, hairstylists started to groom the puffs, though it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that what’s now known as a “landing strip” hit the runway. The relative newness of the thing about 84 percent of women now do to their genitals was a life-affirming revelation for this millennial, who suffered puberty in the aughts, or as Maureen Gibbon’s essay in The Complete Centerfolds dubs it, “the decade of the smoothie.” After enduring the entirely bare, child-like crotches of the 2010s, flip back to July 1977, where one magnificent image of pubic hair straight-up poking out of a butt crack will restore your internal calm.

The maturation of photo-retouching techniques, which begin in the 1980s and ramp up in the ’90s, delivers another major sea change in the book. Earlier photos exhibit a kind of Vaseline-on-the-lens radiance, with softer lighting than the high-def flashbulbs of later years. Before Photoshop made every limb a perfect cylinder with a computer-assisted color gradient, skin had actual texture, betraying goosebumps, peach fuzz, and tiny wrinkles where the legs meet the hips. In fashions, too, the Playboy timeline charts a shift from the natural-ish to the absurd. Peasant dresses and open argyle cardigans gave way to bathing suits fit for Borat and webs of spangled fabric that wouldn’t impede any sex act the average mind could invent. Mascara and rouge gave way to silicone, suntans, and gigantic, heavily-lined lips. The fantasy of the ’50s was that the women on these pages might actually succumb to the average schmuck’s pick-up lines at the sock hop or milkshake counter or wherever white folks performed their mating rituals in those days. The fantasy of the ’90s and ’00s was that these glistening, medicine ball–breasted women existed at all.

But for all the differences that emerge while flipping through generations of nudies, the similarities stand out far more. After looking at 734 photos of naked women, one can’t help but conclude that the human body has some very strict limitations and the human mind lacks any substantial creativity when it comes to sexy poses. There are only so many ways to slightly part a set of lips, only so many ways to mimic the act of putting clothes on or taking them off, getting in or out of a body of water, and stepping onto or off of a surface that looks reasonably prepared to support sexual intercourse. Some themes have always been hot: cowboy stables (chaps, lassos, bolo ties dangling between breasts); sportsing (phallic sticks and bats, mesh jerseys, kneesocks); childhood (glasses of milk, merry-go-rounds, dolls); servile domesticity (aprons, pies, and once, disturbingly, pinking shears).

It’s a pleasure to see this kind of Playboy world-making get more elaborate and less self-conscious as time goes by. There are a few funny scenes in earlier years: One deeply weird 1967 shot shows a woman standing on a primitive Onewheel with her toe resting on a shuttle cock, and one from 1983 has a gal luxuriating in a tanning bed, eye shields and all. But the fantasies get way more specific in the ’90s, with a flight attendant exiting an airplane bathroom, a military jacket with dog tags worn as a belly chain, more nautical dioramas than a landlubber might expect, and a prescient cigar situation in July 1996, just before the Clinton–Lewinsky “it tastes good” moment became public. Around the turn of the millennium, schoolgirls started dominating the pages of Playboy, with some dorm room arrangements so scrupulously imagined, they could be ads for PBteen. The effect is a creeping feeling that any place can be a sexual place, and any activity a woman does—even those performed in the course of her job—can be a sexual activity. Playing golf, taking your order at a diner, exercising on a Stairmaster, applying a lure to a fishing rod, cuddling with a kitten, delivering the nightly news at a TV station—if you look hard enough, with a few years of Playboy centerfolds filed away in your brain, these everyday pursuits are actually a kind of foreplay. That cyclist lady is naked underneath her flannel, you know.

Should you, like me, choose to absorb each and every centerfold in rapid succession, the outfits will eventually cease to matter. So, strangely, will the human forms. If you say a word too many times in a row, it starts to lose its meaning. If you review hundreds of naked women in one sitting, the fact of their nudity will lose its meaning, too. Curves and lumps and flaps of flesh punctuated by the occasional dimple or mole will become indistinguishable shapes in the void. By the 40th minute of scrutiny, the nearly half an acre of human skin you’ve seen will have lost all erotic potential, each body just another disgusting bag of organs and blood. As one Amazon reviewer put it, “What an awesome treasure for men!!!”

Procter & Gamble

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Household products; FMCG Personal care & beauty Owner of the brand: Procter & Gamble Co. Key competitors: Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser Group

Artykuł Procter & Gamble pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Is It Reasonable to Expect R. Kelly’s Former Musical Collaborators to Denounce Him?

Is It Reasonable to Expect R. Kelly’s Former Musical Collaborators to Denounce Him?

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

R. Kelly’s alleged sexual misdeeds have been in the public record for decades. Half his lifetime ago, in 1994, he married his then-15-year-old protégée Aaliyah with a falsified legal document. At the turn of the millennium, thanks to the reporting of Jim DeRogatis and Abdon M. Pallasch at the Chicago Sun-Times, the world learned that Kelly had paid several settlements to the families of underage girls he’d allegedly raped. Soon after came the actual videotape of a man who looked like Kelly engaged in sexual activity with a girl whom witnesses identified as his then-14-year-old goddaughter. He was later acquitted of charges that he’d produced that piece of child pornography.

In the years that followed, Kelly had no trouble getting gigs. He made albums, toured arenas and stadia, and made fluffy appearances on late-night shows. After BuzzFeed published new allegations against the singer this week from parents and former lovers who say he sexually manipulates and essentially brainwashes teen girls with promises of music stardom, the site asked the publicists of 43 former Kelly collaborators if their clients would ever work with him again. After giving the stars’ representatives “at least 24 hours to respond,” very few had gotten back to the site. Those who did either said they had no comment or couldn’t reach their clients for comment.

As the Outline rightly pointed out in a post yesterday, it’s hard to draw any conclusions from this seemingly clever conceit. Celebrities rarely comment on anything, especially in a relatively short period of time on an extremely touchy issue that doesn’t directly concern them. They would have nothing to gain from staking out any definitive ground on R. Kelly, even if they fully intend to never work with him again. Some of the stars on BuzzFeed’s list hadn’t worked with Kelly in many years: Celine Dion made one song with him in 1998, for example, and Keri Hilson’s Kelly collaboration dropped in 2009.

Still, the vast majority of the artists on the list worked with Kelly after all-but-irrefutable evidence of his pattern of preying on young girls became public. They knew that dozens of people had accused him of child rape, and they worked with him anyway. Their participation in his career both elevated and sanitized his public profile, showing music fans that if Mary J. Blige, Nas, Chance the Rapper, and Pharrell (the Happy guy!) were cool with Kelly, we should probably be cool with him, too. Worse, every collaboration with Kelly helped funneled money into the bank account of a man who has allegedly continued his abuse for at least 26 years and shows no signs of stopping.

We should have raised a stink about artists who collaborate with Kelly a long time ago; some of us, including journalists like DeRogatis and Jamilah Lemieux, have. But news cycles cycle on, outrage dims, and momentum stalls. Each new allegation or reentry of an old one into public discourse offers music consumers another opportunity to ask artists why they participated in the music industry’s cover-up for Kelly and why they haven’t, as a booster of his career, condemned his actions. There is no statute of limitations on the crime of enriching an alleged child rapist. By coming out against him late in the game, these artists still have an opportunity to publicize his pattern of victimization and get their fans to support an industry boycott of his work.

Celebrities already use their public platforms for advocacy against sexual predators all the time. Lady Gaga, who’s spoken publicly about being sexually assaulted when she was 19 by a man 20 years her senior, made an earnest, graphic music video about sexual assault for her song “Til It Happens to You” in 2015, depicting survivors with messages like “BELIEVE ME” scrawled on their bodies. She invited 50 survivors of sexual assault onstage with her to perform the song at last year’s Oscars. Of her friend Kesha, who accused producer Dr. Luke of years of emotional and sexual abuse, Gaga has said, “I feel like she’s being very publicly shamed for something that happens in the music industry all the time, to women and men. I just want to stand by her side because I can’t watch another woman that went through what I’ve been through suffer.”

Yet Gaga made “Do What U Want” with Kelly in 2013, mimed fellatio with him onstage at the American Music Awards, then pulled the already-taped video for the song due to growing allegations against Kelly and director Terry Richardson. (Yes, Gaga made a video with two alleged sexual abusers for a song that advises the listener to “do what you want with my body.”) Gaga blamed her team and her tight schedule for a video she says she didn’t like and didn’t want to release, but other sources claimed that Gaga thought the highly sexual video wouldn’t play well after DeRogatis’ reporting on Kelly resurfaced in December 2013 and reports of Richardson’s alleged harassment came out in early 2014. Instead of addressing the allegations against Richardson and Kelly and taking an ethical stance, Gaga spun her scrapping of the video as a move of artistic self-editing.

In other industries, we expect major players to defend or end their personal and financial connections to bad actors almost as a matter of policy. Dozens of companies pulled their ads from Bill O’Reilly’s show after the New York Times revealed that Fox News had paid $13 million to settle five separate sexual harassment claims against him. Lately, when women come out with stories of discrimination and harassment in the tech industry, big names in the field are pressed to speak up, even if they’re not directly involved. (Venture capitalist Chris Sacca recently bragged about doing just that—tweeting support for Ellen Pao after she lost her discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins—in a post about his own role in Silicon Valley’s mistreatment of women.) But in the entertainment industry, with a few major exceptions like the singular case of Bill Cosby, celebrities are usually forgiven their connections to abusers, even as they help those abusers appear harmless and amass wealth.

The recent example of Kesha and Dr. Luke provides useful contrast to the nonreaction of music stars to Kelly’s documented history of sexually manipulating teen girls. Taylor Swift publicly donated $250,000 to Kesha for her legal battle against her alleged abuser, a well-known pop producer. Miley Cyrus and Kelly Clarkson, both of whom had worked with Dr. Luke in the past, also came out with public statements to put themselves on Kesha’s side. Adele, the biggest recording artist on Sony, which owned the Dr. Luke’s Kesha-producing label, made a statement in support of Kesha while accepting a BRIT award last year. Sony happens to be R. Kelly’s label, too, but Adele isn’t saying a peep about him. His alleged victims are far more numerous than Dr. Luke’s, as far as the general public knows, but they aren’t famous and, crucially, it seems most of them aren’t white. In a Colorlines piece published this week, Lemieux writes that Kelly’s continued career success is indicative of “the idea that black men are more in need of protection than black women.” Research has shown, she continues, that “black girls are widely perceived as being older or more mature than they actually are, which helps to explain the number of people who don’t see teenage girls who have sexual relationships with men like Kelly as victims, even when they are legally unable to consent.” The women who’ve charged Kelly with rape, assault, and abuse have to watch their alleged assailant make millions off his music because his colleagues have kept mum and recorded with him in spite of his history.

Pushing for Kelly’s former collaborators to renounce him works in two ways: First, it pressures individual artists to stop enriching him and supporting his public profile. It also sends a clear message to unaffiliated observers that the swell of public opinion is falling against Kelly, and they’d be better off not booking him in their arena, hosting him on their talk shows, or inviting him to do a guest spot on a new track. True, it would be sad if DeRogatis’ most recent revelations in BuzzFeed (nearly the only allegations of abuse against Kelly that involve women above the age of consent) were the thing that finally convinced Kelly’s one-time associates to speak out against him. But you know what they say about apologizing for lining the pockets of alleged child rapists—better do it late than never. When some next set of accusations lands on Kelly, as it almost certainly will, Gaga the survivor’s advocate will be glad she did.

Harvard May End Frats, Sororities, and Final Clubs By Punishing Students Who Join Them

Harvard May End Frats, Sororities, and Final Clubs By Punishing Students Who Join Them

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

An official Harvard University committee has recommended that the administration prohibit all students from joining exclusive, traditionally single-gender social clubs like fraternities, sororities, and so-called “final clubs.” After a damning report found that Harvard final clubs enabled a culture of sexual violence, the school moved last spring to force all final clubs—centuries-old, usually all-male institutions—to admit women or risk having members barred from leadership positions and fellowship recommendations.

Now, writes a committee of students, staff, and faculty members, that’s not good enough. “Even if all of these organizations adopted gender-neutral membership in a timely fashion, there would remain a myriad of practices of these organizations that go against the educational mission and principles espoused by Harvard University,” reads the committee’s report, sent to university community members on Wednesday. Harvard has been trying to push these clubs to go all-gender since the mid-‘80s; in response, the clubs officially disaffiliated themselves from the school. The new recommendation is the strictest and furthest-reaching policy the school has ever presented on the issue. For now, the committee’s recommendation to phase out single-gender and exclusive groups (or phase in sanctions for joining them) is still just a suggestion. Committee members expect the final policy to be unveiled in the fall, probably modeled on prohibitions against sororities and fraternities instated at Williams College and Bowdoin College.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

According to the report, final clubs and Greek organizations dominate the school’s social scene, such that even students who want nothing to do with them find their social lives affected. The sense of belonging some students derive from these groups “comes at the expense of the exclusion of the vast majority of Harvard undergraduates,” the committee wrote. “Of course, that is the definition of selective-membership clubs: some belong, some don’t. However, it is the invidious manner in which such clubs form their memberships and generate their guest lists (in the case of those that host parties) that makes them incompatible with the goals and standards of Harvard University.” Since the organizations aren’t formally connected to the university, the school can’t outright ban them. Instead, the committee proposes to whittle away their memberships by sending students who join them to an administrative board that will mete out unspecified disciplinary measures. The policy would see the groups “phased out” over the next five years.

Some students and alumni have said that it isn’t fair to target all single-gender groups just because a number of them have become havens for binge-drinking, sexual assault, and hazing. When Harvard first introduced sanctions for participating in single-gender organizations last year, the president of Harpoon Brewery (and an alumni leader of one of Harvard’s final clubs) said letting women into the clubs would actually increase the potential for sexual assaults. The report says some clubs reacted to the 2016 sanctions “with an increased zest for exclusion and gender discrimination.” This time around, one student in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals troupe, which puts on an all-male show each year, told the New York Times that switching forbidden characteristics of clubs “from gender exclusivity to exclusivity at all” is violating students’ freedom to associate, and “particularly rich coming from one of the most exclusive universities that exists.”

But, in its report, the Harvard committee argues that discrimination based on “gender, race, class, and sexual orientation” is a feature, not a bug, of the types of groups it names. Remember, the school has been trying to get clubs to admit women for more than 30 years. “Time after time, the social organizations have demonstrated behavior inconsistent with an inclusive campus culture, a disregard for the personhood and safety of fellow students, and an unwillingness to change—even as new students join them over generations,” the report says. “The final clubs in particular were products of their time. Due to their resistance to change over the decades, they have lapsed into products behind their time.”

Though there are plenty of existing ills (sexual assault, outright discrimination) that the university wants to quash with this new policy, it sounds like committee members, who dubbed the policy a “preventative step,” are more concerned with shifting the general social culture of the school. Organizations built around racist, sexist, and classist ideas of belonging will never fully shake that association, especially when the groups’ vaunted identities are so closely tied to their histories and alumni networks. It is the right of Harvard administrators to shape the school’s social environment in whatever ways they believe will best serve the student community—if they don’t want student life dominated by literal old boys’ clubs in 2017, they should be able to advance policies against them.

That doesn’t mean current students will be happy about it—one dissenting member of the committee pointed to a survey that showed a majority of student respondents supporting the groups—but they’ll graduate in a few years before the policy even takes full effect. In the future, prospective students who very badly wish to join single-gender legacy clubs can simply apply elsewhere. In the best case scenario, a few rounds of matriculation down the road, Harvard students won’t be bemoaning the lack of frat parties and elaborate hazing rituals for a chosen few. They’ll be enjoying a more inclusive social scene dominated by clubs and common-interest organizations that don’t require passing some subjective, elitist litmus test for admittance.

But students aren’t the only population Harvard has to serve. For some alumni members of Harvard’s final clubs, the groups mean more than just memories—they’re a vital connection to the university in its present form. Through current members of the clubs, alumni stoke their college pride and keep up with what’s happening on campus. Some find great fulfillment in helping their younger fellow club members adjust to life after Harvard and advance their careers. That doesn’t make the school’s reasons for trying to end the clubs any less legitimate, but if Harvard administrators want to maintain their alumni connections (and attendant flow of financial support), they will need to recognize and appropriately address the real loss the end of these clubs will represent for some alumni. Then, they should move forward with a policy that works in the best interests of young people still on Harvard’s campus. To create “an inclusive, healthy, and safe environment for Harvard students,” the committee wrote in its report, “this committee believes we owe it to our future students to take action.”

Andy Murray’s Breezy, No-Nonsense Feminism: a History

Andy Murray’s Breezy, No-Nonsense Feminism: a History

by Grace Ballenger @ Slate Articles

Andy Murray is known for many things: his crosscourt slice backhand, his deft grass court play, his occasional on-court remonstrations of his friends and family. He’s also, uniquely in the world of high-level men’s tennis, an ardent and unapologetic feminist. Most recently, when a reporter declared that Sam Querrey—who beat Murray in the Wimbledon quarterfinals—was the first American tennis player to reach the semis of a major championship since 2009, Murray quickly and coolly corrected him: “male player.” (Serena Williams has won 14 grand slams since that year.) When other folks in the press room chuckled, Murray didn’t crack a smile.

This wasn’t a one-off remark from the No. 1 (male) player in the world. Murray, who was famously coached as a child by his mother Judy, regularly touts the achievements of his female counterparts, and he does so in a way that feels natural and automatic rather than performative. Here is a surely not-quite-comprehensive history of Murray’s off-the-cuff feminist remarks.

June 27, 2013: He said he’d be down to play Serena Williams.

Murray kicked up considerable media buzz by saying he would play a match against the world’s best woman. “I’ve never hit with her but she’s obviously an incredible player,” Murray said in the Telegraph. “And I think people would be ­interested to see the men play against the women to see how the styles match up.” This is the rare instance in which a male tennis player talked about a hypothetical match-up with a woman without stressing that he would totally kick her butt. Serena replied that she would be up for it, too, but alas they have yet to meet on the court.

Sept. 2, 2013: He said he watches women's tennis and that it’s no big deal.

In an interview with the New York Times, Murray explained that he enjoys keeping up with women’s matches, and that he particularly admires Polish drop shot artist Agnieszka Radwanska. “I mean, I just like tennis, so I follow it,” he said.

June 22, 2014: He defended his decision to hire a female coach.

Just before playing at Wimbledon, Murray was forced to defend his new coach Amélie Mauresmo against criticism from, among others, former British star Virginia Wade. “If it helps bring more female coaches into men’s sport—and women’s sport—that’s a good thing. Because there’s absolutely no reason why someone like Amélie can't help me,” he said.

Nov. 29, 2014: He defended his coach again.

After Tim Henman questioned whether Mauresmo was good for him, Murray flatly told reporters, “There’s no reason for her to be criticized for anything.”

Jan. 29, 2015: And again.

This time, he spoke up for Mauresumo after a match at the Australian Open: “I think so far this week we have shown that women can be very good coaches as well.”

June 4, 2015: He used the f-word.

In a big day for Murray’s evolution as a feminist, he declared himself one in a post for French publication L’Equipe. In the post, Murray addressed those near-continuous critiques of Mauresmo and credited his family background for his respect for women. “Have I become a feminist?” he asks himself. “Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.”

March 23, 2016: He gave his thoughts on equal pay.

“Women should have equal pay, 100 per cent … the whole [controversy] is pretty disappointing,” he said, per the Guardian.

Aug. 15, 2016: He gave credit where credit was due (to the Williams sisters).

When BBC host John Inverdale declared that Murray was the first person to win two Olympic gold medals in tennis, Murray was quick to correct him. “Well, to defend the singles title,” he said. “I think Venus and Serena have won about four each.”

July 12, 2017: He schooled another journalist.

Once again: “male player.”

States That Punish Pregnant Women for Drinking Are More Likely to Restrict Reproductive Rights

States That Punish Pregnant Women for Drinking Are More Likely to Restrict Reproductive Rights

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

In the early 1970s, the law didn’t care if pregnant women drank alcohol. Bars didn’t have to erect warning signs in their bathrooms. Doctors didn’t have to report women to Child Protective Services if they suspected alcohol use. State authorities didn’t commit women against their will to treatment programs if they drank in their third trimester.

By 2013, nearly every state in the U.S. had put laws on the books addressing alcohol and pregnancy. Some laws, like those allowing the prosecution of pregnant women for child abuse if they drank, were punitive. Others, like those providing education on alcohol risks and giving pregnant women and new mothers priority placement in substance-abuse treatment programs, were supportive. Many states have a mix of supportive and punitive policies, though punitive policies have become more common over time. According to a new report published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, states with a greater number of punitive pregnancy and alcohol laws are more likely to have greater restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.

The study comes from researchers at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, San Jose State University, and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. Authors cite previous research that showed that between 1980 and 2003, after accounting for political and socioeconomic differences, a higher proportion of women serving in a state’s legislative body was the one predictor of whether a state would pass a supportive law on pregnancy and alcohol. After completing their analysis of reproductive-rights restrictions and alcohol-use laws, the authors concluded that neither a state’s number of punitive laws nor its number of supportive laws are associated with a greater efficacy of its alcohol policies as measured by policy experts’ estimates.

“Punitive alcohol and pregnancy policies are associated with policies that restrict women’s reproductive autonomy rather than general alcohol policy environments that effectively reduce harms due to alcohol use among the general population,” the authors write. “This finding suggests that a primary goal of pursuing such policies appears to be restricting women’s reproductive rights rather than improving public health.”

In recent years, more and more women’s health advocates have taken cues from hundreds of studies indicating that light drinking later in pregnancy is probably okay. Last year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued new guidelines that prohibited bars and restaurants from refusing to serve alcohol to pregnant women. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all women of reproductive age abstain from alcohol unless they’re on birth control, as if they were nothing but fetal incubators–in-training.

Of course, an occasional drink is not the same as alcohol abuse. But the new study in Alcohol and Alcoholism notes that the most common punitive U.S. pregnancy-alcohol policy requires or encourages medical practitioners to report a pregnant woman or new mother’s suspected alcohol use to Child Protective Services. Such laws exist in 21 states. They often don’t take effect until babies are born and tested, the report says, putting the emphasis on punishment rather than harm prevention or reduction. Babies would benefit from policies that make it easier for pregnant women to find subsidized spots in alcohol treatment programs. They don’t benefit from policies that leave them in state custody or put their mothers in jail. Research has shown that the threat of being jailed for illegal drug use keeps many pregnant women from seeking treatment for substance-abuse issues. If the same holds true for women who need treatment for alcohol addiction, punitive policies would pose an even greater threat to fetal and infant health.

Another report released this week, this one from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, claims that states with the highest number of restrictions on abortion rights are more likely to have comparatively few policies that support women’s and children’s health. They also generally score worse on indicators like maternal mortality and child health. The authors included Medicaid expansion, required screening protocols for domestic abuse, prohibitions on shackling pregnant prisoners, mandatory sex education, and smoking bans in restaurants on their list of 24 policies that have been shown to improve the wellbeing of women and children. States with 12 or more supportive policies in place had a median of four abortion restrictions, researchers found, while states with 11 or fewer supportive policies had a median of 12 abortion restrictions on the books.

The results suggest that state legislatures that prioritize passage of abortion restrictions are not doing so out of an abundance of concern for women’s health, as anti-abortion advocates have recently argued in legislative debates and before the Supreme Court. It should be noted that legislators that support reproductive rights also usually support policies like paid family leave, increased Medicaid income limits, and increased family-planning funding, all of which the study names as policies that support women’s and children’s health. But the fact that these policies usually align with one of the two parties in the American political system doesn’t negate this analysis. Instead, it should be seen as another addition to the already gigantic pile of evidence that one party consistently conspires to force women into unwanted births, then makes it as hard as possible for them to raise healthy children.

Texas is one of the biggest and best-known offenders of the bunch, with an ever-increasing roster of abortion restrictions and a maternal mortality rate that almost doubled between 2010 and 2014 to become the highest rate in the developed world. Just this week, as they mull even more rollbacks of reproductive rights, members of the state’s House of Representatives passed four bills that would give financial incentives to managed care organizations with good track records on postpartum health and help a special task force established in 2013 continue to study maternal mortality. Hopefully, that task force will informlegislators that the start of the maternal-mortality spike coincided with a two-thirds cut to the state’s family-planning budget, closing more than 80 women’s health clinics in the state. But if history prevails, neither data nor pleas to legislators’ humanity won’t be enough to change their minds.

The Women’s March Is Taking on the NRA and Police Brutality, Because Every Issue Is a Women’s Issue

The Women’s March Is Taking on the NRA and Police Brutality, Because Every Issue Is a Women’s Issue

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

In the nearly six months since the Women’s March on Washington, organizers have tried to maintain momentum among the millions who attended one of the hundreds of demonstrations around the country. Some attendees were experienced activists or career advocates; many others were first-time demonstrators pushed to action by the previously unfathomable occasion of Donald Trump’s election. With a robust social media presence and a wide network of volunteers, march leaders have kept up with the rotating scandals in the White House and the health care bombs in Congress. They’ve organized a general strike, helped women register to vote, and told followers when and how to lobby their representatives.

On Friday, organizers are holding their highest-profile action since January’s event. They’ve raised nearly $100,000 to support an 18-mile march from the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, to the Department of Justice building just a few blocks from the White House. Marchers will make the walk on Friday then gather for a rally and vigil at DOJ headquarters on Saturday morning.

Organizers decided to focus such a major effort on the NRA after the pro-gun group released a video this spring that cast anti-Trump protesters as violent maniacs who “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.” The video starred right-wing radio host Dana Loesch, whose sneering way of saying the phrase “racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia” is Italian chef–kiss remarkable.

The scaremongering ad, along with the acquittal of the police officer who killed licensed concealed-carrier Philando Castile, prompted Tamika Mallory, one of the original organizers of the Women’s March, to write an open letter to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. In it, Mallory demanded that the NRA remove the Loesch video, which called on gun owners to “fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth,” a phrase many believed was a veiled call to attack anti-Trump demonstrators. “Before the Second Amendment was the First Amendment,” Mallory wrote. “The advertisement released by the NRA is a direct attack on people of color, progressives and anyone who exercises their First Amendment right to protest. … You are calling for our grassroots, nonviolent resistance movement to be met with violence.” Mallory also asked LaPierre to release a statement supporting Castile’s right to own his gun and condemning the officer who killed him, an issue on which the NRA has been conspicuously quiet. In response, the NRA released a video telling Mallory “not a chance.”

So the Women’s March organized its 18-mile walk, making gun violence and police murders of people of color two of the first big targets of its postmarch activism. The Women’s March has made “we are not safe” the catchphrase of this particular action, recognizing the common refrains of activists involved in both the Movement for Black Lives and gun-control efforts. It’s also refreshing to see such deep commitment from organizers and volunteers to advocating on matters of justice that aren’t normally shunted into the “women’s issues” tent, such as equal pay and abortion access. (The Women’s March has spoken on these issues too, especially in its International Women’s Day strike, but they’ve been just a couple of points on the map of its actions.) One of the things that made the original march such a giant success was its wide-reaching, super-progressive platform that took an intersectional big-tent approach to women’s activism. Women lead full, diverse lives, the platform recognized, so every issue—immigration, labor rights, climate justice—is a women’s issue.

This approach owes a lot to decadeslong efforts by women of color to expand reproductive rights to a reproductive justice framework concerned not just with the right to decide whether to have children, but also with access to quality care and the ability to give children safe, healthy upbringings. Weaker gun laws also disproportionately harm women. State by state, research has shown, more guns mean more killing of women. More than half of U.S. mass shooters start out as domestic abusers, but loopholes in every state let domestic abusers keep their guns or even buy new ones.

In the days after January’s march, critics wondered whether organizers could translate the overwhelming turnout into real social change. David Brooks, the sandwich sensei who moonlights as a political commentator, opined that “these marches can never be an effective opposition to Donald Trump.” Friday’s march will not shut down the NRA or remove Trump from office. But with its NRA-to-DOJ action, the Women’s March has successfully united survivors of gun violence, anti–police brutality activists, members of activist groups founded after the Pulse massacre, and major gun-control advocates. Castile’s mother, too, sent a statement to be read at the NRA rally. This coming together of organizations in different but intersecting spheres of advocacy is an impressive feat of solidarity that has almost certainly gotten some newer activists out of their comfortable issue zones. Sometimes, the biggest and best effects of a protest are on the participants, not the targets.

The State of IoT in the Home: Part 2

by Ed Terpening @ Prophet Thinking

Opportunities and challenges for brands selling IoT products for the home.

The post The State of IoT in the Home: Part 2 appeared first on Prophet Thinking.

Dove: The Most Impressive Brand Builder | Aaker on Brands

Dove: The Most Impressive Brand Builder | Aaker on Brands


Prophet Thinking

Dove has grown tremendously in an intensively competitive arena with established competitors largely through their brand building efforts. Learn more.

Thinx Founder Wore Breast Pumps Around Burning Man and Shared Milk With Burners

Thinx Founder Wore Breast Pumps Around Burning Man and Shared Milk With Burners

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Now that the gyrating hordes have returned from Burning Man, it’s time to catch up on all the beautiful acts of intention and community and MDMA they committed on the playa. This year’s star is Miki Agrawal, former purveyor of Thinx period underwear and living, breathing TED talk. In an Instagram slideshow Agrawal posted on Tuesday, the new mother described pumping breast milk for her three days at the annual dust bowl.

“So many people told me that they had no idea that I had to keep pumping every three hours because they didn’t know that breasts would become engorged and super painful if they were not pumped,” Agrawal wrote, “nature's way of keeping mama and baby working together :-)”

Because Burning Man encourages an ethos of gift-giving, Agrawal didn’t keep her nutritious secretions to herself. She gave most of it away to consenting adults, who apparently couldn’t get enough. “Some people downed a whole four ounces hoping for a hangover cure,” Agrawal wrote on Instagram. “Some wanted it for their coffee to make lattes. So many were excited and curious to try it. I drank some too when I ran out of water, it tastes like sweet coconut milk!” Apparently this is common practice on the playa: Other breast-feeding commenters on the post wrote that they “loved sharing all the wonders of breastmilk” with other burners and served it to patrons at a Burning Man diner.

This endorsement of public breast milk consumption, accompanied by several photos of Agrawal wearing her breast pumps around the playa, is truly the ne plus ultra of posts about breast-feeding shaming. Not only is Agrawal proudly asserting her need and right to pump in a place that doesn’t look particularly hospitable to pumping, but she is passing the pump tube to another burner like she’s administering a beer bong. Women have said in their social media accounts of breast-feeding and pumping in public that it is natural, necessary, and a perfectly OK thing to do around strangers. To that, Agrawal adds: a fantastic source of party refreshments.

Agrawal is pretty much the personification of Burning Man, making her the perfect vessel for this peak–Burning Man performance of radical self-reliance. She digs startup wordplay—she called herself the “She-E-O” of Thinx and is writing a book called Disrupt-Her—and peppers her personal website with identifiers like “social entrepreneur,” “impact investor,” “dreamer,” and “societal-norm-busting-millennial.” She considers herself a capitalist revolutionary, wrote a book called Do Cool Shit, and has a fetish for ill-proportioned hats. She sometimes plays the DJ at parties for the organization her sister founded: Daybreaker, which, like Burning Man, is a gathering of forced profundity where people wear lamé and, you know, connect.

She also loves talking about bodily fluids. In addition to the period underwear, Agrawal has launched a line of underwear for urinary incontinence and a portable bidet called Tushy. A former Thinx employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against Agrawal for, among other inappropriate office behaviors, FaceTime-ing employees from the toilet. One wonders if Agrawal’s “got breastmilk?” post is a low-key ad for some forthcoming venture centered on a better breast pump—or as is Agrawal’s shtick, subverting the taboos around breast pumping. “Every human has been birthed and raised somehow and yet even the smartest people have no idea what this process looks like,” she wrote on her Instagram slideshow. “Nobody learns how to become a parent, let alone a good one. Time to change this! Great parenting can change the world! More conversations about this soon!” Soon.

But if Agrawal’s breast-milk bistro—“Miki’s Milk Bar,” an Instagram commenter said it was called—was a promotion scheme for some future innovation around her new favorite secretion, it would violate one of Burning Man’s core principles: decommodification, which forbids sponsorships and advertising. “Breast milk” would also screw up the pneumonic device of her current brand, the four Ps: pee, poop, periods, and pizza. That incongruous last entry refers to a gluten-free pizza chain she started in New York. No word on where they get their cheese.

The evolution of Dove

The evolution of Dove


strategy

As Dove celebrates its 50th anniversary, strategy examines how the brand has evolved from a bar of soap to a global master brand. Along the way, we look at how messaging to women has also evolved over this pivotal period in women's history

[FORBES] 3 Lessons from Alibaba for Chinese Companies Going Global

by Joel @ The China Observer

Jack Ma, chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, recently returned to the city where his firm made history last year with its record-breaking $25 billion IPO. First in New York and then in Chicago, Ma emphasized the importance of ‘cross-border e-commerce’. This relatively new form of e-commerce enables Chinese consumers to purchase products directly from the US and other international markets via Alibaba’s TMall Global online platform. This booming industry is expected to grow from $40 billion in 2014 to as large as $240 billion by 2020. There’s a huge market up for grabs, and competition is intensifying – NASDAQ-listed [...]

Dove

Dove


Unilever Pakistan

Dove grew from a moisturising Beauty Bar into a global brand with a range of products: body washes, hand and body lotions, facial cleansers, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners and hair styling.

Dove Company History and Review: Real Beauty, Real Soap!

Dove Company History and Review: Real Beauty, Real Soap!


Maple Holistics

Looking to spread your wings and learn how to fly? Learn from Dove! Check out our Dove Company History and Review feature here at Maple Holistics!

Mars Chocolate & Candy Brands

Mars Chocolate & Candy Brands


Mars, Incorporated

Learn more about Mars Chocolate, candy brands and global confectionary products at Mars, Incorporated.

Why Asking Job Applicants for Their Salary Histories Is Such a Cruel Corporate Move

Why Asking Job Applicants for Their Salary Histories Is Such a Cruel Corporate Move

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary histories, a move several progressive cities and states have made in recent years in an effort to narrow the gender wage gap. Mayor Ed Lee signed the legislation into law on Wednesday, but it won’t take effect until 2018.

The legislation will also prevent an applicant’s current or previous employers from releasing her salary information without her consent. Advocates say that the salary-history question keeps women and people of color in a cycle of low pay, where one boss who pays white men more than their peers—or one bout of poor negotiation—can diminish a worker’s earnings for the rest of her career.

Mark Farrell, the supervisor who proposed the legislation, told Fortune that the idea appealed to him as a way to make “an immediate impact” on wage inequality by changing the behavior of the supervisors who make salary decisions. Other equal-pay legislation, like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, has proven easier for companies to wiggle around by keeping employees’ salaries confidential and arguing that almost any conceivable reason but gender justifies pay gaps between male and female employees. Farrell has noted that the national gender wage gap has only narrowed by a half cent each year since that act was passed, and if it continued at that rate, women and men won’t make the same salaries until 2059.

That’s a grossly misleading calculation, of course: Women’s work in the ‘60s was largely confined to domestic and service-industry positions, and women’s advancement into positions of leadership in every industry in the past couple of decades has contributed to as much of the wage gap’s closure as the general decline in wage discrimination. But Farrell’s point about the potential immediate benefits of the law is a good one. In the best-case scenario, prohibiting salary-history questions would stop unequal pay before it starts, or at least give employees a way out of underpayment with each new job.

Opponents of such laws, which currently exist in Philadelphia, New York, California, and Massachusetts, say that employers will still be able to introduce discrimination or unconscious bias into salary decisions by assuming that women and people of color are getting paid less at their current jobs and giving them lower starting offers anyway. Advocates argue that applicants can still voluntarily offer their previous salaries if they think it will help them in a negotiation. In an editorial published earlier this year, Bloomberg called a ban on salary-history questions a “gag rule” that hasn’t yet been proven to work as intended.

It’s true that these laws aren’t proven vanquishers of gender and race wage gaps, and there’s a simple reason why: They’re brand new. The first salary-history question ban took effect in California in January; Philadelphia’s was supposed to take effect in May, but it’s on hold while the city’s Chamber of Commerce challenges it in court for allegedly infringing on businesses’ rights to free speech. There is no data on these laws yet because they’ve barely begun to exist. Policymakers and advocates will need at least a few years of data to analyze before making a judgment on the impacts of this kind of legislation.

Still, there is a wealth of research on the gender wage gap, the psychology of negotiations, the trajectories of women’s careers, and the difference in starting salaries offered to men and women for the same jobs at the same companies. The thrust of that research points to a simple conclusion: Tying an employee’s pay to her previous salary will forever exacerbate a gender wage gap that exists even in the first jobs women and men take after college, even when controlling for major, occupation, location, and hours worked. The more cities and states that pass these laws, the better and more diverse data experts will have to help them quantify the impact of this worthy experiment a few years down the line.

National Geographic

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – TV channels, magazines; Non-profit organisations; Kids products – publishing & media; Education & art – educational resources; Travel & transportation – tour operators; Retail – e-retail Owner of the brand: National Geographic Partners LLC (a joint venture between 21st Century Fox – 73% and the National Geographic Society – 27%) Key competitors: […]

Artykuł National Geographic pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Inside the Legislative Fight for the Rights of Incarcerated Women

Inside the Legislative Fight for the Rights of Incarcerated Women

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

When Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, was a law student, she clerked at the district attorney’s office in Alameda County, California. This was in the late ‘80s, in the middle of the crack epidemic, and Harris was tasked with processing cases from a major drug bust on a Friday afternoon. One arrestee was an “innocent bystander,” a woman with young children, Harris said in opening remarks at a Washington, D.C. conference on incarcerated women on Tuesday. The woman’s case probably wouldn’t go before a judge until that Monday, leaving her to sit in jail for the weekend. She might miss work or lose her job. If there was no one to care for her children, they might be seized by Child Protective Services.

Harris was able to find a judge to release the woman “with the swipe of a pen,” demonstrating for the future attorney general how easily a life can be derailed or disrupted—or not—in the banal, everyday workings of a system that currently holds more than 215,000 U.S. women in prisons and jails. “In the criminal justice system, individuals have so much discretion,” she said. “I, as a 20-something-year-old law student, could make a decision about someone’s liberty and life.”

As a U.S. senator, Harris is trying to do more. Last week, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Dick Durbin, Harris introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, an ambitious bill that would enact much-needed reforms in the treatment of women in federal prisons. A few of the bill’s provisions cover issues of basic safety and dignity: It would ban the shackling of pregnant women, prevent officials from putting pregnant inmates in solitary confinement, and require prisons to provide free menstrual products to inmates, who currently may be given limited supplies or made to buy their own. Male guards would no longer be allowed to supervise female inmates in bathrooms except during emergencies, and inmates would no longer have to pay to call friends and family members.

Other parts of the bill target incarcerated mothers, who have a special set of needs. About 65 percent of women in U.S. prisons and jails have children under 18, and most are primary caretakers. According to Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network, the convener of Tuesday’s forum, one in four women who become incarcerated are pregnant or have a child under the age of 1. The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act would require the Federal Bureau of Prisons to take children’s locations into account when choosing a facility for an inmate who is a parent. Inmates who are pregnant or primary caretakers would also be eligible for a residential drug abuse program. The bill would also provide for more generous visitation hours, physical contact in visits, parenting classes, and a pilot program for overnight visits. About half of incarcerated mothers in the U.S. are more than 100 miles from their families, and the facilities where they’re held are often in remote locations, “not on the commuter line,” Sen. Harris noted in her remarks. Andrea James, the formerly incarcerated founder of an advocacy organization for incarcerated women and girls, says mothers in prison serve a “dual sentence,” because they spend their time locked up worried about their children’s well-being. “The lives of their children do not get better” with their mothers gone, James said at Tuesday’s conference. “It causes further harm.”

But if the Senate bill passes, it will only apply to the 12,700-or-so women in federal prison, leaving out the more than 200,000 women in state and local prisons and jails. Women make up the fastest-growing segment of incarcerated people in the U.S., and about half are in jails, where people are held before their trials, after violating the terms of their parole, or after being sentenced to less than a year in lock-up. Between 1970 and 2014, the country saw a 14-fold increase of the population of women in jails, mostly for low-level drug offenses, loitering, and other crimes associated with broken-windows policing. More than 8 in 10 women in jail have survived sexual violence; nearly as many have experienced domestic abuse. About one-third of women in jail are living with severe mental illnesses, more than twice the rate of men in jail.

These troubling statistics point to what Sen. Booker, D-NJ, dubbed “a survivor-of-sexual-trauma to prisoner pipeline.” In a rousing address at Tuesday’s conference, Booker called on attendees to “get folk woke” on mass incarceration, the “biggest cancer of our body politic, the biggest shame of our national society.” Without proper diagnosis and treatment of the mental repercussions of trauma, advocates say, women who’ve been sexual assaulted or abused may self-medicate with drugs, leading to arrests on charges for possession or addiction-adjacent crimes like burglary and prostitution. In jail or prison, they’re often re-traumatized by searches, shackling, and abuse at the hands of guards or other inmates. And once they’re out, with a criminal record, they’ll struggle to find work and face limits on what kinds of government assistance they can receive.

Policymakers of both parties are looking for ways to break that cycle. Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, a conservative Republican, spoke to conference attendees on Tuesday about her efforts to reduce the state’s incarceration rate for women, which is more than twice the national average and higher than any other state’s. “For low-level, nonviolent offenses, there are alternatives that work better,” she said, to prevent crime and keep children out of foster care. Those alternatives include diversion programs that scrub felony charges from graduates’ records, reforms of policies that send released women back to jail for failure to pay fines, and more accessible substance-use treatment programs for pregnant women and mothers. On the federal level, Harris is working on a piece of legislation that would create competitive grants for states to devise pilot reforms of the cash bail system, which keeps people in jail for months or years before they’re ever convicted of a crime if they’re too poor to pay. In D.C., one of the few jurisdictions that don’t require arrestees to pay for pre-trial release, more than 90 percent of defendants are released without bail. Only 10 percent are arrested again before their trials, the vast majority for nonviolent offenses.

“We’ve been offered a false choice in criminal justice policy,” Harris said. “A choice that suggests one is either soft on crime or tough on crime, instead of asking are we smart on crime.”

Harris is optimistic that if the civil rights argument doesn’t resonate for fellow legislators, the fiscal one will. It cost about $32,000 a year to keep each U.S. inmate in federal prison locked up in 2015. In California, the annual cost per inmate is more than $75,000. One year of methadone treatment cost $4,700 in 2012. Studies have shown that the U.S. could save several billions of dollars by diverting drug offenders into treatment programs rather than prisons. “If we, like our friends in the private sector, are judging ourselves in government, unburdened by ideology, then this information forces us to … ask the question our friends in the private sector ask every day,” Harris said on Tuesday. “What is the ROI? What is the return on our investment? Because guys, as taxpayers, we are not getting a good return on our investment on this issue.”

Trump’s Evangelical Adviser Says God’s OK With “Taking Out” Kim Jong-Un

Trump’s Evangelical Adviser Says God’s OK With “Taking Out” Kim Jong-Un

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

What’s the only thing more frightening than an unstable man with the nuclear codes? A unstable man who is being told that God himself has given his blessing to push the big red button.

On Tuesday, President Trump said North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued to threaten the United States. Soon afterward, an evangelical adviser to the president released a statement saying that God has given Trump authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear,” Robert Jeffress, pastor of a Southern Baptist megachurch in Dallas, said in a statement given to the Christian Broadcasting Network. “God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary—including war—to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.”

Jeffress, who was one of Trump’s earliest and loudest evangelical supporters during the 2016 campaign, later tweeted praise for the president’s reliability and predictability:

In a follow-up interview with the Washington Post, Jeffress elaborated that he was referring to Romans 13, which includes a passage on how Christians should relate to political authorities. The passage says that government authorities have been installed by God, and a ruler is the “servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.” In Jeffress’ interpretation, that gives leaders freedom “to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un.”

Christian media outlets regularly cover the plight of the estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea, where citizens are required to worship the Kim family and other religious practices are banned. The latest issue of the conservative evangelical magazine World, for example, features a long reported story on efforts by Christian defectors to draw attention to human rights abuses in their home country. (On Wednesday, North Korea released a Canadian pastor who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015 on charges of using religion to overthrow Kim’s government.)

It’s one thing to pay close attention to religious persecution in a totalitarian nation. It’s another thing to give a confident thumbs-up to nuclear war, especially since many Christian groups have long been on the forefront of the anti-nuclear movement. (Catholic groups have arguably been the most consistently outspoken.) But evangelist Billy Graham, an influential spiritual adviser to American presidents starting with Harry Truman, also called the end of the nuclear arms race his “No. 1 social concern” in the early 1980s and set off on a college speaking tour about the need for disarmament.

But times have changed, and now evangelicals such as Jeffress have the president’s ear. Before last year, Jeffress was best known nationally for his occasional pronouncements on topics like the satanic origins of Mormonism, Catholicism, and Islam. Jeffress was a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board during the campaign and appeared with Trump several times at rallies, reassuring attendees that the thrice-married casino mogul would be a “true friend” to evangelicals as president. He preached at a private ceremony for the Trump family before the inauguration, and he has been a frequent visitor to the White House since then. Last month, his church’s large choir performed an original song titled “Make America Great Again” at the Celebrate Freedom Rally in Washington. Trump apparently loved it.

Jeffress’ statement about North Korea makes clear that he is not claiming to have received a new revelation from God that Trump should go after Kim. These days, that counts as reassuring news. Rather, the pastor is offering a controversial interpretation of a tricky piece of scripture he sees as applicable to the current moment. Still, in order to argue that God has granted political authorities the right to do evil to combat evil, he has to brush away significant other chunks of the New Testament. Romans 12—the chapter just before the one Jeffress cites—explicitly commands readers not to repay evil with evil. Jeffress brushed that off to the Post, saying the command applies only to Christian individuals, not governments. And what about Jesus’ sermon in which he sweepingly upends traditional hierarchies in order to elevate the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers? “A Christian writer asked me, ‘Don’t you want the president to embody the Sermon on the Mount?’ ” Jeffress told the Post. “I said absolutely not.”

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

Wall Street lifer Anthony Scaramucci got a new job Friday, and he spent the weekend trying to prove his worth to his new boss. When the freshly minted White House communications director shared his inspired vision for the role with Jake Tapper on CNN on Sunday morning, he said things that sounded nice, then immediately contradicted them. “Let’s soften up our relationship with the press,” Scaramucci said. “They’re tough on us, but let’s be tough on them. I have no problem with that.” Soft, but tough—like toilet paper meant for the world’s dirtiest yet most sensitive butts.

Scaramucci had kind words for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the disarmingly familiar press secretary who will take over for Sean Spicer now that he’s resigned. “I think Sarah does a great job. She’s an incredibly warm person, she’s incredibly authentic,” Scaramucci told Tapper. “I want to do everything I can to make her better at that podium. I think she’s phenomenal there now, but like every athlete that’s training for the Olympics, every day we got to make ourselves incrementally better.” Then, the Mooch used Tapper’s TV show to send a message to his new direct report: “The only thing I ask Sarah—Sarah, if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I’d like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.”

It sounded to some journalists like Scaramucci thought Huckabee Sanders looked great on Friday, when the two made an appearance together in the White House briefing room, or that he thought she looked kind of blah in her previous appearances, and Friday marked a vast improvement. (To an eye less attuned than Scaramucci’s to the aesthetic particulars of Trump hires, Huckabee Sanders didn’t look all that different in her Friday briefing, though her hair was curled, a look she usually reserves for TV news spots.) Either way, it’s a bizarre first bit of feedback for a new subordinate, both because it has nothing to do with her job performance and because he delivered it via CNN.

Scaramucci insists that the remark was a self-deprecating commentary on his own appearance. “For the record, I was referring to my hair and make up and the fact that I like the make up artist. I need all the help I can get! #humor,” he tweeted Sunday afternoon.

For a man making a sad stab at #humor, Scaramucci looked awfully serious on Tapper’s show. But hey! He’s not a comic—he’s a Trump flack, and he has a lot to learn. His justification of his odd plea to Huckabee Sanders suggests that he thinks hiring and managing a makeup and hair stylist is the White House press secretary’s job, which it almost certainly is not. One wonders whether he would have assumed the same of Sean Spicer or Obama press secretary Jay Carney. In Scaramucci’s first press conference on Friday, a reporter asked whether he’d continue to allow cameras in the White House briefing room, a tradition that came under threat when Spicer was at the helm. “If [Huckabee Sanders] supplies hair and makeup, I will consider it,” Scaramucci replied. “I need a lot of hair and makeup.”

This running joke (?) also betrays Scaramucci’s preoccupation with looks, a fixation he shares with the president who hired him. When a New York magazine reporter interviewed him for a piece on Trump’s Wall Street connections that ran earlier this year, Scaramucci asked her how old she was. “You look good,” he said. “No lines on your face. What are you, a Sagittarius?” The very weird, inappropriate compliment sounds a lot like Trump’s remarks to French first lady Brigitte Macron, who is in “good physical shape,” the president said. Perhaps he demands the same ageless, made-up beauty of his communications directors.

Goop Could Face Consequences for Making Deceptive Health Claims About Its Weird Products

Goop Could Face Consequences for Making Deceptive Health Claims About Its Weird Products

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

After years of hawking mysterious health supplements and making dubious claims about the brain-boosting powers of butter in coffee, Gwyneth Paltrow’s bougie health site is finally seeing its chickens come home to roost. Those chickens lay $66 jade eggs marketed as vaginal “detox” devices that, once inserted into the human body, can “intensify feminine energy” and prevent uterine prolapse.

At least, that’s what Goop says. The site, along with its affiliated newsletter and live events, is the target of a new complaint Truth in Advertising Inc. filed with California health regulators, calling attention to several dozen products Goop sells or promotes using unsubstantiated claims about curing, treating, or preventing illness. “The company does not possess the competent and reliable scientific evidence required by law to make such claims,” the advocacy group said in a blog post about the filing. Truth in Advertising warned Goop in a letter earlier this month that if it didn’t take down or modify its “deceptive” claims within a week, the organization would contact district attorneys on the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force. The group followed through on that promise on Tuesday.

It’s not surprising that it’s taken such a long time for Goop to come under potential regulatory fire for its bizarre health advice. To someone outside of Los Angeles who isn’t drunk on Moon Juice—one of the many Goop-endorsed products that sound like period euphemisms—the site’s use of mystical potions and magic crystals to supposedly keep away real-world microbes can sound too ridiculous to take seriously. Sure, walking barefoot to absorb negatively-charged electrons from the ground may not cure anyone’s insomnia, as the site once suggested, but it probably wouldn’t do gullible readers any harm, either. Then again, that’s exactly what consumer protection agencies are for—to prevent companies from disabusing customers of their dollars with uncorroborated statements about dildos that can heal infections or seaweed products that can protect against radiation drifting overseas from a nuclear reactor meltdown.

Some of the practices Goop and Paltrow endorse can do real bodily harm, too. Consider her recommendation to treat a bout of influenza with a shvitz in the sauna, which could lead to dangerous dehydration. Gynecologist Jen Gunter has helpfully noted that jade is porous, making it a very bad, potentially bacteria-nurturing material for long-term intravaginal use. In response, Goop published a blog post–long subtweet of Gunter, comparing her skepticism of the benefits of reverse egg-laying with the skepticism of ye olde doctors who didn’t believe smoking caused lung cancer. And the skin-care products that have been infused with chanting and prayers? Those could be tomorrow’s penicillin, I guess.

Even benign yet ineffective substances could prove dangerous if they’re advertised as potential health cures. People who fear the side effects and costs of Western medical treatments (or who’ve been convinced by Goop that prescribed medicines contain “toxins” or Dementors’ breath or something) may forgo necessary therapies in favor of, I don’t know, ringing a $700 bell every time they take a poop. Goop has said that wearing stickers “pre-programmed to an ideal frequency” can help ease anxiety. Unless the stickers are tuned to the “frequency” of a walkie-talkie carried by a therapist, they probably can’t. That won’t stop some people trying to cure what might be a serious mental illness with elementary school art supplies. The gospel of Goop is as seductive as it is fake, and the company will need more than a standard crystal chant to ward off the energy imbalance a regulatory crackdown could bring.

Ariel

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Household products – laundry products Owner of the brand: Procter & Gamble Co. Key competitors: Persil, Surf, Omo

Artykuł Ariel pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

In the Age of “Revenge Porn” and Celebrity Nude Hacks, Paris Hilton’s Sex Tape Looks a Lot Different

In the Age of “Revenge Porn” and Celebrity Nude Hacks, Paris Hilton’s Sex Tape Looks a Lot Different

by Christina Cauterucci @ Slate Articles

In a Marie Claire profile published on Monday, Paris Hilton reflects on how her life might have played out differently if she hadn’t dated Rick Salomon. The professional poker player reportedly made millions of dollars off the couple’s famous 1 Night in Paris sex tape, which Hilton says she didn’t intend for the public to see. She claims she never saw a cent from that tape, but in the years after its release, the tape became widely credited in entertainment-industry media for accelerating her rise to fame.

Hilton tells writer Irin Carmon, whose piece is well worth a read, that she “really looked up to Princess Diana, all these elegant, amazing women,” but Salomon released the tape of the two of them having sex, tarnishing what might have been a more innocent reputation. “Because of that tape, I will always be judged and thought of as whatever they say about me because of a private moment between my boyfriend and me,” Hilton says. “I wish I had never met him. That is actually the one regret in my life.”

Even if you remember the buzz about that sex tape just before The Simple Life aired, Carmon offers, “you probably don't remember that she says she never consented to the tape's being public; that she was only 18 and her then-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, was 33; or that she sued the company distributing it for invasion of privacy.” Carmon is right: At the time, in 2004, there was little public outrage over Hilton’s alleged nonconsent, at least not at the volume we’ve come to expect after celebrities have their naked images aired against their will these days. “Spare us the outrage at how you feel sooooo betrayed, how you have no idea how this could have fallen into the wrong hands,” a Salon writer begged celebrities in 2010. “This whole pretext of ‘I didn’t really make and distribute my own little porno here’ so you can give the public something that appears furtive and dirty and secret while still showing off how weird you look in night vision? Enough. And if you are actually dumb enough to make a sex tape and think it won’t get leaked, you are too dumb to ever have sex again.”

In her 2015 Slate history of the celebrity sex tape, Amanda Hess pointed out that what seemed sexy and exciting in the era of Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson’s VHS video seemed like a potential violation by 2013, when Kim Kardashian explained to Oprah what devastation the release of her own sex tape wreaked on her self-image. Men hacked into the private photo libraries of Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson, and other celebrities in multiple separate attacks, then shared nude images with the entire internet. Lawrence made a point of calling it “not a scandal…a sex crime,” arguing that her status as a sex symbol did not make her an acceptable target for abuse. Detractors told her she should have never taken the photos if she didn’t want them to get leaked, but Lawrence’s statements were the ones that stuck. By speaking openly about the real psychic injury the hackers caused, Lawrence and other victims of the hackings made themselves more human to people watching from the sidelines who might have previously seen them as spectacles willing to be exploited for fame. The “sex tape leaked by an ex” of yesterday is the “revenge porn” of today.

As Carmon notes in her profile of Hilton, Hilton did say in 2004 that she never intended the private 2001 sex tape to be distributed and sold; she even sued the distributor on that point and settled out of court. In that sense, there’s nothing new in her remarks to Marie Claire. The only thing that’s changed is the public’s tolerance for celebrity sexual humiliation—and the belief that such humiliation is possible, even for a superstar trying to promote a television show.

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