These Old Photos of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer Are a Deeply Moving Portrait of Queer Love and Desire
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Wed Sep 13 11:27:00 PDT 2017
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.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Wed Aug 02 11:40:02 PDT 2017
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.
It Would Make Perfect Sense For Justin Bieber to Become the “Tom Cruise” of the Pentecostal Megachurch Hillsong
by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor
Fri Jul 28 10:26:58 PDT 2017
Justin Bieber abruptly canceled the last 14 dates of his Purpose world tour this week, leaving fans asking “What Do You Mean?” (Sorry.) The pop star has been vague about his reasons for pulling out, but critics said his performances on the 16-month-old tour had often been worryingly listless. “You guys ever feel like sleeping all day?” he asked a stadium crowd in Brooklyn last year, lying flat on his back on the stage. “That’s me all the time.” His longtime manager, Scooter Braun, said this week that Bieber’s “soul and well-being” have to come first.
No one know exactly what that means, but the Australian press quickly produced a rumor that was too delicious to ignore: Bieber may be planning to start his own church. “The real reason he’s come off the road is because he wants to reconnect with his faith and maybe even planning to start his own church,” entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins said on the Australian television show Today Extra. “That’s the word from an inside source.”
TMZ soon chimed in with a report the singer had “rededicated his life to Christ,” according to several people associated with the Australia-based Pentecostal church Hillsong. There have been several stories on Bieber’s growing closeness with Hillsong leaders, particularly New York–based pastor Carl Lentz, whom the site depicts as a svengali-like figure who also influenced Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving’s decision to leave the team. Lentz and Bieber have spent almost every day of the last month together, TMZ reported on Thursday, with Bieber seeing the pastor as a father figure. A different story this week quoted a source saying Bieber is “becoming the Tom Cruise of that church.”
Needless to say, we wouldn’t want to give too much credence to the vagaries of “inside sources” weighing in on celebrities lives. Wilkins’s sourcing is sketchy, to put it kindly. But anonymous sourcing aside, there is plenty of real evidence that Bieber is becoming increasingly dedicated to his faith, whatever you make of its authenticity. The singer attended a Hillsong conference in Sydney earlier this month, his third trip to Australia in two years for church-related events. Even his megastar mishaps revolve around churchgoing these days: On Wednesday night, he accidentally hit a paparazzo with his truck after leaving a church service in Beverly Hills. (Bieber stuck around and seems to have behaved like an all-around mensch in the aftermath.)
Hillsong has dozens of huge congregations all over the world, and celebrity fans including Kevin Durant, Vanessa Hudgens, and Bono. Its leaders are known for being not just cool compared to typical pastors, but genuinely sexy and fashionable. Last year, the church’s touring “worship band,” Hillsong United, was the subject of its own stylish feature-length concert film. It’s no mystery why Bieber would be drawn to the Hillsong aesthetic. Underneath the tattoos and hipster glasses, Hillsong promotes a fairly traditional evangelical theology similar to the one Bieber has long espoused.
He’s no Christmas-and-Easter dilettante who just drops by services for the Instagram opportunities. According to Taffy Akner’s touching 2015 profile of the church in GQ, Bieber has been involved with Hillsong for at least seven years now, and it seems to have brought him genuine comfort in times of bewilderment, exhaustion, and jackassery. (The piece, worth reading in full, opens with the line “What if I told you I had a Justin Bieber story that would break your heart?” and does not disappoint.) Akner also suggests that Bieber’s connection to the church is as personal as it is spiritual. A few years ago, Bieber moved in with Lentz and his family for about six weeks during a rough patch, and he’s been photographed leaving a nightclub with another Hillsong leader. A few days before he canceled his tour this week, he gave a goofy interview in which he rested his head on Lentz’s shoulder. “I just want to love people more,” he said. “I just want to love Carl more.”
Forensic sketch artist Gil Zamora draws somewhere around 350 sketches a year. But his latest project was unlike any sketch he's…
by Duncan Macleod @ The Inspiration Room
Sun Sep 17 01:01:01 PDT 2017
GE has launched “Meet Molly, the Kid Who Never Stops Inventing”, a commercial celebrating the engineering solutions developed at GE. We’re introduced to Molly, a young girl who comes up with brilliant solutions to problems in the home, including taking out the trash, selling Girl Guide cookies, making her bed, sweeping the floor and mowing […]
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Wed Jul 19 15:26:12 PDT 2017
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.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Mon Aug 07 15:06:17 PDT 2017
Unpacking unlikely friendships is one of the things the internet does best. Rivaling Bonedigger the lion and Milo the dachshund for the cutest and most unexpected camaraderie is James Van Der Beek and Marla Maples, whose platonic pairing was revealed on Instagram this weekend. We know him from a titular role in Dawson’s Creek that inspired our emo middle-school fantasies of making out in canoes. We know her from her brief marriage to our current president. How do they know each other?
The photo in question, a nice little group shot of Maples and the Van Der Beeks on a lawn, surprised several Maples fans, too. “Is that Dawson Leery?!” commented one user. Another asked if it was Van Der Beek’s doppelgänger. Nope! It’s really him! His wife, Kimberly, posted a slideshow of images from what looks like the same family barbecue with the four young Van Der Beek kids, Maples, Jimmy Demers (a singer best known for commercial jingles), and former Miss Australia Melissa Hannan. Maples, who is “always welcome in the Vanderfam <3 #friendsforlife,” according to Kimberly’s post, wrote in her caption that she is “grateful for friendships and precious angels in the world.” This was no random collision of C-list celebrities.
Until I saw Maples’ post, I knew little about James Van Der Beek beyond his Dawson days. Now, with the help of the internet, I know a lot. And it turns out that there are a lot of reasons why he and the former wife of the reality-television president should be friends. It might be weirder if they weren’t friends. Demers, a close companion of Maples’, hung out at this year’s Global Green USA pre-Oscar party. So did the Van Der Beeks! Maybe James splashed his cran-vodka on Demers’ suit coat, setting off a friendship that culminated in an August family fun day on the lawn. Also: Maples blogs about healthy “vegan, yet part-time carnivore” eating on her lifestyle site; Kimberly Van Der Beek has blogged about nutrition for People’s celebrity babies vertical. There’s only so many juice bars in L.A., right? Meet-cute in waiting! In 2011, the Van Der Beeks, Demers, and Maples all attended a party at Arianna Huffington’s L.A. home for the launch of a vegan book subtitled Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World. Perhaps they bonded over the crudites.
But the most likely Maples–Van Der Beek meeting place has to do with powers greater than any we can hope to contemplate in our earthly lives. All are devoted practitioners of Kabbalah, the religious tradition popular with celebrities who fancy themselves too hippie for Scientology. Maples has practiced Kabbalah for decades, and the Van Der Beek family, including the kiddos, have been photographed showing off the Kabbalah-affiliated red strings on their wrists. Reports say Maples has been a regular at the L.A. Kabbalah Centre, as has Van Der Beek. Maples reportedly traveled to Israel with Madonna on a trip organized by the Kabbalah Centre in 2004, and James Van Der Beek traveled with Madonna to Malawi on a Kabbalah-related trip in the mid-aughts. The Van Der Beeks met on a Kabbalah trip to Israel in 2009 and got married there the next year. How could these people not all be friends?!
And so, through the power of fancy parties, vegetables, and God herself, the actor who gave us this handy crying meme befriended the woman whose brief, disgusting marital union bequeathed the world the most sympathetic Trump child. I suppose we should thank Madonna, too, for making Jewish mysticism into a trend, thus bringing Marla Maples and James Van Der Beek into each other’s lives. Or, I don’t know, maybe they’re all related.
The Personal Is Digital: Exploring Race, Beauty and Hair Online Briana Barner/ University of Texas at Austin
by Briana Barner @ Flow
Thu Jul 06 09:03:06 PDT 2017
Briana Barner explores the controversial digital commercial published by hair care company Shea Moisture, and the immediate backlash it received.
by KPPS @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014
Mon May 12 18:15:18 PDT 2014
Watch Mountain Dew Commercial Here On April 2013, PepsiCo has released an ad for their brand, Mountain Dew. After its release on the internet, an ad quickly grabbed people’s attention by being “arguably the most racist commercial in history” (Kim). By employing critical race analysis, I argue that this commercial reinforces racial stereotypes against black […]
Dove is at it again! With a mission to highlight the real beauty of women, Dove enlists the help of a forensic artist to be involved in an experiment. Dove real beauty sketches are remarkable.
Have you seen those Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” commercials? It’s where women sit down with a forensics artist behind a white sheet to describe themselves. Then another person com…
Don’t worry, your balls are beautiful.
by fashionista 04 @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014
Tue May 13 20:18:21 PDT 2014
The silhouette of the namesake bird. People all around the world recognize this logo without batting an eyelid: but in case you are not familiar with it, it’s Dove. Fifty years ago it was just a beauty bar that offered a new formula for cleansing creams, but today it is a “global masterbrand” […]
In its latest ad, the beauty brand wants to help create a world where a woman's looks are a source of confidence, not anxiety.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Tue Jul 25 13:02:00 PDT 2017
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.
Why It’s So Disingenuous for Republicans to Call the Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill a Public Safety Measure
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Wed Jul 26 12:12:47 PDT 2017
Since last week, Republicans in the Texas state Senate have been sprinting through a marathon-length list of Gov. Greg Abbott’s legislative priorities, suspending rules and cutting short deliberations to rush a handful of right-leaning bills to the House during a 30-day special session. Democrats say GOP leaders are suppressing the democratic process by depriving legislators and citizens of time to read the bills and advocate for or against them.
One such bill is a regulation on transgender people using single-gender public bathrooms that don’t match the sex on their birth certificates or state-issued IDs. The Texas Senate passed a similar bill earlier this year, but its momentum petered out in the House. Polls have found that only about one-third of Texans support the so-called bathroom bill, and more than half oppose it. Still, for more than a year, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made keeping trans people out of bathrooms one of his pet issues. The Senate passed the bill after midnight on Wednesday morning, sending it to the House, where it will likely stall again, as Republican Speaker Joe Straus opposes it.
So do plenty of other people who know a thing or two about public safety, which Republicans have held up as the ostensible goal of the bathroom regulation. While the Texas Senate debated the bill, the police chiefs of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin held a joint press conference at the state Capitol to publicly oppose the proposed legislation. “It may be great political theater, but it is bad on public safety,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Other representatives from the police forces of Corpus Christi, El Paso, and elsewhere said the legislation would take time away from investigating violent crimes and put it into enforcing nearly unenforceable rules, endangering community safety. Chief William McManus of San Antonio, a city that passed an ordinance in 2013 protecting trans people’s rights to use whatever bathrooms match their gender identities, said he had members of his department search the succeeding years’ records for any evidence of assaults in public bathrooms by men pretending to be trans women. They found nothing. “I am a believer that if you propose a bill to address a criminal justice concern, it is important to determine if there is an actual problem you are trying to solve,” McManus said.
This is an important point that exposes the hate and discrimination that underlies transgender bathroom restrictions. Republican legislators don’t want to protect their constituents who aren’t trans—they want to keep trans people out of the public sphere altogether. There is no way to station a police officer or security guard as an ID-checking bouncer at every public restroom that would be affected by the legislation. The proposed bill wouldn’t even penalize trans people who used bathrooms that didn’t match their IDs. Instead, it would nullify laws like San Antonio’s that prohibit bathroom discrimination and impose financial penalties on schools and government entities that don’t police bathroom use based on birth certificates.
In other words, there is no good way to enforce this kind of law, and there is no public interest in passing it. It’s not a public safety measure. It is a message to trans people that they are undeserving of basic dignity and comfortable participation in public life. It is a go-ahead to cis people to harass anyone in a restroom who doesn’t look like their idea of a gender-normative woman or man. And it is tantamount to emotional abuse for trans kids, who would arguably be most affected by the legislation because they spend all day in schools, which are among the primary targets of the bill. When the police chiefs of some of the state’s biggest cities are begging legislators to give their transphobia a rest, it’s well past time for the governor and lieutenant governor to rethink their priorities.
by Duncan Macleod @ The Inspiration Room
Wed Jul 26 15:46:52 PDT 2017
Volkswagen France is running “Humains”, a commercial promoting the brand’s environmental credentials. Earlier in the month the French government announced plans to phase out petrol and diesel powered vehicles by 2040. The Volkswagen Humans campaign responds with the promise of adaptation. People have always adapted to their environment, often without realising, whether it be eating […]
Heather Long: Dove's latest campaign to get women to be more confident about their looks makes a powerful point, even if it's only skin deep
This EFL lesson plan is designed around a short film by John X. Carey which was commissioned by Dove and the theme of beauty. Students describe portraits, talk about beauty, watch a short film and …
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Tue Aug 08 11:25:56 PDT 2017
Taylor Swift is expected to testify in a case coming before a jury this week in Denver, Colorado, where she says a former country-music radio DJ groped her more than four years ago.
“He took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there,” Swift claimed in a deposition. David Mueller, the then–morning show host, was backstage at Swift’s Denver concert with his girlfriend in 2013 when the alleged incident took place during a photo op. He was 51 at the time; she was 23. When a member of Swift’s security personnel approached Mueller with her allegation, he refuted the claim and was ushered out of the venue. Later, Swift and her team provided Mueller’s bosses with the photo they’d posed for, which appears to show Mueller with his hand on Swift’s butt. He was fired two days later.
It took Mueller two more years to sue Swift for allegedly getting him fired for something he still says he didn’t do. His 2015 lawsuit, in which he seeks $3 million in damages for losing his $150,000-a-year job, claims Swift should have called the police instead of his managers. He also claims a colleague is the one who assaulted Swift. She countersued for $1, maintaining that the assault was “completely intentional.” Swift says she doesn’t care about money, but it’s important to her to win a verdict in her favor to serve “as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
Fans lined up outside the courthouse on Monday and Tuesday, gunning for some of the 32 courtroom seats and 75 overflow seats in a room with a closed-circuit screening of the proceedings. But Swifties are unlikely to make it onto the jury. Judge William Martinez had all prospective jurors fill out a mostly standard questionnaire to root out any biases or conflicts of interest, and the questions in 15-page document are likely to exclude the vast majority of the American population. It asks whether potential jurors have listened to Swift on the radio, seen any of her videos, read any articles about her, bought any of her albums, paid any money to listen to her music online, or listened to her songs through a free streaming service. The only way someone could not have heard a Swift song on the radio or seen a clip from one of her videos is if he was specifically trying to avoid her to maintain the possibility of appearing on a jury for a Swift-related court case someday. The questionnaire even asks whether prospective jurors have immediate family members who are fans of Swift’s. Does anyone not?
The best answers probably came from the open-ended questions. One of them—“Do you have any opinion of singer Taylor Swift?”—is a question I would like to ask any potential friends, lovers, and employees before committing to a full-on conversation. (The only incorrect answer is “No.”) One woman reportedly noted on her sheet that she thought Swift was “petty and dishonest,” perhaps because she followed the Kardashian-West receipts debacle of 2016 or believes in the Swift break-up squad conspiracy. Another possible juror is a man who said his wife runs “women’s empowerment workshops,” but that he could still make impartial judgements about the merits of the case. Mueller’s lawyer argued that a wife who is into empowerment stuff could bias a juror against a guy who allegedly groped a young woman under her skirt with his girlfriend standing two feet away. The judge kept that juror on Monday, and jury selection is set to wrap up on Tuesday.
Swift’s determination to see this case through, even though she stands nothing to gain from it, is admirable. By all accounts, she didn’t want Mueller’s alleged assault to blow up into a big public debate, but when he sued her, she didn’t negotiate a quiet settlement. She took him to court. Her attorney says Swift was shocked by Mueller’s assertion that “for some reason she might have some incentive to actually fabricate this story,” because there’s no logical reason why she would. She isn’t asking for money. She didn’t even drag Mueller in public until he filed his suit. Someone with Swift’s income could easily pay Mueller to make this all go away. Instead, she’s spending a week or three in Colorado, trying to convince a panel of people who’ve never heard her songs that an old man violated her in 2013.
Do you recognize your own beauty? Dove video, Real Beauty Sketches, reveals that a stranger can see us better than we see ourselves…
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Mon Jul 17 12:48:41 PDT 2017
R. Kelly has led a charmed career. Through a trial on child pornography charges, repeated allegations of sexual manipulation, and multiple lawsuits from teenage girls claiming he raped and abused them, the singer has remained a bankable superstar. He collaborated with Lady Gaga in 2014 and toured on a new album to roaring arenas as recently as last summer.
A new report from music critic Jim DeRogatis, who first broke the story of Kelly’s alleged pattern of abuse in the late ‘90s, may at last chip away at the singer’s enduring reputation among his fans. At BuzzFeed, DeRogatis relays the strikingly similar stories of two sets of parents who say they saw their teenage girls courted, subjugated, and essentially brainwashed into sexual arrangements with Kelly. Three of Kelly’s former lovers and employees confirm that Kelly puts up several women in two of his properties in the Chicago and Atlanta areas, where they are forced to cut off all connection with family, friends, and the outside world. Two sources call the setup, in which Kelly financially supports the young women in exchange for total control of their movements and appearance, a “cult.”
The parents who spoke to DeRogatis say Kelly wooed their respective daughters, who were 19 and 17 at the time, with promises of a leg up in the music industry. He invited them backstage at his shows, listened to their demos, and convinced their parents that he could help realize their dreams. Soon, the parents say, their daughters moved into Kelly’s (multiple) homes and stopped returning parental phone calls. According to named sources who used to live or work with Kelly, the women who occupy Kelly’s properties must obey his orders on their diets, bathing habits, and daily schedules. They are not allowed to laugh at other men’s jokes or look at other men in the room, the sources say, and they cannot contact family members or leave the house without permission. All their sex acts with Kelly, for which they’ve been coached by older girlfriends of his, are allegedly recorded. When the women disobey, sources told DeRogatis, Kelly doles out physical punishment. They must ask him before doing so much as using the toilet. But when two parents filed a missing-person report for their daughter and asked police to check up on her after they hadn’t heard from her in a while, they were told that their daughter was fine and simply asked to be left alone. Though her parents say she’s being held against her will in a “cult,” the young woman is above the legal age of consent and has every right to enter a nonmonogamous relationship in which her every move is prescribed by a man 30 years her senior.
Many readers will absorb DeRogatis’ report with shock and disgust, but many of the conditions he describes, like Kelly requiring that the women call him “Daddy” and inform him of their daily underwear color, would not be out of place in an account of a consenting dominant-submissive relationship. Others, like Kelly’s isolation of the women from their families and friends, are clear tactics of emotional abuse. And his pattern of luring teenage girls into his orbit with promises of stardom, only to groom them into devoted concubines, is obviously immoral.
Even if the women living together at Kelly’s behest decided to leave, though, they would have a hard time making a case against him. By all accounts from DeRogatis’ sources, including police reports, Kelly’s lovers have not been kidnapped or falsely imprisoned. And unlike previous survivors of his manipulation and sexual intimidation, none are underage. The seeming legality of Kelly’s coercive arrangement may give committed fans and money-hungry entertainment corporations yet another reason to blow off the incessant accusations of his misconduct. Some may hear about this new report and think, “Who am I to judge another man’s sex life?” or, worse, “Sounds like he’s living the dream!” There will always be an acceptable justification available to someone dead set on buying Kelly’s records or hiring him to help make an R&B hit.
But DeRogatis’ piece could still be the death knell to the 50-year-old singer’s reputation. In the fall of 2014, amid resurgent public interest in longstanding sexual-assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Josh Levin wondered in Slate what it would take to bring Kelly down, too. A named victim coming forward with her story could do the trick, he suggested, since the general public has given far more credence to sexual-assault survivors in the past few years. A dozen or more of Kelly’s previous alleged victims have settled out of court for cash and nondisclosure agreements, preventing them from talking about their lawsuits. In his article, DeRogatis names two former lovers of Kelly’s who offer details of his obsessive control over several women’s lives. Their decision to use their real names could give them some credibility among Kelly stans who still believe members of a highly sophisticated conspiracy manufactured a tape depicting child rape to try to bring him down.
The BuzzFeed piece also offers a narrative proxy for Kelly fans who are skeptical of his alleged victims. The devastated mothers of two of Kelly’s current girlfriends say they were R. Kelly fans—“a lyrical genius,” one says—and trusted him to guide their starstruck teens through the music industry. One mother says she was “led to believe there was no truth” to the sexual-abuse allegations against Kelly, since he was acquitted of the child pornography charge in 2008. “Now I got all of these people asking about why my daughter is there, telling me, ‘All of that, the charges against Kelly, was true,’” she tells DeRogatis. “Well, how come you didn’t tell me that before?” The other mother says she wasn’t concerned about Kelly’s 1994 marriage to then-15-year-old Aaliyah because she grew up listening to one of the more creepily-titled songs the two artists created together, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” and liked it.
All the tools the public needs to snuff out Kelly’s career are here: a demonstrated pattern of preying on teen girls, an easily available online chronicle of the allegations against Kelly, on-the-record sources with firsthand knowledge of his abuse and sexual manipulation. But a fire with a healthy supply of oxygen will continue to burn. As long as celebrities and music-industry executives keep working with Kelly—in other words, choosing moneymaking over the safety, dignity, and wellbeing of young women—fans will have plausible deniability of Kelly’s alleged deeds. If you can’t trust a man who sang holiday tunes against a backdrop of twinkle lights on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show just seven months ago, that means you can’t trust Jimmy Fallon. For people invested in the art and image of Kelly, it may be easier to call dozens of unfamous women liars than to face one man’s unfortunate truth.
Stephanie Early Green
I am nervous this morning as I write this post; my stomach’s all fluttery, and not really in a good way. After last week’s kerfuffle over sexism, HLS, and internet trolls, I am a little…
Dove Real Beauty Sketches Becomes The Most Viewed Online Video Ad Of All Time
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Fri Jul 21 14:01:31 PDT 2017
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.
by Sandy V @ Tick Tock Social
Fri Oct 25 00:07:04 PDT 2013
Writing concisely with clarity and meaning, without losing colour, is not easy task. Here are a few tips and tricks from someone who has to do it every day as part of their job.
The post How to write it right: advice from a proofreader and lexicographer appeared first on Tick Tock Social.
Harvard Business Review
Heat maps of viral content show what compels us to share.
Tick Tock Social
Well done Dove. You *know* you've made it when people start making parodies of your ad.It means your commercial, not to mention your brand, is instantly recognisable and worthy of a spoof. Watch original and spoof here.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Fri Sep 15 14:52:55 PDT 2017
When clear-knee jeans hit the internet this spring, regular jeans knelt on their sorry opaque knees and wept. For generations, jeans had been the trusty, self-effacing backdrop upon which other showier garments could shine. Jeans let lighter blues join navy in its coveted spot on the lineup of neutrals. They were humble, and in their humility, they found strength.
Now, weird jeans with the capacity to achieve viral fame are everywhere. They are, Slate has learned, called “statement jeans”—like a statement necklace, but for pants. Some stores (ahem) will file anything with distressing or a little embroidery under the moniker. These jeans count as their ancestors those pants with rhinestone pocket designs that were popular in the late ‘90s. According to Glamour, there are some pairs of statement jeans with subtler embellishments that “aren’t crimes against humanity,” including ones with rhinestone flower patches, giant grommets, and floppy denim bows. (Guess there’s many definitions of what constitutes crimes against humanity.)
Those are not the real deal. The true statement jeans are the ones that defy not only the traditional structure of jeans, but the entire concept of pants. Take, for example, these pairs that have taken on capes and skirts where the normal pants parts should be.
Or these, with lace ruffles that draw the eye to a part of the body eyes were not meant to be drawn to.
Or these, which ruin a perfectly fine pair of cigarette pants with the look of the pleated, baggy shorts your dad might wear to wash the car.
The only “statement” these jeans, descendents of JNCOs, are making is “help, I think a Juggalo is in me.”
Anyone wearing these pants, which come with a flannel butt-flap in case you’re too poor to buy a flannel shirt but can afford a $560 pair of jeans, should be forced to travel back in time and suffer the withering side eye of one Kurt Cobain.
But the mother of all statement jeans is this pair, brought to my attention by a friend of a friend. This garment offers the look of wearing a pair of jeans on top of another pair of identical jeans, for absolutely no reason at all. It looks like it was trying to be maternity pants but forgot that the top part was supposed to be stretchy and comfortable.
Beauty is apparently still in the eye of the beholder.
by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor
Wed Aug 09 14:16:49 PDT 2017
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.”
The latest Dove advertising campaign, “Real Beauty Sketches,” has already garnered its share of well-deserved criticism: That “Dove is owned by Unilever – the same company that owns Axe, king of mi…
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Wed Aug 09 11:45:00 PDT 2017
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.
In the Age of “Revenge Porn” and Celebrity Nude Hacks, Paris Hilton’s Sex Tape Looks a Lot Different
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Tue Aug 15 14:52:32 PDT 2017
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.
by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor
Thu Jul 20 10:09:38 PDT 2017
Mindy Kaling is pregnant! The respectful response to this morsel of information is: “Congratulations, actress and author who has already given me much joy and owes me nothing.” The less respectful but more realistic response is, “Ooh, who’s the father?” And herein lies a quandary for self-respecting gossip consumers and producers: Kaling isn’t telling.
In theory, this seems like a potentially satisfying way to thwart the media’s sick obsession with the contents of famous uteri. A source told People that Kaling isn’t even sharing with her close friends who the father is, and also that she is not currently dating anyone. When E! News broke the story of her pregnancy earlier this week, it quoted an “insider” who simply called it “an unexpected surprise.” There’s the ambiguous fact that Kaling has said in the past, “I think I’ve decided that unlike everything else in my life, I’m going to be fast and loose about kids.” We just don’t know, in other words, and it’s perfectly possible that we will never will. How, then, will the media handle this dangling mystery? Is there a chance celebrity news outlets might treat Kaling’s decision to withhold paternity info as the privacy-protecting measure she surely intends it to be, rather than a thrilling whodunit to be collectively solved? Of course not. As it happens, we have a prime recent example of the way this dynamic plays out in the press: the pregnancy of January Jones.
Jones, best known for playing Betty Draper in Mad Men, gave birth to a son named Xander in 2011. Almost immediately after the pregnancy became public, the gossip press began speculating openly about the identity of the child’s father, which Jones had notably not offered. Suspects included Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Piven, director Matthew Vaughn, and chef Bobby Flay, with whom she was rumored to have had an affair while he was married to actress Stephanie March. “The mystery of who fathered January Jones’ unborn child seems like a case tough enough for Maury Povich,” the New York Daily News trumpeted. Quoting from an interview in which Jones joked that she wished she had “something weird to tell” about her healthy, happy pregnancy, the paper concluded: “How about we start with the name of the father first?”
The Daily News was far from alone in treating the identity of Xander’s father as an exhilarating communal cliffhanger. ABC News produced a slideshow titled “Top 5 Prime Suspects for January Jones’ Baby Daddy.” The Los Angeles Times’ gossip blog called her “classy” under a headline touting “7 baby-daddy conspiracy theories” regarding her “virgin birth.” Fox News: “Ashton Kutcher, January Jones Mum on Rumors He Is Father of Her Infant Child.” TMZ published a scan of the child’s birth certificate, with the space for his father a blank, or as the website put it, “a big, fat BLANK SPOT.”
Jones has resolutely maintained her silence on the question as the years have passed, which only makes the press’s half-decade of tireless prying even more dispiriting. In 2013, she gave a circumspect interview to a fashion publication. ”It’s just not something the public needs to know,” she said. “I don’t divulge my sexual preferences. There are parts of your life—no matter what your job—that should remain private.” US Weekly turned that into the headline “January Jones Talks About Xander’s Father, Her Sexual Preference.”
None of this is surprising, of course, but it still feels like a bleak harbinger for Kaling’s next nine months. The news of her pregnancy is more than just a ray of sunshine in a dark time; it is also a chance for a media do-over. The actress is, presumably, only a few months pregnant. Gossip purveyors and enjoyers have almost a year of pregnancy news to come, followed by a birth announcement, and then years of childhood. Sure, Google already auto-completes “Mindy Kaling” with “husband,” “father,” “baby father,” and “baby daddy.” But we could choose not to speculate wildly about affairs and flings! We could acknowledge that real life doesn’t often resemble the rom-com sitcoms that Kaling herself is so adept at producing. At least until the first slideshows of baby pictures mashed-up with photos of B.J. Novak.
by Duncan Macleod @ The Inspiration Room
Thu Jul 27 15:58:14 PDT 2017
Apple is promoting the latest Siri features with a commercial featuring The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. The commercial, “The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day”, has the actor, producer and professional wrestler using Siri to tick off items on his life long bucket list. In a whirlwind of activity he uses Siri’s connection with FaceTime, email, […]
by Duncan Macleod @ The Inspiration Room
Mon Jul 17 15:57:31 PDT 2017
The Ad Council’s “We Are America” commercial, part of the Love has no labels campaign, is one of the nominations for Most Outstanding Commercial at this year’s Emmy Awards. Launched for Independence Day 2016, the We Are America ad featured American professional wrestler, rapper, actor and reality television show host John Cena reflecting on patriotism […]
Tags: bodies , emotion/desire , gender , marketing/brands , media , beauty standards, representation, subtitles/CC , 00 to 05 mins , 06 to 10 mins Year: 2013 Length: 3:01; 6:36 Access: YouTube ( clip...
by john carey @ John X. Carey | DIRECTOR
Thu Oct 27 13:37:00 PDT 2016
Best commercial of 2013 - TIME
WINNER OF 20 CANNES LIONS.
"...we are committed to creating a world where illegitimate beauty is not a source of confidence."
Details on the media plan behind it.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Thu Jul 27 15:22:25 PDT 2017
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.
by Carole Theriault @ Tick Tock Social
Mon Nov 04 04:34:35 PST 2013
Tesco Mobile doesn't have the brand sex appeal of Nike, Coca Cola or Apple. Nor does it possess the mobile footprint of China mobile and Vodafone. But its fresh approach to social media engagement is turning heads and making headlines.
The post 5 valuable Twitter strategies to steal from Tesco Mobile appeared first on Tick Tock Social.
Ohio University Strategic Social Media
by Lauren Coulson Reed When it comes to marketing campaigns, it’s not always about what you do, as it is how you do it. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign became successful by targeting women’s…
Stacy Bias - Fat Activist and Body Image Campus Speaker
I’m gonna go ahead and be a feminist killjoy on this one. Dove’s at it again with their Real Beauty campaign. This time they’ve asked 4 women to meet with an FBI sketch artist and…
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Tue Jul 11 14:56:03 PDT 2017
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.
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Thu Aug 10 14:19:21 PDT 2017
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.
by Amanda Bloom @ The Mercurial (web) magazine & gallery
Mon Dec 02 08:55:33 PST 2013
Here lies The Mercurial (web) magazine & gallery, an inspired publication and art gallery that served the Greater Danbury, Connecticut and New England areas in news, arts, and culture from 2009 to 2013. Feel free to browse the archives here, and those of The... Read more »
Dove - Real Beauty SketchesWhat do you look like? Do you have the best impression of yourself? Thinking about that, Dove and agency Ogilvy Brazil hired an FBI-trained forensic artist to interview and draw seven different women - two sketches of each. For the first sketch, he asked them to descri
The Inspiration Room
Dove recently conducted a social experiment to prove that women are more beautiful than they think, as part of its continuing focus on “real” beauty in its advertising. FBI-trained forensic sketch artist Gil Zamora, who usually sketches people described by crime eyewitnesses, worked with women to measure self-perception. First he drew portraits of women according …
by Grace Ballenger @ The XX Factor
Fri Jul 14 07:57:58 PDT 2017
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.”
by sublimare @ Sublimare
Wed Jun 29 16:46:56 PDT 2016
Do you remember the commercial titled “Origami” of Extra Gum which shows a father-daughter bonding over time from childhood to adulthood? Now the gum wrappers help to tell the story of Sarah and Juan over their years of relashionship. The music? The Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. The singer? The fantastic former-American Idol star […]
by truth @ My Body My Image
Thu Apr 27 11:23:16 PDT 2017
After the Kendell Jenner Pepsi debacle you would think that brands would shy away from trying to make “statement” commercials but Heineken has just launched an online commercial that is truly hitting the right note. I wish that the members of the American Senate and the House should build a bridge and have a beer…ok … Continue reading Heineken Shows Pepsi How it’s done…
by Nex @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014
Mon May 12 14:12:18 PDT 2014
In 2013, PepsiCo released a commercial for Mountain Dew as part of a series developed by African American rapper Tyler, the Creator. The ad immediately felt backfire as it was criticized for portraying racial stereotypes and making light of violence toward women. Using critical race analysis, I argue that the Mountain Dew commercial perpetuates african-american […]
When It Comes to LGBTQ Acceptance, Muslims Are More “Assimilated” Into American Culture Than White Evangelicals
by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor
Tue Aug 08 05:15:00 PDT 2017
One of the most memorable motifs is the presidency of Donald Trump is the notion that Muslims are somehow incapable of assimilating into American culture. “Assimilation has been very hard,” Trump told Sean Hannity last summer, in response to a question about how to vet Muslim immigrants to determine if they want to proselytize and import theocracy. “I won’t say nonexistent, but it gets to be pretty close. And I’m talking about second and third generation. For some reason, there’s no real assimilation.”
On at least one issue, however, recent surveys suggest Trump’s fears about assimilation are directed at the wrong group. According to a poll of American Muslims conducted this year by Pew, more than half (52 percent) say “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” In a wider survey on the same question last year, 63 percent of the general population said the same—compared to just over a third of white evangelicals. On the question of LGBTQ acceptance, in other words, American Muslims look much more like “mainstream” America than white evangelicals do.
A 2014 Pew survey that asked specifically about same-sex marriage turned up similar results: 53 percent of the general population favored legalization, while just 28 percent of evangelicals said the same. Among Muslims, support was at 42 percent. Which group looks like its values are approaching the American consensus, and which one looks like a population of “unassimilated” religious extremists?
Let me pause to say that’s an overly broad brush with which to paint evangelicals. The gap between young white evangelicals and their elders has widened dramatically in recent years, for example, with almost half of Millennial and Generation X cohorts now favoring gay marriage. But white evangelicals as a whole remain dramatically set apart from the culture on a question with major social, interpersonal, and political implications. There’s a reason that many conservative Christians who object to same-sex relationships now frame their opposition not as “traditional” but as “counter-cultural.”
Meanwhile, American Muslims’ acceptance of homosexuality is striking for two reasons. First, it is growing with remarkable speed. A decade ago, just 27 percent of American Muslims said homosexuality should be accepted, while 61 percent said it should be discouraged. Today, the “accepters” outnumber the “discouragers” by almost 20 percentage points. And these numbers are also remarkable because of how dramatically American Muslims differ from the global Muslim population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to homosexuality. This kind of change is practically the textbook definition of “assimilation.”
The big picture is that despite our president’s flailing attempts to reignite the culture wars, Americans keep moving inexorably toward acceptance of LGBTQ people. Two years after Obergefell v. Hodges, support for same-sex marriage is rising among just about every religious, racial, and generational demographic. The majority of Americans believe transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, just to pick another issue at random. At this point it’s fair to say that acceptance of LGBTQ people is a mainstream American value. If certain religious groups can’t adjust to the tolerance of the culture in the country where they have chosen to live, well, that would be a real shame.
by Sandy V @ Tick Tock Social
Tue Nov 05 02:51:56 PST 2013
Writing in a concise and considered way takes a great deal more time and effort than doing a brain-dump of all your ideas into a page of text. Try these exercises to tighten up your writing while keeping the most pertinent of information.
The post How to write it right: exercises focused on structure and function appeared first on Tick Tock Social.
by Duncan Macleod @ The Inspiration Room
Sat Jul 15 19:03:49 PDT 2017
Squarespace commercial “Calling John Malkovich” is one of the nominations for Most Outstanding Commercial at this year’s Emmy Awards. The Super Bowl commercial is a continuation of the Squarespace campaign in which John Malkovich sets out to establish an online fashion design business. Things get tricky when he discovers that a namesake has already got […]
Seagram Pearce Photography - South African Automotive & Commercial Photographer
It was only via twitter (thanks to Mr @ChrisRawlinson) that I first saw this beautifully put together Dove advert. Making a point that woman have a very under valued self image. I really did enjoy …
A free downloadable lesson based around the recent Dove advertisement, showing the huge difference between women’s views of their looks and how other see them. The lesson starts by focusing …
by bsommedia @ bsomultimedia english
Thu Sep 14 09:57:38 PDT 2017
Here is a selection of the recent best commercials that we have found most interesting to share with you. PEDIGREE® Duckface. Heineken – The Duel. Instrumentarium […]
Florence,a pretty blonde woman,is led to a quiet, open room full of windows; sheer curtains are placed all around, giving a breathtaking view of the setting sun against city’s skyline. She w…
by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor
Thu Aug 31 13:04:00 PDT 2017
After years of battling ex-fiancée Sofía Vergara in court for custody of a pair of frozen embryos they once made together, condiment entrepreneur Nick Loeb might finally be out of luck. Last week, a federal judge in Louisiana dismissed Loeb’s suit, saying that the embryos are “citizens of California,” where Vergara and Loeb conceived and froze them. Thus, the judge ruled, embryos have no legal standing to sue in Louisiana, the only state that gives embryos the right to sue and be sued.
Embryos are frozen when they are just clumps of a few dozen cells, equivalent to a vaginally inseminated egg that would still take another week to become embedded in the uterine wall. Louisiana law deems these cells “juridical persons”—not quite human beings, but deserving of legal rights. In Louisiana, embryos are not merely property of the two people who made them, so any legal disputes must meet “the best interest of the in vitro fertilized ovum.”
That’s the most likely reason why Loeb sued Vergara in Louisiana despite the fact that neither party maintains a residence there.* (Loeb says he chose the state because the couple broke up there; he dropped an earlier California suit because he didn’t want to name his previous girlfriends who’d had abortions.) Actually, Loeb didn’t exactly sue Vergara—the embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” did. “Plaintiff EMMA is a female human being at the embryonic stage of life, five days old developmentally,” the “right to live” suit read, claiming that Vergara had “effectively abandoned and chronically neglected” her children by keeping them frozen in a medical tank since 2013. Though Vergara and Loeb had signed a contract when they were together agreeing that the embryos would never be implanted anywhere without both parties’ consent, Loeb wanted to nullify the agreement and implant them in a surrogate.
Over the past couple of years, the Vergara–Loeb embryo battle has become a proxy fight for anti-abortion advocates who think frozen embryos should be treated like people. Anti-abortion groups have funded or filed amicus briefs in the embryo disputes of split-up couples, including the case of a Missouri woman named Jalesia McQueen. In the middle of her own court battle over two frozen embryos (“Noah” and “Genesis”) with an ex-husband who wanted to dispose of them, McQueen founded an organization called Embryo Defense to advocate for all excess embryos in legal limbo. She aggregates news on the Vergara–Loeb case and uses their photos in images made for sharing on social media. The graphics say things like “Sofia says it’s ‘selfish’ to let the embryos be born without both parents being in a loving relationship. Shouldn’t both parents just love the child?” and “Please pray for Sofia Vergara and those she called her ‘frozen babies,’ that she’d open her heart so they could be a blessing in her life.” One pairs a picture of Loeb’s face with the question “what about a father’s right to choose?”
The concept of “a father’s right” to procreate without input from the woman whose egg created the embryo is a favorite rallying cry of the embryo-protector set. Loeb himself made this argument in a 2015 New York Times op-ed with the magnificent headline “Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live.” “A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects,” Loeb wrote. “Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?”
The federal judge’s decision against Loeb is only the latest in a string of disappointing court losses for those who believe embryos should be treated like people. When Barack Obama lifted a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2009, he was hit with a lawsuit from one Mary Scott Doe, a “frozen embryo symbolizing all existing frozen embryos.” A federal appeals court ruled that Doe had no standing as an “amorphous” class that could not prove any actual harm. In 2015, a California Superior Court judge ruled that a contract a divorced couple signed at the medical center where they created the embryo prevented either party from taking unilateral custody of the embryos unless one of the parties died. Even McQueen, the founder of Embryo Defense, lost her suit late last year when a St. Louis court ruled that embryos are “marital property of a special character,” not human beings with unalienable rights.
That St. Louis case might be the most promising decision yet for those who believe that no person should be able to incubate an embryo without the consent of the other person whose genetic material it carries. The others, which rest on the tenets of contract law, legal standing, and jurisdiction, say more about how the suits were filed than what rights adults have to the embryos they create. Still, Loeb’s loss could set a welcome precedent in these kinds of cases: Jurisdiction-shopping embryo protectors might find Louisiana to be a less hospitable home for a lawsuit than they’d imagined.
*Correction, August 31, 2017: This piece originally referred to “the most likely reason why Loeb sued Vergara in California, despite the fact that neither party maintains a residence there.” It should have said Louisiana.