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Dove's 'real beauty sketches' ad deserves some praise | Heather Long

Dove's 'real beauty sketches' ad deserves some praise | Heather Long


the Guardian

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

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

Shonda Rhimes Gives Butch Barber Kylee Howell the Dove Real Beauty Treatment

Shonda Rhimes Gives Butch Barber Kylee Howell the Dove Real Beauty Treatment


Autostraddle

At Friar Tuck’s, Kylee wants to help everyone who walks in the door — and all genders are welcome — become the most authentic version of themselves. It’s rad as heck to see a major beau…

Statement Jeans Are Fun to Look At, But an Insult to Pantkind

Statement Jeans Are Fun to Look At, But an Insult to Pantkind

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

It also appears to be a ripoff of a pair of jeans from Rihanna’s clothing line circa 2013. The only thing worse than a bad statement is one that’s plagiarized, right Melania?

Women Are Taking the Economic Hit From America’s Child Care Deserts

Women Are Taking the Economic Hit From America’s Child Care Deserts

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

In a speech on tax reform in Missouri this week, Donald Trump praised daughter Ivanka for her efforts to get Congress on board with a set of proposed tax credits for child care. “It’s one of her real big beliefs,” Trump said, calling for legislation that helps “parents afford child care and the cost of raising a family.”

The Trump plan, which would give families with child care expenses a few hundred dollars off their income tax bill each spring, would do far more for wealthy families able to pay for child care out of pocket than those struggling to afford the bills that come every week or month. But even families that don’t blink at the exorbitant cost of child care in the U.S. can find themselves in a tough spot when it comes time to choose a provider. About half of Americans live in what the Center for American Progress calls “child care deserts”: neighborhoods with at least 50 children under 5 and either no licensed child care options at all or more than three children for every available child care slot.

According to a new CAP report that analyzed almost 150,000 child care providers in 22 states, 58 percent of rural census tracts, 55 percent of urban tracts, and 44 percent of suburban tracts are child care deserts. Of the states CAP studied, California and New York have the highest proportion of residents living in child care deserts—62 and 61 percent, respectively—while Iowa, with 24 percent of its population in child care deserts, has the lowest. The data includes child care centers, family-based child care providers, Head Start centers, and preschools in each of the 22 states, which account for about two-thirds of the U.S. population.

Those who live in neighborhoods with a dearth of child care providers are disproportionately low-income, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native. Rural areas with mean incomes below the national average have the highest rate of child care deserts (63 percent), followed by low-income urban areas, high-income rural areas, and high-income urban areas, all of which count more than half their share of census tracts as child care deserts.

The report offers a troubling picture of the child care crisis in America, matching numbers to the anecdotes about the nightmare of finding quality, affordable child care that arise in any circle of parents. It also raises important questions for future scholars to consider—namely, how do families in child care deserts make life with young children work? For most, the answer probably lies in stay-at-home parenting, private nannies or nanny-shares, or some patchwork of part-time work and help from extended family. Sometimes, the few child-care slots available in such child care deserts go to those with money to buy their way in. In a piece on a 2016 poll that found two-thirds of parents saying they had limited “realistic” choices for child care, NPR’s Jessica Deahl reported that one family spent more than $1,000 on wait-list fees at booked-up child care centers, many of which never contacted the parents again after taking their money.

When paired with the extraordinary cost of child care in the U.S., which is higher than the average in-state college tuition and costs more than rent in many towns, the proliferation of child care deserts incentivizes parents to leave the workforce for full-time parenting. For several interrelated reasons—social conditioning, the wage gap, the probability that a baby’s first primary caretaker becomes its permanent one, gender norms that shunt men into higher-paying fields and gender discrimination that privileges them for promotions—in families with two working parents of different genders, the woman will usually be the one to quit her job. In the short term, this seems like it makes sense, and for some families, it’s necessary: A 2014 Pew study found that 34 percent of stay-at-home mothers are living in poverty, compared with 12 percent of working mothers. Nearly half of stay-at-home mothers have a high-school diploma or less, limiting their potential career path. Since the end of the recession, child care costs have grown at nearly twice the inflation rate, making it impossible for many lower-income parents to afford.

But a parent leaving the workforce can have compounding financial drawbacks that stick around long after the kids are out of day care and into school. Studies have shown that a woman’s earnings fall 10 percent for every two years she’s out of a job, a consequence that follows her for the rest of her working life. Unaffordable and unavailable child care preserves structures of income inequality by incentivizing cash-strapped women to stay home, then punishing them when they do.

Trump has proposed loosening regulations on day cares to encourage entrepreneurial-minded people to open more child care centers and relieve the shortage. That is a preposterous solution based on an inaccurate characterization of the industry: Child care facilities are already underregulated in some places, such as Alabama, where day cares are using religious loopholes to evade child-endangerment charges for putting kids in dangerous, undersupervised settings. Save for a few extreme examples like Washington, D.C.’s absurd requirement that child care workers have college degrees, child care regulations aren’t bits of bureaucratic nonsense that hamper business earnings for no good reason—for children, they’re a matter of life or death. The problem of child care deserts could be better tackled through subsidies that allow child care workers to earn a living wage without pricing out parents, making it a more desirable career path. That strategy comes with a bonus: If subsidies helped more people comfortably afford child care, they might choose to stay at work and use it.

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

After Charlottesville, Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Doubles Down: Resisting Him Is Resisting “the Hand of God”

After Charlottesville, Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Doubles Down: Resisting Him Is Resisting “the Hand of God”

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

Televangelist and pastor Paula White has known Donald Trump since the early 2000s, and she is thought to be the president’s closest spiritual adviser. She prayed at his inauguration, appeared with him when he signed his executive order easing restrictions on pastors engaging in politics, and told evangelical TV host Jim Bakker she is in the White House at least weekly these days. This week, as Trump faced sustained criticism over his response to the violent white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, she proved her loyalty once more, appearing on the Jim Bakker Show to defend Trump’s presidency and his spiritual bona fides in apocalyptic terms. While White has condemned white supremacy as evil and has a racially mixed fan base, she didn’t mention Trump’s equivocations that have roiled the nation.

Instead, she made an extended comparison of the president to the biblical figure Esther on Bakker’s show Monday in an interview that at times sounded more like an impassioned sermon. Like Esther, White said, Trump is a come-from-nowhere figure elevated to leadership against all odds in order to do God’s will. She described Trump as a generous, humble man of “character and integrity” and vouched repeatedly for the state of his soul. “He surrounds himself with Christians, and he is a Christian,” she told Bakker, about a man who’s been widely reported as being irreligious for most of his life, prompting applause from the studio audience. “He loves prayer.”

White didn’t need to convince Bakker’s audience that a flawed man can be redeemed to do the Lord's work; the Bakker himself went through a high-profile sex scandal in the 1980s and later spent time in jail for mail and wire fraud before returning to ministry. White’s case for Trump’s divine mission was based not on his character, but on the future of the Supreme Court and other judicial appointments. To White, Trump is doing exactly what conservative Christians elected him to do. She called the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court a “miracle” and spoke fervently about future court appointments. “We’ve got 130 vacancies in the lower courts, and he is appointing exactly what we asked for. ... We wanted originalists; we want constitutionalists,” she said. “Right now, we’re scaring the literal hell out of demonic spirits by me saying this right now,” she added, indicating she sensed her words were summoning opposition from dark forces.

In adamning investigative piece written for the now-shuttered conservative site Heat Street, Jillian Melchior reported this spring on her dubious record as a televangelist and pastor. White’s church outside Orlando, Florida, attracts an almost exclusively black audience, many of whom have low incomes and little savings. That doesn’t stop White from asking for what they have. White asked congregants to donate up to a month’s salary as a one-time special offering to mark the beginning of the year. At her previous church, White often asked congregants to donate jewelry and other valuables, which White would later sift through herself and pluck out valuable items, according to another pastor interviewed by Melchior. That church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy several years after White left.

Trump’s roster of spiritual advisers is heavy on televangelists and prosperity Gospel preachers such as White, who suggest God will reward believers for their generosity toward their churches and spiritual leaders. Even as Trump’s business advisory boards fell apart and the majority of his arts and humanities committee resigned in the wake of his response to Charlottesville, the members of his evangelical advisory board, who informally advise him on spiritual and political matters, have largely stood by him. When ABC’s This Week reached out to the administration to request someone to speak for the president, they offered up Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University who dutifully reported that the president “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.” A.R. Bernard, the pastor of a megachurch in Brooklyn, New York, is a notable exception. He announced last week that he had “quietly stepped away” from the board months ago and formally resigned the day of Trump’s disastrous “both sides” press conference.

Pressure is mounting on the group from other corners of conservative Christianity. Some Liberty students are returning their diplomas as a protest against Falwell’s backing, for example. In an interview with Emma Green in the Atlantic, advisory board member Tony Suarez, the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, argued that much of the group's work with the president is invisible. Just because they aren’t rebuking him publicly, he implied, does not mean that they aren’t delivering bracing truths in private. “I can tell you there have been legitimate, straight meetings where we delve into these issues,” he told Green. “There is an open door from the Oval Office to be able to express praise, criticism, and concern to the president. And he receives it.”

But critics are skeptical that Trump would tolerate criticism from his religious advisers, given his apparent inability to accept criticism from anyone else. “What is Trump doing with them if he’s not listening to them?” Bryan McGraw, a political scientist at evangelical Wheaton College, said by email. “Using them as props in his White House Reality TV Show.” As long as Trump is able and willing to make conservative judicial picks, it appears White has no temptation to critique the man she believes has been installed by God to the hall of power—and who has brought her right along with him.

Real Time Chat

by rmg5539 @ Mass Media and Society

School is something that is very important to me, as I take my studies very seriously. I always strive to do my best in order to be the best student and person that I possibly can. When asking my older sister how to prepare for my classes, she told me that one of the most […]

It Would Make Perfect Sense For Justin Bieber to Become the “Tom Cruise” of the Pentecostal Megachurch Hillsong

It Would Make Perfect Sense For Justin Bieber to Become the “Tom Cruise” of the Pentecostal Megachurch Hillsong

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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.”

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

Webinar: Contextual targeting masterclass

by Grapeshot @ Digiday

Join Nicole Brodeur, Grapeshot director of account management and Aruna Paramasivam L’Oreal’s data acquisition and partner manager to find out how to optimize your campaign performance, increase scale and increase precision targeting. Sponsored by Grapeshot.

The post Webinar: Contextual targeting masterclass appeared first on Digiday.

An Ode to Tsukiji

An Ode to Tsukiji

by Chris Stenberg @ Travel - Chris Stenberg Photography

My first visit to Tsukiji was ill advised. I was 19 years old and had been living in Tokyo for two months. They say to visit Tsukiji on your first day or two in Japan as the jet lag will help with the early start to catch the early morning action in the market. My girlfriend at the time had just arrived in Japan and had never left Canada before. First thing the next morning we made it through the maze of subways to Tsukiji.  The combined aroma of every kind of fish and diesel fumes plus the commotion proved to be too much — she became instantly nauseous. Unfortunately for us inexperienced tourists Tsukiji was and continues to be an actual working fish market with real working fisherman bathrooms. Kneeling on the dirty wet floor whatever contents of the meal from her United Airlines flight the day before were let loose into the filthy recessed bowl in the floor. 

WATCH:  'Real Live:' Study finds link between youth head trauma and long-term brain issues

WATCH: 'Real Live:' Study finds link between youth head trauma and long-term brain issues

by @ ABC News: Health

Controversy surrounding the dangers of youth football has been reignited.

Why Does the Anna Faris/Chris Pratt Breakup Feel So Singularly Heartbreaking?

Why Does the Anna Faris/Chris Pratt Breakup Feel So Singularly Heartbreaking?

by Heather Schwedel @ The XX Factor

When a celebrity couple breaks up, of course the decent thing to do would be to pay no mind, to “respect the couple’s privacy at this difficult time.” But when we’ve spent years watching them on red carpets, reading about their relationship in magazines, liking their cutesy Instagram posts, and gobbling up their anecdotes on talk shows, the impulse to react personally is hard to subdue. And in the case of Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, who announced their separation on Sunday, the overwhelming reaction is one of sadness. These two weren’t an Angie and Brad–style tabloid staple, nor were they a flavor of the week, destined to burn out before their next press tour. Instead, they seemed to be that rare thing—a low-key (for Hollywood), actually-likes-each-other couple that could be in it for the long haul.

Their statement about the separation, which they both released on social media, is shattering in its plain-spokenness (“We tried hard for a long time, and we’re really disappointed”) and offers a hint at the “real deal” factor that made their union so compelling. Of course, the idea that a casual observer of any marriage, let alone a celebrity one from a distance, could have any idea what it’s like on the inside is flawed, yet Farris and Pratt had that spark of authenticity that made people root for them. Part of that charm has its origins in the story of how Faris and Pratt got together about a decade ago, on the set of a now-forgotten romantic comedy, when she was the more famous of the pair. (She was married at the time but began dating Pratt when that relationship ended, and they got engaged and married soon after. The two had a son together in 2012.)

When they met, Pratt had appeared on TV shows like Everwood and The O.C., but Faris had made a name for herself as the ditzy blonde in the Scary Movie franchise, headlined a few movies on her own, and was poised to become the next big thing. In a 2011 profile, the New Yorker called Faris “Hollywood’s most original comic actress,” and though she’s held several starring roles since then, including one on the CBS sitcom Mom, her career didn’t end up taking the A-list, it-girl trajectory such a writeup hopes to foretell. But during the same period, Pratt’s did. He parlayed a beloved ensemble role in Parks & Recreation to landing lead parts in blockbusters like Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy, and along the way, he went from beer-bellied goof to hard-bodied heartthrob. This seemed to add another dimension to their relationship—she had her success, now he’ll have his. But viewed in hindsight, it now sounds like both typical Hollywood and high school all over again: A guy goes away to summer soccer camp, has a growth spurt, and gets cool. When he comes back, he breaks up with his old girlfriend and starts hanging out with the popular kids.

Of course, this is all speculation, and Pratt’s career hasn’t been without its setbacks. (Remember Passengers?) But part of what feels heartbreaking here lies in the way this breakup resonates with Hollywood’s tradition of treating men and women very differently, which gives context to Pratt’s ascent. Faris’s career may be chugging along beside it, but her lack of astronomical success ends up looking like she got the short end of the stick. Their ages further flesh out this reading: At 40, Faris might be considered past her prime by Hollywood standards, whereas Pratt, slightly younger at 38, is just coming into his and can look forward to another decade or more of lead roles. Faris will be fine—she’s got that CBS money—but where’s her franchise?

Having a career in the public eye exerts an unmeasurable toll on relationships, and Faris herself spoke recently to People about the pressure she and Pratt faced. “I don’t think that’s something, when you’re an actor, that you’re prepared for,” she said. “There are two different roles that you play—the one on-camera and the one in public. That’s the tricky part.” We can never know what really broke the two up, but the meta narrative is enough to make you give up on love—and hope for women in Hollywood—completely.

Book round-up: pregnancy, birth, baby-care, and parenting

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

A friend who is expecting her first baby recently asked me for recommendations on my favorite pregnancy, birth, and parenting books, and, to my surprise, I found myself brimming with suggestions. I used to tell people (proudly) that I didn’t read parenting books — but I see now that this is not actually true. What’s more […]

The CBS Board Member’s Email to Kathy Griffin Sure Is Full of Some Outrageously Bad Advice

The CBS Board Member’s Email to Kathy Griffin Sure Is Full of Some Outrageously Bad Advice

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Kathy Griffin posed for a photo with a model of Trump's decapitated head three months ago—in Trump presidency time, that’s about seven years—but it might as well have happened yesterday. A new New York magazine piece on Griffin finds her struggling to get work, still fielding new death threats, and distancing herself from friends like Anderson Cooper who she says didn’t check in with her for months, even as she was being dragged in both the left- and right-wing press.

Griffin has also been subjected to unsolicited advice from other industry professionals purporting to want to save her career. According to Yashar Ali, who wrote the New York piece and is something of a friend to Griffin, Billy “lol Trump is funny man” Bush told Griffin to keep her head down and meditate until people moved on to something else. And Arnold Kopelson, a CBS Corporation board member and Oscar-winning producer, sent Griffin a wonderful email suggesting that she humble herself before the president, who has been “known to be compassionate.”

That line was probably Griffin’s first indication that Kopelson’s suggestion was some nonsense. Trump has about as much experience with compassion as Steve Bannon has with unconscious bias training. Would the man who defamed a mother who lost her son in an American war accept an apology from a loud-mouthed left-wing comedian? Trump doesn’t have a gracious sweat gland on his body: He sees apologies not as opportunities for forgiveness, but as weak points waiting to be pummeled over and over again.

Kopelson, who was not Griffin’s boss, addressed her like an employee on the verge of ruining his business or a child who’d brought shame to his family. “You have one chance left if you send the following letter (NOT AN EMAIL) to the President,” he advised in his email, as if he had some special knowledge of Trump’s capacity for forgiveness. “DON’T CHANGE A WORD OF IT.”

What followed was a hilarious feat of groveling and self-humiliation. “Please, I beg you to not stop reading,” the letter begins. It continues: “Now with my world crumbling around me, I am listening for the first time about the great things you have done and are doing.  How stupid I was to follow the lies from the ‘Left.’ It took my terrible mistake to finally see the false news. … How warped and misguided I was. My stupidity is overwhelming. I do not deserve what I am asking of you.”

For Griffin, an outspoken progressive and dedicated follower of politics, sending this letter would have meant peeing all over her most cherished values for the slim possibility of getting on the good side of a man she believes to be a cruel demagogue. Sure, her photo was a tasteless bit of shock comedy that looked more like a shallow publicity grab gone awry than any kind of pointed political commentary. But she was quick to apologize, and unlike other comedians who’ve earned widespread public ire (see: Michael Richards and the N-word) her target was a politician, not a marginalized or oppressed population. Comedians are not known for debasing themselves at the feet of the powerful after an (admittedly bad) joke lands the wrong way, especially if the target of the bad joke is a public, privileged figure. The suggestion that Griffin besmirch her own political comrades, affirm Trump’s routine incitement of violence against the media, and praise some imaginary set of good deeds he’s done is unbelievably cynical. It assumes that Griffin would gladly sell her soul for the chance to maybe make more money.  

Kopelson’s insistence on his proposed plan of action for Griffin also speaks to a rash, if well-meaning, overconfidence. “IF YOU DON’T DO EXACTLY WHAT I’VE WRITTEN, YOUR CAREER IS OVER,” he kindly advised in his note. He told her in all caps not to “CHANGE A WORD” of his disgusting note of self-flagellation, but the note itself is riddled with typos (“Thank you sir for hearing meh plea”) and grammatical errors. If you’re going to claim to hold the one true key to a person’s career survival, you’d best make sure not to confuse your “my” with your “meh.”

Griffin told Ali that Kopelson is just another one of those “men who control the checkbooks” in Hollywood, who are quick to trade in any semblance of liberal values for the security of their business interests. She and Ali make all kinds of good arguments in her defense that should seem obvious: The Trump family’s personal attack on a second-tier entertainer was unprecedented and wrong; Trump himself has championed those who’ve advocated for the actual assassination of his political opponents; Trump is doing far worse concrete damage than Griffin, and she’s not the president, so why should she be forced to kiss his ring to get back in the industry’s good graces?

It all points to one very unflattering truth about the entertainment industry. No surprise here: Despite the supes empowering storylines, nice platitudes about equality, and resistance-baiting tweets, money, not any notion of right and wrong, is the guiding light. Griffin says she’s gotten lots of sympathetic messages of support from fellow industry folks; none agreed to speak with Ali for his story. Surely none of them think Griffin was truly threatening an attack on Trump, and most probably feel that her subsequent career tailspin was undeserved, but none were willing to associate themselves with someone who’d angered a president every moral person believes is a stain on humanity. Trump can bully his critics for their bad jokes all he wants, but his overblown attacks only gain power when everyone else agrees to play by his messed-up rules.

Why New Accounts of R. Kelly’s Sexual Manipulation of Young Women Could Finally Bring Him Down

Why New Accounts of R. Kelly’s Sexual Manipulation of Young Women Could Finally Bring Him Down

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

Latest true crime writings and ‘castings

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

Some quick updates on what I’ve been up to recently: First, one of my editors at Previously.TV, the inimitable Sarah D. Bunting, has spun off from Extra Hot Great a new, true-crime-TV-focused podcast called The Blotter Presents. A few weeks ago, I was honored to be TBP’s first guest, wherein we discussed OJ: Made in America, ESPN’s […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove Real Beauty Productions and Shonda Rhimes’s "Meet Kylee"

Dove Real Beauty Productions and Shonda Rhimes’s "Meet Kylee"


Unilever USA

Dove Real Beauty Productions and Shonda Rhimes Release "Meet Kylee"

I Shot Macro Photos That Capture the Beauty of Peacock Feathers

by Can Tunçer @ PetaPixel

My name is Can Tunçer. I’m a photographer living in Turkey, and I have been shooting macro photographs for about 7 years now. As someone who likes to photograph the tiny details of nature, I recently chose the peacock feather as a subject and started a special project on it. The peacock feather has a […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Women Doing Real Things: Deb Fair, Executive Director at The PEDIGREE Foundation

by Katherine Schwarzenegger @ Katherine Schwarzenegger

Mars 5k/10k race on July 4, 2017. Photos by Donn ones Photography

Nothing makes me happier than people who dedicate their career to helping animals, and this week’s Real Women Doing Real Things is no exception!  Deb Fair, Executive …

The post Real Women Doing Real Things: Deb Fair, Executive Director at The PEDIGREE Foundation appeared first on Katherine Schwarzenegger.

Reality TV is my sports

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

I’m not a sports-on-TV person. This fact, I’m sure, pains my father deeply, since he is the type of person who will watch almost any sport on TV, including wrestling and volleyball, as long as his beloved alma mater Penn State is involved. My mom, having been married to my dad for close to 46 […]

My new Bachelor(ette) podcast!

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

Big news: I now have a podcast devoted to everyone’s favorite televised dumpster fire of true love, The Bachelorette! Jeff Drake and I co-host Whine & Roses, a weekly podcast in which we break down each episode of The Bach’ette into its essential components. It’s highly rigorous and scientific! Please do me a solid and […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove releases rogue Photoshop action that undoes 'real beauty' manipulations

Dove releases rogue Photoshop action that undoes 'real beauty' manipulations


The Verge

Skin care company Dove has targeted airbrushers and photo manipulators with a Photoshop action in an attempt to take its "real beauty" campaign viral. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was launched...

Kate Hudson and Boyfriend Danny Fujikawa Have a Sparkly Date Night at the Premiere of Her New Movie

Kate Hudson and Boyfriend Danny Fujikawa Have a Sparkly Date Night at the Premiere of Her New Movie

by Maria Pasquini @ PEOPLE.com

Kate Hudson and her musician boyfriend Danny Fujikawa looked stunning at the New York City premiere of Hudson’s new film Marshall on Saturday.

Attending the movie screening at the Urbanworld Film Festival, Hudson, 38, shimmered in a silver Stella McCartney one-shoulder dress. Meanwhile Fujikawa opted for an all-black ensemble.

Marshall is an upcoming biopic about Thurgood Marshall and his rise to the United States Supreme Court.

RELATED VIDEO: Sealed With a Kiss! Kate Hudson & Boyfriend Danny Fujikawa Make Their Couple Debut at ‘Snatched’ Premiere

In July, Hudson debuted her new buzz cut in Los Angeles on the set of her movie Sister, which singer/songwriter Sia wrote and is directing.

When asked in Cosmopolitan‘s October issue about her post-workout beauty secrets, Hudson’s humorously replied: “Shaving your head. Cuts down on time spent post-sweat.”

Hudson and Fujikawa made their red carpet debut in May after attending the premiere of Hudson’s mother’s movie Snatched in Westwood, California, together.

Romance rumors first started after the pair were spotted kissing during an L.A. lunch date in March.

Since then, the couple has been spotted all over the world. From going for a night out in N.Y.C. to celebrating Hudson’s birthday together in L.A., and even to Cambodia, where the couple took a trip together in June.

It appears Fujikawa fits right into Hudson’s hipster lifestyle. “Kate’s a free spirit who has always been attracted to musicians,” a source previously told PEOPLE. “But Danny also appeals to her because he is talented, bright and cosmopolitan like she is.”

Added the source at the time, “Kate’s enjoying herself. At this point it’s not serious.”

Marshall will hit theaters on Oct. 13.


What Do Rick Ross and Mike Pence Have in Common? An Inability to Platonically Interact With Distracting Women

What Do Rick Ross and Mike Pence Have in Common? An Inability to Platonically Interact With Distracting Women

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Noted gentleman Rick Ross appeared on a New York radio show Monday morning to promote his new VH1 reality series Signed. In the series, he and two other hip-hop moguls will audition and develop aspiring artists, who will get the chance to sign with one of the three big dogs’ record labels.

“When I’m looking for an artist, I’m really just looking for something I’ve never seen, first and foremost,” Ross told the Breakfast Club radio hosts on Monday. “If it’s something that’s unique, I feel that’s something that’s in demand. After that, I want to see that hunger.”

But what if that unique, in-demand, hungry young artist is a woman? As Breakfast Club host Angela Yee pointed out, Ross’s Maybach Music Group label has no female artists on its current roster and has only ever signed one, singer-songwriter Teedra Moses. Ross shared his well-thought-out reasoning with Yee. “You know, I never did it because I always thought I would end up fucking the female rapper and fucking the business up,” he said.

“That’s awful,” Yee replied.

“I’m so focused on my business. I got to be honest with you,” Ross went on. “You know, she looking good. I’m spending so much money on her photo shoots. I got to fuck her couple times.”

What a conscientious businessman! If you cannot interact with women without having sex with them and losing your focus on moneymaking, the responsible thing to do, Ross says, is avoid contact with women in the first place.

It is exhausting to imagine the life of a man who sees every female colleague and industry contemporary as a predestined sex partner. How do you have any time for artist development, business strategy, and radio-show appearances if you’re constantly having sex, scheming about how to have sex, or being distracted by people who, because they are women, remind you of sex? How do you sit through dinner with a buddy and his sister? How do you handle meetings with female marketing executives and record distribution heads while maintaining a constant erection? How much does your life suck because you can’t have any female friends?

Those are questions many posed to Vice President Mike Pence earlier this year, when it came out that the guy refuses to break bread alone with any women who aren’t his wife. The famously chaste ‘n’ Catholic Pence initially comes off as the anti-Ross: The rapper’s promiscuity is as much a hallmark of his brand as the vice president’s condemnation of almost every type of sexual contact is a hallmark of his. One thinks you should almost never have sex, the other thinks yachtloads of sex is the way life was meant to be lived.

But these two men are a lot alike. Ross has women call him “Daddy”; Pence calls his wife “Mother.” Both are gatekeepers at the top of their respective industries. And both use their warped, semi-Biblical views of women as inevitable temptresses to keep non-men out of their inner circles. To Pence, all women—no matter how random or disinterested—represent potential detriment to his marriage. To Ross, they are poison to his business. Women already face significant structural barriers to advancement in politics and the music industry. Men like Ross and Pence, who explicitly limit their contact with women, codify sexist notions of women as sex objects who divert attention from the important work at hand. (See also: dress codes that force underage girls into bulkier clothing because their bodies are burdensome distractions for innocent, hardworking boys.)

Ross continued his Monday interview by asking Yee several times to reveal her legs to him, implying that he would have to have sex with her if she signed with his label, telling her he wants to see her twerk at an upcoming pool party, and posing for a photo while grabbing her hair and pretending to lick her face. If his goal was to keep distracting women out of the music industry—or broadcast journalism, for that matter—Ross can count this interview as a major win.

Those Dove #TrueBeauty ads get beautifully skewered

Those Dove #TrueBeauty ads get beautifully skewered


The Daily Dot

They're not buying it.

‘A whole new world’: Coke has a sponsorship deal with a virtual soccer star in ‘FIFA 18’

by Ilyse Liffreing @ Digiday

For the first time, Coca-Cola isn't going with a real celebrity or athlete as a sponsor.

The post ‘A whole new world’: Coke has a sponsorship deal with a virtual soccer star in ‘FIFA 18’ appeared first on Digiday.

3 Problems I Have With Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”

3 Problems I Have With Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”

by Claire Hannum @ The Frisky

Today, after 10+ years of relentless ads, Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" was named #1 in the Advertising Age list of top ad campaigns of the 21st century for its mission to, according to the magazine, "change societal notions about beauty." Sorry, but I find that totally lame. I'm also really sick of hearing about this campaign. Of…

Consumers becoming critical of Dove's 'Real Beauty' ads

Consumers becoming critical of Dove's 'Real Beauty' ads


CBC News

Dove's ad campaigns have been celebrated for featuring women instead of professional models, but also accused of exploiting insecurities to sell products.

How Norway Changed Chris Burkard’s Approach to Photography

by Jayphen Simpson @ PetaPixel

In this beautiful short film by filmmaker Vincent Urban, photographer Chris Burkard tells the story of how after growing weary of surf photography in crowded cities he sought solitude, adventure, and beauty in remote places. He found it in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Chris Burkard, one of Instagram’s most popular photographers (he has 2.8 million followers), […]

Real Beauty Isn't Retouched

Real Beauty Isn't Retouched


PetaPixel

Dove Canada is getting serious about promoting Real Beauty by going after art directors, graphic designers and photo retouchers -- basically anyone who dis

These 10 High-End Beauty Products Are Rarely on Sale - So Snap Them Up Before It's Too Late

These 10 High-End Beauty Products Are Rarely on Sale - So Snap Them Up Before It's Too Late

by Kaitlyn Frey @ PEOPLE.com

Beauty lovers know the struggle that is wanting all the luxury beauty products … but never being able to find them on sale. While you can almost always find a pair of designer jeans, sneakers, handbags and more heavily discounted at every retailer, the same can’t be said for high-end makeup, skincare and hair products.

But thankfully, Macy’s was feeling particularly generous this week and has tons of high-end, normally-excluded beauty brands in its 15% off VIP sale happening right now through September 25.

Looking for more style content? Click here to subscribe to the PeopleStyle Newsletter for amazing shopping discounts, can’t-live-without beauty products and more.

On top of giving shoppers up to an extra 30% off designer pieces that rarely go on sale, Macy’s is also discounting almost all of its beauty offerings from brands that you never find in the clearance aisle, including M.A.C, Urban Decay, Laura Mercier and more for 15% off when you use the code “VIP” at checkout. We won’t make you wait another second to check out the products that we’re shocked to see on sale and will definitely be adding to our shopping carts.

RELATED PHOTOS: UPDATED! Celebrities’ Best Bargains: Fabulous, Affordable Finds From the Red Carpet

Buy It! Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette, $45.90 (originally $54); macys.com

Buy It! Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex, $80.75 (originally $95); macys.com

Buy It! Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild, $14.88 (originally $17.50); macys.com

Buy It! Dior Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet Eau de Toilette Spray, $85 for 3.4 oz. (originally $100); macys.com

Buy It! Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara, $21.25 (originally $25); macys.com

Buy It! Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color, $24.65 (originally $29); macys.com

Buy It! Conair Infiniti Pro Lightweight AC Motor Dryer, $35.99 (originally $50); macys.com

Buy It! Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Lift and Firm Day Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, $63.75 (originally $75); macys.com

Buy It! NARS Blush in Orgasm, $25.50 (originally $30); macys.com

Buy It! Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum Spray, $79.90 for 1.6 oz. (originally $94); macys.com

What are you shopping at Macy’s VIP sale? Sound off in the comments below!

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Where Is the White House H.R. Department In This Whole Mess?

Where Is the White House H.R. Department In This Whole Mess?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

There are a few things you could say about White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s reliance on penis-related imagery to insult his colleagues. One is that his puns could use a little work. (Pubis would have been a way more creative replacement for Priebus than Penis. Penis is pretty good, though.) Another is WOW does it feel good to be able to laugh at some Trump administration screw-up, because this one doesn’t substantively destroy people’s lives! The third thing you could say is this: In any other workplace, under any other boss, Scaramucci would probably be in the middle of a damning, possibly career-disrupting human resources investigation by now.

According to Slate’s HR head, Heidi Grothaus, claiming that Steve Bannon tries to “suck” his own “cock,” as Scaramucci did in a statement to a New Yorker reporter on Wednesday, is a clear-cut case of spreading lies or rumors about someone’s personal sex life. Because Scaramucci is in a position of authority—he reports directly to the president—this is a textbook example of sexual harassment.

From a legal standpoint, it’s easier to prove sexual harassment if the victim is a member of a protected class. Since Bannon is not suffering discrimination based on, say, sex, race, religion, or disability, he would have a far more difficult case. But Scaramucci’s actions toward Bannon may be severe enough to override that consideration. The communications director of the president of the United States told a national news media outlet that a co-worker attempts to perform fellatio on himself, a vivid, demeaning, widely publicized remark that could very well interfere with Bannon’s ability to do his job effectively. If he spoke up and raised a fuss about it, the president would probably fire him or reduce his already-diminished influence even further, though that would technically be illegal. Enduring Scaramucci’s rumors about his sexual behavior sure seems to be a condition of Bannon’s employment at the White House.

Because let’s be real: A man who deploys the word cock at least three times in a single one-sided rant to a reporter is not going to cool it with the penis talk anytime soon. Penis imagery is Scaramucci’s poetic crutch, a way to sprinkle some colorful man-dust on any otherwise boring sentiment. It’s a jarring form of macho intimidation surely based in deep insecurity, meant both to establish power and to give Scaramucci an inch or two of an advantage in the dick-measuring contest that is taking place in every White House conference room as you read these very words.

Usually, employees trying to prove a case of hostile work environment have to show evidence that it’s a pervasive problem occurring over a period of time. Daily Beast sources say that Scaramucci has been calling Priebus “Penis” for some time now, but that was before he joined the White House staff. If he continues with that moniker, that would almost certainly constitute a hostile work environment for Priebus. If the White House were any other employer, Scaramucci’s behavior would likely mean legal trouble for leadership, too. “The employer becomes liable for the harassment if they know about it, which we know they do, because [New Yorker reporter Ryan] Lizza’s interview was widely shared, and [Scaramucci] acknowledged it on Twitter,” Grothaus told me. “So everybody knows that this is happening, and they didn’t do anything to reasonably prevent it, and they didn’t seem to do anything promptly to correct it.” This could make the White House liable for creating a hostile work environment among its employees.

Needless to say, Americans shouldn’t let some boner-headed notion of an HR investigation get them too excited. In general it is hard to imagine that there is even a shred of HR oversight in this particular White House. But the White House does have an HR department of sorts—the Office of Administration, which manages administrative business within the Executive Office of the President and should handle human resources problems like this one. (Marcia Lee Kelly, director of the Office of Administration, has not responded to a request for comment.) According to Axios, Trump allegedly “loved” Scaramucci’s remarks.

So impressed is the president with Scaramucci’s command of the art of genital metaphor that he seems to be okay with employing a communications director who doesn’t even understand the proper use of the term cock-block. In his New Yorker tirade, Scaramucci used the colorful phrase to mean general obstruction, not the very specific deterrence of sexual success it implies. By adding cock to block, he brought a penis into a matter that had no connection to penises whatsoever. In the world Mooch shares with Trump, there is no block without a cock, no annoying hanger-on with a last name that starts with “P” without a “Penis.” Their circle of allies is shrinking by the day, and it is positively overflowing with dicks.

There’s one other major barrier to holding Scaramucci and the White House accountable for enabling public sexual degradation in the workplace: Someone has to complain. Bannon and Priebus, the direct targets of Scaramucci’s sexual harassment, don’t have to be the ones to report a hostile work environment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—any employees who can prove that Scaramucci’s behavior has made their workplace an abusive or sexually intimidating place, and that their endurance is a condition of their employment, can make a claim. Who in the Trump White House would do such a thing? The chances of a person who willingly joined the offices of a man whose most famous one-liner includes the words “grab” and “pussy” deciding that another one-liner involving the words “suck” and “cock” was one step too far are teensier than Bannon’s torso would have to be for him to successfully commit the alleged act. No one’s going to tattle on Scaramucci when the big boss is the crudest offender of them all.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 Hotel Room Hazards You Didn’t Realize Were Putting Your Kids in Danger

by Marissa Laliberte @ Reader's Digest

If you're taking your family on vacation, make sure you watch out for these hotel dangers that could put your kids' safety at risk.

Rolling Stone’s Trudeau Profile Shows How a Writer Can Objectify a Hot Famous Person Without Seeming Gross

Rolling Stone’s Trudeau Profile Shows How a Writer Can Objectify a Hot Famous Person Without Seeming Gross

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

Celebrity profiles too often boil down to the same question: What if this famous person were dating a magazine writer? Since that question is only 10 words long and a feature-length magazine story is usually at least 5,000 words, readers are then subjected to confusing, vaguely creepy lines like “She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance” (that’s Margot Robbie, according to Rich Cohen in Vanity Fair), and “She seemed to be made from champagne” (Scarlett Johansson, per Anthony Lane in the New Yorker).

It is actually a bit refreshing, then, to read a long, romantic magazine cover story about a famous man that focuses attentively on that man’s physical charms. The man in this case is Justin Trudeau, the publication is Rolling Stone, and the result is both melancholy and sweet, a feature-length love letter. The cover line asks: “Justin Trudeau: Why Can’t He Be Our President?” Blame the Constitution for that one. But the real question raised by the profile is: Why can’t we have a normal president?

Let’s start with the cover photo itself. Trudeau is obviously a handsome man, but he has a desperation to please that has always struck me as a bit thirsty. A man who is constantly kayaking up to strangers to talk about climate change does not do it for me, sexy-world-leader-wise. That try-hard eagerness often seems to seep through in photos. In Vogue last year, he awkwardly “rested” his face on his hand without appearing to put any pressure on it, while staring dreamily into the middle distance. The result was something like a highbrow Glamour Shot.

The Rolling Stone photo, by contrast, is veritably Obama-esque. Here is Trudeau at work, presumably in the Canadian version of the Oval Office. He has his sleeves rolled up just so, because you’ve caught him on a Tuesday afternoon between meetings. He gazes directly at the camera, his one brow cocked ever-so-slightly, suggesting he is in on the joke of his own sex-symbolism.

The profile itself, by writer Stephen Rodrick, frames Trudeau as the anti-Trump. He’s articulate, he’s likable, he’s happily married, he cares about refugees, and “his dark hair is a color found in nature.” Throughout, Rodrick nods subtly to romantic celebrity-profile tropes, and to Trudeau’s reputation as a heartthrob, without playing it for homoerotic yuks. “For Trudeau, listening is seducing,” he writes. “As we chat, he smiles and locks in with his blue eyes, but Trudeau, whose mother’s side is of Scottish descent, swats away all Trump-baiting questions with a look that says, ‘Not today, laddie.’” Elsewhere, he swoons over the prime minister’s regular-guy bona fides, somewhat miraculous considering he’s the son of a former prime minister. “Trudeau doesn’t play golf; he snowboards,” Rodrick writes. “There is a real person inside him.” The piece describes his socks on two separate occasions.

Canadians are already mocking the piece online for its gushing tone, and for some minor mistakes like a reference to the “Royal Canadian Mountain Police.” Yes, the profile includes the line “Trudeau has a tat of a raven and, sigh, the planet Earth.” Yes, it’s is a little over the top. Obviously it’s nowhere near the kind of panting objectification that magazine writers often practice on female sex symbols who happen not to also be world leaders. But as drooly magazine profiles go, at least this one feels relatively self-aware of its over-the-top-ness. And who could begrudge America a few harmless fantasies about the head of state next door?

How Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' Became The Most Viral Video Ad Of All Time

How Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' Became The Most Viral Video Ad Of All Time


Business Insider

Details on the media plan behind it.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Nonprofit Is Trying to Give Immigrant Kids a Creative Outlet for Anxiety About Deportation

This Nonprofit Is Trying to Give Immigrant Kids a Creative Outlet for Anxiety About Deportation

by Micah Hauser @ The XX Factor

Inside a narrow storefront wedged between the butcheries, cheese shops, and street vendors of Philadelphia’s historic Italian Market, Cybil Sanzetenea plunged a serrated kitchen knife into a dense, Styrofoam ball. “These are the heads,” she said, shoving what looked like an oversized tongue depressor into the newly formed slot. “And these are the bodies.”

For the past six weeks, Sanzetenea has led a puppet-making workshop at El Futuro, an outpost of the nonprofit Mighty Writers, in which a dozen elementary schoolers wrote monologues about their own immigration experiences and built puppet alter-egos to perform them. The idea was hatched in the run-up to the 2016 election, as Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric intensified and the organizers of Mighty Writers detected a growing sense of nervousness and fear among the young students they work with, many of who come from families with undocumented parents.

“I was so surprised to hear how genuinely scared these kids were on a daily basis of coming home to find that their parents or family members had been taken,” Sanzetenea said. “They had such elaborate plans that had been so clearly discussed about what to do in those scenarios. Every single time they opened the door there were strategic measures.” Tim Whitaker, who founded Mighty Writers in 2009, explained that they wanted to find a way to relieve the students’ anxiety. “These kids walk around with a cloud over their head about possible deportation,” he said. Many of the children understand with surprising clarity the precariousness of their situation. They know they have access to a certain level of safety from which their parents are excluded. And yet, there are few opportunities, especially outside the home, to commiserate, express frustration, or even joke with other kids who face similar challenges. From an early age, most are taught that being undocumented, or having an undocumented family member, is a secret to keep closely guarded. Simply to have a creative venue to talk about it –in ways unexpectedly humorous and serious, in turn–can spell big relief.

The programming at El Futuro is geared mainly toward the neighborhood’s large Mexican community—like a trading floor, the space has multiple clocks on the wall, one set to the time in Philadelphia, the other, Mexico City. For the first workshop, conceived by Mexican artist Nora Litz and held early in the summer, each student made a comic book to convey some aspect of how it felt to be an immigrant in the United States. Despite the broad instructions, almost every one dealt with Trump, the wall, or some form of family separation. In one, stick figures lurch through space, desperately reaching toward each other. In another, a wall labeled “America” looms in the foreground, as horrified children gather around a living room window, peeking out. Another depicts an enraged Trump yelling “GET IN THE WALL!!!”, while two characters in the next frame, described as “Donald Trump’s friends,” laugh as an image of Earth floats above them, surrounded by question marks.

For the puppet-making workshop, Sanzetenea and her co-teacher Isabel Díaz Alanís explicitly instructed the kids to focus less on politics and more on the quotidian aspects of the immigrant experience, from having to translate for your parents to carrying a lunchbox full of food that looks different from your peers’. They hoped to counteract the tendency, increasingly prevalent, to view immigration as a sob story, something shameful, and emphasize instead the hard work and bravery that comes along with straddling two cultural worlds. It was meant to be a respite. But in the end, the reality of our political moment was inescapable. The final puppet show was this past Tuesday, days after the white supremacist march in Charlottesville.

Standing in front of a cardboard stage, painted aquamarine and adorned with neon pom-poms, Díaz Alanís began: “The events that have unfolded since white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday remind us once again of an obligation that might feel burdensome: speaking up. Speaking up to say I am here, my story is relevant, and I will be heard.” It was a heavy opening. The kids sat attentively, wiggling their puppets, while a few parents held up their cellphones, poised to record.

One by one, the performers approached the stage, animating their puppets as they narrated their stories.

“I am Indonesian, because my parents are Indonesian. I know this because they eat Indonesian food.”
“As the child of Russian immigrants, some people make unfair judgments about my life.”
“I like to watch TV in English and in Spanish.”

Charlottesville was not mentioned again. But its violence hovered in the wings. In this context, these light-hearted monologues, which chronicled the joys and challenges of life in an immigrant family, felt almost like tiny radical acts. They were comprised of small, silly embarrassments involving a culturally confused parent or needling friend, the kinds of things any child, immigrant or not, would recognize. As Sanzetenea performed last-minute glue gun surgery on the cardboard set, a young Indonesian boy named Hilmy was readying his puppet, which had a blue body, a red belt, and a white star on his chest. “Like Captain America,” he explained. Then he zoomed off toward the stage.

Historical Analysis: Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Historical Analysis: Dove Real Beauty Sketches


Advertising & Society 2014

This refreshing Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” advertisement was released in 2013 as part of the ongoing “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” series. In the Dove ad, a group of woman who represent a range …

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Dove Real Beauty Sketches


ABC News

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

Dove Real Beauty: You are more beautiful than you think

Dove Real Beauty: You are more beautiful than you think


iBloom

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches video visually captures the realization that each of us is more beautiful than we think. It’s amazing the

Rick's Picks: Dove Real Beauty Sketches - Dr. Rick Hanson

Rick's Picks: Dove Real Beauty Sketches - Dr. Rick Hanson


Dr. Rick Hanson

Resources for Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove Campaign For Real Beauty

Dove Campaign For Real Beauty


Chris Stenberg Photography

We live in a world of images and icons. This is true, whether you like it or not. Many of these images are modified to sell a certain idea, or an ideal look. Much ink, digital or otherwise, has been spilled over the effects of over-glamorizing the female form, and the media's responsibility

France Is Trying to Decide Whether Being a First Lady Should Be a Real Job Or Not

France Is Trying to Decide Whether Being a First Lady Should Be a Real Job Or Not

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

French President Emmanuel Macron wants his wife to do more than sit next to him at fancy dinners and endure the leering compliments of fellow heads of state. Brigitte Macron would like a more formal position in government than one merely requiring her to smile at her husband when the photographers come out. The French public is seemingly not so sure.

A Change.org petition that started a few weeks ago has garnered nearly 300,000 signatures from people who don’t want the first lady to get an official public title and office, as the president has proposed. The author of the petition, Thierry Paul Valette, says Macron’s desire to install his unelected wife in an official role is hypocritical in light of his repeated calls to rid politics of corruption. The French legislature was in the process of banning nepotism in parliament at Macron’s encouragement, Valette writes, while the president planned to give Brigitte Macron a real title ("Première Dame,"), a new budget of public funds, and an expanded role in the affairs of the executive branch. CNN reports that the Macron administration “appears to have…abandoned” the plan as vocal opposition mounted.

Macron campaigned in part on a vision of ethical leadership, which some say conflicted with his first-lady proposal. The petition asks that the question giving the first lady’s position a budget and greater influence be put to a public referendum rather than left to Macron’s sole discretion. The public isn’t so hot on Macron at the moment: His approval ratings hover in the mid-30s just three months after his electoral victory, in part because of budget cuts that spurred the resignation of the head of the French armed forces. Detractors accuse Macron of displaying authoritarian and even monarchical behavior, ignoring advisors and avoiding journalists amid calls for greater transparency. During Macron’s campaign, one of his fellow candidates, François Fillon, was accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of Euros by paying his wife and two children for fictitious jobs over a period of multiple decades. Though Brigitte Macron reportedly would not have accepted a salary for the role she and her husband were trying to create, it looked too close to the intrafamily status-boosting of his one-time opponent.

The spouses of French presidents already get special security, hired assistants, and office space, but they don’t have any official status, significant staff, or defined role in the French constitution. French-Algerian journalist Nabila Ramdani claims that giving Brigitte Macron a title and a go-ahead to do more work would not vastly increase the budget already devoted to the first lady’s needs. Instead, Ramdani believes, the opposition to Macron’s plans rests on the sexist notion that a political wife should know her place, far away from the big kids’ table. “The Brigitte Macron I interviewed during her husband’s electoral campaign was uninterested in making money, or having more flunkies around her,” Ramdani writes. “She was not in the slightest bit pushy or personally ambitious. On the contrary, the retired teacher wanted to be taken seriously as a well-educated and highly experienced public servant.” Opponents of a larger role for Brigitte Macron “want to reduce her to another upstart who should be locked away in a quiet salon while her man sorts out domestic and world affairs.”

It sounds like the first lady role into which Brigitte Macron would have ascended only differed from her current role with a couple of capital letters—she would be First Lady, not first lady. And the extent of her work would have been explicitly “public,” not “political”—more along the lines of a Michelle Obama or Laura Bush, with their speeches and agreeable causes, than a Hillary Clinton, who had a legislative agenda, or an Ivanka Trump, who stands in for the president at major diplomatic meet-ups and serves as a close adviser.

Part of the French public’s objection to an expanded first lady role was undoubtedly symbolic: What would it mean for a president’s family to acquire unearned status from his position? Part may have been confusion: Macron merely asked for a proposal that would lay out a more formal, defined job for his wife, and no one quite knew how her position would change or what she might gain. The U.S. is used to first ladies taking active roles in their husbands’ administrations; in fact, the seeming uninterestedness and deliberate ornamentalism of our current one is a shocking departure from what has become the norm. As journalists monitor the promotion of unqualified family members in our current White House, it may be hard to decipher the differences between an indifferent spouse and a woman who’s been told to keep quiet, or a robust first-ladyship and a wife reaping political benefits she didn’t earn. Debates over the role of a 21st-century president’s wife are worth having. France won’t get past the opening arguments if Brigitte Macron doesn’t get a chance to try something different.

Collins and Murkowski Stood Up for Womankind Over the Threats of Men

Collins and Murkowski Stood Up for Womankind Over the Threats of Men

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Two female senators, perhaps the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, have gotten many well-deserved thank-yous for going against their party and voting down a “skinny” repeal of Obamacare late Thursday night. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have stood stalwart against a few instances of GOP B.S. this year, including the Senate’s initial Obamacare repeal attempt and Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education.

But their votes on Thursday came at a particularly critical moment, under extreme pressure and gendered attacks from members of their own party. One unforgivably doofy Republican Congressman from Texas said on a radio show that he would like to have a duel-to-the-death with the “female senators” who stood in the way of Obamacare repeal, but since they are but ladies, he would hold himself back. (Wonder if he’d roll back that statement now that John McCain, a verifiable man, cast the final, deciding vote against the legislation.) When asked about Murkowski and Collins, a Republican Congressman from Georgia said someone should “snatch a knot in [the Senate’s] ass,” meaning hit them. Trump specifically targeted Murkowski on Twitter, riling up his supporters to go after her, and the Secretary of the Interior threatened to stop Alaska drilling projects if she didn’t vote the president’s way.

Weaker legislators might have stuck to the party line in defiance of their consciences. (See: the Republican senators who said they’d only vote for the bill if they got a guarantee that it wouldn’t become law.) Standing up to a crowd of peers making glib references to physical violence and real threats to legislative priorities could not have been easy.

Braver still was Collins’ public statement on why she voted against the bill. She makes arguments against both the Affordable Care Act as is and the plans Senate Republicans have proposed, then outlines a key reason for her opposition to the bills her peers wrote: the provision that would have prevented Planned Parenthood from getting reimbursed for any services provided to patients on Medicaid, who make up more than half the health organization’s client base. Collins’ defense of Planned Parenthood was as accurate and passionate as any Democrat’s should be, far beyond the compassion or mental capacity of her male contemporaries in the GOP:

Millions of women across the country rely on Planned Parenthood for family planning, cancer screening, and basic preventive health care services. Denying women access to Planned Parenthood not only runs contrary to our goal of letting patients choose the health care provider who best fits their needs, but it also could impede timely access to care.
If Planned Parenthood were defunded, other family planning clinics in Maine, including community health centers, would see a 63 percent increase in their patient load. Some patients would need to drive greater distances to receive care, while others would have to wait longer for an appointment.

Collins also did away with the persistent right-wing lie that federal taxpayer money is funding abortions:

Let me be clear that this is not about abortion. Federal law already prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.
This is about interfering with the ability of a woman to choose the health care provider who is right for her. This harmful provision should have no place in legislation that purports to be about restoring patient choices and freedom.

It’s so unnerving to read an honest, humane assessment of women’s health care from a Republican! Murkowski, too, has been a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood’s continued eligibility for Medicaid reimbursements and federal family-planning grants. This in spite of the very real risk that being women advocating for so-called women’s issues could further alienate Republican men in the Senate who didn’t even think women belonged at the drafting table in the first place. Together, with their adjoining desks, Collins and Murkowski have proven that female legislators have some of the strongest spines in Congress. That strength comes in numbers, even when that number is two.

3 Problems I Have With Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”

3 Problems I Have With Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”


The Frisky

Today, after 10+ years of relentless ads, Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" was named #1 in the Advertising Age list of top ad campaigns of the 21st century for its mission to, according to the magazine, "change societal notions about beauty." Sorry, but I find that totally lame. I'm also really sick of hearing about this campaign. Of all the ad campaigns in the world, this one is the best? I think the campaign was thought up with positive intentions, and it definitely launched an important cultural conversation about societal norms – but changing norms? I'm not so sold on that one. Dove's campaign does nothing to challenge the popular notion that beauty should be the most important thing in a woman's life. It doesn't aim to stop us from obsessing over looks, it just reframes the conversation about image to a supposedly more positive one. I hesitate to cut down any campaign that gets people thinking about what a monster the media body image machine is, and Dove has surely done some

Announcing the Dove Real Beauty Pledge

Announcing the Dove Real Beauty Pledge


Unilever global company website

We mark the launch of the Dove Real Beauty Pledge with 30 portraits by Mario Testino

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

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

by Heather Schwedel @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

Swift has been trying to keep a low profile lately.

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

Do not underestimate her will and determination.

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

Swift is not too big to fit in a box.

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

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

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

The suitcase itself is huge.

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

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

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

A pair of human shock absorbers.

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

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

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

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

Copyranter: Dove's femvertising is anything but 'real' - Digiday

Copyranter: Dove's femvertising is anything but 'real' - Digiday


Digiday

For over 10 years, the personal care brand has passive-aggressively assaulted women’s physical insecurities to sell beauty products, argues Mark Duffy.

Four in 10 People Get Harassed Online But Young Men Don’t Think It’s a Big Deal, Says New Survey

Four in 10 People Get Harassed Online But Young Men Don’t Think It’s a Big Deal, Says New Survey

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Four out of 10 American adults have been harassed online, according to newly released data from the Pew Research Center. In a nationally representative survey administered in January, 41 percent of the 4,248 participants said they’d been victims of at least one form of online harassment.

Pew divided the types of harassment into two categories: less severe and more severe. The former involves offensive name-calling or deliberate attempts at humiliation. More severe behaviors include threats of physical harm, stalking, long-term sustained harassment, and sexual harassment. Of the survey participants who reported experiencing harassment, 22 percent said they’d only experienced less severe varieties, while 18 percent said they’d faced at least one of the more severe behaviors.

Among young adults, those numbers are even worse. More than two-thirds of people aged 18 to 29 have been targeted by harassment—a proportion twice as large as that of people 30 and over who’ve faced harassment—and 41 percent of young adults reported being victimized by one or more of one of the most severe varieties of harassment. That may be a function of young internet users spending more time on social media (58 percent of harassment victims say their last encounter occurred on a social platform) and having more contact with strangers, who were responsible for more than half of reported harassment incidents in the survey.

These stats aren’t necessarily shocking. It’s hard for the average person to do anything online and not endure or witness some kind of harassment. In the Pew survey, 66 percent of respondents said they’d seen other people targeted by harassment online, even if they’d never experienced it themselves. Still, it’s sobering to see statistics spell out the price of letting people “speak their minds freely” online, which 45 percent of participants said was more important than providing for users’ safety and comfort. One in ten respondents said they’d been physically threatened over the internet, and one in four black respondents said they’d experienced racial harassment online.

When using the internet is necessary for so many elements of modern life and work, statistics like these should alarm and trouble tech companies whose platforms enable such abuse. As technology advances, opportunities for online harassment will multiply. See, for example, the recent case of a woman who was ridiculed for speaking out against a man who groped her in a virtual reality game. In the Pew survey, victims of online harassment reported curtailing their online activities and experiencing severe anxiety or stress after being targeted.

But some people still believe online harassment isn’t a big deal. More than half of the Pew survey respondents, including 73 percent of young men, said that people take offensive online speech too seriously, and only 54 percent of men would call online harassment a major problem. Women were significantly more likely than men to say online harassment isn’t taken seriously enough. Unsurprisingly, young women reported the highest rates of sexual harassment in the survey. Two in 10 said they’d been sexually harassed online and more than half said they’d received sexually explicit images they didn’t solicit. The harassment they experience may be more severe than what men encounter: Thirty-five percent of women who’ve been harassed said their last experience was extremely or very upsetting, more than twice the proportion of men who said the same.

Korean Beauty Stores Can’t Keep This Pore-Cleaning Miracle In Stock

by Anne Fritz @ Reader's Digest

The latest pore-clearing trend in Korean beauty care is using volcanic ash, and people are going crazy trying to get their hands on it. But, is it safe?

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

Dove's Real Beauty Sketches | AOR, Inc.

Dove's Real Beauty Sketches | AOR, Inc.


AOR, Inc.

Dove carried out, with the help of Ogilvy & Mather Brazil, a moving experiment on how women see themselves.

True Beauty: Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches - Katherine Schwarzenegger

True Beauty: Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches - Katherine Schwarzenegger


Katherine Schwarzenegger

Ever since Dove came out with their campaign for Real Beauty a few years ago I have been fascinated with everything related to body image. When I was interning for Dove during my undergrad, I became acutely aware of body image and the impact it has on women and their …

Why Dove’s new Real Beauty bottle designs are a brand value lost in translation

Why Dove’s new Real Beauty bottle designs are a brand value lost in translation


The Drum

When Dove’s Real Beauty campaign first launched, it wrapped women everywhere in the feel-good factor and inspired them in a whole new way. We felt closer to the brand. We liked and trusted it for knowing us.

A Near-IR Photo of the Moon’s Shadow During the Great American Eclipse

by Michael Zhang @ PetaPixel

During the Great American Eclipse, L. Paul Verhage sent up a high-altitude balloon in Eastern Oregon and captured this beautiful photo of the moon’s full shadow passing across the landscape towards the horizon. The camera on the balloon was one that captures near-infrared photos, which offers a different perspective of the scene compared to traditional […]

‘It’s That Easy’: Celebrities Show Support for NFL Players Protesting Against Trump with #TakeaKnee

‘It’s That Easy’: Celebrities Show Support for NFL Players Protesting Against Trump with #TakeaKnee

by Maria Pasquini @ PEOPLE.com

After Donald Trump’s comments on Friday and Saturday about how NFL players — and any professional athletes — who want to protest the national anthem by taking a knee should be fired, his comments inspired a mass “take the knee” protest.

On Saturday, NFL players and celebrities showed their solidarity with athletes like Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines in Aug. 2016 for refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States.

While numerous NFL players kneeled and locked arms during the national anthem during a Sunday game in London, celebrities lent their voices to the movement.

“I just wanna send some blessings and also, you know, some support to all the players in the NFL,” Diddy said on a video he posted on Instagram. “My message to y’all — even though you ain’t asking, so please receive it because I rarely give ‘em in this way — y’all got a chance to do something really, really, really, really, really great tomorrow.”

“If you all do whatever you do in unity, you can’t be stopped. Just do the math, man,” he continued. “Do the math, stick together, stand up for each other, ride with each other because believe me, we’re all we got and it has nothing to do with football or business. Y’all are our stars, y’all represent us, y’all are our strong heroes. So show that strength, please.”

“It’s that easy,” Orange is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba wrote. “#TakeAKnee”

“It’s about damn time black players! Stand with @Kaepernick7 in solidarity against racist Drumpf. #TakeTheKnee #Bend TheKnee,” wrote musician Sāvion Wright.

“I like when people who told me to respect the Confederate Flag las month scream about respecting the US Flag this month. #TakeTheKnee,” added SiriusXM’s Tell Me Everything host John Fugelsang.

“#TakeaKnee,” wrote Jesse Williams alongside a cartoon of angry men telling Kaepernick to stand up because soldiers died for his right to stand, while two soldiers interject that actually they died for his right to sit or stand.

“I’m taking a knee at home,” wrote radio personality Sway Calloway. “Not watching the #NFL 2day. Disruption is necessary. Economic power is key! 3takeaknee #StandWithKap #ImAmerican.”

“Wow…even #Jaguars owner #Khan @TakeAKneeNFL,” wrote actress Rosie Perez.

Actor John Leguizamo shared a message urging anybody who attended an NFL game this weekend to take the knee to not only support athletes, but to protest Trump’s “ruthless targeting of Black athletes and journalists.”

RELATED VIDEO: Exclusive: Natasha Stoynoff Speaks Out: ‘I Don’t Want Women to Feel Afraid’

Stevie Wonder also took time out of his set at Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Saturday to say, “tonight, I’m taking a knee for America.”

“Not just one knee, but I’m taking both knees,” he added. “Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, leaders of our world and our globe. Amen.”

During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’”

He followed this up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets on Saturday. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”


Ivanka Did Not Stop Her Father’s Transphobic Policy, But Look, She is Beautiful

Ivanka Did Not Stop Her Father’s Transphobic Policy, But Look, She is Beautiful

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

On Wednesday morning, when Donald Trump tweeted his intention to bar all transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, one major question bubbled up on the social feeds of LGBTQ Americans: Where’s Ivanka?

Last we heard, she was wishing us a happy Pride month and boasting that she was “proud to support … celebrate and honor” her LGBTQ “friends” and other queer people “who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” That’s a lovely sentiment to share in the party month of parades, glitter, and Babadook harnesses. But Ivanka Trump’s professed support never actually led to concrete gains.

Instead, she has stood by in public silence as queer and transgender people grappled with her father’s personal, unjustified attack on thousands of U.S. servicemembers we’re usually told we should hold in utmost reverence. She issued not even a perfunctory tweet of recognition that the administration she serves has made millions of Americans feel unworthy, less safe, and expendable today. The LGBTQ people who, in Ivanka’s words, “have made immense contributions to our society and economy”? According to Trump, they are a “disruption” to the military, which should not be “burdened” with their health-care needs. The only thing Ivanka has done today is appear on the Hill’s annual “50 Most Beautiful” list of political operatives, journalists, and advocates. And so her LGBTQ “friends” have been left hanging by their one tenuous, beautiful connection to the White House.

That’s the tough thing about allyship, from a wannabe ally’s perspective: It means nothing without vocal advocacy and meaningful action. Even if she has hounded her dad on other LGBTQ issues in private, as some have claimed, her decision to stay publicly mum on this subject is a damaging one.

This wouldn’t matter so much if Ivanka hadn’t been trying like hell to sell herself as an instrument of moderate restraint in Trump’s administration since the very beginning of his term. Trump says she is “always pushing me to do the right thing,” and in every possible interview, Ivanka portrays herself as a sane “proactive voice” amid the more radical right-wingers. Anonymous sources from within (or dispatched by) the White House have been very kind to Ivanka, crediting her and husband Jared Kushner with convincing Trump to be a bit less cruel to women, LGBTQ people, and the poor and marginalized populations that are suffering most from the effects of climate change. That hasn’t happened, an obvious fact to anyone who’s been paying attention to the administration’s actions that have condemned women, trans children, and the planet to certain indignity or physical harm.

The Daily Beast quotes one “senior White House official” as saying on Wednesday that Ivanka and Kushner decided their “political capital” should “be spent elsewhere” than on maintaining the military’s current open, inclusive policy on transgender servicemembers. The rest of us are still waiting to see the returns on whatever meager quantity political capital they’ve allegedly spent on some unnamed, unknowable issue.

Even besides her Pride tweet about supporting all those hardworking LGBTQ Americans, too many of Ivanka’s social media posts look like surface-level attempts to appease marginalized demographics she is simultaneously helping to persecute. She recently posed for Instagram photos with high-schoolers in town for the international FIRST Robotics Competition. Several were Muslim girls wearing headscarves; others wore West African dashikis. In the photos, Ivanka looks so pleased and proud to meet young women from around the world. Yet she has been noticeably silent on her administration’s Muslim travel ban, inflammation of Islamophobia around the country, and decision to hold $8.8 billion in global health aid hostage in the interest of advancing anti-abortion policies, potentially cutting off vital family planning and HIV-prevention resources for people in grave need. A photo op with Afghan students whose visas Trump withheld until the last possible moment constitutes an insult to their families, friends, and neighbors who are suffering under his policies. So far, Ivanka’s allyship with queer people has consisted of self-congratulatory posts and unverified claims to political action no one can see.  

What Makes a Face “Punchable”?

What Makes a Face “Punchable”?

by Heather Schwedel @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shonda Rhimes Is Teaming Up With Dove for a Very Powerful Reason | Reader's Digest

Shonda Rhimes Is Teaming Up With Dove for a Very Powerful Reason | Reader's Digest


Reader's Digest

There’s a huge problem in Hollywood right now. Thankfully, a new campaign spearheaded by Shonda Rhimes is tackling the issue headfirst.

Ivanka Just Helped Make It Harder for “Women Who Work” to Expose Wage Discrimination

Ivanka Just Helped Make It Harder for “Women Who Work” to Expose Wage Discrimination

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The Trump administration sent a memo on Tuesday announcing its plan to halt a planned Obama-era rule meant to advance equal pay. Starting in the spring of 2018, businesses with 100 or more employees would have had to add salary information to their existing federal reporting on the race and gender demographics of their workforces. Neomi Rao, who runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to stop the rule from going into effect, claiming that it would be “enormously burdensome” to companies.

Rao also wrote in her memo to Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic that the rule may violate the Paperwork Reduction Act, a federal law meant to reduce unnecessary mandatory paperwork. The Office of Management and Budget “is concerned that some aspects of the revised collection of information lack practical utility, are unnecessarily burdensome, and do not adequately address privacy and confidentiality issues,” Rao wrote.

The Department of Labor has been collecting demographic data from employers for half a century to assess possible cases of hiring discrimination. Currently, companies with 100 or more workers report their race and gender stats in 10 job groups. The rule the Trump administration has stayed would have required that they also report those stats across 12 “pay bands.” The Obama administration introduced the rule in January 2016, on the seventh anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. At the time, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and the then-chair of the EEOC applauded the new rule as a way to beef up the federal government’s enforcement of existing equal-pay laws. When she unveiled the rule, Yang said the data would help the EEOC analyze pay disparities in different industries, launch “larger, more complex investigations” into wage discrimination, and make stronger cases when people report their employers for unequal pay.

Tuesday’s news wasn’t a complete surprise, because Trump thinks wage discrimination isn’t a real issue. Four days ago, he issued a memo declaring Aug. 26, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, “Women’s Equality Day,” as previous presidents have done. “My Administration is committed to fostering an economy where all women can succeed and thrive,” he wrote, praising efforts to help women entrepreneurs and establish universal paid family leave. But he’s previously said that “you’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job,” and “when you have to categorize men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very—because people do different jobs,” implying that the gender and race wage gaps are attributable to poor performance and self-selection into different careers. He’s also repealed rules that forced federal contractors to be transparent about their wages and stay away from forced-arbitration clauses that make it easier for companies to cover up cases of sexual harassment.

But while Trump’s new blow to equal pay is right in line with the values he espouses, it’s a telling change of tune for Ivanka, who has made equal pay a core part of her campaign to seem like a reasonable, trustworthy, pro-woman foil to her father. One might have expected her to anonymous-source her way out of this debate, leaking that she tried to get Trump to reconsider his plans to declaw the EEOC’s anti-discrimination investigations. Instead, she said she agrees with her dad’s decision. “While I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” she said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.” Her statement is transparently dumb: There is no way to make an honest case for the position that more data and transparency will not help the EEOC identify possible cases of wage discrimination or prosecute those flagged by employees. If Ivanka wants to close the gender wage gap, letting companies keep their wages secret is a bad way to start.

Ultimately, the Trump calculus here was simple. Businesses know they’ll be more likely to get on the hook for unequal pay if they have to report their pay structures disaggregated by demographics, so that's likely why they don’t want to do it. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lipnic once said of the rule that the “benefits of this are not worth the costs” to businesses. Businesses already have the information they’d need to report, since they already report demographic data—all it would take to organize it by pay would be a bit of futzing with a spreadsheet the first year. It’s not the cost of reporting that’s so unacceptable to businesses that they’ve gotten the Chamber of Commerce to lobby against the rule. It’s the cost of being sued for discrimination. In the power struggle between the victims of that discrimination and the mostly white men who exploit them for profit, Ivanka has publicly chosen her side.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmanuel Macron Spent 26,000 Euros on Makeup in Three Months, Enraging the French

Emmanuel Macron Spent 26,000 Euros on Makeup in Three Months, Enraging the French

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

French president and noted hunk Emmanuel Macron came under fire on Thursday after Le Point magazine reported that he’d spent 26,000 euros, or nearly $31,000, on makeup in his first three months in office. His makeup artist, a woman named in reports as Natacha M., has billed the executive branch once for 10,000 euros and again for 16,000 euros since Macron’s inauguration.

Macron’s constituents were not pleased to learn how much taxpayers are laying down to make the president’s already rather comely face more presentable to the public. “26000 € Macron’s makeup budget, just for complexion?” one Twitter user exclaimed. “Imagine if he had to do his eyes, mouth, blush & contour.” Another accused Macron of buying perlimpinpin powder, the French version of snake oil, implying that he isn’t getting his money’s worth.

The president’s office was forced to respond to the revelation, explaining that it had “called in a contractor as a matter of urgency,” forcing the president to pay more than usual. Macron will spend a “significantly reduced” sum in the future, his spokesperson promised.

Every part of this is hilarious: the outrage over how much it costs to make the president pretty; the knowledge that it could cost around $123,000 just to make a man look like he’s not wearing any makeup to begin with; the fact that the Élysée Palace had to come out in defense of its beauty-routine spending. It’s especially funny in light of the fact that Macron’s approval ratings are hovering in the mid-30s right now, in part because of his dramatic budget cuts that caused the head of the French armed forces to resign. If Macron’s even complexion weren’t worth 26,000 euros a quarter, the French government might have been able to pay the salary of another civil servant or two.

Macron’s isn’t the most expensive presidential face France has ever seen. François Hollande reportedly paid 30,000 euros a quarter for his makeup, and Nicolas Sarkozy paid 24,000 euros a quarter for his. In a world that made sense, the hotter presidents would have to spend less on makeup than the less-hot ones. This is definitely not the case in France, but elsewhere in the world, justice (insofar as justice means “sexy people pay less money”) may be served. The hairdresser of Justin Trudeau, one of the most luscious heads of hair in global politics today, only charges $40 a cut.

Dove Real Beauty Pledge includes South African in world campaign

Dove Real Beauty Pledge includes South African in world campaign


Womandla

Dove has announced its Real Beauty Pledge, which aims to help women to realise their personal beauty potential and create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. As part of the…

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

Chip and Joanna Gaines Share Their Hilarious First Date Story

Chip and Joanna Gaines Share Their Hilarious First Date Story

by Megan Stein @ PEOPLE.com

Chip and Joanna Gaines are the definition of marriage goals, but their relationship didn’t necessarily have a fairytale start.

In the first chapter of The Magnolia Storyreleased as a sneak peek today, the Fixer Upper dream team spills the details of how they met — and it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

Joanna agreed to go out on a date with Chip after meeting him and his roommate “Hot John” — who she actually tried to approach minutes earlier, but was too shy — in the waiting room of her dad’s auto shop. She had second thoughts, however, after Chip arrived an hour and a half late to pick her up.

RELATED: HGTV Star Joanna Gaines Talks Fixer Upper Fame and Work-Life Balance: ‘Family Is First’

“He didn’t apologize for being late, either. He had so much confidence. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Only Chip could be an hour and a half late and have no one mad about it,” Joanna writes.

WATCH THIS: HGTV Stars Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri Compete to Make the Better Birdhouse

The chapter continues to describe the timeline of their relationship, which didn’t actually start until months after they first went out, when Chip (in typical guy fashion) finally called Joanna back.

“I’d made a bet with Hot John to see who could hold out the longest before calling our dates back,” Chip writes “I really wanted that fifty dollars from John! That’s the only reason I didn’t call.”

After they went out a second time, the rest was history.

RELATED: The Property Brothers Throw a House Party in New ‘Let the Night Shine In’ Music Video

For the full access to the details on their meet-cute, relatable dating moments, and how they got their start on HGTV (hint: it involves a very expensive impulse buy), preorder the The Magnolia Story here.


Shonda Rhimes Is On a Mission to Give You Olivia Pope-Level Confidence in Yourself

Shonda Rhimes Is On a Mission to Give You Olivia Pope-Level Confidence in Yourself


PEOPLE.com

The television producer and beauty brand are on the hunt for real women to share their real stories of beauty with the world

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Talk Wednesday: a plea for (occasional) honesty about parenting

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

People use social media to lie about their lives. This revelation should not come as news to anyone who even casually uses Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever cool new app The Kids are using these days. These platforms provide wonderful opportunities for all of us to lie to each other, to create sparkling, sanitized, envy-inducing […]

Real Beauty Brings Real Results for Dove’s Marketing Campaign

Real Beauty Brings Real Results for Dove’s Marketing Campaign


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…

Dove teams up with Shonda Rhimes on Real Beauty campaign

Dove teams up with Shonda Rhimes on Real Beauty campaign


latimes.com

Dove Real Beauty Productions will highlight how everyday women think Hollywood should portray real beauty.

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove Takes Real Beauty Campaign in Search of Self-Esteem Australia

Dove Takes Real Beauty Campaign in Search of Self-Esteem Australia


brandchannel:

Dove partners with Coles Australia to bring self-esteem workshops to girls, illustrating need with ad campaign showing girls' negative search queries

The controversial Dove Real Beauty sketch artist ads

The controversial Dove Real Beauty sketch artist ads


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…

Shonda Rhimes Partners with Dove for Real Beauty Productions

Shonda Rhimes Partners with Dove for Real Beauty Productions


EBONY

Producer, author and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes is partnering with Dove to launch its latest diversity project, Real Beauty Productions.

Amazon Just Sent a Ton of People a Weird Email About Their (Nonexistent) Baby Registries

Amazon Just Sent a Ton of People a Weird Email About Their (Nonexistent) Baby Registries

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

If you have an Amazon account, you might be freaking out right now. You just got an email congratulating you on a gift from your baby registry that recently shipped, but you don’t remember notifying Amazon of your pregnancy, choosing items for a registry, or conceiving a child in the first place. What does Amazon know that you don’t?!

Don’t worry—you’re not secretly pregnant. (Unless you are, in which case: Mazel tov!) It looks like Amazon accidentally sent the same email to a lot of people, regardless of the occupancy status of their uterus.

We’ve confirmed that both men and women got the email, so it’s not a sexist “Amazon sent a thing to all women because women love babies” thing. (One Slate colleague who got the email does in fact have his own baby registry, as he and his wife recently had a baby, so he assumed an actual gift was heading his way.) But a little unscientific polling of my friends and colleagues has revealed that the recipients are mostly women. What gives?

I didn’t immediately think anything was off about this email because I purchased something off my friends’ Amazon baby registry earlier this week, and assumed this email meant it had shipped or something. It wasn’t until I saw Maria Konnikova’s tweet that I realized what had happened, and that I wasn’t the only one. What I’m saying is, I think Amazon accidentally sent possibly millions of people an email that was just meant for me. Sorry!

More unscientific polling of my people reveals a significant but not exclusive correlation between getting the email and having purchased items off friends’ baby registries. And the link in the email goes to the general Amazon page used to set up baby registries. So here’s another theory: Amazon looked at users’ previous purchases, tagged those who’d bought baby things, figured that those users are in the time of life when and social circles where people are starting to have babies, and guessed that they might want to set up a registry sometime soon, too. Or maybe a baby just crawled across the Amazon master keyboard. It’s anyone’s guess!

Update, Sept. 20, 2017: Amazon has issued the following statement on its weird baby email: “We are notifying affected customers. A technical glitch caused us to inadvertently send a gift alert e-mail earlier today. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.” Cool.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

Breastfeeding: the agony and the — yeah, just the agony.

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

Hello! It is I, woman who used to regularly update her blog. My shocking absence can and will, as usual, be blamed on my two adorable children, who are slowly but surely sucking the life-force from my now husk-like terrestrial body. NOT TO BE DRAMATIC! No, but really, things are good. Ewan is now a whopping […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the Best Looks From the NRA Concealed Carry Fashion Show

All the Best Looks From the NRA Concealed Carry Fashion Show

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

At the National Rifle Association’s Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee this weekend, firearm fanatics attended workshops that taught them how to protect themselves from “today’s unprecedented violence and global threat,” employ jiujitsu moves to supplement the bullets they put in people’s bodies, and use flashlights.

They also got a tastemaker-curated peek at fall fashion trends in hiding deadly weapons on the human body. At the organization’s first Concealed Carry Fashion Show, models showed off ready-to-wear designs from a bunch of up-and-coming fashion houses you’ve never heard of, including Man-PACK, Packin’ Neat, and Lady Conceal. Here, we’ve collected some of the most notable designs from the show, coming soon to your local duel.

For a higher-end consumer who likes to protect her privileged class standing with hollow-points, a white leather handbag provides a touch of class. The shoulder strap chain symbolizes the shackles of oppression that keep Second Amendment advocates from bringing their weapons anywhere they damn please.

WERQ! A holster worn under a safari-inspired shirt does double duty, cinching in belly fat while preparing the wearer for life-threatening encounters en route to the drug store or dentist.

When “I’d like to speak to your manager” comes with the threat of violent death.

You’ve probably heard that skinny jeans are out, but did you know the wider-leg trend started with gun owners who wanted a little more room for their calf holsters?

Quilted totes that camouflage both pumpkin-spice spills and lethal weapons: in for fall!

Last week, you swore you’d kill your barre instructor if she told you to do one more “little pulse.” Now, with a pistol under your leggings, you can!

The NRA should be applauded for spotlighting “real” bodies, like that of this dollar-store Fabio. (Some fashion critics have disagreed, saying the show needed more “sex appeal,” “babes,” and “himbos.”)

This model committed to a matchy-matchy look with a manicure in the same “sea to shining sea” blue as her fake gun. The show’s use of training guns did not inspire particular confidence in the safety of these holsters, but the saturated color provided visual interest.

A shirt with quick-release snaps is essential for those who keep their guns in their cleavage.

Join in the feminist T-shirt trend with a shirt that screams “the only good Women’s March is the one to the firing range!” Then, channel fashion icon Plaxico Burress by tucking a very safe object into your waistband.

The Anna Wintour of the NRA looks unimpressed, but his famously chilly expression could belie internal fits of ecstasy at the sight of a truly transcendent lewk.

Dove Drives Its Successful 'Real Beauty' Campaign Into a Wall

Dove Drives Its Successful 'Real Beauty' Campaign Into a Wall


Inc.com

Acceptance is one thing. Asking women to visually categorize their bodies is quite another.

A Textbook Now Features Brock Turner’s Crime As the Literal Definition of “Rape.” There’s One Key Problem With That.

A Textbook Now Features Brock Turner’s Crime As the Literal Definition of “Rape.” There’s One Key Problem With That.

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Brock Turner earned national fame last summer not for his sexual assault of a passed-out woman behind a dumpster, but for his punishment: six months in county jail, of which he only served three. The internet’s consensus, after reading the victim’s viral statement on BuzzFeed, was that it was far too short a stint for a crime that carried a possible sentence of 14 years in prison.

But, though he left jail just over a year ago, Turner’s consequences are far from over. HuffPost reported on Wednesday that the former Stanford swimmer’s mugshot appears next to a section titled “Rape” in the second edition of Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity, and Change, a book used in college-level criminal justice courses. It sounds like a snarky insult come to life: “Your photo should be in the encyclopedia under ‘rapist!’ ” The crime Turner’s father famously characterized as “20 minutes of action” is now immortalized as the literal textbook definition of rape.

This should please those who chastised media outlets that didn’t out-and-out label Turner a “rapist” in coverage of his sentencing. But there was a good reason for careful language in his case: Turner wasn’t convicted of rape. He was convicted of three felonies: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. In California, a charge of rape requires forcible sexual intercourse, which Turner did not commit.

Putting Turner’s photo next to the heading “Rape,” then, is more than a little misleading in an introductory textbook that should help students differentiate between crimes that are similar but not identical. The description under the heading also identifies the photo as “rapist Brock Turner”—an inaccurate characterization of Turner’s crimes. Under the FBI definition of rape proffered in the book, the crime does include penetration with a foreign object. But under the penal code of California, where Turner was charged, his crime was not rape, and he is not a “rapist.” It wasn’t the particulars of his assault that made him a newsworthy sexual assailant. It was the response to the crime, both from the judge in his case and from the general public.

But to its credit, the textbook does seem to want to present Turner as a case study through which to examine the subjectivity of the justice system. “Some are shocked at how short [Turner’s] sentence is,” the book reads. “Others who are more familiar with the way sexual violence has been handled in the criminal justice system are shocked that he was found guilty and served time at all. What do you think?”

With her heartwrenching statement, the victim in Turner’s case changed the way many people viewed sexual assault. She opened the door for difficult discussions about theories of fair sentencing, including the idea that a permanent spot on a sex offender registry is too harsh a punishment for Turner, or for anyone else—theories that students should absolutely dissect in criminal justice classrooms. If Turner hadn’t become one of most famous noncelebrity sexual assailants of all time, for better or worse, the textbook authors might have chosen another lesser-known figure to illustrate the topic or left the concept in the realm of theory. With the public discourse Turner’s victim began, at least the authors were able to use a familiar case to bring a vivid urgency to both a terrible crime and our inadequate system for punishing it.

Brand over-reach: Dove's 'Real Beauty' bottle shapes - Velocity Partners

Brand over-reach: Dove's 'Real Beauty' bottle shapes - Velocity Partners


Velocity Partners

The Internet has slammed the latest Dove Real Beauty idea: bottles with different 'body shapes'. But did they really get it so wrong? Or is branding changing?

WATCH:  'Real Live:' Study finds link between youth head trauma and long-term brain issues

WATCH: 'Real Live:' Study finds link between youth head trauma and long-term brain issues

by @ ABC News: Health

Controversy surrounding the dangers of youth football has been reignited.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl Scout Cookie Baking Mixes to Hit Stores Nationwide

Girl Scout Cookie Baking Mixes to Hit Stores Nationwide

by mariayagoda @ PEOPLE.com

Samoas in cupcake form was a thing we never knew we needed, but now it’s the only thing we can think about.

Pillsbury just unveiled Girl Scout Cookie baking mixes, which are available in Thin Mints and Caramel & Coconut – a.k.a. Samoas – flavors. The four new mixes are for baking cupcakes, brownies and blondies — unfortunately, you won’t be able to make actual Girl Scout Cookies, because that would put a lot of 7-year-olds out of business.

RELATED: Leonardo DiCaprio Eating Girl Scout Cookies at the Oscars Is the Internet’s Best New Meme

“Families can try out their favorite cookie flavors in the form of brownies, cupcakes, and blondies, while they wait for the real thing once a year during Girl Scout Cookie season,” said Girl Scouts of the USA chief revenue officer Barry Horowitz in a statement.

GSC loyalists are, to put it mildly, freaking out.

The mixes, now available nationwide, retail for $3.29 each — almost $2 less than what you’d pay for a box of cookies.

WATCH THIS: The Girl Scouts Cookie Oven Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Year Around

RELATED: The Best Girl Scout Cookie Recipes

Easily the best part of all this news is the fact that we will now be able to eat Girl Scout Cookie dough, something we never thought would be possible in our lifetimes!

Also Thin Mint brownie sundaes.

Also Samoas-flavored birthday cake.

Can you tell we’re excited about it?


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

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


Maple Holistics

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

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Writer Wants to Replace MILFs With WHIPs: “Women Who Are Hot, Intelligent, and in Their Prime”

One Writer Wants to Replace MILFs With WHIPs: “Women Who Are Hot, Intelligent, and in Their Prime”

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The cool thing right now is to totally reject all labels because you don’t want to box yourself in, or because human identity exists on an infinite number of intersecting spectrums, and so on and so forth. Bibi Lynch, a writer who recently wrote a piece about dating men in their 20s as a 51-year-old, doesn’t care. If people are going to insist on calling her a cougar or a MILF, she’s going to re-label herself as a WHIP.

That stands for Women who are Hot, Intelligent, and in their Prime. It’s not the best acronym—those unaccounted-for, uncapitalized filler words are gnawing at my insides, though I get that WWAHIAITP does not pack the same punch—but it’s certainly more flattering than one that equates maturity with motherhood. On This Morning, a British daytime talk show, Lynch explained that cougar sounds “very predatory, and a bit sly, and a bit creepy,” making it something few women would want to be, and “with cougar, the men are prey,” making it kind of an insult to them, too. Dating a cougar might sound hot, but being a raccoon or small rodent does not.

Instead, Lynch posits, those men should be called “really bloody lucky.” But it would be a lot cuter if they were known as COOLWHIPs (Chaps who Ogle, Osculate, and Love WHIPs) or REDDIWHIPs (Real Easygoing Dudes who Date Intoxicating WHIPs) or WHIPPETs (WHIP’s Partner and Enduring Teammate).

The only part of this new acronym I’d quibble with is the part about middle-aged or older women being in their prime. Everyone’s got a different prime! Some cool girls peak in high school and love looking back on the good ol’ days; others would rather battle a live cougar on its own mountainous turf than revisit their teen years. Some women in their 50s have “poreless, firm-jawed men” who are “clever, successful, creative, and absurdly hot” slipping into their DMs, as Lynch says she does; others are probably very glad they don’t.

But the only thing better than no labels is a ton of labels, so if there is going to be WHIPs, there should also be WADDLERs (Women who Ably Dismantle Dioramas of Little Elves and Rabbits), WEGMANs (Women who only Empty their Garbage once a Month so their kitchen Area smells Nasty), and WHOOPS (Women who are Healthy, Open, Out there, but also demonically Possessed, Sorry).

These women should be able to choose from a wide variety of men likewise labeled for easy identification. They will shun MENSTRUATEs (Men who Exploit Nepotism, Spill Tanqueray on Restaurant employees, don’t Understand Anything, and Take Eons to do their hair) and MEGABABEs (Men who Employ Gaslighting And Badgering to Alienate their Beautiful, Elegant romantic partners) and run straight into the arms of MORDORs (Men who are Out of Reasons to Delay Ordering Refills for the water purifier) and MUPPETs (Men who Undulate their Pelvises Politely Every Time they hit the clerb).

Those who still refuse to be labeled can stick with a nice, nongendered PEEN: People who are Energetic, Empathetic, and Not here for your objectifying acronyms.

When It Comes to LGBTQ Acceptance, Muslims Are More “Assimilated” Into American Culture Than White Evangelicals

When It Comes to LGBTQ Acceptance, Muslims Are More “Assimilated” Into American Culture Than White Evangelicals

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

Why Is James Van Der Beek Friends With Marla Maples?

Why Is James Van Der Beek Friends With Marla Maples?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Hepburn Sells Chocolate

by Amber Norwood @ Newvoices Wings

It is very common for an advertiser to use a celebrity to affect a product’s value, such as in Galaxy’s 2013 chocolate bar advertisement [aka Dove Chocolate], which included a digital re-creation of Audrey Hepburn. In several days, most news outlets scrambled to report this new Galaxy girl; the ad touched off a heated discussion [...]

The Particular Grossness of Trump Telling Brigitte Macron That She’s “In Such Good Physical Shape”

The Particular Grossness of Trump Telling Brigitte Macron That She’s “In Such Good Physical Shape”

by Marissa Martinelli @ The XX Factor

In the wake of an affectionate butt-tap between French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, here’s some decidedly unromantic news out of Paris. A video of Donald Trump commenting on the French First Lady’s physique is making the rounds on Twitter, and it is about as unpleasant to watch as you might imagine.

“You’re in such good shape,” Trump says in the video, with incredulous delight, while gesturing with both hands toward the first lady’s body. He then turns to the French president to repeat the comment. “She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.” Brigitte, who is facing away from the camera, takes a step back and touches Melania on the arm, as if in solidarity.

Trump making gruesomely objectifying comments about female appearances is clearly old hat at this point. But still: this one's a doozy. Setting aside the general appropriateness of the American president commenting on the body of the French president's wife in public, there's the way he pays the "compliment" first to Brigitte, and then to Macron, as if to praise him on her upkeep, too. And most of all, there is a big difference between telling a woman she looks good and informing her, with a note of awestruck surprise, that she’s “in such good shape.” His choice of words is telling, because the unspoken end of the sentence “you’re in such good shape” is “for your age.” It's a formulation that highlights a core Trumpian trait: just how obsessed he is with the specter of female decline.

Brigitte is 64 years old, making her 24 years older than her husband and 7 years younger than Trump. Trump's disgust toward both the aging process and, paradoxically, women's attempts to combat that process, is a deep current in his general worldview. There was, of course, the “bleeding badly from a face-lift” tweet about Mika Brzezinski. There was the news that he allegedly told Melania that she could only have a baby if she promised to “get her body back” after her pregnancy. There was his fun joke to Howard Stern that he would still love Melania after a disfiguring car crash if her breasts remained intact. And also his relentless fixation on Hillary Clinton's health.

Both Macrons seem cordial and friendly throughout the skin-crawling exchange in Paris, which is hardly surprising, given that the French president has been strategically turning on the charm throughout Trump’s visit. But it sure would have been satisfying if Brigitte, or her husband, had replied to doughy Trump by deadpanning, “Same to you.”

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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.”

Stop Asking About Camera Settings

by Jayphen Simpson @ PetaPixel

Photographer Tony Northrup wants you to stop asking photographers about their camera settings. In this 7-minute video, he explains why the camera settings that were used for an image are relatively unimportant and a distraction from the real work that goes into making a shot. To illustrate the argument, Northrup uses the example of an […]

“He Looks Like a Dick”: The Transcript of Jurors Explaining Their Biases Toward Martin Shkreli Is a Gift

“He Looks Like a Dick”: The Transcript of Jurors Explaining Their Biases Toward Martin Shkreli Is a Gift

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Self-care can take many forms, and it doesn’t have to involve funneling money toward your bath bomb collection. For instance, today, you can reclaim your time with a quick skim through a random sampling of Americans’ opinions on one Martin Shkreli.

Harper’s has published selections from the June transcript of voir dire in the fraud trial of the famously besmirked pharma bro, wherein prospective jurors were forced to reveal to a judge any biases that might prevent them from making a fair decision in Shkreli’s case. More than 200 people were dismissed from the pile of possible jury members because, it seems, Shkreli’s reputation as a smug jerkoff who price-gouges HIV and cancer patients preceded him. Their in-court explanations are positively healing to read.

“The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to,” one juror declared. Said another: “I don’t like this person at all. I just can’t understand why he would be so stupid as to take an antibiotic which H.I.V. people need and jack it up five thousand percent. I would honestly, like, seriously like to go over there—” “Sir, thank you,” the judge interrupted, presumably to protect the potential juror from drawing charges of his own for threatening the defendant.

These hero almost-jurors prove that effective shade need not be complicated nor particularly creative. Some of their simplest phrases are their best. “I have total disdain for the man”; “I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him”—if these people weren’t standing before a judge, they would 100 percent be blowing on the tips of their nails, flipping their hair, and flouncing away before their interlocutors could utter another word. Everything they said—“he’s a greedy little man”; “he’s the most hated man in America”—is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but reading the comments as a whole feels even better than truth-telling. It feels like watching that inauguration Nazi-punching GIF over and over again, but without people fighting all over your Facebook wall about whether or not it was okay.

The most honest juror self-disqualifications concern Shkreli’s face, which nine out of 10 faceologists* (*not a real medical specialty) agree is yearning to be knocked around. “I was looking yesterday in the newspaper and I saw the defendant,” one person said. “There was something about him. I can’t be fair. There was something that didn’t look right.” Yes, yes, that sounds right. Another juror explained that “when I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake—not knowing who he was—I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.” Perceptive!

Of course, none of these people made it onto Shkreli’s jury, because judges must strive to get a set of 12 people who know as little about the involved parties as possible, and who have no preconceived notions about their innocence or guilt. That’s great for the justice system, but sad for me, because I would very much like to hear more sharp observations from the mind of juror No. 144. “The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind. Can you do that?” the judge asked the prospective juror. “I don’t think I can,” the juror replied, “because he kind of looks like a dick.” That kind of well-reasoned argument belongs in every good jury deliberation, or at least in the miniseries adaptation.

Dove's ridiculous new body wash bottles are the apotheosis of its "real beauty" campaigns

Dove's ridiculous new body wash bottles are the apotheosis of its "real beauty" campaigns


Quartz

All soap bottles—I mean, women—are beautiful as they are.

Swole Jeff Bezos Is Exactly the Meme the World Needed

Swole Jeff Bezos Is Exactly the Meme the World Needed

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Most people know that online firearm sales create big loopholes that allow customers to bypass background checks—but who knew e-commerce pioneer Jeff Bezos was hawking guns like these?! The Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner showed up to an Idaho conference in a skintight T-shirt last week, displaying a set of arms most reasonable observers would classify as assault weapons.

Bezos used to be a giant baby-faced, Kevin-Spacey-faced nerd who sold textbooks on a website and looked ecstatic merely to be alive. Now, he’s buying up bougie grocery stores and publishing a newspaper with a metal-ass tagline. He’s in the putting businesses out of business business, and he’s got the muscle and shaved head to prove it.

This extreme dome makeover has inspired Twitter people to make a meme of sorts.

Whoa there! Looks like someone matured over summer vacation! Bezos has either been been spending some overtime moving boxes in an Amazon warehouse (probably not true, because as any girlfriend who does CrossFit will tell you, biceps are vanity muscles that don’t serve much practical function) or beefing up to intimidate any Trump-loving thugs who wish death upon the Washington Post. Either way, he has the body of a swole J.K. Simmons and the face of a non-swole J.K. Simmons. It’s a good look!

Swole Jeff Bezos is nice to look at and fun to tweet about, but the true genius of Swole Jeff Bezos is its applicability as a descriptor in everyday life. When you take any aesthetically unremarkable, utilitarian thing and add conspicuous glamour or decorative flourishes, you have created a Swole Jeff Bezos. If you move into a cheap, functional apartment with drop ceilings and wall-to-wall beige carpeting, then add a disco ball and an Eames chair, you are living in a Swole Jeff Bezos. A 7-year-old Prius with a unicorn hood ornament and cow-hide seat covers is a Swole Jeff Bezos car. That “Life Is Good” cap whose graphic you covered with a Chanel logo patch? Swole Jeff Bezos on your head. And thanks to the groundbreaking reporting of BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel, I am able to crown the world’s purest Swole Jeff Bezos: Hot, Hairy Elon Musk.

Real Beauty

Real Beauty


Film English

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 …

Steve King Wants Planned Parenthood Funds to Pay for a Border Wall. How Much Wall Could Those Funds Buy?

Steve King Wants Planned Parenthood Funds to Pay for a Border Wall. How Much Wall Could Those Funds Buy?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

It’s not every day Rep. Steve King comes up with a novel thought—most of his brain waves waft out of racist novels from the ‘70s. But on Wednesday morning, the Republican Congressman from Iowa managed to come up with one original idea: Take away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, and use it to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall!

King popped out his precious thought-baby while speaking on CNN about the House Appropriations Committee’s recent bill that proposes allocating $1.6 billion to Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of Donald Trump’s promised wall. If King had his way, he said, the wall would get $5 billion more. “I would find a half of a billion dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood’s budget,” he said. The other $4.5 billion would come from cuts to food stamps.

Why hasn’t any other intrepid legislator suggested taking away poor women’s pap smears and spending the money on a giant fence instead?! Let’s pause for a moment to imagine how big and beautiful a wall could be with all that health-care money that usually subsidizes birth control for women on Medicaid.

Now let’s calculate it. An internal Department of Homeland Security report obtained by Reuters earlier this year estimated that the border wall could cost about $21.6 billion to build. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood got $554.6 million in government reimbursements (from, for instance, providing services to people on Medicaid) and grants (from, for instance, family-planning programs like Title X). Some of that money comes from state governments, and some comes from federal funds, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t disaggregate the funds in its annual reports.

So let’s be generous to King and assume that every state “defunded” Planned Parenthood and donated the resulting funds to the cause of the U.S.-Mexico border wall instead of putting them back into public health.

$554.6 million in government funds goes into a $21.6 billion wall 38.95 times. Customs and Border Protection has estimated that the wall could be 1,827 miles long. Divide that by 38.95, and Planned Parenthood’s $554.6 million could build a wall segment just under 47 miles long. Not bad! That would span about the length of the very top tip of New Hampshire, where it brushes up against Canada before spooning Vermont.

Ah, wait a second. That $21.6 billion? Just an estimate. When the Trump administration actually asked for money for the wall, it wanted $2.6 billion for fewer than 75 miles of wall. According to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, that would bring the total cost of the wall to about $66.9 billion. Plug that into the equation:

$66,900,000,000 / $554,600,000 = 120.63

1,827 / 120.63 = 15.15 miles

That’s more than 15 miles of border wall, and no Medicaid reimbursements or family-planning subsidies for Planned Parenthood patients. Not much of a dent in the blocking-Mexico department, but think of what else it could do! A 15-mile wall in D.C. could encircle Ivanka Trump’s Kalorama house, the White House, the D.C. Trump Hotel, and all the drunk bros at Nationals Park. Fifteen miles is just enough for Manhattan to build a wall below Central Park and around the lower coastline of the island, enclosing Trump Tower in a quarantined zone. Or, with just under 15 miles of wall, Trump could build his way from his golden Fifth Avenue tower to the Pizza Hut in downtown Newark. It’s no well-done steak, but with just 15 miles to work with, a few plates full of cheesy bites is about as good as it’s going to get. Defunding PBS should cover the bill.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open

by Stephanie @ Stephanie Early Green

I am proud to announce that my short story On the Road to the Volcano received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s March/April 2016 Fiction Open contest! I have submitted work to Glimmer Train many times over the past couple of years, so it’s really gratifying to have gotten on their Honorable Mentions list. (It’s extremely difficult […]

10 Years After Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign, More Brands Fight for Real Women

10 Years After Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign, More Brands Fight for Real Women


TakePart

It's been 10 years since Dove launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty”—a stark series of ads that were radical and simple in equal measure—featuring lovely, normal-sized women who didn’t need Photoshop to look radiant. The ads, which ran in 2004 and 2005, lacked any screed about the pressures that come with being a woman in a visual culture that’s awash in creatively lit, digitally manipulated images of dangerously thin models. The folks behind the campaign simply let us feel our own shock at seeing women with normal curves and natural faces being celebrated for their beauty in a national advertisement. Dove didn't stop there. The soap maker added rocket fuel to the conversation in 2006, when its time-lapse "Evolution" video went viral. The movement to expose marketers' use of trickery to convince us that we're failing if we don't have flawless skin and breathtaking bodies was here to stay. Significant progress has been made since Dove's campaign: The American public, the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse now routinely call out magazine publishers and marketers for digitally altering images of girls and women to shrink their bodies, smooth their faces, and otherwise morph them to fit an unrealistic, narrow ideal of beauty. The pace is quickening. In just the past few months, there's been even more progress and a few moments that drove the dialogue forward. 1. The more bare skin a campaign flaunts, the more Photoshop it typically gets. But American Eagle says its new campaign for the Aerie line of lingerie will not use any altered images of models. Instead, “real” girls and women can upload unretouched photos of themselves to a photo gallery. Sure, it’s pretty screwed up that selling underwear using real photos of gorgeous, skinny young girls (instead of digitally improved gorgeous, skinny young girls) is seen as groundbreaking. But moving away from the idealized versions of women who don't exist is a footstep Dove took, and the clothier is now following its lead. “It’s great that we’re beginning to break that down,” said Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women &amp; Girls Foundation, of the fakeries that line the glossies. 2. Forever Yours Lingerie didn't stop working with model Elly Mayday when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. It featured beautiful shots of her with surgical scars unhidden and no wig or digital fakery to hide the baldness that resulted from her cancer treatment. Rather than looking like something’s missing, Mayday’s baldness comes across as strong and sexy. It’s empowering for the rest of us to see a woman outside the beauty mold we’ve been sold for so long—and to find ourselves aspiring to emulate her sexy confidence and appeal. (Forever Yours also gets points for raising money toward Mayday’s medical expenses.) 3. A new time-lapse video released by Hungarian pop star Boggie shows her singing a pop song called “Nouveau Parfum” while being Photoshopped, a fresh take on Dove's "Evolution" that's amplified by the resigned expression on her face. As the song unfolds, pieces of her disappear and are overwritten: Boggie’s eyes, like everyone else’s, aren’t exactly symmetrical. So one is deleted, then replaced by an exact copy of the other. Not a single square inch of her face or hair is left untouched. 4. Earlier last month during the Golden Globes, actor Diane Keaton took the stage to honor Woody Allen, her tousled hair and menswear-chic outfit reminding us of the trend she set when Annie Hall hit theaters in 1977. It was also clear on high-definition screens across America that at 68, she's got (oh, the horror!) lots of lines on her gorgeous face. When her speech ended, the network cut to a commercial break featuring Keaton selling L'Oréal cosmetics without a line on her digitally enhanced face, seemingly sporting the skin of a 25-year-old. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook quickly lit up with scorn. That social media response is valuable, Arnet says, because younger women and girls are active on Instagram and Twitter and are participating in those conversations. 5. Former Cosmopolitan editor Leah Hardy drew attention for admitting that during her tenure the magazine routinely Photoshopped out the protruding bones of super skinny models to keep readers from seeing how emaciated the models really were. Since that admission surfaced, before-and-after comparisons of bone-thin models and their healthier-looking altered images have been popping up around the Web. Apparently the world’s top fashion magazines, despite the huge budgets at their disposal, cannot find a single woman on the planet who isn’t either too thin or too fat for their liking. It’s further reinforcement of the conclusion we’d love to share with every tween girl who’s just beginning to notice her appearance: The elusive “perfection” that every cosmetic company and clothing retailer is trying to sell you does not exist. 6. Mindy Kaling might not have minded, but many other people did: When Elle magazine published covers for its February 2014 issue featuring Kaling, readers and pundits immediately questioned why Kaling's cover was a black-and-white close-up rather than the full-color, full-body shots of the other (skinnier and more "conventionally" beautiful) actors. That's the key: We've begun to make a habit of questioning how women are depicted and what tools are being used to change or edit their appearance for public consumption. Yes, the visual landscape is still awash with altered images, surgically altered models, and the pressure to be thinner, younger, and closer to the narrow beauty ideal that so much marketing pushes on us. Marketers aren’t going to stop selling us

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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.)

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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.

Can Mindy Kaling Thwart the Media’s Sick Obsession with the Contents of Celebrity Uteri?

Can Mindy Kaling Thwart the Media’s Sick Obsession with the Contents of Celebrity Uteri?

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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!

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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.

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Finally, a New Policy We Know Trump Truly Believes in: Protections for Sexual Assaulters

Finally, a New Policy We Know Trump Truly Believes in: Protections for Sexual Assaulters

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Betsy DeVos gave credence to the fears of anti-rape activists on Thursday when she finally did the thing they’ve expected her to do since her confirmation. In a speech at George Mason University, the secretary of education announced her intention to roll back Obama-era guidance that forced universities that receive federal funding to take more aggressive action against campus sexual assault.

DeVos accused the federal government of using “intimidation and coercion” to make schools comply with stricter Department of Education directives that came down in 2011. The “Dear Colleague” letter, as it is commonly known, required universities to complete expedient investigations of accusations, lower the standard of evidence needed to hold an accused student responsible, prevent harassment of victims on campus, and stop making victims sign nondisclosure agreements. DeVos took issue with the new guidance’s more comprehensive definitions of assault and harassment. “If everything is harassment, then nothing is,” she said, claiming that students and teachers had been punished for Title IX offenses simply for “speaking their minds.”

The other telltale sign that the “Dear Colleague” guidance was not long for this world was the person sitting in the Oval Office. Donald Trump has given his rancid imprimatur to all manner of causes and policies about which he seems to know or care very little. He once identified as “pro-choice”; now he advances anti-abortion policies more punishing than those of his right-wing predecessors, even as he slips up on the anti-abortion talking points. While Trump was busy absorbing his twice-daily lathering of positive cable news chyrons, Steve Bannon, back when he was still oozing about the White House, could whisper a few epithets into the president’s ear and we'd all wake up the next morning to a nuclear clash of civilizations.

Sexual assault, on the other hand, is a cause near and dear to Trump, the rare political matter in which he actually has some experience. More than a dozen women have given public accounts of his various alleged sex crimes, giving him valuable insight into the plight of the accused. On this issue, his mind holds two mutually exclusive principles to be simultaneously true: that women are lying when they allege sexual assault, and that the actions they describe did occur but don’t warrant any accountability from the perpetrator. Groping is flirting, and barging in on naked beauty queens is a purchasable privilege of rich men. But also, the women who claim those things happened are liars out for fame and money, and plus, they’re too ugly to assault. Trump has convinced himself that he’s a victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by an inherently untrustworthy subclass—women—that’s trying to take down the good ol’ university boys, those original espousers of “locker room talk,” too.

The DeVos Department of Education echoes this paradigm through and through. When DeVos invited men’s rights groups to advise her on Title IX policy this summer, she included infamous trolls who claim that the “leading reason” for domestic abuse is “female initiation of partner violence” and dox women who accuse men of rape. Candice Jackson, who DeVos tapped to lead the department’s Office for Civil Rights, recently scoffed to the New York Times that a full 90 percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”

Imagine the college student who has endured a sexual assault and looks online for her avenues of recourse, only to find that the woman charged with addressing all federal claims of harassment and discrimination believes nearly every college student with the courage to file an official rape allegation is full of shit. The chilling effect the DeVos Department of Education will have on sexual assault reports will certainly please Trump. But his larger goal is to send a message to women that the government is not on their side. Nearly every policy shift Trump makes that rallies his base without any real legislative accomplishment—the transgender military ban, the decision to cease data collection on race- and gender- based wage disparities, the ending of DACA—serves the general purpose of demoralizing marginalized populations by letting them know the country stands with their oppressors.

To accomplish this goal, Trump must manage some pretty impressive feats of intellectual dissonance. Police officers should rough up the suspects they arrest, but universities should go easy on accused rapists. Honor killings by immigrant men are a threat to American women, but grants to prevent violence against women are bogus. Sifting through the president’s actions, it can be hard to find any kernel of conviction. At the root of his few true impulses is identity politics—namely, his identity as a white man and his desire to protect the same. There’s one other identity at play, and he shares it with the accused sexual assailants DeVos championed on Thursday. That makes her rollback of Title IX protections one of Trump’s most honest moves yet.

The Problem with Dove | THE ILLUSIONISTS

The Problem with Dove | THE ILLUSIONISTS


THE ILLUSIONISTS - a documentary about body image and globalization

The dark side of Dove's Real Beauty Campaign: from its controversial parent company, to the marketing of Dove skin whitening deodorants in India...

Lara Trump’s Debut as an Anchor Is Part Fox News, Part Amateur Vlogger, 100 Percent Trump

Lara Trump’s Debut as an Anchor Is Part Fox News, Part Amateur Vlogger, 100 Percent Trump

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

So far America has met enough dishonest, dead-eyed Trump family members to populate an entire white-collar cellblock. (That doesn’t include you, Tiffany. Hope you’re well <3) Yet somehow, there’s always one more waiting in the wings for her turn in the spotlight.  

This week, it’s Lara. The wife of Eric Trump has a new gig as a propagandist for a promotional broadcast on Donald Trump’s Facebook page. Like the rest of the media industry, the Trump family is pivoting to video! On Sunday, Lara appeared in a clip that’s since gotten 2 million views. In it, she basically reads aloud a few Trump press releases, congratulating her dad-in-law on his benevolence and leadership.

This video is something of an official debut for Lara, who hasn’t yet taken a visible role in the administration, and it is instantly clear how perfect she is for her current station. Her streaky highlights, exposed décolletage, and glossy lips say “Fox News anchor.” Her glazed-over stare, motionless eyebrows, and deep fake tan say “Trump family.” And her awkward mid-sentence breaths say “amateur vlogger,” the media comfort zone for those ride-or-die Trump supporters who spend the majority of their days watching Alex Jones and prepper videos.

“I bet you haven’t heard about all the accomplishments the president’s had this week,” Lara starts out, “because there’s so much fake news out there!” Okay, so her script-writers could use a little help—it sounds like she’s saying that the president’s “accomplishments” are fake and get lost in the never-ending churn of stories that are equally fake? But we know what she meant! She continues with a list of nice things Trump did last week, such as encouraging police departments to brutalize suspects and donating part of his salary to the Department of Education, whose budget he proposed cutting by $9.2 billion. Everything, including mentions of MS-13 and Rep. Steve Scalise’s injuries from a recent shooting, is delivered with a dry, hollow smile, the Trump family’s native mode of communication.

Lara Trump’s inaugural broadcast is painful to watch, and not just because the “accomplishments” she lists are far less impressive than the Trump administration would have viewers believe. The editing looks like it was done on the automatic iMovie setting meant for vacation slideshows, with a fade-out and fade-in between every clip. When it fades out, Lara is still speaking. When it fades in, she’s sitting there, waiting for her director’s go-ahead with an uncomfortable smile like a jack-o-lantern whose candle has been extinguished. You can smell how badly she wants to be a real-life TV personality: She has all the self-seriousness and corny transition lines (“Next up: jobs, jobs, jobs!”) of a pretend anchor on Teen Kids News. “I’m Lara Trump and that is the real news,” she signs off. It’s heartbreaking.

The video implies that the Lara show could be a recurring feature on Trump’s Facebook page, and if it is, she will probably improve. She seems bright enough, and her husband, Eric, was the only person in the Trump orbit with enough wits about him to catch on to a prankster impersonating random White House–adjacent people over email. As long as Trumpsters are MAGAing all over the president’s Facebook feed, Lara’s future in state media will be bright. Next up: a copy of Final Cut for her producer.

Using Ultraviolet Light to Make Nature Fluoresce in Photos

by Don Komarechka @ PetaPixel

Ultraviolet photography is something that relatively few photographers explore, but it’s a fascinating realm to explore with less of an investment in equipment than most people think. Much of my photography revolves around the world that we cannot see with our own eyes. This “unseen world” approach can make otherworldly beautiful images from everyday ordinary […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove: Real Beauty, Real Birds

Dove: Real Beauty, Real Birds


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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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