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Ted Cruz’s New Chill, Sex-Positive Persona Is All Well and Good. It’s Also Preposterous.

Ted Cruz’s New Chill, Sex-Positive Persona Is All Well and Good. It’s Also Preposterous.

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

Pity Ted Cruz. No one likes the guy. (“I just don’t like the guy”—George W. Bush) He’s spent the last few weeks being called out for his hypocrisy over hurricane aid. And now, just when he’d rather be selling his tax reform plan, he has spent almost an entire week talking about a pornographic tweet.

It is by now the stuff of legend: On Monday evening, Cruz’s official Twitter account clicked “like” on a tweet featuring hardcore porn, causing the tweet from account @SexuallPosts to show up on a section of Cruz’s public profile. Speculation ran wild, including at Slate. Did Cruz himself hit the like button? Did a staffer do it, and under what circumstances? On Tuesday, Cruz called it a “staffing issue,” furthering the story without clarifying it. Concerned watchdogs like CNN’s Chris Cillizza put Cruz on notice, treating the errant finger-twitch like the matter of national security that it was: “Cruz needs to clear this up. Immediately. Possibly sooner.” On Wednesday, he cleared it up—or at least tried to. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, he said a staff member “accidentally hit the wrong button.”

Cruz seems to be in a forgiving mood toward the mystery staffer. He called it an “honest mistake” and said he wouldn’t throw the “fella” under the bus by revealing his name. Then again, Cruz is a forgiving guy: Then-candidate Donald Trump insulted his wife’s appearance and insinuated that his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, and Cruz still endorsed him.

But the interview was notable for more than just Cruz’s awkward attempts to move past SexuallPosts-gate. When Bash brought up a 2007 case in which Cruz, then Texas solicitor general, defended a state law banning the sale of sex toys, Cruz got huffy. He called the ban a “stupid law” and said he only defended it because it was his job to do so. “Consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want in their bedrooms,” he said. “The media and the left seem obsessed with sex. Let people do what they want!”

Cruz’s newfound persona as a chill, sex-positive free spirit is all well and good. But back in 2007, Cruz showed no sign of thinking that the Texas sales ban on dildos and vibrators was “idiotic,” as he told Bash. His team filed a 76-page brief arguing that Americans have no right “to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.” When a court of appeals panel struck down Cruz’s argument in a 2–1 decision in 2008, the judges in the majority noted that the case was very specifically about controlling what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms: “It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the State is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct.” After his loss, Cruz and the state’s attorney general (now-Gov. Greg Abbott) asked the full court of appeals to hear the case, and Cruz’s office filed another brief suggesting it might take the case—defending what he now calls a “stupid law”—to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Cruz’s approach to LGBTQ issues also does not suggest a mellow disinterest in other people’s bedroom habits. During his 2012 Senate campaign, he criticized his opponent for marching in a pride parade as Dallas mayor, saying it’s “not a statement I agree with.” He spoke publicly during that campaign about his record of “standing and fighting to protect traditional marriage between one man and one woman.” In the run-up to the 2016 election, he told NPR that opposition to same-sex marriage would be “front and center” in his campaign. Except he also he assured a gay-rights supporter at a private fundraiser that he would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority. That’s Ted Cruz: Consenting adults can do what they want behind closed doors as long as it’s politically convenient for him.

Turns Out It’s Fun to Read About Models Dissing Leo DiCaprio’s Out-of-Shape Bod

Turns Out It’s Fun to Read About Models Dissing Leo DiCaprio’s Out-of-Shape Bod

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

In case anyone was worried about Leonardo DiCaprio having a crisis of confidence as he settled into middle age, the baby-faced climate activist put concerns to rest at a party in Malibu last week. Page Six reports that DiCaprio allegedly spent his time at an early Fourth of July shindig “bragging” to a group of models at a private estate “about how he doesn’t work out.”

No surprises here! DiCaprio was never particularly ripped. The unremarkable thorax of the man who used to be America’s most lusted-after heartthrob has been wonderfully described by the Daily Mail as a “middle-age spread” and “the body of a fellow who likes to live the high life.” At least one website has called his “the DadBodiest Bod of All.”

Indeed, DiCaprio’s shape is the prototypical naturally-occuring dad bod: a bit of pecs, a bit of delts, a fair bit of gut, and an all-over layer of jiggle. His body exudes laidback, catered-to, unselfconscious luxury—the human equivalent of a first-class airline seat—and he loves to show it off. I think two-thirds of the photos of DiCaprio I’ve consumed in my lifetime have involved him laying on a yacht, plowing through ocean waves, or lounging by a pool. His torso is an integral part of the American celebrity lexicon, and in this age of performative body positivity, its lack of particular grandeur makes women’s magazines swoon.

But according to Page Six’s source, the models at last week’s Malibu party “weren’t impressed” by DiCaprio’s boasts about avoiding the gym. “Does he think that’s attractive? It’s not like he’s in Titanic shape anymore,” the women allegedly said.

No one’s body deserves to be insulted, and Slate wishes DiCaprio all the confidence in the world—his muscles and skin are perfect just the way James Cameron created them. However! Followers of DiCaprio’s romantic exploits may derive a droplet or two of pleasure from this anecdote. This man, who goes around bragging that he never exercises, does not date anyone except bathing suit models, whose entire livelihoods are based on constant exercise and caloric deprivation. The man who is so proud of his soft bod he mentions it at parties does not see fit to associate romantically with anyone whose job is not folding her tiny body into shapes that minimize any visible flesh fold or movement.

To the best of public knowledge, the 42-year-old actor has never even dated anyone over the age of 25. That includes recent ex Nina Agdal, with whom he split just a few months after she turned 25, a pattern he’s repeated with about half his roster of young exes. Since the average working model age is 17 (!), one can assume that the recipients of DiCaprio’s body boasts were in his romantic sweet spot. It’s nice to hear that some women he tries to woo are able to take his exceedingly high aesthetic expectations and turn them back around on him. Of course DiCaprio doesn’t look like he did in his Titanic years! When it filmed, he was but a wee 22—three years from his expiration date.

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

Sofía Vergara’s Ex Might Finally Be Out of Luck in His Battle for Custody of Their Frozen Embyros

Sofía Vergara’s Ex Might Finally Be Out of Luck in His Battle for Custody of Their Frozen Embyros

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

After years of battling ex-fiancée Sofía Vergara in court for custody of a pair of frozen embryos they once made together, condiment entrepreneur Nick Loeb might finally be out of luck. Last week, a federal judge in Louisiana dismissed Loeb’s suit, saying that the embryos are “citizens of California,” where Vergara and Loeb conceived and froze them. Thus, the judge ruled, embryos have no legal standing to sue in Louisiana, the only state that gives embryos the right to sue and be sued.

Embryos are frozen when they are just clumps of a few dozen cells, equivalent to a vaginally inseminated egg that would still take another week to become embedded in the uterine wall. Louisiana law deems these cells “juridical persons”—not quite human beings, but deserving of legal rights. In Louisiana, embryos are not merely property of the two people who made them, so any legal disputes must meet “the best interest of the in vitro fertilized ovum.”

That’s the most likely reason why Loeb sued Vergara in Louisiana despite the fact that neither party maintains a residence there.* (Loeb says he chose the state because the couple broke up there; he dropped an earlier California suit because he didn’t want to name his previous girlfriends who’d had abortions.) Actually, Loeb didn’t exactly sue Vergara—the embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” did. “Plaintiff EMMA is a female human being at the embryonic stage of life, five days old developmentally,” the “right to live” suit read, claiming that Vergara had “effectively abandoned and chronically neglected” her children by keeping them frozen in a medical tank since 2013. Though Vergara and Loeb had signed a contract when they were together agreeing that the embryos would never be implanted anywhere without both parties’ consent, Loeb wanted to nullify the agreement and implant them in a surrogate.

Over the past couple of years, the Vergara–Loeb embryo battle has become a proxy fight for anti-abortion advocates who think frozen embryos should be treated like people. Anti-abortion groups have funded or filed amicus briefs in the embryo disputes of split-up couples, including the case of a Missouri woman named Jalesia McQueen. In the middle of her own court battle over two frozen embryos (“Noah” and “Genesis”) with an ex-husband who wanted to dispose of them, McQueen founded an organization called Embryo Defense to advocate for all excess embryos in legal limbo. She aggregates news on the Vergara–Loeb case and uses their photos in images made for sharing on social media. The graphics say things like “Sofia says it’s ‘selfish’ to let the embryos be born without both parents being in a loving relationship. Shouldn’t both parents just love the child?” and “Please pray for Sofia Vergara and those she called her ‘frozen babies,’ that she’d open her heart so they could be a blessing in her life.” One pairs a picture of Loeb’s face with the question “what about a father’s right to choose?”

The concept of “a father’s right” to procreate without input from the woman whose egg created the embryo is a favorite rallying cry of the embryo-protector set. Loeb himself made this argument in a 2015 New York Times op-ed with the magnificent headline “Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live.” “A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects,” Loeb wrote. “Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?”

The federal judge’s decision against Loeb is only the latest in a string of disappointing court losses for those who believe embryos should be treated like people. When Barack Obama lifted a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2009, he was hit with a lawsuit from one Mary Scott Doe, a “frozen embryo symbolizing all existing frozen embryos.” A federal appeals court ruled that Doe had no standing as an “amorphous” class that could not prove any actual harm. In 2015, a California Superior Court judge ruled that a contract a divorced couple signed at the medical center where they created the embryo prevented either party from taking unilateral custody of the embryos unless one of the parties died. Even McQueen, the founder of Embryo Defense, lost her suit late last year when a St. Louis court ruled that embryos are “marital property of a special character,” not human beings with unalienable rights.

That St. Louis case might be the most promising decision yet for those who believe that no person should be able to incubate an embryo without the consent of the other person whose genetic material it carries. The others, which rest on the tenets of contract law, legal standing, and jurisdiction, say more about how the suits were filed than what rights adults have to the embryos they create. Still, Loeb’s loss could set a welcome precedent in these kinds of cases: Jurisdiction-shopping embryo protectors might find Louisiana to be a less hospitable home for a lawsuit than they’d imagined. 

*Correction, August 31, 2017: This piece originally referred to “the most likely reason why Loeb sued Vergara in California, despite the fact that neither party maintains a residence there.” It should have said Louisiana.

Dove Ideology

Dove Ideology


Savage Minds

The latest Dove advertising campaign, “Real Beauty Sketches,” has already garnered its share of well-deserved criticism: That “Dove is owned by Unilever – the same company that owns Axe, king of mi…

Fox News Spent $50 Million on Harassment Claims in a Year, Proving That Enabling Sexual Harassers Is a Bad Business Move

Fox News Spent $50 Million on Harassment Claims in a Year, Proving That Enabling Sexual Harassers Is a Bad Business Move

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

It’s been an expensive year to be a company with a sexual-harassment problem. According to regulatory paperwork filed Monday, 21st Century Fox paid out about $50 million in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 to cover costs related to a slew of sexual-harassment and discrimination settlements at Fox News. The New York Times reports that $50 million is $5 million more than what the company said it had paid out as of the end of March, meaning that either the company’s calculations have changed since then or Fox News continued racking up settlement expenses through the end of spring.

The network’s costly tailspin began last July, when former host Gretchen Carlson filed a blistering suit alleging that she’d been subjected to repeated instances of sexual harassment at Fox News, including regular come-ons from then-chairman Roger Ailes. Carlson got a major chunk of the network’s FY2016 settlement costs—$20 million—after Ailes walked the plank onto a $40 million lifeboat. A few months later, the Times revealed that Fox News and former primetime star Bill O’Reilly had paid a cumulative $13 million since 2002 to settle harassment suits brought against him by fellow employees and network contributors. When he got ousted, O’Reilly got about $25 million from Fox News to help ease his pain.

The $50 million figure reported on Monday doesn’t include these payouts to Ailes and O’Reilly; nor does it include the millions of dollars spent before the summer of 2016 to settle with O’Reilly’s accusers. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission form, 21st Century Fox spent $224 million on “management and employee transitions and restructuring” at a group of businesses that includes Fox News, where management shake-ups and extra human-resources burdens have created the need for a significant hiring expenses and severance packages. Monday’s filing also notes that the harassment and discrimination allegations could cause a ripple effect of liabilities and hard-to-quantify losses. In a section titled “Risk Factors,” the form notes that “prospective investors should consider carefully,” among other possibilities, the chance that the misconduct allegations against Fox News could lead to future payouts, expensive litigation from related investigations, and diminished ratings due to the departures of several network personalities. Some of those consequences could materialize in the very near future: More than 20 current and former Fox News employees are currently enmeshed in racial- and gender-discrimination suits against the company, which recently declined to settle them all for a lump sum of $60 million.

If you’re a business leader looking at Fox News right now, you’re probably pretty pleased that you’re not responsible for digging the company out of its self-created trap. (If you are a Fox News executive, thanks for reading, and please accept my best wishes on your future endeavors.) Companies are known to quietly shell out cash to protect their employees from public scrutiny over sexual-harassment claims—and if that doesn’t work, they often give big-time stars-cum-harassers tidy sums to get them to resign. These corporate behaviors are not unique to Fox News. But, in part because the major players in the Fox News sexual-harassment scandals visited millions of Americans in their living rooms each night at the time the allegations arose, the network has become one of the most visible case studies of how much it can cost a business to enable the toxic behavior of its precious stars.

Personnel decisions made around sexual-harassment allegations are all about risks and rewards. Businesses don’t run on good feelings—toxic employees get fired because they pose a risk to a company’s bottom line, whether through litigation costs or reputational damage. For a decade and a half, Fox News executives had to weigh O’Reilly’s worth against the financial damage he caused: How much money does it cost to hush up O’Reilly’s accusers? How much prestige does he bring the Fox News brand? How much money do his advertisers bring in? How famous are his accusers? Would their complaints be enough to cause widespread public condemnation? At the same time, 21st Century Fox and its Murdoch family owners were asking similar questions about Ailes: How many more women will bring suits against him in the next few years? What will the average suit cost to settle? How many more potential harassers would he bring on board and cover for? When do the risks outweigh the benefits?

For the business leaders of Fox News, emboldening famous men to hit on, grab at, and demean women who worked for and with them was cheaper than creating a workplace free from sexual intimidation—until it wasn’t. In O’Reilly’s case, that balance shifted when advertisers, under pressure from consumers, began pulling out of his top-rated show. For Ailes, it shifted when an investigation and reporting hotline revealed an alleged pattern of abuse too entrenched, long-running, and public to squash. Because so many women made their allegations known to the world outside the network, Fox had to do its calculations out in the open. Everyone could read the lawsuits, learn about the payouts, and see companies tweeting their decisions to end their advertising relationships with O’Reilly. Now, thanks to the SEC form, we have a bit of a better idea of how much it’s cost so far.

That makes Fox News an exemplary cautionary tale of the expense that may befall a 21st-century business led by a man who molds his workplace in his own pitiful, lecherous self-image. And it’s not just Fox: Harassment and discrimination claims at Uber helped relieve the company of its CEO, Travis Kalanick, and the company he built is still struggling to overhaul its culture. Women are more likely to share their experiences of sexual harassment today than they’ve ever been, and observers in the general public are more likely to believe them. The dozens of millions of dollars Fox News has spent making amends for and covering up its sexual-harassment problem are not “material” to 21st Century Fox, its SEC form claims. Other business leaders making their own calculations may feel differently.

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.

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.

Feminist Fix: Hillary Clinton Isn’t Going Anywhere and Dolores Huerta is Tired of Being Erased

by Carmen Rios @ Ms. Magazine Blog

Anti-abortion extremists are invading clinics, a county in North Carolina unanimously endorsed CEDAW, the fourth PowerPuff Girl is a woman of color, Lena Waithe better not be last, it turns out everyone wants to read "What Happened," new studies on pay equity and more feminist links from the week!

The post Feminist Fix: Hillary Clinton Isn’t Going Anywhere and Dolores Huerta is Tired of Being Erased appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Dove Real Beauty Productions TV Commercial, 'Meet the Women'

Dove Real Beauty Productions TV Commercial, 'Meet the Women'


iSpot.tv

In partnership with Shonda Rhimes, Dove established Real Beauty Productions. With a 100 percent female crew, the company aims to honor women on and off screen just as the 2017 Emmys did. Real women redefining beauty are recognized as the inspiration behind the studio.

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.

Powerful Ad Campaign By Dove Shows That Women Can ‘Choose Beautiful’

Powerful Ad Campaign By Dove Shows That Women Can ‘Choose Beautiful’


Bored Panda

Dove has released a video of an interesting social experiment called #ChooseBeautiful that challenged women around the world to decide to be beautiful and reevaluate their self-image – for the better. In the campaign, women at stations in Sao Paulo, Delhi, Shanghai, San Francisco and London were given the simple choice of entering through a Beautiful door or an Average door.

The Most Eye-Popping Outfits at the 2017 Emmys, From Lena Waithe’s Suit to Sam Bee’s Shoulder Pads

The Most Eye-Popping Outfits at the 2017 Emmys, From Lena Waithe’s Suit to Sam Bee’s Shoulder Pads

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The 2017 Emmys got started Sunday night with a parade of precious metals outside the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Actresses and actors in sparkles, spangles, sequins, and all-over shine made the biggest footprint on the red carpet this year, reflecting the sunny-mood-in-the-face-of-impending-doom of Stephen Colbert’s opening sequence.

Westworld’s Tessa Thompson and Big Little Lies Zoe Kravitz, who described her dress as “fairy-like,” projected rainbow prisms from their skirts. Jessica Biel wore another of the best looks of the night, a sweeping Ralph & Russo couture gown with a sparkling top half that echoed the texture of micro chainmail.

Yara Shahidi of Black-ish wore tulle in a perfect shade of nude with kelp-like flourishes of green sequins. In vivid blue, Ellie Kemper went the rhinestone route with her appliques.

Last year’s Emmys saw Sarah Paulson in head-to-toe Kelly green sequins and shoulder pads—one of my favorite looks of the 2016 show—and she went a similar route on Sunday with a puff-sleeved column of semi-matte sequins designed by Carolina Herrera. Laverne Cox and Uzo Aduba, too, glimmered in total silver, while Priyanka Chopra braved the heat in a full-coverage Balmain number quilted with jewels.

Plunging necklines that require body tape are standard fare on any red carpet. Here are three very different interpretations of the silhouette: The Handmaid’s Tale villain Yvonne Strahovski in elegant red satin, Shailene Woodley in cheeky-casual autumn velvet, and Anika Noni Rose in a striking Thai Nguyen Atelier gown with sequined stripes.

Allover lace can look fussy or infantile at a black-tie event. Chrissy Metz, Felicity Huffman, and  a breathtaking Ryan Michelle Bathe did it right: smartly tailored in sophisticated shades.

With sheer panels and floral patterns, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gabrielle Union, and Leslie Jones elevated long black gowns to a statement-making level.

The best colors of the night came from Viola Davis in a shade that’s quite rare for a gown, Samantha Bee in a set of enviably structured shoulders, and Westworld’s Angela Sarafyan in a chartreuse off-the-shoulder Elizabeth Kennedy number—one of the few dresses out there whose useless sleeves actually prove worth the extra fabric.

Master of None’s Lena Waithe, the first black woman nominated for a comedy writing Emmy award (and the first to win!), wore a showy gold patterned jacket; Brad Goreski of Fashion Police was her shimmering silver counterpart. Tituss Burgess, known for his flowing scarves and extravagant fabrics on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, toned it ever-so-slightly down in glowing marigold. With a persona that glaringly bright, it would have been foolish to let a sparkling garment compete for the spotlight.

Read more in Slate about the Emmys.

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.

Dove Asks Us To #SpeakBeautiful And Weight Watchers Tells Women To Be Kind To Themselves | Audiense

Dove Asks Us To #SpeakBeautiful And Weight Watchers Tells Women To Be Kind To Themselves | Audiense


Audiense

The last week of the year is particularly exciting with brands gearing up for their "New Year, new you" social media campaigns. Plus, more Twitter trends.

Tyler, the Creator Mountain Dew Ad: Critical Race Analysis

by Nex @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014

In 2013, PepsiCo released a commercial for Mountain Dew as part of a series developed by African American rapper Tyler, the Creator. The ad immediately felt backfire as it was criticized for portraying racial stereotypes and making light of violence toward women. Using critical race analysis, I argue that the Mountain Dew commercial perpetuates african-american […]

It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress

It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress


Business Insider

The actress tweeted that she was "feeling blessed en route to 'Doors/Choose Beautiful' documentary set."

Online Dating for Older Women

by Walker Thornton @ Senior Planet

Improve your online dating experience by updating your view of what women can do and say.

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.

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Video Will Actually Make You Love Your Hair

This Video Will Actually Make You Love Your Hair


Teen Vogue

Ignore society’s beauty standards.

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.

Dove's Latest Commercial Is Their Most Bullshit Yet

Dove's Latest Commercial Is Their Most Bullshit Yet


Jezebel

Dove has moved their marketing strategy away from merely using "Real Women" as models and towards manipulating "Real Women" as part of totally unscientific experiments that prove nothing. The latest iteration of this project is Dove Patches, a patch for your arm full of a magic substance that makes you feel more beautiful.

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.  

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.

Seven Ways Graham-Cassidy Attacks Women’s Healthcare

by Lynn Rosado @ Ms. Magazine Blog

Several failed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have led to the worst replacement yet—especially for women. 

The post Seven Ways Graham-Cassidy Attacks Women’s Healthcare appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Game Of Thrones's Red Woman Weighs In On Dove Chocolate's New...

Game Of Thrones's Red Woman Weighs In On Dove Chocolate's New...


Previously.TV

Has Dove Chocolate's latest ad campaign gone too far? One witch says yes!

Farewell to Scaramucci, Trump’s Best Hire Yet

Farewell to Scaramucci, Trump’s Best Hire Yet

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Anthony Scaramucci’s tenure in the White House was so brief that you might have missed it if your annual family vacation or meditation retreat fell during the last week of July. In the span between two Game of Thrones episodes, Donald Trump’s communications director, who wasn’t even supposed to start until mid-August, got hired, publicly accused a co-worker of attempting to fellate himself, chose hanging with Trump over attending his son’s birth, and was forced out of his gig by the new White House chief of staff after threatening the old chief of staff with an FBI investigation. Whew! Sounds like someone could use a bubble bath and a tall glass of cocaine!

Short as it was, the Mooch’s diminutive reign made a disproportionate impact on America’s emotional health. If Scaramucci were describing his own tenure in terms of  his favorite metaphor—male genitals—he might say that small apparatuses often work extra hard to make big impacts, leaving their partners extra satisfied. And so we are! His antics might have given a bad rep to honorable Americans whose last names end in -ucci, but they were the best thing to happen to the Trump administration since Michelle Obama’s face on Inauguration Day.

Usually, when America laughs at the Trump administration, it’s through tears, acid reflux, and teeth ground down to nubbins. It was heartening to watch the judicial smackdown on the president’s travel ban, at least until SCOTUS weighed in. Trump’s gendered attack on Mika Brzezinski and leering flirtation with the first lady of France were easy to mock, but they reminded women and men alike that America loved a shameless misogynist enough to make him president. His speech to the Boy Scouts was ridiculous, full of wink-wink allusions to sex yachts and boasts about the Electoral College that must make even his staunchest supporters shake their damn heads by now. But it was sad, too, because the audience was composed of children and teenagers looking to this sorry excuse for a man as a role model.

The Mooch was a refreshing break from the Trump administration norm. Other Trump appointees are taking nunchucks to environmental protections, immigrant communities, and funding for essential global health aid to women and children. The Mooch’s muck-ups were a lot friendlier: They only caused injury to people inside the White House’s festering inner circle of incompetent egomaniacs. We could laugh, because Scaramucci’s messes were funny—he said the word cock a lot, for one thing—and they didn’t cause irreparable damage to humanity. His shifty eyes were a window into the administration’s desperate, loyalty-obsessed, insecure soul. In Mooch’s very public missteps and power grabs, it was easier to see that Trump and his cronies weren’t just bent on doing evil—they were also way, way out of their depth.

But in Scaramucci’s departure, some may feel a familiar twinge of sadness with their schadenfreude. According to some delicious reporting from the New York Post, Scaramucci’s wife, Deidre Ball, filed for divorce at the beginning of July when she was nine months pregnant, in part because she hates Trump and was “tired” of the Mooch’s “naked political ambition.” “She would mock him for being a Trump sycophant,” one source said. Scaramucci allegedly missed the birth of his son last week in order to attend Trump’s Boy Scout address; afterward, he reportedly texted Ball, “Congratulations, I’ll pray for our child” and didn’t go to Long Island to meet his son, who was premature and in the hospital’s intensive care unit, until the end of the week.

It’s hard to feel the same kind of unqualified cock-era joy at Scaramucci’s implosion and departure with the knowledge that he sold his business and seemingly abandoned his family for the sake of a megalomaniacal doofus and a job that lasted a disastrous 10 days. Then again, the past week has probably proven beyond a reasonable doubt to Ball that she and their three kids are better off without the guy. As for the Mooch, I hear piles of money make excellent pillows to cry on.

The Sunday Times takes its fashion videos from behind the pay wall

by Lucinda Southern @ Digiday

"This is to see commercially what we can drive, what new exciting projects we can do and which audiences we can find. It’s the reverse of almost everything else at News UK.”

The post The Sunday Times takes its fashion videos from behind the pay wall appeared first on Digiday.

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.

Kate Middleton and Japan’s Princess Mako Showcase Two Different Gendered Models of Royal Succession

Kate Middleton and Japan’s Princess Mako Showcase Two Different Gendered Models of Royal Succession

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The imperial family of Japan is facing a looming succession crisis. Current law forbids female family members and their children from ascending to the throne, meaning only male children of male family members may become emperor someday.

But of the 19 people in the Japanese royal family, just five are men, including 83-year-old Emperor Akihito, who plans to abdicate his position next year. He’ll pass the throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Naruhito has no sons, so he’ll pass it to his younger brother Akishino. Akishino’s only son and Akihito’s only male grandchild, 10-year-old Hisahito, is next in line. If he doesn’t have any sons, there will be no one left to take his place.

The fast-approaching end of Akihito’s reign isn’t the only cause for concern among those invested in the future of Japanese monarchy. On Sunday morning, Princess Mako, Akihito’s oldest grandchild and Akishino’s oldest child, announced her engagement to a commoner. Japanese law dictates that male royals can marry outside the imperial family and retain their status, but women cannot. When 25-year-old Mako marries legal assistant Kei Komuro, her college boyfriend, she’ll finally get the right to vote but forfeit her allowance from the government, her title, and her last name.

A large majority of Japanese residents—86 percent, according to a May 2017 poll—believe that women should be eligible for the throne, and 59 percent think the children of female family members should also count in the line of succession. Sixty-one percent want princesses to be able to stay in the imperial family after their marriages to commoners, helping to expand the family tree as those couples grew their own branches of descendants. Now, Japanese legislators must decide which is more important: the continued existence of a dwindling imperial bloodline or its strict patrilineal heritage.

The country’s parliament is already in the midst of shaking up the imperial rules. Over the summer, legislators passed a popular bill allowing Akihito to abdicate the throne as per his wishes, an option that was previously forbidden to monarchs who had to serve for life. More conservative members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party worried that considering such a bill would force them to open debate on the female succession issue, which is governed by the same 1947 law. Abe shut down these nascent debates earlier this year, suggesting that some former “collateral” branches of the imperial family, which were cut off with that 1947 law, be let back in or have their sons adopted by current princes to expand the pool of potential heirs. The largest opposition party in Japan, the Democratic Party, is advocating for a legal shift that would let women already in the family to reign instead.

By some accounts, even Emperor Akihito supports such a change. Empresses are not unheard of in Japan: Though emperors used to have concubines to increase the likelihood of producing male heirs, eight women in the family have sat on the throne in the 125 recorded generations of the imperial family. They were largely considered stand-ins until patrilineal successors could take over. There are few good arguments beside tradition for the endurance of government-supported monarchs, and even fewer for the restriction of the throne to men. Mako could just as easily perform the duties of an empress, minimal as they are, as her grandfather, and imperial genes will persist in her future children as much as they will in her brother’s. There’s another word for a tradition that would rather reintegrate families who have been commoners for generations into the imperial line than treat women as equally valued members: sexism.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is about to see a recent measure for monarchical gender equality finally come into play. Kensington Palace announced early Monday morning that Kate Middleton is pregnant with her third child, adding another heir to Prince William’s growing lineup. In previous generations, a new baby boy would have taken the place of older sister Charlotte, baby No. 2, in the line of succession. But a law passed soon after Middleton joined the family in 2011 ensured that any daughter of a U.K. monarch would have an equal shot at ascending to the throne as a son would. Royal families are indefensible mooches on the government, but as long as they exist, a Charlotte or a Mako shouldn’t have to see her rightful place on the throne usurped by an annoying younger brother.

Denequa Williams Fires Up the Luxury Candle Industry with LIT Brooklyn

by Renae @ In Her Shoes

Nearly a month or so before the close of 2016, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Denequa Williams, the founder and creator behind LIT Brooklyn. For those unaware, LIT is one of the most sought-after, Black-woman-owned candle companies in the business. She’s completely on fire, with the brand’s signature scents flying off the shelves almost faster than they can be poured into their chic glass and gold tin containers. I’m blessed to now call her a friend. Recently, we sat down and chatted more about life before LIT and how she plans to expand in the future. Keep reading for the deets from our exclusive chat!

Dove ads with 'real' women get attention

Dove ads with 'real' women get attention


msnbc.com

Gina Crisanti was taking out the trash at work one day when a stranger approached her with an odd request. It was a talent scout who wanted her to try out for an ad campaign to sell Dove beauty products _ wearing nothing but her underwear.

Marching Toward Justice

by Ellen Bravo @ The Broad Side

“Everything about me is under attack. I’m an immigrant, a woman of color, a lesbian. I had to be there.” We spanned seven continents, seas of women numbering in the millions, impossible to ignore. We showed up in hundreds of U.S. cities, including places like Wichita and Fairbanks and 50 people out of the 360 who live in Mentone, Alabama. There was a group in Antarctica and even one in a cancer ward in L.A. We were fierce and defiant, meditative and joyous, grinning and teary-eyed. Some danced, others moved slowly with the help of a cane or another’s arm,

OkCupid Banned the White Supremacist From the Vice Video. Here’s Why That Makes No Sense.

OkCupid Banned the White Supremacist From the Vice Video. Here’s Why That Makes No Sense.

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Of the hundreds of white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, for a show of power last weekend, Christopher Cantwell has emerged as one of the most recognizable. Since starring in a viral Vice documentary on the weekend’s protests and violence, Cantwell has published a blog post calling Heather Heyer’s murderer a “hero,” posted a video of himself crying over his FBI-issued arrest warrant, and wrote an apology to Donald Trump for wishing for a president who “does not give his daughter to a Jew.”

In the wake of the media coverage of Cantwell’s white nationalist ideology and the violence he perpetrated at the weekend’s demonstrations, OkCupid announced on Thursday that it was banning him from the dating site for life. “Within 10 minutes” of being alerted to his account, the company proudly tweeted, it booted him from the platform. Now, the company wrote, OkCupid is asking people to report other users associated with “hate groups” because “there is no room for hate in a place where you're looking for love.”

Isn’t there, though? OkCupid asks its users to fill out a lengthy series of questions it uses to match people with potential mates; users can answer as few or as many as they’d like. Among those questions are a few that would look right at home on an entrance exam for the Klan:

“Would you strongly prefer to go out with someone of your own skin color/background?”
“Would you consider dating someone who has vocalized a strong negative bias toward a certain race of people?”
“Is interracial marriage a bad idea?

There’s a term for white people who answer “yes” to these questions: white supremacist. In these questionnaires, OkCupid has basically created a functional database of white supremacists it could have banned at any time. It has not only allowed white supremacists to use the platform, but it also gave them a way to find each other by matching potential lovers based on their answers. Users can make their answers private, so only OkCupid can see them to calculate their match percentages, or public, so all other users can see what they said. OkCupid has given people who are proud of their opposition to interracial marriage and their desire to date someone with a “strong negative bias” toward people of color a friction-free way of finding like-minded (read: racist) mates.

Users can also rate how important a prospective date’s answer to each question is to them, weighting how much each response counts toward their match percentage. Imagine the white person who answers “yes” to all the racial prejudice questions, then ranks them as “mandatory.” He can make it so he mostly or only sees people who want to date a racist. He’s just created his own personal white supremacist dating site.

This isn’t to say that OkCupid should use its own questionnaire to bait white supremacists into revealing themselves, then kick them off the site. No white person who grows up and lives in a racist society, as all white people do, is free from racism; it would be impossible for OkCupid or any other digital service provider to faithfully weed out all racists from its ranks. Even if there were, the idea of a few tech CEOs wielding their power to kick jerks off the internet should cause concern. Some racists are undeniably worse than others—particularly those who advocate violence and affiliate with white nationalist groups—but no company, especially not one that makes it easy for users to self-identify as racists and find others, should be in the business of measuring degrees of racism to determine a user’s eligibility.

OkCupid’s Cantwell ban is effective as a symbolic statement against white supremacy, but its efficacy mostly applies to the company’s public reputation. The site gets to look good for taking a stand against one internet-famous white nationalist, but it can still make money off run-of-the-mill white supremacists who use OkCupid’s question-weighting system to find their people. Users who send messages to black women asking if they “taste like chocolate,” or to Asian women praising their race’s “docile and submissive” nature will still get to search for targets for their racism. Those who use hate language will sometimes get banned if other users report them, but white supremacists can easily benefit from the platform without running afoul of the very vague “conduct” section of the terms of service, which OkCupid says Cantwell violated. (The company hasn’t specified what he did other than become famous for his white nationalism in a Vice documentary. Cantwell claims he never used his OkCupid account “for anything other than talking to women in pursuit of romance.”)

What if someone reports a guy who posts Nazi propaganda on his Facebook page, but fills his OkCupid profile with banal tributes to Led Zeppelin and Breaking Bad? Is just sharing white supremacist memes on Twitter enough to get someone banned, or does one have to be a card-carrying member of Identity Evropa? More than a few users espouse racist views on OkCupid itself. Data released by OkCupid in 2016 showed that 18 percent of Mississippi users said in their questionnaires that they disapprove of interracial marriage, and those answers helped the site find those people other racists to love.

In one sense, OkCupid’s questions about racial prejudice do a service to people of color: They allow white supremacists to identify themselves. Anyone who doesn’t want to see that kind of scum, provided the scum have answered “yes” to those questions, can filter them out by answering “no” to all three and marking them “mandatory.” According to OkCupid, so many users do this, they’ve made racism the No. 1 “dealbreaker” on the site.

Dove Ad Features Dad Pretending to Be Mom

Dove Ad Features Dad Pretending to Be Mom


OneMillionMoms.com

Please use the information we have provided through our website to contact Dove (owned by Unilever) concerning the man impersonating a mom in their recent Baby Dove ad.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Homophobia Allegations From the Daughter of Bulleit Bourbon’s Founder Are Rocking the Beverage Industry

Homophobia Allegations From the Daughter of Bulleit Bourbon’s Founder Are Rocking the Beverage Industry

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

In January 2017, Hollis Bulleit announced that she was leaving her job at Diageo, one of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage producers, and owner of Bulleit Bourbon. The daughter of Bulleit Bourbon founder Tom Bulleit, Hollis is well-known in the beverage industry for her longtime service to her family’s company, her elaborate headwear—she recently sold a collection of six of her homemade fascinators to help pay her “legal fees”—and her winning demeanor. Many were surprised by her departure from the brand she’d repped for more than a quarter-century, but few knew why they’d parted ways.

Over the past few days, Hollis has published several lengthy Facebook posts explaining what went down, from her perspective. According to her, the Bulleit family refused to accept her queer identity when she came out 10 years ago, and they rejected her decade-long partnership with a woman named Cher. While the spouses and partners of her siblings were included in family photos and press for the company, Hollis writes, she and Cher were excluded from major events and slowly edged out of the picture. Hollis, who has been publicly out for many years, says she was informed in December that she no longer had a job with Diageo; Diageo claims it offered her a multi-year renewed contract but was unable to agree with Hollis on the terms.

She helped break ground on the company’s new distillery in 2014, but says Cher didn’t get an invite. Neither was asked to attend the grand opening in March, Hollis alleges. “In 2008, I was asked to come home for Christmas; yet Cher was not invited,” Hollis wrote on July 31. “The only holiday that we attended was Thanksgiving in 2016, and then we were promptly uninvited via text from the following core family Christmas.”

Her allegations illuminate the complex responsibilities a corporation that owns a family business faces. In these cases, family troubles are de facto workplace troubles, and family homophobia could amount to employee discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Because family was business and intertwined with a global corporation, I find it odd that I did not benefit from the departments and safeguards that are put into place to either intervene or provide mediation or educational diversity training as would be the expected protocol for employees in this type of situation,” Hollis wrote in one of her posts. For several years, the Human Rights Campaign has given Diageo North America a perfect score on its Corporate Equality Index, a measure of companies’ support for LGBTQ employees and issues.

Hollis declined to answer any questions, but told me that she and Diageo “have come to a 24 hour halt” and any press “could mess up legal proceedings.” A Diageo spokesperson had this to say in an emailed statement:

In advance of Hollis’ contract expiring in 2016, we offered her a multi-year extension. Despite it being an increase versus her previous arrangement, we were unfortunately not able to reach agreement with her on this new contract. Any implication that she was fired, or that failure to agree to terms on this contract was due to her LGBT identity, is simply false. We are very proud of our long track record of work, through many of our brands, to support the LGBT community. We are also appreciative of Hollis’s past efforts on behalf of the brand and the industry.

But as Hollis’ claims and Diageo’s clash in the press, the story of Bulleit family infighting has been rocking the beverage industry. “All that is evil, impersonal and dirty about the business is laid bare right here. It’s a rotten affair Bulleit and it’s gonna hurt your brand,” wrote the owner of a Louisville, Kentucky whiskey bar of one of Hollis’ Facebook posts. A representative of a Santa Cruz bar has said the establishment will no longer buy Bulleit “in solidarity with those individuals whom have been rejected by their families for living their authentic lives,” and will use the proceeds from sales of its remaining Bulleit stock to “benefit the LGBTQIA community of Santa Cruz.” Seattle Cocktail Culture, a bar-finding app, posted that Hollis “has been an incredible advocate for American whiskey & her family’s brand,” so the proprietor is “done with Bulleit; that might not help Hollis but I won't be apart of this gross mistreatment.”

“She was the reason the craft bartending community embraced the brand,” Seattle bartender Elizabeth Dingivan posted on Tuesday, “and given the attempts to erase her legacy and co-opt her work, we are prepared to move on from Bulleit as a brand altogether.”

Now, Hollis worries that she won’t be able to find new work in alcohol brand promotion at age 43 without recommendations from her former employer. And she writes that she was surprised to learn that she can’t trademark her own name and start a new whiskey company under that moniker because Diageo would legally be able to challenge the brand’s name for being too close to Bulleit Bourbon.

Among some in the beverage industry, though, Hollis’ name still means something, even if it has no more connection to the brand she helped build. New Orleans bar owner T. Cole Newton writes that he took the occasion of an annual gathering of bartenders “to respectfully tell Tom Bulleit publicly and in person how much harder it is to support his brand without someone like his daughter Hollis involved.” Diageo and Bulleit Bourbon may have to come up with a better explanation for Hollis’ dissatisfaction if they want to keep the business of such proprietors. For those bartenders and business owners, loyalty to the brand means loyalty to the woman who helped get them hooked.

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.”

Keeping My Face Toward the Sunshine as a Young Woman With Spinal Muscular Atrophy

by Maylan Chávez @ The Mighty

Maylan Chavez discusses her life and hopes for the future as a young woman who has spinal muscular atrophy.

Live-Blogging Women’s History: The Battle of the Sexes

by David M. Dismore @ Ms. Magazine Blog

Billie Jean King's rout of Bobby Riggs tonight was a major triumph for women in sports, and for the revitalized feminist movement itself.

The post Live-Blogging Women’s History: The Battle of the Sexes appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

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.

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.

I Married for Health Insurance

by Lisa Solod @ The Broad Side

I married so that I could have affordable health insurance. At the time I had no idea that I was protecting myself from losing coverage completely and being, once again, completely uninsurable. On December 9, 2016, at around 1 p.m. in the afternoon, I got married. In one of Savannah’s seventeen squares, very near the courthouse where we had just gotten our license fifteen minutes earlier. A woman I had never met performed a simple ceremony. I wore a black suede boot on one foot and a grey Star Wars boot on the other and I leaned on a cane

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.

Dove Commercial on Women’s Beauty: Can it Help Our Daughters’ Body Image Issues?

Dove Commercial on Women’s Beauty: Can it Help Our Daughters’ Body Image Issues?


The Broad Side

How do you see yourself? Is it the same way others see you? Odds are, it’s not. And that’s a very sad statement about women’s self-awareness. Now Dove, the company that brings you…

Watch: This Body-Positive Dove Video Is Chicken Soup for All of Our Souls

Watch: This Body-Positive Dove Video Is Chicken Soup for All of Our Souls


theFashionSpot

Dove's newest body-positive video created by Shonda Rhimes stars Cathleen Meredith, founder of Fat Girls Dance.

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 & 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

The War on Women Report No. 4

by Carmen Rios @ Ms. Magazine Blog

This week, the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors, came under fire for racist and anti-LGBT judicial nominees and declared their support for the Graham-Cassidy bill and its destruction of women's healthcare access.

The post The War on Women Report No. 4 appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Why It’s So Disingenuous for Republicans to Call the Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill a Public Safety Measure

Why It’s So Disingenuous for Republicans to Call the Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill a Public Safety Measure

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Since last week, Republicans in the Texas state Senate have been sprinting through a marathon-length list of Gov. Greg Abbott’s legislative priorities, suspending rules and cutting short deliberations to rush a handful of right-leaning bills to the House during a 30-day special session. Democrats say GOP leaders are suppressing the democratic process by depriving legislators and citizens of time to read the bills and advocate for or against them.

One such bill is a regulation on transgender people using single-gender public bathrooms that don’t match the sex on their birth certificates or state-issued IDs. The Texas Senate passed a similar bill earlier this year, but its momentum petered out in the House. Polls have found that only about one-third of Texans support the so-called bathroom bill, and more than half oppose it. Still, for more than a year, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made keeping trans people out of bathrooms one of his pet issues. The Senate passed the bill after midnight on Wednesday morning, sending it to the House, where it will likely stall again, as Republican Speaker Joe Straus opposes it.

So do plenty of other people who know a thing or two about public safety, which Republicans have held up as the ostensible goal of the bathroom regulation. While the Texas Senate debated the bill, the police chiefs of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin held a joint press conference at the state Capitol to publicly oppose the proposed legislation. “It may be great political theater, but it is bad on public safety,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Other representatives from the police forces of Corpus Christi, El Paso, and elsewhere said the legislation would take time away from investigating violent crimes and put it into enforcing nearly unenforceable rules, endangering community safety. Chief William McManus of San Antonio, a city that passed an ordinance in 2013 protecting trans people’s rights to use whatever bathrooms match their gender identities, said he had members of his department search the succeeding years’ records for any evidence of assaults in public bathrooms by men pretending to be trans women. They found nothing. “I am a believer that if you propose a bill to address a criminal justice concern, it is important to determine if there is an actual problem you are trying to solve,” McManus said.

This is an important point that exposes the hate and discrimination that underlies transgender bathroom restrictions. Republican legislators don’t want to protect their constituents who aren’t trans—they want to keep trans people out of the public sphere altogether. There is no way to station a police officer or security guard as an ID-checking bouncer at every public restroom that would be affected by the legislation. The proposed bill wouldn’t even penalize trans people who used bathrooms that didn’t match their IDs. Instead, it would nullify laws like San Antonio’s that prohibit bathroom discrimination and impose financial penalties on schools and government entities that don’t police bathroom use based on birth certificates.

In other words, there is no good way to enforce this kind of law, and there is no public interest in passing it. It’s not a public safety measure. It is a message to trans people that they are undeserving of basic dignity and comfortable participation in public life. It is a go-ahead to cis people to harass anyone in a restroom who doesn’t look like their idea of a gender-normative woman or man. And it is tantamount to emotional abuse for trans kids, who would arguably be most affected by the legislation because they spend all day in schools, which are among the primary targets of the bill. When the police chiefs of some of the state’s biggest cities are begging legislators to give their transphobia a rest, it’s well past time for the governor and lieutenant governor to rethink their priorities.

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.

Dove Launches New Campaign, Encourages Women to Place Accomplishments Above Appearances

Dove Launches New Campaign, Encourages Women to Place Accomplishments Above Appearances


Allure

Dove is at it again. On the heels of its Love Your Hair film that debuted in April (and has more than nine million views. Whaaat?!), the skin- and hair-care company just launched the...

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Is Poised to Ban All Insurance Coverage for Abortions, Forcing Women to Buy “Rape Insurance”

Texas Is Poised to Ban All Insurance Coverage for Abortions, Forcing Women to Buy “Rape Insurance”

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The Texas Legislature is in the home stretch of a special session Gov. Greg Abbott called last month to push through a slew of his legislative priorities, including restrictions on where transgender people can use the bathroom. That bill is losing steam in the less conservative House, but another bill restricting abortion access is headed to the desk of the governor, who has indicated that he’ll sign it into law.

The bill would prohibit all insurance companies from covering abortion care in their standard plans, requiring women to pay extra premiums for coverage if they think they may need abortions at some point in the next year. The ban would apply not only to insurance plans on the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, but also to any plans sponsored by employers or purchased on the private market. A plan would only be allowed to cover an abortion in the case of a pregnant woman’s life-threatening health emergency and not those performed in cases of rape, incest, or extreme fetal abnormalities.

This weekend, the GOP-led Texas Senate approved the bill after it passed the House. (Similar bills were raised and debated during the regular legislative session, which closed in May, but none passed.) Right-wing legislators and advocates in Texas say they are currently forced against their will to help fund abortions simply by taking part in a health insurance system that covers them. Rep. John Smithee, who sponsored the bill in the House, said in floor debate that the bill promotes “economic freedom” for people who oppose abortion rights.

Half the states in the country prevent insurance policies purchased on ACA health exchanges from covering abortion procedures. Ten of those also restrict insurance coverage for abortion in all private insurance plans. Only two of those 10—Utah and Indiana—make exceptions for abortions sought in cases of rape and incest. That’s why Democratic Texas legislators say this bill would necessitate “rape insurance”—no one expects to have an unplanned pregnancy, and no one can predict the likelihood that she’ll be raped in a given year. It is a demeaning form of gender discrimination to ask women to lay down extra money just in case they get pregnant through sexual assault.

According to a national 2014 survey of abortion patients, 53 percent paid for the procedure or pill out of pocket, and another 24 percent paid for their abortion care with Medicaid. (Federal Medicaid dollars cannot go toward abortions in most circumstances, but a handful of states use their own health funding to cover abortion care for women on Medicaid.) Just 15 percent of abortion patients used private insurance to pay for their abortion care, while 61 percent of women with private insurance said they paid out of pocket, due to either high deductibles or a lack of coverage. Without insurance coverage, an abortion can cost between $300 for an early medication abortion in some places and a few thousand dollars for a surgical one later in pregnancy. The later, more expensive ones are often those performed under the most heart-wrenching circumstances, due to fetal anomalies undetectable in early pregnancy or a woman’s inability to access earlier health care because of her age, remote location, financial resources, or immigration status.

By restricting abortion care to those who can either afford an additional monthly health care expense or a hefty one-time payment out of the blue, Texas is ensuring that low- and middle-income women with health insurance will find it significantly more difficult to access a constitutionally protected medical procedure. To satisfy the whims of anti-choice advocates, the Texas Legislature has used one population’s personal beliefs to justify what amounts to a sexual-activity tax on Texas women.

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.

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.”

Somehow Women Still Make Up Less Than a Third of Speaking Characters in Top U.S. Movies

Somehow Women Still Make Up Less Than a Third of Speaking Characters in Top U.S. Movies

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

For about a decade, researchers at the University of Southern California have been tallying up the speaking and named characters in each year’s 100 top-grossing films in the U.S. Each year, the study’s authors hope they’ll see the demographic makeup change.

But, by and large, the proportion of female characters in the country’s top films has stayed constant since 2007. In a new analysis, USC researchers report that in 2016, just 31.4 percent of the films’ 4,583 speaking roles were female characters, up from 29.9 percent in 2007. That proportion never rose above 32.8 percent in the intervening years. Action and adventure movies included the smallest segment of female characters, at 23.4 percent of all speaking roles. Comedies, with 40.8 percent of roles occupied by women, were the most gender-balanced.

When researchers added race to the equation, the picture looked even grimmer. Of the 100 most successful films in 2016, only 34 had at least one female leading or co-leading role, and just three of those were women of color. There were no black women in 47 of the 100 films, no Asian women in 66 of them, and no Latina woman in 72 of them. More than half of the films had no Latinx or Hispanic characters at all; such characters made up just 3.1 percent of the films’ speaking roles, about one-sixth the size of what the segment would be if it mirrored the U.S. population.

The roles that went to women in 2016 were far more likely to be explicitly sexual than those that went to men. More than a quarter of the female roles in the top 100 films of 2016 involved “sexy attire,” and an equivalent proportion got at least partially nude. Only 9.2 percent of the male roles involved any nudity, and just 5.7 percent of male characters wore sexy clothes. Researchers found that female characters aged 13 to 20 were just as likely wear sexy clothing, get partially nude, and be called attractive as those aged 21 to 39.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever seen a mainstream film. Previous analyses have shown that while male actors age, the love interests in their films don’t. Women playing the sexy roles in film and TV (read: the major roles) are forever young, seeming not to notice or care how old and decrepit their onscreen boyfriends are getting. Female roles may be hard to come by, but there’s at least one kind of woman who is way overrepresented in films: the woman who fetishizes and lusts after men two or three times her age.

Another recently published USC study analyzed more than 53,000 dialogues in almost 1000 film scripts and found that films with at least one female writer had about 50 percent more speaking women onscreen. But when they spoke, their dialogue was usually written within gendered boundaries. Women were more likely to speak in positive terms and talk about “family values,” while men swore more and talked more about “achievement” and death. The study also found that characters of color were largely written along the lines of racial stereotypes. Black characters, who made up an almost exactly proportional 13.6 percent of all speaking roles in the top films of 2016, speak with a higher concentration of swear words than characters of other races, according to the study. Latinx and multiracial characters talked more about sexuality than their white, black, and Asian peers.

Women were generally not central to the plots of the hundreds of films in the study. The researchers mapped out the characters’ relationships and dialogues, making each character a “node” connected to all the rest. When they removed the female nodes, the plots and other character relationships remained largely intact. Horror films were a major exception, since women were more likely to be the victims in those movies.

These two studies add up to a discouraging assessment of Hollywood today, which is depressingly similar in its treatment of women and people of color to the Hollywood of 10 years ago. Two of the most successful and buzzed-about films of 2017—Wonder Woman and Girls Trip—center women in their narratives, giving advocates for gender equity in film reason to hope. But even in a movie that was supposed to be a major feminist win, at least according to the men who protested it, the title character in Wonder Woman spent a decent portion of the film being ogled and lusted after by men. After so much talk about equal pay and better representation in the film industry, women have ended up with bigger roles that reflect the same narrow tropes.

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.

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.

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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.

Here's What Bothers Me About the New Dove Ad

Here's What Bothers Me About the New Dove Ad


Bitch Media

If you’re a human being with a social media account, you’ve seen the new Dove commercial already. ...

New Dove Campaign for Shaped Bottles Gets Backlash

New Dove Campaign for Shaped Bottles Gets Backlash


NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Dove debuted six body wash bottles in different shapes and sizes as part of the company's latest campaign to celebrate women and their bodies.But rather than celebrate the campaign, social media handed Dove a...

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

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

by Grace Ballenger @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 29, 2015: And again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 12, 2017: He schooled another journalist.

Once again: “male player.”

Commercial or a PSA? The latest hybrid video from Dove - The LAMP

Commercial or a PSA? The latest hybrid video from Dove - The LAMP


The LAMP

Now in its tenth year, the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign has released a series of digital, print and video ads touting “a world where beauty is a source of confidence,...

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.

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.

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.

Laura Ingraham Has Deep Ties to an Anti-Feminist Group That Pooh-Poohs Claims of Sexual Harassment

Laura Ingraham Has Deep Ties to an Anti-Feminist Group That Pooh-Poohs Claims of Sexual Harassment

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Seven current and former employees of LifeZette, the news website founded by right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham, have accused the site’s CEO and co-founder of using their workplace as his private sexual water cooler. According to sources interviewed by Daily Beast reporters, Peter Anthony made repeated sexual remarks about his female colleagues both behind their backs and when they were close enough to hear him.

Anthony allegedly loved “talking about other women’s boobs, butts” and how he wanted to have sex with women in the office, a former IT employee said. Another former worker said Anthony wondered aloud “Is it just me or are [female co-worker’s] tits getting bigger?” and said another colleague looked like “a bitch” who would be “sexier” if she smiled. Others said Anthony would talk to a senior editor in the office, loudly enough so that others could hear, about the body parts of young women in the office.

These allegations shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed Ingraham’s career. Two decades before she supported a serial sexual harasser for president, she cut her teeth at the Independent Women’s Forum, a nonprofit that grew out of a committee formed to support Clarence Thomas when Anita Hill testified that the then–Supreme Court nominee had subjected her to persistent sexual harassment. The group sought to discredit Hill, arguing that she was making it all up. Since then, the IWF has taken a vocal anti-feminist stance on almost every social and fiscal issue—and Ingraham, as a member and one-time spokeswoman, has amplified the group’s message.

The IWF worldview holds that women who allege harassment, sexual assault, sex discrimination, and domestic violence are often exaggerating and making themselves into victims when they should be taking responsibility for their own roles in the harm that’s come to them. University efforts to combat campus rape are causing boys to die by suicide, IWF worries. Efforts to prevent wage discrimination are unfair to men who are just plain better than women at their jobs. Sexual harassment training is “harmful” because it leads to “people assuming the worst of each other and forcing everyone to walk on eggshells lest they offend someone else,” the IWF contended in 2016, arguing that women encourage a double standard—they love sexual advances from hot guys, but cry harassment when the advances come from less desirable men. The IWF has called National Pay Inequity Awareness Day a “hoax…designed to brainwash girls and young women into believing they are victims.” The IWF’s Elizabeth Larson has written extensively on the supposedly trumped-up nature of sexual harassment charges, claiming that women now think “a wink or a leer can be money in the bank” and, inspired by Anita Hill, find it more profitable to litigate than to work.”

Ingraham herself was vocally opposed to the Violence Against Women Act, a bill she called “pork” with a “tear-jerker” of a title. In a 1996 op-ed, buoyed by her IWF membership, she encouraged then–presidential candidate Bob Dole to “point out what domestic abuse advocates often ignore: that women who are married are safer than women who are not. Seventy-two percent of domestic abuse fatalities occur at the hands of boyfriends, not husbands.” Women, in other words, could avoid domestic abuse if they’d only make honest men out of their partners.

It’s easy to imagine how someone who believes that the systemic ills women complain about are overblown, fake, or partially their fault could preside over a workplace that allows a committed harasser to thrive. The Daily Beast writes that some of its sources said Ingraham was probably too busy with her radio show and other career obligations to keep track of whether or not her company’s CEO was sexually harassing the women who worked there. (Anthony, for his part, refutes the allegations.) But Anthony is Ingraham’s “longtime friend and business partner,” the Daily Beast reports, and she trusted him enough to found a website with him. A person who talks incessantly about young female colleagues’ bodies, even to co-workers who want nothing to do with the conversation, does not start up out of the blue. If Ingraham is oblivious to the specific anecdotes described in the allegations published Thursday, she certainly isn’t ignorant of Anthony’s disposition.

The LifeZette work environment calls to mind another right-wing media outlet full of predatory men, and Ingraham may be on her way there. The host is reportedly in talks with Fox News— whose late abusive founder she mourned as her friend—about taking on a primetime slot. When it costs tens of millions of dollars to oust the sexual harassers from a company, it’s probably a lot cheaper to hire someone who won’t take issue with the status quo.

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.

How sincere is Dove?

How sincere is Dove?


tribalinsight

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty has been one of marketing’s great success stories. However, with the recent release of “Onslaught” on Unilever’s “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” website, ser…

Dove's Real Beauty Isn't - Ms. Magazine Blog

Dove's Real Beauty Isn't - Ms. Magazine Blog


Ms. Magazine Blog

Dove released its latest video last Thursday in their now-decade-old Campaign for Real Beauty. But Dove’s ideas about Real Beauty are making me Real Tired and Real Crabby. Viewers are treated to yet another series of earnest, young-to-middle-aged, multicultural women confiding to the camera how they really need to work harder at feeling beautiful, for Dove …

Walker & Company Empowers Women to Embrace Their FORM with New Hair Care Line for Women

by Renae @ In Her Shoes

The folks that gave us Bevel have some huge news to announce — Walker & Company has just launched its first women’s hair care line named FORM. Building off the company’s mission, founder and CEO Tristan Walker alluded to the fact that developing a wide assortment of premium products for women was always a top priority.

POWERFUL: Dove Tells Women “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think” In New Campaign

POWERFUL: Dove Tells Women “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think” In New Campaign


HelloBeautiful

Dove is empowering women to see themselves in “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” In a new ad, as part of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign, the pers…

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Dove does it again with a touching beauty ad

Dove does it again with a touching beauty ad


The Independent

Dove has enlisted visually impaired women to explain what beauty means to them for its latest ad campaign.

10+ Hilarious Posts About Husbands Who Catch A Cold And Think They’re Dying

10+ Hilarious Posts About Husbands Who Catch A Cold And Think They’re Dying

by Iveta @ Bored Panda

Flu is bad, but as every man knows, man flu is much, much worse. The condition has been ridiculed by women and medical professionals everywhere, but that doesn't stop it from being any less life-threatening.

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.

Bookmarks: 11 Great Fall Reads for Feminists

by The Team @ Ms. Magazine Blog

A literary sisterhood, a primer on reproductive justice, a working woman's handbook for fighting sexism, a social justice chef and more.

The post Bookmarks: 11 Great Fall Reads for Feminists appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

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.

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.

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!!!”

Macron Reportedly Gave His Wife’s Butt a Love Tap While Touring With the Trumps, and God Bless It

Macron Reportedly Gave His Wife’s Butt a Love Tap While Touring With the Trumps, and God Bless It

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

The burdens of global statesmanship have apparently not dampened the irrepressible lust alive in the heart and hands of French president Emmanuel Macron, the world has learned. Macron and wife Brigitte joined Donald and Melania Trump on a Thursday tour of Les Invalides in Paris, where France’s youngest-ever leader took a gentle swipe at his beloved’s derrière.

“Both couples held hands down the steps,” wrote a particularly observant pool reporter on the scene. But later, “when POTUS and FLOTUS started walking again, your pooler saw Macron tap his wife on the rear end. She looked surprised and smiled.”

Ooh la la! A public display d’amour at Napoleon’s tomb—is that not the dream of every little French girl growing up baking baguettes in the countryside (or at least of every American who's dreamed of being a French girl baking baguettes in the countryside)? Macron’s no conspicuous looker on the level of fellow francophone Justin Trudeau, but he does give off a certain self-possessed charm, especially when he does silly things like pronounce “engineers” like “vaginas.” That, plus his marriage to a woman 24 years his senior (she was his high-school teacher!), plus the fact that he is not an admitted sexual abuser trying to dismantle democracy itself, has earned him the pseudo-sexual admiration of many stateside observers.

Thus, Macron’s butt tap functions as a bit of fan-service wish fulfillment. Even at a boring meeting with a wannabe despot from across the pond, the tap says, this French president cannot suppress his playful desire for his older lover, even at a very unerotic military hospital! What a guy. There are several exacting conditions a butt tap must meet to pass muster in a staid diplomatic setting. Macron’s hit all of them: He’s the young one, she’s his senior, they’re married, all signs point to them actually loving each other, and it sounds like he was doing it as a private gesture of affection, not to show off for the press or as a creepy demonstration of macho power. Macron’s audacity and Brigitte’s surprise make us feel like we were granted a little glimpse into the fresh jocularity of their decade-old marriage. Many props to the pooler who kept a close eye on the president’s hands (or his wife’s rear?) during the otherwise unremarkable outing.

There remains, of course, the possibility that Brigitte was embarrassed by the encounter, and that her smile was of the “I am forced to remain calm but we’re talking about this later in the limousine” variety. One might also interpret Macron’s tap as more of a statement of ownership, in the way a certain kind of cornhole-playing dude will smack his girlfriend’s butt and ask her to go fetch him a beer.

But because Bastille Day is upon us, we’re going to revel in the assumption that it was a lighthearted, loving gesture of liberté/égalité/booté, or perhaps an inside joke about how Brigitte would have to watch out for Trump’s clammy, wandering hands during the state visit. In fact, the only certain bad thing that will come of this is a giant blow to Trump’s ego, which will likely prompt him to one-up Macron by grabbing one of Melania “Don’t You Even Touch My GD Hand” Trump’s body parts in public. May the spirit of le petit caporal bring her strength.

Hacking Dove's latest feel-good commercial - Digiday

Hacking Dove's latest feel-good commercial - Digiday


Digiday

The Learning About Multimedia Project, or LAMP, is a media literacy organization that has, most recently, taken Dove to task for its 'Patches' video.

Anthropologists need to address the Google memo on its merits. Again.

by Rex @ Savage Minds

When Google engineer James Damore wrote his now-infamous memo about how woman are naturally unsuited to work at Google, anthropologists everywhere groaned inwardly. Our discipline’s lot in life is tragic. After about a century of research, we have a pretty good understanding of how human beings work. And yet, our findings run counter to what … Continue reading Anthropologists need to address the Google memo on its merits. Again.

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.

This Woman's Boyfriend Used to Be on a Boy Band Poster in Her Room — Now She's Proposing to Him

This Woman's Boyfriend Used to Be on a Boy Band Poster in Her Room — Now She's Proposing to Him


POPSUGAR Love & Sex

When Louisa met Rob, she knew there was something familiar about him — once they started talking, she realized that he had been on a poster hanging in

Hillary Clinton and What It Means to Be a “Nasty Woman”

by Shannon Azzato Stephens @ The Broad Side

There is a pervasiveness of bias against so-called “nasty women.” Even women have been indoctrinated into the process of keeping the rest of us in line. Like many New Yorkers, I watched the election results come in at my local bar, where patrons cheered when states went blue and booed when they went red. As a swath of red spread across the map, the crowd thinned and those of us who remained grew quiet. “How is this happening?” someone asked. A friend of mine collapsed onto a recently-vacated barstool and said, “Because people aren’t ashamed of their misogyny.” I immediately

Dove's Incredible New PR Campaign Aims To Change Women's Image In Media

Dove's Incredible New PR Campaign Aims To Change Women's Image In Media


Digital Agency Network

To break the unrealistic image of women portrayed in media, Dove and Mindshare Denmark have teamed up to create an amazing campaign called Image_Hack.

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.

Dove Enlists Blind Women to Explain What Beauty Means to Them

Dove Enlists Blind Women to Explain What Beauty Means to Them


Racked

"Beauty is more of a feeling to me."

Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar Shines Bright in New Dove Ad Campaign

Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar Shines Bright in New Dove Ad Campaign


In Her Shoes

On January 10, 2017, Dove celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the iconic Beauty Bar and the evolution of the beauty standard. Digital media maven Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar has partnered with Dove to celebrate the legacy of the Dove Beauty Bar in an...

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.

Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora

by Renae @ In Her Shoes

Women Photographers of the African Diaspora is an exclusive and commemorative book launching a bi-yearly journal committed to establishing and representing a collective voice of women photographers of African descent. The inaugural issue of Mfon features 100 women photographers across the Diaspora. This iconic issue features an introduction by Dr. Deborah Willis, MacArthur Fellow and […]

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap


The Daily Dot

Dove, please for the love of God, stop making videos and just make soap.

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.

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.

White Women, It’s Time to Get a Clue … If It’s Not Too Late

by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger @ The Broad Side

Not all white women are clueless.  But Trump’s victory proves that the majority of us are.  I’ve never understood the election statistic that most married white women vote Republican. Even if they were Democrats before their wedding day, there’s apparently something about putting on that ring that turns their blue hearts to red. Yes, I’m a white woman, but a diehard liberal Democrat. So I cannot for the life of me understand why white women go Republican or why they would ever vote for Donald Trump. It’s understandable, policies aside, that in 2012 many white women voters liked that nice

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.

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.

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.

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Dove


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Dove is committed to helping women realise their personal potential for beauty by engaging them with products that deliver real care.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Abortion Activists Are Using Down Syndrome Parents to Argue Against Women’s Rights

Anti-Abortion Activists Are Using Down Syndrome Parents to Argue Against Women’s Rights

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Last Monday, CBS News ran a report on Down syndrome in Iceland. There, since screening tests for pregnant women became available in the early aughts, nearly 100 percent of women who found out their fetuses probably had the chromosomal abnormality terminated their pregnancies. Only one or two babies are born with Down syndrome each year, usually to women who got an inaccurate test or were one of the 15 percent or so who opt not to be screened. The U.S. rate of Down syndrome births is three to six times higher.

Social attitudes toward abortion and toward the disability itself certainly play a role in differing rates of Down-related terminations. The CBS News segment quoted one medical counselor—an employee at the Reykjavik hospital where 7 in 10 Icelandic children are born—who said that these parents have “ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication...preventing suffering for the child and for the family,” a characterization most disability-rights advocates would dispute. In one sense, abortions sought after a positive Down screening could be part of a self-perpetuating cycle: If Icelanders meet few to no people with Down syndrome in their lives, they may be less confident about raising a child with a condition that’s unknown to them, leading to more Down-related abortions and fewer people with Down syndrome for future parents to meet. Advocates contend that a society that encourages women to terminate fetuses with Down syndrome is one that ascribes less value to a child with Down syndrome, which leads to discrimination against people living with the condition.

In the U.S., anti-abortion leaders are hijacking this rhetoric of the disability rights movement to argue against women’s rights to choose their own future for their families and bodies. On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate had a second hearing for a bill that would charge doctors with fourth-degree felonies if they performed abortions on women who sought the procedure because their fetuses had a high probability of Down syndrome. Physicians would have to fill out “abortion reports” after each procedure, certifying that they had no idea whether or not the patient wanted to terminate her pregnancy due to a Down screening. Supporters of the bill have likened Down-related abortions to “eugenics,” saying women who choose abortion after a positive Down screening are engaging in discrimination.

Laws that try to prohibit women from accessing a constitutionally protected medical procedure because of their reasons for wanting to access it are notoriously difficult to enforce. Several states have passed sex-selective abortion bans, which are based on a racist myth that Asian-Americans are aborting their female fetuses at unconscionable rates, but there’s no good way to elicit proof of why a woman is seeking an abortion. That should be a clear sign that the reasons shouldn’t matter: For abortion-rights advocates, there’s no acceptable reason to deny a woman the right to bodily autonomy; for abortion-rights opponents, if abortion truly is murder, as they claim, there should be no acceptable reason to allow it. It’s the same for politicians who boast of their anti-abortion bona fides, then allow for exceptions in cases of rape and incest. If their arguments were consistent, they’d allow for no such concessions—but they know most Americans support such exemptions, so they sacrifice intellectual and moral purity for the popular vote.

Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, laid out her argument against Down-related abortions in a Washington Post opinion piece on Thursday. In it, she claims a medical student told her that his professor taught that doctors have a “responsibility” to encourage abortion after a parent’s prenatal Down diagnosis. She cites surveys that have shown that people with Down syndrome generally report high life satisfaction, and that their families report high levels of “personal fulfillment.” “Not only are people with Down syndrome happy, but they also bring a great deal of happiness to their friends and family members,” Mancini writes. “Indeed, the survey found that 88 percent of siblings of children with Down syndrome feel that they are better people for having had their brothers and sisters.”

Reducing the life purpose of a person with Down syndrome to a learning opportunity for her siblings is just as damaging as assuming that people living with Down are “suffering,” as the Icelandic doctor put it. There is no inherent moral good in increasing the number of people with a given genetic condition, just as there is no inherent moral good in eliminating that condition from the population. Doctors should never press women one way or another on abortion—a fact as applicable to Down-screening counseling as the dozens of state laws that force physicians to tell their patients flat-out lies to discourage them from terminating their pregnancies. The sponsors of the Ohio bill had parents of kids with Down syndrome testify at Tuesday’s hearing, as if the existence of their happy, healthy children justified the curtailing of women’s constitutional rights.

A study of studies conducted between 1995 and 2011 found that between 50 and 85 percent of people who receive a positive prenatal Down screening terminate their pregnancies. For the most part, in other words, the happy lives Mancini describes in her piece are the lives of people who chose to carry their pregnancies to term, especially if Down-related abortions are as pushed upon women as she claims. These are not people who, faced with unwanted pregnancies, are forced to carry them to term against their will. Studies have shown that women denied abortions that they want are more likely to be in poverty, more likely to stay with abusive intimate partners, and more likely to have neutral or negative future outlooks than women who get the abortions they seek. Women turned away from abortion care are also less likely to have “aspirational one-year plans,” an important indicator of hope and confidence, than those who were successfully able to terminate their unwanted pregnancies.

Bills like Ohio’s would introduce a veil of suspicion into the doctor’s office, making medical providers second-guess their patients’ motives instead of giving them non-judgmental care. Women’s rights and disability rights are not mutually exclusive movements; they intersect and inform one another in important ways. Anti-abortion activists are stoking fear in advocates of the latter in hopes that they’ll join an assault on the former.

Dove's One Beautiful Thought Will Have You Thinking Twice About Yourself

Dove's One Beautiful Thought Will Have You Thinking Twice About Yourself


HuffPost Canada

Dove is back with yet another ad campaign that has us reaching for our tissues and re-evaluating how we talk about body image. This time around, Dove is asking that we share #OneBeautifulThought. As...

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.

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.

Reckoning and Wrecking

by Elline Lipkin @ Ms. Magazine Blog

What fascinated me about Claire Dederer’s book, "Love and Trouble," was the way she tries to reconcile the teenage girl she was with the middle-aged woman she has become.

The post Reckoning and Wrecking appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

‘This Is a Mass Casualty Situation’: 1 Dead and Multiple People Injured After Gunman Opens Fire in Nashville Church

‘This Is a Mass Casualty Situation’: 1 Dead and Multiple People Injured After Gunman Opens Fire in Nashville Church

by Stephanie Petit @ PEOPLE.com

One person was killed and seven others were wounded during a shooting at a church in Antioch, Tennessee, on Sunday morning.

Metro Nashville Police announced on Twitter that a shooter opened fire at Church of Christ Burnette Chapel. They said that one woman died and an additional six people were shot, with another person wounded by being pistol whipped.

The Nashville Fire Department said “all of the wounded except for one is over the age of 60.”

“This is a mass casualty situation. All of the wounded have been transported to area hospitals,” the department said. “The majority are older adults.”

The shooter was also wounded and taken to a hospital, police said.

Bill Hunter, a former minister of the church, told Tennessean reporter Natalie Allison, “A fella walked in, sat down in a seat and pulled out a pistol and started shooting.”

A woman living next door to the church told WKRN two people came up to her door and said, “Someone is shooting at us at the church.” Her husband went to the church and saw a victim that had been shot in the back.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Nashville police were not immediately available for further comment.

According to News Channel 5, victims were sent to both Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Tristar Skyline Medical Center. Both hospitals have been placed on mass casualty alert.

• PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: 35 Real Cases That Inspired the Show Law & Order is on sale now.

The church,  holds a weekly service at 10 a.m., reports the Tennessean. The area around the church is shut down as police continue their investigation.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Once Enslaved by ISIS, These Women Are Starting Over

Once Enslaved by ISIS, These Women Are Starting Over

by Yuka Tachibana and Kelly Cobiella @ NBC News Top Stories

A group of 1,100 former ISIS sex slaves, mostly Yazidi women, are now living in Germany as part of an ambitious program to help heal them and start over.

Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law

by Deeba Abedi @ The Broad Side

U.S. support of Saudi Arabia through economic means, trade and immigration sends a message to all the women and girls in America — that subjugating women is acceptable as long as there is financial gain to be realized. It came as nothing short of a shock when the King of Saudi Arabia issued a decree to allow women to vote in municipal elections — and run for office for the first time ever. As an India-American Muslim woman, I was intrigued and followed the developments, assuming a new revolution would ensue. But the unfortunate reality was that it was neither

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 Ad Features Transgender Mom: ‘No One Right Way’

Dove Ad Features Transgender Mom: ‘No One Right Way’


NewsBusters

Just like entertainment media, advertisements have the power to both shape and reflect the culture. While capitalizing on social trends, brand experts are pushing to mainstream controversial themes – and Dove soap is the latest to participate with a transgender star. Earlier this month, Dove released an ad with a transgender “mother” as part of its new #RealMoms campaign celebrating motherhood.

WATCH: Amplifying the Personal and the Political in Pop Culture

by Lynn Rosado @ Ms. Magazine Blog

The thumbnail of Retro Reports’ mini-doc for The New York Times, “The Fight Over Women’s Bodies,” is a still shot of women dressed in red robes and bonnets a la the concubines in The Handmaid's Tale.

The post WATCH: Amplifying the Personal and the Political in Pop Culture appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Racism in Dove

by fashionista 04 @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014

    The silhouette of the namesake bird. People all around the world recognize this logo without batting an eyelid: but in case you are not familiar with it, it’s Dove. Fifty years ago it was just a beauty bar that offered a new formula for cleansing creams, but today it is a “global masterbrand” […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'You're fat and ordinary': Dove ad reveals what women really think about themselves

'You're fat and ordinary': Dove ad reveals what women really think about themselves


Telegraph.co.uk

A new advert forces women to confront the negative thoughts they have about their own bodies

Renae Bluitt Presents “She Did That.” – The Documentary

by Renae @ In Her Shoes

Soooo, I've been keeping a little secret from you. For the past year & some change I've been dreaming up, conceptualizing, and EXECUTIVE PRODUCING my very first documentary titled "She Did That." which is ALL about - you guessed it - Black women building legacies! As we all know, In Her Shoes has been my personal love letter to women entrepreneurs since 2009. After my 2015 #ihsbeautiesbrains photo exhibition, I knew I had to take this storytelling to the next level. That said, I took 2 years off from producing the annual In Her Shoes event to focus on THIS. Whewwww! It's been quite a journey & I've been wanting to share this news with you, but sometimes you have to just be quiet and DO THE WORK without distractions. That said, I'm SUPER GEEKED to unveil more. I'll be sharing a sneak peek this weekend at ESSENCE Fest and hope you can join us if you're in town! Sending SO much gratitude to Luvvie, Lisa Price, Tonya Rapley, Melissa Butler and all of the other dynamic women involved for taking time out to speak their TRUTHS for this film. HUGE thanks to our brand partners ESSENCE and General Motors for investing in this project and fueling the passionate pursuits of a woman like me with big hair & even bigger dreams.

Jurors In Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Case Had to Admit Whether They Were Fans of Her Music

Jurors In Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Case Had to Admit Whether They Were Fans of Her Music

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

Taylor Swift is expected to testify in a case coming before a jury this week in Denver, Colorado, where she says a former country-music radio DJ groped her more than four years ago.

“He took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there,” Swift claimed in a deposition. David Mueller, the then–morning show host, was backstage at Swift’s Denver concert with his girlfriend in 2013 when the alleged incident took place during a photo op. He was 51 at the time; she was 23. When a member of Swift’s security personnel approached Mueller with her allegation, he refuted the claim and was ushered out of the venue. Later, Swift and her team provided Mueller’s bosses with the photo they’d posed for, which appears to show Mueller with his hand on Swift’s butt. He was fired two days later.

It took Mueller two more years to sue Swift for allegedly getting him fired for something he still says he didn’t do. His 2015 lawsuit, in which he seeks $3 million in damages for losing his $150,000-a-year job, claims Swift should have called the police instead of his managers. He also claims a colleague is the one who assaulted Swift. She countersued for $1, maintaining that the assault was “completely intentional.” Swift says she doesn’t care about money, but it’s important to her to win a verdict in her favor to serve “as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

Fans lined up outside the courthouse on Monday and Tuesday, gunning for some of the 32 courtroom seats and 75 overflow seats in a room with a closed-circuit screening of the proceedings. But Swifties are unlikely to make it onto the jury. Judge William Martinez had all prospective jurors fill out a mostly standard questionnaire to root out any biases or conflicts of interest, and the questions in 15-page document are likely to exclude the vast majority of the American population. It asks whether potential jurors have listened to Swift on the radio, seen any of her videos, read any articles about her, bought any of her albums, paid any money to listen to her music online, or listened to her songs through a free streaming service. The only way someone could not have heard a Swift song on the radio or seen a clip from one of her videos is if he was specifically trying to avoid her to maintain the possibility of appearing on a jury for a Swift-related court case someday. The questionnaire even asks whether prospective jurors have immediate family members who are fans of Swift’s. Does anyone not?

The best answers probably came from the open-ended questions. One of them—“Do you have any opinion of singer Taylor Swift?”—is a question I would like to ask any potential friends, lovers, and employees before committing to a full-on conversation. (The only incorrect answer is “No.”) One woman reportedly noted on her sheet that she thought Swift was “petty and dishonest,” perhaps because she followed the Kardashian-West receipts debacle of 2016 or believes in the Swift break-up squad conspiracy. Another possible juror is a man who said his wife runs “women’s empowerment workshops,” but that he could still make impartial judgements about the merits of the case. Mueller’s lawyer argued that a wife who is into empowerment stuff could bias a juror against a guy who allegedly groped a young woman under her skirt with his girlfriend standing two feet away. The judge kept that juror on Monday, and jury selection is set to wrap up on Tuesday.

Swift’s determination to see this case through, even though she stands nothing to gain from it, is admirable. By all accounts, she didn’t want Mueller’s alleged assault to blow up into a big public debate, but when he sued her, she didn’t negotiate a quiet settlement. She took him to court. Her attorney says Swift was shocked by Mueller’s assertion that “for some reason she might have some incentive to actually fabricate this story,” because there’s no logical reason why she would. She isn’t asking for money. She didn’t even drag Mueller in public until he filed his suit. Someone with Swift’s income could easily pay Mueller to make this all go away. Instead, she’s spending a week or three in Colorado, trying to convince a panel of people who’ve never heard her songs that an old man violated her in 2013.

Watch 3 Blind Women Explain How They ‘See’ Beauty

Watch 3 Blind Women Explain How They ‘See’ Beauty


The Mighty

Let's rethink how we define "beauty."

How beauty giant Dove went from empowering to patronising

How beauty giant Dove went from empowering to patronising


the Guardian

The £3bn toiletries brand was one of the first brands to embrace ‘femvertising’, but its body-shaped bottles have been roundly ridiculed. Can it repair the damage?

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.

Inside the Legislative Fight for the Rights of Incarcerated Women

Inside the Legislative Fight for the Rights of Incarcerated Women

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Critical Race Analysis on Mountain Dew Commerical

by KPPS @ Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014

Watch Mountain Dew Commercial Here On April 2013, PepsiCo has released an ad for their brand, Mountain Dew. After its release on the internet, an ad quickly grabbed people’s attention by being “arguably the most racist commercial in history” (Kim). By employing critical race analysis, I argue that this commercial reinforces racial stereotypes against black […]

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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Dove Oxygen Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner Set 12 Ounce
$13.85
Sensitive Skin Unscented Moisturizing Cream Beauty Bar By Dove, 12 Count 4 Oz Each
$19.99
Dove Beauty Bar, Sensitive Skin 4 oz, 6 bar
$12.99
Dove Regenerative Nourishment Shampoo and Conditioner Set, 8.45 FL OZ each
$15.99
Dove Purely Pampering Shea Butter Beauty Bar with Vanilla Scent Soap 3.5 Oz / 100 Gr (Pack of 12 Bars)
$17.48
Dove Antiperspirant Deodorant, Powder 2.6 Ounce, (Pack of 6)
$21.36
Dove Body Wash Deep Moisture 24 oz, Pack of 3
$15.16
6 Cans of Dove Men+Care Invisible Dry 150ml Anti-Perspirant Anti-Transpirant Spray
$18.72
Dove Clinical Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant, Cool Essentials 1.7 oz
$7.72
Dove Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash, 12 Ounce (2 Pack)
$19.33
Dove Men+Care Body Wash, Extra Fresh 23.5 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$20.45
Dove Men + Care Face Wash, Hydrate, 5 Oz (Pack of 3)
$18.40
Dove Men+Care Body Wash, Extra Fresh 13.5 oz, Twin Pack
$16.99
Dove Hs Srength/Shine Xho Size 7z Dove Hs Srength/Shine Xhold 7z
$8.77
Dove Dry Shampoo Refresh and Care Volume and Fullness, 5 Ounces, 3 Pack
$16.80
Dove Men+Care 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner, Fresh and Clean 25.4 oz
Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Hypo-Allergenic Beauty Bar 4 oz, 2 ea (Pack of 2)
$11.14
Dove Men + Care Body & Face Wash, Clean Comfort 13.50 oz ( Pack of 3)
$16.10
Dove Men + Care Fortfying Shampoo+conditioner 2 in 1 32fl Oz
$16.05
Dove Go Fresh Cucumber & Green Tea Scent, Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stick, 1.4 Oz / 40 Ml (Pack of 4)
$9.98
Dove Body Wash, Sensitive Skin Pump, 34 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$27.33
Dove Body Lotion, Cream Oil Intensive, 13.5 Ounce (Pack of 3)
$23.49
Dove Damage Therapy Cool Moisture Shampoo (12 oz) and Conditioner (12 oz)
$11.99
Dove Go Fresh Antiperspirant & Deodorant, Cool Essentials - 2.6 oz - 2 pk
$12.99
Dove Go Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant, Restore, 2.6 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$9.11
Dove Men+Care Body and Face Bar, Deep Clean 4 oz, 6 Bar
$9.39
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