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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.

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.

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.

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.

Instagram post by Clinique • Jan 30, 2017 at 10:58pm UTC

Instagram post by Clinique • Jan 30, 2017 at 10:58pm UTC


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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.

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.

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Court Ruling Says Anti-Abortion Protesters Can’t Be Disruptively Noisy Outside Maine Clinics

Court Ruling Says Anti-Abortion Protesters Can’t Be Disruptively Noisy Outside Maine Clinics

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

A federal appeals court on Tuesday affirmed the right of medical patients in Maine to receive care without noisy disruptions from protesters. The three-judge panel overturned a previous judge’s ruling that found part of the Maine Civil Rights Act—a provision that has been used to control the volume of anti-abortion protesters outside health clinics—likely to be unconstitutional.

This week’s decision concerns the case of Andrew March, a man in his 20s who regularly stood outside a Portland, Maine Planned Parenthood health center and shouted religious invective at patients inside. When police told him to quiet down, March sued Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the city of Portland, and law enforcement officials in December 2015. His suit came just a month after Mills filed a civil rights lawsuit against a different protester who allegedly violated the state prohibition on disrupting medical care with loud noises. According to the attorney general’s complaint, the protester was screaming about “murdering babies, aborted babies’ blood and Jesus … so loud that it could be heard within the examination and counseling rooms of the building.”

In May 2016, U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled that the noise provision in the Maine Civil Rights Act violated protesters’ First Amendment rights because it policed the content of the protesters’ speech. The appeals court found that the noise provision was not based on the message of the speech, but the volume and location of the protest, which could interfere with other residents’ rights to constitutionally protected health care procedures.

The Maine law was enacted in 1995 with input and support from both supporters and opponents of abortion rights—it applies to crisis pregnancy centers, too. At the time, Judge David Barron’s Tuesday decision states, the state attorney general justified the law as a violence-prevention measure. “The most extreme violence tends to occur in situations where less serious civil rights violations are permitted to escalate,” the attorney general noted back then. “When the rhetoric of intolerance and the disregard for civil rights do, in fact, escalate, then some people at the fringes of society will take that atmosphere as a license to commit unspeakable violence.” In other words, if anti-abortion activists are allowed to interfere with medical care with excessive noise, some might decide to try interfering with their bodies or physical obstacles, too.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin told the Bangor Daily News that the law was written after “a number of groups,” including anti-abortion groups, “came together at a time when there was violence around the country against family planning clinics.” The state has no problem with protests outside clinics, she continued, but “once patients have run the gauntlet outside the clinic, once the door to the exam room or the consultation room is shut, that should be a sanctuary.”

In its defense of the law, Maine argued that March was and is free to yell his message outside the clinic so that entering patients can hear him, but not so loudly that it can be heard inside. Such disruptions can cause elevated stress levels, respiratory rates, and blood pressure, according to affidavits from medical professionals. March contended that the Maine provision specifically targets anti-abortion speech by only prohibiting noises made with an intent to “jeopardize the health of persons receiving health services within the building,” not any and all random loud noises.

“We do not agree,” Barron wrote in the panel’s decision. “… Given the limitless array of noises that may be made in a disruptive manner, there is no reason to conclude that disruptive intent is necessarily a proxy for a certain category of content.” There is nothing in the law that prevents March from making his disruptive noises outside most government buildings or other location of political import, either.

Since the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that established no-protester “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, health facilities that provide abortion care have had few legal options for protecting patients from external threats to their physical and mental health. Tuesday’s ruling suggests that speech may not be constitutionally protected if it penetrates the walls of a private examination room.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ 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.

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.

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

One of the most memorable motifs is the presidency of Donald Trump is the notion that Muslims are somehow incapable of assimilating into American culture.  “Assimilation has been very hard,” Trump told Sean Hannity last summer, in response to a question about how to vet Muslim immigrants to determine if they want to proselytize and import theocracy. “I won’t say nonexistent, but it gets to be pretty close. And I’m talking about second and third generation. For some reason, there’s no real assimilation.”

On at least one issue, however, recent surveys suggest Trump’s fears about assimilation are directed at the wrong group. According to a poll of American Muslims conducted this year by Pew, more than half (52 percent) say “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” In a wider survey on the same question last year, 63 percent of the general population said the same—compared to just over a third of white evangelicals. On the question of LGBTQ acceptance, in other words, American Muslims look much more like “mainstream” America than white evangelicals do.

A 2014 Pew survey that asked specifically about same-sex marriage turned up similar results: 53 percent of the general population favored legalization, while just 28 percent of evangelicals said the same. Among Muslims, support was at 42 percent. Which group looks like its values are approaching the American consensus, and which one looks like a population of “unassimilated” religious extremists?

Let me pause to say that’s an overly broad brush with which to paint evangelicals. The gap between young white evangelicals and their elders has widened dramatically in recent years, for example, with almost half of Millennial and Generation X cohorts now favoring gay marriage. But white evangelicals as a whole remain dramatically set apart from the culture on a question with major social, interpersonal, and political implications. There’s a reason that many conservative Christians who object to same-sex relationships now frame their opposition not as “traditional” but as “counter-cultural.”

Meanwhile, American Muslims’ acceptance of homosexuality is striking for two reasons. First, it is growing with remarkable speed. A decade ago, just 27 percent of American Muslims said homosexuality should be accepted, while 61 percent said it should be discouraged. Today, the “accepters” outnumber the “discouragers” by almost 20 percentage points. And these numbers are also remarkable because of how dramatically American Muslims differ from the global Muslim population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to homosexuality. This kind of change is practically the textbook definition of “assimilation.”

The big picture is that despite our president’s flailing attempts to reignite the culture wars, Americans keep moving inexorably toward acceptance of LGBTQ people. Two years after Obergefell v. Hodges, support for same-sex marriage is rising among just about every religious, racial, and generational demographic. The majority of Americans believe transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, just to pick another issue at random. At this point it’s fair to say that acceptance of LGBTQ people is a mainstream American value. If certain religious groups can’t adjust to the tolerance of the culture in the country where they have chosen to live, well, that would be a real shame.

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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.

A New Study Looks at What Becoming a Mother Does to Your Self-Esteem

A New Study Looks at What Becoming a Mother Does to Your Self-Esteem

by Rebecca Onion @ The XX Factor

In May, when psychologist Alexandra Sacks published a New York Times piece on the emotional transformations that take place when women become mothers, my own mother and multiple friends sent me the link. Despite everything other parents had told me before I had a baby (“You’ll be so tired, and watch out for signs of depression! But also, you’ll be in love”), I wasn’t prepared for the mental upheaval I’d experience. “The process of becoming a mother has been largely unexplored in the medical community,” Sacks wrote. “Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out.” Forget the baby for a minute, I thought. I want to know more about what’s happening in my own wild head.

A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds more information to the small field of psychological study Sacks summarized in her piece. Researchers looked at a very large sample of Norwegian women to find out how becoming a mother (or adding children to a family) affected their self-esteem. The team, led by psychologist Weibke Bleidorn, asked almost 85,000 pregnant women to fill out questionnaires at intervals during their pregnancies and the first few years of their children’s lives.

The results showed a consistent pattern: “Self-esteem decreased during pregnancy, increased [after birth] until the child was six months old and then gradually decreased over following years.” Mothers with three-year-olds hit a low point in their self-esteem. As the study’s authors acknowledge, since women did not fill out questionnaires before getting pregnant or after their children’s third birthdays, the data has its limits. Still, the responses have a story to tell, and it’s grim.

The study’s authors write that the data shows some degree of a link between self-esteem and “relationship satisfaction”—a woman’s degree of happiness in her partnership. During pregnancy, the respondents reported a steady degree of satisfaction with their partners. This sweet period between expectant couples was followed by a steep drop-off in satisfaction after the birth of a baby, and then a slower series of decreases over the next three years. The researchers found that trends in self-esteem and relationship satisfaction often mirrored each other. Psychologists’ theories about self-esteem emphasize the importance of a sense of social belonging; when a new mother is out of step with her partner, they argue, the discord shows in her own levels of self-belief.

That said, pregnancy still takes a toll on expectant mothers' self-esteem, due to anxiety about childbirth and the baby's health as well as body-image issues. And even though their relationships with their partners suffered in their babies’ early months, new mothers still reported an increase in their own self-esteem. The authors of the study suggest that women might feel a sense of mastery during that first six-month period as they rapidly gain new caregiving skills.

If you’d asked me two months after my own daughter’s birth—between late-night Googling “should babby’s jaw be quivering?” and “bany pulsing vein head something wrong???”—I would have laughed at the notion that having an infant could boost her mother’s self-esteem. But now, nearing the six-month mark, I think I get it. Five- and six-month-old babies have usually settled into less punishing sleep schedules. They have learned how to smile, laugh, put their feet into their mouths, and be delightfully curious about the world around them. They’re not yet defiant, and don’t need to be disciplined. Maybe mothers’ self-esteem drops again when babies grow into toddlers, learn to walk, and start to test boundaries?

The biggest limitation to the study’s usefulness has to be its cultural specificity. “It remains an open question if similar results can be found in mothers from other countries,” the authors write, suggesting that Norway’s “family friendly policies” may help Norwegian moms evade even more drastic self-esteem dips and losses of relationship satisfaction. It’s easy to imagine that American mothers who don’t have access to good daycare and nice long maternity (and paternity!) leaves might report even more strife between partners, and concurrently higher levels of self-doubt.

State support aside, it’s interesting to consider how differences between Norwegian and American social mores around parenting might affect women living in each country. According to anecdotal observations by French and American expats living in Norway, Norwegian parenting can be a monoculture, rigid and unaccepting of deviation. (Apparently, all Norwegian kiddos go to bed at 7 pm! Slate would approve.) For all the social compulsion American moms feel to follow certain practices—breastfeeding being the prime example—our lack of agreement on things like co-sleeping and baby-led weaning means that you can usually find somebody who approves of your methods, if not on your block then online.

But what about our other particularly American sources of self-doubt? Does (white, middle-class) America’s punishing obsession with a quick physical “bounce-back” from pregnancy cause even greater self-esteem problems in our mothers? What about the confusion and guilt that can stem from the never-ending struggle to find good childcare? Or the financial pressure that pushes many American women back to work only weeks, or months, after having a child?

All speculations about cultural influences on maternal self-esteem aside, knowing that 85,000 Norwegian mothers also rode a rollercoaster of emotions after their children’s births helps me to feel like I’m in good company. One ironclad takeaway: Be sweet to the new, or new-ish, mother in your life. She probably needs it.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ 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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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TokyoTreat Subscription Box Review + Coupon – September 2017

by Taryn Lowman @ My Subscription Addiction

What Japanese snacks are inside the September 2017 TokyoTreat subscription box? Find out in our review!

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!!!”

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.

Write Love Parcel Stationery Box Review + Coupon – September 2017

by Marne Orenich @ My Subscription Addiction

Check out my review of the September 2017 Write Love Parcel stationery box!

Clinique 2014 Spring Bloomingdales Deluxe 10 Pcs Skin Care & Makeup Gift Set (A $85 Value)

by Buy Cosmetics Gift Sets @ CosmeticsGiftSets.com

Clinique 2014 Spring Bloomingdales Deluxe 10 Pcs Skin Care & Makeup Gift Set (A $85 Value) : Beauty

Ulta and Sephora One Day Only Deals

by Isabella Muse @ Musings of a Muse

Heads up MAC Lipstick fans at Velvet Teddy and Russian Red are $8.75 at Ulta.com. Both are fantastic shades well worth picking up (Velvet Teddy is a great nude)! Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover for Lids, Lashes & Lips is also on sale for $9.50 at Ulta.com. These ship free if you’re a […]

The post Ulta and Sephora One Day Only Deals appeared first on Musings of a Muse.

LA CLINIQUE inside the 5 unmissable vintage sunglasses store on planet earth.

by La Clinique @ La Clinique Fine Store – Vintage Eyewear & Other Rarities

THE VINTAGE MAP company did this article some days ago […]

LA CLINIQUE : Sapeurs “friendly” Boutique since day 1.

by La Clinique @ La Clinique Fine Store – Vintage Eyewear & Other Rarities

Discover amazing and historical pieces, new from the past in […]

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.

Clinique 2014 Spring Makeup Gift Set Berry Shades

by Buy Cosmetics Gift Sets @ CosmeticsGiftSets.com

Clinique 2014 Spring Makeup Gift Set Berry Shades : Beauty

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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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.

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.

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What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

What Was Melania Trump Thinking With Her Hurricane Harvey Stilettos?

by Christina Cauterucci @ 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.

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Can You Find The Hidden Game On The Nintendo Switch?

by Kaitlin Gates @ Simplemost

The Nintendo Switch continues to rise in popularity and once again outsold the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in August. It marks the fourth time in the last six months that it beat its competitors. For $299, Nintendo branded the Switch as a “home console you can take anywhere”, meaning it

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.”

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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.”

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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.

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

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

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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Swole Jeff Bezos Is Exactly the Meme the World Needed

Swole Jeff Bezos Is Exactly the Meme the World Needed

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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Cosmopolitan’s Underbaked Account of a Sexual Assault Is Bad for All Victims

Cosmopolitan’s Underbaked Account of a Sexual Assault Is Bad for All Victims

by Ruth Graham @ The XX Factor

Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s 2014 Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” was an account of a gang-rape at the University of Virginia that crumbled disastrously under scrutiny. The saga, with the anonymous “Jackie” at its center, ended in expensive lawsuits, lost jobs, and 13,000-word autopsies from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Most devastatingly, it also contributed to undermining the accounts of other survivors of rape and sexual assault, discouraging them from speaking up. In the post-“Jackie” world, journalists writing about rape and sexual assault know how high the stakes are; they know well to show their work.

But in a recent piece, Cosmopolitan falls far short. On June 26, Cosmopolitan.com published “She Told a Guy She Worked at an Abortion Clinic. On Their Next Date, He Raped Her.” Calla Hales, the director of a chain of four abortion clinics in North Carolina and Georgia, told freelance journalist Rebecca Grant that the rape occurred after she cut short her second date with a man whom the story does not name. He walked her to her car—it’s not clear where it was parked—and then attacked her. The details are both savage and confusing:

[H]e walked her to her parking spot, and as she was getting into her car, she says, he came up behind her, pulled her into the backseat, and raped her. “He had me in between the seats, wrapped the seat belt around my neck, and at some point, bit me on my chest,” Hales said.

Grant makes clear that the rape was intended as a sort of punishment for Hales's work as an abortion provider. On their first date, Hales said, she told him she worked in “women’s health”; he later pressed her by text to say she worked at an abortion clinic. As he attacked her, he called her a “jezebel” and a “murderer,” and told her she should repent. The attack lasted for 15 minutes, she said, until he was scared off by a noise.

Hales said she later drove to the house of friends, who urged her to call the police; she declined. She went to a Planned Parenthood “the Monday after the rape” (although the piece doesn’t say when the rape occurred) and, sometime later, to an unnamed hospital, where she was told to come back the next day; when she returned, she said, the hospital couldn’t find a record of her visit, and she realized they had given her someone else’s paperwork.

The disturbing details continue. Hales said her rapist started showing up to the protests outside the clinic where she worked. Soon, other protesters started using the epithet “jezebel” as they screamed outside her clinic. Another protester made a reference to a hidden tattoo that would have been visible to her attacker. Hales also said she received anonymous harassing text messages, letters, and voicemails.

Some of these details are so remarkable that it’s baffling to see the article gloss over them. Did the rapist tell the other protesters what he had done? Did he prompt another protester to ask about the tattoo, and encourage others to use specific words such as “jezebel”? Was he responsible for all those anonymous calls, letters, and texts, or were others involved? Did the hospital bungle her paperwork intentionally? Questions along these lines were first called out by Reason editor Robby Soave, who tweeted several times on Wednesday about his attempts to contact Cosmopolitan:

There were no witnesses to the attack itself, but many of the other details in the piece would be straightforward to corroborate. Presumably Hales knows her attacker’s name, but Grant does not mention attempting to contact him or anyone he knows, or even googling him. If Grant interviewed any of the friends Hales saw on the night of the rape, she doesn’t mention it. She doesn’t say whether she saw or heard any of the harassing texts, letters, and voicemails, or the earlier text exchanges about Hales's line of work. She doesn’t say whether or not she contacted the unnamed hospital about Hales’s treatment there, or even whether Hales shared its name with her. (It is not unusual for a reporter to ask a source for sensitive details she has agreed not to include in the piece, for the purposes of verifying the story.)

The piece is riddled with strange elisions: Grant quotes Hales’s mother, who opened the chain of clinics in 1998, but doesn’t name her. If it’s a question of security, why not say so—and in that case, why does her photograph appear in the story? Grant interviewed several people who regularly demonstrate outside Hales’s clinics, but doesn’t seem to have asked any of them about the alleged rapist’s repeated appearances there.

These are serious failures of both reporting and editing. (Grant and the editor of Cosmopolitan’s website, Amy Odell, have not responded to requests for comment.) And what is confounding is that the magazine seems to have invested real time and money in producing the story. Grant’s website says she is based in Brooklyn, but she reported on location in North Carolina. The magazine also sent an accomplished photojournalist to shoot Hales, her mother, and scenes in and around their clinics.

None of the red flags listed here are necessarily problems with Hales’s story; they are significant problems with Cosmopolitan’s. Corroborating a source’s account does not mean that you don’t trust her—it means that you want to do everything you can to present her story as airtight, unimpeachably accurate. Thorough reporting is a form of respect, even protection. The bottom-feeders who insist that women regularly lie about sexual assault had a field day with the disintegration of “A Rape on Campus.” Cosmopolitan might have just handed them more fodder.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Kate Walsh Reveals Brain Tumor Diagnosis

by Augusta Statz @ Simplemost

Playing a doctor on TV definitely doesn’t make you an expert in real life, and no one understands that more than Kate Walsh. You’d think that after years on set for “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” she’d feel at home in a hospital. But she’s the first to tell you

GlossyBox CEW 2017 Limited Edition Box Review

by Liz Cadman @ My Subscription Addiction

Check out my review of the Limited Edition CEW 2017 GlossyBox Awards Box!

Here's Clinique's Awesome, Outside-the-Box Crayola Collab

Here's Clinique's Awesome, Outside-the-Box Crayola Collab


theFashionSpot

On Monday, Clinique and Crayola released a limited-edition collection of Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balms inspired by fan-favorite crayon colors.

INNISFREE, KOREA’S NO.1 BEAUTY BRAND, LAUNCHES ITS SECOND STORE IN MUMBAI

by Editor @ BNI — India's Premier Beauty News Portal

Innisfree, the Korean naturalism brand from the pristine Jeju Island, South Korea is all set to launch its second store in Mumbai at SeaWood Grand Central Mall, making it their sixth outpost in India. Spread over carpet area 535 sq.ft and Super area of 893 sq.ft.  the store is designed to bring the beauty brand to [...]

The post INNISFREE, KOREA’S NO.1 BEAUTY BRAND, LAUNCHES ITS SECOND STORE IN MUMBAI appeared first on BNI — India's Premier Beauty News Portal.

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.

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.

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.

Laserbrain Patch Co “Wanderlust” Box Review + Coupon – September 2017

by Anna Reilly @ My Subscription Addiction

The September 2017 box from Laserbrain Patch Co is all about travel and only $12.50/month plus shipping!

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

Why Does Anthony Scaramucci Keep Making Hair and Makeup Jokes?

by Christina Cauterucci @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

by Micah Hauser @ The XX Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

Sweet Garden ! Bath Gift Set: body mist spray,body lotion,bath salts, shower gel, hand cream, bubble bath!

by Buy Cosmetics Gift Sets @ CosmeticsGiftSets.com

Sweet Garden ! Bath Gift Set: body mist spray, body lotion, bath salts, shower gel, hand cream, bubble bath! : Beauty

5 Dangerous Things Your Kid Can Learn On The Internet—and How To Keep Them Safe

by Common Sense Media @ Simplemost

Set a curious kid loose on the internet, and you have a match made in learning heaven. Unfortunately, for every geometry lesson on Khan Academy there are step-by-step instructions for something not just age-inappropriate—but potentially illegal or dangerous. While browser settings and parental controls can help keep your kids on appropriate

Cairn Outdoor Subscription Box Review + Coupon – September 2017

by Andy Cosnotti @ My Subscription Addiction

Check out my review of the September 2017 Cairn subscription box!

Bless Box September 2017 Spoiler + Coupon!

by My Subscription Addiction @ My Subscription Addiction

Check a spoilers for the September 2017 Bless Box!

9 Deceptively Simple Ways To Turn A Sheet Cake Into An Edible Work Of Art

by Bridget Sharkey @ Simplemost

There is nothing as simple to bake as a sheet cake. Whether you use a boxed mix or make your own, it comes together with just a few ingredients and a bit of mixing. And, best of all, sheet cakes are incredibly versatile, meaning that even beginner bakers can create

Geek Fuel September 2017 Spoiler Update + Coupon!

by Eric Cadman @ My Subscription Addiction

Check out the latest spoiler information for the September 2017 Geek Fuel subscription box! (And save $3 off your first box with our coupon code!)

Clinique | Gift Sets | John Lewis

Clinique | Gift Sets | John Lewis


John Lewis

Shop for Clinique Gift Sets from our range at John Lewis. Free Delivery on orders over &pound;50.

Bare Minerals Holiday 2017 Gift Sets and Palettes

by Isabella Muse @ Musings of a Muse

The Bare Minerals Holiday 2017 Gift Sets and Palettes are starting role in! Earlier this month we were able to get our hands on the new The Hidden Treasure Ready 18.0 Eyeshadow Palette but of course, there’s plenty more Holiday makeup goodness to look forward to the brand. Here’s a peek at what’s on offer […]

The post Bare Minerals Holiday 2017 Gift Sets and Palettes appeared first on Musings of a Muse.

Clinique Bonus Box Set - RM 55 - listed in imSold!

Clinique Bonus Box Set - RM 55 - listed in imSold!


imSold!

• Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser 30ml• Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ 30ml• Repairwear Uplifting SPF 15/PA++ Firming Cream* 15ml• Repairwear Sculpting Night Cream 15ml• Repairwear Laser Focus Smooths, Restores, Corrects 15ml• Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream 5ml• Repairwear Laser Focus All-Smooth Makeup SPF15/PA++ 7ml• Lash Power Mascara 2.5ml

15 New Sephora Favorites Sets to Choose From

by Isabella Muse @ Musings of a Muse

Sephora.com has listed more Sephora Favorite Sets for the Holidays! I counted and there are now 15 brand new ones available from Lashstash ones to perfume samplers! There’s a little something for everyone. Check them out at Sephora.com. You may also enjoy...Sephora Easy on the Eyes Eyeshadow Palette for Holiday 2017Share Your Sephora Sale Haul […]

The post 15 New Sephora Favorites Sets to Choose From appeared first on Musings of a Muse.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion Plus + With Pump Very Dry To Dry Combination Skin 4.2 Ounce
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Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel By Clinique, 4.2 Ounce
Clinique 3 Step Travel Size Set For Combination Oily To Oily Skin, Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin, Clarifying Lotion Skin Type 3, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
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Clinique Liquid Facial Mild 6F37 Soap, 6.7 Ounce
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New! Clinique Acne Solutions Clear Skin System Starter Kit
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Clinique Even Better Makeup Broad Spectrum Spf15 Evens & Correct Foundation, 1 Ounce, Fair
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2, 6.7 Ounce
Clinique All About Eyes Reduces Puffs, Circles -- Travel Size 5ml
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CLINIQUE 6 pcs Gift Set SPRING 2016
$18.99
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief 1 oz/30 ml
$30.60
New! Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer, 1 oz / 30 ml, 2 Alabaster (VF-N)
$34.98
Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild 6.7 Fl OZ
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Clinique/Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel 4.2 Oz
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New! Clinique Smart Night Custom-Repair Moisturizer - Dry Combination, 1 oz
$24.88
NEW 2017 Clinique Skin Care Makeup 7 Pc Gift Set Travel Size
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Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder, 02 Stay Neutral, 0.27 Ounce
$34.99
NEW 2016 Clinique 7pc Skincare Makeup Gift Set NEUTRAL Foundation, Smart Custom-Repair Serum & More! ($75 Value)
$26.55
Clinique Spring 7 Pcs Skinecare Makeup Gift Set Macy's Exclusive Cosmetic Bag
$24.40
Clinique Spring Sweet Makeup Gift Set W/Bag
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Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief 1.7 oz
$47.00
NEW 2015 Clinique 9 Pcs Makeup Skincare Gift Set with Brush Kit & More! ($85+ Value)
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Clinique Skin Care Makeup 8 Pc Gift Set 2014 Fall All About Eyes & More
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Clinique 3 Steps Travel Size Set for Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin, Liquid Facial Soap Mild (1 oz) + Clarifying Lotion 2 (1 oz) + Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (1 oz)
$16.92
New! Clinique Superbalanced Makeup Foundation, 1 oz / 30 ml, 02 Fair (VF-P)
$33.59
Clinique 3 Steps system for Dry / Dry Combination Skin Set: dramatically moisturizing Lotion 4.2 oz / 125 ml + Clarifying Lotion 2 13.5 oz / 400 ml + Liquid Facial Soap Mild 6.7 oz / 200 ml
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Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector for Unisex, All Skin Types, 1.7 Ounce
$76.00
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 for Unisex, 13.5 Ounce
$35.00
Clinique Superpowder Double Face Makeup for Dry Combination, No. 02 Matte Beige (mf-p), 0.35 Ounce
$23.00
3 Pack - 1oz Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
$20.99
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 for Unisex, 6.7 Ounce
$14.99
Clinique High Impact Mascara 01 Black For Women 0.28 Oz Giving Rich Intense Color Long Wearing
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Clinique superbalanced makeup
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NEW 2016 Clinique 7pc Skincare Makeup Gift Set Moisture Surge & More! ($75 Value) LTMED
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CLINIQUE by Clinique: TAKE THE DAY OFF CLEANSING BALM--/3.8OZ
$31.61
Happy By Clinique For Women, EDP, 3.4 Oz
$36.49
Clinique Almost Lipstick - Black Honey
$18.99
Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser, 5 Ounce
$20.00
Clinique All In One Colour Palette for Women
$48.54
Clinique Long Last Soft Matte Lipstick (green tube) - Matte Beauty
$13.99
Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm, No. 01 Curviest Caramel, 0.1 Ounce
Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse Off Formula, 3.4 Ounce
$29.00
Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, 4.2 Ounce
$19.00
Clinique Pop Lip Color & Primer Lipstick - #13 Love Pop
$10.80
Clinique All About Eyes Cream for Unisex, 0.5 Ounce
$30.69
New 2016 Clinique 7 pc Makeup Skincare Gift Set Pink Floral Bag (Warm)
$23.80
Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser 150ml/5oz
$20.37
New Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF 15, 1 oz / 30 ml, 03 Ivory (VF-N)
$35.95
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Cream 50ml
Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formular 6F39 for Unisex, 6.7 Ounce
$21.97
Clinique All About Eyes Serum for All Skin Types for Unisex, 0.5 Ounce
$35.00
Clinique Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam , All Skin Types, 4.2 Ounce
$20.50
Clinique 8pc $85+ Value Even Better Spring Gift Set with Cosmetic Bag Nordstrom Exclusive
$29.99
Clinique/Clinique Smart Custom Repair Concentrate Serum 1.7 Oz (50 Ml)
$55.95
Clinique Lash Power Mascara Long-Wearing Formula Black Onyx for Women, 0.21 Ounce
$17.50
CLINIQUE High Impact Custom Black Kajal (01 BLACKENED BLACK) Travel Size
$6.93
Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer Makeup, 2 Alabaster (VF-N), Travel Size .17oz/5ml
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief for Unisex, 2.5 Ounce
$49.50
Clinique 7-Piece Makeup Skincare Gift Set Blue Butterfly Bag (Cool)
$22.00
Clinique Facial Soap Mild with Dish, 5.2 Ounce
$19.00
Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF15 (Dry Combinationl to Combination Oily) - No. 05 Neutral - 30ml/1oz
$36.90
Clinique Clarifying #3 Lotion, 13.5 Ounce
$32.00
Clinique .35 oz / 10 gr Full Size Superpowder Double Face 07 Matte Neutral Makeup
$32.95
Aromatic Elixir Parfum Spray for Women by Clinique 3.4 Ounce
$54.49
Clinique Clarifying #2 Lotion, 13.5 Ounce
$33.34
Clinique Super City Block Ultra Protection SPF 40 for Unisex, 1.4 Ounce
$15.67
Clinique All about shadow quad-08 Olive in my martini/11 Night cap/03Tarnish gold/AH ivory bisque 0.08oz
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Clinique Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Dark Chocolate 10
$26.40
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, 6.7 Ounce
$50.00
CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Intense Skin Hydrator, 1.7 Ounce
$38.50
Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray Thirsty Skin Relief, 4.2 Ounce
$22.00
Clinique Skin Care 3 piece Set Moisture Surge, Mask, Rinse Off Cleanser Travel Size
$18.40
Clinique High Impact Mascara, 01 Black .28 oz / 7 mL
$18.50
Clinique Happy For Men. Cologne Spray 3.4 Ounces
$36.49
3x Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover 1.7oz / 50ml, Totals 150ml/5.1oz
$22.78
Clinique Repair Wear Laser Focus Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream for Unisex, 0.5 Ounce
$43.50
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion + with Pump, 4.2 Ounce
$34.52
Clinique 3 Steps Travel Size Set for Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin, Liquid Facial Soap Mild (1 oz) + Clarifying Lotion 2 (1 oz) + Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ (0.5 oz)
$14.90
Happy Heart By Clinique For Women. Parfum Spray 3.4 Ounces
$43.99
Clinique Liquid Facial Extra Mild Soap for Very Dry to Dry Skin, 6.7 Ounce
$17.00
New! Clinique 6-PC Skincare Makeup Gift Set 2016
$16.99
Clinique Exfoliating Scrub for Unisex, 3.4 Ounce
$22.00
Clinique 'Even Better' Clinical Dark Spot Corrector - All Skin Types - 30ml/1 oz
$29.99
Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes - 02 Lots o'Latte Duo Pack (Lot of 2 0.018 oz Total 0.36 oz / 1 g)
$16.99
Happy By Clinique For Women. Parfum Spray 1.7 Oz.
$46.00
Clinique Happy by Clinique for Women, 3.4 Ounce EDP Spray
$36.49
Clinique for Men Moisturizing Lotion, 3.4 Ounce
$26.50
Clinique High Impact Mascara 01black 0.14oz/3.5ml*4
$12.71
Clinique Clarifying Lotion Type 2 Dry Combination Skin Full Size 16.5 Ounce
$49.98
Clinique Blended Face Powder and Brush, Shade 03, 1.2 Ounce
$25.00
Clinique 10 Days to Great Skin Set: Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formula + Clarifying Lotion Twice a Day Exfoliator 3 + Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
$18.65
Clinique Smart Night Custom-Repair Moisturizer Cream Dry Combination Skin - 1oz/30ml (2 x .5oz/15ml each)
$19.48
Clinique All About Rich Eyes Makeup, 0.5 Ounce
$36.00
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel Unisex, Combination Oil to Oily, 1.7 Ounce
$24.00
Clinique Night Care, 75ml/2.5oz Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief (All Skin Types) for Women
$49.70
Clinique for Men Oil Control Essentials Kit
$34.50
Clinique All About Eyes Reduces Puffs Circles .5oz / 15ml
$25.84
CLINIQUE Skin Supplies for Men Oil Control Mattifying Moisturizer, 3.4 Ounce
Clinique Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara, 01 Black, 8ml/0.27oz
Clinique Men Face Wash (For Normal To Dry Skin), 6.7 Ounce
$25.99
CLINIQUE Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick Intense Ivory deluxe 0.12 oz
$11.99
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