The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Oct. 19 2016 3:09 PM

Trump’s Lawyer Reiterates Trump’s Winning Argument That His Accusers Are Unattractive

One of Donald Trump’s favorite defenses against accusations that he has sexually assaulted multiple women over the years is that his accusers are ugly. If you think this argument is nonsensical, misogynistic, and irrelevant when it’s coming from the lips of a man who has recently been described as “a sentient pile of dirty sheets covered in poop,” just wait till you hear Trump lawyer trying to make the same argument on his behalf!

Michael D. Cohen, a longtime executive at the Trump Organization and personal counsel for Trump, appeared on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday to respond to a roster of witnesses corroborating People writer Natasha Stoynoff’s account that Trump forcibly kissed her in 2005. When asked about Trump’s suggestion that Stoynoff wasn’t hot enough to assault, Cohen gave an answer that was both very lawyerly and very Trumpish:

Oct. 19 2016 12:05 PM

Condoleezza Rice Delivers Subtle Burn 10 Years After Donald Trump Called Her a “Bitch”

A fundamentally nice guy, Donald Trump knows how to sandwich constructive criticism in compliments to make it go down easier. So when he called then–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a “bitch” in a 2006 speech, he prefaced it with a bit of flattery.

“Condoleezza Rice, she’s a lovely woman, but I think she’s a bitch,” Trump said at the Learning Annex’sReal Estate Wealth Expo, according to a New York Daily News report at the time. “She goes around to other countries and other nations, negotiates with their leaders, comes back and nothing ever happens.”

Oct. 19 2016 10:36 AM

Patagonia’s On-Site Child Care Program Is Basically Eden for Children—and Their Parents

Many of us have reached a state of fatigue when it comes to talking about work-life balance. We’re frustrated by the way it often perpetuates the idea that women are responsible for care work, and annoyed by the very American boot-strap optimism behind the idea that individuals can achieve balance, if only we try harder. We’re also put off by our culture’s deep resistance to change.

As tired as we may be of the work-life balance conversation, there are occasionally signs of progress and hope that deserve our attention. The success of Patagonia’s in-house child care center is one of them.

Oct. 18 2016 3:49 PM

Are Parents of Just Daughters More Likely to Support Clinton Than Those With Sons?

Politicians love to cite their daughters as the reason why they can’t condone boasts of sexual assault. If they’re influential enough to get some Republicans to rescind their endorsements of Donald Trump, could female offspring get their parents to support Hillary Clinton?

“Voters with daughters are much more likely to support Hillary Clinton for president,” read a Washington Post headline from Monday, citing its own poll conducted with ABC News. The post’s URL promised a great reveal: “The fascinating connection between having sons and daughters and support for Hillary Clinton.” I think I’ve got it: People with daughters have a more intimate understanding of the challenges women face, so they’re more attuned to the sexism Clinton has battled throughout her career. Maybe they’re disgusted by Trump’s lifelong objectification of women and the multitude of sexual assault allegations against him. Perhaps they’d like a woman in the White House as a role model for their daughters. Fascinating!


Oct. 18 2016 3:15 PM

In 1993, Trump Pitched a TV Show Called Donald Trump Presents the Most Beautiful Women in the World

In 1993, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sent a letter to the president of ABC News pitching a special called Donald Trump Presents the Most Beautiful Women in the World. Good to know that some things never change: Before Donald Trump was dashing off hastily considered tweets, he was dashing off ill-advised typewritten letters.

In this one, Trump promises “huge ratings” for what sounds like a People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People”/“Sexiest Man Alive” thing crossed with a Barbara Walters special crossed with the Westminster Dog Show. Believe it or not, though Trump went on to own the Miss Universe pageant and maintain a presumably fascinating and ever-changing personal ranking of most beautiful women, the special never materialized.


Travis Vogan

January 6, 1993
Mr. Roone Arledge
ABC News
East 47 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023
Dear Roone,
John McLaughlin’s interview with me got the highest ratings in the history of CNBC. Likewise, on public television, Charlie Rose’s interview with me almost got the highest ratings. Who the hell knows why, but it just seems to happen—ask Larry King, Donahue and Oprah.
In any event, in conjunction with Pierre Cossette, I am going to do a one to one and a half hour special entitled “Donald Trump Presents the Most Beautiful Women in the World.” This show will consist of a series of shorts and interviews with ten of the most beautiful women in the world, including Lady Di (who I know and I think will speak to me), Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc… This program will be done on a yearly basis and will get huge ratings. I will promote it heavily—along with everything else I do.
Another network is very interested, but I wanted to speak to you before proceeding. I would appreciate a call as soon as possible.
With best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year,
Donald J. Trump
P.S. I’ll bet it gets one of the top five highest ratings of the year!

Travis Vogan, a professor at the University of Iowa, shared a snapshot of the letter with Slate. He came across it last year while researching a book on ABC Sports.

The letter is classic Trump, who was then in his tabloid heyday as the comb-over playboy of Manhattan. In the note you can glimpse his longtime commitment to ratings and rankings. You can also detect his signature bluster and his sledgehammer negotiating technique: Better jump at this, Roone, because another network is already interested. Trump likely had a receptive audience in Arledge, the man who is sometimes credited for bringing the “honey shot” to sports broadcasting.

For reasons lost to history, however, Arledge did not take Trump up on his idea. What a pity. On this count, at least, the real estate mogul was something of a visionary. His pitch for a TV show of a list of women brilliantly predicts the modern web’s love of listicles and making videos out of things that don’t really need to be videos. Hillary founded Isis; Donald Trump invented BuzzFeed.

Oct. 18 2016 12:46 PM

It’s Revolting to Watch Donald Trump Try to Kiss a Little Girl as She Squirms Away

Earlier in this campaign season, I proved that nobody likes being touched by Donald Trump. With a portfolio of incontrovertible photographic evidence, I confirmed my then-unpopular suspicion that enduring physical contact with the man who still believes he was right to call for the execution of five innocent teenagers is an unpleasant experience.

But the many allegations of sexual assault and forced kissing that women have brought against Trump since then have cast a more sinister light on Trump’s repulsive touch. He’s not just a handsy creep; he’s admitted that he enjoys touching people without their consent.

So when Trump tried to kiss a little girl on the lips at a rally in Wisconsin on Monday, observers grew concerned. “WHERE ARE HER PARENTS” and “WHO LET THIS HAPPEN,” wondered a Facebook commenter. “He is disgusting and sick,” someone wrote on YouTube. It wasn’t just that Trump went for her mouth after planting a smooch on her cheek—it was the look on her face, a stoic smile and blank eyes, as she turned her head away from him.

Oct. 18 2016 12:22 PM

The Sexy Harry Potter Photo Shoot and You: A Five-Step Journey to Acceptance

Are you struggling to come to terms with the viral Harry Potter boudoir photo shoot? While everyone else is laughing and awarding 10 points to Gryffindor forphotographer Sarah Hester’s pictures of Zachary Howell, is this, even more than the fiasco that is the presidential election, the thing that has you convinced that society is no longer something in which you want to participate? You needn’t suffer alone. Join me on the road to acceptance through these five steps.

Oct. 18 2016 10:47 AM

In Wake of Trump Allegations, What Does the Law Do With “Assaultive Kissing”?

Sexual misconduct accusations against Donald Trump have spawned a national moment of reckoning. Several allegations involve the nonconsensual touching of various intimate body parts, and these allegations are clearly criminal. But a surprising number of women are recounting a different type of assault by Trump: namely, assaultive kissing. The pattern that has emerged is aptly described by Trump himself, who bragged on the instantly infamous Access Hollywood tape: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

How does the law respond to kissing without consent? The answer depends, as it often does, on context. Most workplaces and all federally funded schools and universities are governed by civil rights statutes that prohibit discrimination, which has been defined as including sexual harassment that creates a “hostile environment.” Often, the behaviors at issue in hostile environment cases include unwanted kissing along with other sexual violations. But kissing, even without the touching of “intimate body parts,” can provide a sufficient basis for civil liability against the employer or school.

The idea that sexual harassment—even that falling short of rape—undermines women’s equality grew out of the pioneering work of legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon. In 1979, she published Sexual Harassment of Working Women, which revealed the importance of power to practices of sexual violation. Sexual assault, MacKinnon wrote, “seems less an ordinary act of sexual desire directed toward the wrong person than an expression of dominance laced with impersonal contempt, the habit of getting what one wants, and the perception (usually accurate) that the situation can be safely exploited in this way—all expressed sexually.”

An understanding of sexual harassment as a form of domination is consistent with the presence of personality traits commonly found in sexual predators. One psychological profile in particular is associated with what evolutionary psychologist David Buss has characterized as “a sense of entitlement.” This perceived entitlement can manifest in a range of sexual violation—even a kiss can constitute an expression of power.

Unlike laws that regulate sexual harassment, however, the criminal law is rarely invoked in response to nonconsensual kissing. In some states, the misdemeanor sexual contact statute designates off-limits body parts but excludes the mouth. (A typical list might include the genitalia, breasts, and buttocks.) But about half the states have indeed outlawed the nonconsensual touching of “intimate” body parts, which courts have generally interpreted broadly to encompass the thigh, navel, and mouth. Even in these jurisdictions, however, “kissing only” prosecutions are exceedingly rare. Instead, cases involving nonconsensual kissing tend to feature either the additional touching of other intimate body parts or the victimization of teenagers. (Children and other uniquely vulnerable populations typically fall under a separate statute.)

One unusual case to proceed without these aggravating factors involved an Idaho computer repairman who kissed a woman during a house call. At trial, the woman testified that she was cornered and grabbed before she was kissed; she immediately called the police when the man left. According to the defendant’s account, he “figured the woman was lonely and might want companionship.” In any event, he was found not guilty.

Perhaps this acquittal reflects a looming impediment to using the criminal law to punish assaultive kissing. The “stolen kiss” remains a deeply engrained cultural phenomenon—one that, as Christina Cauterucci observed in Slate, “springs from the prevalent belief that while an unwanted kiss might be uncomfortable, it’s ultimately benign; that since it doesn’t involve sex organs or any body part usually covered by clothing, it’s not a form of sexual assault.”

The best hope for challenging this belief system is found in our ongoing migration toward affirmative consent. To be sure, there lies a vast disconnect between the legal treatment of consent on and off college campuses. Yet there is good reason to expect this gap to close in the coming years as a generation enters adulthood having been taught that silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as sexual consent, nor can women be treated as objects to be acted upon.

The law won’t possibly deter the man who presumes that, when it comes to women, he can “do anything.” But this man is an outlier. For most of us, transforming the meaning of consent holds great promise.

Oct. 17 2016 6:05 PM

A New PAC Aims to Prove Muslim Women Are Not Silent

Miriam Seddiq, a criminal defense and immigration attorney and Muslim woman, recently launched the first American Muslim Women political action committee tasked with urging Muslims to vote in the presidential election. The PAC, which counts Gold Star mother Ghazala Khan among its membership, formally endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last Tuesday.

“In the simplest terms, we believe in basic human rights and the right of each individual to live their lives as they choose,” Seddiq said in the PAC’s press release. “Hillary Clinton is a candidate that not only understands those values, but has spent her life dedicated to them in her public service.”

Khan, the mother of a slain U.S. soldier, had stood by her husband, Khizr Khan, during his sharp condemnation of Donald Trump for his proposed ban on Muslim immigration and prejudicial rhetoric at the Democratic National Convention. Trump promptly hit back, telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that perhaps Ghazala Khan “wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

“She took a hit for all of us, and that was part of what led me to decide I wanted to help other women speak out,” Seddiq said in an interview with the Atlantic.

According to its website, AMW PAC aims to give Muslim woman a platform to voice their own grievances and political views and to “dispel that myth” that Islam forces women to be silent. Seddiq told the Atlantic that the organization aims to raise money to run anti-Trump ads and to host a voter-registration drive.

The PAC joins a growing culture of Muslim activism, in part prompted by the Republican nominee’s anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout his candidacy. After Trump’s comments against Mrs. Khan, female Muslim activists took to Twitter under the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow.

And during the second presidential debate, after Trump told Muslims that they should report suspected terrorist activities, activists mocked the nominee on Twitter with the hashtag #MuslimsReportStuff. Trump had previously accused Muslims of not reporting terrorists after the Orlando nightclub shooting.

During an election season that has seen the racist alt-right movement break through to the mainstream, it’s heartening to hear a chorus of marginalized voices rising as well.

Oct. 17 2016 5:37 PM

One College Football Coach Kisses His Male Players Before Each Game, and It’s Not Creepy

In the era of Donald Trump’s forced kisses and a campus sexual assault crisis that’s festered on college sports teams, it’s rare to read about locker-room smooches that have nothing to do with sex crimes. As such, a quick glance atthe New York Times’ report of the pregame football tradition at the University of Houston—players lining up for kisses from their coach—initially struck me as a piece about sexual coercion in college football.

Not so! By all accounts, these kisses are consensual and limited to the players’ cheeks. Coach Tom Herman says he’s been kissing his football players for the last decade of his coaching career, a logical extension of a recruitment promise most colleges make to prospective players and their families: that the coach will take care of his team members like they were his own sons.