The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

March 20 2017 3:07 PM

Why Gorsuch’s Alleged Sexist Classroom Comments Are So Troubling—and Revealing

On Monday, not long before the start of Senate confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neal Gorsuch, NPR released a startling story: According to one of the judge’s former law students, Jennifer Sisk, Gorsuch once made an extraordinarily sexist classroom comment. Sisk alleges that in April 2016, Gorsuch “interrupted our class discussion to ask students how many of us knew women who used their companies for maternity benefits, who used their companies to—in order to have a baby and then leave right away.”

When few students raised their hand, Gorsuch reportedly “became animated” and said, “Come on, guys. All of your hands should be up. Many women do this.” He later added, in Sisk’s words, that “companies have to ask these sort of questions at the interview so that companies can protect themselves.” Sisk brought her concerns to two deans, but it’s unclear whether they ever spoke to Gorsuch.

What should we make of these remarks? Sympathetic lawyers may be tempted to dismiss them as a law school hypothetical gone terribly awry, an unfortunate pedagogical misstep. But I think find them to be quite revealing. The comments may seem out of character for Gorsuch himself, whose clerks, colleagues, and students have largely praised as a respectful professional. But they are not out of line with Gorsuch’s own opinions, which devalue the profound, constitutionally protected connection between women’s individual autonomy and economic equality. Gorsuch has already admitted that he holds corporations’ “religious freedom” in higher esteem then women’s liberty. So it is not at all surprising to discover that he also values corporate interests over a woman’s right to be free from pregnancy discrimination.

March 16 2017 6:27 PM

Woman Who Fought Off Bathroom Attacker Tells Anti-Trans Group to Stop Using Her Story

An anti-transgender group in Washington state is using a recent alleged assault against a woman in a public bathroom to raise money for its ballot initiative campaign, according to the Seattle Stranger. The woman, who says she fought off her attacker and locked him in the bathroom until police arrived, has demanded that the group make a public retraction and refund any money sent in through the fundraising email that used her story.

March 16 2017 4:42 PM

Trump Sends Hate Group Leader to U.N. Women’s Commission, Echoing George W. Bush

Donald Trump has taken an approach to the presidency that might generously be called contrarian. His Secretary of Energy once proposed dismantling the Department of Energy after forgetting it even existed. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency has called himself a “leading advocate” against the very agency he runs. The woman in charge of U.S. public schools hates public schools.

So it comes as little surprise that the members of the president’s delegation to the United Nations’ annual summit on women are opposed to the U.N. as a whole and the fundamental rights of women in particular. On Monday, the State Department revealed the list of people who will represent the U.S. at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this week and next. They include a senior executive from a known hate group and a leader at an organization that works against grants to address violence against women.

March 16 2017 3:28 PM

Ivana Trump’s Parenting Memoir Promises to Be Shadier Than the Shadow of Trump Tower

Ivana Trump is writing a memoir about “motherhood, strength and resilience,” the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Raising Trump, available September 12, will focus on Ivana’s life with her children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr., and will include contributions from the children themselves. The book will be “non-political,” the publisher said, but it has the potential to be something much more important: a document that puts an end to the stubborn myth that Donald Trump deserves any credit at all for raising his children.

March 16 2017 11:21 AM

Maker of Hackable "Smart" Vibrator Will Pay $3.5 Million Settlement to Users

People who bought easily-hacked vibrators that recorded and transmitted their vibing habits are about to get a pretty payday from a Canadian sex-toy maker. Standard Innovation, the oxymoronically-named company that manufactures the “smart” We-Vibe device, will pay $3.75 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago.

March 15 2017 6:06 PM

If You Like the Clear-Knee Mom Jeans, You’re Gonna Love These DIY Fashion Looks

Though conceptually baffling, you can’t accuse the so-called clear-knee mom jeans of being anything but self-explanatory: They are mom jeans—the tapered, high-waisted denim cut currently coming back into style among young and fashionable people, despite the kicking and screaming of the rest of the population not yet ready to embrace them—with see-through plastic panels over the knees. No one really understands the purpose of the see-through panels—harnessing solar energy?—but all the same, these jeans have crisscrossed the internet in recent days, becoming viral grist for news items at the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and others. Clearly, they’ve captured our collective imagination.

March 15 2017 4:57 PM

The Military’s Nude-Photo Sharing Scandal Is Worse Than We Thought

The network of nude-photo sharing exposed in a secret Facebook group run by some U.S. Marines was just one layer of a much larger trend of revenge porn and cyberharassment in the military. Last week, Business Insider learned from a source that members of all branches of the military have been posting hundreds of nude, unauthorized-for-sharing photos of female service members on a site called AnonIB since at least May of 2016. A Navy Times investigation published Tuesday revealed that 4Chan and Tumblr also host archives of nude photos. Some of the photos were posted in response to requests made for photos of specific women.

March 15 2017 4:49 PM

The Long, Weird History of Comparing Abortion to the Holocaust

When Kansas state senator Steve Fitzgerald found out that a $25 donation had been made in his name to a Planned Parenthood chapter recently, he responded by making an explosive comparison. "This is as bad, or worse, as having one's name associated with Dachau,” the Republican wrote in a letter, which became public when the organization tweeted a photo of it. When the Kansas City Star asked the legislator to clarify, he doubled down. “I think the Nazis ought to be incensed by the comparison,” he told a reporter. “They’re both exterminating innocent human life.”

March 14 2017 5:39 PM

The Nationwide Paid Parental Leave Arms Race Is a Myth

The fight for paid family leave in the U.S. has intensified in fervor and made a few big gains in the recent years, shifting the public consensus quickly enough and far enough in the right direction to become one of the most successful movements of our time. Paid leave is such a popular concept among voters, Ivanka Trump has made it a pillar of her unsettling campaign to seem like a reasonable, intelligent centrist.

March 14 2017 2:10 PM

CBO: Trumpcare Would Block Contraception Access, Resulting in Thousands of Unplanned Births

The Congressional Budget Office released its highly anticipated analysis of the GOP’s proposed health-care plan on Monday, and Republicans are scrambling to avoid talking about the agency’s sobering projections of the bill’s impact. The American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, could cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance over a decade according to the report, though the White House itself says it’s more like 26 million. For some older Americans, insurance premiums would rise 750 percent in the next 10 years.