What Women Really Think

April 22 2014 4:45 PM

Why Aren't Italian Women Having Babies?  

The Wall Street Journal reports today that more women in Italy are foregoing children. This isn’t a problem on the individual level, but on a societal level, it’s dicey. By 2050, the statistical institute Istat projects that there will be 263 elders for every 100 young people, which means retirees are in big trouble. WSJ writer Manuela Mesco suggests a number of reasons why women are not having children: they’re spending more time getting educated, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, there’s a lack of day care options, and they are living with their parents well into adulthood.

But another big problem is Italian men and the country’s retrograde attitudes towards motherhood. Per Mesco:

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Italian women often find it daunting to balance work against the traditionally demanding expectations for mothers in Italy. Surveys consistently find that Italian men help less at home than their counterparts in other countries do, and that Italian mothers are painstaking in their approach to child care, to the point of hand-washing and ironing baby clothes

There is an association, and not just in Italy, between men’s egalitarian attitudes (or lack thereof) and fertility. A study published in the academic journal Demographic Research in 2008 showed that across eight European countries including Italy, men with more egalitarian attitudes about gender roles had more children.

The study’s authors measured egalitarian attitudes by asking men to agree or disagree with statements like, “It is not good if the man stays at home and cares for the children and the woman goes out to work.” The ones who strongly disagreed with statements like that not only desired more children, but also were more likely to realize those plans by their late 30s and early 40s than men with traditional views about gender roles.  

Another study, also from the journal Demographic Research but just about Italy, showed that working women who already had one kid and were doing the majority of second shift work in their households (i.e. the cooking, cleaning, the ironing of baby clothes) did not want more kids.

All of this is to say that perhaps hand wringing articles about declining fertility rates and women waiting too long to have children should no longer be directed at women. They should be directed at men who shirk the second shift and whose gender attitudes are stuck in the past. We don’t want to have too many kids with you guys.

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April 22 2014 3:46 PM

What We Know So Far About the Hollywood Sex Ring Allegations

More names are surfacing in connection to the alleged Hollywood sex ring outlined in a lawsuit by plaintiff Michael Egan III, a 31-year-old actor from Nevada. Those names: Garth Ancier, a network exec who’s worked at Fox, the WB, and NBC; David Neuman, former president of DisneyTV, now part of the Digital Entertainment Network; and Gary Goddard, founder of a firm that designs resorts and movie-related theme park rides, and erstwhile writer for TV shows like Skeleton Warriors, Captain Powers, and Masters of the Universe.

In three separate complaints, Egan accuses these men of “intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, and invasion of privacy.” Ancier is charged with offering the aspiring actor, then in his teens, wine spiked with drugs before anally raping him. Goddard is claimed to have drugged, groped and sodomized Egan. The case against Neuman also alleges sexual assault and rape. More broadly, the three show biz titans are accused of participating in “pedophile rings” that groomed young boys for sexual consumption in the late 1990s. Allegedly, they promised the teens a leg up in the acting world and at times physically and psychologically intimidated them in order to get sex.

These allegations come on the heels of a complaint Egan filed earlier in April against X-Men director Bryan Singer. Singer stands accused of luring the plaintiff to private gatherings at the M & C Estate in Encino and the Paul Mitchell Estate in Hawaii; there, he allegedly plied the then 17-year-old Egan with cocaine, alcohol, weed, and professional enticements, such as modeling gigs, commercial appearances, and the chance to act in an X-Men movie. The suit says that Singer was one of several powerful Hollywood men who preyed on fresh-faced kids with dreams of making it big. Also accused of frequenting the parties were Marc Rector-Collins, former chairman of the Digital Entertainment Network (where Neuman works), and Chad Shackley, a DEN cofounder. (Rector-Collins, a registered sex offender in Florida, pled guilty in 2004 to charges of transporting minors across state lines to have sex.) Egan and other underage actors were added to the DEN payroll, receiving $1500 a week for “legitimate work” and $600 a week for more nebulous services, the suit claims. A few of the ghastlier allegations:

April 22 2014 1:23 PM

The Autistic Boy at the Center of the Maryland Bullying Case Is More Than a Victim

The Washington Post published more details about what’s emerging as one of the more heartbreaking bullying stories in recent years. A teenage boy identified as Michael and described as autistic started writing love letters to a pretty girl at his Southern Maryland high school. They became friends and started hanging out with the girl’s older friend, 17-year-old Lauren Bush, who was a cheerleader. On days when their parents weren’t around—mostly snow days—the girls began to toy with Michael. Bush put a knife to his throat and scared him, kicked him in the groin, dragged him by his hair, and tried to get him to have sex with the family dog. His younger “girlfriend” took video of the incidents on her cellphone. Once they got Michael to walk on a half-frozen pond. He fell through the ice, and they didn’t help him. Then, Sunday’s Post story revealed they didn’t let him ride in the warm car because he’d get the seats wet.* Instead, they made him ride in the trunk.

April 22 2014 1:18 PM

Women Are Dying From Unsafe Abortions While American NGOs Do Nothing

Preventing injury and death from pregnancy-related complications is the big thing in world development circles these days, for a couple of reasons. One reason is that a lot of these problems are simple to prevent with inexpensive interventions during childbirth, like childbirth kits and prenatal care. But another reason is that the image of smiling mothers cradling babies is a fundraising behemoth, a surefire way to get rich do-gooders to open their wallets. All of which would be great, except, as Jill Filipovic reports for Al Jazeera America, it means that the issue of safe abortion access is being ignored, even though unsafe abortion is one of the three leading causes of maternal mortality around the world.

The importance of safe abortion access in preventing unnecessary injuries and deaths isn’t particularly controversial in the reality-based world, as Filipovic explains:

April 22 2014 9:59 AM

How to Get Revenge on Online Dating Creeps: Draw Them Naked

This post contains drawings that may be NSFW.

When Anna Gensler downloaded Tinder six months ago, the mobile dating app quickly matched her with a selection of her city’s most eligible bachelors. Then, they started texting. “Bet your tight,” Andrew, 19, messaged right off the bat. “If I was a watermelon, would you spit or swallow my seeds,” 20-year-old Kenny wanted to know in his first text. “8==D I love anal,” contributed Mark, 26, by way of introduction. 

Gensler, an artist, was not charmed by their opening lines. In retaliation, she began drawing nude portraits of these online creeps, posting the results to Instagram next to their offensive messages, and then sending the final product back to the perpetrators for review. I talked to Gensler, 23, about the process of turning harassment into art, the psychology behind pickup lines like “your boobs are even nicer than my mom’s,” and why all the men in her portraits are so poorly endowed.

April 21 2014 4:29 PM

Kim Novak Fights Back, Sort Of

Kim Novak has taken to Facebook to protest the mockery fusillade she endured for daring to drag her 81-year-old self onstage at the Oscars. She writes:

Years ago, I walked away from Hollywood partially because I didn’t stand up to the bullies. I caved in to the pressure instead of fighting for what I felt was right … and I didn’t have the courage to prove myself to my peers through my work.
After my appearance on the Oscars this year, I read all the jabs. I know what Donald Trump and others said, and I’m not going to deny that I had fat injections in my face. They seemed far less invasive than a face-lift. It was done in 2012 for the TCM interview special. In my opinion, a person has a right to look as good as they can, and I feel better when I look better.
When I was honored at the Cannes Film Festival last year, I received an overwhelming standing ovation. Yet, in Hollywood, after the Oscars, I was bullied by the press and the public on the Internet and TV. The only difference that night was that I had taken a pill to relax — that I shouldn’t have taken. I had been fasting for three days and it affected my behavior. I regret taking it.
However, I will no longer hold myself back from speaking out against bullies. We can’t let people get away with affecting our lives. We need to stand up to them in a healthy way by speaking out, working out and acting out. I am speaking out now because I don’t want to harbor unhealthy feelings inside me anymore.

April 21 2014 3:19 PM

Why Terry Richardson Always Wins

Last night, British model Emma Appleton posted a screenshot of her iPhone to her Twitter feed, featuring a Facebook message—allegedly from the infamous fashion photographer Terry Richardson—that had just popped up on her phone. It read: “If i can fuck you i will book you in ny for a.shoot for Vogue.”  Within hours, Richardson’s reps had called Appleton a liar, and Appleton had shut down her Twitter account to hide from the deluge of public attention hurtling her way.

This is a familiar news cycle for fashion’s skeeviest photographer. Models go public with allegations of Richardson’s harassing behavior, Richardson accuses the models of lying, defends his provocations as art, and criticizes the press for drumming up false controversy. Then, Richardson continues to work with A-listers like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Beyoncé, while the lower-profile models who have spoken out against him are forced to shoulder the burden of sexual harassment in their industry.

April 21 2014 11:30 AM

The Director of Sunday's Game of Thrones Doesn't Think That Was Rape

Game of Thrones spent all last season carefully redeeming Jaime Lannister, turning the once-villain into something of a hero. Last night, director Alex Graves threw that all away by having Jaime rape his sister/lover in front of the body of their recently murdered son.

This was not in the books. Yes, Jaime and his sister Cersei do it in front of their child’s corpse in George R.R. Martin’s telling, but the sex, while rough, is consensual. By turning consensual sex into a rape, the meaning of the scene changes completely. On the page, it serves as a reminder that this ugly, incestuous relationship is a coping mechanism for two very badly damaged people. Turning it into a rape just turns Jaime into a monster, the kind that would rape a woman he claims to love in front of her dead son to punish her for being “hateful.”

April 21 2014 8:37 AM

McDonald's Gave Me the “Girl's Toy” With My Happy Meal. So I Went to the CEO.

In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”

A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.

April 18 2014 4:46 PM

Should the Government Regulate Photoshopping in Ads? Two Congresswomen Say Yes. 

On March 27, two Congresswomen introduced the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, a bill that would restrict the commercial media’s use of Photoshop. The measure would require the Federal Trade Commission to investigate digital retouching in ads with an eye toward curtailing it. Supporters—lobbyists from the Eating Disorders Coalition in particular—say what you’d expect: that computer-enhanced images hurt people by sustaining unrealistic beauty ideals, that young girls are especially vulnerable. They liken the “bold-faced lies” told by this model’s elongated leg or that one’s pixelated six pack to flagrant product deception. “We can no longer sit by and allow this to happen,” said Truth-in-Advertising advocate Seth Matlins on Thursday. “Ads that take Kim Kardashian’s body and make it Miley Cyrus’s” should prompt “regulatory action.”

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