What Women Really Think

April 17 2014 11:26 AM

Women Don't Freeze Their Eggs for Their Careers. They Do It Because They Don’t Have Partners.

Most articles about the increasing number of American women who have children in their late 30s or 40s manage to shame and blame them. They are told they are selfish, caring too much about their careers to press pause for a baby, or too little about their child to have had him at a sprightlier age. They are told they’ll be lonely and out of step with their peers. They are told they are clueless, conveniently “forgetting” that their fertility declines with age. All of which is why it was heartening to read this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek cover story about successful women freezing their eggs. Writer Emma Rosenblum wrote it without being judgmental and provided actual statistics about why women are going the egg freezing route instead of having children earlier: It’s not because they forgot to have kids or wanted to spend extra years drinking cocktails or were chasing the corner office—it’s because they don’t have partners.

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April 17 2014 10:42 AM

New Fox News Show Outnumbered Will Have Four Female Hosts and One Man. Get It?

Roger Ailes is an evil genius. In the midst of a nationwide debate over whether or not Republicans are waging a war on women, Fox News is launching a new show called Outnumbered at the end of April. "Outnumbered" because the show will feature four female and one male host. The man will be "outnumbered," meaning that even though Outnumbered is supposedly a female-centric show, the male point-of-view is still so central that it gives the show its title.

Really, the word "outnumbered" should apply to the rest of Fox's programming, where only 36 percent of anchors and correspondents are women. But you know, that's the natural order of things. (Except on MSNBC and CNN, where women make up 48 percent and 58 percent, respectively, of anchors and correspondents.) Gender imbalance is only noteworthy when women outnumber men.

April 17 2014 8:40 AM

What Happens When Esquire and Elle Swap Writers for One Issue

It’s official: Elle and Esquire are totally hooking up. Esquire, an 82-year-old American men’s magazine, has sparked a spring fling with Elle, a 69-year-old French expat. (Scandalously, both are members of the Hearst family.) Elle’s effortlessly chic style is more popular than Esquire’s studied tongue-wagging, yes, but he can always brush off her boasting about higher circulation numbers by showing her his crowded shelf of National Magazine Awards. It’s getting serious: This month, both magazines carved out space in their pages to allow the other to hold court on what men and women really think. In Elle, Esquire editors explain “how to talk to a man”; in Esquire, Elle writers dish on what women really fantasize about (and how often they do it). Extra toothbrushes can’t be far behind.

Like so many young lovers caught in the throes of a new crush, both Elle and Esquire appear to be carefully tailoring their images in an attempt to appeal to what they suspect the other expects. Esquire editor Ross McCammon presents the Esquire man as the typical romantic comedy lead. He begins by appealing to the Elle reader's feminist sensibilities: “We—you and us—have been made to think that we are from different planets, that we communicate in different ways. This is nonsense. We are from the same planet. And we speak exactly the same language.” Then, he reveals his tortured backstory: “Think of the burden we carry into the conversation. Our fathers and grandfathers fought in wars. Some of them not by choice. These were men with heavy souls. These were men who believed they earned the right to be an asshole every now and then. These were the men who taught us how to comport ourselves.” And finally, he informs his leading lady that only she can help save him from his cold, assholish tendencies to become the strong, caring man who emerges at the end of the film: Every man “occasionally blunders and occasionally is a dick and occasionally is his best self,” he writes. “What mostly determines which version of us you will encounter during any given conversation is one crucial variable: you.” He is Matthew McConaughey. You are J. Lo. He may act like an inconsiderate jerk to whomever he was supposed to marry at the beginning of The Wedding Planner, but he’ll make an exception … for you.

April 16 2014 4:15 PM

New York Times Reveals That Basically No One Investigated the Jameis Winston Rape Allegations

Thank you, Walt Bogdanich of the New York Times, for getting to the bottom of what went so horribly wrong in the investigation of the sexual assault accusation against Jameis Winston, Florida State University’s star quarterback. I’ve been writing about this case since news of it broke last November. There has been plenty to be suspicious about along the way. But I learned several key new facts reading Bogdanich’s masterful story, and it all makes the Tallahassee police and FSU look much worse than I’d expected. Which is really saying something. Here’s the damning bottom line: “The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

April 16 2014 3:30 PM

Not Wearing Makeup: Is It Feminism, Laziness, or the Rise of Cosmetic Normcore?

Is makeup going away? Is it the End of Makeup? We’ve seen hordes of #nomakeupselfies—all pale, chapped lips and hooded eyes—on Twitter and Instagram and, oddly, as part of a cancer awareness campaign; we’ve seen New York runways drowned in “raw beauty”; and now, ABC reports, brides are forgoing blush and shadow to achieve a “more natural look” on their wedding day.  

“I think it’s a big trend for brides and couples alike,” said Anja Winika, site director for TheKnot.com. One bare-faced bride added: “I wanted to look presentable for my wedding day, but didn’t feel like makeup was part of that process.

April 16 2014 12:39 PM

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez Has a Foul Mouth and Isn't Big on Facts. She Could Be President.

While most of the media coverage of 2016 GOP presidential contenders has been focused on Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and, lately, Jeb Bush, Gov. Susana Martinez is a sleeper candidate to watch. After all, she had  enough charm and political acumen to snag the governorship of a blue state like New Mexico, and, as Andy Kroll at Mother Jones details in his new profile of Martinez, she's very good at putting on a nice face for the cameras. It's the time when she's away from the cameras that Kroll is most interested in, though. Using a bunch of leaked emails and recordings capturing Martinez's private interactions with her staff, Kroll paints a picture of a woman who has dramatically different public and private personas. Mother Jones’ illustrator takes it a step further, portraying Martinez in an open-mouthed sneer, with smoke and fire rising up behind her to really get the point across.

The audio recordings Kroll released demonstrate that Martinez and her inner circle are mouthy and love to curse, for sure. "Listening to recordings of Martinez talking with her aides is like watching an episode of HBO's Veep, with over-the-top backroom banter full of pique, self-regard, and vindictiveness," Kroll writes. Martinez and her closest aide, Jay McCleskey, are fond of calling people "bitch." Kroll has an audio of Martinez calling her opponent Diane Denish "that little bitch" and a 2009 email from McCleskey in which he writes about former state representative Janice Arnold-Jones, "I FUCKING HATE THAT BITCH!" Kroll also demonstrates that Martinez has a tendency to burn bridges, refuses to engage with anyone she differs with, and holds petty grudges. This is in strong contrast with Martinez's "meticulously cultivated" public image of "a well-liked, bipartisan, warm-hearted governor," an image that has earned her strong approval ratings in a state that largely votes Democratic. The point is clear: Martinez may be all sweetness and light when she faces the public, but behind closed doors, she's Chris Christie.

April 16 2014 12:07 PM

Finally, a Training Bra for the 21st Century

When a girl becomes a woman, she embarks on a wondrous journey of growth, self-discovery, and horrific training bras. The first bra-buying outing is a tweeny shop of horrors: Behold, the dull cotton bralet with a seam down your nonexistent cleavage; the shapeless sports bra with conspicuously cutesy detailing; the padded, push-up number that appears to be compensating for something. Enter Yellowberry, a new company that just raised more than $40,000 on Kickstarter to make bras for girls aged 11-15 that are (assuming mom voice) actually really cute! I talked with Megan Grassell, the 18-year-old founder of Yellowberry (and a high school senior in Jackson Hole, Wy.) about the indignities of buying your first bra, the merits of a colorful strap, and how she came up with an elegant name for a puberty accessory.

Slate: When did you first become aware of the great training bra problem?

April 16 2014 11:14 AM

Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse

Late last year, Douglas Phillips, then president of the extreme Christian right group Vision Forum Ministries, admitted to, in his words, having "a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman." This was a bombshell in Christian right circles, where Phillips is a major figure, maintaining a close friendship with the Duggar family of TLC fame (Vision Forum gave Michelle Duggar the "Mother of the Year" award in 2010 at an event called Baby Conference that had 1,500 attendees), former child actor Kirk Cameron, and creationist Ken Ham. Phillips preaches a strong patriarchal view of Christianity, one that teaches that women should give birth until they can't anymore, and that both wives and daughters are to live in perfect submission at home, going so far as to deny daughters the right to choose who to marry

Phillips resigned in October, but now it seems that his public pronouncement regarding that "inappropriate relationship" may have seriously downplayed what actually happened. Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, who says she was the woman Phillips confessed about, is now suing Phillips and Vision Forum for what she alleges was an abusive and manipulative relationship that caused her serious mental harm and distress.

April 16 2014 8:30 AM

Latest Publishing Trend: Books That Teach Women to Be Overconfident Blowhards, Just Like Men

In 2009, Cameron Anderson, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, decided to run an experiment on his students. He gave them a “list of historical names and events, and asked them to tick off the ones they knew.” But he also stacked the deck with fakes: Made-up figures he called “Queen Shaddock” and “Galileo Lovano,” and a fictitious event called “Murphy’s Last Ride.” Anderson found that the students who ticked off the most fake names showed signs of excessive confidence, if not competence. At the end of the semester, he surveyed the students about one another, and found that those who held the most “respect, prominence, and influence” in the classroom were the same ones who claimed they totally knew who “Queen Shaddock” was. Anderson concluded that it’s confidence, not ability, skill, or accomplishment, that ends up swaying other people. “Whether they are good or not,” he said, “is kind of irrelevant.”

Anderson’s anecdote should be the perfect cautionary tale about how know-nothing sociopaths rule the business world. Instead, it’s a data point in Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s new self-help book for women, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know. In the book, which also got a splashy Atlantic feature this week, Kay and Shipman diagnose women with “a crisis”—“a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes.” Women don’t speak up in meetings, while men interrupt. Women ruminate over their mistakes, while men “simply spend less time thinking about the possible consequences of failure.” Even Sheryl Sandberg wakes up feeling like a fraud. To treat the affliction, the authors interview powerful women like Valerie Jarrett and Sandberg about their imposter syndromes, pull lessons from assertive men, confer with scientists for biological clues to confidence, then translate their lessons into action points for the woman reader, like “Fail Fast,” “Don’t Ruminate—Rewire,” and “Speak Up (Without Upspeak).”

April 15 2014 4:34 PM

It's April 15! Women, We Are Very Tax Compliant.

Happy April 15! Have you paid your taxes yet? If you are a woman, I’m going to bet the answer’s yes. Researchers haven’t found a way to track what portion of the yearly $170 billion tax gap (the icy tundra separating how much tax money the government receives from how much it would receive if everyone coughed up the accurate amount) belongs to women, but numerous experiments suggest a strong gender effect on tax compliance. Specifically, “Women seem to be more compliant than men,” says John Hasseldine, a professor of taxation at the University of New Hampshire. “You need to control for other variables, such as education and income level—for example, those in white-collar professions appear to be more compliant than blue-collar workers—but quite a few studies support the gender effect.”

Hasseldine led a classic 1999 survey of 600 adults living in a Midwestern college town. After asking respondents to anonymously rate their attitudes about tax evasion, report any previous tax dodging, and answer questions about a hypothetical instance of tax trickery, he found that women showed more compliance across all three measures. They were less permissive in theory, less likely to have underpaid or over-deducted in practice, and less inclined to bend the rules in an imaginary scenario. These results, Hasseldine told me, would later be replicated in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.