The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Aug. 25 2016 5:51 PM

Researchers Find That Female CEOs and Senators Are Disproportionately Blond

It’s rare for a woman to make it to the very top of a large corporation these days, and it’s rare for an adult human to have blond hair. But blond women are far more likely to end up a chief executive or U.S. senator than women with any other color hair, according to recent research from two business-school professors at the University of British Columbia.

Just 2 percent of the world’s population and 5 percent of white people in the U.S. have blond hair, but 35 percent of female U.S. senators and 48 percent of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies are blond. Female university presidents are more likely to be blond, too.

Aug. 25 2016 4:55 PM

Pro-Life Activists Sue Chicago for the Right to Use Disturbing Tactics Outside Abortion Clinics

Anti-abortion activists in Chicago filed a federal lawsuit this week arguing that a law designed to protect abortion-clinic patients and employees from harassment is a violation of activists’ right to free speech. The city’s 2009 law delineates an 8-foot “bubble zone” for visitors once they are within 50 feet of a clinic entrance; an activist may not advance closer than that without the visitor’s permission. The lawsuit calls the strips of protected space “vast anti-speech zones.”

The Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm based in Chicago, filed the suit on behalf of four anti-abortion “sidewalk counselors” and two activist groups. The defendants named in the suit include the city of Chicago and mayor Rahm Emanuel, who are accused of “partnering with abortion vendors to violate the rights of those who wish to reach out to women seeking abortions.” The legality of ordinances like Chicago’s is murky at the moment. The Supreme Court upheld a similar Colorado law in 2000, which included an 8-foot bubble zone within 100 feet of health-care facility entrances. But in 2014, the Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that prevented protestors from coming within 35 feet of clinics; at the time, justice Antonin Scalia suggested revisiting the Colorado law.

Aug. 25 2016 3:19 PM

The Anti-Gun Dildo Campaign Has Finally Begun at the University of Texas

Dildo-wielding college students are facing off against gun-loving gun lovers at the University of Texas’ flagship Austin campus, where a statewide campus carry law went into effect on August 1. In protest of the new law, which forces all public colleges and universities in Texas to allow people with concealed carry permits to carry firearms in classrooms and dorms, UT Austin students and alumni are openly carrying sex toys around campus under the mantle of a campaign called Cocks Not Glocks.

Recent UT alumna Jessica Jin planted the seeds for the protest last year, soon after Texas governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law. She made a Facebook event a year in advance for a campaign that launched this Wednesday, the first day of classes. Dildos and guns are equally effective at protecting innocents from mass shooters, Jin wrote, but silicone phalluses are “much safer for recreational play.”

Aug. 25 2016 1:35 PM

U. Chicago Sent Incoming Freshmen a Letter Decrying Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings

The dean of undergraduate students at the University of Chicago has sent a very odd letter to the class of 2020—one that seems more designed to strike a blow in the culture wars than to edify incoming freshmen. It starts with a bunch of smug back-patting about how “earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement”—so far, so normal for a letter from a selective private school. Then it devotes a paragraph to “our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression”:

Aug. 25 2016 12:41 PM

Colorado’s Universal Health Care Proposal Could Ax Abortion Coverage

Progressives in Colorado are battling over a ballot initiative that would create a single-payer universal health care system in the state. According to some abortion rights advocates, the state-funded program would eliminate insurance coverage for abortion care for the more than 550,000 Colorado women of childbearing age who can currently get a low- or no-cost abortion under their private insurance plans.

Coloradans will vote on the ballot measure, constitutional Amendment 69, this November. If it passes, the state will establish ColoradoCare, a health program that will pay the medical bills of all Colorado residents via a 10 percent payroll tax. Amendment 69 doesn’t explicitly limit abortion; in fact, the problem is that it doesn’t mention it at all. In a June statement, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado noted that the new amendment would still be subject to an earlier addition to the state constitution that prohibits any state funds from being used for abortion care.

Aug. 24 2016 6:27 PM

Our Assessment of Parents Is More Informed by Moral Judgment Than Actual Risks

One of the biggest challenges for today’s parents is figuring out how much freedom to give their children. The range of permissibility, flanked by overbearing on one side and negligent on the other, is narrow and subject to change at any moment. One’s peers may consider hand-holding, and its many age-appropriate equivalents, compulsory in one scenario and excessive in another. The same goes for leaving children unattended, which can be perceived as everything from character-building to dangerous, depending on the particulars.

What makes this all the more complicated for parents is that outside assessments of parenting choices tend to be fueled more by moral judgment than empirical assessments of assumed safety risks. There’s no evidence that today’s children are less safe than children of past generations who were generally afforded more freedom by their parents—if anything there’s some evidence that they are safer. Nevertheless, today’s parents are being chastised, and arrested, for hands-off parenting choices that were once considered kosher.

Aug. 24 2016 5:32 PM

That Sexist Job-Search Advice About Engagement Rings? Female Academics Have Heard It for Years.

Last week, executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz dropped in from 1973 to offer some real talk to the networkers of LinkedIn: If you’re a woman interviewing for a job, “Lose the rock!” You heard the man, gals: If you’re engaged to be married, and have chosen to symbolize that agreement via a chunk of compressed carbon, for the love of all that is holy, pry that Taylor-Burton off your finger before you walk in the door! Why? Well, “When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance,” Hurwitz explains. Because obviously all men in important hiring positions are heterosexuals with shrew wives at home whose $19,000-a-month Oxy-and-Botox habit hoovers away their bonuses, amirite?

But don’t think it’s just the men: “When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring (sic), she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you,” writes Hurwitz with astonishing insight. You see, all women in the workplace are materialistic marriage-fiends who determine one another’s worth by the estimated dollar figure of the jewel affixed to their second-to-penultimate left digit! Duh.

Aug. 24 2016 3:44 PM

Scott Brown Defends Himself Against Sexual Harassment Charges in Fawning Interview

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown defended himself on Wednesday against charges that he sexually harassed former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros on-set. In a lawsuit, Tantaros alleged that Brown “made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set” and “snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist.” Tantaros claims that she complained about the behavior to Fox News executive Bill Shine, who ignored her.

Brown called into the “Bernie and Sid Show” on 77 WABC Radio in New York City to contest Tantaros’ account. The entire interview was awash in casual sexism, with hosts Bernard McGuirk and Sidney “Arthur” Ferris Rosenberg taking it for granted that Tantaros was a lying lunatic. Brown began by arguing that he could not have possibly harassed Tantaros on set because “that would have been in front of 25 people”—though previous lawsuits have established that many employees were intimidated into turning blind eye to the network’s culture of sexism. He then asserted that if he had harassed Tantaros, it would have somehow been evident to viewers of the show. (Brown urges listeners to watch the episode and “judge for themselves.”)

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Indeed, Brown suggests that it was Tantaros who had harassed him by asking him a question about his infamous nude centerfold. “I was very uncomfortable with her line of bantering toward me,” Brown explained.

Regarding the cafeteria incident, Brown claimed that there were “100 people in this cafeteria,” meaning “you don’t sneak up on anyone.” Moreover, Scott noted, the alleged incident happened a year ago—“and since then I signed a new contract, I got a raise, I’m on every day. And this is the first time I’m hearing about this? Yesterday? From a reporter?”

McGuirk jumped in, unable to contain his empathy for the accused sexual harasser. “It’s terrible,” he said, “it’s terrible.”

Aug. 24 2016 12:28 PM

Burkini Ban Debate Intensifies With Viral Photos of French Police Ordering Woman to Remove Clothes

The photos show a woman in black leggings, a blue tunic, and blue head scarf lying on a beach in Nice, France. Then, four police officers approach. They stand over her, hands on hips, as she removes her tunic.

Aug. 24 2016 11:15 AM

“Treatment Centers” for Troubled Teens Are Gothic Nightmares


Most residential treatment centers that promise they can turn around the lives of troubled teenagers are dangerous places with a proven track record of making things worse, according to a disturbing longread published Tuesday by the Huffington Post.



Reporter Sebastian Murdock tells the appalling story of a facility in Utah, formerly known as Island View, and now, under new management, called Elevations RTC. But the takeaway from his extensive reporting is that the options pushed on struggling parents may be hurting, not helping, their at-risk kids. The authoritarian tack that most centers take won’t turn their charges into functional adults, Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, told HuffPo. “You can teach them to be compliant in an institution because they get the reward of ... getting out,” he said, “but once they get out, it’s the same old problem, and they haven’t learned how to better manage their condition.” Worse, these centers often deeply traumatize their inhabitants. A 2014 lawsuit against Island View’s parent company, Aspen Education, alleged that the center “maintained a prison-like environment where physical and psychological torture were used against students,” Murdock writes. As one former Island View resident, a 25-year-old named Michelle Lemcke, told him: “Long-term treatment facilities are like ... a jail without having done anything illegal.”