The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Aug. 23 2016 7:32 PM

The Internet Was OK. And Then This xoJane Article Happened.

On Tuesday, XoJane, whose central mission is to convince writers to share personal stories that would be better left untold, outdid itself: It published an essay called “It Happened to Me: My Friend Joined ISIS.” No, it’s not satire.

Writer Katherine Burke recounts the story of her friendship with Ariel Bradley, a Tennessee native who moved to Syria with her Iraqi-born husband in 2014 and, well, joined ISIS. If you want to know more about Bradley’s journey to extremism, BuzzFeed ran an excellent piece of reporting on it by Ellie Hall last year. If you look to Burke’s essay for information, instead you’ll just get lines like:

Aug. 23 2016 5:19 PM

Young Helen Mirren, Sexism Crusader of Our 1970s Dreams

You’ve probably always wondered: How does award-winning actress Helen Mirren manage to perform and have boobs at the same time?

British broadcaster Michael Parkinson thought this was a fair question to ask in a 1975 televised interview with Mirren, then 30, in a clip that is making the rounds on the internet this week. Maybe you’ve already seen it: This Helen Mirren interview has gone viral before; it will go viral again. Until all the world has seen and internalized the messages of enlightened 1970s Helen Mirren, this clip will continue to circulate and recirculate around the web unceasingly, as it rightly should.


After introducing Mirren as the “sex queen of the Royal Shakespeare Company” (insert Lady Macbeth side-eye), Parkinson pursued what to him must have seemed like a logical line of questioning: Men, the default gender of people with brains and talent, do not have breasts, so it would follow that Ms. Mirren’s “equipment” hinders her abilities as a dramatic actor, no?

“I’d like you to explain what you mean by my equipment. In great detail,” Mirren responded casually. “You mean my fingers?” she asked, raising her hands and letting her bracelets bang together. “Come on, spit it out.”

Parkinson eventually demurred that he was talking about her figure, making plain that he did not really see her as a person but as some kind of sex robot with made-to-order parts, which is remarkable considering sex robot technology was much more primitive in the ’70s than it is today. Mirren responded with the ultimate underminer power move by saying, “Sorry, what was the beginning of the question? I’ve forgotten.” Forcing Parkinson once again to acknowledge how ridiculous he sounded, she asked, “Serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” She declared this a boring question, and eventually Parkinson moved on to asking her about the feather she was carrying and her tattoo. Nice save, buddy.

Mirren negs him a few other times, you’ll see if you watch the whole interview, proving that 1975 Helen Mirren is just as heroic as 2016, or really any year, Helen Mirren. Last time this went viral was there such a thing as #goals? Good thing we are now able to properly assign it and she the label #goals.

A fun postscript: You can also watch a 2007 interview between Mirren and Parkinson online, which would seem to indicate that our dame did not hold his ’70s sexism against dear Parky. That Helen Mirren: generous, but lethal when she wants to be.

Aug. 23 2016 4:14 PM

The Controversial Judge in Brock Turner’s Sex-Crime Case Has Recused Himself From Another

Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara County judge who faced nationwide backlash earlier this year when hesentenced convicted felon Brock Turner to only six months in prison for sexually assaulting a woman, has recused himself from a different sex-crimes case.

According to the Mercury News, which first reported Persky’s recusal, the judge was to decide whether to reduce the conviction for Robert Chain, a plumber who was convicted for possession of child pornography, from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Aug. 23 2016 2:46 PM

Baby-Friendly Hospitals Can, Paradoxically, Be Unsafe for Newborns


A new paper in JAMA Pediatrics is the latest in a series of critiques of the so-called "baby friendly" hospital movement. Previously, the global pro-breastfeeding initiative has been questioned for its effectiveness and for its unfair treatment of new mothers. Now, doctors are questioning its safety.



The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization in 1991 in order to improve breastfeeding rates. Participating hospitals agree to follow ten rules which include rooming-in (having babies sleep next to mom instead of in nurseries), a ban a pacifiers, and only using formula when medically necessary. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesendorsed the initiative, and since then the number of participating hospitals has steadily increased to a rate of nearly 17 percent of U.S. hospitals, according to BFHI accrediting organization Baby-Friendly USA.


Aug. 23 2016 12:51 PM

Relationship Advice From the Government Doesn’t Help Low-Income Couples. Here’s What Might.

Stable, satisfying marriages promote physical and mental health for adults and their children. However, marriage rates in the United States have dropped over the last few decades as more couples are choosing to delay marriage or simply live together instead.

These trends are especially pronounced among low-income couples, and correspond with an increase in the percent of children who are born outside of marriage. Although there has been considerable debate about the implications of these trends, some scholars have argued they are problematic given that, statistically, children living with two biological married parents do better (on average) academically, socially, and behaviorally compared to other children.

Aug. 23 2016 12:42 PM

Fox News “Operates Like a Sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like Cult,” Says New Lawsuit

The changing of the guard at Fox News—where founding chairman Roger Ailes resigned last month after a former anchor accused him of sexual harassment, and of retaliating when she refused his advances—has not ended the ongoing scandal.


On Monday, former host Andrea Tantaros became the latest high-profile woman in the network’s orbit to file a lawsuit alleging sexist discrimination at Fox. Her suit names not only Ailes, but his successor Bill Shine, as well as famed host Bill O’Reilly, as parties to her humiliation. “Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” the suit claims.

Aug. 22 2016 5:53 PM

The Wage Gap Between White Women and Women of Color May Be Getting Worse

Black, Hispanic, and Native American women saw their annual earnings decline by significant margins between 2004 and 2014 when adjusted for inflation, according a forthcoming report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

An early excerpt from the organization’s analysis, released in honor of Tuesday’s African American Women’s Equal Pay Day, shows that women’s real income declined by 1.6 percent overall in the decade that spanned the great recession. But where Asian and Pacific Islander women saw their earnings increase by just over a percentage point, and white women suffered a 0.3 percent decrease, Hispanic, black, and Native American women took a much larger hit, with their earnings declining by 4.5 percent, 5 percent, and 5.8 percent, respectively. While the gender wage gap has been slowly shrinking—in part due to men’s declining wages—these new statistics suggest that the racial wage gap between women has, instead, gotten gradually worse.


The 2008 recession and the economy’s creeping recovery have left many Americans hurting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s earnings overall have stayed more or less constant in the past decade when adjusted for inflation, “while earnings of men have drifted down slightly.” But in real terms, of course, women make less than men: Current best estimates put the median woman’s earnings at roughly 79 cents on the median man’s dollar. And that hypothetical median woman, as this latest round of research reminds us, is doing better than many women of color. A July Pew study found that women’s “hourly earnings lag behind those of white men and men in their own racial or ethnic group.” So Asian and white men—with median hourly earnings of $24 and $21, respectively—out-earn black and Hispanic men—with median hourly earnings of $15 and $14, respectively. Asian and white men out-earn Asian and white women, who make $18 and $17, respectively. And black and Hispanic women, who make $13 and $12, respectively, are trying to get by on less than anyone.

Why are the fortunes of women of color continuing to decline—in real, inflation-adjusted terms—while the economy gradually improves? The American Association of University Women proposed some reasons for the pay gap for black women last year:

Black women are more likely than women nationally to work in the lowest-paying occupations (like service, health care support, and education) and less likely to work in the higher-paying engineering and tech fields or managerial positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the percentage of black women who are full-time minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group. To make matters worse, there’s an even bigger pay gap in the service industry, where black women are paid on average just 60 percent of what male servers are paid. … On top of being overrepresented at the low-paying end of the spectrum, black women are underrepresented at the top. Black women make up a scant 1 percent of the high-paying engineering workforce and 3 percent of computing. … Among the few who do break into these careers, discriminatory pay and promotion practices and the hostile environment drive many out.

These disparities translate into life-altering sums of money. Perhaps the best illustration came from the National Women’s Law Center, which in April calculated women’s lost wages over the course of a 40-year career using 2014 U.S. Census data. They found that while the median woman’s lifetime loss, compared to the earnings of a non-Hispanic white man, was $430,480, the median loss for a black woman was $877,480; the figure for a Native American woman was $883,040; and the disparity for a Latina woman was $1,007,080. These numbers are a reminder that any discussion about the gender wage gap is missing the point if it doesn’t take the matter of race into equal account. Women of color stand to lose roughly twice as much to discrimination, over the course of their lives, as women overall—and the sides of that already horrendous gap are slowly edging the wrong way.

Aug. 22 2016 4:38 PM

Get Ready, Lawyers, New Study Says Divorce Season Is Here

Imagine that you and your spouse have just returned from a summer beach vacation, kids in tow. The sunny glow is fading, the new school year is just days away, and reality is setting in: You’re not happy in your marriage. Maybe you’ve felt this way for a while (or maybe you’ve never been truly happy), but you’ve put off calling a lawyer, hoping that a relaxing getaway could be just what you need to help right the relationship and rekindle the romance. Or maybe you didn’t want to spoil the summer by dividing the household. But now, with hopes of reconciliation dashed and the kids heading back to school, it’s time. 

Aug. 22 2016 4:31 PM

Dieting and Weight Talk Are Bad for All Adolescents, Says American Academy of Pediatrics

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics published new recommendations for “Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents.” The recommendations, which will appear in the September issue of Pediatrics (the academy’s flagship journal), suggest that pediatricians should focus on behaviors, like eating healthy foods and exercising, rather than on weight when talking to young patients. The AAP also recommends that doctors use a method called Motivational Interviewing, “a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication,” to encourage patients to make healthful lifestyle changes.

Aug. 22 2016 3:13 PM

Husbands Who Have Wives Who Outearn Them Are Happier Than Those Who Don't

A new study suggests that young men are weathering the gender revolution just fine. Relying on data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sociologists at the University Connecticut have found that when women take on greater financial responsibility in their marriages, both wives and husbands tend to experience a boost in well-being. Conversely, when men are the primary breadwinners for their families, their health and happiness tends to decline.

The male-breadwinner, female-homemaker model has long been thought of as an advantage for men. Working outside the home gives men financial power in the relationship, skills to rely on should they ever be widowed or divorced, and an ability to wield influence on public life and shape public discourse. But as new research demonstrates, such opportunities are bound up with responsibilities, ones that translate into a burden for many men.