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What Women Really Think

Oct. 21 2016 3:36 PM

CDC: Preteens Only Need Two Rounds of the HPV Vaccine, Not Three

Preteens only need to get two doses of the HPV vaccine, not the previously recommended three, according to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Wednesday, the CDC’s immunization advisory panel voted, and CDC Director Tom Frieden agreed, to recommend the two-round schedule for adolescents aged 11 to 12.

Experts hope that the abbreviated vaccination schedule will encourage more parents to get their kids the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against strains of the virus that can cause genital warts and cervical, anal, head, and neck cancers. The CDC and the immunization advisory panel made their decision after reviewing clinical trials in which two doses of the HPV vaccine in people aged 9-14 years triggered an immune response greater than or equal to that triggered by three doses in people aged 16-26 years.


The CDC has pegged the 11-12 age range as the optimal period to vaccinate against HPV, because those preteens are going to the doctor for meningitis and Tdap shots anyway, their immune responses are high, and they likely haven’t become sexually active (and thus exposed to HPV) yet. But the new guidelines allow for just two doses of the HPV vaccine, administered between six months and a year apart, for adolescents as young as 9 and as old as 14.  Those who get the vaccine between 15 and 26 years of age will still need three doses within a single six-month period.

Adolescents already sometimes drop off after the first or second dose of the vaccine. In 2014, 60 percent of girls aged 13-17 had gotten at least one round of the vaccine, but only 40 percent had completed the set of three doses. (Only 42 percent of adolescent boys had gotten at least one dose.) Making it seem easier to complete the cycle of shots will hopefully encourage more parents to protect their kids from developing HPV-related cancers, which are on the rise in the U.S., when they get older.

Still, one of the main barriers to improving the nation’s HPV vaccination rates, which lag well behind those of other developed countries, is a widespread fear of teen sexuality. This leads parents to assume, against all evidence, that getting a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted virus will encourage teens to have more sex. The prospect of making two trips to the doctor’s office instead of three is nice, but when parents are making emotion-driven decisions that will affect their children’s health for a lifetime, it may not be enough to sway them.

Oct. 21 2016 1:58 PM

Bush-Appointed Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi From Defunding Planned Parenthood

States eager to defund Planned Parenthood might as well just take several hundred thousand dollars from government coffers and set them on fire. Mississippi learned this lesson on Thursday, when U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III (a George W. Bush appointee) blocked the state’s attempt to ban Medicaid reimbursements to several Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics—none of which, by the way, perform abortions. In a brief ruling, Jordan arrived at the same conclusion reached by every other court to consider this question: State-level efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are obviously illegal. Whether Mississippi will continue to burn money on its futile court battle, like Ohio, or simply give up, like Florida, remains to be seen.

There are two reasons why these state-level efforts to defund Planned Parenthood keep failing in court. The first reason—and the one relied upon by Jordan—is that they directly violate federal law. Medicaid’s “free choice of provider” requirement allows patients to obtain medical care from any facility that is “qualified to perform the service or services required.” States are permitted to set “reasonable standards relating to the qualifications of providers,” but these qualifications must pertain to the facility’s ability to perform safe, competent, legal care. An ideological disagreement with the facility’s affiliates, like opposition to abortion, is not relevant to a provider’s “qualifications.”

Oct. 21 2016 12:39 PM

The NFL Still Doesn’t Care About Domestic Violence

By his own admission, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown abused his wife for years, confessing in newly released police documents that he saw himself as “God basically” and his now ex-wife Molly as his “slave.”

The documents, which comprise police reports, private journal entries, photos, emails, and letters that track Brown’s repeated attacks against his wife—some of them in front of their children—are shocking and disturbing. But even more unsettling is the NFL’s willingness to stay in the dark about the abuse.

Oct. 21 2016 11:42 AM

GOP Congressman: “Sometimes a Lady Needs to Be Told When She’s Being Nasty”

Republican Rep. Brian Babin believes Donald Trump was right to call Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” during Wednesday’s presidential debate.

“You know what, she’s saying some nasty things,” Babin said on Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes Show on Thursday evening. Colmes then asked if Trump should have said what he said.


“Well, I’m a genteel Southerner, Alan,” Babin said.

Colmes pressed him: “So that means no?”

“No,” Babin said. “I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty. I do.”

There are a few peculiar things about Babin’s statement. First of all, genteel seems like the kind of congratulatory label you can’t stick to yourself—it’s all about how you treat others, so others should have to judge whether you’re actually genteel or not. Speaking of women like they’re untrained dogs who must be reprimanded when they displease their masters runs entirely counter to the pillars of gentility, which require gentlemen and gentlewomen to be hospitable and courteous to each other’s faces while whispering rumors behind their backs. A truly genteel Southerner would not tell a lady when she was being nasty—he’d make polite small talk with her, then later make jokes about her body hair from the safety of his men-only cigar lounge.

Babin’s choice of lady is rich, too. He’s using a word often deployed to shame women into the tight confines of old-fashioned femininity (a lady doesn’t shout, a lady doesn’t sit with her legs spread, etc.) while scolding Clinton for speaking unkind words about the wannabe dictator who’s running against her for president. It’s unclear whether gentlemen ever need to be told when their words become too harsh for Southern ears or whether they can regulate their own behavior more capably than ladies.

The best part of Babin’s statement is what he’s twisting himself in misogynist knots to defend. Trump called Clinton “such a nasty woman” when she said this about her tax plan: “My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it.” Considering that Trump has actually admitted that he’s gotten out of paying income taxes—he’s tried to spin it as a “businessmen will be businessmen” kind of move—Clinton’s quip may be the gentlest barb anyone could devise for the white nationalists’ candidate for president. She basically just repeated what he himself has said: Donald Trump will try to get out of as much of his tax burden as he can. You’d think a nasty woman could have come up with something much less genteel.

Oct. 21 2016 11:13 AM

Hillary Clinton’s Al Smith Dinner Address Was Ridiculously Funny and Beautifully Poignant

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dispatched with one of the stupidest traditions of America’s generally moronic campaign season: the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner roast. This event typically requires both candidates to roast each other with feeble, poorly formulated jokes and pay tribute to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a truly horrible man who quietly paid off sexually abusive priests to leave the priesthood andonce hid $57 million to shield the money from civil suits by the victims of priest abuse.

Both Trump and Clinton dutifully paid tribute to the hideously corrupt Dolan—but neither followed the usual lame joke playbook. Trump flat-out bombedwith a series of nasty, humorless barbs at Clinton, drawing boos from the crowd. Clinton, on the other hand, did something rather different and quite unexpected and completely effective: She delivered a legitimately hilarious series of sharp, trenchant jokes—many of them directed at the wealthy, fairly conservative audience—then closed out with a startlingly poignant and beautiful reflection on faith, civility, and humility.

Oct. 20 2016 5:38 PM

When Trump Blames Clinton For His Own Bad Behavior, He Sounds Like a Rape Apologist

At Wednesday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton brought up the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes Donald Trump may have avoided by claiming a $1 billion loss in 1995. It’s hypocritical, Clinton suggested, for Trump to get out of paying any federal income tax while lambasting others for cheating the system and needling Wall Street fat cats for their greed.

Trump seemed to acknowledge that, for a wannabe president who’s made himself out to be the voice of America’s poor and struggling, not paying any taxes is a bad look. But even if he’s committed a shameful deed, he believes he had just cause: Clinton made him do it.

Oct. 20 2016 4:02 PM

Donald Trump’s Debate Comment Gives a Boost to Janet Jackson’s Anti-Harassment Jam “Nasty”

After Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” in the closing moments of the third and blessedly final debate on Wednesday night, Spotify saw a 250-percent increase in streams of Janet Jackson’s 1986 jam “Nasty.” And there’s some ironic karmic justice in the fact that Trump—a man with a long record of misogynistic comments and alleged sexual assaults—reminded America of that particular track. After all, Jackson explained in a 1993 profile in Rolling Stone that the song was inspired by an encounter with two “emotionally abusive,” “sexually threatening” men.

In that interview with journalist David Ritz, Jackson described how she came to enter “a happy phase of sexuality” that “blossomed publicly” on her then-new album Janet. Becoming comfortable with her sexuality “wasn't easy,” Jackson said, and she was initially uneasy with the way her producing and songwriting team talked when she started working with them in the mid-1980s.

Oct. 20 2016 3:40 PM

Protesters Converge Against Sexual Assault in Metro Atlanta

On Thursday evening, protesters from across the Atlanta metro area will gather at a school board meeting in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Their goal: to convey outrage that the school system—which is among the highest-ranked in the nation—allegedly punished a student who reported a sexual assault, as Slate reported in September.

According to the student, Peachtree Ridge High School submitted her to a humiliating ordeal after she reported being sexually assaulted by a male peer in February 2015. A complaint that the student’s family has submitted to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleges that administrators asked what she was wearing at the time of the incident and why she didn’t “bite [the assailant’s] penis and squeeze his balls.” School officials also asked the student to re-enact the assault in front of them, the complaint says. In interviews with Slate, the student’s parents described how the school put their daughter and the male student through a grueling joint disciplinary hearing, where they were asked to cross-examine each other through hired counsel. In the end, both students were suspended for engaging in sexual activity on campus in violation of the high school’s rules.


“My school punished me and made it seem like the attack was somehow my fault,” the student wrote in a statement to Slate. “For a long time, I thought maybe it was.” (You can read that statement in full here.)

Days after Slate’s report went live, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s office announced that it would look into the 18-month-old case. DA Danny Porter said in late September that he would aim to decide next steps within 30 days. Porter told the Gwinnett Daily Post that he was struck by the involvement of a particular school resource officer—the one accused of asking the student what she was wearing and why she didn’t physically fight back. “The thing that caught our attention was the officer was a former county officer and we knew who he was and we knew he had never investigated a sex crime,” he said. Porter will meet with the victim’s family on Friday.

A group of recent Peachtree Ridge alumnae has signed up to address the school board meeting. “When I was at school there, they pushed the ‘standard of excellence,’ ” Sarah Welch, a 2014 graduate who now attends the University of Georgia and who will be speaking on Thursday, told me. “It was everywhere—every poster that came from the principal’s office.” She was floored by what she saw as hypocrisy in the school’s alleged handling of the case. Welch sent me a draft of the speech she plans to give to the school board, in which she urges:

Create a program that will teach your high school employees how to react to the knowledge of a recent sexual assault. Create a program that will prevent any future student from being asked what she was wearing. Create something that will let your teachers feel confident if a student comes forth and says, “I was sexually assaulted.” … The standard of excellence becomes a joke if this is how you treat the students you hold so highly. Hold yourselves to the same standard of excellence you pushed upon us and introduce sensitivity training to your high school staff.

The rally was organized by a student at Georgia State University, Kristen Oyler, who runs a club dedicated to addressing sexual assault on her college campus. Oyler has no personal connection to Gwinnett County, but she felt compelled to send a message to the school board and to “make sure the student feels supported,” she told me. She reached out to the student’s attorney to see if the family would welcome a public protest and got an enthusiastic response. Though the student has chosen to stay anonymous for now, her attorney, Adele Kimmel of the public interest law firm Public Justice, will read a statement of thanks that she wrote to the rally's attendees. “For a long time, I thought nothing positive would come out of what happened to me,” she wrote in the statement, a copy of which has been provided to Slate. “Today, knowing that all of you are here to speak out for change, it makes me feel good about telling my story. Words cannot describe how thankful I am to finally be heard.”

Oct. 20 2016 1:53 PM

If You Want Your Teenage Kids to Eat Healthy, Try Reverse Psychology

The problem with many public-service campaigns aimed at young people is that they are based on lies. Not all users are losers, and drug dealers do not tend to be dorks. Driving fast is actuallyvery fun. And smoking is not lame; in fact, it is cool.

That’s why a new study on nutrition messaging for teenagers, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is so exciting. In the study of more than 500 13- and 14-year-olds in Texas, researchers framed healthy eating not as something objectively hip—don’t even try, olds—but as a rebellion against manipulative junk-food corporations. As it turns out, appealing to teen appetites for independence and social justice actually works.

Oct. 20 2016 12:43 PM

“Grab Her by the Brain” Is Not a Good Name for a Women’s Empowerment Group

This election cycle earned its fittingly macabre catchphrase early this month when we heard the Republican Party’s choice for president breathe the words “grab them by the pussy” into a hot mic.

The previous candidate for 2016’s most memorable motto, “Make America Great Again,” worked because it was easy to parody. Our mileage varied: There were decent attempts at satire (“Make America Mexico Again”) and bad puns (“Make America Skate Again”) and nihilistic riffs (“Make Baseball Caps Blank Again”). It got tiresome, but it didn’t wring out the soul.

Not so with the most recent attempt to modify “grab them by the pussy” for a good cause. Grab Her By The Brain—yes, GRAB HER BY THE BRAIN—is a new initiative that intends to “confront gender inequality with an unparalleled positivity and enthusiasm” through school programming.