The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

May 24 2016 7:02 AM

The Quiet Violence of the Unwanted Kiss

In photos from last Thursday’s amfAR gala at Cannes, it might look like auction host Uma Thurman wasn’t perturbed by the surprise open-mouthed kiss she fielded from “playboy industrialist” and Fiat heir Lapo Elkann. With a gracious smile, she stood for the cameras as he pressed his sweaty face against hers and dangled his lit cigarette dangerously close to her updo.

Elkann, who formerly worked as the CEO of Fiat and a personal assistant to Henry Kissinger, had placed the winning $196,000 bid for two tickets to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. When he posed for a series of celebratory photos with Thurman, he went in for the kiss.

Those pictures belie the reality of the situation: As Thurman’s rep later made clear, the kiss was “not consensual.” “It is opportunism at its worst. She wasn't complicit in it,” Thurman’s rep said in a statement. “Somewhere in his head [Elkann] must have thought it an appropriate way of behaving. It clearly wasn’t. She is very unhappy that this happened to her and feels violated.”

May 23 2016 6:02 PM

Neo-Nazis Consider Taylor Swift Their “Aryan Goddess”

If her pop stardom ever stalls, Taylor Swift has another solid career option waiting in the wings: fascist dictator—or at least symbol of the fascist movement, if said fascists would not consent to being ruled over by a woman. Apparently, neo-Nazis already consider Swift an “Aryan goddess,” according to Broadly: Her blonde hair, her thin frame, and her roots in country music make her the perfect avatar for the people who populate the internet’s “alt-right” subculture.

It may have started as a meme, but now actual white supremacists count themselves as fans of Swift, and some of them insist that she shares their beliefs: “It is also an established fact that Taylor Swift is secretly a Nazi and is simply waiting for the time when Donald Trump makes it safe for her to come out and announce her Aryan agenda to the world,” one white supremacist told Broadly. This is not an association the pop star has courted, but if you read her public profile selectively, there are a few elements it’s easy to see why the alt-right might find appealing: She’s never revealed her political beliefs in public, and because she started as a country singer, some people think that qualifies as conservative. And conservative, as we all know, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Nazi.

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There’s also her squeaky-clean public persona. Swift sings about sex, wears revealing outfits and costumes, and was once known as a serial dater—in short, she does the things that pop stars do. In spite of this, parents continue to cite Swift as a better role model than other female celebrities—she’s Teflon that way; just because she has a cat and likes polka dots, people tend to associate her with innocence. As one self-proclaimed fascist told Broadly, “Take Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus as examples of this: Both began their lives with the same Nordic blood that Swift did, but what makes these two degenerates unfit for consideration as fascist icons? It is because, although Aryan in blood, the two are not Aryan in spirit. To be Aryan in spirit is what completes the fascist.” Swift and her “spirit” remain popular and well-respected even as she engages in subtle slut-shaming of other stars and rules over her squad of friends with an iron fist, only choosing model-hot members and making them appear in her videos and by her side. (Though hey, would a white supremacist have let that one black girl in?) What reads as wholesome to some looks overly calculating to others, but any way you slice it, both are qualities that are resonate with neo-Nazis’ imaginations.

So should we start interpreting “Bad Blood” in a whole new light? Hearing “You Belong With Me” as a secret conversion anthem? Reading her most recent album, 1989, as an alternative history of what would have happened had the Berlin Wall never come down? Though she would be a coveted recruit in any political movement, it’s safe to say Taylor Swift is not a Nazi. Maybe it’s just true that the skills that it takes to turn yourself into a successful multimillion-dollar brand, if applied elsewhere, could also make for a very successful tyrant. What’s the difference between selling pop music and selling a fascist agenda, when you get down to it? It’s all propaganda.

May 23 2016 3:58 PM

Brazil Says Its Record-Breaking Condom Provision Has Nothing to Do With Zika

 

Every other year, the Olympic Village—the complex that houses athletes, trainers, and officials for the duration of the games—doubles as a pop-up classroom in sex positivity. The world’s fittest people make infamously good use of their weeks in close proximity. Over the years, they’ve littered the rooftops of Seoul with used contraceptives, engaged in orgies in Vancouver hot tubs, flooded Tinder in Sochi, crashed Grindr in London, and been photographed in suggestive poses involving recently acquired medals and eager fans.

 

 

Through it all, tradition has held that host countries flood the Village with condoms, encouraging Olympians to enjoy each other’s Platonically ideal bodies in safety.Slate’s Holly Allen and Lakshmi Varanasi charted the history of latex at the games, from its origins in Seoul—where just 8,500 condoms were available—to a famous shortage in Sydney, which provided 70,000, only to rush in another 20,000 when the original batch ran out. The condom count hovered around 100,000 throughout most of the aughts. London set a record when it filled the Village with 150,000 Durex rubbers in 2012. But late last week, Rio de Janeiro reignited the latex arms race with the announcement that it will provide 450,000 condoms this August—100,000 female condoms, 350,000 male ones, and a bonus of 175,000 packets of lube.

 

May 23 2016 3:34 PM

In Donald Trump’s New Attack Video, Bill Clinton Sucks a Cigar and Women Accuse Him of Rape

Donald Trump continued his attack on Hillary Clinton via Bill Clinton on Monday with a brief Instagram video featuring the voices of women who’ve accused the latter of rape and sexual assault.

One, Juanita Broaddrick, who alleged in 1999 that Bill raped her in 1978, speaks through tears in a clip from a 1999 NBC interview. “No woman should be subjected to it—it was an assault,” recounts Kathleen Willey, who alleged in 1998 that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993, in a soundbite from a 2007 statement.

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The video centers on an old photo of Bill sucking on a cigar, an image reminiscent of one of the most visceral scenes from Kenneth Starr’s report of the former president's affair with Monica Lewinsky. It ends with a photo of the Clintons and the text “Here we go again?” overlaid with audio of Clinton’s laugh, a favorite target of her detractors that Trump has leveraged in at least two previous ads.

Is Hillary really protecting women?

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

The Trump campaign’s caption—“Is Hillary really protecting women?”—gets at the gist of its strategy going into the general election. If he wants to win against the first viable female presidential candidate, Trump must give female voters a reason to support him over her, but his documented record of rampant misogyny has already given Clinton a head start. 

Lucky for Trump, Clinton has inextricably aligned herself with another famous alleged misogynist, Bill, whose lecherous past (in addition to his racist babblings) could prove to be a weak spot for the Clinton campaign. Monday’s video comes on the heels of a new story alleging that Hillary Clinton helped cover up rapes Bill committed, which the National Enquirer, Trump’s favored news outlet and committed backer, published late last week. Earlier this month, Trump accused Hillary of attacking the women Bill allegedly harassed or slept with:

Nobody in this country was worse than Bill Clinton with women. He was a disaster. He was disaster. … [Hillary] was a total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives. I mean have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the women that Bill Clinton had affairs with? And they're going after me with women? Give me a break, folks. Give me a break. Just remember this: She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.

On Twitter, too, Trump has accused Bill of “women abuse,” calling into question the validity of Clinton’s “women’s card” for her association with an alleged perpetrator of sexual assault. That Trump would try to to undermine Hillary Clinton’s support among women voters by painting her as an enabler of misogyny when Trump himself has sexually objectified his 1-year-old daughter, repeatedly harassed women, and allegedly raped his wife is particularly phony, even for him.

It’s not clear whether this strategy will work for Trump, anyway. Voters under 35, who make up nearly a third of the electorate, are either too young to care about Bill’s famous infidelities or too liberal to swing for Trump. Then again, harping on Bill's sexual misdoings could be an effective means of galvanizing conservative voters behind an unlikely, unlovable candidate. The average Republican voter is far past old enough to remember the hubbub over Bill’s irresponsible, pervy behavior in the White House and subsequent lies about it; it’s one of the reasons they hate the Clintons in the first place. Since a lack of excitement among Republicans is one of Trump’s biggest weaknesses right now, Bill's history could be exactly the motivator Trump needs.

May 20 2016 5:42 PM

Why Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Shortlist Is Especially Terrifying for Women

In the summer of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, finding, for the first time, that for-profit corporations could decline to cover birth control for their workers based on religious objections. Women across the land went mental over the five male justices who seemed more solicitous of a scrapbooking company than the women who worked for it.

Now, just two years later, the high court—this time down a member, following the death of Antonin Scalia—heard the follow-on case to Hobby Lobby, Zubik v. Burwell. This one involved religious nonprofits such as hospitals, universities, and charitable groups that don’t want to cover their workers’ birth control and don’t want to fill out a form notifying the government of their objections. The public response has been far more muted.

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There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that Zubik is insanely complicated. Another is that this term also has Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, where the stakes are potentially even higher. Yet another crucial reason why no one is talking about Zubik: because the court, hamstrung in its ability to resolve cases without a ninth member, kicked the case away this past week, with a plea that the lower appeals courts and the parties attempt to resolve it on their own.

The future of the Supreme Court—and reproductive freedom, it seems—currently rests on the public spectacle of nothing happening. Decisions not happening aren’t news. Confusing, tied votes aren’t news. Merrick Garland’s not-confirmation hearings are not news. You know what’s news? Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees. The list shows—maybe even more effectively than the dissents in Hobby Lobby—why women’s reproductive freedom is in real peril, because it shows Trump’s eagerness to seat justices who will do away with the right to choose. Some of the judges on Trump’s wish list are well-known; some are virtually unknown; one has openly mocked Trump on Twitter. But none of them has evinced any interest in protecting a woman’s right to choose.

The list consists of six federal appeals court judges (all appointed by George W. Bush) and five state supreme court justices (all nominated by Republicans). Most are men. All are white. All are extremely young. Almost all of them have impeccable conservative credentials. The cast of characters appears to be crafted to assuage the worries of movement conservatives such as George Will, who wrote last March that “there is every reason to think that Trump understands none of the issues pertinent to the Supreme Court's role in the American regime, and there is no reason to doubt that he would bring to the selection of justices what he brings to all matters—arrogance leavened by frivolousness.” There is nothing frivolous in Trump’s list. Just for instance: One of the judges who made Trump’s cut, William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit, has described Roe v. Wade as having manufactured “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.”

Trump’s shortlist isn’t surprising, since the presumptive Republican nominee has already suggested that women who have abortions should be punished and affirmed that he will nominate justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade. But it’s still terrifying in a Supreme Court term in which both reproductive rights and statutorily guaranteed birth control are on the docket. It seems even more terrifying in a moment when Oklahoma has just passed a galactically silly, unconstitutional bill making it a felony to provide an abortion in the state, which Gov. Mary Fallin just vetoed. Donald Trump may want to do away with Roe v. Wade once he’s elected, but Oklahoma lawmakers are already working to turn that dream into a reality—you might say they’re making America great again. 

May 20 2016 4:00 PM

Why a Woman Putting on a Chewbacca Mask Is Facebook Live’s Most-Watched Video Ever

BuzzFeed’s exploding watermelon can take a hike. There’s a new most-watched Facebook Live video of all time (and by “all time,” I of course mean “the five-plus months since Facebook Live Video became available to non-celebrities”). The new title belongs to one Candace Payne, whose four-minute video of herself putting on a noise-making Chewbacca mask and laughing hysterically in a car has, as of this writing, been viewed more than 52,000,000 times since it was originally live-streamed Thursday afternoon.

Payne’s mini-documentary was an unlikely candidate to become a record-setting viral video. Payne is not famous. The video doesn’t contain some mind-blowing life hack. There’s not even really a surprise for people who didn’t watch it live, because as soon as her video started getting social traction, sites started posting it under headlines like “This Woman’s Chewbacca Mask Made Her Laugh Hysterically!” (Way to ruin the ending, Just Jared.)

May 20 2016 3:00 PM

If You Left the Workforce to Have Children, It’s Better to Say So in a Job Interview

For women who step away from the workforce to have children, trying to return can come with anxieties. First and foremost: Do you ignore the résumé gap? Camouflage it with part-time or volunteer commitments? Pre-empt any questions by just telling the truth?

A straightforward explanation is not only the simplest option but also the best one, according to a study by two Vanderbilt Law School economists, which will be presented at the American Law and Economics Association Friday and published in the next issue of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. The authors recruited more than 3,000 participants to play the role of “potential employers” and choose between two equally qualified female candidates, both of whom had spent the last decade unemployed. When one candidate gave personal reasons to explain her re-entry into the workforce—her children were in school and no longer needed her at home, or her financial situation had changed in the aftermath of a divorce—participants were 30 to 40 percent more likely to “hire” her over a candidate who stayed silent about her circumstances. “The number of people who preferred the woman who explained her résumé gap was staggering,” one of the authors, Joni Hersch, told the New York Times. “I was shocked.”

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The authors argue that their findings point toward a necessary structural change. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission currently discourages employers from asking about candidates’ family lives, warning, “Questions about marital status and number and ages of children are frequently used to discriminate against women and may violate Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act] if used to deny or limit employment opportunities.” Hersch and her co-author, Jennifer Shinall, believe that conversations about spouses and children should be considered as natural and appropriate to an interview as discussion of “athletic pursuits, travel, hobbies,” all of which can “help employers and applicants understand whether there is a fit with the workplace culture.” The EEOC, they say, should encourage “information sharing” about potential employees' family needs—as it does between employers and applicants with disabilities, who are entitled to “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Right now, employers might worry that even asking about an employment gap is a ‘leading question’ ” and would be frowned upon under the EEOC guidelines, Shinall told me. Applicants, though not prohibited from volunteering information, pick up on the message that discussion of family is uniquely off-limits. Hersch and Shinall argue that breaking down this particular set of expectations could chip away at the stigma attached to the female-inflected work of childrearing. What’s more, it could push workplaces toward more progressive policies. “Some industries, such as law, have been particularly resistant to providing accommodation in terms of work-family balance and job flexibility,” says Shinall. “If there’s an increased flow of information at the interview stage, that lets employers know how many people need these accommodations to do their jobs well.” Research on the way inflexible workplaces penalize women—to whom the majority of childcare responsibilities still fall—confirms that companies would hear more of this message if employees considered the conversation less risky.

But women are often reticent for a reason. Some experts worry that Hersch and Shinall’s advice to the EEOC could backfire. Ofer Sharone, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the Times that he agreed with the new study’s recommendations in a narrow sense: For women with a résumé gap, offering an explanation is better than leaving an interviewer guessing. But in a broader sense, if employers were to treat family obligations as a standard line of inquiry for applicants of all genders, the results would probably “greatly exacerbate” discrimination against women.

“As a job applicant, no one wants to be the only applicant volunteering this information—there’s strength in numbers,” Shinall allowed. “We want to see the EEOC encourage lots of employers and employees to be having these conversations.” It’s easy to endorse her vision of a world in which job applicants can air their caretaking responsibilities, confident that they will receive “reasonable accommodation” rather than a discriminatory write-off in exchange. The question of how to get there—and of whether parents, and especially women, should hasten that day’s arrival by volunteering information—brings to mind the old conundrum about the chicken and the egg. Hersch and Shinall’s new study suggests at least a limited amount of sure footing on which women can proceed: When a résumé, rather than an employer, raises questions, speaking up is probably safer than silence. 

May 20 2016 10:25 AM

Cosmo’s Former Art Director Runs a Feminist Thrift Shop in Copenhagen

There is a radical feminist thrift store in Denmark run by the former art director of Cosmopolitan magazine. I learned this by accident. Taking a break from Women Deliver, a massive international women’s health conference taking place in Copenhagen, I went wandering down Gothersgade Street and stumbled into a basement shop selling junky furniture, old feminist propaganda posters, shirts silkscreened with a clenched first inside the Venus symbol, and a small bowl decorated with Emma Goldman’s face. Presiding over it all was a striking 72-year-old woman named Lin van Roe, who I soon discovered used to be known as Lene Bernbom, back when she designed Cosmo for Helen Gurley Brown.

Van Roe left Denmark for the U.S. when she was 19 and joined the pioneering women’s magazine in 1966, when she was 22. As much of a product of its era as Playboy, Cosmo urged women to liberate themselves from the sexual strictures of the times—to have affairs and cultivate their libidos—even as it instructed them on submitting to regressive gender norms. If “you're not a sex object, you're in trouble,” Gurley Brown once said.

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Van Roe found her domain at once freeing and oppressive. Gurley Brown, she says, was like a mother to her, but she often disagreed with her boss’s vision. “She kept asking, ‘Why don’t you put a pair of big tits on the cover?’ ” van Roe recalls. “I thought, Why make it vulgar?” She and Gurley Brown sometimes had screaming matches in the office. “Helen was famous for not raising her voice,” says Brooke Hauser, author of the new book Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman. “Lene was the only person who could get her to raise her voice.”

In 1970, a group of feminists picketed Cosmo, demanding $15,000 in “reparations,” a monthly feminist column, and an “immediate end to sexist advertising and articles which perpetuate the image of women as sexual conveniences for men.” Van Roe, who at the time could have passed for one of the magazine’s models, says the feminists yelled at her for conforming to sexist beauty standards. She was hurt, but she also felt they had a point about her industry. “That’s why I got out of it,” she says. “I thought they were right.”

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Lin van Roe today, in her Copenhagen shop.

Michelle Goldberg

Being pretty, she says, never brought her much joy. “Sure, now I look good—so what?” she says of her younger self. “It didn’t make me any happier. If I had been a young man, I could go down to the Russian Tea Room, which was very close to the office, and have a drink at night. Sit at the bar and have a drink. But you couldn’t do that, because then you were a hooker! Right away some asshole would come up.” A few moments later, she adds, “Everybody wanted a blow job. I got so tired of men.”

But the beauty imperative isn’t so easily waved away, and van Roe felt its pressure even as she disdained it. She describes herself as plagued by 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds) she couldn’t lose. It didn’t help that she was in an environment that fetishized thinness. “Helen Gurley Brown is famous for encouraging women to be skinny,” Hauser says. Hauser’s book describes a dinner Gurley Brown once served to a Cosmo writer: a single shared hard-boiled egg, lettuce, and a dressing of mineral oil—a laxative.

Van Roe developed an eating disorder. “I’d go out at night to the drug store and buy a box of chocolate and ask them to gift-wrap it,” she says. “And then buy two yogurts.” At home, she’d tear the paper off and devour the candies until there were only a couple left. Then, overcome with regret, she’d go downstairs and throw them into the incinerator.

Eventually, van Roe visited a doctor recommended to her by a male model. At her first appointment, she says, the entire cast of Hair was in the waiting room. The doctor started her on a series of shots, a combination of B12 and amphetamines. She was also smoking a lot of pot. She got thin but also started to crack up.

Her crisis came to a head in the Côte d’Azur, where she was sent to do a story about traveling the French Riviera on a budget. Seized with a sense that she had to get away, she rented a Volkswagen and drove back to Denmark. Her parents weren’t sure what to make of it when their daughter, the big American success, showed up at their door. “They didn’t know what a nervous breakdown was,” she says.

A journey into new age spirituality and a long but ultimately failed marriage to an alcoholic followed. Then, in 1990, she walked into Kvindehuset, the women’s house, a sort of feminist cultural center. It published a small magazine, hosted a counseling service, and organized annual women-only camping trips that still take place. At the time, the community was at war over lesbian separatism; all were suspicious of the elegant woman who wanted to join them. “It was pretty tough to come in here with all these concrete feminists, the heavy duty lesbians, and here I was with lipstick,” says van Roe.

But she was drawn to feminism and kept coming back to Kvindehuset, eventually taking over the basement thrift store. Twenty-five years ago she married a woman. Van Roe started printing feminist T-shirts and teaching girls from underprivileged backgrounds about fashion design. Hauser tried to track her down when she was working on Enter Helen, but she has a new name and no email address, and it seemed as if she’d disappeared. Van Roe still lives on the money she made at Cosmo, which she says was invested wisely by the alcoholic.

She says she’s finally found peace. “For me, in this house here, with all these young women, all these young feminists, it’s wonderful,” she says. “I’m happy here.”

May 20 2016 10:03 AM

A Conversation With the Directors of Weiner

In June 2011, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D–New York, was caught in a sexting scandal. His initial response was to prevaricate, then to apologize, and finally to resign from Congress. Two years later, when memories of the New York Post’s penis-pun headlines had faded, Weiner attempted a comeback, staging a bid to become mayor of New York City. His campaign began well. Although he was forced to endure constant questioning about the earlier scandal, he took an early lead in the polls. And then on July 23, 2013, an Arizona-based “gossip and nudies site” revealed that Weiner had been exchanging explicit photos and having sexual phone conversations with women long after he claimed to have ceased such behavior. Weiner continued his campaign, but he received less than 5 percent of the vote and placed fifth in the Democratic primary.

The ups and downs of that turbulent race were captured by filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, who were given remarkable access behind the scenes of the campaign and to Weiner’s home life with his wife, Huma Abedin. Their film, Weiner, is out Friday. As part of a discussion that can be heard on the latest DoubleX Gabfest podcast, we spoke with Kriegman and Steinberg about Weiner’s motivations, his marriage, and his political future. The conversation has been condensed and edited.

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Hanna Rosin: Why do you think they gave you so much access?

Steinberg: That’s a question we wondered about and that we posed directly to Anthony at the end of the film. He says that he wanted to be viewed as the full person he was and not as a punch line. That was certainly our intention going into this film. Anthony—and Huma—had both been reduced to caricatures and punch lines, and our hope was to show a more complex and nuanced portrait.

Rosin: I think that most people who have seen the film come away liking him more, but it’s hard to explain why. I think it might be because you see him as a fuller human being at the end of the film.

Kriegman: Some of the back story to how we came to the story: I was Anthony Weiner’s chief of staff when he was in Congress. After I left politics and moved into filmmaking and started working with Elyse, after Anthony resigned from Congress, I started a conversation with him about the possibility of making a documentary and telling his story. That’s a conversation that went on over the course of a couple of years of he and I going back and forth. The motivation was very much to take someone who had been reduced to one thing—to this scandal, to this punch line—and give people an opportunity to see him as the full person that he is.

June Thomas: Once you’d started to make the film, were there any points where either Anthony or Huma asked to stop the project? As the film progresses, things do get more and more awkward.

Kriegman: When they agreed to allow us to make this documentary, it was very clear that if there was ever a moment when they wanted us to turn off the camera or something that they didn’t want us to film, we would of course respect that boundary. There’s a couple of moments like that in the film, where they ask me to leave the room or turn off the camera. It’s a little counterintuitive, but that motivation to have a more human version of his story told, in some ways that became even more pronounced after the campaign took a turn for the worse and the scandal resurfaced, because that was the point where it seemed that the scandal might—and really did—come back and overshadow everything else.

Thomas: To me, the scene that’s most powerful is when he’s in a Jewish bakery, it’s Rosh Hashanah, he’s campaigning, things are going well, and then he ends up getting into what we’ve seen before—maybe he’s weak, maybe he can’t stop himself from responding—but he gets into it with a guy, and someone says: “Why did he do that? He could’ve just walked away!” But you replay things, and we didn’t hear it first time around, and who knows who did hear it, but one of the guys said, “Married to an Arab.” He’s responding to that. He’s defending Huma. But he doesn’t say it. He doesn’t make any reference to that, which is really powerful. But also it kind of complicates things.

Kriegman: Yeah, that was definitely a loaded moment, both in the film and in reality. It was toward the end of the campaign. I think in some ways he acknowledges that he was frayed at the edges at that point. But you’re right, I think he was defending his wife. We talk about these qualities that on one side serve him well as a politician and on the other side can lead him to trouble. He had a political persona that involved being scrappy and tough and having no fear or concern about mixing it up with people, and it played out in that way in that moment.

Rosin: You included one pure domestic scene of [Weiner and Abedin] standing, actually rather far apart from each other, in the kitchen, talking about the ingredients of pasta sauce. It was just a small slice of domesticity. Why did you include that scene, and what did you want it to convey?

Elyse Steinberg: Just as Anthony was reduced to a caricature and a punch line, so was she. Our hope with this film is that viewers get to see a different side of Huma that they haven’t seen before. She’s a person who’s been guessed about endlessly. Here you get to see a more complete picture of her. As a wife, a mother, a person with a really important job. You get to see that human side of her, just talking about pasta sauce and putting her kid to bed. We see celebrity scandals and meltdowns all the time, but we rarely get the opportunity to be in the room while it happens.

Rosin: You never see her break down. She’s very composed, even when you guys are behind the scenes with her in some very uncomfortable moments. That was notable. This is an intrusive documentary, but you don’t come out of it feeling icky.

Kriegman: I’m glad to hear you feel that way.

Rosin: Do you think he’ll go back in politics? If this film turns out to be sympathetic, [and] people feel sympathetically toward him, do you think that makes it more of an option for him?

Kriegman: I don’t know. He had his second chance, which obviously did not go well for him. I think he has said publicly that he recognizes that probably his political life is over. Then again, it’s hard to predict anything in our politics these days, so who knows?

May 20 2016 9:01 AM

Why Sex-Selective Abortion Bans Are Terrible for Women—and Unconstitutional

For decades, conservative legislators have worked to roll back abortion rights through laws ostensibly designed to protect women. Republicans across the country have successfully passed mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, and “informed consent” measures, as well as draconian clinic regulations obviously designed to shutter abortion providers. With many of these laws faring poorly in court, however, some legislators have turned to a different tactic: Outlawing abortion based on certain fetal characteristics, such as sex and disability. Most recently, Indianabecame the eighth state to ban abortion because of the fetus’s sex; at least eight other states are currently considering similar bills.

These measures might seem to put abortion rights supporters in a tough spot: The American conversation about abortion centers around women’s equality, yet sex-selective abortions would appear to undermine that equality by perpetuating sex discrimination. Columbia Law School Professor Carol Sanger disagrees: She believes these laws unduly restrict women’s autonomy and violate the constitutional guarantee of liberty. On Wednesday, we spoke about the dangers that sex-selective abortion bans pose to women and society. Our conversation has been edited and condensed.

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