Brady Williams Has Five Wives. Also Says He’s a Feminist.
Never underestimate the human capacity to hold contradictory ideas in one's head, as long as both ideas are self-serving: That is the lesson I learned from reading about Salt Lake City resident and self-identified feminist Brady Williams and his five wives in the Atlantic. Williams and his wives are fundamentalist Mormons living in a polygamous marriage, and, of course, upcoming stars of their own TLC show, My Five Wives. But even though they are members of a religion that has revived a form of Old Testament patriarchy, Williams and his wives insist that outsiders should not judge him as sexist. After all, Williams is a "philosophy major who’s currently enrolled in a feminist theory course at a local college and who refuses to accept the title 'head of the household.' He doesn’t like the sexist connotation." There's more:
Bossy Doesn't Have to Be a Bad Word
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for the well-heeled working woman, came out one year ago today—and Sandberg is marking the anniversary by teaming up with the Girl Scouts to wipe the word bossy from the lexicon. She’s recruited a sparkling ensemble of spokeswomen for her Ban Bossy project, including Condoleezza Rice, Jennifer Garner, Diane von Furstenberg, and Jane Lynch. The campaign’s crown jewel is Beyoncé, who appears at the end of a promotional video to announce, with a “what do you want from me” shrug, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”
With the combined might of LeanIn.org, the Girl Scouts, and Queen Bey against it, bossy should look into early retirement options. The blitz is intense: Sandberg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez also have editorials and interviews in the Wall Street Journal and Parade, and they’ve created a website, Facebook page, Twitter hashtag, and Instagram account to spread the word. (Not that word.) “Calling a girl ‘bossy’ not only undermines her ability to see herself as a leader, but it also influences how others treat her,” the two execs write in the WSJ. In one study they cite, sixth- and seventh-grade girls said they’d rather be perceived as “popular and well-liked” than “competent and independent.” (Their male classmates said the opposite.) Furthermore, Sandberg and Chavez claim, “a 2008 survey by the Girl Scouts of nearly 4,000 boys and girls found that girls between the ages of 8 and 17 avoid leadership roles for fear that they will be labeled ‘bossy’ or disliked by their peers.”
Adam Lanza's Father Speaks, But We Still Don't Know Why Sandy Hook Happened
After the Sandy Hook shootings, there was speculation that Peter Lanza, the shooter Adam Lanza’s father, might hold the key to understanding what happened. Peter was portrayed as an absent father; at the time of the shooting he hadn’t seen his son in two years. Was it possible that the shootings, in which 28 people were killed including the shooter and his mother, could be explained as the work of a desperate son of an overburdened single mother, abandoned by her ex-husband and unable to get the help she needed?
As a lengthy profile of Peter Lanza in the New Yorker shows, this explanation, like all the other ones floated after the shootings, does not hold up.
Call Your Dad: Living Together Before Marriage Does Not Lead to Divorce
Even as it has become the norm for couples to live together before they get married—cohabitation before a wedding has increased almost 900 percent since the 1960s—op-ed writers and marriage-supporting sociologists still cling to the notion that cohabitation is bad for relationships, and that people who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to divorce. There’s already been evidence that what’s called the “cohabitation effect”—the negative impact that living in sin has on an eventual marriage—has faded since the ’80s. But now there’s new research from Dr. Arielle Kuperberg, an assistant professor of sociology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, revealing the real factor that raises the risk of divorce. According to a paper Kuperberg is publishing in the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, it’s not premarital cohabitation that predicts divorce. It’s age.
It’s long been known that there’s a correlation between age at first marriage and divorce—the younger you get married the first time, up until your mid-20s, the more likely your marriage is to break up. Kuperberg looked at data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1996-2010, and found that the same goes for cohabitators. If you move in together in your teens or early 20s, then you are more at risk for divorce; the reason that couples who move in together young break up, “is the same reason age of marriage is a predictor of divorce: people aren’t prepared for those roles,” Kuperberg says.
Male Producer Claims Women “Virtually Control” Cable TV and Emasculate Their Husbands
Film and television producer Gavin Polone holds women in Hollywood in very high regard. In January, he argued in the Hollywood Reporter that women are now so powerful in the entertainment industry that they are exclusively responsible for perpetuating unrealistic physical expectations for actresses. And in New York Magazine this week, he introduced readers to “the Women Who Run Hollywood (and the Slacker Husbands They're Over),” claiming that women are finding so much success in Hollywood—they “virtually control cable TV, for example”—that their fat paychecks are eroding their relationships and emasculating their husbands. As Polone puts it: “Behind every super-successful woman in the entertainment business is a man she resents too much to fuck.”
Republican Who Blamed Pregnant Rape Victims for Not Taking Plan B Tried to Restrict Plan B Access
Despite the known electoral dangers awaiting male Republicans who think they know better than rape victims about how rape victims should act and feel, the allure of rape philosophizing lives on. The latest entrant is Missouri state legislator David Sater, who is sponsoring a bill that would extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. Naturally, there's no rape exception, and naturally, Sater's got some strong words about the irresponsibility of rape victims to justify not including one. "If a woman decides not to go to the hospital and not get the ‘Plan B’, they’re making a decision to keep that child if they get pregnant," he said. "If the woman found out she was pregnant three or four weeks down the line, they had made the decision not to do some preventative things like Plan B."
On one hand, Sater believes women to be such silly, stupid creatures that they need a full 72 hours to reconsider whether or not they should go through with the abortion that they already decided to have, because 24 hours is not enough time for the slow-functioning female mind to truly decide what it wants. On the other hand, he also expects women to be so clear-headed that, even after suffering the severe trauma of a rape, they can swiftly organize all the post-rape responsibilities that need to be attended to, and the punishment for failing to fulfill their duties should be severe: Forced motherhood to a rapist's baby. So which is it, Sater? Are women smart and able to think swiftly on their feet, so much so that merely being raped is no excuse for not doing so? Or are women so stupid that they need a full 72 hours after they've decided against being pregnant to really, truly know if they don't want to be pregnant? Apparently, the answer depends on what's most convenient for David Sater.
Giving Up Something For Lent? Shhh.
Hello, Gentile friends! Have you decided what you are abstaining from for Lent yet? (Probably! It’s already Friday. Lent started Wednesday.) If you want to increase your chances of trampling temptation into the dirt for the next 38 days, a 2010 paper from the journal Psychological Science recommends you do the following once you’ve landed on a sacrifice: Tell no one.
The paper reports on two interlocking studies by researchers from New York University. In the first, 49 first-year psychology students wrote down two academic goals each (e.g. “I will take reading assignments more seriously” or “I will unlock the mysteries of the human mind”). Half the students stood by while the experimenter read their words back to them. The remaining students were told the goal question had been included by mistake and that their responses would be thrown away. Fast forward one week: All of the participants returned to the lab and notched the days on which they’d conformed to their resolutions. You might expect those in the first group to report better track records—they were the ones whose goals were on social display—but the opposite was true. Students whose words had remained private did a better job honoring their plans, while those who’d been exposed showed less willpower.
What's Behind the Jennifer Lawrence Backlash? A Conversation.
Even before Lupita Nyong’o beat Jennifer Lawrence for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar Sunday night, the Internet was coughing up articles about a JLaw backlash: “Is Jennifer Lawrence katnissing us?” asked Vulture, suddenly suspicious of her pizza-scarfing, photo-bombing, stair-tripping charm. Was she as phony as the rest of Hollywood? “We love [Cool Girls like JLaw] because they seem to offer an alternative to the polished, performative femininity visible in both our stars and our peers,” wrote Anne Helen Petersen at BuzzFeed. “But even with her short hair, Jennifer Lawrence still has the body and the face and the wardrobe that conforms to dominant beauty ideals.”
The It Girl of 2013, Lawrence, it seems, is now on the downswing. We convened a panel of Slate women to figure out why.
What Happened to the Military Sexual Assault Bill in the Senate on Thursday?
After months of hard campaigning, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand failed on Thursday to pass her legislation addressing sexual assault in the military, the Military Justice Improvement Act, through the Senate. The bill needed 60 votes to get past the filibuster, and fell short at only 55. The Senate voted to move forward with Sen. Claire McCaskill's competing bill, the Victims Protection Act, which is expected to pass easily when it comes to a vote. Both bills are crafted to make it easier for victims of sexual violence in the military to report their assaults with the assurance that they will be handled responsibly, but Gillibrand's bill is more far-reaching, ending a commander's authority to decide whether to prosecute an alleged crime and instead employing an independent military prosecutor to make that determination.
What made the fight over these two bills fascinating—and headache-inducing—is it defied the usual hyper-partisan atmosphere that rules Congress these days. Not only did some of the most heated opposition to Gillibrand's proposal come from Democrats, including Obama, but she also managed to pick up some surprising Republican supporters, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul. The battle also defied any easy narrative. Supporters of Gillibrand's bill and supporters of McCaskill's bill both consider sexual assault in the military to be a serious problem that requires extensive intervention—Gillibrand and McCaskill have worked together to pass a series of bills addressing the issue in the past—but there's a legitimate dispute over whether or not automatically turning every case over to an independent prosecutor is the best way to get justice for victims. Unfortunately, there's no cut-and-dry answer to that question.
Hey, Creeps: It's Legal to Take Pictures Up a Woman's Skirt
Creeps, rejoice! Taking pictures up a woman’s skirt when she doesn’t know it is perfectly legal, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled yesterday that the practice, called “upskirting,” is not covered under the state’s Peeping Tom laws. The case involved one noble citizen named Michael Robertson, who was picked up on a Boston trolley in a sting operation after two fellow riders told the police that he had been taking pictures under unsuspecting women’s skirts. (In a fine act of sisterly revenge, one of the women who turned him in took pictures of him taking the pictures.)
The state ruled that Robertson could not be charged under the current law because one of the five criteria for being a “Peeping Tom” was that “the subject was another person who was nude or partially nude,” and the women whose photos showed up on his cell phone were, like most riders on the Boston trolley, dressed in clothing at the time he took their pictures.
"A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering [private] parts of her body is not a person who is ‘partially nude,’ no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing,” the court said in a unanimous ruling written by Justice Margot Botsford. What is (or is not?) underneath the skirt, of course, can be found on various upskirting websites, where pictures of thighs, crotches, and panties abound.