The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Oct. 24 2016 6:05 PM

Shoppers Boycott Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Line to Protest Donald’s Misogyny

Throughout a presidential campaign defined by misogyny and prejudice, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump has remained steadfastly by his size. As her father repeatedly made sexist remarks against women, she positioned herself as an advocate of women’s rights, championing the cause of working mothers.

Now one San Francisco woman is holding Ivanka to account. Shannon Coulter, the CEO of a communications agency, has called for a boycott of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, the Ivanka Trump Collection, and she’s asking retailers who carry her products to break ties. Under the hashtag #GrabYourWallet—a reference to Trump’s infamous remarks in leaked Access Hollywood footage from 2005—Coulter’s movement has gone viral.

Oct. 24 2016 5:58 PM

New Jersey Legislature Passes Landmark Bill Strictly Limiting Solitary Confinement

The movement for solitary confinement reform scored a victory last Thursday when the New Jersey state legislature voted to strictly limit the use of solitary confinement in the state’s prisons. Under the new rules, correctional facilities would be barred from placing certain highly vulnerable populations—including pregnant women, LGBTQ people, and those with mental illnesses—in solitary. The bill mandates that solitary confinement be used only as a last resort; prohibits solitary confinement for more 15 consecutive days; and requires daily evaluations of prisoners in solitary. If signed into law, the measure will also ban the use of solitary for inmates age 21 and younger and 65 and older. It is one of the most progressive bills of its kind in the country.

Solitary confinement is torture. In a prison system that regularly dehumanizes and brutalizes inmates, “administrative segregation” stands out as one of the most egregious and unconscionable punishments regularly deployed by correctional facilities. Inmates in solitary are deprived of normal human interaction, which often leads to severe psychological disorders. Solitary confinement may heighten an inmate’s risk of suicide, yet paradoxically, suicidal inmates are often taken from the general prison population and put into solitary. Indeed, a high percentage of inmates in solitary suffered from mental illness before being placed in administrative segregation—illnesses that are exacerbated by near-total isolation and physical confinement. And some prisons have used solitary to punish women who report their rape and pregnant women with pregnancy-related depression.

Oct. 24 2016 5:37 PM

The AAP’s New Advice on SIDS Prevention Might Actually Make Parents’ Lives Easier

The American Academy of Pediatrics just updated its recommendations on how to create safe sleeping conditions for infants, and not only are they easy to follow, they could also save new parents money and time. While much of the advice is consistent with the AAP's previous set of recommendations, released in 2011, the latest includes new thinking on the ideal sleep environment for infants.

Currently, around 3,500 babies die in America each year of SIDS and sleep-related accidents, including strangulation and suffocation. SIDS is different from the latter, because it involves some internal mechanism, or combination of mechanisms, which stops children from breathing, as opposed to their breathing being obstructed by another object. Experts believe that by putting infants to sleep in environments that make it as easy as possible to breathe, these mechanisms are less likely to be triggered. The rate of SIDS dropped sharply in the 1990s, when pediatricians began recommending that infants sleep on their backs, but in recent years, progress in reducing sleep-related infant deaths has stalled.


The AAP now recommends that babies sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, as their parents, up to the age of 1. Doing so can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent compared with the current rate, making it safer than bed-sharing, or having the infant sleep in another room. Also, room-sharing, compared to bed-sharing, is less likely to lead to other causes of death— including suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment—while still allowing for the regular monitoring of the infant. While the AAP has found that room-sharing improves outcomes up to age of 1, they encourage parents to do it for at least for the first six months of a child's life, when SIDS is most likely to occur.

While a separate and close-by arrangement is ideal, the authors of the report acknowledge that infants need to eat in the middle of the night, and the person feeding the child is likely to be suffering from sleep deprivation. Therefore, the infant’s caretakers can’t necessarily be counted on to not pass out at some point during the feeding process, leaving the infant to sleep wherever the feeding took place. For the many tired new parents out there, the AAP has a few suggestions: Never feed the infant on a sofa or armchair. Instead, bring the baby into your bed, which you have stripped of pillows, loose sheets, or blankets.* This will not only make it less likely for the child to suffocate or overheat, but also—and this is my addition—make the parent far less comfortable and therefore less inclined to drift off to sleep. I also see this as an opportunity for the feeder’s partner (usually a mammary-gland-less man) to take more responsibility post-feedings. They could set an alarm for 30 minutes, or however long feedings take, after that initial cry and make sure mother and child are where they should be when the bell rings.

Other recommendations in the report, many of which are not new, include a ban on anything else in the crib, bassinet, or playpen, besides the child and a firm mattress. This means no bumpers, stuffed animals, pillows, or blankets. Children should always sleep supine, or on their backs. This makes them more likely to arouse, which, while not ideal for their zombie-eyed parents, “is an important protective physiologic response to stressors during sleep.” Once an infant can roll over to her stomach, she can be allowed to stay that way, though her parents should still put her to sleep on her back. Pacifier use can substantially reduce the risk of SIDS, ranging from 50 percent to 90 percent, and should be offered at naptime and bedtime. Lastly, children shouldn’t be left to sleep in car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers, or slings.

The report takes a firm stance against a lot of the baby safety items being sold to parents. Among the products they determine as either unsafe, unnecessary, or unproven are: anti-SIDS mattresses, bedside sleepers that are attached to the side of the parents’ bed, devices that are supposed to make bed-sharing safe, and home cardiorespiratory monitors.

While the report’s sole interest is in creating safer sleep environments for infants, it could, and should, have a secondary effect of getting parents to stop buying a lot of unnecessary crap. What we learn from this summary of studies written up by experts is that we need relatively little for children up until the age of 1, beyond a simple place to sleep in the corner of our bedroom. This means that not only are we investing a lot of unnecessary money, and a lot of unnecessary time, into those Pinterest-inspired nurseries stocked with all the latest “baby safety” technology, but that doing so could actually be hazardous to our babies’ health. Instead of spending on a lavishly decorated, state-of-the-art nursery, parents would be better off squirreling away that money for childcare.

* Correction, Oct. 24, 2016: Because of an editing error, the conditions in which a baby can be fed in bed were originally presented in an imprecise fashion: The bed should be stripped off loose sheets, but fitted sheets are fine. 

Oct. 24 2016 4:53 PM

Can Donating to Charity Assuage Cubs Fans’ Guilt About Rooting for Aroldis Chapman?

Sports fans who don’t want to support abusive men have long had to make ethical compromises to stand by their favorite teams. With the Chicago Cubs on their way to their first World Series in 71 years, fans concerned about relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s history of domestic violence are trying to channel their conflicted feelings into good works.

The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, making their fan base desperate for a win this year. The team acquired Chapman, the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball by far, from the New York Yankees midway through the season; he’s a major reason why the Cubs are the closest they’ve been to a championship title in seven decades. According to a police report from almost exactly a year ago, he also once fired eight gunshots in his garage while his girlfriend hid in the bushes, after allegedly choking her and pushing her into a wall.


In August, Cubs lover Caitlin Swieca told the New York Times that she faced a “moral dilemma” between “the feeling of wanting to just watch a game and not let the domestic violence thing bother you, and the feeling of not wanting to let the domestic violence issue just fade into the background.” She decided to donate $10 to an advocacy organization for survivors of domestic violence every time Chapman recorded a “save.”

In association with Chicago’s Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, Swieca is urging others to join her fundraising efforts, using the hashtag #pitchin4DV. She started out intending to raise $11,000, 0.1 percent of Chapman’s yearly pay, but donors surpassed that goal so quickly that it was raised to $25,000. Supporters have contributed nearly $20,000 so far.

Many Cubs followers have responded with gratitude to Swieca’s scheme, which will probably do more tangible good than any individual’s boycott of Major League Baseball would. One woman decided to auction off her Cubs paraphernalia to raise more money for the DVLC. “I could be petty and cut these things into pieces, but I’d rather raise money for a good cause,” she tweeted. Another fan thanked Swieca for coming up with a plan that let him enjoy the season in spite of Chapman’s place on the roster. Someone who follows the Yankees has promised to donate money for every save Chapman recorded in his few months on that team. After the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blowout on Saturday night, propelling them to the World Series, Swieca encouraged followers of the pitchin4DV Twitter account to donate in honor of the big win, even though Chapman didn’t technically earn a save.

Chapman served a 30-game suspension without pay under the league’s domestic violence policy, costing him about one-sixth of his annual salary. He was never charged with a crime, but the way he’s diminished his episode of violence has alarmed observers. The Spanish-speaking pitcher, who communicates through an interpreter, has claimed he was too tired to remember what was said during his one conversation with Cubs officials about the incident, and he has said the press “made a small thing into a scandal.” “Sometimes a person just wants to move on, forget things, continue their career,” he said. “They want to go back. I just want to go forward.” Major League Baseball didn’t investigate or make mention of Chapman’s alleged domestic assault until Yahoo reported the details. The league only demanded that he attend one counseling session and give two interviews to a psychologist, leading some to question its commitment to an abuse-free culture.

Chapman’s is just one of several cases of violence against women Chicago sports fans have had to confront in recent seasons. According to the Times, that may be one reason why it’s causing long-suffering Cubs followers so much agita:

The issue may resonate more in Chicago than in other cities because it has been a recurring one with prominent athletes here. The Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was named the NHL’s reigning most valuable player in June less than a year after he was cleared of rape charges in a polarizing case. Derrick Rose, the former Bulls star, has been accused of coercing a former girlfriend into group sex, which he denies. Last year, the Bears signed Ray McDonald—who had been cut by San Francisco after a series of domestic violence episodes—only to release him two months later after he was arrested after another such event. [Note: Rose was later found "not liable."] 

But the particular circumstances of the Cubs—the team’s 108 years without a World Series win, its dependence on Chapman to come in and nail the last few outs in a close game—make Chapman the most gut-twisting character of them all. To root for the Cubs right now is to root for the fulfillment of a century-long dream; it’s also to boost the career of a man who’s shown no remorse for shooting a gun to threaten his girlfriend. Swieca’s voluntary anti–domestic-violence tax will help assuage the guilt of decent-minded fans who want their grandparents to see the Cubs triumph before they die. It won’t keep Chapman from abusing women, but it may help women get justice against men like him who aren’t famous enough to inspire citywide outrage.

Oct. 24 2016 3:27 PM

Federal Judge Rules for Free the Nipple, Holds Topless Ban May Violate U.S. Constitution

A woman who publicly displays her nipples in Fort Collins, Colorado, can be arrested and imprisoned for 180 days. A man who publicly displays his nipples in Fort Collins cannot be arrested at all, because he isn’t breaking the law. Free the Nipple, an advocacy group that opposes sex-specific breast-exposure laws, is challenging the ordinance as a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which generally bars sex discrimination. Fort Collins asked U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson to toss out the lawsuit. But on Oct. 20, Jackson refused, holding that Free the Nipple had “adequately stated a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment” and allowing the case to proceed.

This litigation is an excellent test of the judiciary’s commitment to eradicate sex discrimination that perpetuates repressive stereotypes under the guise of protecting public morality. Fort Collins could not defend its ordinance without reverting to reactionary presumptions: The city insisted that female breast exposure violates “the values of the Fort Collins community, including its sense of decency and family”; that women exposing their nipples “impede the right of others to enjoy public spaces”; and that exposed female breasts constitute “pornography.” Free the Nipple counters that these defenses only further demonstrate the unconstitutionality of the ordinance, proving that it is used “to perpetuate stereotypes about girls and women”—specifically, that society considers women and their breasts to be “primarily objects of sexual desire.”

Oct. 24 2016 8:32 AM

Male Law Partners Make 44 Percent More Than Female Ones

Male partners at major U.S. law firms make 44 percent more than their female peers, in part because male partners bring in more money in new business—or get more credit for doing so.

According to a recent survey of 2,100 law partners from legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, the average male partner makes $949,000 a year; female partners earn an average of $659,000. In 2014, that gap was even larger, at 47 percent. Female compensation has increased 24 percent since then, and male compensation has risen 22 percent.


Among all partners, a 24 percent plurality said the main reason for any dissatisfaction with their pay was “cronyism.” This is one major clue to the alarmingly wide wage gap between men and women who lead their law firms. Men pass leads onto their male buddies or mentees and are more likely to recognize the good work of those boys’ club members. Then there’s the gendered issue of getting credit, with which most of us are probably familiar by now: Men demand it for themselves, and people readily give it to them, while women boost others.

Jeffrey A. Lowe, a Major, Lindsey & Africa leader, told the New York Times that partners pointed to “origination”—bringing new cases to the firm—as the top factor in their industry’s wage gap. The new report found that female partners originated an annual average of $1.73 million in business; male ones brought in an average of $2.59 million each. Partners’ compensation depends in part on how much money they bring to their firms each year, so women end up making much less. The Times notes that friendly connections from law school and even earlier have a major impact on legal representation, giving men with mostly male networks a leg up when it comes to finding new clients or getting more business from existing ones.

Male partners also work about 70 hours more each year than female partners and bill at higher rates: an average of $701 an hour to female partners’ $636. But here’s one more potential clue to help explain the unconscionable wage gap in partner pay: The Major, Lindsey & Africa report capitalizes the word “Female,” a jarring stylistic decision, but leaves “male” in all lowercase.* When men are treated as normal lawyers while women are treated like alien aberrations in their own field, it’s not hard to guess who gets the smoother path to the top.

*Update, Oct. 24, 4:30 p.m.: According to the author of the report, the capitalization of the word female was a last-minute change made by an outside proofreader and does not reflect the values of the legal profession.

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.