That’s What the Money Is For
Like all great television, Mad Men was largely about beautiful people treating each other terribly in the service of big philosophical ideas: the rapacity of capitalism, the earthquakes of feminism, racism’s eerie bonhomie, 20th-century American alienation. The show’s genius was to (mostly) avoid prattle. Rare were the Sorkin-y walks and talks. Mad Men showed. Its characters displaced their ambition and inadequacy and nostalgia and fear of death and rage into the objects around them, as good Americans should. This isn’t symbolism. In Mad Men, the props were plots and characters.
And now, as good Americans should, we can compete with each other to spend the most to possess them. The Mad Men auction, which started at 3 p.m. ET today on ScreenBid, is chockablock of life stories, all conveniently mid-century-modernist and certified authentic.
You can, if you’d like, capture Peggy Olsen’s journey from mother’s ruin to corporate baller in just a few bids. First, a set of items from her “old apartment,” including a religious pamphlet and a pack of tissues to dry the tears—all vulgar mementos of a life she’d never have.
Did she have “High Hopes,” as Frank Sinatra sang on her adorable record player? Yes. Would she kill to make a life for herself? Buy the knife she stabbed Abe with and see if it works! But sometimes success, like a L’eggs Egg, is not what it’s cracked up to be.
But then you put your life (and what you’ve won) in a box and parade it around.
But isn’t there more to life than work?
There are shoes. There are chains to wear around your neck like an albatross, and there are chains that dangle in key areas of interest. Joan wears the gifts God (and Man) gave her. They don’t wear her.
The same cannot be said for Ken Cosgrove, whose eye patch turned him into some kind of supervillain. Or Sal Romano, whose professional visage failed to hide the glass poodle bottle collector inside. Or “Betty’s Last Pink Hairbrush,” an item perfectly named to encapsulate Betty Draper Francis’ doomed entirety.
In the auction as on the show, however, it’s mostly about Don. Almost 250 relics from a life of invention and reinvention, because that’s what the money is for. It’s for fussy tiered dessert trays from his Betty years and modish napkin rings and blank checks from the High Life with Megan. And so much evidence of the mysterious “Don Draper”: an anesthesia tube, a hookah, a pilfered Social Security card, and so much booze.
Judging from what he left behind, Don Draper was equal parts lothario, addict, genius, and jerk. We’ll never really know him, but at last there’s something beautiful of him we can truly own.
In Pregnancy Announcement, Zuckerberg Opens Up About Couple’s Past Miscarriages
On Friday afternoon, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced—via a Facebook post and photo starring an incredibly shaggy dog—that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting their first child: a girl who gave her soon-to-be father a thumbs-up “like” in an ultrasound.
Along with that exciting news, Zuckerberg also disclosed that the couple had been trying for years to get pregnant and had suffered three miscarriages.
Chan is at a point in this pregnancy where the risk of miscarriage is very low, but Zuckerberg shared their past experiences in order to open up the dialogue the emotional toll of a lost pregnancy.
“You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child. You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you—as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.
In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.”
The honesty and sincerity of Zuckerberg’s announcement is a welcome change in attitude to the secrecy that usually surrounds miscarriages. He spoke of the surprise they felt upon talking to friends and realizing that it wasn’t as uncommon as they thought and, most importantly, that they weren’t alone.
Miscarriages are a far more common occurrence than many Americans believe. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “for women in their childbearing years, the chances of having a miscarriage can range from 10-25%, and in most healthy women the average is about a 15-20% chance.” The majority of miscarriages happen within the first trimester.
In 2013, the Huffington Post reported on a study that detailed the misconceptions many hold about miscarriages: Respondents had difficulty identifying the major causes and believed miscarriages were highly unusual. The study also found that “about 40 percent of the women who had a miscarriage said they felt they had done something wrong to cause it, and 47 percent felt guilty… Forty percent of the women in the study who had miscarried said afterwards, they felt very alone.”
Additionally, as Jessica Grose detailed for Slate, the financial difficulty that can come with a miscarriage is another significant and unrecognized topic, and can compound the emotional devastation.
With his Facebook post, Zuckerberg is inviting a conversation about the sense of isolation that accompanies a miscarriage. We should never invade public figures’ privacy, especially when dealing with pregnancy. But when they choose to share their experiences, from Zuckerberg’s recent announcement to Beyoncé’s similar one in 2013, we should listen and amplify their messages because it can help women, and their partners, feel a little less alone.
An Interview with a Lady Who Used a Breast Pump in an Open Office Plan
Earlier this week, it came to light that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called a lawyer “disgusting” when she requested a break from a deposition so that she could pump breast milk for her three-month-old baby. A spokesman later explained that Trump thought the lawyer wanted to pump in front of him, which he found “disgusting,” rather than privately.
To find out more about pumping while surrounded by coworkers, we spoke with Seeta Peña Gangadharan, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute program fellow and an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. After moving from Washington, D.C., to New York with 10-month-old twins in 2013, Gangadharan discovered that her best option was to pump at her desk in the middle of an open office plan. (The following conversation has been edited and condensed.)
Why did you decide to pump in an open office plan?
I know that there was some kind of hullaballoo in HR over the fact that there wasn’t really a room that was designated as a nursing room. The only private room that we have is a utility closet. People do their very private phone calls from there and it’s not awesome. It’s filled with stuff and it’s tiny and it’s not comfortable. It made me think, Um, this is not going to work.
When my kids were six months old, I went to this conference in Detroit and pumped during a session that I was facilitating. During a moment when I asked people to break up into small groups, I got out my kit, put on my poncho, and pumped and walked around to check in with the groups. That was by far the craziest thing I had ever done. From that, I knew that I could just pump wherever, and so I decided to try it.
How many people were in the office?
I’d say on average maybe eight people.
Did you tell people you were going to pump, or did you just start pumping? Either way, did people say anything about it?
I didn’t ask for permission—what would they say? “That’s not cool”? “Go to the utility closet”? People eventually just tuned it out, apart from the occasional, “What is that rhythmical, very annoying sound?” And occasionally a few giggles. I was pretty discreet, because of the poncho.
Tell me about the poncho.
If you could imagine what a hippie woman in the southwest United States would be wearing while going hiking—beige with black stripes, a light cotton. It provided complete coverage, easy access. The other thing is that I had to wash my kit. I had a portable OXO brush and a little suitcase for the bottles. I kept the milk in the refrigerator in my little lunchbox and I would wash the parts in the sink. It was all there for people to see.
Did the stress of the situation affect how easy it was for you to pump?
No, not really. I was overproducing milk. Especially when you have twins, you just have to do things without thinking about them. It’s almost as if I didn’t have time to filter whether it was going to be strange for me or for my colleagues—I just had to do it. I had the portable kit at work, and you have to hug yourself to keep the [breastshields] in place, and then do one-handed typing and put your phone on your shoulder. I’m sure I looked hilarious.
Do you have any sort of general advice or conclusion that you’ve drawn from this experience?
My experience with being in an open office is that they have a startup ethos. In my case it’s a younger office, there doesn’t seem to be anyone over 45, and it’s mostly male-dominated. Part of being in an open-office situation is you go with the flow. You may be privy to somebody’s conversation with their boyfriend or girlfriend. There are people who are constantly trying to figure out how to coexist in this environment. My experience using a breast pump in the office fit squarely into that.
So for women who are in that environment, I would say that if you feel comfortable in your body, you should definitely pump in the open office. Because what's the other option—going into the utility closet? Pumping in the bathroom? Forget it. That is a terrible alternative, and it feels like there’s shame involved with that, that you have to go into this little hovel and hide from the others. It shouldn’t be like that.
Dating Tips From Woody Allen
Woody Allen has done something bold and painfully self-aware, something that his many detractors might never have expected of him: He has come clean about the sins he's committed in the past against the women in his life.
“I was selfish and I was ambitious and insensitive to the women that I dated,” he confesses to Sam Fragoso in an interview with NPR. “ ... As I got older and [saw that women] were humans suffering like I was ... I changed. I learned empathy over the years.”
When did this happen? Sometime after his “early 30s,” Allen says.
Woody Allen turned 30 in December 1965. In January 1992, when Allen was 56, his longtime partner Mia Farrow discovered—via nude photos Allen left out on his mantelpiece—his affair with her 19-year-old daughter Soon-Yi, sister to Allen's three children with Farrow.
At the start of his relationship with Soon-Yi, who is now his wife, Allen tells NPR that he “thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn't be serious.” But soon, he says, it took on “a life of its own.” Why does it continue to work so well, even decades later? Allen muses:
I think that was probably the odd factor that I'm so much older than the girl I married. I'm 35 years older ... I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things.
So we can distill two key pieces of dating advice from Woody Allen: 1) Wait until you're around 35 years old to start dating and 2) Date women who are around 35 years younger than you are.
Maybe there's a third piece of advice: 3) Be paternal. Then again, the opportunity to date your partner's daughter and your children's sister isn't one that's readily available to most men. As Allen himself puts it to NPR, “That's why I'm a big believer in luck.”
Why Does Every Presidential Campaign Need a “Hairgate”?
According to the New York Post, a bank of elevators at Bergdorf Goodman was temporarily shut down on Friday so that Hillary Clinton could get a trim at the pricey John Barrett Salon on the ninth floor.
It’s hard to know what the Post thought was worse—that Clinton, like any celebrity, can get her hair done in a private room where no one can see her (or snap photos of her) or that she might have paid owner Barrett as much as $600 for a cut and another $600 for color.
“Hillary Clinton receives haircut that costs more than average American makes in a week,” howled the Washington Free Beacon. “Your jaw is about to drop when you find out how much Hillary paid for a haircut,” claimed IJR Review.
In presidential politics, the expensive haircut is one of those supposedly telling details—somehow meant to convey that a candidate or spouse is attempting to be one of the proletariat but has a secret life as a card-carrying member of the elite. It dates back to the early days of—naturally—the Clinton administration, when Hillary Clinton, on the advice of pal Barbra Streisand, began to see one Cristophe of Beverly Hills, who charged her $200 (or about $330 in 2015 dollars). By the time Bill decided to do the same, Hillary had moved on to New York’s Frederic Fekkai at $275 ($454 in 2015).
Then, in May 1993, Bill Clinton received what “may have been the most expensive haircut in history,” as Thomas Friedman speculated in the New York Times. The dubious story was that Air Force One tied up traffic at LAX in 1993 solely so the presidential locks could receive a $200 coif. The press went insane over “Hairgate,” even though the cut resulted in no actual delays on any commercial airlines. Controversial beauty treatments would continue to haunt the Clintons. In 1994, there was gossip claiming that Hillary Clinton did not tip after a visit to Gessner & Camp, a Coral Gables, Florida, salon, while Tipper Gore supposedly left a $90 gratuity.
We went about a decade without a Hairgate, a drought finally relieved during the 2004 presidential race by Matt Drudge, who outed John Kerry for flying Cristophe employee Isabelle Goetz from Washington to Pittsburgh. (It should come as no surprise to discover that Hillary Clinton was also reported to be a Goetz client.)
And then there was John Edwards. Long rumored to be vain about his plentiful locks, he was caught paying for $400 haircuts at Beverly Hills’ Torrenueva Salon, a crime no one ever would have known about had he not listed them on his candidate expense filings. (He later reimbursed his campaign.) Maureen Dowd, among others, went to town, stating more than a bit prophetically, “All the haircuts in the world may not save John Edwards from a blowout.” (The last salon Edwards was spotted patronizing was a North Carolina SuperCuts, which charges $12.95 for a styling.)
Republicans have been largely immune: No one made much of a fuss when first lady Laura Bush reportedly received a clipping from one Sally Hershberger, who charged $700. An exception, as it so often is, came in the highly flammable form of Sarah Palin, who in 2008 ran up a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars for traveling with not only a hairstylist but a makeup artist (the latter was Emmy-nominated for her work on So You Think You Can Dance?).
Clearly, women are in a bind here, as likely to be judged for not primping as for expensively primping. Just last week, Hillary Clinton took a question in a Facebook forum about the “hair and makeup tax” that women pay for their upkeep—a tax on both their wallets and their time.
But when it comes to Hairgates past and present, men—or at least male Democrats—are as likely to get dinged for their choices as women. Maybe the celebrity haircut is a gender-neutral easy get—an instant way to paint a candidate as privileged, out of touch, narcissistic. That it takes more than a bit of narcissism even to consider running for president is conveniently forgotten.
So what comes next? I’m hoping for a candidate who takes a page from Denmark's first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. When heckled for wearing designer clothes, she responded without apology: “We can’t all look like shit.” In the meantime, I just want Donald Trump to release a financial-disclosure form accounting for whatever that is on top of his head.
Planned Parenthood’s Website Debilitated by DDOS Attack
This past month has been a rough one for Planned Parenthood. The health care organization has been the target of a misleading video campaign, a database hack targeting employees, an attempt to strip it of its federal funding, and a grammatically challenged tweet from Marco Rubio. Wednesday afternoon brought the latest ordeal for the organization, when its website suffered a “distributed denial of service,” or DDoS, attack, in which hackers flood site with traffic to prevent others from visiting.
BREAKING: http://t.co/Q8cXe58njh health website is under attack by anti-abortion extremists.— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) July 29, 2015
Currently, Planned Parenthood’s site is still down, with the organization keeping it offline while it worked on security precautions. Visitors to the site are redirected to Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page, encouraged to use Google Maps to locate their nearest center, and to call to make an appointment.
As reported by Wired, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Dawn Laguens said on Wednesday, “Planned Parenthood is committed to getting people the information they need to make healthy decisions and meet their goals in life—and we deeply regret that in order to more fully protect our websites from these extremist attacks, our full online content will be temporarily unavailable to people looking for good, accurate health information. We will continue to work to reach people where they are online, and our sites will be back up soon.”
As I detailed earlier this week, Sunday’s hack put Planned Parenthood employees in potential danger by exposing their names and contact information. And this new DDoS attack puts Planned Parenthood’s clients at risk by refusing them access to medical information they need.
Each day, some 200,000 people visit the website for information on a variety of reproductive health issues. If it really needs to be reiterated, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s resources is not devoted to abortion, which accounts for only 3 percent of the services provided. The funds for abortions cannot come from the federal government because of the Hyde Amendment. With the federally funded $500 million, Planned Parenthood provides information on birth control, STIs, and parenting, and it conducts life-saving medical procedures, including preventive screenings.
After this barrage of misinformation, the organization finally saw some relief when the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress, the group in charge of the inflammatory videos. The CMP is prohibited from releasing any more video footage that shows footage of officials from the California based StemExpress. But, since this legal respite only applies to StemExpress employees in the jurisdiction, CMP soon released another video with footage of a Planned Parenthood official in Colorado.*
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack, and it is not yet clear if the attack is linked to 3301, the organization that hacked Planned Parenthood's database on Sunday. But whoever is debilitating the website is actually targeting the hundreds of thousands of Planned Parenthood clients in need of important medical information.
*Update, July 30, 5:10 p.m.: This sentence has been edited to clarify that the restraining order only applies to StemExpress employees in the jurisdiction.
Major Supermarket Chains Are Covering Up Cosmo Because It’s “Pornographic”
You can spot a Cosmopolitan from a mile away: A shiny-legged lady in a playfully provocative pose, typography that runs the gamut from pink to purple, and lots of libidinous mad libs (e.g., "__ Sex Positions to __ His __ Wild!"). For teen girls, Cosmo reads like an instruction manual for their glamorous future selves. For more mature women, it's dessert in magazine form.
But for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), formerly known as Morality in Media, Cosmopolitan is porn. The NCSE is behind a successful push—hardly the first of its kind—to place the magazine behind blinders in stores owned by two major chains, RiteAid and Delhaize America (which owns Hannaford Stores and Food Lion).
Victoria Hearst, granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst (who founded Cosmo publisher Hearst Corporation), writes in the NCSE press release that the stores’ decision will “protect underage children from being exposed to the magazine’s sexually explicit covers showing scantily clad female celebrities and article titles with the words ‘sex’ and ‘orgasm’!” Hearst hopes the stores will either stop selling Cosmo entirely or forbid the magazine’s sale to anyone under 18.
There are plenty of problems with Cosmo—like most women’s magazines, it still struggles with race and body image. (Try to count the number of non-skinny girls it’s considered sexy enough to grace its cover.) But its covers are not even as sexually explicit as commercials regularly used to promote a greasy burger chain. No child has ever been harmed by a lady pushing her boobs together behind a sexy word cloud.
But hark: The NCSE claims there's a consensus about the dangers Cosmo poses to American youth. The center cites a “nationwide poll” in which a majority of (1,007) Americans agree that Cosmo covers are not appropriate for all ages. A sample poll query:
As you may know, Cosmopolitan Magazine frequently has sexually provocative headlines and models on its cover. Would you say that these headlines and models are appropriate or inappropriate for viewers of all ages?
It would be hard to craft a question that does a better job of answering itself.
Of course, Cosmo is more—not always vastly more, but more—than revisions to the Kama Sutra and “Nicki Minaj Wants All Women to Demand More Orgasms.” In fact, this is a strange moment to be picking on Cosmo, given the feminist refurbishment it's received under editor-in-chief Joanna Coles: It won its first National Magazine Award last year for a terrific guide to contraception and publishes serious journalism on topics such as the ongoing threats to Planned Parenthood. If Victoria Hearst actually thinks Cosmo is filth, I suggest she flip through it sometime. She'd find that, unlike certain other magazines, people really do read it for the articles.
Ann Rule, Queen of a Genre Beloved by Women, Once Wrote Under a Man’s Byline
Icon of furtive ladyreading Ann Rule died on Sunday at the age of 83. If my Facebook feed is any indication, she will be remembered fondly by roughly every woman over the age of 15 who enjoys reading. True crime, the genre Rule ruled, has a remarkable shelf life for relatively timely journalistic endeavors—true-crime books are passed down among generations and snatched up in used-book stores. A glowing obituary in the New York Times touches on all the highlights—particularly The Stranger Beside Me, Rule's 1980 smash about Ted Bundy, whom she befriended when they worked on the same suicide hotline before she discovered he was a serial killer. The obit also had one detail about Rule's career I hadn't known before:
She began writing for True Detective in 1969 under the pseudonyms Arthur Stone, Chris Hansen and Andy Stack, using male names at her editors’ insistence. She wrote two 10,000-word articles a week for the next 13 years.
That's True Detective, the glorious tabloid rag of the 20th century, not True Detective, the dreary HBO show whose self-seriousness is tarnishing the True Detective name.
It's interesting to consider, all these years later, that editors worried about readers not taking female writers of true crime seriously, especially since the genre is such a women's genre. There aren't hard numbers on this, alas, but if you see a shadowy cover image of a scary house interspersed with smiling yearbook photos of victims and a grisly title in a high-impact font, it is highly likely that a woman is behind that cover reading that book.
Why did '60s-era editors shy away from letting female-heavy audiences know that their fellow lady humans were writing the grisly stories they loved so much? Did they think the stories would have more impact if they were perceived as coming from an authoritative male voice? Was it about upholding the illusion that women are too delicate for such matters, even though editors must have known that women made up the bulk of the audience? The answers are lost to the mists of time.
Another mystery is why women are the dominant fans of true crime in the first place. There have been completely implausible "evo psych" explanations for it, with researchers speculating that women are searching the texts for tips on how to stay safe, even though men are actually more likely to be victims of violent crime. (Slate's Jessica Grose once cast cold water on this theory, reminding us of the obvious: that people read true crime to be titillated, not to assess their own risk profile.) Maybe estrogen makes you more macabre.
Or maybe one clue can be found in an Ann Rule quotation from CNN's obituary. In a 1999 CNN interview, Rule said she once feared that writing about murder all the time would leave her jaded, but it hadn't. "I am not a cynic, because I find at least three dozen heroes for every bad guy or gal I have to write about," she said. "The good in humanity always comes out way ahead." Perhaps women, for whatever reason, are more keen on stories that take you to the darkest edges of humanity, but then reassure you that, amid the violence and horror of a few of us, most of us are good and decent people.
Hackers Go After Planned Parenthood Employees’ Information
Late Sunday night, hackers gained access to Planned Parenthood’s internal database containing employee records. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the names and contact information for more than 300 Planned Parenthood employees have been published on a private website hosted by a group of hackers, part of an organization called 3301.”
As Slate’s Future Tense has thoroughly documented, hacks targeting everything from the Census Bureau to the Office of Personnel Management to Sony have all occurred within the last year, putting millions of people at risk for identity theft, fraud, and blackmail.
In this landscape, the attack on Planned Parenthood’s database might blend in with an overall trend, but it shouldn’t. While the others relied on a large-scale attack to make their impact, this hack targets a selected group—only a few hundred workers—and is all the more frightening for it. By releasing the information of a relatively small number of employees, the hackers are enabling and encouraging the harassment of Planned Parenthood workers.
As David Cohen and Krysten Connon explained in Slate in February, the anti-abortion harassment comes in many forms: “Providers told us about being physically assaulted, picketed at home, threatened over the phone, and stalked around town. Providers’ children have been the subject of protests at school, providers’ parents have been harassed in nursing homes, and their spouses have been targeted at work. The list of tactics is almost endless.”
The group’s political motivation is clear: They want to bring down the organization. The Daily Dot spoke with one of the hackers, who said that “trying to mold an atrocious monstrosity into socially acceptable behaviors is repulsive. … Obviously what [Planned Parenthood] does is a very ominous practice. It'll be interesting to see what surfaces when [Planned Parenthood] is stripped naked and exposed to the public.”
The timing of the hack, on the heels of the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover videos, is serious cause for concern. These videos—with more promised on the way—are heavily manipulated to misconstrue the providers’ activities and their legality. (CMP might be the ones guilty of illegal behavior, as a review by California Attorney General Kamala Harris will soon determine.)
While the information from the hack is currently being held on a private website, the hackers told the Daily Dot they will release decrypted internal emails soon. Concurrently, Planned Parenthood has reached out to the FBI and U.S. Justice Department to address the security situation.
Whether 3301 is tied to CMP or was just inspired by the videos remains to be seen. What is clear is this all-out campaign against Planned Parenthood could have real and dangerous effects.
Macy Gray Has Written the Ultimate Song About Vibrators
Macy Gray is best known for her soulful late-'90s hit “I Try,” but if there’s any justice in the world, she will go down in history first and foremost as the author of the definitive song about vibrators. “B.O.B,” which stands for “battery-operated better,” is an ode to the piece of machinery that “fits like a glove” and is “always up for love, steady as a caterpillar.”
You might hesitate to watch this video for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re tired of hearing about how much women love their vibrators, or you’re annoyed by the fact that “battery-operated better” doesn’t make grammatical sense, or you have no idea what “steady as a caterpillar” even means. (Me neither!) Don’t let that stop you from hitting play—the song is charming enough to nullify any conceivable criticism. I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that Gray refers to her vibrator as “he” throughout the song, even though the personification of sex toys usually squicks me out. Such is the power of Gray’s playful tribute to B.O.B.
Furthermore, the video isn’t even NSFW—the visuals consist of an animated blue dildo with eyes, a mouth, and limbs taking a jaunty stroll around Macy Gray’s house. (Sometimes he’s joined by a yellow friend and a jolly AA battery.) If ever there were a video about masturbation you’d feel comfortable watching with your kids, this is it.