The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Dec. 7 2016 1:06 PM

The Genderless Nipples Instagram Proves That Nipples Are Universally Weird-Looking

Nipples, in addition to being funny and occasionally useful, serve as reminders that, despite the civilizations we’ve built and cultures we’ve created, underneath it all humans are just animals with weird nubbins sticking out of their chests. A new Instagram account specializing in genderless nipples emphasizes this weirdness, and shared humanity, by collecting pictures of various human nipples close up and out of context.

Dec. 7 2016 12:54 PM

After a Polish Supreme Court Ruling, the U.S. May Never Extradite Roman Polanski for Rape

The legal saga that began when Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl in 1977 reached another inflection point this week: Poland’s supreme court upheld a lower court’s decision not to extradite the 83-year-old director to the United States. U.S. authorities requested the extradition in January 2015, when Polanski was working on a film in Poland, but a judge found that turning Polanski over would constitute an “unlawful deprivation” of his liberty. (Polanski has dual Polish and French citizenship and lives primarily in France, which has a policy of not extraditing its own citizens.) Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, appealed that verdict in May of this year, claiming that Polanski had received preferential treatment due his fame. The supreme court’s decision effectively closes another door to extradition for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which also sought unsuccessfully to extradite Polanski from Switzerland in 2009.

Polanski, then 43, pleaded guilty to “unlawful sexual intercourse” with 13-year-old model Samantha Geimer (née Gailey) in 1977. Polanski had met Geimer for an assignment for Vogue Hommes; after taking her to Jack Nicholson’s house to photograph her, he gave her champagne and part of a Quaalude and had oral, vaginal, and anal sex with her. Geimer has always said the sex was nonconsensual, whereas Polanski tepidly claimed that his victim “wasn’t unresponsive” during the encounter. Either way, the event was a crime due to the victim’s age, and Polanski agreed to plead guilty to statutory rape in exchange for the prosecution’s dropping five additional charges. Polanski served 42 days in prison after pleading guilty, but he fled the country before his sentencing hearing out of fears that the presiding judge wouldn’t honor the terms of the plea bargain. (A 2008 documentary made a persuasive case that the judge, who died in 1993, violated judicial ethics standards in the Polanski case.)

Dec. 7 2016 11:49 AM

Extreme Anti-Abortion “Heartbeat” Bill Passes Ohio State Legislature in Wave of Trump Optimism

An Ohio bill that would ban abortion as soon as the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected passed the legislature on Tuesday night, and is waiting on the governor’s desk. Fetal heartbeats are detectible around six weeks, which is well before many women even realize they’re pregnant. That means the bill would effectively ban abortion in the state of Ohio. The law’s backers say the election of Donald Trump—and the promise that he’ll appoint Supreme Court justices friendly to their cause—have empowered them to move forward on the extreme measure.

The governor now considering the bill is one-time presidential wannabe John Kasich, who told CNN earlier this year that he is “pro-life with the exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother.” Kasich has not said whether he will sign the bill, but when the state House considered a similar bill last year, he indicated he was concerned about its constitutionality. That was an opinion he shared with groups including Ohio Right to Life, which said it could backfire on the anti-abortion movement if a federal judge ends up striking down other abortion restrictions along with the heartbeat law.

Dec. 6 2016 4:29 PM

C-Sections May Not Be As Bad for Children As Previously Thought

In recent years, some parents of newborns born via C-section have introduced a new, and controversial, step to the post-partum routine. Concerned about studies that show that babies delivered this way have lower levels of immune-boosting microbes, along with research that suggests that babies pick-up this good bacteria during their trip down the birth control, they are inserting gauze into the mother’s vagina during labor and swabbing it on the baby after delivery.

Dec. 6 2016 2:55 PM

Find a Tiny Bit of Solace in This Cher-ified Chick Emoji

One tiny tragedy of the presidential election is that Cher, whose campaign-season tweeting amounted to a powerful, if loopy, act of surrogacy, didn’t get to bask in a Hillary Clinton victory. If case you haven’t checked in on Cher’s feed since October, know that she is still out there fighting the good fight, tweeting her token emoji-laced mix of political commentary and well wishes for her followers.

Monday evening, the singer posted an image that appeared to be a holiday-season Cher impersonator in the form of the chick emoji, complete with long black hair, thick eyelashes, a Santa hat, and a few other merry accessories.

Cher tweets in a language all her own, and sometimes trying to make sense of her is, to quote another famous Cher, like “searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.” But here is what can be gleaned from the Cher chick image: The singer often refers to her followers as the chick and hatching-chick emojis as if they were her chickadees, and now, there is a special Cher chick to join them in virtual happy clucking. Like anyone who has ever come across a meme and asked, “fam, who did this?” Cher is simply wondering who did her the kindness of chick-ifying her. See, she admires the image very much and would like to add it to her personal collection as soon as possible; but as an artist, she understands the necessity of getting proper permission. As for what Cher wants to “use” the Cher chick for (“ASAP”)—that’s anyone’s guess. Will she 3-D–print it and turn it into a Christmas ornament for her no doubt lavish tree? Does she want to add it her online merch selection? Will she create an army of Cher chick drones and unleash them upon Trump’s America? Whatever happens, let’s all just be happy that the Cher chick exists to watch over us this holiday season.

Dec. 6 2016 1:41 PM

Christie Vetoes Bill Banning Solitary Confinement for Children, Pregnant Women, and the Mentally Ill

On Monday, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have strictly limited the state’s use of solitary confinement. Had the bill passed, state prisons would have been barred from placing vulnerable populations—including pregnant women, children, seniors, LGBTQ people, and those with mental illnesses—in solitary. The bill also would have required solitary to be utilized exclusively as a last result, prohibited solitary confinement for 15 consecutive days, and required daily evaluations of inmates in solitary. Thanks to Christie’s veto, none of those rules will apply to New Jersey prisons.

In his veto statement, Christie declared: “This bill seeks to resolve a problem that does not exist in New Jersey, because the Department of Corrections (“DOC”) in this Administration does not utilize isolated confinement, as contemplated by the bill.” I asked Alexander Shalom, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU New Jersey, whether this claim was accurate.

“No. It’s bullshit,” he told me. “No matter what Christie calls it, and no matter how much he denies it, the reality is that hundreds of people in New Jersey are suffering in solitary confinement every day. And by vetoing this bill, he has ensured that the most vulnerable people in New Jersey prisons will continue to be tortured in this way.”

Dec. 6 2016 1:29 PM

Angela Merkel Announces Plan to Ban the Burqa in Germany

A few days after Donald Trump won the United States presidential election, the New York Times ran an article whose headline declared that “Angela Merkel May Be the Liberal West’s Last Defender.” Responding to the impending presidency of a decidedly illiberal autocrat, the piece began with a sour proclamation: “And then there was one.”

In retrospect, it was too optimistic.

Dec. 5 2016 6:34 PM

Oregon Man Convicted Under Revenge Porn Law Claims It Is Unconstitutional

Oregon passed a revenge porn bill in June of last year criminalizing the “unlawful dissemination of [an] intimate image” of a person with the “specific intent” to humiliate or harm that person’s reputation. Over a year later, 31-year-old Benjamin Barber became the first individual to be convicted under the law after he uploaded explicit videos of himself and an ex-girlfriend onto multiple adult websites without her permission, according to the Washington County sheriff’s office. Now, Barber is calling the law “literally unconstitutional” and is reportedly threatening to sue the state for violations of his First Amendment rights.

A Washington County judge sentenced Barber to six months in jail followed by five years of probation on Dec. 1. The Oregonian reports that he ordered Barber to avoid all contact with the woman and destroy all images of her that he possessed; the judge also prohibited him from using a computer for non-work purposes. Barber will not, however, have to register as a sex offender.

Dec. 5 2016 6:23 PM

Michelle Obama’s Festive Gucci Gown May Be One of the Last Ones We Get to Ooh and Ahh Over

During Michelle Obama’s term as first lady, Americans got used to headlines of the “Michelle Obama looks hawt” variety. She stunned in satin, she fascinated in florals, she prevailed in pleats, and gradually it began to seem ordinary that our first lady regularly turned out such high-grade looks. Now as this eight-year-long runway strut nears its end, we should pause to appreciate how good we had it: The end of the Obama administration is going to be sad for a lot of reasons, but mourning the loss of Mrs. Obama as first lady of fashion will be a not-insignificant part of it.

Dec. 5 2016 5:11 PM

How Being “Mom” Became Cool


Over the past decade, many women have turned away from the what they believed was the terminally uncool term “mom,” choosing instead the rootsy “mama” in a play to project their relevancy and hipness. However, recent linguistic trends among the millennial denizens of the internet suggest this was the wrong move.



According to a story in the New York Times, calling someone “mom” has become the highest form of flattery, a softer sister to sobriquets like boss or queen, and applicable to everyone from tweens to grown women regardless of whether they care for a child. As Jessica Bennett reports, “mom” as adjective has been used to describe celebrities like Beyoncé, Ruby Rose, and Taylor Swift—who once felt compelled to remind a fan named Maddie that only her mom has earned the right to be referred to by her as “mom.” “I’m more like your crazy aunt,” Swift wrote. It’s also used among twenty-somethings to describe their more knowing and inspired friends, or anyone else they admire.