What Women Really Think

April 21 2014 3:19 PM

Why Terry Richardson Always Wins

Last night, British model Emma Appleton posted a screenshot of her iPhone to her Twitter feed, featuring a Facebook message—allegedly from the infamous fashion photographer Terry Richardson—that had just popped up on her phone. It read: “If i can fuck you i will book you in ny for a.shoot for Vogue.”  Within hours, Richardson’s reps had called Appleton a liar, and Appleton had shut down her Twitter account to hide from the deluge of public attention hurtling her way.

This is a familiar news cycle for fashion’s skeeviest photographer. Models go public with allegations of Richardson’s harassing behavior, Richardson accuses the models of lying, defends his provocations as art, and criticizes the press for drumming up false controversy. Then, Richardson continues to work with A-listers like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Beyoncé, while the lower-profile models who have spoken out against him are forced to shoulder the burden of sexual harassment in their industry.

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April 21 2014 11:30 AM

The Director of Sunday's Game of Thrones Doesn't Think That Was Rape

Game of Thrones spent all last season carefully redeeming Jaime Lannister, turning the once-villain into something of a hero. Last night, director Alex Graves threw that all away by having Jaime rape his sister/lover in front of the body of their recently murdered son.

This was not in the books. Yes, Jaime and his sister Cersei do it in front of their child’s corpse in George R.R. Martin’s telling, but the sex, while rough, is consensual. By turning consensual sex into a rape, the meaning of the scene changes completely. On the page, it serves as a reminder that this ugly, incestuous relationship is a coping mechanism for two very badly damaged people. Turning it into a rape just turns Jaime into a monster, the kind that would rape a woman he claims to love in front of her dead son to punish her for being “hateful.”

April 21 2014 8:37 AM

McDonald's Gave Me the “Girl's Toy” With My Happy Meal. So I Went to the CEO.

In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”

A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.

April 18 2014 4:46 PM

Should the Government Regulate Photoshopping in Ads? Two Congresswomen Say Yes. 

On March 27, two Congresswomen introduced the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, a bill that would restrict the commercial media’s use of Photoshop. The measure would require the Federal Trade Commission to investigate digital retouching in ads with an eye toward curtailing it. Supporters—lobbyists from the Eating Disorders Coalition in particular—say what you’d expect: that computer-enhanced images hurt people by sustaining unrealistic beauty ideals, that young girls are especially vulnerable. They liken the “bold-faced lies” told by this model’s elongated leg or that one’s pixelated six pack to flagrant product deception. “We can no longer sit by and allow this to happen,” said Truth-in-Advertising advocate Seth Matlins on Thursday. “Ads that take Kim Kardashian’s body and make it Miley Cyrus’s” should prompt “regulatory action.”

April 18 2014 10:45 AM

Democrats! Don’t Get Lured Into Marsha Blackburn’s Trap.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn garnered some "are you kidding" headlines this week when she tossed out this little bit of misdirection on Sunday's Face the Nation: "It is Republicans that have led the fight for women’s equality," she argued. "Go back through history, and look at who was the first woman to ever vote, elected to office, go to Congress, four out of five governors." 

Sure, and Southern Baptists used to take no position on abortion. It was Republicans who fought to preserve the Union. But guess which party the average Confederate flag enthusiast votes for? Time is not a flat circle.

April 17 2014 5:54 PM

Adult Recreational Kickball Has a Woman Problem

Today in hard truths that must nonetheless be spoken: Kickball has a woman problem. Are woman kickballers underrepresented in the kickballing population? No. Is there a kickball glass ceiling or a kickball glass cliff? Not that I'm aware of. Do female kickballers get mommy tracked? Maybe, but it’s way worse in dodgeball. So what is this silent scourge afflicting sweaty twenty- and thirtysomethings in parks across America? Deadspin has obtained a revelatory letter from a co-ed team captain, sent only to the dudes on his team.

 “Good morning gentlemen,” it begins.

You'll notice that only the men of [team name] are receiving this email. It's because this rule only applies to you. I know, it's sexist. It's not fair. But it's the way it is. 

The writer proceeds to outline what "the way it is" is, which is, the men are ruining everything by banging their female teammates, who then experience shame and regret, and, inevitably, fail to show up for subsequent games, which ruins the team. The captain guy explains:

April 17 2014 3:08 PM

It's No Longer Legal to Sexually Harass Unpaid Interns in New York City

Last year, when an unpaid intern in New York sued a Chinese news company, Phoenix Satellite Television, because, she said, a supervisor had groped and assaulted her, a federal judge dismissed her case. As someone who didn’t receive traditional wages for her work, she did not count as an employee and could not seek respite from discrimination or harassment under workplace protection laws. The same thing happened in 1997, when an intern at a psychiatric hospital claimed that she was urged to join an orgy and to strip naked before meeting with a doctor. The courts threw out her sexual harassment claim because she lacked “significant remuneration” for her awful job.

April 17 2014 12:53 PM

Female CEO Shares Story of Being Sexually Harassed By Potential Hires

Yunha Kim, the CEO of the tech startup Locket, recently published a post at Medium chronicling the good and bad parts of being a female boss in such a heavily masculine environment. It's mostly an upbeat, go-get-'em tale, but she makes sure to note that just because she's in a position to hire and fire people doesn't shield her from being sexually harassed. She shares an email she got from a developer she tried to hire, which reads: "I'm pretty happy with current job, but if you're single I'd like to date you. Perhaps there are some unconventional ways to lure me away from my company (besides stock options) if you know what I mean :)"


"And the sad news is," she adds, "this is one of the more professional emails." 

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Kim notes that she's heard from other women who also have found that being the big boss doesn't mean men treat you with respect. "After the article, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from founders and females in general, and they have even been forwarding me their own emails," she says, adding that, as ThinkProgress writes, "some founders say this sort of behavior goes on even with investors."

All of which is why it's important to focus the discourse around sexual harassment on the issues of boundaries and consent, instead of looking at it strictly through the lens of who officially holds the most power. There can be fully consensual affairs between bosses and underlings—that might be wrong and also frowned upon in the workplace, but it's not sexual harassment. It's important to remember that sexual harassment can take place between peers or, as Kim's story shows, even happen to women at the top. 

April 17 2014 11:26 AM

Women Don't Freeze Their Eggs for Their Careers. They Do It Because They Don’t Have Partners.

Most articles about the increasing number of American women who have children in their late 30s or 40s manage to shame and blame them. They are told they are selfish, caring too much about their careers to press pause for a baby, or too little about their child to have had him at a sprightlier age. They are told they’ll be lonely and out of step with their peers. They are told they are clueless, conveniently “forgetting” that their fertility declines with age. All of which is why it was heartening to read this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek cover story about successful women freezing their eggs. Writer Emma Rosenblum wrote it without being judgmental and provided actual statistics about why women are going the egg freezing route instead of having children earlier: It’s not because they forgot to have kids or wanted to spend extra years drinking cocktails or were chasing the corner office—it’s because they don’t have partners.

April 17 2014 10:42 AM

New Fox News Show Outnumbered Will Have Four Female Hosts and One Man. Get It?

Roger Ailes is an evil genius. In the midst of a nationwide debate over whether or not Republicans are waging a war on women, Fox News is launching a new show called Outnumbered at the end of April. "Outnumbered" because the show will feature four female and one male host. The man will be "outnumbered," meaning that even though Outnumbered is supposedly a female-centric show, the male point-of-view is still so central that it gives the show its title.

Really, the word "outnumbered" should apply to the rest of Fox's programming, where only 36 percent of anchors and correspondents are women. But you know, that's the natural order of things. (Except on MSNBC and CNN, where women make up 48 percent and 58 percent, respectively, of anchors and correspondents.) Gender imbalance is only noteworthy when women outnumber men.