What Women Really Think

April 16 2014 11:14 AM

Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse

Late last year, Douglas Phillips, then president of the extreme Christian right group Vision Forum Ministries, admitted to, in his words, having "a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman." This was a bombshell in Christian right circles, where Phillips is a major figure, maintaining a close friendship with the Duggar family of TLC fame (Vision Forum gave Michelle Duggar the "Mother of the Year" award in 2010 at an event called Baby Conference that had 1,500 attendees), former child actor Kirk Cameron, and creationist Ken Ham. Phillips preaches a strong patriarchal view of Christianity, one that teaches that women should give birth until they can't anymore, and that both wives and daughters are to live in perfect submission at home, going so far as to deny daughters the right to choose who to marry

Phillips resigned in October, but now it seems that his public pronouncement regarding that "inappropriate relationship" may have seriously downplayed what actually happened. Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, who says she was the woman Phillips confessed about, is now suing Phillips and Vision Forum for what she alleges was an abusive and manipulative relationship that caused her serious mental harm and distress.

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April 16 2014 8:30 AM

Latest Publishing Trend: Books That Teach Women to Be Overconfident Blowhards, Just Like Men

In 2009, Cameron Anderson, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, decided to run an experiment on his students. He gave them a “list of historical names and events, and asked them to tick off the ones they knew.” But he also stacked the deck with fakes: Made-up figures he called “Queen Shaddock” and “Galileo Lovano,” and a fictitious event called “Murphy’s Last Ride.” Anderson found that the students who ticked off the most fake names showed signs of excessive confidence, if not competence. At the end of the semester, he surveyed the students about one another, and found that those who held the most “respect, prominence, and influence” in the classroom were the same ones who claimed they totally knew who “Queen Shaddock” was. Anderson concluded that it’s confidence, not ability, skill, or accomplishment, that ends up swaying other people. “Whether they are good or not,” he said, “is kind of irrelevant.”

Anderson’s anecdote should be the perfect cautionary tale about how know-nothing sociopaths rule the business world. Instead, it’s a data point in Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s new self-help book for women, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know. In the book, which also got a splashy Atlantic feature this week, Kay and Shipman diagnose women with “a crisis”—“a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes.” Women don’t speak up in meetings, while men interrupt. Women ruminate over their mistakes, while men “simply spend less time thinking about the possible consequences of failure.” Even Sheryl Sandberg wakes up feeling like a fraud. To treat the affliction, the authors interview powerful women like Valerie Jarrett and Sandberg about their imposter syndromes, pull lessons from assertive men, confer with scientists for biological clues to confidence, then translate their lessons into action points for the woman reader, like “Fail Fast,” “Don’t Ruminate—Rewire,” and “Speak Up (Without Upspeak).”

April 15 2014 4:34 PM

It's April 15! Women, We Are Very Tax Compliant.

Happy April 15! Have you paid your taxes yet? If you are a woman, I’m going to bet the answer’s yes. Researchers haven’t found a way to track what portion of the yearly $170 billion tax gap (the icy tundra separating how much tax money the government receives from how much it would receive if everyone coughed up the accurate amount) belongs to women, but numerous experiments suggest a strong gender effect on tax compliance. Specifically, “Women seem to be more compliant than men,” says John Hasseldine, a professor of taxation at the University of New Hampshire. “You need to control for other variables, such as education and income level—for example, those in white-collar professions appear to be more compliant than blue-collar workers—but quite a few studies support the gender effect.”

Hasseldine led a classic 1999 survey of 600 adults living in a Midwestern college town. After asking respondents to anonymously rate their attitudes about tax evasion, report any previous tax dodging, and answer questions about a hypothetical instance of tax trickery, he found that women showed more compliance across all three measures. They were less permissive in theory, less likely to have underpaid or over-deducted in practice, and less inclined to bend the rules in an imaginary scenario. These results, Hasseldine told me, would later be replicated in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

April 15 2014 4:20 PM

I Am a Mom. I Am a Myth. I Am a Legend.

Everyone is getting all the good feelings today from this viral video, in which a middle-manager type interviews a bunch of job applicants for the “most important job” he is hiring for. He calls this job “director of operations.” Job requirements include being able to stand up all day, never sleeping, and only eating your lunch after your associates have eaten theirs. The company is looking for applicants with a background in medicine, finance, and the culinary arts. There are no days off, workloads go up on holidays, and the job is unpaid. But wait, there’s a twist! This guy isn’t describing a job he’s hiring for at all. He’s describing your mom. Your poor, overworked, undervalued, slave of a mom. CALL YOUR MOM, you ungrateful son of a martyr.

And I’ll call my mom! Just as soon as she’s home from playing tennis or bridge or volunteering or whatever it is retired mothers in their late 60s do these days. I probably should have called her this morning, but I was busy sitting down drinking coffee while my three kids played with Legos and my husband showered. I’ll call her just as soon as I finish eating my salad, which I bought with the money that I earn at my real job, where I sit in front of a computer all day, sometimes getting up to stroll over to the table where people leave desserts they’ve brought from home. Maybe, actually, I’ll just wait to call my mom until after I put the kids to bed tonight, except that I’m really hoping to sit on the couch and binge-watch season two of Borgen. I really should, however, call my mom to thank her for making such a delicious Passover Seder for us last night, which was a real lifesaver, since I don’t cook. I’ll try to remember to call her before I go to bed at 11 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m., but if I forget, I can always call her tomorrow, maybe when I’m walking to the park to exercise in the evening, or I could always skip my afternoon nap this weekend and call her then, except I probably need the nap since I’m only getting eight hours of sleep a night. God, how do I do it? I do not know. You’re welcome. 

April 15 2014 11:54 AM

Five Ways to Make Him Scream and Not Get Pregnant When You Do: Cosmo Gets Serious About Repro Rights

Cosmopolitan, long considered one of the fluffier offerings to women on the magazine rack, has been quietly remaking itself into a powerhouse of reproductive rights coverage. Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress reports on a new era at the sex tip-centric rag, with recent articles on abortion rightsabortion stigma, and contraception access. I've noticed it too: Just last week, I blogged here about a Cosmo story highlighting the desperate measures one woman in Brazil had to take in order to secure a safe abortion. So what's going on with the magazine that has long advised women to put a doughnut on their man's penis?

April 15 2014 9:23 AM

How Do I Teach My Kid to Be Good? By Telling Him He Is Good.

That parents should praise a kid’s actions rather than her innate qualities is parenting gospel. Studies find that children who are lauded for their intelligence develop weaker work ethics than those who get cheered on for their persistence. The same logic would seem to apply for instilling morality in kids: Praise your child for her good deeds, and she will continue to do them. Except, as Adam Grant wrote in the New York Times this past weekend, it doesn't exactly work like that.

Grant explains why treating your child like an ethical person is more inspiring than just singling out a praiseworthy bit of behavior: “When our actions become a reflection of our character," he writes, "we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices.” We want to believe we do good because we are good, and hearing our goodness affirmed motivates us to keep up the good work (literally).

Grant cites a study in which 7- and 8-year-olds were doused in different types of praise. After donating some of the marbles they’d won in a game to poorer children, half of the participating kids were told: “It was good that you gave some of your marbles to those poor children. Yes, that was a nice and helpful thing to do.” The other half heard: “I guess you’re the kind of person who likes to help others whenever you can. Yes, you are a very nice and helpful person.”

Grant continues:

 

April 14 2014 4:01 PM

Virginia Deals With a Teen Sexting Ring by Educating Teens, Not Prosecuting Them

When Rusty McGuire travels to Virginia schools to talk to teenagers about the dangers of social media, he asks all of the girls in the audience to close their eyes. Then, he speaks plainly with the men in the room. “Boys,” he says, “if you received a picture from your girlfriend that was nude, would you share it with your friends?” When the boys inevitably erupt into giggles, he instructs the girls to look around. “This is why you don’t send nude pictures,” he tells the girls. “These boys,” he says, “their frontal lobes aren’t fully developed yet.”

April 14 2014 12:14 PM

Republicans Are Quietly Trying to Kill No-Fault Divorce

Republicans have decided to start waging war on a ubiquitous and generally non-controversial part of American life: no-fault divorce. Scott Keyes, writing for the Washington Post, reports on this alarming trend, one that has largely flown under the radar, of Republican-controlled state houses pushing for waiting periods, mandating marriage classes, or even eliminating no-fault divorce entirely. Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have signed a pledge from Family Leader, a Christian right group, denouncing "quickie divorce" and urging couples to endure a "cooling off period."

The hope is that by making divorce a hassle, or forcing couples to really think about what divorce means, the government can encourage/make more couples give up on the idea and recommit themselves to marriage. This is, of course, not the government's job. But also, by artificially elongating the divorce process, the state simply creates more time for all the petty, embittered bickering that divorce tends to cause, as anyone who's actually ever been through a divorce, or known anyone else who has divorced, or is the child of divorce can tell you. A "cooling off period" is just more time for adults to squabble over who gets the lamps and chairs and try to assign blame for the relationship's demise. It's the children who end up suffering, as marriage historian Stephanie Coontz argues, telling Keyes that mothers and fathers are "more likely to parent amicably if they haven’t been locked into a long separation process." 

April 11 2014 5:33 PM

No, She’s Not Really Wearing That. The Sext You Just Got Is Probably a Lie.

The thing that you always suspected about sexting has been scientifically confirmed: Much of that meticulously described lingerie and ecstatic stroking is a lie. A new study in the April issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior amassed 155 college students, winnowed them down to 109 “active sexters,” and grilled them about their mendacious ways with SMS. Just under half (48 percent) admitted that, mid-text session, they had misrepresented to their committed partners “what they were wearing, doing, or both.”

Researchers also unmasked a gender difference in deception, finding that 45 percent of women bent the truth in their sexts, compared to 24 percent of men. Most of the surveyed students (67 percent) claimed they fibbed for their partner’s benefit, presumably to fuel the daydream, while a third copped to fibbing because they were bored.

April 11 2014 3:08 PM

Three Days Off Isn't "Paternity Leave"

Last week, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took three days off the baseball diamond to be with his wife Victoria as she delivered their newborn son, Noah. Murphy’s absence prompted some macho posturing from sports radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa, who asked why baseball wives can't just schedule their C-sections in the off-season to keep their birthing from interfering with the game. But that criticism was quickly quashed by the vocal support from the likes of Mets manager Terry Collins and NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo; Esiason swiftly apologized for his remarks; we were all reminded that the MLB has allowed players to take three-day leaves since 2011. As my colleague Jessica Grose wrote, the media tempest proved that paternity leave is no longer a controversial issue in America, even for men working in a (literally) masculine field.

That’s all great, but … three days? We’re fighting for three days? It’s sad that we’re patting ourselves on the back for finally beginning to allow men to leave work for the time it takes to get over a stomach bug. Yesterday, Deadspin’s Drew Magary upped the ante by encouraging new fathers to take paternity leave for a full five days. “You should take one full week off from work for paternity leave, and NEVER more than that,” he wrote in his post, entitled "Why Paternity Leave Is Important, Even Though You'll Hate It." He continues: “By that last day, you'll be dying to get out of the house, and your wife will have finally regained enough physical strength post-delivery to beat the piss out of you and chase you out the door."

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