The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Aug. 25 2016 12:41 PM

Colorado’s Universal Health Care Proposal Could Ax Abortion Coverage

Progressives in Colorado are battling over a ballot initiative that would create a single-payer universal health care system in the state. According to some abortion rights advocates, the state-funded program would eliminate insurance coverage for abortion care for the more than 550,000 Colorado women of childbearing age who can currently get a low- or no-cost abortion under their private insurance plans.

Coloradans will vote on the ballot measure, constitutional Amendment 69, this November. If it passes, the state will establish ColoradoCare, a health program that will pay the medical bills of all Colorado residents via a 10 percent payroll tax. Amendment 69 doesn’t explicitly limit abortion; in fact, the problem is that it doesn’t mention it at all. In a June statement, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado noted that the new amendment would still be subject to an earlier addition to the state constitution that prohibits any state funds from being used for abortion care.

Aug. 24 2016 6:27 PM

Our Assessment of Parents Is More Informed by Moral Judgment Than Actual Risks

One of the biggest challenges for today’s parents is figuring out how much freedom to give their children. The range of permissibility, flanked by overbearing on one side and negligent on the other, is narrow and subject to change at any moment. One’s peers may consider hand-holding, and its many age-appropriate equivalents, compulsory in one scenario and excessive in another. The same goes for leaving children unattended, which can be perceived as everything from character-building to dangerous, depending on the particulars.

What makes this all the more complicated for parents is that outside assessments of parenting choices tend to be fueled more by moral judgment than empirical assessments of assumed safety risks. There’s no evidence that today’s children are less safe than children of past generations who were generally afforded more freedom by their parents—if anything there’s some evidence that they are safer. Nevertheless, today’s parents are being chastised, and arrested, for hands-off parenting choices that were once considered kosher.

Aug. 24 2016 5:32 PM

That Sexist Job-Search Advice About Engagement Rings? Female Academics Have Heard It for Years.

Last week, executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz dropped in from 1973 to offer some real talk to the networkers of LinkedIn: If you’re a woman interviewing for a job, “Lose the rock!” You heard the man, gals: If you’re engaged to be married, and have chosen to symbolize that agreement via a chunk of compressed carbon, for the love of all that is holy, pry that Taylor-Burton off your finger before you walk in the door! Why? Well, “When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance,” Hurwitz explains. Because obviously all men in important hiring positions are heterosexuals with shrew wives at home whose $19,000-a-month Oxy-and-Botox habit hoovers away their bonuses, amirite?

But don’t think it’s just the men: “When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring (sic), she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you,” writes Hurwitz with astonishing insight. You see, all women in the workplace are materialistic marriage-fiends who determine one another’s worth by the estimated dollar figure of the jewel affixed to their second-to-penultimate left digit! Duh.

Aug. 24 2016 3:44 PM

Scott Brown Defends Himself Against Sexual Harassment Charges in Fawning Interview

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown defended himself on Wednesday against charges that he sexually harassed former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros on-set. In a lawsuit, Tantaros alleged that Brown “made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set” and “snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist.” Tantaros claims that she complained about the behavior to Fox News executive Bill Shine, who ignored her.

Brown called into the “Bernie and Sid Show” on 77 WABC Radio in New York City to contest Tantaros’ account. The entire interview was awash in casual sexism, with hosts Bernard McGuirk and Sidney “Arthur” Ferris Rosenberg taking it for granted that Tantaros was a lying lunatic. Brown began by arguing that he could not have possibly harassed Tantaros on set because “that would have been in front of 25 people”—though previous lawsuits have established that many employees were intimidated into turning blind eye to the network’s culture of sexism. He then asserted that if he had harassed Tantaros, it would have somehow been evident to viewers of the show. (Brown urges listeners to watch the episode and “judge for themselves.”)

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Indeed, Brown suggests that it was Tantaros who had harassed him by asking him a question about his infamous nude centerfold. “I was very uncomfortable with her line of bantering toward me,” Brown explained.

Regarding the cafeteria incident, Brown claimed that there were “100 people in this cafeteria,” meaning “you don’t sneak up on anyone.” Moreover, Scott noted, the alleged incident happened a year ago—“and since then I signed a new contract, I got a raise, I’m on every day. And this is the first time I’m hearing about this? Yesterday? From a reporter?”

McGuirk jumped in, unable to contain his empathy for the accused sexual harasser. “It’s terrible,” he said, “it’s terrible.”

Aug. 24 2016 12:28 PM

Burkini Ban Debate Intensifies With Viral Photos of French Police Ordering Woman to Remove Clothes

The photos show a woman in black leggings, a blue tunic, and blue head scarf lying on a beach in Nice, France. Then, four police officers approach. They stand over her, hands on hips, as she removes her tunic.

Aug. 24 2016 11:15 AM

“Treatment Centers” for Troubled Teens Are Gothic Nightmares


Most residential treatment centers that promise they can turn around the lives of troubled teenagers are dangerous places with a proven track record of making things worse, according to a disturbing longread published Tuesday by the Huffington Post.



Reporter Sebastian Murdock tells the appalling story of a facility in Utah, formerly known as Island View, and now, under new management, called Elevations RTC. But the takeaway from his extensive reporting is that the options pushed on struggling parents may be hurting, not helping, their at-risk kids. The authoritarian tack that most centers take won’t turn their charges into functional adults, Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, told HuffPo. “You can teach them to be compliant in an institution because they get the reward of ... getting out,” he said, “but once they get out, it’s the same old problem, and they haven’t learned how to better manage their condition.” Worse, these centers often deeply traumatize their inhabitants. A 2014 lawsuit against Island View’s parent company, Aspen Education, alleged that the center “maintained a prison-like environment where physical and psychological torture were used against students,” Murdock writes. As one former Island View resident, a 25-year-old named Michelle Lemcke, told him: “Long-term treatment facilities are like ... a jail without having done anything illegal.”


Aug. 23 2016 7:32 PM

The Internet Was OK. And Then This xoJane Article Happened.

On Tuesday, XoJane, whose central mission is to convince writers to share personal stories that would be better left untold, outdid itself: It published an essay called “It Happened to Me: My Friend Joined ISIS.” No, it’s not satire.

Writer Katherine Burke recounts the story of her friendship with Ariel Bradley, a Tennessee native who moved to Syria with her Iraqi-born husband in 2014 and, well, joined ISIS. If you want to know more about Bradley’s journey to extremism, BuzzFeed ran an excellent piece of reporting on it by Ellie Hall last year. If you look to Burke’s essay for information, instead you’ll just get lines like:

Aug. 23 2016 5:19 PM

Young Helen Mirren, Sexism Crusader of Our 1970s Dreams

You’ve probably always wondered: How does award-winning actress Helen Mirren manage to perform and have boobs at the same time?

British broadcaster Michael Parkinson thought this was a fair question to ask in a 1975 televised interview with Mirren, then 30, in a clip that is making the rounds on the internet this week. Maybe you’ve already seen it: This Helen Mirren interview has gone viral before; it will go viral again. Until all the world has seen and internalized the messages of enlightened 1970s Helen Mirren, this clip will continue to circulate and recirculate around the web unceasingly, as it rightly should.

After introducing Mirren as the “sex queen of the Royal Shakespeare Company” (insert Lady Macbeth side-eye), Parkinson pursued what to him must have seemed like a logical line of questioning: Men, the default gender of people with brains and talent, do not have breasts, so it would follow that Ms. Mirren’s “equipment” hinders her abilities as a dramatic actor, no?

“I’d like you to explain what you mean by my equipment. In great detail,” Mirren responded casually. “You mean my fingers?” she asked, raising her hands and letting her bracelets bang together. “Come on, spit it out.”

Parkinson eventually demurred that he was talking about her figure, making plain that he did not really see her as a person but as some kind of sex robot with made-to-order parts, which is remarkable considering sex robot technology was much more primitive in the ’70s than it is today. Mirren responded with the ultimate underminer power move by saying, “Sorry, what was the beginning of the question? I’ve forgotten.” Forcing Parkinson once again to acknowledge how ridiculous he sounded, she asked, “Serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” She declared this a boring question, and eventually Parkinson moved on to asking her about the feather she was carrying and her tattoo. Nice save, buddy.

Mirren negs him a few other times, you’ll see if you watch the whole interview, proving that 1975 Helen Mirren is just as heroic as 2016, or really any year, Helen Mirren. Last time this went viral was there such a thing as #goals? Good thing we are now able to properly assign it and she the label #goals.

A fun postscript: You can also watch a 2007 interview between Mirren and Parkinson online, which would seem to indicate that our dame did not hold his ’70s sexism against dear Parky. That Helen Mirren: generous, but lethal when she wants to be.

Aug. 23 2016 4:14 PM

The Controversial Judge in Brock Turner’s Sex-Crime Case Has Recused Himself From Another

Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara County judge who faced nationwide backlash earlier this year when hesentenced convicted felon Brock Turner to only six months in prison for sexually assaulting a woman, has recused himself from a different sex-crimes case.

According to the Mercury News, which first reported Persky’s recusal, the judge was to decide whether to reduce the conviction for Robert Chain, a plumber who was convicted for possession of child pornography, from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Aug. 23 2016 2:46 PM

Baby-Friendly Hospitals Can, Paradoxically, Be Unsafe for Newborns


A new paper in JAMA Pediatrics is the latest in a series of critiques of the so-called "baby friendly" hospital movement. Previously, the global pro-breastfeeding initiative has been questioned for its effectiveness and for its unfair treatment of new mothers. Now, doctors are questioning its safety.



The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization in 1991 in order to improve breastfeeding rates. Participating hospitals agree to follow ten rules which include rooming-in (having babies sleep next to mom instead of in nurseries), a ban a pacifiers, and only using formula when medically necessary. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesendorsed the initiative, and since then the number of participating hospitals has steadily increased to a rate of nearly 17 percent of U.S. hospitals, according to BFHI accrediting organization Baby-Friendly USA.