The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Jan. 12 2017 6:00 PM

The Women’s March on Washington Has Released an Unapologetically Progressive Platform

The Women’s March on Washington has released its official policy platform, a far-reaching four-page statement that takes clear stances on reproductive rights, immigration reform, and worker’s issues.

The platform puts the march in support of the usual feminist suspects: the long-overdue Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay, paid family leave, and an end to violence against women. But it doesn’t shy away from issues that promise to rankle at least a few people who were planning on attending the Jan. 21 march.

Organizers have laid out an unapologetically radical, progressive vision for justice in America, placing the march in the context of other past and ongoing movements for equality. “We welcome vibrant collaboration and honor the legacy of the movements before us—the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more,” the statement starts out. It name-checks feminist leaders that represent a diverse range of ideologies and issues, including Harriet Tubman, Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Malala Yousafzai, farmworker organizer Dolores Huerta, former Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller, and Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman who was an instrumental leader of the Stonewall uprising.

Jan. 12 2017 5:08 PM

Liberals, Don’t Let Donald Trump Tarnish L.L. Bean’s Sterling Brand Reputation

This week in Donald Trump tweets with a long backstory: Thursday morning, the president-elect wrote on Twitter, “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.” He then tagged the Twitter handle for Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, a vacation rental and tourism company owned by the L.L. Bean heiress and board member.

To the blissfully uninformed, this tweet raises so many questions. Why was Trump tweeting in defense of a Maine-based outdoor apparel company? Did he mean to tag Linda Bean’s tourism company instead of, well, the company he was tweeting about? And shouldn’t there be a space between “L.L.” and “Bean”? (According to AP style, there should, but L.L. Bean inexplicably stylizes its name without the space.)

Here’s the deal: Linda Lorraine Bean is the granddaughter and pseudo-namesake of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean. She owns a stake in L.L. Bean, along with 50-odd other Bean descendents, and is a member of the company’s 10-person board of directors. She is also a longtime donor to Republican candidates and causes, and she even ran on the Republican ticket for Congress back in 1992. Her political inclinations are no secret, but news emerged last week that she may have broken federal campaign finance law by donating $60,000 to a pro-Trump PAC that was supposed to limit individual donations to $5,000. In response, an activist group called Grab Your Wallet, which is devoted to organizing boycotts of companies that enrich the Trump family, called for liberals to give their duck-boot dollars to a different company. In response to the boycott, Trump tweeted in support of L.L. Bean, and now his supporters are ostensibly buying products from L.L. Bean as a political statement.

Jan. 12 2017 1:36 PM

Germany Considers Requiring Salary Transparency to Address Gender Wage Gap

Government leaders in Germany have approved a proposed bill that would take steps to close the nation’s gender wage gap, one of the highest in Europe. The bill would require medium- and large-sized companies to increase salary transparency, making it easier for female employees to find out if they’re being paid less than men for equal work, the first step toward bringing a case against their employer.

The German Cabinet passed the draft bill on Wednesday; it will need to pass a parliament vote to become law. If it does, companies with 200 or more employees will be required to make workers aware of salary structures and how the company calculates pay. According to the Agence France-Presse, these employees will be able to check to see what men and women in the same types of positions make, though salaries will be anonymized. The law would also force companies with 500 or more employees to establish an internal process of reviewing and publicly reporting on equal pay efforts within the company.

Jan. 12 2017 12:46 PM

Ugh, the Pope Told a Story About a Woman Who Had an Abortion to Preserve Her Figure

A few months ago, Pope Francis announced that the sin of abortion can now be forgiven by any Catholic priest, as opposed to requiring the approval of a higher-ranking bishop. Without softening the church’s position that abortion is a grave sin, the move was in keeping with the tone of practical mercy that has defined this papacy.

But Francis’s splashiest moments as pope have not always come through major policy papers or formal bureaucratic changes. This week, in his weekly address to Vatican pilgrims, he made an off-the-cuff comment about abortion that inadvertently revealed a less sympathetic side to his approach. “It’s terrible, it hurts the soul what I heard one time years ago in the diocese of Buenos Aires,” he said. “A woman, a good woman, very, very beautiful and who bragged about her beauty, commented as if it were natural: ‘Yeah, I had to have an abortion because my figure is so important.’”

Jan. 11 2017 7:08 PM

Why Nobody Got Outraged When Obama Said His Kids Are His Greatest Accomplishment

Last spring, Beyoncé told Garage magazine that she considers having a child her greatest achievement yet. “Out of everything I’ve accomplished,” she said, “my proudest moment hands down was when I gave birth to my daughter Blue.” This statement incited a fair amount of chatter, much of it disapproving, on the internet. To Jenny Kutner at Mic, Beyoncé’s decision to rank motherhood as her “greatest triumph … speaks volumes about the way domestic achievements are supposed to rank in women’s lives—that is to say, above the rest.” LaSha at Salon disagreed, arguing that “just because motherhood is traditionally and unfairly used as a marker of full womanhood does not mean that it is not for many women a personal pinnacle of their own womanhood.”

The controversy demonstrated that ascribing value, low or high, to the experience of parenthood continues to be a risky endeavor for women. But it is a risky endeavor for men? On Tuesday night, an extremely successful and high-profile man made a comment very similar to Beyoncé’s, with a very different public response.

Jan. 11 2017 6:06 PM

This 4-Year-Old Honorary Librarian May Already Have Read More Books Than You

The news out of Washington, D.C. is dominated by dispiriting dispatches from the confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees and Trump’s dystopian announcement that he has no plans to neutralize his many conflicts of interest once he ascends to the highest office in the land. But one small beacon of hope shone out of the nation’s capital on Wednesday, as 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana served as “Librarian for the Day” for the Library of Congress.

A resident of Gainesville, Georgia, Arana has made local headlines by allegedly reading 1,000 books before beginning preschool. “I read 1,000 books by the time I was 3-years-old and I hope to read 100,000,” she told an Atlanta local news station. Arana’s parents signed her up for a Georgia Public Library literacy program called 1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten when she was 2½, and she completed the challenge in October. The program operates on the honor system—parents are invited to keep a log of all the books that are read by or to their children—but are you really going to question the exact number of titles read by a young girl who is both precocious and adorable?

Jan. 11 2017 6:01 PM

New York May Force Insurers to Fully Cover Birth Control Even If Obamacare Gets Repealed

New York’s attorney general is making moves to protect no-cost access to contraception in the event that a Republican-controlled Congress and a Trump-controlled executive branch roll back the current contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

Under the ACA, all health insurance plans must cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. If congressional Republicans get their way and repeal the ACA, the piece of legislation Eric T. Schneiderman introduced on Wednesday will ensure that people covered by state-regulated insurance companies will still get free birth control.

Jan. 11 2017 2:58 PM

In 1986, Coretta Scott King Said Jeff Sessions Posed a Threat to “Fulfilling My Husband’s Dream”

As a U.S. attorney in Alabama, Jeff Sessions harassed black voters with prosecution, doing “what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” according to a letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986.

In the wake of the first day of confirmation hearings for Sen. Sessions, Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, the Washington Post published a previously unreleased letter King wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986. At the time, Sessions was up for a federal judgeship.

Jan. 11 2017 2:53 PM

Like So Many Mass Shooters, the Fort Lauderdale Suspect Has a History of Domestic Violence

In the year before he allegedly shot and killed five strangers in the Fort Lauderdale airport, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago had at least five encounters with police in Anchorage, Alaska, according to new reports. The incidents included two accusations that he had choked his girlfriend. The Anchorage Daily News reports that one of the encounters, last January, led to charges of assault and criminal mischief. In that incident, Santiago’s girlfriend called the police and said he was yelling at her and had tried to smash in her bathroom door. When an officer arrived, the door had been bashed off its frame, and the girlfriend said he had hit her and tried to strangle her.

One of the reasons mass shootings are so terrifying is that they seem to come out of nowhere. They can happen at any time of day, in any state, and in shopping centers, movie theaters, dance clubs, or airports. The victims can be anyone, and even the killer’s identity can feel arbitrary at first: The public has never heard his name or seen his face before he emerges from the crowd and starts shooting. That aura of total randomness is part of why these crimes grip the public imagination.

In fact, however, a history of domestic violence and aggression toward women is a remarkably common theme in the lives of men who become mass shooters.

Jan. 10 2017 5:56 PM

IUD Demand Has Risen 900 Percent Since the Election, Planned Parenthood Says

Planned Parenthood has seen a 900 percent increase in demand for intrauterine devices since Donald Trump’s election, the organization reports. President Cecile Richards told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that women are “desperately concerned that they might lose their access to health care” after Inauguration Day, so they’re preparing their bodies with a contraceptive device that could outlast a Trump presidency.