The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

May 7 2015 10:47 AM

Mothers Still Doing More Housework Than Fathers

For the past few years, we've seen a spate of articles notingoften lamenting—Americans' tendency to open their wallets wider for Mother's Day than Father's Day, spending $7 billion or even $8 billion more a year on moms than dads. A new report from the Council for Contemporary Families, timed to Mother's Day, hints at why: a mother's "position as most hardworking at home is undisputed." Wipe more butts, get a better card—the math is not too complicated here. 

That women continue to do more housework than their male partners isn't news, but it's been getting more attention lately—in no small part due to the Lean In campaign illustrating how domestic disparities have an impact on women's work lives. (Because it's NBA playoffs season, I've been seeing a lot of those Lean In commercials asking men to do their part and must admit my heart soars a little every time.)

The CCF report (which is a collection of recent studies) shows a major shift in how this dynamic plays out. It used to be that all kinds of women were doing more around the house; now, the gender gap between childless couples is closing. When you become a mother, though, look out—that's when the gender gap widens again. One study in particular focused on this shift:

Ohio State’s Claire Dush and colleagues used time diaries with self-defined egalitarian couples before and after the baby arrived. Before baby, couples shared housework equally. Nine months after the baby arrived, couples continued to report putting in the same hours of work, but their diaries revealed that in fact “women added 22 hours of childcare (physical and engagement) to their work week while doing the same amount of housework and paid work as before. Men added 14 hours of childcare to their work week, but did 5 fewer hours of housework after the baby’s birth.” Kuperberg found the same trend—it is children, not marriage, that leads to an uneven division of labor at home.

The skewed division of labor at home is partly explained by new mothers scaling back at work more than new fathers, meaning "the combined paid and unpaid work hours of men and women are now about even." (However, men still get an hour more a day of leisure time than women when you control for factors like age and education.) The new balance may seem fair, but as Stephanie Coontz, CCF's director of research and public education, explains, "When a woman quits work, reduces hours, or takes a less-challenging job, she sacrifices earnings, raises, promotions, unemployment insurance, and pension accumulations, thereby undermining her future economic security." As my colleague Torie Bosch wrote on Monday, those sacrifices leave women less prepared for worst-case scenarios such as death or divorce. 

It's not all bad news for moms: Men are leaning in more around the house than they used to, according to the CCF write-up. "University of Maryland’s Liana Sayer finds that as of 2012 married mothers were doing almost three and a half times" as much of the "core housework"—i.e., scrubbing stuff instead of playing with the kids—than married fathers do. But that's way down from 1965, where mothers did 22 times as much. Both parents spend more time engaging with children than they used to, because of cultural pressure "to provide intensive parenting advantages to their children."

We could ask fathers to honor this Mother's Day by giving Mom a break around the house—at least give her that extra hour of leisure time that you have and she doesn't. But that would suggest you're doing her a favor. Maybe the ideal Mother's Day gift would be a year-round commitment to closing the household gender gap once and for all. 

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May 6 2015 3:16 PM

Campus Sexual Assault Reports Are Up. Don’t Panic.

The rate of sexual assault reports on campus has skyrocketed in the past five years, nearly doubling in number, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In response to a request from Sen. Barbara Boxer's office, the department provided details on their numbers, which increased from 3,264 in 2009 to 6,016 in 2013.

That doesn't mean, however, that the actual number of sexual assaults is going up. "We believe this increase is the result in the increase in federal enforcement efforts, as well as the growing public attention paid to the issue of campus sexual assault," the letter explains. Boxer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Tim Kaine released a statement calling for better funding to fight sexual assault on campus and accommodate this surge of college women stepping forward with their stories. 

Sexual assault continues to be a dramatically underreported crime, but these numbers suggest that raising awareness and demonstrating public support of victims can have a huge impact on victim willingness to step forward. Jon Krakauer's new book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town takes an in-depth look at the scandal at the University of Montana, which was put under federal investigation for mishandling campus sexual assault. "There seems to be this tipping point where there’s now this support women feel—it’s easier for them to report because they have support among themselves," Krakauer said in a recent media roundtable.

It's a terrible thing that there continue to be so many sexual assaults. But strange as it may sound, it's a good thing that there are more reports overall. More victims reporting means that more rapists are facing consequences, more victims are accessing help, and more wannabe rapists are thinking twice before choosing to rape.

Of course, as the Department of Education letter details, while this uptick in reporting is a good thing, it also means that their offices are being overwhelmed by the increased workload. In particular, investigations of schools facing complaints about noncompliance with Title IX are taking longer than the Education Department would like. More funding could go a long way to helping resolve these complaints more quickly, which in turn would help reduce some of the anger and tensions at schools where students don't feel enough is getting done to address the problem. 

May 5 2015 3:56 PM

One in 15 Students at a West Texas High School Has Chlamydia

When you're on the high school speech-and-debate team in rural West Texas, you spend a lot of time on weekends napping in school buses in front of other small-town high schools. For me, one of those was Crane High School, where I wiled away many hours playing card games while waiting for my round. From San Antonio Express-News:

Officials with the Crane Independent School District are meeting to discuss their sex education program after nearly two dozen cases of Chlamydia were reported among the high school student body.
KOSA-TV reported the Crane Independent School District sent a letter to parents last week regarding 20 cases of chlamydia among the Crane High School student population, which totals about 300 students.

News West 9 spoke with some parents in the area who expressed shock and horror at the situation. “I mean I have a kid, honestly I don't want my kid growing up in an area where nasty stuff like that happens,” Edward Martinez told the station.

People often express shock when things like this happen, but having grown up in the area, this is literally the least surprising thing ever to me. The combination of a repressive culture and a small population where everyone is up in everyone else's business all the time makes it hard for people— especially teenagers—to take necessary precautions against disease transmission: getting tested, communicating openly with partners, obtaining condoms. 

The area's repressive attitudes toward sex are illustrated in the school's sex education program, which takes up three days in the fall semester and, of course, is focused on abstinence. Raw Story reports that in 2012, the School Health Advisory Committee recommended a program titled Worth the Wait for that three-day course; the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States pointed out that Worth the Wait discourages condom use by suggesting they're just going to fail you anyway. 

The school district's superintendent, Jim T. Rumage, stands by his chlamydia-friendly strategy of telling kids to wait until marriage. “If kids are not having any sexual activity, they can’t get this disease,” he told the Express-News in a phone interview. That is true! Also true: If you never eat any food, you probably won't get cavities, and so there's no point in manufacturing toothbrushes.

Texas is the eighth-worst state in the country for STI transmission rates. West Texas, in particular, clings to the belief that we can finger-wag away our entire species' storied history of enjoying sex. Two nearby counties, Midland and Ector, were Nos. 19 and 21 in 2013 among the most sexually infectious counties in the state. (The number of young men flowing in to work the oil fields—and to drink and party and screw around after work—has not helped.) Lubbock, Texas, which is so Bible Belt they only just recently started allowing the sale of alcohol, ranked No. 11. But maybe the Crane High School story, which is winning headlines like the Daily Caller's (“This Texas High School Is CRAWLING WITH VENEREAL DISEASE”) might finally embarrass locals enough to consider changing their ways. 

While the future of sex ed in Crane is up in the air, there is one thing I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt: The rumor mill at this high school is churning about who infected who, and where, and when.

May 5 2015 12:00 PM

Google Doodle Honors Nellie Bly, Stunt Journalist Extraordinaire

Today’s Google Doodle honors the 151st birthday of Nellie Bly, a woman who proved that stunt journalism isn’t always a bad thing. The remarkable Bly (whose real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochran) embodied gumption—she famously traveled the world in 72 days, for instance. But her most noteworthy work focused on the lives of the poor and disenfranchised in late 19th-century New York City.

The animated Google Doodle is accompanied by an original song from Karen O, titled “Oh Nellie.” Karen O sings, “We gotta speak up for the ones who been told to shut up/ Oh Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules ’cause you’re our girl.”

The song’s first line—“Someone's got to stand up and tell them what a girl is good for”—nods to the way Bly got her start. Her first writing gig, with the Pittsburgh Dispatch, came after she sent an angry response to a columnist who wrote a piece titled “What Girls Are Good For” about the need for women to stay at home.

And then she was off. Bly pretended to be a woman interested in buying an infant so that she could write an exposé on baby sellers. She spent hot summer nights in an infamous tenement building. One of her pieces carried the subtitle “Nellie Bly Tells How It Feels to Be a White Slave; She Tries Her Hand at Making Paper Boxes; Difficulty in Getting a Job; Most Work Two Weeks for Nothing; After One Learns the Trade It Is Hard to Earn a Living; A Fair Picture of the Work.”

Most importantly, on her very first assignment for the New York World, the 23-year-old Bly got herself placed in an insane asylum so she could report firsthand on the conditions. Talk about commitment. In the landmark piece “Ten Days in a Madhouse,” she wrote:

On the 22d of September I was asked by the World if I could have myself committed to one of the asylums for the insane in New York, with a view to writing a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of the patients therein and the methods of management, etc. Did I think I had the courage to go through such an ordeal as the mission would demand? Could I assume the characteristics of insanity to such a degree that I could pass the doctors, live for a week among the insane without the authorities there finding out that I was only a "chiel amang 'em takin' notes?" I said I believed I could. I had some faith in my own ability as an actress and thought I could assume insanity long enough to accomplish any mission intrusted to me. Could I pass a week in the insane ward at Blackwell's Island? I said I could and I would. And I did.

She did indeed. Bly’s 10 days in the asylum, where she witnessed mistreatment, neglect, and hopelessness, helped spur reform and made her a journalism star. Sadly, Bly died alone and poor in 1922 of pneumonia. But more than a century after her career began, her work remains relevant and affecting. She tried to make the powerful and well-off confront the fact that their decisions and buying habits affected real human beings, who were capable of real suffering.

NYU Libraries has collected her work here.

May 4 2015 1:46 PM

Lean In Isn’t Just About Professional Fulfillment. It’s Also About Worst-Case Scenarios.

David Goldberg was the CEO of SurveyMonkey. But after he died unexpectedly Friday night while exercising on vacation in Mexico, most headlines referred to him in terms of his wife, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and her famous women-in-the-workplace philosophy. One Associated Press headline read, “David Goldberg, Tech Exec Married to ‘Lean In’ Author, Dies.” The cascade of tributes to Goldberg discussed his considerable professional achievements, but they took a backseat to praise about his dedication to his wife, to his two young children, and to supporting women. In the New York Times, Jodi Kantor wrote that people saw Goldberg as “the living, breathing, car-pooling center of a new philosophy of two-career marriage”—one in which women keep their professional ambitions intact even when starting a family.

So far, one remarkable thing has been missing from the conversation. Sandberg’s Lean In approach to a work-family balance has its flaws, contradictions, and omissions—among other things, it is applicable only to the relatively privileged, those who can afford child care and have an accommodating co-parent. But staying connected to the workforce even when you have young children isn’t just about professional fulfillment. It’s about staying prepared for a worst-case scenario. And the death of a beloved fortysomething husband, while you have young children, is a worst-case scenario.

After I was born, my mother, Regina Bosch—a very smart woman who has an MBA from Wharton—abandoned her consulting career to focus on her children. It seemed like a noble sacrifice: While her work meant a great deal to her, she thought that it would be better for my two brothers and me to have a stay-at-home mom. My father made a good living as an attorney, and our lives were comfortable.

But then, when I was 11, my father killed himself. My mother had been out of the workplace for more than a decade (with the exception of a part-time job she had just started, at a bank). Worse, she had just experienced the most traumatic event of her life: the suicide of her college sweetheart, whom she met at 17 and married at 21. Re-entering the workforce is difficult enough for women (and men) who take a few years off until their kids enter school or until a divorce changes circumstances. Jumping back into a career after 11 years, in the immediate aftermath of a spouse’s suicide, while trying to support three mourning children? Close to impossible.

“I had my age working against me. … I was 42, so people thought of me as perhaps older and not as vigorous,” she told me today. “And of course I had children to take care of, and I couldn’t do a lot of the schmoozing.” So she used the life insurance money to go back to school and get another master’s degree. But even with her skills and more up-to-date résumé, it was a major struggle. And the acute, complicated grief of losing my father to suicide didn’t help.

“I just didn’t have the emotional resources to dedicate myself to work 100 percent,” she said. “I was mourning Dad, but I also had to keep an eye on you guys, to make sure that you were OK.” Though she worked lots of jobs in the years that followed, her career never got back on the proverbial track; she didn’t earn the money or the personal fulfillment that she had before she leaned out. The gap in her résumé, emotional distress, health problems—many of them linked to trauma and the “mixed-up grief” suicide brings—all of it held her back.

Now, she regrets the time she took off after my brothers and I were born. “It would have been much better if I were working when he killed himself. I would have gotten another layer of support and had someplace to go that wasn’t so sad. And of course trying to prove yourself in a new job, when part of your mind is just this constant swirl of emotions, is really hard.”

Sandberg faces a terrible situation, but a situation that will not be made more terrible by worries about how to feed her children or pay the mortgage. She can focus on the most important issues—her grief and that of her children. Given Goldberg’s own successes, Sandberg would probably have been financially stable in widowhood even if she hadn’t leaned in. But in some ways, her message is even more powerful now: It looked like she had the perfect life, but no one is immune to shocking upheavals. Whatever her philosophy’s shortcomings, leaning in even a little bit—staying connected to the professional world while focusing on your children—can help keep you on your feet, if and when the universe lands a sucker punch.

May 4 2015 12:20 PM

Carly Fiorina Will Steal All Your Gender Cards

After running a lengthy shadow campaign, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and sheep demonizer Carly Fiorina has formally announced her presidential candidacy. Among the growing crowd of no-chance-in-hell Republican contenders, Fiorina stands out not just because of her gender, her obsession with Hillary Clinton (which my colleague Josh Voorhees detailed Monday morning), or for her remarkable lack of basic Internet aptitude, despite being a former tech executive—looks like she forgot to register carlyfiorina.org, which someone lifted to illustrate how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.

Fiorina also distinguishes herself from the pack because her pitch to voters is uniquely incoherent. Rand Paul is the Wannabe Libertarian Guy. Marco Rubio is the Young Guy. Ted Cruz is the Obama-of-the-Christian-Right Guy. Jeb Bush is the Guy Who Will Win the Nomination Guy. 

And Fiorina is, by her own account, the woman in the race who will stand up against those who want you to vote for the other woman in the race. 

In recent months, Fiorina has shown that the only thing she loves more than deriding those who play the “gender card” is playing the gender card. Oh, how she hates that gender card, telling the National Journal that Clinton “will play the gender card over and over again, which is unfortunate but predictable.” The gender card is a dirty move that brings shame onto all those who play it!

All those except for Carly Fiorina. “If Hillary Clinton were to face a female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won't be able to talk about,” Fiorina told reporters in April. “She won't be able to talk about being the first woman president. She won't be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged. She won't be able to play the gender card.” No she won't, because I, Carly Fiorina, will play it for her!

Hypocrisy aside, Fiorina's entire pitch is also based on a false premise, which is that being female gives politicians some kind of novel advantage—a notion easily disabused by a Congress that's more than 80 percent male and a 100 percent male presidency. In American politics, if anyone's been playing a gender card for the last 239 years, it's been men.

May 4 2015 11:47 AM

Satanists Claim Abortion Waiting Periods Violate Their Religious Beliefs

Conservatives are increasingly citing their right to religious liberty to defend using state property to proselytize and disobey laws protecting women and LGBTQ people from discrimination. But those efforts are getting a little more complicated, thanks to a group of pranksters who claim to worship Satan.

Whenever Christians erect Christian monuments on state property or distribute religious materials at public schools, the New York–based Satanic Temple is there doing its part, passing out satanic materials or erecting statues celebrating Satan. Now these expert trolls are tackling anti-abortion regulations, which they claim violate satanic religious beliefs; followers of the king of hell should be allowed to opt out of those regulations, they say. 

Satanists are rallying around “Mary,” who lives in rural Missouri and needs an abortion but is struggling to afford the extra expenses that the state's 72-hour waiting period will impose on her. Mary has the money for the abortion, but she doesn't have the estimated extra $800 that she needs to travel to the only abortion clinic in the state, in St. Louis, a trip that will require gas, hotel, and child care. “I personally would have liked to have the procedure done as soon as possible,” Mary told the Riverfront Times. “But with all the difficulties, how hard it is do this, it's been put off for several weeks.” She's now nearly 12 weeks pregnant. 

The Satanic Temple raised the money for Mary in a day; its plan is to present a letter to the abortion provider asking for an exemption on the grounds that, as a Satanist, Mary believes her body is “inviolable” and the waiting period imposes a “substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.” As a legal maneuver, this leaves much to be desired: The clinic, too, is being victimized by the regulation, and they're not the authorities standing between Mary and her abortion. The legally sound way to demand “religious liberty” exemptions to waiting periods is sue the state government, but the Satanists don't have those sorts of resources—they're not Hobby Lobby.

While the Satanists did misfire by taking aim at the clinic, as a public act of trolling, this stunt gets an A-plus. It exposes the double standards of those who claim to stand for “religious freedom,” and it highlights how waiting periods and other restrictions are actually an attempt to impose religious dogma about abortion on those who don't agree with it. Being denied medical care is actual religious oppression. Letting someone access her own medical care is not.

April 30 2015 5:52 PM

What Is the Dad Bod? America’s Leading Expert Explains.

The youth of America have been whispering about something they call the “dad bod” for years, trading definitions on Urban Dictionary and presenting photographic evidence on Total Frat Move. But it wasn’t until last month—when 19-year-old Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson published the explanatory essay “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod” on the college-focused website the Odyssey —that the term broke out of the teenage vernacular and into the general population.

“In case you haven't noticed lately, girls are all about that dad bod,” Pearson wrote. “The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.’ ”

“There is just something about the dad bod,” Pearson continued, "that makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive.”

Pearson’s piece has since emerged as the definitive primer on the dad bod, educating the women of the Cut and the guys of GQ on the appeal of the body type. I talked to Pearson about Hollywood’s most famous dad bods, what men think of the term, and how her own dad maintains his dad bod. (Our interview has been condensed and edited.)

Slate: Nobody at Slate had ever heard the term “dad bod” before reading your piece. But then I Googled it and learned that the younger generation has been discussing the dad bod for quite some time. Do you remember when you first heard about it?

Mackenzie Pearson: My friend pointed it out at the beginning of this year. We’d be walking around campus, and she’d whisper: That’s a dad bod. That’s a dad bod. I eventually became really familiar with the body type and was able to identify it. I don’t hear it a lot in daily conversation; it’s not really common lingo. But it’s a lot more common now. … I have no idea why the article took off so fast, but it really has caught fire. People are loving it. It’s been crazy.

Slate: If you used the term “dad bod” with 100 American 19-year-olds, how many of them do you think would know what you were talking about?

Pearson: I’d say about 40 percent, maybe 50. It’s definitely something where, if you know the term, you are very familiar with it. You know what a dad bod is and what it looks like. But if you don’t know, you kind of have to look at it and learn about it a bit more to be able to identify it.

Slate: So what is a dad bod?

Pearson: A dad bod is a guy who is not incredibly chiseled, but at the same time, is not unhealthy. He’s not overweight. He’s probably that guy who played football in high school and came to college and didn’t play football. Maybe he had a few too many slices of pizza, or a few too many ramens, and just ended up with a little bit of squish on top of his muscle. It’s a healthy body. It’s a boy-next-door look. He’s the kind of person you go on a hike with, and then at the end of the day, you eat pasta and lay in bed and watch a movie.

Slate: Is there a female equivalent to this?

Pearson: Hah. Probably. I haven’t really thought about the name for that. It’s probably just a normal girl body; maybe a little wider in the hips, and maybe a little bigger-chested.

Slate: Like “curvy”?

Pearson: Maybe. I feel like a good word to describe it would be thick. Not a big person, but just a thick person. Someone who isn’t too thin-looking, but has got some meat on her bones.

Slate:  Which famous men have dad bods?

Pearson: Chris Pratt, before he got all bulked up for that movie. He definitely has one. John Mayer kind of has one. Any dad celebrity, for the most part, is probably going to have a dad body.

Slate:  What about Jon Hamm?

Pearson: Yes. He’s got a great one. Jason Segal. He’s got a good one.

Slate:  What have men had to say about the article?

Pearson: I’ve had a surprising number of men and boys contact me saying, “I’ve had trouble with my body image. I’ve been insecure about my body because I’m a bigger guy. I’m a thick guy.” They’re reaching out and saying, “This really helped me with my self-confidence.” A lot of guys have been tweeting pictures of themselves at the beach, like, “Thanks for the encouragement. I’m strutting my dad bod proud today.” That’s been really great to see, that it’s caused such a positive ripple effect.

Slate:  Are some of these guys trying to go out with you?

Pearson: I’ve had a few offers. Yeah. Quite a few.

Slate: Some of my colleagues were saddened by the dad bod article, because it seemed to say that a lot of the appeal of the dad bod lies in a woman’s own insecurities.

Pearson: That was totally not the intention of the article. I think of myself as a very secure woman. I’m very proud of my body and who I am. But it is something that my friends have talked about, and like any other girl, I do have insecurities. I don’t want a guy to tell me what I can or can’t eat.

Slate: Has your dad read it?

Pearson: My dad has read it. He called me this morning to talk about it. My dad is super into CrossFit. He’s super, super fit and really healthy. He actually found a comment where someone had uploaded a picture from Facebook saying, “This is her, this is actually her and her dad!” My dad looks young. People think we’re dating all the time, because he’s in such great shape. He told me that he got a kick out of it. He sent it to my entire extended family, saying, “Look how funny my daughter is!” He’s really enjoyed the comments and the attention.

Slate: So does your dad have a dad bod, or is he too fit to have a dad bod?

Pearson: My dad actually does have a pretty good dad bod. He’s a dad, obviously, and he’s fit. But like any guy who’s in his late 40s, early 50s, he’s got that little bit of flab you just can’t get rid of.

Slate: All the other terms I’ve heard to describe male bodies are specifically for gay men. Bears, otters, twinks. Dad bod feels like something new.

Pearson: Yeah. You really don’t hear a lot of people talking about male bodies. Nobody talks about shapes of guys; they’re just guy-shaped. Some people have told me that the article is shallow, because it’s solely focused on the body. But there are a lot of terms for girls’ bodies—like ‘thigh gap’—that promote really unhealthy bodies. The dad bod is just a name for an average, healthy-looking male. I will say that whenever you’re going to date someone, don’t date them just for their body. It’s about personality and attraction. The body’s only one part of it.

April 30 2015 2:52 PM

Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?

Welcome to the second edition of DoubleX's Worst State of the Week award, recognizing distinguished and meritorious service by state legislative bodies and other entities in blocking the advancement of women's rights. Last week's winner was Alabama, but a busy legislative season means lots of movement in the rankings, and we have a fresh crop of victors this week.

Third place goes to Florida, which passed a bill mandating a 24-hour waiting period to get an abortion, plus a state-mandated guilt trip in the form of a handout on fetal development and a list of local so-called crisis pregnancy centers. But for all its efforts, Florida flagged badly behind silver medalist North Carolina, where the state house passed a bill extending their waiting period to 72 hours. "These young girls, when they go in there—very abrupt, very quickly—they make that decision that they’re going to get rid of this baby," North Carolina state Rep. Michele Presnell explained in defense of the three-day pause. (In reality, the majority of abortion patients are in their 20s and more than 60 percent have had at least one child already.)

But neither of these worthy states could hold a candle to Texas's fetus-fetishizing sadism this week. During debate over a bill regarding the management of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Rep. Matt Schaefer attempted to add an amendment restricting abortion after 20 weeks. What, you say? Aren't abortions already banned in Texas after 20 weeks? Well, yes, but no—Schaefer feels the ban isn't strict enough, because it allows women to abort in the case of severe fetal abnormalities.

Opponents of the amendment—which was eventually tabled—pointed out that it would inflict needless suffering on women by forcing them to give birth to babies who will simply suffer and die. But Schaefer was unmoved. He agreed that the babies in question "are going to suffer; they’re going to feel pain," but invoked a religious defense of creating this unnecessary suffering: "That’s part of the human condition, when sin entered the world, and it grieves us all."

Of course, when Texas lowered the abortion threshold from 28 to 20 weeks in 2013, it created ample opportunities for people like Schaefer to celebrate the human condition by forcing women to give birth to babies who would not survive outside the womb, as Charles Vestal wrote in an unforgettable and heartbreaking personal essay for Medium last year.

It's also worth noting that the original 20-week ban was justified on the scientifically unfounded grounds that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain. But when abortion bans create pain and suffering for women, pain and suffering suddenly becomes something God intended us to endure.

Though Schaefer's proposal didn't go anywhere, we've chosen to recognize his ambition by awarding the grand prize this week to Texas—and you can bet this legislation will pop up again before the session is over.

April 29 2015 2:15 PM

Bud Light Dreams Up the Worst Possible Slogan for a Beer Company

This week’s installment of “no, really, what was that marketing team thinking?” is brought to you by Bud Light, which is getting shredded on the Internet for a new slogan on bottles. The tag line: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.” Reformulated slightly, the slogan basically translates to “no means up for whatever,” and it didn’t take long for others to begin pointing out that such a statement can be interpreted as an endorsement of rape culture. In the hallowed tradition of Not an Onion Headline, the Bud Light campaign scanned as Not an Amy Schumer Sketch.

There are, of course, plenty of other terrible readings that can be teased from a slogan like that: “No means I’m up for drunk driving!” “No means I'm up for binging all of Daredevil tonight even though I have an early meeting tomorrow!” But the rape-culture overtones seem particularly glaring when “yes means yes” is so commonly tossed around in affirmative consent discussions, and a “no means yes” chant on Yale’s campus previously incited national outrage. As Christopher Ingraham points out at Wonkblog, there’s also the unavoidable fact that at least half of sexual assaults are associated with alcohol consumption.* To quote Ingraham: “That makes alcohol, by far, the most common date-rape drug.”

This slogan isn’t just your run-of-the-mill dumb marketing idea (see: SeaWorld). It’s an epically, mind-bogglingly bad marketing idea, especially as Bud Light already knows it needs to tread carefully with the #UpForWhatever campaign. Last month, the brand was widely criticized for a St. Patrick’s Day tweet it sent out that encouraged imbibers to “pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever” and included a photo of women partying. That tweet was later deleted. Of this latest party foul, Bud Light brand vice president Alexander Lambrecht says in a statement, “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior. As a result, we have immediately ceased production of this message on all bottles.”

You still can’t help but wonder how the slogan ever got approved in the first place. It seems like pretty much any sentient being could have determined that it wasn't in Bud Light's best interest to run it. Or maybe Bud Light’s marketing team is just really, truly #UpForWhatever.

*Correction, April 29, 2015: This post originally misspelled the last name of Christopher Ingraham.

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