What Women Really Think

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.

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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."

April 11 2014 2:44 PM

One Way to Get a Safe Abortion in Brazil: Pretend You’ve Been Raped

An anonymous woman has gone public with her story about falsely claiming to have been raped to get an abortion in Brazil, where abortion is illegal in most other circumstances. Jill Filipovic and Ana Siedschlag interviewed the woman, going by the name of Juliana, in Cosmopolitan, where she talked about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to obtain a safe abortion. 

I tried lots of contacts. I found a lot of dodgy people, and I found 1,000 medicines that could help me out, but everything looked dangerous. My worst fear wasn’t dying. My worst fear was the abortion not happening and having a baby that was born with problems.

She tried a number of herbal and over-the-counter remedies, but nothing worked, and so she finally caved and decided to lie to the police about being raped:

April 11 2014 10:45 AM

Tennessee Legislature Passes Bill Criminalizing Pregnancy

Prosecutors have become quite fond of stretching the reach of child abuse and even murder laws to punish pregnant women for failing to deliver live or healthy babies, usually because those women used drugs during pregnancy. (Though not always.) Often the fact that the laws being used to prosecute are clearly not meant to address what women do to their own bodies while pregnant causes the cases to collapse. For instance, a recent Mississippi case I wrote about involving a mother charged with murder after her baby was stillborn was tossed out by a judge who ruled that the law wasn't meant to apply to situations such as hers. 

Well, the Tennessee legislature decided to fix this problem by passing a bill through both houses that would give prosecutors broad rights to press abuse charges against women who use illegal drugs during pregnancy and then give birth to unhealthy or stillborn babies. According to RH Reality Check, if the governor of Tennessee signs the bill, it will be the first law like it in the country. The law is a reaction to the passage of the Safe Harbor Act last year, an actually good bill that allows pregnant women with drug problems to seek treatment with the knowledge that Child Protective Services will not take their babies away because of it. (The women do have to stick to the program to keep that assurance.) But law enforcement insisted on retaining the right to throw a woman in jail—even if she has stuck with the treatment program—if the baby is born with problems and they decide that it must have been the drugs that did it.

April 11 2014 10:19 AM

Women Complain About Bad Consumer Experiences to Loved Ones. Men Complain to Everyone.

What’s simpler than complaining? Your waitress totally forgets about you for 90 minutes, so you go on Yelp and vent. Or that splurge of a haircut makes you look like a poodle, so you go bark about it to your friends and family. In a competitive marketplace, such ripples of ire can spread outward and substantially impact businesses, so it’s no surprise that the etiology of The Gripe keeps researchers up at night.    

Straightforward though it seems, giving a product or a consumer experience a negative review is actually a complex operation, unfolding according to a vertigo of factors. Studies have already shown that people complain more when the product is expensive, or when they’re pretty certain the crappy outcome wasn’t their fault.

A new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research goes deeper, teasing apart how social and psychological forces determine when and how we whine. For most people, write authors Yinlong Zhang and Lawrence Feick, the desire to grouch about a consumer experience is filtered through two drives. The first, “image impairment concern,” is the wish to look good in others’ eyes. Those with high IIC tend to avoid complaining because it might make them appear whiny or less-than-savvy in their purchasing decisions. The second drive, an inclination to warn the people you care about away from terrible restaurants or easily breakable toys, counteracts the first. Interweaving the two desires will produce an individual pattern of bitching-about-things, a peevishness MO. What the researchers wanted to know was: Do men and women tend to follow different blueprints for expressing customer dissatisfaction?

April 10 2014 12:13 PM

The Most Important BuzzFeed Quiz of All Time

Thanks to the BuzzFeed quiz, we now all know which city we should live in (Paris), what kind of sandwich we are (grilled cheese), and which Twin Peaks character we are (Agent Dale Cooper). BuzzFeed quizzes exploit our urge to belong, to categorize ourselves into an identifiable group that we are instantly a part of. (Oh, you’re a Miranda? Me too!) Which is why the latest BuzzFeed quiz, “How Metal Is Your Period?” is such a masterpiece of the form.

The questions range from the mundane (Q: “Have you ever tried to put in a tampon only to discover you forgot to take the old one out?” A: Uh, yes, who hasn’t?) to the silly (Q: “Have you ever used your period blood to cast magical spells in your enemies?” A: No, but good idea) to the horribly, tragically real (Q: “Have you ever bled through your underwear, pants, and onto a chair?” A: Yes, ninth-grade English class. I was the last to leave. The longest three minutes of my life). The beauty of this quiz is that it normalizes the bloody corporeal mess that women everywhere experience but rarely talk about. There were things on this list that I thought only I had gone through, and, man, it is good to know that enough other women have experienced the same to have the incident make it onto the quiz. I am apparently not the only woman who has DIY’d a pad or tampon out of household materials. “How Metal Is Your Period?” is like the best bodily fluid joke of all time—gross, but also these things are human, and it’s OK to laugh about them.

Women, take this quiz and rejoice: You are not alone. Also, make the men in your life take the quiz, too. No, they won’t actually be able to check any boxes (hopefully), but it will sure be more informative than “Which Haim Sister Are You?

April 10 2014 12:12 PM

Charles Murray Stands by His Claim That There Have Been No Significant Female Philosophers

Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve and Coming Apart: The State of White America and a "white nationalist" according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, has been in the news lately because Republican politicians like Greg Abbott, who is running for governor against Wendy Davis in Texas, and Paul Ryan like citing him as an expert on things like education and economics. On Tuesday, however, audiences at the University of Texas at Austin had the pleasure of hearing Murray's half-baked theories regarding the limits of the female intellect.

April 9 2014 4:10 PM

Hey, Hillary, Here’s Some Data Showing How You Could Make a Difference

I am thinking about it,” hedged Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, when asked at a San Francisco marketing summit whether she planned to run for president in 2016. "The hard questions are not do you want to be president, or can you win. The hard questions are why. Why would you want to do this and what can you offer that could make a difference.” Though the thickness and toughness of the star-spangled glass ceiling sometimes makes us forget it, data on female heads-of-state exists: Could looking at it help Clinton figure out what she has to offer?

April 9 2014 2:13 PM

Vance McAllister May Be an Embarrassment, but He's Not a Sexual Harasser

Sex scandals: The old reliable of the news media business. A congressman might hustle for months trying to get even 30 seconds of news coverage for proposed legislation, but as Rep. Vance McAllister has discovered, 30 seconds of kissing someone who is not your wife on camera means guaranteed hours and, if it really blows open, days of coverage. It's no surprise, then, that Rep. Jackie Speier would want to muscle in on that coverage by linking the kissing scandal to her desire to pass a law requiring sexual harassment training for congressional representatives and their staffs. 

In a short speech before the House Tuesday, Speier argued that the McAllister scandal just shows how badly anti-harassment legislation is needed. "Regrettably this week, another one of our colleagues was discovered engaged in inappropriate action with one of his staff," she explained after chastising her colleagues for treating Congress less like a dignified body and more like a "frat house." She then went on to describe her frustration at watching Anita Hill's testimony during Clarence Thomas's 1991 nomination hearings, where Hill was treated with undue contempt by a bunch of male senators who seemed to believe that women routinely make false allegations for the lulz. Speier worries that not enough progress has occurred since then, and her colleagues need a little more education about the issue of sexual harassment.

April 8 2014 4:12 PM

The Number of Stay-at-Home Moms Is Rising. These Are the Women We Ignore.

The number of stay-at-home moms in the U.S. has grown to 29 percent of all mothers with children under 18, according to Pew. That’s up from a modern low of 23 percent in 1999. This might seem surprising—aren’t more women working these days?—but that’s simply because we’ve been trained to think of stay-at-home moms as rich suburban types. The Pew report corrects this image: SAHMs are younger, less white, more likely to be foreign born, less likely to be college educated, and more likely to live in poverty than working moms. Twenty percent of SAHMs are single, which is slightly more than in 1999, but still a lot less than in 1993, when 29 percent of SAHMs were unmarried.

Only 20 percent of all moms fit the old fashioned June Cleaver image: staying at home and married with a working husband. That’s down from 40 percent in 1970. And even fewer SAHMs are the photogenic, highly educated “opt out” or “feminist housewife” moms who tend to dominate media stories about mothers who don’t work outside the home. Only 370,000 married SAHMs have a graduate degree and a household income of more than $75,000—that’s out of a total U.S. population of more than 316 million and counting.