The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

April 19 2017 3:50 PM

Fox News Finally Fires Bill O’Reilly Over Sexual Harassment Allegations



Bill O’Reilly has been officially ousted from Fox News in the wake of several sexual-harassment allegations, ending his 20-year career as a host on the network.



“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement on Wednesday.



April 18 2017 5:59 PM

Abortion Is 20 Times More Dangerous on TV Than It Is In Real Life

When a woman on TV experiences an unplanned pregnancy, the story usually goes one of two ways: She discovers it’s an unexpected blessing and opts to keep the baby, or she has a miscarriage, dodging the decision-making process altogether. Occasionally, she elects adoption or decides to terminate her pregnancy. If she gets an abortion, more than four times out of 10, something’s going to go wrong.

A new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a California-based reproductive-health research group, found that 42.5 percent of the abortion storylines on TV from 2005 to 2016 included a “complication, intervention, or major health consequence"—more than 20 times the actual rate of abortion-related complications. Five percent of them ended in the death of the patient, a rate about 6,850 times higher than the mortality rate for abortion in the U.S.

April 18 2017 5:33 PM

The Hot New Thing in Ladies’ Footwear Is Not Fully Putting Your Foot Into the Shoe


Mules, you learn in biology, do not technically count as a species because they, the product of male donkeys and female horses, cannot reproduce. If only the same could be said of mules the shoes, which retailers are producing and reproducing and, contrary to their name, frankly seem to breed like rabbits. Mules are everywhere lately. Elle says they’re the "it" shoe of summer. (Gesundheit.)




But that’s fashion, always changing, a new thing every season. It’s exhausting. So we’re doing mules now? Got it, mules. Here’s your primer: Mules are backless, so all clogs are technically mules, but not all mules are clogs. (For more on this distinction, visit the wide and fascinating world of mule vs. clog content available via your favorite search engine.) Mules are sometimes open-toe, sometimes not, sometimes heeled, sometimes not. They’re quite versatile; you may be wearing mules right now and not know it.


April 18 2017 2:38 PM

How Gender Quotas Can Get Everyone Better Benefits and More Competent Leaders

Female ironworkers, who make up just 1.6 percent of their trade’s 130,000-member union, will soon be eligible for a chunk of paid maternity leave that rivals some of the most generous tech-company plans. Pregnant women and new mothers in the union will get between seven and eight months of paid leave.

Only six weeks, or eight in the case of a Cesarean section, can be taken after the baby’s birth, however. The other six months are meant for pregnancy. “The challenges of physical work associated with the ironworking trade create unique health challenges that can jeopardize a pregnancy,” the union said in a statement. The president of the union told Buzzfeed he once heard a woman at a conference on women in the field talk about working months into her pregnancy, because she couldn’t afford unpaid leave. She suffered a miscarriage.

Testimonies like these helped convince the overwhelmingly male leadership of the union and related trade groups to take up the cause of maternity benefits for workers. But contractors and members of management also realized that they stood to benefit from lower attrition rates of female employees who felt supported by their employers. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to train a new ironworker over a four-year apprenticeship. Every time a woman leaves, management loses that investment.

April 18 2017 8:15 AM

Do Not Malign, but Instead Marvel at the Coachella Peacocks

As much as it’s a music festival, Coachella is also an annual occasion for making fun of people’s outlandish looks. “People Wearing the Same Coachella Garbage Trends as Seen in Previous Years” is how the website LAist headlined its slide show of photos from the festival’s first weekend. (The festival will manifest for a second go-round this coming weekend.) Cosmopolitan’s website, in its fairly comprehensive coverage of events so far, rounded up the “28 Most Naked AF Outfits From Coachella.” Pity the poor Coachella-goer who hoped to earn a spot on Cosmo’s list of “75 Coachella Street Style Looks That Are Totally Lit” and ended up being deemed “Naked AF” instead. BuzzFeed took an interactive approach, inviting readers to vote in a post called, “Be Honest: Would You Wear These Coachella Outfits?” For all but three of the 15 outfits shown, the no votes outnumbered the yeses. The implication of all these posts, and many more like them, is: Wow, those are some silly-ass outfits.

April 17 2017 5:54 PM

Brio, the Hottest Magazine for Teen Girls Who Fear Acne and the Almighty, Is Back!

From 1990 to 2009, the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family published a magazine for teen girls called Brio. For several years in the early ‘90s, I was a Brio subscriber, thanks to a gift subscription whose origins are now lost to time. In my admittedly hazy memory, the highlights of 1990s-era Brio were a relationship advice column about not having pre-marital sex, a culture column about not listening to music about pre-marital sex, and interviews with young Christian celebrities who were not having pre-marital sex. I loved it.

Focus on the Family folded Brio and its brother magazine, Breakaway, in 2009. The closure was part of a post-crash budget readjustment at the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit, and part of a longer wave of magazine closures that saw the end of Sassy, YM, Teen, Elle Girl, and Teen People, to name a few. But now, Brio is back. “It was such a good resource in a marketplace where there aren’t too many voices committed to a Biblically based worldview for teenagers,” said Bob DeMoss, a Focus on the Family vice president who launched the original Brio and started lobbying for its revival when he returned to the organization last year. The first issue, with 19-year-old Duck Dynasty daughter Sadie Robertson on the cover, is arriving now in subscribers’ mailboxes.

April 17 2017 5:14 PM

In Three Months, the Number of Parents Apprehended With Kids at the Mexican Border Fell 93 Percent

The Trump administration is boasting of an immigration-policy success after the Department of Homeland Security reported a 93 percent decrease in parents apprehended with children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. In December, border patrol agents apprehended 16,000 parents and children, Reuters reports. Immigration numbers usually increase in March, when the weather gets warmer, but this year, DHS recorded only a little more than 1,100 apprehensions of parents and children for the month. The drop was even more significant than the already-steep decrease in total apprehensions, which fell 72 percent from December to March.

In early March, Reuters reported that DHS was considering a policy that would separate mothers and their children if apprehended at the border, an unprecedented shift away from previous policies that allowed many people seeking asylum to live freely in the U.S. until their hearings instead of in detention centers. The proposed policy, which would detain mothers in detention facilities and send their children into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, was floated as a way around a federal court ruling that prohibited long-term detention of minors. It was justified as a deterrent that would keep parents in fear of losing their children from making the journey to the U.S.

Now, it seems the policy was as effective as a threat as it might have been as a course of action. DHS never even had to implement the proposed policy to see a dramatic reduction in the fastest-growing segment of undocumented immigrants or asylees: parents crossing the border with children. There were other threatened policies, including one that would have allowed the U.S. to prosecute parents for human trafficking if they hired smugglers to get their children across the border safely. But parents have not been prosecuted, and mothers have not been detained while their children got sent to HHS facilities. Instead, thousands of parents were forced to choose between staying at home in potentially dire situations and risking rumored criminal charges or enforced separation from their children in the U.S.

Trump did make one recent concrete shift in his administration’s approach to asylum cases. In February, updated instructions for asylum officers directed them to be more skeptical of asylum applicants claiming “credible fear” of returning to the nation from which they fled. In 2016, asylum officers found about eight in 10 cases of claimed credible fear to be valid and moved those applicants forward in the asylum application process. Previously, asylum officers were instructed to move a case forward and let a judge make the final decision even if an officer had reasonable doubt about an applicant’s credible fear. The new documents don’t contain that instruction, and they go further to advise that a person’s awkward demeanor or caginess may be signs of untrustworthiness instead of the logical product of fear, trauma, or a language barrier.

Reuters claims that after it broke the news that DHS was considering separating mothers from children in March, “Democratic members of Congress blasted the proposal, and within days it had made headlines across Mexico and Central America. … The possibility that mothers and children might be separated at the border caused particular alarm.” Two-thirds fewer parents with children were apprehended at the border that month. Some were convinced to stay in their dangerous home circumstances by U.S.- and U.N.-funded public service announcements that aired in Central American countries, telling horror stories of journeys north and quoting parents who allegedly sent their kids to the U.S. for a better life, then never heard whether they made it there safely.

This makes it seem like the leak of the DHS proposal could have been intentional. As I wrote in March, the policy would have been largely unenforceable at current immigration rates. The U.S. government is not equipped to detain and take into protective custody the thousands of extra parents and children who would have otherwise been allowed to live independently while applying for asylum or waiting for immigration hearings. By leaking a harsh proposed policy instead of actually setting it in motion, DHS was able to strike fear into families without having to enforce a policy and deal with the poor human-rights optics it would have yielded.

Last month, an attorney at Oakland, California’s Centro Legal de la Raza told me the proposed DHS policy wouldn’t even work as a deterrent, because “People don’t leave their country and travel through multiple other countries, often really dangerous journeys, with their children just for kicks. People are fleeing because their lives are under threat.” She went on: “A lot of our clients, a lot of the stories we hear, are that people … get a threat and within that week, they’re gone. I don’t think people are looking into the details of border patrol policy at the moment when they make that difficult decision to leave their home.”

In statements about the steep decline in parents bringing children across the border, the DHS has made the opposite argument—that crueler policies promise to make migrating to the U.S. almost as punishing as the circumstances in refugees’ home nations. As a DHS spokesman told Reuters, the rumors of mistreatment they might receive at the U.S. border resulted in “15,000 women and children who did not put themselves at risk of death and assault from smugglers to make the trip north.” Thousands of these families still have credible fear of staying in their communities, which would make them eligible for asylum in the U.S. The only thing that’s changed is a newfound fear of what the U.S. might do to them once they get here.

April 14 2017 6:16 PM

This Week in Women’s Rights: Abortion Bans, Equal Pay, and GPS Tracking for Domestic Abusers.

Donald Trump signed a law on Thursday that will make it easier for states to direct federal family-planning funding away from Planned Parenthood centers and other health clinics that provide abortion care. The legislation was a reversal of a last-ditch effort Barack Obama made to protect these health-care providers from a wave of state legislators trying to prove their commitment to fetal development over women’s health.

Ah, well! They say nothing good can last, all is impermanent, and presidents who love “beautiful babies” will lose all respect for those babies when they grow up to be adult women. At least one state has stepped up to protect its residents from potentially losing access to health care if federal funding for Planned Parenthood goes away. Last week, Maryland became the first state to promise to fill in up to $2.7 million in funds the state’s nine Planned Parenthood centers would lose if Trump and Republicans in Congress ever decide to do what they’ve been promising to do for years.

April 14 2017 3:41 PM

Equal Pay Legislation Banning Salary History Questions Is Absolutely Based in Data

There’s a hot trend sweeping the field of equal-pay legislation right now, and business leaders aren’t happy about it. Last summer, Massachusetts passed the country’s first law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants for their current salaries or salary histories. The legislation was touted as a way to counter the pay discrimination that can follow a woman throughout her career when the salary bump she gets with each job move is based on pay that’s already lower than that of her male peers. Business alliances in Massachusetts opposed the law, calling it “counterproductive” and “misguided,” and claiming it would lead to “unbridled litigation.”

April 13 2017 6:06 PM

Bless Dianne Bentley, Who Undid Her Cheating Governor Husband With His Exceedingly Boring Sexts


There are several losers in the extramarital affair that brought down Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, starting with the man himself, who ended up resigning on Monday and pleading guilty to two misdemeanor crimes. There’s also his paramour, Rebekah Mason, who resigned from her job when news of the affair first broke last year. The entire state of Alabama lost its governor and took another hit to its already-tattered reputation in the same month a hit podcast named one of its municipalities “Shit Town.” Poor Robert, poor Rebekah, poor Alabama.



But, to the extent that sex scandals that lead to ethics violations and campaign-finance missteps can have winners, the Alabama fiasco has a big one: Dianne Bentley, Robert’s ex-wife. This hero was instrumental to the state legislature’s investigation and Robert’s eventual downfall, giving her the upper hand in a familiar scenario that usually relegates politicians’ scorned spouses to the role of the “Good Wife” or hurt victim.