The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Jan. 13 2017 2:10 PM

Senate GOP Shoots Down Proposed Protection for Maternity Coverage, Free Contraception

After 1 a.m. on Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a series of amendments that would have safeguarded individual parts of the Affordable Care Act that are popular among voters across the political spectrum. Democrats had proposed measures that would have codified the provisions that help people with preexisting conditions get fair insurance, protect children’s access to Medicaid, make it easier for veterans to get insurance, and let young people stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Republicans voted each one of them down.

They also narrowly blocked an amendment from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would have prevented Congress from touching the ACA’s provisions for women’s health care, even if it axed the bulk of the rest of the law. (The vote was 49-49, with Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, and Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV, voting with the Democrats.)*

Jan. 13 2017 11:51 AM

Why Is Bullet Journaling Popular? It Makes You Feel Productive for Doing Just About Anything.

It’s January, the time of year when simply everyone is suddenly committed to whipping themselves into shape, eating healthily, and getting organized. If my inbox is any indication, gyms and diet programs have made heavy investments in marketing this month, but when it comes to productivity, we’re on our own. Most of us learn about new systems that promise to revolutionize our lives the old-fashioned way: by ogling posts by total strangers on Facebook and Instagram.

Judging from an informal poll of my Slate colleagues, January 2017 is the month when productivity proselytizers pushed the bullet journal into the forefront of the national psyche, though the system has been around for several years. A bullet journal, if the concept hasn’t yet penetrated your consciousness, is a mighty mash-up of a running to-do list, a mid-range planner, and a life log. The best way to learn more is to watch the video in which creator Ryder Carroll explains the system.

Jan. 13 2017 9:16 AM

Monopoly Is Having Fans Vote on New Playing Pieces. One of Them Should Be an IUD.

In a nod to the rise of crowdsourcing, Hasbro is calling on fans to vote on which new tokens Monopoly should introduce to join its classic wheelbarrow, top hat, thimble, and other playing pieces. Through Jan. 31, you can go to votemonopoly.com and choose from a range of options, including a hashtag, a scooter, multiple emojis, and various and sundry other objects that may or may not be more representative of modern life than the previous fleet of tokens.

In many ways, this contest is a sham. The votes will determine the pieces in a new “Token Madness” edition of the game, not the traditional, OG Monopoly that actually mattesr. Also, many of the 50-ish options the game is offering … are bad? One is a fish. Just, a fish. The aforementioned emojis, despite being conceptually #so #now, don’t even look like the classic Unicode emojis most people are familiar with, and then there’s the fact that emojis are digital things that don’t really exist in the meatspace, so trying to re-create them as solid objects just seems like missing the point. There’s also a gramophone, a cellphone that looks like it’s from the late ’90s, a fire, a janky-looking flip-flop … who picked these?

Jan. 12 2017 6:42 PM

The House of Representatives Just Passed a Health Care Bill That’s Actually Good for Women

Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will likely mean very bad things for women’s health. We stand to lose insurance coverage of contraception and maternal and newborn care. But the majority-Republican House of Representatives gave us a teeny, tiny reason for hope on Tuesday night by passing a bill called the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act. It doesn’t mean that we can count on women’s health being a priority in whatever plan replaces the Affordable Care Act, but it does confirm that there are Republicans who understand that women have unique health needs that cannot simply be ignored. At this moment in the time, with the bar for caring about women set so low by Trump, his proposed cabinet, and the Republican leadership, I’ll take this as good news.

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act is a bipartisan bill that would require the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to identify regional shortages of maternity health professionals around the country. HRSA currently identifies shortages in three other areas: primary care, mental health care, and dental care. The bill would allow the National Health Service Corps, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services that was created to address medical provider shortages in underserved areas, to place more OB-GYNs and certified nurse midwives in those areas. A previous version of the bill was first introduced in March 2015 and passed the House last November, but never made it to the Senate floor.

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?

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