The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Aug. 12 2015 12:35 PM

Watch Donald Trump Actually Argue in Favor of Planned Parenthood

It seems nothing can stop the Donald Trump train. He brought Fox News to its knees. Attempts to shame him for his abuse of Megyn Kelly didn't work. (Turns out that you can't use women as a punching bag for years on end and then turn around and tell your base that misogyny is wrong.) Donald Trump is a right-wing Frankenstein's monster: After years of conservative media encouraging their base to embrace trolling and the politics of resentment, their creation has turned on its masters. 

But now Trump might be brought low by the one thing that can still harm a right-wing darling: stating a fact. "Let's say there's two Planned Parenthoods in a way. You have it as an abortion clinic," Trump told Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Tuesday. "Now that's actually a fairly small part of what they do, but it's a brutal part, and I'm totally against it and I wouldn't do that. They also, however, service women."

"We have to help women," he added. "We have to look at the positives."

His framing of this issue is misleading, since abortions "service women." But Trump is right that Planned Parenthood's abortion services are separate from their other services—which he praised—when it comes to federal funding. Medicaid patients can use Planned Parenthood to obtain contraception, STI treatment, and well-woman screenings, but they have to pay for abortion out of pocket. Title X funding is used solely by Planned Parenthood to subsidize the cost of contraception and doctor visits for uninsured patients. 

Trump is, in other words, right. Not about much, but definitely about this. So much so that Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero told the Daily Beast, "Donald Trump seems to have realized that banning all abortions, shutting down the government, and defunding Planned Parenthood are extreme positions that are way too far outside the mainstream for even him to take."

Lila Rose, whose group Live Action helped publicize the videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, released a response statement saying Planned Parenthood is an "abortion conglomerate that is totally unnecessary." John Nolte at Breitbart argued that Planned Parenthood's policy of offering subsidized contraception but charging full price for abortions is "a shell game to skirt the laws that make it illegal for federal taxpayer money to fund abortions." Daniel Davis at Town Hall echoed this, arguing, "Each federal dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports and perpetuates the abortion industry."

It's not true. If you want an abortion at Planned Parenthood, you pay the cost yourself, either out of pocket or by billing a private insurance company. Taking away women's $20 birth control pills will not change that. It will just make the birth control pills cost more. 

Trump seems to get this, which is why he's carefully backing the status quo, in which birth control is offered at a below-market price but abortions are not. Maybe affordable contraception has been the target of this right-wing assault on Planned Parenthood all along. 

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Aug. 11 2015 2:41 PM

Sexting Is a Form of Affirmative Consent, and Americans Love It

In recent years there's been a drumbeat of sensationalist stories about the supposed dangers of sexting, mostly because people who use new tech for sexual gratification are a reliable impetus for moral panics. But two researchers at Drexel University are pushing back. A paper presented last weekend at the American Psychological Association's annual convention suggests not only that most adults engage in sexting, but that it can actually improve their relationships. 

In their sample survey of 870 Americans ages 18–82, Emily Stasko and Pamela Geller found that nearly 9 in 10 subjects had sexted before, and 82 percent had done it in the past year. Overall, they found a "robust relationship between sexting and sexual satisfaction." For people who weren't in "very committed" relationships, sexting also had a relationship satisfaction bump. For people who were already in committed relationships, there was no bump, but no adverse effects, either.

These results don't just tell us about how normal and everyday sexting is. They also tell us a lot about the debate over affirmative consent. 

Feminists have long argued that affirmative consent isn't really a new concept, but rather a way of codifying how most people have sex already: by constantly communicating, verbally and nonverbally, their interest in what's happening. Anti-feminists, however, argue that the ongoing communication model is a boner-killer and too much to ask of ordinary people.

"Reluctance to engage in frank sexual communication is treated [by feminists] solely as a puritanical hang-up rather than a valid desire to preserve some spontaneity or dignity," argued Cathy Young in the Washington Post, where she also sneered at the idea that consensual sex should be "the result of a rational, fully autonomous choice." 

But this study supports what feminists have been saying. Constant communication during sexual activity isn't just normal; it's what most people actively seek out. They look for reasons to do it just for the hell of it, even when they can't have actual sex—sexting is people affirmatively consenting all over the place! Far from being a drag, affirmative consent is exciting. There's no reason not to hold it up as a standard.

Aug. 11 2015 7:30 AM

Marco Rubio Wants You to Know that a Fertilized Human Egg Cannot Become a Cat (or a Donkey)

Last week, Byron York of the Washington Examiner asked why Marco Rubio, who was considered to be "a new member of the top tier in the Republican race" back in April, has slid down into seventh place in a crowded field, with only 5.2 percent of potential Republican voters. But York overlooks one hypothesis about Rubio's plight that should be considered more carefully: the dork factor. Rubio's latest dork-out is not rap-related, nor does it involve a water bottle, but it's still pretty hard to take.

When Rubio appeared on CNN after Thursday night's Republican debate, he kept insisting that this vague entity called "science" has declared that human life begins at conception. (Actual biologists, for what it's worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg.) CNN host Chris Cuomo vainly tried to point out that "science" says no such thing, and Rubio got a little excited. 

"Let me interrupt you. Science has—absolutely it has. Science has decided... Science has concluded that—absolutely it has. What else can it be?" he asked. Then Rubio reared up for what he clearly intended as his wowza line: "It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being."

Cuomo pointed out that Rubio was "oversimplifying it a little bit": "It having a DNA map—so does a plant." The question of when you think a fertilized egg/embryo/fetus becomes a person is, Cuomo said, a matter of "faith. That’s not science."

But Rubio, grinning with pleasure at the sick burn he's about to administer, replied, "Well, if they can’t say it will be human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”

Rubio is so in love with his joke that his campaign is making a thing of it: creating a petition—decorated with a cute picture of a cat—declaring that a fertilized egg has the potential to develop into a person and not a cat. Which no one disputes.

Now, I am the proud owner of two cats. Despite what Marco Rubio may think, I am aware I got them from the pound, not from my uterus. I'd guess most women who get abortions likewise understand that they are not terminating their right to cat custody. Rubio's education efforts on the whole cat-human distinction may be well-intended, but he can rest easy.

Human sperm cells, much like fertilized eggs, have human DNA. If a sperm cell is allowed to complete its development process instead of dying sadly with a million of his brothers inside a dirty gym sock, it will also, coupled with an egg, develop into a human being. 

Clearly, the only solution is to ban masturbation. Because it's not feline DNA you're killing off, guys. They may be microscopic, but your fellas are trying to turn into people, not cats. Because science.

Aug. 10 2015 1:14 PM

Why Men Kill Women Is Not a Mystery

Houston bore witness to a horrific mass murder over the weekend: Valerie Jackson, her six children, and her husband, Dwayne Jackson, were shot to death in their home. Police have arrested David Conley, who is Valerie Jackson's ex-boyfriend and presumed to be the father of her eldest son and one of the victims, Nathaniel Conley, 13. After negotiating with a hostage team for hours, David Conley finally surrendered and has been charged with murder. Conley had been previously charged with domestic violence for attacking Jackson in the home she shared with her husband. 

“We do not and cannot understand the motivations of an individual who would take the lives of so many people, including children," Chief Deputy Tim W. Cannon said in a news conference about the murders on Sunday. The urge to write off this level of horror as incomprehensible—as a form of unfathomable evil—is understandable. 

But the blunt fact is that we can understand the motivations of someone who would do this. Domestic homicide is committed almost entirely by men who feel off-the-charts levels of male entitlement—men who feel so entitled to control a woman just because they've dated or married her that they resort to violence to reassert control. 

Indeed, the 2015 Pulitzer for Public Service went to the Charleston Post and Courier for its chilling but thorough examination of South Carolina's domestic homicide problem. For anyone under the illusion that domestic homicide is mysterious—for anyone who cares about preventing violence at all, really—the seven-part series, titled "Till Death Do Us Part," is a must-read.

One of their interviewees was Therese D’Encarnacao, who survived her husband shooting her in the head after she told him she was leaving. "If I can’t have you, nobody can," he told her right before he pulled the trigger. 

“Some of this is rooted in this notion of women as property,"  state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter told the Post and Courier. That notion persists in prominent ways. Just look at the recent dust-up between singer Ciara and her rapper ex-boyfriend Future. As Lonnae O'Neal of the Washington Post pointed out last week, when Ciara posted Instagram pictures of their son cuddling her new boyfriend, Future melted down, and sadly, a lot of people on social media—along with New York radio host Ebro Darden—defended Future's tantrum. It's another way of corroborating the idea that a man gains ownership over a woman simply by having a relationship with her.

And if a man feels entitled to control a woman, it's not a huge leap for him to resort to violence to get his way. Domestic violence, even when it ends in tragedy as horrifying as the Texas murders, is probably the least mysterious form of violence there is. 

Aug. 10 2015 11:30 AM

As Long As Donald Trump Is Running, Conservatives Oppose Misogyny

If last Thursday's Republican debate was a trap, intended to lure Donald Trump into finally bringing his embarrassing campaign to an end, then Megyn Kelly was the perfect bait. Blonde, pretty, and impertinent: The only way she could have pushed Trump's buttons harder is if she'd asked him a question about alimony. She pressed him on his history of misogynist comments, no doubt knowing that the best way to send a sexist twit into a tantrum is to point out that he is a sexist twit.

Trump's predictable meltdown, in which he claimed that Kelly asked him tough questions because she had "blood coming out of her wherever," was both spectacular and tedious—really, a "she's on the rag" joke was all he could come up with? Trump claims that his comment is being misrepresented—and was intended as some kind of convoluted boxing metaphor—although his pushback on Twitter this morning muddies the issue further.

But it doesn't matter! Whatever Donald Trump meant by the comment, the opportunity is ripe for various Republicans to strike offended poses about the evils of misogyny

Those poses have been awkward, to say the least. Take, for instance, Scott Walker, who tweeted on Saturday that "there's no excuse for Trump's comments." Walker also explained during Thursday's debate that women should be denied abortions even at the risk of the woman losing her life. Trump has a nasty mouth, but hey, at least he doesn't think pregnancy should carry a potential death sentence.

Or take Jeb Bush, who fumed, “Give me a break. Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters? What Donald Trump said is wrong." Bush arguably insulted 53 percent of all voters when, as Florida governor, he muscled in on two cases to prevent a mentally disabled rape victim and a 13-year-old ward of the state from obtaining abortions, because one of the tenets of a "culture of life" is that children and the disabled be forced to give birth after being raped. But no period jokes!

Perhaps the most hilariously hypocritical posturing came to us courtesy of RedState founder and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, whose newfound anger over the existence of misogyny is so transparent that birds are flying into it. Erickson disinvited Trump to the annual RedState conference because "there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross." But as Max Fisher at Vox pointed out, Erickson's Twitter history shows that he loves crossing that line, especially to express anger at women he perceives as defiant. Erickson frequently derides feminists as "dateless," "too ugly to get a date," and, on one occasion, in need of a shave.

The sad news for Republicans, however, is that Trump's antics don't seem to be hurting him in preliminary post-debate polls. Is that really so surprising? For the past few weeks, Republican politicians have been crawling over each other to declare that abortions—and by implication, the nearly 1 in 3 women who will get abortions in their lifetimes—are "disgusting" and "gruesome." If you determine a woman's character on the basis of the bloody stuff that comes out of her uterus, you can't be surprised when your followers run with that logic. 

Aug. 7 2015 1:34 PM

It’s Awesome How Much the GOP Candidates Are Talking About Reproductive Rights

"But as Bill said earlier, Roe v. Wade, it's has been the law for 42 years, and I don't think we should continue to try to change it. But [what] we can do is defund Planned Parenthood, and by the way, put in place an absolute permanent ban on any taxpayer dollars ever being used to fund abortions." —George Pataki, during the 5pm GOP debate

"Well, the Supreme Court found a bill [the 2003 partial birth abortion ban] that I was the author of unconstitutional. What did I do? I didn't stop. I didn't say 'Oh, well we lost. It's the law of the land.' We worked together. The House and Senate, under my leadership, and we passed a bill, and we said, 'Supreme Court, you're wrong.'" —Rick Santorum, 5pm

(As Irin Carmon of MSNBC pointed out, Santorum's bill, which passed in 2003, was upheld by the court in 2007.)

"But in terms of shutting down the government, I don't think President Obama should choose to shut down the government simply to send taxpayer dollars to this group [Planned Parenthood] that has been caught, I believe, breaking the law, but also offending our values and our ethics." —Bobby Jindal, 5pm

(Planned Parenthood did not break the law.)

"Let's take the money that we would give to Planned Parenthood and put it in women's health care without having to harvest the organs of the unborn." —Lindsey Graham, 5pm

"Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi, she lies about e- mails. She is still defending Planned Parenthood, and she is still her party's frontrunner." —Carly Fiorina, 5pm

"I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives [other than aborting a life-threatening pregnancy] that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven." —Scott Walker during the 9pm GOP debate

"I have never said that [I favor a rape-and-incest exception for abortion bans]. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass laws in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States." —Marco Rubio, 9pm

"And what happened [to change my position from pro-choice to pro-life] is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances." —Donald Trump, 9pm

"The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations." —Ted Cruz, 9pm

"A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifthand Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception." —Mike Huckabee, 9pm

"I joined the Bloomberg Foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it. We never had a debate about the budget [which gave millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood]. It was presented and we approved it. Not item by item. Here’s my record. As governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. I created a culture of life in our state. We were the only state to appropriate money for crisis pregnancy centers. We expanded dramatically the number of adoptions out of our foster care system. We created — we did parental notification laws. We ended partial birth abortion. We did all of this. And we were the first state to do a “choose life” license plate. Now 29 states have done it and tens of millions of dollars have gone to create  a culture where more people, more babies are adopted... My record as a pro-life governor is not in dispute. I am completely pro-life and I believe that we should have a culture of life." —Jeb Bush, 9pm

Aug. 6 2015 2:52 PM

Lenny Kravitz’s Penis Proves That Lenny Kravitz Is the Perfect Male Celebrity

“Cue the music,” Tamron Hall commanded. An alt-rock staple from 1998 blasted across yesterday morning’s Today show. Hall closed her eyes and gathered her bearings. “He’s a friend of the show,” Hall began. “He’s Al Roker’s cousin. That’s a true fact.” She pointed into the air. “That is also Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Fly Away.’ One of the best.” As Hall neared the crux of the segment, her peppy anchor voice edged toward a staccato scream-laugh: “Kravitz was jamming on his guitar to his song ‘American Woman’ when he … did a squat. And then his leather pants just! Ripped right open! The jaws of life couldn’t put these things back together. And Lenny was, uh, commando. Exposing his. Manhood.”

After a tortuous discussion with co-hosts Roker and Willie Geist, Hall concluded by giving the camera two thumbs up, grinning madly, and announcing: “Lennnnnyyyy. For president!”

When Lenny Kravitz’s penis burst loose from his leather trousers at a Stockholm concert on Monday, the global community stared at the vision with blissful delirium. Kravitz “shredded so hard his dick fell out,” Gawker reported. “Oh, how you love Lenny Kravitz’s NSFW wardrobe malfunction,” USA Today told us. “And that's how you crack into the history books, folks,” a Swedish blog advised. BuzzFeed’s Dorsey Shaw distilled the moment into a hypnotic GIF. Perez Hilton praised his “mighty man-meat.” TMZ demanded an encore. “I killed myself laughing,” one concertgoer told the Swedish tabloid Expressen after catching the crotch pop live. Her mom “almost killed herself laughing too.” Us Weekly covered Steven Tyler’s reaction, and then Tyler and Kravitz’s daughters’ reaction to the reaction.

Few celebrity genitals have been feted so lavishly. Most coverage of celebrity exposures seems jaunty enough, until it inevitably veers into themes of blame, disgust, ridicule, and concern. When photographs of dongs attributed to guys such as Brett Favre, Anthony Weiner, Tyga, or even some Naval War College professor are publicly circulated, the pics are generally perceived as both proof and punishment for sexual misconduct. These guys were caught sexting someone they shouldn’t have, it seems—a cheating partner, or an unsuspecting colleague who didn’t ask for an intimate view—and so the dick pic’s very existence justifies our staring.

Female celebrities are often exposed through more sympathetic circumstances: All it takes is a gust of wind on the red carpet or a paparazzi crouched super-low outside the limo door for the world to catch sight of crotch or boob. (Given the constraints of modern fashion, male wardrobe malfunctions are rare; the Guardian even interviewed a leather expert to help peg just how odd it is for a high-end pair of trousers like Kravitz’s to spontaneously rip at the most crucial seam.) But even these accidental flashes bring shame upon those they uncover.

Take Tara Reid, whose left breast popped out from her dress outside Puff Daddy’s 35th birthday bash in 2004. Reid “suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction,” People reported. The New York Post breathlessly covered the “mammary meltdown.” In one dispatch, titled “TARA NEEDS HELP—WITH PLASTIC SURGERY,” a Post gossip asked “the inevitable questions”: “How come she didn't realize her dress was falling off on the red carpet? How drunk was she? And finally: What about those gross purple scars?” On MSNBC, Deborah Norville accused Reid of tearing other women down in order to boost her own tabloid career. “Half of herself was right there for the world to see,” Norville said. “And yet nobody talked about Tara Reid until this happened. It's a great way to get your name in the papers … It’s as if we've stepped back 50 years for women.”

“You would think my boob had popped out and shot Gandhi,” Tara Reid later said of the uproar, proving that she was always cleverer than the tabloids made her out to be. And as aggressive paparazzi, unruly gossip bloggers, and the Huffington Post conspired to air more and more celebrity skin, it became clear that this was not just a party girl problem. Eight years after Reid’s shaming, teen queen turned Oscar contender Anne Hathaway experienced a slightly subdued but still vicious press cycle when she was photographed sans underwear while exiting her car at the Les Miserables premiere. “Love her or hate her, Anne Hathaway endured a very embarrassing experience when she flashed her vajayjay for the paps,” Perez Hilton reported. On the Today show, Matt Lauer made a creepy joke—“Anne Hathaway, good morning, nice to see you, seen a lot of you lately”—then turned somber, asking Hathaway to tell the public what she’d learned from her mistake.

What makes Lenny Kravitz so special? Al Roker believes it’s a matter of size: Whether or not a man is embarrassed by a genital drop of this kind “depends on what falls out,” he says. Kravitz “is doing OK,” he added.

But I think it has more to do with Kravitz’s unique brand of radio-friendly male sexuality. Whether he’s playing Katniss’ ambiguously gay stylist in The Hunger Games, wearing a gold mesh tank top at the Super Bowl half-time show, stepping out in New York City swathed in the world’s largest scarf, pledging celibacy in middle-age, or accidentally unleashing his penis in the middle of a Guess Who cover at a Swedish theme park, Lenny Kravitz screams “I don’t bite … unless you’re into that sort of thing.” This week’s tittering commentators aren’t exactly laughing at Kravitz: Theirs is the kind of flushed, giddy reaction rarely witnessed outside a Las Vegas Chippendales' show or a Midwestern screening of Magic Mike XXL. Whenever women need to self-consciously perform their lust, Lenny Kravitz appears in a poof of glitter to satisfy the urge.

Tamron Hall indulged. “I looked at it multiple times,” she admitted yesterday. “You did. You showed everybody,” Roker cut in. “And I looked at the GIF,” Hall added. “I couldn’t stop.” It's clear that Lenny Kravitz's penis has succeeded in redefining the parameters of "NSFW" for the staff of the Today show. That’s how powerful it is. But let's not forget that there is a man behind the manhood. A father. A distant cousin of Al Roker's. A tireless performer of accessible rock and roll music who has recently released his tenth studio album, Strut. Something that feels so right can still be wrong. “I feel horrible,” Hall later said of peeking at Kravitz’s package. “And I’m sorry, Lenny Kravitz. I’m sorry.”

Aug. 6 2015 2:16 PM

Let’s All Throw Ourselves Another Moral-Panic Party About Technology

Moral panics over technology are a grand tradition—particularly if those technologies are perceived as giving men and women "too much" access to each other. The telephone, the bicycle, the postal servicethe sofa: The emergence of all these conveniences created moral panics, mostly centered around fears that these inventions would enable women to have sex with caddish men, rendering those ladies unmarriageable.

Now, Nancy Jo Sales warns in Vanity Fair, it's the smartphone that is creating a "dating apocalypse." The technology is different, but the argument is reminiscent of warnings about phones and bicycles, which likewise marked the end of love and marriage and everything that is good and pure in this world. 

Sales (who is best-known for reporting the source material for The Bling Ring, and for this immortal series of voicemails left for her by Pretty Wild's Alexis Neiers) paints a bleak picture of modern dating, one where men not only loathe women but—because Tinder makes hooking up so easy—men no longer have to pretend to like women in order to get laid. There's nothing new about her premise, which underlies books like The Rules and every moral panic over "hook-up culture": Men hate women, women want relationships with them anyway, and therefore women need to use sex as bait.

"Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps," she dramatically warns, "which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship."

Sales' interviews with single people she meets on the New York City bar scene do bear out her premise. The men largely brag about how much sex they have without having to do anything icky like act like they care about a woman. 

But Marty, who prefers Hinge to Tinder (“Hinge is my thing”), is no slouch at “racking up girls.” He says he’s slept with 30 to 40 women in the last year: “I sort of play that I could be a boyfriend kind of guy,” in order to win them over, “but then they start wanting me to care more … and I just don’t.”

The women Sales speaks to express bitterness:

“New York guys, from our experience, they’re not really looking for girlfriends,” says the blonde named Reese. “They’re just looking for hit-it-and-quit-it on Tinder.”
“People send really creepy shit on it,” says Jane, the serious one.
“They start out with ‘Send me nudes,’ ” says Reese. “Or they say something like ‘I’m looking for something quick within the next 10 or 20 minutes—are you available?’ ‘O.K., you’re a mile away, tell me your location.’ It’s straight efficiency.”
“I think that iPhones and dating apps have really changed the way that dating happens for our generation,” says Stephanie, the one with an arm full of bracelets.

Sales is empathetic, and seems to think that phones are making men act like pigs. "Could the ready availability of sex provided by dating apps actually be making men respect women less?" she wonders, leaving no question about the answer. But last time I was single, there was no such thing as a smartphone, much less a dating app, and you could still find at least a few men who thought women were good for nothing but sex.

There's also a danger in taking male braggadocio at face value. 

“I hooked up with three girls, thanks to the Internet, off of Tinder, in the course of four nights, and I spent a total of $80 on all three girls,” Nick relays proudly. He goes on to describe each date, one of which he says began with the young woman asking him on Tinder to “ ‘come over and smoke [weed] and watch a movie.’ I know what that means,” he says, grinning.
“We talk for a total of maybe 10 to 15 minutes,” he says. “We hook up. Afterwards she goes, ‘Oh my God, I swear I wasn’t gonna have sex with you.’ And I was like, Well, you did a pretty shitty job of that one.”

Sales reports this unskeptically, noting that Nick is "neither rich nor tall; he also lives with his mom," drawbacks that don't "seem to have any effect on his ability to get rampantly laid." Nick hasn't had a girlfriend in many years, he says, because "I don’t want to have to deal with all that—stuff.” 

It's possible that Nick's lack of a girlfriend is entirely voluntary. It's also possible that Nick lacks a girlfriend because it's hard to find a girl who's into sexist guys who live with their moms. We might never know!

Gross dudes were not invented by apps. And of course most single people you talk to at a bar will have sad tales of dates and hook-ups that didn't work out. (Most coupled people have those stories, too.) Single people on Tinder will never have reassuring stories about the dating scene for reporters to transcribe—if they did, they wouldn’t be single anymore.

Aug. 5 2015 3:30 PM

What the 2015 Air-Conditioning Debate Really Needed Was Some Mansplaining

The power of a mansplainer to ruin everything was never better illustrated than in this CNN clip, grabbed by RawStory’s David Edwards, where contributor Richard Quest dresses down all of womankind for wearing summery clothes in the summer. The segment, hosted by Brooke Baldwin, was intended to be a light-hearted discussion of a recent New York Times story exposing the unconscious sexist bias in how offices are air-conditioned. According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, office thermostats are generally set to favor men’s metabolic rates, which are faster than women’s and produce heat more efficiently ... but enough of all that, because it's time for Richard Quest to deliver his lecture:

“Look at what you’re wearing as opposed to sensible clothes,” Quest announced to his colleagues, as the laughing died down and things got weirdly tense. “A proper shirt and a vest and a jacket.”

“So I should be here in the middle of summer in New York in a polo neck and closed shoes and maybe a nice pair of jeans?” guest Samantha Barry asked.

“You don’t necessarily have to go that far. But certainly nothing too skimpy,” Quest continued.

The segment does a good job of distilling the entire debate. On one hand, you could use up less energy and money on air-conditioning, meaning that some people would have to wear lighter clothes instead of a suit and tie. On the other hand, you could ... just do nothing in the face of scientific and anecdotal evidence that lots of women who work in offices are freezing all day. That the latter approach has been winning out for so long tells us a lot about the subtle workings of sexism in day-to-day life.

Aug. 5 2015 2:52 PM

White House Launches a Diversity-in-Tech Initiative Just in Time for #ILookLikeAnEngineer 

The Obama administration is joining a larger push to increase diversity in Silicon Valley by targeting a broad array of companies and institutions to help make the tech industry a little less white-male-dominated.

"Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women, and only around one percent are led by African-Americans," the White House announcement read. "At present, only about four percent of U.S.-based venture capital investors are women."

To help improve those numbers, the administration is getting commitments from venture capitalists to invest more in companies run by women and minorities, from companies who are taking steps to improve diversity in hiring, and from public institutions such as governments and schools to think strategically about improving the diversity of people in the pipeline for tech jobs. 

The need for this was driven home this week by a piece in Medium by Isis Wenger, a platform engineer for OneLogin, which is based in San Francisco. Along with three male employees of the company, Wenger posed for recruiting ads that were posted at BART stops. The ads are nothing special, but the fact that Wenger is female (and young and attractive) caused a lot of sexist chatter online. 

"This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes," reads one typical example Wenger pulled off Facebook. "But I'm curious people with brains find this quote remotely plausible and if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like." The widespread nature of this kind of idiotic sexism shows exactly what women in tech are up against. 

In response, Wenger took a photo of herself with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer

It started trending on Twitter in no time, with female engineers of all stripes posting pictures of themselves. The more people understand that all sorts of people can be techies, the more opportunities will open up for those job seekers who aren't white men.