Teen's Facebook Post Costs Her Dad $80,000. Oops.
So Dana Snay, a Miami teenager, is probably in big trouble right now. As the Miami Herald reports, an appeals court just tossed out her father’s $80,000 age-discrimination settlement because she violated the confidentiality agreement by bragging about it on Facebook. The offending post:
Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.
“TMI,” cried Gulliver's lawyers. Patrick Snay had served as headmaster for the Gulliver Preparatory School for years when they chose not to renew his contract. He sued and settled, but only on the condition that he and his wife keep the “terms and existence” of the agreement private. So the infractions here were twofold: Snay divulging the deal to his daughter and his daughter broadcasting it to all her "friends."
What can we learn from their misfortune, fellow millennials? Do not boast. Do not mess with attorneys. Do not overshare on social media, especially when you’re not even going on a European vacation. (Snay was joking.) In fairness, secrets, especially happy ones, have always been difficult to keep—throwing Facebook into the mix just raises the stakes. (Something about that hypnotically soothing blue banner and gentle invitation—what's on your mind?—wreaks havoc on your inhibitions.) Maybe, in fact, it's not Dana's fault, but Facebook's fault. Facebook: You should pay up. What's $3,478 per word to Mark Zuckerberg?
Good News: U.S. Gives Poor Women and Children Money for Fresh Food. Bad News: It’s $2 a Month.
After three decades of stasis, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is getting an overhaul, with a special emphasis on making it easier for parents to buy fresh produce for their children. Throughout most of its history, WIC has only covered what were perceived as "basic" foods: bread, eggs, milk, infant formula, canned tuna fish. In 2007 there was an interim policy that allowed parents to also buy fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or vegetables. This finalized policy goes beyond that, expanding the allowance for each child's fresh produce purchases by 30 percent.
On paper, this sounds like a big deal and really good news, but it's actually a depressing reminder of how small-minded this country has become when it comes to dealing with the problems of poverty and nutrition. As Reuters reports, that 30 percent produce expansion amounts to a measly $2 a month per kid. According to the cost-of-living index website Expatistan, in Indianapolis, that extra $2 will get you about a pound of apples (so, two or three apples) or a little more than a pound of tomatoes for the whole month. If you want to save money by going frozen, you're not getting a whole lot more. You can get one bag of frozen peas or one bag of frozen corn, with a few coins left over for a small orange, if you're lucky. Or perhaps you want one can of green beans with enough left over for a banana.
There's a lot of enthusiasm for telling low-income Americans to eat healthier (despite, as Heather Tirado Gilligan wrote here at Slate, studies that show that the stress of living in poverty is the likelier cause for lower life expectancy among the poor). But can a fresh-food push do anything at all if the fresh food in question continues to cost more than people can afford? An apple a day to keep the doctor away is not really great advice for people who can only afford two apples a month.
Why Are Girls Nervous About Math? Maybe Because Moms Are, Too.
We parents pass on all kinds of traits to our kids, from our hair and eye color to our love of slapstick comedy or chocolate ice cream. One characteristic we surely don’t want to hand down to our children, however, is our own anxiety about a particular school subject. And yet that’s often just what happens, according to Elizabeth Gunderson, a researcher at the University of Chicago. Earlier this year, Gunderson and her colleagues published an article in the journal Sex Roles that examined the “adult-to-child transmission” of attitudes about learning—in particular, how mothers’ unease with mathematics may be passed down to their daughters. Parents’ “own personal feelings about math are likely to influence the messages they convey about math to their children,” Gunderson notes—and kids will readily recognize if these feelings are negative. Becoming aware of our anxiety is the first step toward stopping such transmission in its tracks.
Previous studies have looked at how parents’ stereotypes (“boys are better at math, and girls are better at reading”) and expectations (for example, holding sons’ academic performance to a higher standard than daughters’) affect their children’s orientation toward learning. Gunderson takes a different tack, suggesting that parents may influence their offspring’s attitudes in two more subtle ways: through their own anxiety, and through their own belief that abilities are fixed and can’t be improved (expressed in commonly-heard comments like “I’ve never been good at science,” and “I can’t do math to save my life”). Research shows that school-aged children are especially apt to emulate the attitudes and behaviors of the same-sex parent—a source of concern if we want to improve girls’ still-lagging performance in traditionally male-dominated fields like science and mathematics. If mom hates math, a young girl may reason, it’s OK for me to dislike it too.
The Downsides of Having a Female President
Wednesday night on the O’Reilly Factor, the eponymous host invited two female guests to weigh in on a pressing question. “There has got to be some downside to having a woman president, right?” O'Reilly queried USA Today columnist Kristen Powers and Republican strategist Kate Obenshaim. When they responded with blank looks, O'Reilly started spitballing: “When you’re president of the United States, you have to deal with people like Putin; you have got to deal with the real ornery mullahs in Iran," he said. "Look, the mullahs in Iran, they think women are, like, subspecies.”
His guests weren’t sold, though. Powers did finally admit that it's possible a female executive might feel pressure to appear tough. (The suggestion inspired a brief digression where everyone nodded importantly while pointing to Hillary Clinton's voting record on Iraq.)
It turns out the "downsides of a female president" question has haunted O’Reilly since at least 2008, when he posed it to author Marc Rudov as part of a “He Said, She Said” segment that did not actually involve any women talking. “You mean besides the PMS and the mood swings?” Rudov replied. He then clarified that he was joking.
Ha, ha. But seriously, America: Here's a list of the real problems we'll bring upon ourselves once we elect a female president:
- Glass ceiling shatters and now there’s glass everywhere
- A lot of pressure on the first gentleman to tone down his arms
- SOTU speech gets lost in depths of president's enormous purse
- Interminable line for Oval Office bathroom
- The matriarchy
- Rather than pardoning the turkey, president executes it, Game of Thrones–style, to show strength
- Hair in the presidential shower drain
- Basketball court replaced with Zumba room
- President will try to negotiate a raise after a year
- All-juice state dinners
- Everyone in the White House will roast because the president is always cold
- President can’t decide what text from Putin really means
New Study Confirms It: Breast-Feeding Benefits Have Been Drastically Overstated
A new study confirms what people like our own Hanna Rosin and Texas A&M professor Joan B. Wolf have been saying for years now: the benefits of breast-feeding have been overstated. The study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine is unique in the literature about breast-feeding because it looks at siblings who were fed differently during infancy. That means the study controls for a lot of things that have marred previous breast-feeding studies. As the study’s lead author, Ohio State University assistant professor Cynthia Colen, said in a press release, “Many previous studies suffer from selection bias. They either do not or cannot statistically control for factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment—things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes.”
Colen’s study is also unique because she looked at children ages 4-14. Often breast-feeding studies only look at the effects on children in their first years of life. She looked at over 8,000 children total, about 25 percent of whom were in “discordant sibling pairs,” which means one was bottle-fed and the other was breast-fed. The study then measured those siblings for 11 outcomes, including BMI, obesity, asthma, different measures of intelligence, hyperactivity, and parental attachment.
When children from different families were compared, the kids who were breast-fed did better on those 11 measures than kids who were not breast-fed. But, as Colen points out, mothers who breast-feed their kids are disproportionately advantaged—they tend to be wealthier and better educated. When children fed differently within the same family were compared—those discordant sibling pairs—there was no statistically significant difference in any of the measures, except for asthma. Children who were breast-fed were at a higher risk for asthma than children who drank formula.
Schools Need to Stop Asking So Much of Parents (And Parents Need to Stop Caving)
Rosa Brooks hates Sheryl Sandberg. The Georgetown law professor and former State Department senior advisor wrote an essay earlier this week about how she “leaned in” to both work and her kids, which made her successful and the envy of her fellow moms but also exhausted and miserable.
In advising that we all lean-out instead of in, Brooks—a high-powered Harvard grad with what sounds like a fairly flexible job—makes the same mistake that many others wading into the have-it-all/lean-in debate have done before her: She forgets or ignores that a lot of workers, especially at the lower end of the payscale, don’t have a choice about how much or when they get to work.
But I’m actually more interested in talking about what Brooks describes as “the pernicious culture of intensive parenting.” It’s one thing to be spending time helping your kids with their school work, or spending time and money to fill the resource gaps at many cash-strapped schools, hit hard by spending cuts in the post-recession universe. (According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 34 states are providing less funding per student now than they did before the recession hit. That means more parents are volunteering to provide enrichment and supplies.) But Brooks is talking about something different. She says that, in her effort to lean in to parenting, she became room mom for her kids, that she made handicrafts to contribute to her school’s auction, and hosted the class potluck. All while simultaneously trying to stay at 110 percent at work.
Bonkers Iowa Bill Would Allow Women to Sue Abortion Providers for “Abortion Regret”
The “pro-life” coalition is getting preposterously creative with its legislation. In Iowa, a new bill would allow women to sue their doctors for malpractice up to 10 years after their abortion—not because they suffered physical injury (those rare cases are already covered under existing malpractice law), but because they experienced regret.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Greg Heartsill—a Republican who is also a man—would license “pain and suffering” malpractice lawsuits for abortions even if the patient had signed an informed consent form. The woman filing the lawsuit would not need to have experienced medical issues stemming from the abortion. She would need only to decide after the fact that she’d made the wrong choice, and her provider would have to answer for a perfectly performed surgery—to the tune of steep fines and possible jail time.
Tennessee Rep. Wants to Print “Sex Offender” in Red on Every Sex Offender’s Driver’s License
Matthew Hill, a Tennessee state representative who ran for office with an image of a fetus on his campaign fliers, has entertained that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and previously proposed legislation to force Tennesseans to exclusively speak English while at work, has got another bright idea. Hill is sponsoring a bill that would print the words "sex offender"—in three places, and in red lettering—on the driver’s licenses of everyone listed on the sex offender registry in the state. Hill says that he was moved to support the legislation after a constituent raised the specter of sex offenders dropping into schools and daycares and scooping up their children, though he admits he’s never heard of such a thing happening. He added that the law could also come in handy at “malls, grocery stores, retail outlets—all kinds of places where children are.”
At a meeting yesterday, House Transportation Committee chair Rep. Vince Dean pushed back against the bill. “Is it your intention to cause that person embarrassment if they, say, go to buy a pack of cigarettes or a pack of Copenhagen?” he asked, adding: “It brings to mind that, maybe, a scarlett letter put on his breast might work as well.”
“Well, if you thought that was necessary,” Hill replied, “that would be fine.”
Republicans Plan to Fight Back on the Democrats' “War on Women” Narrative. Good Luck, Gentlemen.
Edward-Isaac Dovere has a piece up at Politico examining the Democrats "war on women" messaging, ramping up for the 2014 mid-terms, and the Republican response. As Dovere reports, Democrats are thinking beyond reproductive rights to recast income inequality, workplace protections, and possibly even immigration as "women's issues." Dovere casts that decisions as a purely political one, but one reason the strategy works is because the evidence supports it: Women are disproportionately affected by income inequality and a lack of workplace protections, and feminist organizing might is throwing itself behind the issue of immigration reform.
Still, expect to hear plenty on the standard "war on women" issues too:
Your Parents Check the Weather Where You Live Because They Love You
I’m 30 years old and haven’t lived in the same city as my parents for nearly 12 years. But my mother still checks on me. She doesn’t constantly email or call. She doesn’t text me all that often. My mother is a weather-watcher.
As a third polar vortex threatens to coat the country in another icy blanket, I know my mom is not alone in habitually monitoring her adult child’s weather remotely. Most days, Mom checks the weather in New York, where I live, from her iPad in North Carolina. She doesn’t make a big deal about it, but occasionally she’ll remark, “I see you have another cold snap coming up on Tuesday.” Or, “I hear it might snow there this afternoon.” In the runup to Hurricane Sandy, she was so up-to-date on the latest that I’m pretty sure she had a Doppler radar map projected on her living-room wall.
Usually, though, my mom’s weather-watching is a quieter, softer experience—a gentle way to make contact without saying a word, as well as a casual conversation point to bond about the next time we speak on the phone. A colleague’s parents in South Carolina use the chilly forecast as a reason to offer to send long johns in the mail. A friend’s mother uses the weather as just a simple daily excuse to email hello. “Part of being a parent is that you never really stop thinking about or wondering about your child, even when your child is grown,” my mother explained when I asked why she always knows the temperature in my ZIP code.
Weather-watching is also a way for parents to imagine what their child’s daily life is like. From Florida, they can picture us trudging through sleet to the subway; from Oregon they’ll envision us shoveling our driveway and their grandkids stuffing feet into snow boots. This winter, it seems, has been particularly rough on the weather-watchers. A recent email from my mother-in-law in Minnesota began, “Each morning I go through this increasingly depressive exercise of checking local weather and then checking Brooklyn's. It gives me little solace that your weather has been almost as depressing as ours.” I guess, as the wind chill drops again and I prepare myself for another round of digging out, it makes me feel a tiny bit better knowing that someone out there is thinking of me.