In Its First Week, PlayStation 4 Played Host to Apparent Sexual Abuse
The Playstation 4 has only been out a little over a week, but Kotaku reports that users have already figured out a way to ruin a virtual reality game called Playroom, which uses the console's camera to film you in your living room and impose, onscreen, virtual objects, which you and others viewing you can "play" with. Playroom is supposed to be used for playing games, but gamers are an ingenious bunch, and some swiftly started using it for more exhibitionist purposes, including creating a call-in TV show. Most people who went off-script with Playroom did so for harmless pranks, but it seems one man has already put the service to use broadcasting what appears to be sexual abuse. Game Revolution reports:
And then there's Darckobra. He and his wife sat on a couch drinking, and drinking, and drinking. Eventually, the wife passed out. So the man did what any man deserving of divorce papers would do: he showed the internet some breast — and not his own. Yes, live on Twitch TV, via The Playroom on PS4, a man lifted up his unconscious wife's shirt and exposed her breast. After 15 or 16 post-boob minutes, the channel went dark briefly; upon its return, the wife was completely naked, presumably stripped by the husband.
This is more than grounds for divorce. If what it seems like happened actually happened, then it's a form of domestic abuse. As with the problem of revenge porn, it's hard to say how and if the law should get involved, but it's important not to downplay the seriousness of the incident.
Stop Demanding Positivity From Cancer Survivors
Gawker published a wrenching story this weekend by Lauren Sczudlo about life in the aftermath of her cancer treatment. Sczudlo lived, but she failed to live up to our cheerily hopeful vision of the cancer survivor. After undergoing chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, she fell into depression. And sadly, she writes, most of her family was too disappointed in her lack of positivity to support her as she tried to pick up the pieces.
“I think they expected me to exude the upbeat attitude of the survivors on television commercials, donning pink ribbons and walking marathons, declaring a new lease on life,” Sczudlo writes. “Cancer patients are expected to be poster children of a movement, meant to reassure the masses that this plague, and even imminent death, can be overcome with positive affirmations and attitude adjustments.” The nastier flipside of this faith in optimism is the belief that patients who don’t radiate hope are somehow impeding their own recovery. Sczudlo observes that “we feel more in control of our lives if we believe sick people got that way by making bad choices.” But this erroneous idea denies each patient “the freedom to mourn the loss of her old self—because cancer almost always kills a more fearless version of ourselves.”
You should read the entirety of Sczuldlo’s beautiful and illuminating essay. Then, you should read The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, which explores these issues sensitively and at length—and will also make you cry/give you chills/change your life. Then, you should come back and stew with me in the woeful unfairness of burdening cancer survivors with our desire for heroic narratives.
If You Weigh More Than 176 Pounds, Plan B Might Not Work. What’s Plan C?
Big news in emergency contraception: As Mother Jones reports, new research on Europe's version of Plan B has found that the pill doesn't work in women who weigh over 176 pounds and loses effectiveness at 166 pounds. The pill, a drug called NorLevo that's manufactured by HRA Pharma, will soon come with a warning label:
HRA Pharma began investigating the need to change Norlevo's label after Anna Glasier, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinborough, published research in 2011 showing emergency contraceptive pills that use levonorgestrel are prone to fail in women with a higher body mass index. In an email, Karina Gajek, a spokeswoman for HRA Pharma, says that by December 2012, the company had reviewed clinical data and requested permission from a European Union governing body to update its product information.
So what does this mean for American Plan B?
Should Gynecologists Be Allowed to Treat Men?
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently issued a new directive to U.S. OB-GYNs: Treat men, and risk losing the board’s certification. The board now prohibits the treatment of male patients, with a few exceptions: Doctors can care for men if they’re engaged in “active government service” or if the treatment is the course of the “evaluation of fertility,” the “expedited partner treatment of sexually transmitted diseases,” or a “newborn circumcision,” for example. The exceptions allow OB-GYNs to provide preventative and emergency care but bar men from returning to the gynecologist for further care when those routine checkups reveal a deeper problem.
As the New York Times reported this weekend, a group of gynecologists are specifically concerned that the board’s rule will prevent them from treating HPV-related anal cancers in men. Boston Medical Center gynecologist Dr. Elizabeth Stier, for example, treated 110 men for the disease last year and is participating in a multimillion-dollar clinical trial aimed at improving that treatment. As the Times puts it, some of the “best qualified, most highly skilled doctors” working on HPV-related cancers are gynecologists, who have extensive expertise treating HPV-related diseases in women.
Rush Limbaugh Compares Filibuster Reform to Allowing Rape
As expected, Rush Limbaugh is trying to drum up outrage about the new rule change in the Senate that now stops Republicans from filibustering every time President Obama even dares to consider using his right to nominate judges for federal courts. It's a hard sell, even for Limbaugh's breathtakingly gullible audience, because it requires convincing them that it's profoundly evil to accept the principle of "majority rules," a principle they were told to defend back when Republicans had the majority in the Senate. So he reached for a good analogy:
Let’s say, let’s take ten people in a room and they’re a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. Right? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes of the 10 to change the rule.
It went in the predictable direction, which you can hear here:
Bill Gates Unveils the Future of Condoms
In March, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would pony up $100,000 in grant money to the inventor of a condom that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure” for the wearer (and his partners). This week, the foundation named 11 grant recipients (out of 800 total entries), and unveiled their prototypes for improved sheaths to the world. At the New Republic, Andy Isaacson gives us a taste of what $1.1 million in condom money can yield:
An “ultra-thin condom of a polyurethane polymer” that’s “half as thin” and “twice as strong” as the run-of-the-mill latex version, and contracts when heated to mold the condom to each user’s individual equipment.
A condom constructed in “soft and rubbery” thermoplastic elastomer, which “can flex for a longer period than latex without breaking,” then bounce back to its “initial dimensions.”
Michelle Obama Has Done Nothing to Hurt Feminism
Michelle Obama is often a target of the right, but during Barack Obama's first term as President, she occasionally got attacked from the left as well from people who wanted to start a feminist debate over what she ought to be doing with her time, and whether she should be more aggressively political. Now we get to do it all over again in the second term, with Michelle Cottle at Politico asking whether or not Obama is failing at her job with all that vegetable gardening instead of speaking out about, say, abortion.
As with all sequels, the explosions are bigger the second time around. While my colleague Emily Bazelon may have wistfully wished for a little more from Michelle Obama in 2012, Politico calls her a "feminist nightmare." How does Cottle, under the headline of “Leaning Out,” back this up? She finds a couple of feminists to complain: Linda Hirshman and Keli Goff are indeed upset about Obama's unwillingness to model more career-driven behavior during her husband's tenure. Cottle also cites a community blogger—not an official contributor—at the feminist site Feministing, suggesting that she was hard pressed to find feminists who are actually troubled by Obama's choices.
She then scolds feminists for being such meanies:
Why Are There So Many Studies About How Women Change Men, But Few of the Reverse?
The December issue of the Atlantic features a grand roundup of studies on “How Women Change Men.” The results presented will probably not explode your brain with wonder. Most of the studies basically confirm that our interactions with specific people shape our beliefs about the categories—ethnic, gender, etc.—those people belong to. So men with lots of female colleagues tend to pick up more housework at home, likely because they view women as equal partners rather than Windex-powered service robots. Men with daughters subscribe less frequently to traditional gender roles and disagree more often with the statement, “A woman’s place is in the home.” (Yet men with sisters are more attracted to the old norms, perhaps because they’ve used macho/feminine orthodoxy in the past to differentiate themselves from their siblings.) And men with wives who don’t work bring their conservative notions with them to the office, tending to “disapprove of women in the workplace, judge organizations with more female employees to be operating less smoothly, and show less interest in applying to companies led by female executives.” They also—ick—“frequently deny promotions to qualified women.” (Sidebar: I am delighted that my boss married someone who thinks men are a dying breed.)
Women Are More Likely to Care for Aging Parents—And Drop Out of the Workforce to Do It
The study, led by University of Calgary social work professor Dr. Yeonjung Lee, is based on data from the National Institute on Aging’s 2004 Health and Retirement Study, which recorded the activities of more than 5,000 Americans between the ages of 50 and 61. It found that women were much more likely to provide care for elderly parents than men were. Seven percent of the women in the sample “assisted with parents’ personal needs,” compared to 3.6 percent of men; 20 percent of women “helped parents with chores, errands, and transportation,” compared to 16 percent of men. And female caregivers were much more likely to exit the workforce to execute these duties. Women who cared for parents, grandchildren, or more than one relative were significantly less likely to be employed than their peers, but when men took on caregiving roles, their employment status was unaffected.
Why are female caregivers more likely to opt out than their male counterparts?
Variety TV Critic to Sarah Silverman: Stop With That Mouth of Yours and Start Acting Like a Lady
"Ladylike": A concept that was so clearly invented for the sole purpose of keeping women from having as much fun as men that it is finally dying an ignoble death, kept on life support only by your Great Uncle Morris, who really doesn't think girls should talk like that. Oh, and Brian Lowry, TV critic for Variety. Earlier this week, Lowry denounced Sarah Silverman's latest HBO special "We Are Miracles" because Silverman works blue. "Despite all manner of career-friendly gifts—from her looks to solid acting chops—she’s limited herself by appearing determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys," he scolds. Clearly, if Silverman doesn't shape up and learn to talk like a lady, her nascent career (now 20 years running) will die in the crib.
It's easy to be mad at Lowry for his condescending nonsense, but I'm actually in awe of his ability to hit nearly every major trope of the misogynist blowhard in a mere 500-word piece.