The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Feb. 3 2017 1:16 PM

Women in Swedish Government Troll Trump With All-Female Signing Session

The best part about men crusading for control over women’s bodies is how ridiculous they look doing it. At last Friday’s anti-abortion March for Life, where the turnout was about half male, I saw caravans from all-boys schools unloading dozens of male students, all motivated to travel hours on a smelly bus by the desire to publicly condemn women for their medical decisions. Jezebel pointed out the dark, soul-grinding humor of the sight of five principled boys at the march holding signs that boasted “we don’t need Planned Parenthood.” Because we will never get pregnant was the super-cool subtext.

Feb. 3 2017 12:33 PM

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Strategy Is Spectacularly Mismatched to a President Trump

Sheryl Sandberg, I’ve been known to observe, is the ultimate conciliator. Her 2013 cri de coeur Lean In was less feminist jeremiad than soothing you-go-girl manual, offering an explanation of corporate etiquette for the woman who wants to get ahead.

One anecdote from Lean In is particularly telling. Late in the book, she tells the tale of a male CEO she knows, “enormously dedicated to hiring and promoting women,” she assures her reader. One day a woman came to him, demanding a promotion, immediately claiming the company “undervalued” her because she was female. The CEO, Sandberg tells us, “had no choice but to put their friendly talks on hold and call in HR. It might have served her better to explain how she was contributing to the company and ask for the promotion first.”

Feb. 3 2017 9:01 AM

It’s OK if Melania Isn’t a Traditional First Lady. But Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for Her Choices.

In the seemingly endless first two weeks of the Trump presidency, Melania Trump made clear what many already suspected from her appearance on the campaign trail: She has no interest in being First Lady. Melania has yet to appoint a social secretary, press secretary, floral designer, or White House chef, all roles that traditionally fall under the umbrella of the First Lady’s office. She finally hired a chief of staff on Wednesday, and her press release about the appointment sounded kind of defensive. “I am putting together a professional and highly-experienced team which will take time to do properly,” she said in a statement.

As a result of Melania’s failure to appoint anyone to run the White House visitors office, tours of the White House have been suspended. Melania also hasn’t announced her platform—although she has stated an interest in addressing online bullying—or her social schedule. The coup de grâce? She’s not even living in the White House. The Trump administration says she will move from New York to Washington, D.C. at the end of son Barron’s current school year, but rumors swirled this week that she might stay in New York indefinitely.

Feb. 2 2017 7:07 PM

Rep. Stephanie Murphy Joins Unofficial Team of Women Against Trump With Anti-Bannon Bill

A brand-new congresswoman from Florida is trying to keep white nationalist Steve Bannon off the National Security Council. On Wednesday, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat who was elected in November, proposed legislation that would help prevent political operatives from steering the national security agenda.

As Slate’s Fred Kaplan explained on Wednesday, Bannon’s appointment to the council’s Principals Committee was already illegal, since federal law establishes that the council must be composed of only cabinet members and other department heads that are appointed “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief political strategist, has not been confirmed by any legislative body, making him ineligible to serve in a decision-making role on foreign policy. But Murphy stepped up to strengthen the boundaries of the NSC, opposing the executive order Trump issued to try to fudge Bannon’s way in.

Feb. 2 2017 5:57 PM

The FDA Really Wants Parents to Stop Using These Toxic Homeopathic Teething Tablets

The front of a box of Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets focuses on the ingredients you won’t find inside it. A bright pink strip contains the phrase “No Benzocaine, Artificial Flavors, Dyes or Parabens,” and a green leaf reinforces the alleged purity of the tablets with the phrase “Natural Relief.” What the box doesn’t advertise is that the tablets contain belladonna, a potentially deadly plant that has a long history of being used as both a painkiller and a poison.

In a recent announcement, the Food and Drug Administration said that it had conducted a laboratory analysis of Hyland’s teething products and found “inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance ... sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label.” This follows the FDA’s September warning against homeopathic teething tablets, in which the agency warned that they may pose a risk to infants and recommended that parents not give them to their children. Potential side effects, the FDA advised, include “seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation.”

Feb. 1 2017 5:35 PM

Trump’s Muslim Ban Is an Assault on Children and Families

On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to news that a 5-year-old boy had reportedly been detained by himself for hours at Washington Dulles International Airport as a result of President Trump’s immigration order. “That’s why we slow [the process] down a little,” Spicer said. “To make sure that if they are a 5-year-old, that maybe they’re with their parents and they don’t pose a threat. But to assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.”

If you are still hoping to find a shred of humanity in the new administration, it’s time to call off the search. Spicer’s casual demonization of children is as horrific as it is heartbreaking. Children and families have already begun to feel the effects of Trump’s executive order, and they will continue to do so until this ban, and the unjustified Islamophobia that fuels it, come to an end.

Feb. 1 2017 3:32 PM

A Reminder That Good Things Still Exist: Beyoncé Is Pregnant With Twins

A miracle of hope.


In one oft-told parable about Jesus, a man looks over the course of his own life, represented by sets of footprints in the sand. Jesus walked beside him for most of his life, so there were two sets of prints. But during the tough times, there were only one.

“Where were you when I needed you most?” the man implores the son of God. “Why did I have to walk alone?”

“My darling child,” Jesus says, “It was then that I carried you.”

Such was the statement made by Beyoncé on her Instagram account Wednesday afternoon, when she announced that she and Jay Z are expecting twins.

America has been stumbling through a constitutional crisis and one of the most dispiriting weeks in recent history. The president of the United States is opening his arms to white nationalists and erasing the history of the Holocaust. The top officers of the federal government know nothing about the very agencies they lead. America’s most marginalized and vulnerable residents are coming under attack, and it’s only week two.

But Beyoncé wants us to know: Through our troubles and fear, while our minds have been occupied elsewhere, she’s been carrying us (and two Knowles-Carter fetuses) the whole time.

The knowledge that Beyoncé—perhaps the most influential artist of our generation and one of the world’s best-known advocates for racial and gender justice—is procreating is a bit of much-needed solace at a time when many Americans are floundering in doubt about the fate of humanity. Democratic ideals may come and go, but two babies raised by the woman who gave us “boy, bye” will better humanity for generations to come.

The sad truth is that based on the timing of Beyoncé’s announcement and how much she’s showing in the très campy photo, the forthcoming twins might have been conceived with an alternative president—and very different world prospects—in mind. Days before the election, Beyoncé and Jay Z held a hopeful, happy rally for Hillary Clinton. The twins could have already been germinating. Beyoncé might not have known.

Still, the expectation of dual Bey-bies on the way offers a faint glimmer of a memory of the way things used to be: a feminist of color dominating the news instead of a racist sexual predator; an imagined future populated by children idolizing Amandla Stenberg instead of Ivanka Trump; a world run by empathetic girls instead of Islamophobic nihilists. The promise of new life coming to an admirable family is a reason to hope that all might not be lost.

In August, I went camping with friends in rural Virginia. To our horror, a man with swastika and Iron Eagle tattoos showed up at the campground with his family. They parked their RV in the site next to our tents and played hate music from their vehicle through the night. We had only a tiny iPhone speaker, but we found comfort in blasting the one album any of us could access on our phones: Lemonade. It felt like a kind of triumphant patronus charm that would keep the Nazis away. Today’s Beyoncé announcement feels the same. It’s a joyous occasion for the Knowles-Carter family, of course, but for the rest of us, it’s a chance to rally around a beloved icon of so many things the Trump administration hates and tries to invalidate. In an unfamiliar world, the flowers still bloom, and the gospel of Beyoncé still sings.

Feb. 1 2017 2:02 PM

Turks and Caicos Isn’t Just a Caribbean Paradise. It’s Also a Matriarchy.

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are a low-lying Caribbean archipelago surrounding by calm, crystal-blue water. Tropical fish flit in and out of coral reefs, and pelicans and flamingos swoop along its balmy shores. It is paradise, and not just in the geographic sense: Politically, the British territory is practically a matriarchy.

As the BBC reports, women fill the roles of deputy governor, attorney general, chief justice, chief magistrate, director of public prosecutions, and five of the seven positions of permanent secretaries there. And in December, Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson was sworn in as TCI’s first female premier.

Jan. 31 2017 8:21 PM

What Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s SCOTUS Pick, Means for American Women

Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacancy on the Supreme Court, is a consistently conservative judge who’d enter the court at a critical moment for reproductive rights. Though Gorsuch, a federal judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has never ruled on an abortion rights case, his record shows him to be hostile to women’s health care and willing to give broad leeway to institutions that want to discriminate against them.

Women will be affected by every decision that comes out of the next iteration of the Supreme Court, of course, whether the cases deal with voting rights, labor issues, immigrant rights, civil liberties, criminal justice, or any other area of law. Because women make less money than men, shoulder the bulk of home and family responsibilities, and have less access to traditional spheres of power, they are in fact particularly dependent on legal protections, and they will likely be disproportionately impacted by any harm that comes from the court’s decisions.

Jan. 31 2017 6:00 PM

We Need to Talk About This Bodysuit Peekaboo Thing

In December, Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” was named the most watched music video of 2016, with over a billion views. In addition to a hard hat (the video is set at a sexy construction site), Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello wears a green bodysuit in it, the leg holes peeking out over her low-slung jeans. The show of skin is especially prominent when Cabello does a dip and booty pop next to a concrete mixer (as one does). In mid-December, Cabello announced that she was leaving the girl group.