The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Nov. 22 2016 2:55 PM

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s TV Show Proves That Snoop Would Be the Better Thanksgiving Guest

Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party is VH1’s glimpse into the unlikely friendship of Martha Stewart, domestic goddess, and Snoop Dogg, rapper and weed enthusiast. Like a nature documentary depicting cross-species animal friendships, the show never misses an opportunity to marvel at the novelty of the bond between two people from such different worlds—hers, a Connecticut preppie’s fantasia of prim dinner parties, DIY projects, and not knowing who Jonathan Cheban is; and his, a hazy cloud of Death Row Records memories and words ending in -izzle. With every new episode (there have now been three), the show seems to ask, surely this can’t last another week? But last it has so far. This week, the show presented the pair with their greatest challenge yet: surviving Thanksgiving.

“If you don’t like the way I make my turkey, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out of Martha Stewart’s house,” Stewart announced toward the beginning of the show, going for sass but sounding slightly out of her depth. Two live turkeys, penned up on the side of the stage, joined Stewart and Snoop in the studio (the two stars gobbled at the poultry awkwardly but gamely), as did actress Naya Rivera, rapper 2 Chainz, and basketball player Chris Bosh, all of whom seem decidedly more comfortable with Snoop but ready to bow at the alter of the all-powerful Stewart. (2 Chainz’s deference to her resulted in a very sweet apology later in the show when he accidentally said a curse word.) For the cooking portion of the episode, she made a perfect roast turkey with 2 Chainz’s help—when Martha was soaking the cheesecloth in butter and wine, Snoop wondered aloud what a T-shirt was doing in the pot—while Snoop and Rivera prepared a baked ham (“with blaze, not glaze”).

If you sometimes have a sneaking suspicion that Martha and Snoop’s endlessly improbable connection is less deep and abiding friendship and more shrewd business alliance, this program will not convince you otherwise. Considering her daytime television show's cancelation in 2012 and her company’s constant downsizing, Stewart’s dominion over lifestyle media has looked precarious in recent years: What’s a domestic guru without her propaganda organs? A gig on VH1 with a hip young hip-hopper (in Stewart’s estimation, anyway) would be just the thing to combat that. Snoop Dogg, meanwhile, is a self-styled entrepreneur who’s always eager to endorse a product, contribute a guest verse, or drop his own line of candles.

Of the two of them, it’s Snoop who does a better job masking that the show’s raison d’etre is likely financial. When Stewart uses a special device to turn large cubes into “ice balls” and “cider balls,” Snoop takes the bait and asks whether one is supposed to put the balls in one’s mouth. “You can try whatever you want” is Stewart’s wan response. When Snoop tries the cider with a frozen cider ball, he exclaims, “It’s strong, Martha!” corny but selling it, in a similar mode as all the odd moments in the show when he busts out a fun little dance move. Martha also proves herself to be a less cordial Thanksgiving host in other ways. During an activity about awkward family moments—everyone picks a paper turkey feather with a “what would you do?” prompt written on it—the question of what one should do if a sibling’s significant other is feeling up your leg under the table comes up. Stewart suggests stabbing the person with a fork, which would have been funny if it wasn’t terrifying.

Snoop is also deft at bringing the show’s guests into the conversation and translating Martha’s habits. When Bosh asked Martha if she was left-handed, Martha snootily replied that she was eating “European-style.” Snoop used the opening to crack that the way he eats, with no utensils at all, must be “Eastside Long Beach–style,” and it was all gravy.

This isn’t to say Snoop is perfect. Asked what he would do if he caught his kid making out with a girlfriend or boyfriend during Thanksgiving dinner, he said he would congratulate a son—“Good lookin’, that was fly”—but punish a daughter’s suitor—“He gettin’ whooped”—proving that smoking all the marijuana in the world won’t make you more progressive on issues of gender equality.

Still, it was Stewart’s lack of good humor and civility that stood out when she and Snoop broke a big wishbone together at the end of the show. When Snoop held up the bone, she insisted he switch sides with her. (You don’t get to where she is without knowing a few tricks, ruthlessness among them, one guesses.) Upon switching, they both pulled, and she of course won the bigger half. No matter, though, as they had both wished for the same thing: more seasons of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. As of Monday, that wish has been granted: VH1 has renewed the show for Season 2. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle.

Nov. 22 2016 1:41 PM

Ivanka Trump Attempts to Distract Nation From Conflicts of Interest With Banana Bread Tweet

You might think of Ivanka Trump as the villainous mastermind of the Trump campaign, the photogenic face of nepotism and corruption on his transition team, the Cersei Lannister to her father’s Tywin, but you’d be wrong. Ivanka Trump is just another clumsy, fallible working mom, muddling through life as best she can, trying to make treats for her kid’s bake sale but haplessly messing them up! At least, that is the message of her most recent tweet, an expertly crafted appeal to every woman who has navigated the impossible demands of modern motherhood:

Nov. 21 2016 6:16 PM

The People Who Make Ivanka’s Life Run Are As Absent From Her Politics As They Are From Her Instagram


Ivanka’s #WomenWhoWork lifestyle brand is designed to help women whose biggest burden is to navigate abundance. Her website publishes profiles of women who share advice on things like running a business on one’s own terms and tips on how to look “impossibly stylish” while mixing work and family. Oh, and, whaddya know, Ivanka, just so happens to offer a clothing line that she created to help all the busy working women to do just that.



Absent on are women with whom Ivanka is, presumably, incredibly intimate, but whose lives can not be improved by a modest-yet-feminine, $138 sheath.


Nov. 21 2016 5:35 PM

Mermaid Stuff, the Hottest New Trend That You Mustn’t Let Distract You From the Resistance

In response to the election results earlier this month, some Americans vowed to move to Canada. Others, it seems, want to take to the sea—and become mermaids. This is an understandable response: Our country’s political situation grows darker by the day, whereas mermaids are totally on-trend and #goals. But we’ll tell you wannabe sea nymphs what we told those Canada aspirants: Don’t go. Stay here and fight.

Nov. 21 2016 5:12 PM

Wondering How to Discuss Trump and Race at Thanksgiving? There’s a Hotline for That.


Since the election, the anti-racist group Showing Up for Racial Justice has seen a surge of interest from white people concerned about the effects of a Trump presidency on marginalized communities. A meeting of the New York City chapter of SURJ that I attended out of curiosity last week attracted about 600 people—more than 10 times the usual attendance. SURJ is a home for white people who want to dismantle racist institutions; the organization operates independently from black-led groups like the Black Lives Matter Network but holds itself accountable to communities of color.



The newfound interest in SURJ is a testament to the sense of urgency that many white people, myself included, are feeling about social justice in the age of Trump. So what can anti-racist white people do now to help the people of color who are most likely to be targeted and hurt by the Trump administration? SURJ’s answer is one that many white people will find deeply uncomfortable: Talk to their Trump-supporting relatives at Thanksgiving. SURJ has released a discussion guide to help people talk to their friends and family about racism, and it’s also offering a text hotline: Anyone who texts SOS to 82623 will receive talking points and, if things get really desperate, a short coaching call. “If we’re going to make significant change in our country, we have to break some of the customs we have as white people,” reads SURJ’s discussion guide. “One of those is not to talk about race at the dinner table.”


Nov. 21 2016 3:39 PM

Pope Francis Extends Abortion Forgiveness Powers to Regular Priests

Abortion is a sin can be forgiven by any Catholic priest, Pope Francis announced Sunday. Like many of this pope’s previous news-making moves, it’s a subtle bureaucratic change with profound implications.

The news here is not that abortion is newly forgivable. Within Catholicism (and Christian theology more generally), all sins are ultimately forgivable with repentance. But the pope’s announcement today is a gesture toward making that forgiveness more accessible. In the United States, the change will be mostly symbolic. Previously, the power to grant absolution to those who confessed involvement with abortion was given only to bishops. Bishops could delegate the task to local priests, which was already common practice here.

Nov. 21 2016 2:16 PM

Turkey Might Create Loopholes for Child Rapists—Much Like Those That Exist in the U.S.

Members of the Turkish parliament are currently debating a bill that would clear men of statutory rape charges if they marry the underage girls they raped.

If the bill passes, men who have sex with girls under 18, the country’s official age of consent, without “force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” will be able to marry their victims to avoid going to prison for rape. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) brought the bill to the table, and Turkish MPs gave it a preliminary approval on Thursday. It will be subject to a second debate on Tuesday before coming up for a binding vote. Some private citizens who oppose the bill are making X's on their clothes with adhesive bandages as a visible signal of protest.

Nov. 18 2016 5:51 PM

Los Angeles Residents Sue Chipotle Because Their Burritos Contained More Than 300 Calories

Three Chipotle customers in Los Angeles are filing a class-action lawsuit against the Mexican fast-casual chain for misrepresenting the amount of calories in its new chorizo burrito. An in-store sign advertising the new spicy sausage filling showed a picture of a chorizo burrito and a calorie count of 300. In fact, the chorizo alone contains 300 calories; once you add a tortilla, white rice, black beans, tomato salsa, and cheese, as the sign suggests, you get a meal that clocks in at around 1,050 calories, according to Chipotle’s online nutrition calculator.

Three separate California customers felt not just misled by the sign but also wronged by it. One of them bought a chorizo burrito because of the sign, but afterwards “felt excessively full and realized that the burrito couldn’t have been just 300 calories,” according to the complaint reviewed by My News L.A. Even though the chorizo filling has been available only since October, the class-action lawsuit would cover “all people who bought food at Chipotle for four years leading up to the filing of the complaint,” because the plaintiffs claim the chorizo signs fall into a pattern of misleading nutritional information promulgated by Chipotle.

Nov. 18 2016 5:32 PM

Debra Messing and Susan Sarandon Are Still Fighting About Donald Trump

Debra Messing and Susan Sarandon, auburn-haired celebri-frenemies of the progressive agenda, are having a Twitter spat again. Earlier this week, Jill Stein supporter (and former Berner) Sarandon encouraged her followers to “reach out in dialogue” to people who voted for Trump. “We can't afford a blanket judgement of them,” she tweeted in response to a Twitter user’s caution against “normalizing” the president-elect. “We need allies in that camp. Possible.”

Messing and others wondered why Sarandon was so quick to suggest mending fences with people who don’t consider outspoken racism a dealbreaker for a potential president. Just a few months ago, during the primary, Sarandon suggested that a Donald Trump presidency might be better than a Hillary Clinton one, because Trump would be so bad he’d “bring the revolution immediately” so that “things will really explode.”

Well, it’s been a week since Trump’s election, and the revolution has not, to my knowledge, been brought. Instead, Trump has appointed an anti-Semitic white nationalist as his chief strategist, named a nemesis of civil rights his attorney general, and resumed discussion of making all Muslims join a national registry. Sarandon, a wealthy white celebrity under no immediate threat by Trump’s failure to be ousted by some hypothetical revolutionary brigade, apparently believes this state we’re in is preferable to the competency and incremental progress a Clinton administration would have meant. Messing, however, doesn’t agree that people who voted for Trump are ready to heed the inclusive call to leftist activism.

The Messing-Sarandon feud began in March, after Sarandon posited that a Trump administration could be a great precursor to a Bernie revolution. “Wonder if she'd say that if she were poor,gay,Muslim or immgrnt,” Messing tweeted. Sarandon clarified that she wasn’t saying she’d vote for Trump, just that “passionate, principled independents & first-time voters” who loved Sanders would have a lot to consider if left with the choice between Clinton and Trump. Messing reiterated that neither Clinton nor Sanders had proposed banning, deporting, and terrorizing innocent American residents, while Trump had, and that major difference should not be ignored. Sarandon said something about polls and shrugged.

Now, the Stepmom star is going through Messing’s timeline, retweeting her posts and adding a line about Dakota Access Pipeline resistance to each one.

She’s also telling anyone who criticizes her hardline Trump-is-better-than-Hillary stance to #amplify news from Standing Rock.

Both of these Twitter activists deserve credit for their unwavering convictions. Messing, who’s clearly got an unsteady hand on the touch screen, is keeping her fellow famous person on her toes, even as her barely comprehensible tweets undermine any image of coolness and collectedness she’d cultivated. And Sarandon isn’t backing down from her belief that Trump’s election has triggered a quiet progressive revolution (made up of people who, it seems, didn’t vote?) ready to guide an America that just elected a fascist xenophobe into a peaceful socialist democracy. We’re ready when you are, Susan!

Nov. 18 2016 3:09 PM

This Absurd Advice on What Women Should Wear Circulated at Michael Flynn’s Agency

“Makeup helps women look more attractive,” but “too much makeup distracts from a professional look.” That’s according to a “Dress for Success” presentation circulated at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2013, when retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn headed the agency. President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Flynn to be his top national security adviser.

In February 2013, U.S. News & World Report published excerpts from the slide deck, which offered women a ranked list of the best outfits to wear, with skirts and dresses at the top. and told them to paint their nails and avoid flat shoes. “Conservative approach always best,” but also, “do not advocate the ‘Plain Jane’ look,” the presentation read.

As far as makeup, a woman should “wear just enough to accentuate your features.” When considering her body shape and size, she should “accentuate the positive/disguise the negative.” Women shouldn’t wear anything that could “stand out as flamboyant, gaudy, attention-drawing,” and for that matter, “brunettes can wear more intense colors than blonds can.”

Men got tips, too. Belts should be “not very wide nor extremely narrow.” Neck jewelry and earrings have a “negative impact” on a man’s overall look. Cuff links are great. And, perhaps most important, “suspenders = elegance.”

Susan Strednansky, then the DIA’s public affairs officer, told U.S. News at the time that the presentation came from an informal, non-mandatory event an employee put together for fellow agency members. “I'm not going to deny that it exists, and it was bad. It was inappropriate for sure,” Strednansky said. “Neither the agency nor the leadership has condoned anything that was in that briefing.”

It is both unsettling and unbelievable that an employee could give an internal briefing at an intelligence outfit without leadership or agency knowledge. But Flynn maintained that he was as incensed by the presentation as any of the employees who complained. After getting word of internal pushback, he wrote an email to agency staff about the unsolicited advice on garment color and fit. “First, I apologize to the entire workforce for the unnecessary and serious distraction of this ‘Dress for Success’ briefing that I became aware of in the last 24 hours,” he wrote. “I've now seen it and I too find it highly offensive.”

“Focusing on how to dress is simply not as important as focusing on our mission (and our values,) which are vital to our nation’s defense,” he continued. “Neither the agents nor I condone this briefing and I only hope the intention to execute this task was pure of heart and intended to help … but even smart people do dumb things sometimes.”

Luckily for the What Not to Wear fan who put the slide deck together, Flynn did not consider the ill-advised presentation a capital offense. “No one is going to be taken to the wood shed over this,” he wrote. “They'll require some counseling (to be sure) on what it means to think before you act. I trust that this is what happened in this case. Enough said.”