You Can Buy Toddler Clothes From Kim Kardashian and Kanye, or You Can Go to Walmart
Nineties fashions are back in style for young people, to the chagrin of twentysomethings who threw away their tattoo chokers and Steve Madden slides back when 98° went on hiatus. (They have not broken up.) As of today, even toddlers can participate in the trend, thanks to a new clothing line from Kanye and Kim Kardashian West that looks like it could have been pilfered directly from my fifth-grade classroom.
Kids Supply opened its online store for presale Friday with an initial offering of 16 items, including dresses, T-shirts, sweatpants, and hats. Sizes are on the small size, ranging from a 2 to a 7/8, and prices are on the large size, ranging from a $22 choker to a $240 silk bomber jacket. Considering this store is run by one of the world’s most extravagant couples, those are pretty accessible price points.
The question is, why would anyone buy luxury garments for a child? Children are known to spill, fall, rip things, not care about reality TV stars, roll in dirt, boycott clothing lines owned by Trump apologists, insist on wearing the same pudding-stained undershirt for three weeks straight, and above all, grow. A $125 100-percent silk slipdress with lace trim is not a practical purchase for a toddler, and dressing a child up in what looks like lingerie is not a practical parenting strategy for an adult.
Luckily, lookalike versions of almost all the pieces of clothing in the Kimye line can be had for a fraction of the cost at any discount shopping center near you. A camouflage sweatpant-and-hoodie set costs $125 at Kid Supply, while Walmart carries nearly identical pants for $10. The logo shirts and pants are exactly what Carhartt sells, except their clothes say Carhartt, a reputable outdoor brand, instead of Calabasas, a bougie L.A. suburb that’s home to the Cheesecake Factory’s corporate headquarters. A black cotton T-shirt with red flames on it is $45 from Kimye. It is also tacky as hell and a favorite of the “troubled” boys in my middle school, but if you must, there’s a button-down version for $14 on eBay and a flaming Thrasher shirt at Zumiez if your kid likes skateboarding. But seriously, just go to Walmart. You’ll find it.
The weirdest part of Kids Supply might be its logo, which appears on baseball caps and T-shirts. It looks far too much like the marketing materials for Kids, the 1995 Larry Clark/Harmony Korine film. If there’s one cultural reference parents should want to avoid associating with their children, it’s a film notorious for depictions of rape, HIV transmission, and drug abuse among young teens. Someone should give Kanye a heads-up that he might have missed this connection, but it looks like he’s deleted his social media accounts? In the meantime, parents, guardians, and tots with credit cards can feel good about throwing down $22 for an elastic choker in pink or black. They’re adjustable, so they can grow as a kid ascends through kindergarten, and they look just like the bra-strap headbands I predict will be the next ’90s trend to complete a Saturn return.
Just How Creepy Is “Embryo Jewelry,” Exactly?
When in-vitro fertilization goes well, a woman emerges at the end with a baby (or babies) that could have otherwise never been born. Often, however, she also ends up with a handful of extra frozen embryos. Online, women refer to these leftovers as “snowbabies” or “frosties,” and deciding what to do with them can be agonizing. Options include donating them to other infertile couples, discarding them, or keeping them in storage for fees that can run up to $1,000 a year. For some couples, none of these options feel quite right.
A small Australian company called Baby Bee Hummingbirds has come up with another solution: “embryo ashes” jewelry. The company's founder, a midwife named Amy McGlad, tells the Australian website Kidspot that families send in their “embryo straws”—tiny storage tubes—and she cremates the contents into “embryo ash” that preserves the cells’ DNA. The ash is then set in resin and turned into pendants or other baubles that look like mood rings or little polished geodes. The company’s products cost between $80 and $600.
McGlade founded Baby Bee in 2014, and she told Kidspot she has made about 50 pieces of jewelry from embryos since then. “I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art,” she said. “The embryos often signifying the end of a journey, and we are providing a beautiful and meaningful way to gently close the door.”
The pro-life community, discovering the baubles this week through the Kidspot story, does not see it that way. Many have reacted with revulsion at the notion of turning “babies” into jewelry:
Contempt for human life is now in full disgusting flower: Couples are turning extra IVF embryos into jewellery https://t.co/ug1M7lRC1E— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) May 4, 2017
If we value kids only to serve us, of course they can be made into jewelry if they no longer serve our needs alive. https://t.co/OZIvPm0pNK— Fr Matthew Schneider (@FrMatthewLC) May 4, 2017
The pro-life voices who object to embryo jewelry often object to IVF in the first place, because of Catholic theology or because of the creation of extra embryos that will never be brought to term. If you believe an embryo has the same moral status as an infant, outrage is understandable. But you don't need to be a pro-life activist to be squicked out at the concept of a blastocyst in a bracelet. Baby Bee also makes jewelry out of breast milk, placentas, human ashes, and umbilical cord stumps. But there is something especially goth, very 2001-era Angelina Jolie, about wearing a cremated human embryo around your neck. This is a corporeal substance that, under the right conditions, would eventually be able to wear jewelry itself.
Then again, it's human nature to turn heartache into macabre keepsakes. Today we have stillbirth photography and embryo necklaces, but the Victorians posed for photographs with dead bodies and wore jewelry embedded with the hair of deceased loved ones. Viewed in the most sympathetic light, embryo-ash jewelry is not an end-of-civilization sign of callousness or commodification but an attempt to honor the profound, if complex, moral status of the embryo. It is a way of acknowledging that an embryo may not be a full human being but is also not nothing. One person’s profane is another's profound.
Boarding Schools Exeter and Andover Will Start Offering Gender-Neutral Dorm Options This Fall
Two of the country’s most famous boarding schools will begin offering all-gender housing this fall in response to concerns about support for transgender and gender-nonbinary students. Phillips Exeter Academy and Phillips Academy Andover, high schools founded in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the late 18th century, have historically housed boys and girls in separate dorm buildings. Beginning next school year, students—whose parents can pay more than $54,000 for their children to board there—will have the opportunity to choose “gender-neutral” housing instead.
NPR reports that conversations about a possible shift in housing offerings at Exeter began nearly two years ago, when English teacher Alex Myers—an Exeter alumnus and trans man—asked some trans and gender-nonconforming students how the school could serve them better. Housing was a universal point of discontent. The school usually housed students with peers of the gender they enrolled under unless a special exception was made, putting students who transitioned during their high-school years, like Myers, in stressful and potentially unsafe situations. And even if the school would make an exception for a trans student, not all students would feel right switching to the other gendered dorm. For nonbinary students or those who come into school cis but questioning, all-gender housing may be the only comfortable option.
Exeter’s new all-gender dormitories will be in two buildings previously used as single-gender housing. Students residing there will each live in a single-person room, heading off any concerns about changing and privacy. The communal gender-neutral bathrooms will also be modified with extra privacy accommodations. Students who wants to live in all-gender housing will have to apply and get input from their parents.
The head of Andover, John Palfrey, described the move as a way to attract and support a more diverse student body. “Our idea is to bring young people from all over the world, from all walks of life, from all backgrounds—and, frankly, from all gender and sexuality backgrounds,” he told NPR, asserting that he hasn’t gotten any negative responses to the news. “So I see this as entirely in keeping with our long tradition.” Myers claims almost 90 percent of surveyed students at Exeter want to see all-gender housing at their school.
In December 2015, as a fellow with Andover’s Brace Center for Gender Studies, now-senior Karissa Kang presented a proposal for all-gender dorms at the school. Kang noted that, at the time, 30 or so students identified as transgender, gender fluid, or another gender identity outside the man-woman binary. At about 3 percent of Andover’s student body, that population is large enough to warrant a schoolwide policy and appropriate accommodation, Kang said, and with growing awareness and acceptance of gender diversity, that proportion will likely increase in coming years.
More than 150 U.S. colleges and universities have begun offering gender-neutral housing options on their campuses, but few boarding high schools do. It’s significant that rivals Exeter and Andover, two of the oldest, best known, and most prestigious such schools in the country, are the ones taking the lead in safe and comfortable living environments for gender-diverse students. No doubt administrators at other schools, especially those competing for similar student applicants, will be watching to see how the new system plays out.
Ivanka Trump Is the Sparkly Vampire America Craves
This week, Ivanka Trump’s father and his congressional allies toasted the House passage of a health care bill that is animated by the idea of womanhood as a risky infirmity. Also this week, Ivanka Trump published a book on female empowerment. Why did this shimmery humanoid brand pen Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success? She/it provides a “vast diversity” of rationales, most of them in glaring contradiction to her father’s agenda. But the purest and realest one is self-promotion.
So if you are neither Donald Trump’s favorite child nor someone who wishes to playact for 200 pages at being Donald Trump’s favorite child—if you actually seek productivity tips, for instance, or need help expressing your style on a budget—this guidebook cannot assist you. It is a road map to personal and professional success for a theoretical rich, hot woman. It is meant to exalt Ivanka’s celebrity and grow her bank account. It exhorts you, theoretical heiress, to “make time for what matters most” by hiring good help. Its formula for happiness involves identifying the work that thrills and inspires you, nonexistent moneyed entity, and then, task by task, delegating it to your subordinates (your “team”).
She almost certainly delegated the writing of this book, which largely consists of other people’s business and lifestyle advice mashed up into a lavender balm of corporatized psychobabble. Perhaps that is what Trump means by “rewriting” the rules of success: As many have observed, her book essentially reprints ideas from a century’s worth of gurus—Norman Vincent Peale, Adam Grant, Stephen Covey, Sheryl Sandberg—but frequently out of context, and with a dim comprehension of their meaning. (She pulls from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a book about slavery, for an epigraph to a chapter titled “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”) Trump herself, or one of her quislings, writes, “I’m inspired to provide solutions that educate and empower women to be their best selves both personally and professionally.”
And: “I’m committed to inspiring women to redefine success according to what is important to each and every one of you—and encouraging you to design a life that honors your individual passions and priorities in a way only you can.”
And: “Inspiring and empowering women who work—at all aspects of their lives—has been my mission throughout my entire career.”
Like certain health care bills, these words are not meant to be read. They are puffs of scented air that you purchase so that you can display the container in a prominent place. They are an experiment: How much empty jargon can you string together before a sentence just starts wafting aimlessly toward the ceiling? A book should communicate a set of concrete, discernible ideas, but Women Who Work is not a book; it is a product. You don’t sit down and parse this tone-row sonata of concept mission experience perspective authentic empower inspire conversation passion leadership brand positive life creative career success achieve celebrate priority aspiration challenge opportunity purpose memorable moment direction dynamic any more than you would parse a handbag.
Sometimes, the language glides creamily (and brazenly) into ad copy. “My company was not just meeting the lifestyle needs of today’s modern professional woman with versatile, well-designed products,” Trump reflects. “It was celebrating those needs, at a price point she could afford.” Other sales pitches are more subtle. Of her move into the White House, where she enjoys near-unrivaled access to the levers of global power, Trump notes, “It is difficult to step away from businesses that I have worked so hard to build and that I believe in so fully, but the potential to improve the lives of countless women and girls has caused me to fundamentally consider where my work will do the greatest good.” No choice is so safe or self-dealing that it can’t be framed as an act of courage. “I had just decided,” she says elsewhere, “to take the leap and join the family business.”
In the funhouse reality of Trumpworld, all is inverted. If a person’s identity revolves around having things handed to her, then she must publish a book titled Women Who Work. This work book must lean on the labor of others, be they ghostwriters, nannies, or cleaning staff. A similar maddening contradiction informs Trump’s feminist self-branding, her false advocacy on behalf of “all women” even as she enables a serial-harasser president who itches to curtail reproductive rights. “Know your ask, know your worth, know your value,” the author coaches her female audience. Does her father? Are he and his GOP cronies so convinced of our value that they want to deny us medical and psychological care when we are raped, or pregnant, or sick? And does she know the ask, worth, and value of the women who work to take care of her children while curates her brand? If so, why does she barely acknowledge them, in these pages or anywhere?
In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg was rightly criticized for ignoring structural obstacles to women’s flourishing. But the blindness to systemic forces that plagued Lean In manifests here not as an oversight but as a kind of cruel joke. Surely Ivanka Trump is aware that, with her dad in office, women’s self-perceptions and lack of basic organizational skills are hardly the problem. There’s a creepy magic to how Trump has disguised her self-glorification project as an homage to some women (Maya Angelou?) and a how-to for others (Lara Trump?). Millions of Americans are enchanted by the same sleight of hand on a bigger scale—they are desperate to believe that she and her father wish to help them.
After the House passed the AHCA bill Thursday, I stood up and walked outside. I took Women Who Work with me. It was when the sunlight hit the cover of the book at a certain angle, causing Ivanka’s pale skin to sparkle, that I realized who she reminded me of. That dewy parasitism, like Dracula after a meal—America’s first daughter belongs to the Twilight phenomenon, to the pop culture vogue for attractive vampires. The core fantasy of the series was that creatures born to prey on us might come to love and protect us instead. That a glamorous and sophisticated child of darkness, decked in ancestral riches, could float down from the tower and, seeing our potential, remake us in her image. Some blood might be spilled (ours, even!), but would that not be a small price to pay for “architecting a life you love—a full, multidimensional life”?
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the fabled Ivanka voter hails from the same demographic—white, middle class, female—that devours romance novels in general and snapped up Stephenie Meyer’s in particular. Or perhaps this administration has rewritten so many rules and unraveled so many norms that I’m mistaking fiction for truth. The Trumps are right about one thing, though: We can occasionally be authoring our destinies even when we believe ourselves to be fortune’s fools. After all, we invited them in.
Watch Some Very Happy Men Celebrate Their Vote to End Insurance Protections for Women
Party time!!!!!! The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip health care from millions of Americans so that some other Americans could have a little more money. If you think that calls for several cases of Bud Light and a celebratory fiesta in the Rose Garden, you’re thinking like a Republican!
Religious Leaders Left Unimpressed by Trump's “Religious Liberty” Executive Order
Repealing the so-called Johnson Amendment, which effectively prohibits pastors from engaging in partisan politics from the pulpit, has been one of Donald Trump’s most consistent promises to Christian voters. “I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans,” he vowed in his speech at the Republican National Convention last summer. At his first National Prayer Breakfast as president, he said he would “totally destroy” the amendment. “I will do that—remember,” he added.
Thursday morning, Trump kept that promise. In a Rose Garden ceremony arranged to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, the president signed an executive order that aims to ease the provision’s restrictions. "This financial threat against the faith community is over,” Trump said, televangelist Paula White nodding vigorously behind him. It would require an act of Congress to change the law itself, but Trump’s order instructs the Treasury Department to “not take any adverse action” against religious leaders or organizations who speak “about moral or political issues from a religious perspective.”
In his announcement, Trump tried to tap into the widespread sense among his evangelical base they are losing cultural influence and that their beliefs and institutions are under attack. “You're now in a position to say what you want to say,” he told the religious leaders who had gathered to watch the signing. “No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”
The peculiar thing is that no one is censoring sermons or targeting pastors. Pastors can—and do—preach about abortion, immigration, sexuality, war, economic inequality, the environment, and beyond, taking positions all along the political spectrum. Two days before the election, many churches screened a video during Sunday services of Mike Pence promising that he and Trump would repeal the Johnson Amendment. None of them have lost their tax-exempt status for doing so.
The lack of persecution is not for lack of seeking it out. Since 2008, a conservative nonprofit has sponsored an annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” in which pastors deliver politically charged sermons and mail recordings in to the IRS in hopes of provoking a lawsuit. Around 2,000 pastors have participated annually in recent years, but the IRS has audited just one church and punished none. Only one church has ever lost its tax-exempt status because of the Johnson Amendment, and notably, it had nothing to do with sermon content. An upstate New York church took out full-page ads in several major newspapers in 1992 urging Christians not to vote for Bill Clinton. That meant tax-exempt money was being used to purchase political advertising. (Indeed, the primary practical effect of today’s order is that churches can now serve as a funnel for tax-deductible campaign donations, as my colleague Dahlia Lithwick explains.)
That may be why almost no one other than Trump seems to care much about the Johnson Amendment. The very narrow issue of whether pastors can endorse politicians is simply not what “religious freedom” means to most religious people. A February survey of evangelical leaders found 89 percent believe pastors shouldn't endorse candidates; a larger survey of evangelical pastors in 2012 found virtually the same results. Ross Douthat tweeted on Thursday morning that the topic “has literally never come up” in his years of conversations about religious liberty with leaders of religious institutions. A survey released last fall found that only 20 percent of Protestants and 13 percent of Catholics see political endorsements from the pulpit as appropriate.
Even conservatives who do care about the Johnson Amendment don't sound terribly satisfied today. For one, the order can easily be overturned by the next administration, leaving pastors and their congregations vulnerable if they exercise their new rhetorical freedoms over the next four or eight years. In the National Review, David French called it "constitutionally dubious, dangerously misleading, and ultimately harmful to the very cause that it purports to protect.” The Alliance Defending Freedom, which sponsors Pulpit Freedom Sunday, said the executive order leaves Trump’s promises on religious freedom unfulfilled. Other religious conservatives are disappointed that the order has been stripped of many of the more controversial provisions included in a draft of the order that leaked in February. "This is not the executive order many evangelicals had been praying for,” Christianity Today wrote.
Although today's order is missing many of the meatier changes social conservatives were hoping for, it does gesture toward easing restrictions on religious objections to the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraceptive mandate, which requires employer insurance plans to cover birth control. Some religious employers object to forms of contraception they believe are abortifacients, and the legal drama over how to resolve that objection had become almost hilariously baroque, involving dispute over what kind of forms the objectors would be willing to fill out to signify their objections. The new order says the Treasury Secretary, Labor Secretary and Secretary of Health and Human Services “shall consider issuing amended regulations” to address those objections, but does not go into further detail. In a less-than-enthusiastic response, the National Association of Evangelicals urged the administration to clarify by issuing revised regulations on the matter.
As for the Johnson amendment, if Trump is hoping that today’s order will lead to a flood of endorsements for his re-election campaign, he may be in for a rude surprise. A Pew survey last year found that churchgoers who did hear political endorsements from the pulpit tended to belong to black Protestant churches—and those pastors were endorsing Hillary Clinton.
To Trump and the GOP, Being a Woman Is a Pre-Existing Condition
House Republicans will attempt on Thursday to pass their latest health-care bill, a piece of legislation that threatens to kick millions of Americans off their health insurance and interrupt critical care for people who need it to survive. (Update, 2:30 p.m.: The bill passed on a 217–213 vote.) Read closely, the American Health Care Act, or Trumpcare, also reveals the basic theory that underlies the GOP’s entire legislative wishlist on health care: the idea that being a woman is a chronic medical condition and a liability.
Before the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. was a patchwork of state policy and insurer discretion that made living as a woman more or less expensive depending on where a given woman lived. Eight states allowed insurance companies to deny coverage to women or charge them sky-high premiums if they’d sought treatment for physical or mental health issues caused by domestic abuse, because having experienced domestic violence, insurers claimed, was a “pre-existing condition.” Pregnancy, too, was a pre-existing condition that could cause an insurer to turn a woman away or price her out at a time when she urgently needed health care for her and her fetus. And if a woman wasn’t pregnant, if she’d previously had fertility treatments or a Cesarean section—a procedure used in one-third of all U.S. births—that could be considered a pre-existing condition. Insurers even turned their backs on survivors of rape who’d gotten medical care after their assaults, refusing them coverage or exploiting their trauma for thousands of dollars in higher premiums. Enduring a brutal sexual assault made a woman too risky to insure.
Where once states had to individually prohibit insurers from discriminating against women who’d experienced sexual assault, domestic abuse, pregnancy, infertility issues, or birth—and many did not—the ACA explicitly forbade this practice. The legislation Republicans are rallying behind on Thursday would re-grant states permission to waive that prohibition, letting insurers charge women who’ve given birth, for example, premiums four or more times higher—about $17,000 more—than men.
The amendment that includes this policy change was ushered in by the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, a collection of white men who throw a fit if any health care bill offers too much health care. They look exactly like you’d expect them to. Remember that photo that made the rounds in March, depicting a conference room filled with only men, sitting around a table to hash out what exactly was up with women’s bodies? That was the Freedom Caucus!
To justify a bill that allows states to let companies treat what may be the majority of women as inherently sick, Trump and the men of the GOP have convinced themselves that manhood is the norm and womanhood is an aberration. They have complained every time health care has come up for a vote that men shouldn’t have to pay higher premiums so that women can get their mammograms, contraception, and prenatal care covered at affordable rates. Of course, there are conditions specific to the male sex, too, but no Republican legislators have protested that women shouldn’t have to subsidize treatment for those, because prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction happen to regular people, not women-people.
The authors of what’s being called the MacArthur-Meadows amendment (the one that would destabilize protections for people with pre-existing conditions) anticipated this criticism. There’s a provision within the amendment that states “nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to discriminate in rates for health insurance coverage by gender.” That’s funny—the amendment’s entire purpose is to let states go back to doing what they were doing before the ACA: allowing insurers to price women out of health care plans for gender-specific health concerns.
There are no surprises here: The legislators who will vote for Trumpcare are almost all men. These are the minds that, with the support of the Trump administration and the mainstream Republican Party, endorse an idea of womanhood as a disease. Women have a set of reproductive organs that ebb and flow in rhythms indecipherable by human logic. They—women and their organs, both—are governed by hormonal surges that cause psychic distress and physical weakness. Their bodies invite sexual and physical brutality that causes permanent damage, seen and unseen. At literally any moment, any woman might spring forth with child, bulging at her midsection like a sea creature incubating its eggs. Her body is a “host,” as one Republican legislator elegantly put it, for man’s seed and offspring, requiring additional upkeep. All these things make the chronic condition of womanhood very unpredictable, very expensive, and a very bad gamble for insurance companies that deserve to make an honest buck.
Analysis Suggests Code from Female Facebook Engineers Gets Rejected More Often Than Code From Men
According to an analysis completed last September by a Facebook engineer, code written by female engineers at the company gets rejected 35 percent more often than that written by their male peers. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that an employee whose identity remains unknown used several years of company data in her calculations to bring “insight into how the review process”—whereby employees’ code is assessed by other colleagues—“impacts people in various groups.”
The Deafening Silence of Christian Leaders on Bill O’Reilly
By the time Fox News finally parted ways with Bill O’Reilly last week, the evidence for his moral turpitude was overwhelming. Fox has paid at least $13 million to five women allegedly harassed by the anchor since 2002; they all told similar stories, in which O’Reilly extended the possibility of mentorship, advanced on them sexually, and then punished them professionally if they refused. The latest revelations come after years of similar allegations that the network and its star had successfully brushed aside. And let's not even get into what he has said on the air.
This week, evangelical writer Katelyn Beaty asked in a powerful op-ed in the New York Times why so few prominent evangelicals have spoken out against one of the loudest conservative voices in America. It’s not that Christians have rushed en masse to defend O’Reilly, although this gem from author and Trump supporter Eric Metaxas stands out for its moral myopia:
The news about Bill O'Reilly is tremendously sad. His fairness, boldness & radical commonsense on the show have been a blessing to millions. pic.twitter.com/FH40BLbNO8— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) April 19, 2017
Rather, it's the silence, which thrums with a disturbing significance in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. White evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and they remain among his staunchest supporters. Among the white evangelical rank and file, 80 percent voted for Trump and 78 percent approve of his job performance. Contra the election-season narrative that “real” evangelicals would reject the womanizing casino magnate, Trump's current support among evangelicals is actually stronger among those who attend church frequently, according to a recent Pew analysis. Christian leaders were more divided, but many spoke in Trump’s defense, even after numerous women came forward with accounts of the future president grabbing, kissing, and otherwise harassing or assaulting them.
Beaty points out that Fox News and the white evangelical Christian community have at least one thing in common: They are “insular organizations that resist external checks and revolve around authoritative men.” She makes an astute theological point about "cheap grace,” a concept that comes from the 20th-century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (Metaxas, almost unbelievably, wrote a biography of Bonhoeffer.) “Cheap grace” means extending forgiveness without requiring repentance by the offender. It's not enough for Christians to wave a hand over Trump and O’Reilly and say that God forgives them. Facile forgiveness is especially harmful in cases of sexual abuse, Beaty writes, because it can discourage victims from coming forward. And evangelical teaching about lust, purity, and modesty can contribute to a culture in which women are silenced or even blamed for their own abuse.
The intra-evangelical reaction to Beaty's piece has been largely approving, but a few critics quickly weighed in online. They didn't dispute her central claim, but they were perturbed by her use of a quote by pastor and theologian John Piper. Piper has written often about modesty, and Beaty used him as an example of the evangelical tendency to blame women for male lust. One critic called Beaty’s deployment of the quote “sinister” and a “cheap shot for clicks.” (It’s not clear how many extra “clicks” she earned by including a single reference to a theologian halfway through her ninth paragraph, but just in case, here's some prime red meat for the SEO gods: Huldrych Zwingli, Karl Barth, Miroslav Volf.) Prominent Southern Baptist blogger Denny Burk then wrote a whole post on the supposedly unfair quote, offering a pro-forma agreement with Beaty's broader point before spending the rest of the post dissecting the Piper quote and the importance of modesty. The only time the word “O’Reilly” appears in his post is in the title of Beaty’s op-ed.
And so, a woman criticizing a male-dominated culture for its failure to condemn a powerful man ends up in an impassioned defense of … yet another powerful man. (And in this case, one who hardly needs defending.) I asked Beaty—whose 2016 book, A Woman’s Place, is an evangelical argument for the importance of women’s work outside the home—if anything had surprised her about the reactions to her piece. “I had dozens of people email or message me privately to thank me for being ‘bold’ or ‘courageous',” she told me. “I appreciated the notes, but I also wondered if I was being thanked for taking a risk so that other leaders wouldn't have to. If more Christian leaders from across the political spectrum were to publicly say, ‘Hey, we have a president who's bragged about sexual assault, and that is never okay,’ perhaps we wouldn't be in the place we are today.” It’s amazing how loud silence can be.
So What If Ivanka Cried When She Saw Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood Tape?
The world’s tiniest violin got a workout on Tuesday, when the New York Times published claims from anonymous sources that Ivanka Trump cried during her father’s presidential campaign. According to “several” Trump employees who participated in the crisis response to the leaked Access Hollywood “grab ‘em by the pussy” video, when Donald Trump refused to make a public apology for his remarks, Ivanka’s “eyes welled with tears, her face reddened, and she hurried out in frustration.”