The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

April 21 2017 6:39 PM

The Creepy Bill O'Reilly Kids' Book That Teaches Children to Beg for Help

Bill O’Reilly’s latest children’s book, Give Please a Chance, is a deeply creepy artifact. In this book, co-credited to the prolific thriller writer James Patterson, children with Keane-ishly big eyes dangle from swings, gaze longingly at kittens through shop windows, or crave cookies. On the left-hand page of each spread, they beg for some object of desire; on the right-hand page, they suppress their wishes long enough to ask permission, using the “magic word.” In this book, even the kids who are actually in pain or trouble—one girl dangles, at a loss, from a rock-climbing wall, and another holds out a hand, asking “Daddy” to “make the splinter go away”—are enjoined to remember their “pleases” in asking for adult help.

The idea of Bill O’Reilly dispensing advice on politeness is hilarious. This is the man who refined “shut up” into an art form, foisted himself upon his female coworkers (okay, allegedly), and loves a good tantrum. Given the author’s record, the pedantry of Give Please a Chance is profoundly hypocritical, sure. But we can learn something important about O’Reilly’s appeal from that hypocrisy. The disconnect between his own actions and the behavior he and his coauthor expect is a relic of patriarchy, where “etiquette” and social mores constrain some people more than others.


O’Reilly’s advice for children is framed as generational wisdom. His brief preface to Give Please performs what Justin Peters identifies as the classic O’Reilly trick, framing one man’s perspective as only “common sense.” O’Reilly was a boy, once, he reminisces: “Life was much easier in those days because there were rules most Americans followed. Holding the door for someone. A nod and a hello. Even just saying ‘please.’ Most kids did those things back then, but now there is confusion in many places.” In an earlier advice book, The O’Reilly Factor for Kids (2004), the host also tapped his childhood experience in counseling kids to compromise and ask nicely. (“The more polite you are, the more responsive the other person will be. Remember that in any debate.”)

Lots of children’s literature is pedantic, bordering on manipulative. (As a new parent, I have recently acquired many, many pieces of propaganda on the virtues of sleep, designed to get baby to pass out so I can go watch the NBA playoffs in peace.) But O’Reilly’s advice books specifically teach children the virtue of submission. In a 2016 review of Give Please a Chance, Josh David Stein put it well: “What’s latent in the pages of Give Please a Chance isn’t politesse. It’s a societal framework where those who have less power are forced to beg from those who [have more].” O’Reilly’s authoritarian “advice” for children and his harassment of women are not unrelated. Both are products of a worldview in which power rules, and inconvenient people without power should learn blandishments in order to get along.

A person who, like O’Reilly and his older, whiter, maler viewership, remembers when his life was eased by the polite subservience of women, children, and minorities might well think back on those times with longing. Why do some people who should know better excuse Donald Trump’s bad behavior? Because in the patriarchy, Dad is allowed to be a jerk. For everyone else, the sugary-cute pages of Give Please a Chance offer a manual for behavior: Feel free to ask Dad for what you want or need—as long as you say the magic word.

April 21 2017 5:42 PM

States Are Attempting to Modify Their Definitions of Rape and Sex: The Week In Women’s Rights

Earlier this month, Maryland seemed poised to finally pass a law, as most states have, that would keep men from claiming parental rights to the babies of the women they raped. The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature unanimously—then died on the last day of the legislative session when a committee of six male legislators couldn’t agree on last-minute wording changes. Since the law would have affected custody battles in civil courts, not criminal ones, “the disagreements came down to how best to protect the rights of men not convicted of crimes,” the New York Times reported.

April 20 2017 5:49 PM

Karen Handel, Enemy of Planned Parenthood and Feminism, Adds Georgia Dem. Jon Ossoff to Her Rival List

Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly missed an outright win in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District on Tuesday. Ossoff walked away with national name recognition and a tantalizing 48 percent of the vote. But because he didn’t make it to 50 percent in the crowded “jungle primary,” he will face his nearest rival in a runoff in June.

That rival, Republican Karen Handel, bested 10 Republican contenders to pull in 20 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Handel is a former Georgia secretary of state and the chairwoman of the Fulton county Board of Commissioners. But nationally, she was best known before this week for her role in an embarrassing episode that exemplified the insanity of the contemporary abortion wars. In 2012, the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced it would pull grant money from Planned Parenthood, then hastily reversed its decision, annoying just about everyone in its constituency over the course of just a few days. Handel was the organization’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, and the Huffington Post reported at the time that she was the “prime instigator” behind the decision to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding and try to make it look nonpolitical. Handel left the breast cancer charity days after it reversed its decision.

April 19 2017 5:14 PM

Baylor Just Introduced Its First Woman President—Right to the Edge of a Glass Cliff

Baylor, the country’s largest Baptist university, has named the first woman president in its 172-year history. Linda Livingstone takes over from interim president David Garland, as fallout continues from the school’s campus rape scandal, which includes accusations that the school covered up assaults by members of its football team. Former Baylor president Ken Starr was pushed out last year over his mishandling of the mess. Now Livingstone will be in charge of cleaning it up.

Livingstone’s historic appointment is a rather extreme example of a phenomenon known as the “glass cliff”: the tendency of women to be appointed to leadership only when an organization is in crisis. The phrase was coined in 2005 by two researchers intrigued by a British news article that observed that companies with more female board members seemed to perform worse on Britain’s top stock index. Was it really true that “companies that decline to embrace political correctness” are superior? Actually, the researchers found, it’s not that women are bad for business, but that businesses tend to embrace women only when times are bad.

April 19 2017 3:50 PM

Fox News Finally Fires Bill O’Reilly Over Sexual Harassment Allegations



Bill O’Reilly has been officially ousted from Fox News in the wake of several sexual-harassment allegations, ending his 20-year career as a host on the network.



“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement on Wednesday.



April 18 2017 5:59 PM

Abortion Is 20 Times More Dangerous on TV Than It Is In Real Life

When a woman on TV experiences an unplanned pregnancy, the story usually goes one of two ways: She discovers it’s an unexpected blessing and opts to keep the baby, or she has a miscarriage, dodging the decision-making process altogether. Occasionally, she elects adoption or decides to terminate her pregnancy. If she gets an abortion, more than four times out of 10, something’s going to go wrong.

A new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a California-based reproductive-health research group, found that 42.5 percent of the abortion storylines on TV from 2005 to 2016 included a “complication, intervention, or major health consequence"—more than 20 times the actual rate of abortion-related complications. Five percent of them ended in the death of the patient, a rate about 6,850 times higher than the mortality rate for abortion in the U.S.

April 18 2017 5:33 PM

The Hot New Thing in Ladies’ Footwear Is Not Fully Putting Your Foot Into the Shoe


Mules, you learn in biology, do not technically count as a species because they, the product of male donkeys and female horses, cannot reproduce. If only the same could be said of mules the shoes, which retailers are producing and reproducing and, contrary to their name, frankly seem to breed like rabbits. Mules are everywhere lately. Elle says they’re the "it" shoe of summer. (Gesundheit.)




But that’s fashion, always changing, a new thing every season. It’s exhausting. So we’re doing mules now? Got it, mules. Here’s your primer: Mules are backless, so all clogs are technically mules, but not all mules are clogs. (For more on this distinction, visit the wide and fascinating world of mule vs. clog content available via your favorite search engine.) Mules are sometimes open-toe, sometimes not, sometimes heeled, sometimes not. They’re quite versatile; you may be wearing mules right now and not know it.


April 18 2017 2:38 PM

How Gender Quotas Can Get Everyone Better Benefits and More Competent Leaders

Female ironworkers, who make up just 1.6 percent of their trade’s 130,000-member union, will soon be eligible for a chunk of paid maternity leave that rivals some of the most generous tech-company plans. Pregnant women and new mothers in the union will get between seven and eight months of paid leave.

Only six weeks, or eight in the case of a Cesarean section, can be taken after the baby’s birth, however. The other six months are meant for pregnancy. “The challenges of physical work associated with the ironworking trade create unique health challenges that can jeopardize a pregnancy,” the union said in a statement. The president of the union told Buzzfeed he once heard a woman at a conference on women in the field talk about working months into her pregnancy, because she couldn’t afford unpaid leave. She suffered a miscarriage.

Testimonies like these helped convince the overwhelmingly male leadership of the union and related trade groups to take up the cause of maternity benefits for workers. But contractors and members of management also realized that they stood to benefit from lower attrition rates of female employees who felt supported by their employers. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to train a new ironworker over a four-year apprenticeship. Every time a woman leaves, management loses that investment.

April 18 2017 8:15 AM

Do Not Malign, but Instead Marvel at the Coachella Peacocks

As much as it’s a music festival, Coachella is also an annual occasion for making fun of people’s outlandish looks. “People Wearing the Same Coachella Garbage Trends as Seen in Previous Years” is how the website LAist headlined its slide show of photos from the festival’s first weekend. (The festival will manifest for a second go-round this coming weekend.) Cosmopolitan’s website, in its fairly comprehensive coverage of events so far, rounded up the “28 Most Naked AF Outfits From Coachella.” Pity the poor Coachella-goer who hoped to earn a spot on Cosmo’s list of “75 Coachella Street Style Looks That Are Totally Lit” and ended up being deemed “Naked AF” instead. BuzzFeed took an interactive approach, inviting readers to vote in a post called, “Be Honest: Would You Wear These Coachella Outfits?” For all but three of the 15 outfits shown, the no votes outnumbered the yeses. The implication of all these posts, and many more like them, is: Wow, those are some silly-ass outfits.

April 17 2017 5:54 PM

Brio, the Hottest Magazine for Teen Girls Who Fear Acne and the Almighty, Is Back!

From 1990 to 2009, the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family published a magazine for teen girls called Brio. For several years in the early ‘90s, I was a Brio subscriber, thanks to a gift subscription whose origins are now lost to time. In my admittedly hazy memory, the highlights of 1990s-era Brio were a relationship advice column about not having pre-marital sex, a culture column about not listening to music about pre-marital sex, and interviews with young Christian celebrities who were not having pre-marital sex. I loved it.

Focus on the Family folded Brio and its brother magazine, Breakaway, in 2009. The closure was part of a post-crash budget readjustment at the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit, and part of a longer wave of magazine closures that saw the end of Sassy, YM, Teen, Elle Girl, and Teen People, to name a few. But now, Brio is back. “It was such a good resource in a marketplace where there aren’t too many voices committed to a Biblically based worldview for teenagers,” said Bob DeMoss, a Focus on the Family vice president who launched the original Brio and started lobbying for its revival when he returned to the organization last year. The first issue, with 19-year-old Duck Dynasty daughter Sadie Robertson on the cover, is arriving now in subscribers’ mailboxes.