The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

Feb. 24 2017 5:31 PM

On the Oscars Red Carpet, Keep an Eye Out for Boob Contouring

This Hollywood awards season has been marked by the twin phenomena of La La Land’s Cinderella story—and tata land’s special glow. No, it’s not just your imagination that actresses’ chests have looked especially perky and highlighted lately. At the biggest red carpet of the year this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for the telltale signs of boob contouring.

If you thought contouring, the makeup mode favored by the Kardashians to add definition to bone structure via shadows and highlights, was just for faces, think again. Celebrities can and do apply makeup all over their bodies, from a streak down their shin bones for a little shimmer to, yep, some shadows on their breasts to add volume and depth. Welcome to beauty in an age of high-def.

Feb. 24 2017 2:16 PM

A Survey Found That Lesbians Give Women Way More Orgasms Than Men. Wonder Why?

A recently published survey of 52,000 adults has backed up a longstanding piece of conventional wisdom about orgasms: Men have a lot more of them than women. When asked how often they orgasmed while getting “sexually intimate” in the past month, 95 percent of straight male participants said they usually or always got there. Just 65 percent of straight women could say the same.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever watched a sitcom or attended an amateur stand-up night. It takes virtually no effort to make a man orgasm; women always fake ‘em, blah blah blah. There are plenty of clichés about straight-people sex that help explain this orgasm gap, and while they’re all reductive and employed in service of rigid gender norms, some contain small grains of truth. “Men’s genitals are easier to focus stimulation on than women’s are,” sex researcher Debby Herbenick told Amanda Hess when two different studies found similar results in 2013. As such, men are more likely to orgasm during sex.

Feb. 23 2017 6:11 PM

Jackie Evancho Wants to Talk to Trump About Trans Rights. Yay?

Jackie Evancho, the singer best known for being a national anthem–singing scab on Inauguration Day, is beseeching Donald Trump to sit down with her and her transgender sister to discuss the discrimination against trans children his administration has endorsed.

Jackie’s sister, Juliet, is currently suing her Pittsburgh-area school district along with two other transgender students over the district’s recently implemented policy barring trans students from using restrooms that match their respective gender identities. On Wednesday, Trump rolled back federal guidance supporting trans students with the backing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the perhaps-reluctant signature of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The legal guidelines, instated under Barack Obama, instructed public school to let trans students use whichever set of gender-specific facilities made sense to them.

Feb. 23 2017 5:43 PM

Federal Judge Blocks Topless Ban as a Likely Violation of Equal Protection

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson blocked a topless ban in Fort Collins, Colorado on Wednesday, holding that, by permitting men but not women to display their breasts in public, the ordinance likely violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The first federal ruling of its kind, Wednesday’s decision is a sharply reasoned and incisive excoriation of the archaic, sexist stereotypes that undergird such laws. But it is also, at bottom, a fairly conventional application of settled constitutional principles—and even those critics of the ruling who dislike Jackson’s conclusion will struggle to identify any specific logical infirmities in his opinion.

As advocacy group Free the Nipple correctly stated in its lawsuit against the ordinance, Fort Collins’ focus on female breasts explicitly discriminates on the basis of sex. Under the measure, women who show their nipples in public can be arrested, fined, and imprisoned for 180 days—while men are free to flaunt their nipples wherever they wish. The Equal Protection Clause generally forbids sex discrimination of this sort unless it is bolstered by an “exceedingly persuasive justification.” So the question for Jackson was whether Fort Collins met this high bar. The city provided two justifications that it purported to be “exceedingly persuasive”: First, that the ban is necessary to maintain “public order” and “protect children”; and second, that female breasts are sufficiently different from male breasts to merit disparate treatment of each.

Feb. 23 2017 2:19 PM

Arizona Gov. Hopeful Noah Dyer Wants Honesty in Politics—on Everything

Noah Dyer aspires to be the Democratic nominee for the 2018 Arizona gubernatorial race. Like many people, including many politicians, he has a complicated sexual history. Unlike many people, he is happy to discuss them in public. In a page on his campaign site titled “Scandal and Controversy,” he writes:

Noah has had both deep and casual sexual experiences with all kinds of women. He is an advocate of open relationships. He’s had group sex and sex with married women. He has sent and received intimate texts and pictures, and occasionally recorded video during sex. Noah has always been forthright with his partners. All of his relationships have been legal and consensual, never coercive, or abusive, and he condemns such behavior. Noah is unapologetic about his sexual choices, and wishes others the same safety and confidence as they express themselves.

In a news conference announcing his candidacy last week, Dyer read a “love letter” to the state of Arizona. “I don’t want to use you, I want to serve you,” he promised, before things got weird. “I want to make dinner for you, rub your feet, serenade you with my guitar, and so much more. I don’t have as much money as Doug, but I want to share everything I have with you, including my life.”

Feb. 23 2017 1:26 PM

Ivanka Trump Is Trying to Sell Congress on Her Regressive Child-Care Tax Deduction

Ivanka Trump has been talking up her ideas for a child care tax benefit in recent weeks, trying to get Republicans in Congress add a new deduction to the tax overhaul they’re writing. Bloomberg reports that the president’s daughter, who has no formal role in the Trump administration, met with legislators in the White House last week to discuss a proposal she and her father started pushing during his presidential campaign.

Feb. 22 2017 4:29 PM

Trump’s Federal Hiring Freeze Is Worsening the Military’s Child Care Crisis

Just days after his inauguration in January, Trump signed a memorandum that froze most government hiring effective immediately. Now at least two Army bases have suspended some of their child-care programs in response.

In Fort Knox, Kentucky, officials notified families last week that effective immediately, no new children would be enrolled in the base’s Child Development Center. The center is also cutting off hourly and part-time care, including pre-school programs, until further notice. That leaves child care available only to those who are enrolled full-time already. The notice attributed the changes directly to Trump’s hiring freeze, noting that staff turnover and illnesses have created vacancies that the base is now prevented from filling.

Feb. 22 2017 3:12 PM

Make IVF Cheaper by Growing Embryos in Your Own Vagina Instead of an Incubator

A new fertility device is putting a DIY spin on in vitro fertilization, letting clinics offer the wildly expensive procedure at about half the traditional cost. Effortless IVF, a budget-friendly clinic in Calgary, Canada that opened earlier this month, still employs doctors, harvests eggs from people trying to get pregnant, and transfers embryos into their uteruses. But instead of letting the sperm and eggs do their thing in a petri dish nestled inside an incubator, Effortless IVF puts them in the idyllic environment of a human vagina.

Feb. 21 2017 3:32 PM

The Mall of America’s Writer-in-Residence Contest Is Capitalism’s Answer to the WPA

A moody short story of tchotchkes and psychosexual obsession set at a Spencer’s gift store. A poem that captures the desultory mood of a Cinnabon at midafternoon. A novella concerned with the lives and loves of the staff and regulars at one Rainforest Café over the course of a year. A true-crime narrative about a visit to a Piercing Pagoda gone very wrong. These are just a few literary possibilities that sprang to mind in conjunction with the announcement of the Mall of America’s writer-in-residence program.

Feb. 21 2017 2:03 PM

The Sexism Described in Uber Employee’s Report Is Why Women Leave Tech—Or Don’t Enter at All

Uber is staging a major PR defense for the second time in recent weeks after a former employee published a detailed account of persistent sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly faced while working as an engineer at the company. Susan Fowler, who left the company in December after about a year of employment, claims in her Feb. 19 blog post that her manager sent her sexual chat messages soon after she was hired. When she reported him to human resources, she writes, she was told that it was his “first offense” and that she should switch teams if she didn’t want a negative performance review from him. Fowler later found out that other women had reported witnessing inappropriate behavior from this same man, and each were told that it was his “first offense” and not a big enough deal to require action.

Fowler’s story, which gets even more convoluted, is an alarming reminder that there are many overlapping reasons why tech companies often have a meager population of women on staff. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed in a memo to employees on Monday that the company employs just 15 percent women in its technical roles. (For comparison, Google reports that 19 percent of its tech workforce is female, Airbnb reports 26 percent, and Twitter is even with Uber at 15 percent.) The gender gap in tech starts with teachers and toymakers discouraging girls from pursuing STEM interests. It’s cemented by structural biases that find female MIT graduates earning far less than their male peers in a larger wage gap than alumni of any other elite university. And it’s justified by the president of the United States’ closest advisor, who advanced the misogynist fairytale of women having an innate intellectual deficiency in math.