The XX Factor
What Women Really Think

April 26 2017 4:56 PM

Why It Matters That Karen Pence Pursued Medical Assistance When Trying to Get Pregnant

Karen Pence used an obscure Catholic-friendly alternative to IVF when trying to get pregnant.

April 26 2017 3:20 PM

Trump Considers Revising Child-Care Plan to Help More People and Deregulate Daycare

Just days after the Center for American Progress calculated that Donald Trump’s proposed child-care plan would barely benefit low- and middle-income families, the administration is changing its approach. The Trump administration is reportedly revising its plan from a tax deduction to a tax credit in response to criticism from child-care advocates who noted that low-income families, who need assistance the most, won’t see the benefit of a deduction from their $0 in tax liability.

April 26 2017 10:21 AM

How a Fitbit Helped Solve a Murder Case

Fitbits and activity trackers are handy gadgets for monitoring your health, as you’ve probably heard. But if that doesn’t sell you on them, maybe this will: They can also help you avenge your wrongful death from beyond the grave.

April 25 2017 5:51 PM

The Trump Administration May Defend Birth-Control Coverage Against Religious Employers

With the Trump administration, it can be hard to tell whether decisions and orders—especially ones that appear positive from a progressive vantage—are backed by a sinister plan, evidence of a misstep, or simply a happy accident. How, for example, should voters interpret Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to keep fighting for the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate? Religious schools and nonprofits have been fighting in court to get out of notifying the government and insurance companies of their religious objections to providing contraception coverage for employees. They argue even the act of filling out such a form violates their religious freedom and “triggers” provision of contraceptives, even though someone else would be paying for those contraceptives. On Monday, the Justice Department signaled that it will continue the Obama administration’s legal battle against these groups.

April 25 2017 2:25 PM

Trump’s Annual Child-Care Tax Break Would Give Average American Families Less Than $20

 

According to Donald Trump, Donald Trump loves and respects women more than anybody in the world. That’s why he and daughter Ivanka have put forth a plan for affordable child care, an essential building block in the foundation of gender equality at home and in the workplace.

 

 

But Trump’s child-care proposal, which Ivanka is currently trying to sell to Congress, would function more as a handout to wealthy families than as necessary support for families already struggling to afford child-care services. Parents would get the subsidy as a bracket-based tax deduction, meaning people with higher incomes would get more money back. When I wrote about the proposal in February, I surmised that the minimum-wage workers who pour Ivanka’s coffee and do her dry-cleaning would get less money toward their child-care expenses than Ivanka and her husband, who are multi-millionaires, would receive.

 

April 25 2017 12:20 PM

The Latest Ivanka Trump Brand Scandal Reveals the Lie at the Heart of Her “Luxury” Image

Until this week, fashion brand Adrienne Vittadini’s biggest claim to fame might have been being name-dropped in the Lil’ Kim verse on the song “Get Money”: “Now you wanna buy me diamonds and Armani suits/ Adrienne Vittadini and Chanel Nine boots.” Adrienne Vittadini—the clothing brand, which has been around since 1979, shares a name with its founding designer—wasn’t quite the household name that Armani and Chanel were, but a mention among the likes of them was nothing to complain about. Now, a new report has thrust the brand into the spotlight, and instead of the luxe bedfellows Lil’ Kim associated it with, it’s in connection with a more controversial entity: Ivanka Trump and her fashion lines.

April 24 2017 6:21 PM

A Michigan Case Triggers Debate Over the Terminology for Female Genital Mutilation

Two weeks ago, an emergency-room doctor in Detroit was arrested for allegedly removing parts of two 7-year-old girls’ genitals. The federal criminal complaint alleges that Jumana Nagarwala, who has denied the charges, committed the crimes at a medical clinic in Livonia and may have victimized multiple other girls at the request of their parents.

April 24 2017 3:17 PM

How Would Macron’s Teacher-Student Romance Play In the Media If He Were a Woman?

 

Next month, French voters will choose between an inexperienced independent centrist and a far-right nationalist in their presidential runoff election. Donald Trump has endorsed the latter, but he shares at least one major similarity with the former: a 24-year spousal age gap.

 

 

At 39, Emmanuel Macron would be France’s youngest-ever president. His wife, Brigitte Trogneux, just turned 64. The two met when Macron was 15 years old; Trogneux was his high-school drama teacher. After putting off the young Macron's advances for a while, Trogneux eventually divorced her husband—the father of her three children—and moved to Paris to be with Macron, who’d left his hometown to finish high school in the capital city. They married more than a decade after meeting, in 2007.

 

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.

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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.

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