Is Hillary Clinton responsible for the Boko Haram kidnappings (and is she hiding brain damage from us)? Why did the New York Times fire Jill Abramson? Are you smarter than the average American? Let’s see if we can answer these questions and more. (As usual, trigger warnings for pretty much everything apply.)
Unfortunately, we don’t have any good news about the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. The Nigerian government has said they’re willing to talk with Boko Haram, but President Goodluck Jonathan will not authorize an exchange of prisoners for the girls. Meanwhile on Fox News and elsewhere, the conversation has turned to blaming Hillary Clinton for the kidnapping because in 2011 the State Department determined that Boko Haram was more of a cult and that designating them as a global terrorist organization would basically make them look like a bigger deal than they were. By 2013, they’d become more active and were given that designation after all, and there’s no way to say that putting them on our terrorism shitlist two years sooner would have stopped them from kidnapping the girls.
Speculation has been running rampant about the firing of Jill Abramson, since she was the first woman to be the executive editor of the New York Times and had only held the position for just over two and a half years. Was it because she had recently discovered that she was being paid far less than her male predecessor and because Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. didn’t like her “brusque manner” or that she was considered to be “pushy” (neither of which are a problem when they describe a man in a position of authority)? If it was because she complained about her compensation, did the paper violate her civil rights under Title VII? Whatever the reason turns out to be, she will be missed, especially by female reporters.
The Justice Department released a study on how well states are complying with the Violence Against Women Act and its requirement that rape victims be examined even if they aren’t prepared to file a police report. While there have been some improvements, there are still a lot of barriers to full coverage.
Some Columbia University students who were apparently frustrated at how the school handled rape accusations decided to start writing the names of male students who had been investigated on the walls of women’s bathrooms on campus. When the walls were scrubbed clean, they printed up flyers. In a strange twist, one of the campus blogs that had thoroughly investigated and covered other accusations that the school hadn’t taken very seriously declined to cover the story at first — because one of the names on the flyer is a student who writes for the site.
The Louisiana Senate passed an omnibus anti-abortion bill similar to the one enacted in Texas; next it goes to the state house.
People love Pope Francis because he seems a lot more liberal and open-minded than previous popes, but he hasn’t stopped the Vatican from rebuking a group of American nuns for being radical feminists who focus too much on social justice instead of fighting abortion.
A 17-year-old girl was kicked out of a homeschool prom in Richmond, Virginia, because the dads who were chaperoning the event thought her dress was too short (even though it passed the “fingertip rule” in the dress code) and that she was giving them “impure thoughts.”
The NIH has asked researchers to start using female rats in drug trials. Somehow I’m not surprised that they were only testing male rats before, though I’d never really thought about it. After all, female rats have pesky hormonal cycles that can affect how they react to treatments and it’s not like any people have those! Wait…
Oh, Americans. Not only do most of us think we’re smarter than average, which is, of course, a statistical impossibility, rich white dudes have the highest opinion of their own superior intellect.
Terrible people of the week
- Ann Coulter, who thought she was oh so clever by tweeting a picture of herself with a sign reading #Bring Back Our Country to make fun of people tweeting #BringBackOurGirls. Fortunately the good people of Twitter knew exactly what to do with that and went on a Photoshopping spree to change her sign.
- Karl Rove, for saying that Hillary Clinton may be hiding that she’s suffering from a traumatic brain injury (she had a blood clot following a concussion; she’s not brain damaged). And former Obama advisor Robert Gibbs who apparently let that accusation slide without comment.
- Michele Bachmann, for slamming the National Women’s History Museum because she thinks it has a “radical feminist” agenda “that stands against the pro-life movement, the pro-family movement, and the pro-traditional marriage movement.” Guess she missed the part of their website that applauds her for being a foster parent.
- Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, who are spouting that nonsense that we can end poverty with love, friendship, and traditional marriage. Because if you’re single or you escaped an abusive relationship or you’re in a non-traditional marriage, or in any other way don’t shoot rainbows of happiness out of your ass in their prescribed manner, well, it’s your own damn fault if you’re poor.
- Nebraska senate candidate Ben Sasse, who thinks that religion can be used as an excuse to break any law. So, honor killings are totally cool, right?
- Dr. Keith Ablow, who went on Fox News to complain that girls who wear leggings to school are “distracting” to boys and are asking to be harassed.
- There’s no room for “conscientious objection” in reproductive health care.
- Amanda Marcotte and Charlotte Taft on the reactions to Emily Letts’ abortion video.
- Nicholas Kristof on why global education for girls is vital.
- The internet has been full of opinions about bell hooks’ declaration that Beyoncé is “a terrorist;” Sally gathered up some of the best pieces already.
- Weird gender imbalance of the week — the New York Times obituary page covers far more men than women.
- This was actually posted last month, but I just saw it and it’s too good not to share.
- Two more POVs on Shailene Woodley’s disavowal of feminism: Soraya Chemaly argues at Ms. Magazine that we need feminists to take over school boards so that girls have a chance to learn about women’s roles in history so that they’ll understand what feminism actually is, while Julianne Ross at PolicyMic says that we’re getting celebrity feminism all wrong when we slam female celebrities if they aren’t perfect feminists and applaud male celebrities who make the tiniest overture in support of women.
- Why every girl needs to learn to say “Stop interrupting me,” “I just said that,” and “No explanation needed.”
- Rebecca Watson talks about how she actually got more self-esteem from internet trolls who tried to insult her appearance.
- On getting catcalled and insulted due to walking while fat, and the frustrations of not being able to respond without the risk of putting yourself in danger and being told that “not all men” are like that when trying to discuss it after the fact.
- About that “fat girl monologue” on Louie… it wasn’t as awesome as you think. And Amy Schumer has tackled women and weight a couple times with far less attention paid.
- I love the images from the “When Nurture Calls” campaign in support of public breastfeeding that some University of North Texas students created for art class.
- Why rape in fiction perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about how rapes occur and how it largely ignores how women cope with it in favor of making it all about the men.
- Road trip!
- In a study where 375 gamers were asked to play a special World of Warcraft quest, nearly a quarter of the men played with female avatars while only 7% of women played as male avatars. The men didn’t actually want to pass as women, they just wanted to stare at their player’s butt.
- Gross but funny — there’s a reason maxi pad commercials use blue-tinted water instead of red. Probably best not to watch at work or if you’re overly squeamish about blood.