• Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post, via Getty

    New Reality Check for U.S. Kids

    They may not be as creative as we had assumed, a new study finds. Education expert Amanda Ripley on the lessons for American teachers and parents

    Wherever I go, from Santiago to Seoul, I am always comforted to hear one consistently positive thing said about Americans: we may not be the wisest or the thinnest people on the planet, but we can think outside of the box! The world will give us that.

    Usually, this assertion is accompanied by a passing reference to Steve Jobs or Google, and no one argues the point. In fact, each year, officials in places like South Korea and Singapore leave their higher-performing education systems to come study how we Americans cultivate creativity in our schools and universities. Never mind that the actual Steve Jobs loathed school for much of his childhood. There must be something we are doing right here!

    Permalink
  • Getty

    Kim Kardashian Isn’t Aspirational

    The editor who invented high/low media says the Vogue cover is no scandal but, on the eve of the Women in the World Summit, she has a few ideas about women who really are cool.

    It was fun watching the festival of media umbrage over April’s Vogue cover—you know, that Annie Leibovitz portrait of a sloe-eyed Kim Kardashian in a white ruched wedding bustier, nuzzled by her equally spiffy baby daddy, Kanye West.

    It’s not entirely clear why a fashion shot of the reigning queen of trash television—whose 2007 “leaked“ sex tape lifted her from the status of Paris Hilton’s B-list BFF to the star of her own little reality-TV empire—should prompt so much punditry bewailing the decline of Western civilization. True, Anna Wintour may have gone a little overboard when she celebrated Kim’s “courage” in her editor’s letter. But come on. The cover of Vogue is not exactly the Nobel Peace Prize, and Kim Kardashian isn’t exactly Pol Pot.

    Permalink
  • Mike Stone/Reuters

    Texas Pro-Choicers Arm for Battle

    Despite a disappointing ruling in the Fifth Circuit on Thursday, the pro-choice movement is only gearing up for battle.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit gave a victory to anti-abortion advocates Thursday and as a result, pro-choice Texas is refusing to cave into Rick Perry and co.

    Judge Edith H. Jones wrote in the three-judge panel ruling that the state law requiring all abortion providers to meet the standards of ambulatory surgery centers (ACS) did not cause an “undue burden on the life and health of a woman.”

    Permalink
  • Mel Evans--Pool/Getty

    Not Cool

    Slut-Shaming of Bridget Anne Kelly

    The Bridgegate report commissioned by Chris Christie included gratuitous details about the personal life of one of his staffers.

    When the results of the internal Bridgegate investigation, commissioned by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were released Thursday, it included a curious revelation. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff whom he fired on January 9 after the release of her smoking gun “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, had been involved in an affair with Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager.

    The report, which cost New Jersey taxpayers $1 million, states that “Kelly and Stepien became personally involved, although, by early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking.”

    Permalink
  • William B. Plowman/NBC, via Getty

    STEALTH FIGHTER

    The Dramatic Life of Joy Reid

    Ronan Farrow doesn’t have the monopoly on MSNBC anchors with dramatic life stories. Meet Joy Reid.

    Joy Reid loves the sweet science of boxing because “it’s a sport, even at the turn of the 20th century, where a black man could beat up a white man in front of an entire crowd and not get lynched.”        

    The even-tempered Reid—whose month-old program The Reid Report airs weekday afternoons on MSNBC—describes the Tea Party as a movement that “under the surface is about cross-racial resentment…a great industry in hatred and anger and self-victimization…There’s a lot of money in it.”        

    Permalink
  • Mario Magnani/Getty

    UNGOOP

    What’s ‘Conscious Uncoupling’?

    Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have announced their intention to ‘consciously uncouple’—whatever that means. But could something quite sensible lie behind this hokey-sounding separation cleanse?

    For Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, there will be no clothes thrown out of windows, car tires slashed, and screaming confrontations on the street. No, unsurprisingly for this queen of all things holistic—who once heard rocks talking to her—even the breakdown of her marriage must come, as they say, from a good place. As revealed in a break-up statement on her website Goop, she and Martin have decided to “consciously uncouple.”

    Consider yourself in good company if you think this sounds like one of those hippy-dippy expressions new-agers say in the heat of the Los Angeles sun, and in response everyone around them just nods politely while thinking, “Yeah, good luck with whatever that is.”

    Permalink
  • Chris Keane/Reuters

    Sex & the Military

    How Did the General Get Off?

    A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

    Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.

    Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

    Permalink
  • Neil Webb/Getty

    About Time

    Revenge Porn Site Gets Busted

    Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin have all seen lawsuits or bills passed this week that come down harshly on scorned lovers who share nude photos and videos of their former paramours online.

    It's been a very bad week for the sleazy and scorned lover.

    Shockingly, almost no legal sanctions existed previously for those engaged in the hideous phenomenon of "revenge porn," in which jilted men (and let's be honest: it's almost always men) disseminate nude photos and videos of women who clearly had not guessed that they were involved with a person who might have a penchant for disseminating nude photos and videos when jilted. And, with the exception of a few states, neither did sanctions exist for the scumbags attempting to make money off of hosting collections of previously private pornography.

    Permalink
  • Miss California Teen USA 2013 Cassidy Wolf is crowned Miss Teen USA 2013. (AP)

    Candid Camera

    Miss Teen's 'Sextortionist' Jailed

    The California computer hack that threatened women, including Miss Teen USA, will get jail time for his sneaky sexploits.

    It’s more pernicious than revenge porn—and it only takes one malware-infected email, instant message, or download to ruin lives.

    Twenty-year-old Jared James Abrahams of Temecula, California was sentenced on Monday to 18 months in prison for “sextortion”—hacking into the computers of dozens of women, furtively snapping nude photos of them and threatening to leak the images if they didn’t send him more naked pics or strip down during Skype sessions.

    Permalink
  • Former professional football player Darren Sharper appears for his arraignment at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, California February 20, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

    The Law

    Darren Sharper’s Kobe Defense

    Claiming sex with accusers was consensual worked for other athletes, but the ex-football star may not be so lucky.

    Last week a Los Angeles County judge revoked the $1 million dollar bail that was tied to the release of Darren Sharper while he awaits trial on a slew of felony charges.  The charges against Sharper include two counts of rape by use of drugs, four counts of furnishing a controlled substance (morphine and zolpidem/Ambien) and one count of possession of a controlled substance. The revocation is a direct result of Sharper’s most recent criminal indictment. A grand jury in Arizona recently retuned an indictment on two counts of sexual assault and three counts of administering a dangerous drug, stemming from accusations of two women claiming they were offered drinks laced with sedatives and then raped by Sharper. Sharper, a former NFL Pro-Bowler and former on-air analyst for the NFL Network is currently under investigation for rape and other sexual assault charges in five states including California, Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada and Florida.

    The most troubling aspect of the allegations levied against Sharper is the consistent pattern that many of the alleged attacks follow. The victims in cases based in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Miami Beach, and Arizona all contend they were out partying with Sharper, invited back to his hotel room, then served a shot of a mysterious concoction resulting in them blacking out and waking up naked or in the midst of a sexual assault. Sharper asserts that all of the sex was consensual and even points to a previous sexual relationship with some of the victims.

    Permalink
  • Bloomberg/Getty

    Bossy Pants

    Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

    She means well but should quit it with the wordplay and help fight inequality for women—especially those who are underprivileged—by using her money not her mouth.

    There’s been so much written about Sheryl Sandberg’s new  campaign to “Ban Bossy,” or specifically the word bossy, that Time magazine has done a roundup of the coverage itself. But while others are focused on the debate over the b-word, I’m more interested in a larger controversy: Why does it seem so hard for a privileged woman like Sheryl Sandberg, who clearly means well, to find meaningful ways to help women and girls who are less privileged?

    I’ve previously written about Sandberg’s missteps in her efforts to help other women “lean in.” Most infamously when her LeanIn.org organization advertised for unpaid interns, which as anyone who is not privileged knows perpetuates inequality by giving kids whose families can subsidize them while they work for free, a leg up over kids who cannot. To her credit, following the ensuing criticism Sandberg reversed policy and announced they would compensate interns. She should be lauded for this reversal. But I’m not sure she should be lauded for using the tremendous cultural capital she has, and actual monetary capital she has on banning the word bossy, or banning words period.

    Permalink
  • Donald Iain Smith/Getty

    Parenting

    Don’t Call My Daughter ‘Bossy’

    Sheryl Sandberg is launching a new project to stop us from calling little girls bossy when they’re just exhibiting the same behavior as little boys. But what if your kid really is bossy?

    When Sheryl Sandberg told me she was launching a project to stop us all from calling little girls bossy, my immediate reaction was, “But what if my daughter *is* bossy?!?!?” 

    My partner and I have a five-year-old daughter, Willa.  A few weeks ago, we got a call from the parents of Willa’s best friend.  During kindergarten recess on a particularly cold day at the playground, apparently Willa told her friend to put her tongue on a metal pole.  When the friend’s tongue became stuck, my daughter (who I guess forgot the rest of the scene in the movie about running for help) pulled her friend and her friend’s tongue off the pole.  I’m told there was a lot of blood.

    Permalink
  • Peter Kramer/NBC, via Getty

    Women and Work

    Princeton Mom Is Right (Kind Of)

    For many women, the advice from “Princeton Mom’s” new book about marriage and motherhood is salient, despite what feminists may say. But it doesn’t apply to all of us.

    Susan Patton, aka Princeton mom, has evoked so much ire from feminists that it almost feels a bit like a betrayal to the sisterhood to give the woman any more ink. But not only am I going to give her more attention, I am going to do something even more shocking for someone who considers myself a feminist. I’m going to admit that part of Patton’s message is right.

    Before my fellow feminists start chasing me with pitchforks (or do the Internet equivalent of responding angrily on Twitter before actually reading my entire argument), please allow me to explain.

    Permalink