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Tag : women


As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to reflect on various trends we’ve seen in the gaming realm over that time. Now, looking back, I’m ready to declare 2013 a pretty great year for video game women.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not waving a “Mission Accomplished: Sexism Over” banner, and I understand that writing this article as a guy, I lack a certain authority on the subject. But I do know what I’ve seen and experienced throughout the year, and I believe there’s at least a very visible positive trend regarding how women are portrayed in games as of late.

Obviously there’s still a long, long way to go before 90% of the leads in games stop being grizzled white males, but I think we’re at least on our way. I wanted to spotlight a few games this year that contributed to raising the profile of virtual women in major or minor ways, a trend I hope continues in 2014 and beyond.

Tomb Raider

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This may be a somewhat controversial choice, but in my eyes, the Tomb Raider reboot was not only a great game because of its design and mechanics, but also because it was female-led, a refreshing breath of fresh air in the genre. Obviously it’s not a revolutionary concept, as there have been many Tomb Raider games before this recent prequel installment, but this is the first one in a long while where Lara Croft’s cartoonish sexuality wasn’t the main focus of the game, or of the coverage surrounding it.

While the young, wide-eyed Lara Croft we see here is certainly an attractive virtual young lady, her appearance doesn’t overshadow the more important aspects of the game. Square treats her the way they would treat any brawny guy thrown into the same situation. The teenaged Croft is beaten, skewered, shot and stabbed, and does the same and worse to her enemies. While the narrative may be almost too accelerated, turning her from innocent explorer to hardened killing machine rather quickly, by the end, Croft is a fully-fledged action hero on par with any guy we see leading games these days.

Yes, she wears a tank top in the game, but Square was quick to provide a myriad of other more conservative clothing options for Croft. And really, the tank top is no more scandalous than a guy with a shirt unbuttoned a bit too low (I think Edward Kenway of Assassin’s Creed 4 actually had an outfit that was entirely shirtless).

The point is that a female lead can be sexy without being hyper-sexualized, and being attractive doesn’t have to take away from her being a badass female action hero, something video games, and popular culture in general, could use a lot more of.  Croft also had the good fortune to star in a mechanically excellent game, and brisk sales and high scores hopefully mean that we’ll be seeing more of this new, refined version of the character in the years to come.

BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us

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This pair of games, which some would say may be the two best of the year, can be grouped together because they essentially use women the same way in their narratives. There is a central problem in the sense that both Ellie and Elizabeth are technically damsels in distress, an overused device that’s the plot of far too many video games, but I think their relationship to the protagonist represents a subtle but important shift for the trope. In both of these instances, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead with Lee and Clementine, if we can dip back to 2012, the male lead isn’t saving the girl for romantic reasons. Rather, the relationship in all three of these games is far closer to a father looking after a daughter, even if the pair aren’t actually related. While it certainly would have been more progressive to have say, a hardened forty-something woman protecting a chipper preteen boy in The Last of Us, I guess we have to take baby steps.

Though it is the men leading the way, the women are more fleshed-out characters than we’ve seen previously with personalities that make them far more likable than their male counterparts, if you ask me. Similarly, the way they’re integrated into gameplay turns them into assets rather than liabilities you must constantly protect.

Infinite’s Elizabeth “can handle herself” as you’re told during gameplay, and as such you never have to worry about her life bar. Rather, she helps you take out bad guys by tossing you ammo and health packs, or opening rifts in reality. In Sony’s The Last of Us, Ellie is more directly involved in combat, and will often outright shoot bandits or jump on their backs and fill them full of holes with her knife. Again, no protection required.

So while these girls are technically in distress and seem to need a man to come save them, their characters are well-rounded, completely unsexualized to the hero, and prove useful and capable in a firefight. Seems like a solid step in the right direction to me.

Gone Home

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I think the Forbes comment of the year has to go to someone who told Daniel Nye Griffiths that Gone Home was the “feminist Duke Nukem.” The idea is that the game deals with gender and sexuality issues in the same way the Duke parodies masculinity, only Gone Home is doing it with a straight face.

As funny as the quip may be, I don’t think it’s accurate. While Gone Home has its share of issues, namely its length and lack of meaningful problem solving, I think it’s a great way to explore a different kind of story using video games, and uses female characters, even if they’re unseen, to great effect in ways most games don’t.

Though you play as a girl, a college-aged woman come home after a backpacking trip around Europe, you never see, hear from or really learn anything about your character. Rather, the focus of the game is on your younger sister, who is coming to terms with her newfound sexuality, and discovering she has a crush on a girl at her school. The tone of the game alternates between dark mystery and touching drama, and though it hints at a much darker finale that what actually takes place, it’s an important game, even if it’s a flawed one.

There simply need to be more games like this, and even if it is a touch heavy-handed at times, as for the most part Gone Home represents a beautiful way to tell a story through the medium of games, and it just so happened to be about a young lesbian. There’s no reason you can’t play the other 300 action/shooter/wargames out this year if Gone Home isn’t your thing, but for those wanting a change of pace, Gone Home is a story-centric game that doesn’t need combat to fill its pauses, and manages to deal with gender issues in an industry that usually flees from such topics.

Beyond: Two Souls

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Beyond is probably the most divisive game of the year, as critics and gamers tended to either love it or hate it. I fall in the latter camp, and again, any compelling game that features a female lead is a step in the right direction in terms of diversifying the types of titles on the market.

Hollywood’s Ellen Page made the jump to video games for Beyond, and the result is another story-driven game from the team that gave us Heavy Rain. The central paranormal plot may not be nearly as interesting or coherent as the Origami Killer mystery from Heavy Rain, but Page does a phenomenal job in tandem with the animation team, and there are a number of scenes that resonate with me, even now. Page’s Jodie is again, mostly unsexualized, which eliminates the potential “Tomb Raider” complaints, yet is portrayed as capable, brave and selfless.

It’s strange that one of my favorite gaming sequences this year wasn’t some epic battle sequence or shocking plot twist, it was getting ready for a date with a coworker in Beyond. I only had an hour to prepare, and had to clean the house, cook dinner and get dressed. Somehow, it was far more stressful than being thrown into a room with armed enemies looking to kill me. And sure enough, I was wielding a gun a few scenes later, and Beyond presents a full spectrum of genres for Jodie to jump through, not just “traditionally female” ones like the date night I’ve described.

Beyond may have had its issues, but again, it’s another example of a high quality, female-led game, and one that doesn’t rely on titillation to sell.

In Brief:

Skullgirls

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The all-female fighting game has some cartoony sex appeal, but it’s mostly just plain fun, and has amassed a cult following this year. How many games can you even name that have an entirely female cast? Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Yes, we have yet to see a female lead in a non-spin-off Assassin’s Creed game, but I was pleasantly surprised with Mary Read’s role, as the character managed to steer clear of being a love interest for Edward, which would have been a bit predictable.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

It may not seem like a big deal, but now you can run around shooting people as a female soldier in Activision’s Call of Duty, a change from the endless parade of playable men the series has seen since its inception.

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn

The world of eSports is overwhelmingly dominated by guys, but this year Canadian pro Starcraft player Scarlett proved that a girl can be one of the best gamers in the world. Scarlett’s Zerg play was absolutely stunning throughout the year, and she had a host of great showings at tournaments and events where she faced off against top Korean pros.

And Finally:

Anita Sarkeesian

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This year, Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian started releasing videos in her “Tropes vs. Women in Video Game Series.” A few years back, Sarkeesian became an internet sensation when she put up a Kickstarter to fund the proposed series. She was only asking for a few thousand dollars, but when internet trolls started harassing her for the idea, she raked in a huge amount of cash: $158,000 after requesting only $6,000, to be exact. Since then, Sarkeesian has been a constant target as critics accused her of taking the cash and running, as she didn’t release any videos for quite a while.

Now she’s released four, and though they are coming out at a snail’s pace, they’re a fascinating look at some of the issues facing women in gaming. Her first videos focused mainly on the “ damsel in distress” trope which I touched on earlier, and all of them are absolutely worth watching. No, her logic and fact checking aren’t always completely without fault, as her detractors are quick to point out, but overwhelmingly the points she makes are good ones. All her videos make you think and question your entrenched ideas about games, whether you agree or disagree with her points.

I expect if Sarkeesian were writing this list instead of me, she’d find quite a lot of issues even with the “postive” portrayals of women I’ve highlighted. But even so, that’s not a bad thing. There’s no reason someone like her shouldn’t be pushing all game developers to constantly be doing better in their representation of women, and I think it’s working. Not to give all the credit to Sarkeesian herself per se, but a general shift toward more diverse roles for women in games can be felt as you play through the titles I’ve mentioned here. I think there’s a wide range from badass leading ladies to quieter, emotionally resonant heroines, and hopefully we’ll only see more of each in the future.


Teenage Ms Marvel will deal with adolescence, religion and superpowers.

Marvel Comics is bringing Ms. Marvel back as a 16-year-old daughter of   Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City named Kamala Khan.

The character – among the first to be a series protagonist who is both a woman   and Muslim – is part of Marvel Entertainment’s efforts to reflect a growing   diversity among its readers while keeping ahold of the contemporary   relevance that have underlined its foundation since the creation of   Spider-Man and the X-Men in the early 1960s.

Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, working with editor Sana   Amanat, say the series reflects Khan’s vibrant but kinetic world, learning   to deal with superpowers, family expectations and adolescence.

Amanat calls the series a “desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora   from an authentic perspective” and what it means to be young and lost   amid expectations by others while also telling the story of a teenager   coming to grips with having amazing powers.

“I wanted Ms. Marvel to be true-to-life, something real people could   relate to, particularly young women. High school was a very vivid time in my   life, so I drew heavily on those experiences – impending adulthood, dealing   with school, emotionally charged friendships that are such a huge part of   being a teenager,” said Willow, whose previous comics work includes   Vertigo’s “Cairo” and the series “Air.”

“It’s for all the geek girls out there and everybody else who’s ever   looked at life from the fringe.”

She can grow and shrink her limbs and her body and, Willow said, ultimately,   she’ll be able to shape shift into other forms.

The idea came after a discussion with senior editor Stephen Wacker as they   compared stories about growing up.

From there it germinated into a “character for all those little girls who   are growing up now the way you are growing up,” she recalled. Wilson   was brought on board to write the series and the team quickly got approval   from Marvel’s creative committee to move forward.

DC Comics last fall relaunched its “Green Lantern” series with Simon   Baz, an Arab American and Muslim. The character reflects writer Geoff Johns’   Lebanese ancestry and his upbringing in the Detroit area.

There have been a few others: Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman   whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the   popular X-Men books. DC Comics in late 2010 introduced Nightrunner, a young   Muslim hero of Algerian descent reared in Paris.

The creative team said that Khan’s backstory, growing up Muslim, is an element   of the story, but not the critical foundation, either.

“Kamala is not unlike Peter Parker,” said Marvel Editor-In-Chief   Axel Alonso of the teenager turned wall crawler. “She’s a 16-year-old   girl from the suburbs who is trying to figure out who she is and trying to   forge an identity when she suddenly bestows great power and learns the great   responsibility that comes with it.”


New research suggests that many women aged 35-45 who do not have children feel judged for not having had a baby.

Even if they plan to have a child, nearly 60% have at some point felt stigmatised for leaving it late.

About 40% are too embarrassed to talk about fertility, especially with family and friends, often the biggest source of pressure.

Susan Seenan from Infertility Network UK says this prevents some women from seeking help for fertility problems.

The organisation, which interviewed 500 women for its survey, said it was a common problem.

“Trying for a baby is a very personal thing which people don’t always want to talk about, but there is constant pressure from families saying ‘Isn’t it about time…?’,” said Ms Seenan.

“And if you don’t say anything, then friends and family assume you like your lifestyle too much to be bothered about children.”

If women are then diagnosed with fertility problems, the sense of isolation can become even worse, she says.

“Unfortunately, infertility is still a taboo subject. When women are labelled as infertile they feel a failure, because they have let themselves and their partner down.

“Their basic biological instinct to have a child is kicking in – and at that point everyone seems to have babies, but they can’t.”

Ms Seenan suggests that for women in this position, it is easier to talk about mental health problems than infertility problems, which is the reason behind the forthcoming National Infertility Awareness Week.

Hurtful

Neela Prabhu, 36, from London, knows how hard it is to spend years trying to become pregnant. She and her husband tried for over a year before seeking help, and that took its toll on them both.

“My mental state at the time wasn’t great and although some friends tried to be well-meaning, they kept saying unfunny things about our situation. They were trying to be helpful but sometimes it just hurt. All I could think about was having a baby.”

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The success of IVF depends on a woman’s age

Neela’s parents are from India and are very supportive, but she says her mother couldn’t relate to her problems, partly because it is an issue rarely discussed in Asian communities.

She says she wants this to change.

“I want there to be more openness. I want women to talk about infertility even if they are dying inside, and I want to give women the confidence to talk about the journey of having a child.

“But it just seems to be a taboo subject – why should this be?”

Neela finally had a daughter four years ago after IVF and has recently discovered she is pregnant again with her second baby, following two failed cycles of IVF last year. She has never found out the cause of her fertility problems despite numerous investigations.

Neela started trying for a baby at 27, but many women leave it much later and by doing so they decrease their chances of conceiving naturally and risk missing out on treatment under the NHS.

‘Fallback solution’

Current guidelines recommend that women up to 39 should be offered three full cycles of IVF and women aged between 40 and 42 should have access to one cycle.

But there are huge variations in criteria across the UK. In Oxford, for example, 35 is the limit for IVF treatment on the NHS.

Many couples try for years before seeking help and before they know it they are in their late 30s – and in some areas that’s too old.”

Tim Child Oxford Fertility Unit.

Tim Child, medical director at the Oxford Fertility Unit at the University of Oxford says people are leaving it too long before before going to see their GP about their fertility problems.

“When couples start talking about their fertility, that’s the point to speak to a healthcare professional.

“Good advice can be given early on about weight, diet, alcohol intake etc which could help, but many couples try for years before seeking help and before they know it they are in their late 30s – and in some areas that’s too old.”

He says that women wrongly assume that IVF is a good fallback solution when in fact the success rates are 40-50% for the under-35s, dropping to 20% for the under-40s and just 5% for women aged up to 43.

Neela hopes that people can be more understanding and supportive towards women “who can’t just fall off a log and get pregnant” so that people like her can feel more comfortable talking about it.

Instead of asking personal, intrusive questions, she wants people to be aware that one in seven heterosexual couples in the UK is affected by infertility.

Being judged has made Neela speak out.

“People used to ask me, ‘Don’t you want another child?’ It’s really nobody’s business but mine.”

National Infertility Awareness Week runs from 28 October.


Women helping empower other women doesn’t just have social benefits, it also  can be powerful economically and politically, according to a group of female  leaders who took part in politico’s Women Rule event on Friday — and one of the  easiest way to do that is to invest in female entrepreneurs.

“The lowest hanging fruit to pick in some ways is if you really do want to do  this, you really have to invest in women entrepreneurs,” said Melanne Verveer,  Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security executive director and the  first U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. She was speaking at  the event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Verveer, who served under former Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton, said studies show that countries that have a smaller gap between men  and women on income and other factors perform better economically.

Verveer was part of one of the two panel discussions at the event, the Tory Burch Foundation and Google, which focused on how to empower  women to effect change and grow their businesses. Drawing from both personal  experience and data, the women described how making engaging women a priority  can have far-reaching results.

Tory Burch, fashion designer and CEO of the Tory Burch Foundation, told the  200 mostly women in attendance that she has seen the benefit of making hiring  and empowering women a focus of her own company.

“Women think differently,” Burch said. “I think there’s a different way of  management skills, there’s different ways of looking at business. For me, I  learned on the job. … So there were a lot of obstacles, and I think it was a bit  of blind faith and I didn’t want to talk about it, I wanted it to speak for  itself.”

Asked by moderator Judy Woodruff of PBS what Burch would say to people who  argue women don’t have the same drive as men, Burch was emphatic.

“I would say it’s not even worth responding to,” Burch said, pointing to her  own company’s growth as an example.

Verveer agreed, saying people who believe that should simply look at the  “reality today.”

“Women-owned businesses are outpacing men-owned businesses in terms of  creation and in terms of yield,” Verveer said.

Women are having an impact in politics, an earlier panel of women leaders  said, for example to steer the U.S. out of its government shutdown.

Asked by Mike Allen if the country would be in the shutdown if  there were more women in Congress, the panel said what’s more important is what  the women who are on the Hill are already doing.

“It’s a moot point, and what we’re seeing is that it’s the women in Congress  who are leading the end of the shutdown,” said Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder  and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, specifically pointing to Sen. Susan Collins  (R-Maine) as a leader working on a compromise solution to the standoff.

Former administrator for the Small Business Administration Karen Gordon Mills  said women are powerful not just because they can find common ground.

“I’m here today for lots of reasons, but one is I love the title Women Rule,  because women in power really does lead to, we think, more effective outcomes,”  Gordon Mills said. “I think it’s because women in power can really get together  and ask the question, ‘What is the outcome we’re trying to achieve?’ … You know  that there’s an objective out there that you’re trying to get to and that is  what moves the world forward and prevents logjams.”

In a conversation that focused on how to empower women to achieve their  goals, members of the panel endorsed getting involved in mentoring and investing  in female entrepreneurs.

Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank  Julie T. Katzman told a personal story about arriving to a job and asking if  there were any women on staff, only to be presented with a low-level employee.  She said when she encouraged the company to hire women, they saw immediate  results. She talked of disabusing Americans of the notion that women are on the  fringe of business.

“Women are not a niche,” Katzman said. “It’s 50 percent of the  population!”

The same principles used to get more women into business could also be  applied to getting more into politics, the panel said.

One of the takeaways for Goldman Sachs Foundation President Dina Habib Powell  from her work is that women in business start small, but then see their business  grow.

“The biggest takeaway for them is confidence, and suddenly, they’re becoming  political leaders now,” Habib Powell said.

Oberta Noguera said encouragement is key for women entering politics, as it  is for those getting involved in business.

“Apparently, it takes up to six times to ask for a women to run for office  before she will consider it, versus like not asking at all for guys,” Oberta  Noguera said.

Friday’s lunch was part of the Women Rule series, Google  and the Tory Burch Foundation that brings high-profile Washington women together  to discuss how women are leading change.

In between the panels, Women Rule ambassadors held roundtable discussions  with event participants. Women Rule ambassadors in attendance on Friday included  Trust for the National Mall President Caroline Cunningham, Senior Adviser to the  Nike Foundation Pamela Reeves, Voto Latino founder Maria Teresa Kumar, Glover  Park Group Managing Director Dee Dee Meyers, Planned Parenthood President Cecile  Richards, American Action Forum Cameron McCosh, Georgetown Cupcake founders  Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman, National Geographic photographer Jodi  Cobb, Bluemercury co-founder and CEO Marla Malcolm Beck, Tory Burch Foundation  Executive Director Terri McCullough, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Omidyar’s  Stacy Donohue, former Twitter official Mindy Finn and CNN executive producer  Michelle Jaconi.

The next Women Rule event will feature U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations  Samantha Power in November, followed by a December conference on leadership.  Additionally, Women Rule is running an online hub of essays.

via Politico


Earlier this month, Business Insider published an “Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man” that has since been ricocheting around the inboxes of Blankfein-worshipping bros at record speed. But what about us women? Don’t we count for anything? The BI guide troubled me on several accounts, including its thin veil of sarcasm and its blatantly misogynistic recommendations such as “always carry cash in your front pocket,” and “hookers aren’t cool, but remember, the free ones are a lot more expensive.” (Really, Business Insider?) After considering an appropriate response, I sent the following email asking the BI editors to consider publishing a counter list for female young professionals:

To Whom It May Concern,

I was dismayed to read Tuesday’s article, “The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man.” Is this really the type of content your male or female readership feels comfortable with and supports?

I hope you will consider publishing my response, which includes what I hope will be a productive counter list for young professional women. As my brilliant, motivated and savvy female young professional peers ascend the ranks of American business, I at least recommend that you consider producing content (yes, even satirical content) that is more responsive to changing cultural mores — particularly regarding gender. If you do not, you will certainly face some serious growing pains and critique in the future.

All the best,

Sophie Sakellariadis

While BI declined to publish my response, I still believe that aspiring female young professionals like myself have a lot of wisdom to share with each other. Moreover, I think our increasing willingness to aid and support one another will ultimately help us to break down gender barriers in the work place. My hope is that the following list will encourage positive, introspective, kind and yes, ambitious decision-making to support personal satisfaction and professional success.

Many of the items on this list are pearls of wisdom I have received from mentors and fellow female young professionals. My hope is that this list will inspire further conversation, thought and contribution towards an even more evolved list of tips or guiding principles for young women. So, without further ado:

  1. Always seek out the tenuous balance between humility and confidence
  2. Practice having difficult conversations about the small things at work, so that you feel more comfortable having difficult conversations about more important topics
  3. Ask your relatives for advice — it makes them feel happy and engaged in your life, and it’s often pretty helpful
  4. Find a new activity that you like and stick with it until you get good at it — no need to shoot for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour mark
  5. Read voraciously and omnivorously — you never know when something you read will help you contribute in a meeting
  6. Start a book club — it can enrich your mind, deepen your friendships and open you to new ideas. And it’s fun!
  7. Be mindful about how and when you assert yourself — the reality is that women don’t always have the luxury of asserting themselves and receiving the same positive responses that men always do. Don’t hold back, but be thoughtful about how and when you do so
  8. Ask for feedback at work — even when you’re most afraid of getting it
  9. Schedule one-on-one networking meetings with men you admire — even if it might make you feel a little uncomfortable
  10. Schedule one-on-one networking meetings with women you admire — even if it might feel a little intimidating
  11. Engage the men in your life in meaningful conversations about gender — you’ll be surprised to find how open many of them are to this topic
  12. Make the first move — not only in romance, but in friendships as well
  13. Perform random acts of kindness for strangers or new friends
  14. Pig out with your girlfriends late at night — rarely can something make you feel closer to them than drenching yourself in delicious burrito grease
  15. Challenge your self-discipline in small ways by giving up alcohol or limiting your Internet exposure for a month
  16. When your job is getting you down, seek fulfillment and self-approbation through outside activities, such as writing or volunteering
  17. Find a younger woman or a peer to mentor
  18. Seek out and follow up with older women and men that you respect for their career achievements and for their personal achievements
  19. Learn something from someone who is totally different than yourself
  20. GET YOUR BONUS: Ask for what you want in work and in life, even when it’s hard — because if you don’t, you almost certainly won’t get it

Follow Sophie Sakellariadis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ssakell


If you saw an unconscious, tied-up woman in the back of a pickup truck, wouldn’t you be extremely alarmed and alert authorities immediately? One Waco, Texas, advertising company is actually selling a very realistic-looking decal portraying exactly that. Hornet Signs created the tailgate decal, and owner Brad Kolb says he “wasn’t expecting” the barrage of negative reactions. The company also creates car wraps depicting an Army soldier aiming a barrel of a gun toward a trailing car, and a zombie creeping out of a pickup. Kolb says orders have actually gone up following the controversy. The bound woman is an employee who volunteered for the photo, Kolb says, and the wrap was placed onto another employee’s truck. “Is it a sick joke or good business marketing?” asks the anchor of TV news station KTEM. Can we agree that a tied-up woman should not be considered either a joke or marketing strategy at all?


Texas just passed one of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

The state’s Senate adopted a bill close to midnight on Friday that bans abortions after 20 weeks and will force the closure of all but a handful of the clinics that perform them.

The law’s 20-week ban is based on the idea that a fetus feels pain after that time. That not only flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which says abortions are permissible until a fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks, but it’s disputed by many doctors.

Sen. Wendy Davis and a bevy of protesters successfully filibustered the bill last month, but Republican Gov. Rick Perry called another special session so Republican lawmakers could vote on the bill again.

This time they won. And women’s rights organizations say there will be some dire consequences.

Perry and other Republicans have said the law is necessary to protect innocent lives. But organizations like Planned Parenthood counter the law will harm women. And not just women seeking abortions.

Low-income and minority women are disproportionately more likely to lack health insurance, and many rely on healthcare clinics that also perform abortions for things like STD testing and cancer screenings.

The problem is, with the bill’s requirements that abortion-performing clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and meet the same standards as surgical centers, many of those clinics will be forced to close.

Many simply cannot afford to make the changes, like widening hallways and setting up waiting rooms. While they could stop performing abortions to avoid the changes, Kathryn Hearns, a Planned Parenthood worker in Hidalgo County, told ABC News-Univision earlier this month that abortions are a vital part of what they offer.

She fears more women will go to Mexico for illegal and often unsafe abortions. Women in rural areas will be particularly disadvantaged, since the only clinics that currently meet the strict standards are in urban areas.

As Bloomberg News noted, some women who aren’t near an abortion clinic or are too poor to afford one already turn to black market abortion-inducing pills at flea markets. Opponents of the bill worry that number could now increase.

Republican Sen. Glenn Hegar, the bill’s author, said on the Senate floor Friday that it was not his intention for women to travel to Mexico or a flea market for an abortion.

“Any situation like that is deplorable and that is what we do not want to have,” he said. “This legislation is not doing that because they’re already doing that.”

Women’s rights organizations immediately decried the ruling and the way in which it was passed during a special session.

People entering the Capitol reported that state troopers stationed at the entrance confiscated tampons, maxi pads and other things that could be used as projectiles. Registered guns, on the other hand, were allowed.

Opponents have vowed to take the new law to court, where it may not stand up. Courts have already blocked restrictive laws in states like Georgia and Arizona. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have challenged laws in others. But restrictive laws remain in place where they have not been challenged, often in direct contradiction to Roe v. Wade.

While Texas does skew more conservative than much of the nation when it comes to abortions, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, just 38 percent of Texans want to make abortion laws stricter. But they also bristle at the idea of restricting abortion access severely.

“This will not prevent abortions,” wrote one woman on the comment section of the Texas Tribune’s livestream of the Senate’s debate, “it will only prevent safe abortions.”


Despite the best efforts of Wendy Davis, the Texas abortion bill is back. The Texas House has finally (this was the third attempt this year) approved new abortion restrictions, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, restricting the procedure to surgical centers, and requiring doctors performing abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges, the AP reports. Proponents say the new measures will keep women safe, but opponents say the real outcome of the bill will be the closure of the majority of the state’s abortion clinics—only five of Texas’ 36 licensed clinics are expected to be able to afford the upgrades required to pass as a “surgical center,” the El Paso Times reports.

The vote came after 10 hours of heated debate, as demonstrators from both sides descended on the Texas Capitol building. Supporters brought in baby shoes, while opponents carried coat hangers—a symbol of “back alley” abortions, the New York Times reports. Ultimately, the vote passed easily: 98 to 49 with only one Republican, Sarah Davis, opposing the new law, which she labelled unconstitutional. “I believe the bill as drafted will be a de facto ban on abortion,” she said. “No one wants to see abortions, it’s a terrible way to end a pregnancy, but it is a constitutionally protected right.” A formal vote on the bill will be held today, then it will move on to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it’s expected to pass, the AP reports.


Men cannot be blamed for looking at other women as it is in their genes to find strangers more attractive, a study has suggested.

New research shows that while women are drawn to male faces that look familiar, men are more likely to rate someone they have never seen before as more attractive.

It is thought the reason may be that men have evolved to maximise their reproductive success by mating with as many partners as possible.

Researchers at the University of Stirling and the University of Glasgow came up with the findings after showing men and women pictures of dozens of different faces. The more women in the study saw pictures of the same man’s face, the more attracted they were to him.

But the study, published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, found that the men who took part rated the women as less attractive when they saw them for a second time.

Researchers say the results may be partly explained by the so-called Coolidge effect – where men are aroused by the novelty of a new sexual partner more than women.

It’s named after an anecdote attributed to 30th US President Calvin Coolidge.

During a farm visit, when his wife was told there was only one cockerel and many hens because the cockerel would mate several times a day, she reportedly said: ‘Tell that to Mr Coolidge’.

When the president asked if it was with the same hen each time and told no he allegedly said: ‘Tell that to Mrs Coolidge.’

Anthony Little from Stirling University’s School of Natural Sciences, said: “Men found female faces they had already seen as less attractive and less sexy, especially for short-term relationships.

“There is a tendency for males to pursue a large number of partners as they can dramatically increase their reproductive success by mating with multiple females.”


Around the globe, 30 percent of all women aged 15 and older have suffered intimate partner violence – including physical and sexual attacks, according to the first systematic study of available data on assaults against women, released Thursday.

The rates of abuse vary widely by world regions: in Sub-Saharan Central Africa, for example, two-thirds of women have been victimized, marking the highest portion on any section of the planet; in North America, violence from an intimate partner, such as a husband or boyfriend, has impacted slightly more one in five women, report the authors. For the paper, published online by the journal Science, the authors synthesized 141 previous studies from 81 countries.

“The prevalence is shockingly high,” said lead author Karen Devries,  a social epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “People in general will be surprised by the figure, since many forms of violence remain hidden from public view. Those who have experienced intimate partner violence often do not disclose to those people close to them.”

“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” added Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, which partnered on the research with the London School of Hygiene and the South African Medical Research Council. “We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”

According to the report, “a greater focus on primary prevention is urgently needed.” It also described the field of preventing violence against women as being “still in its nascence.”

In the United States, where domestic violence crimes among some celebrities have made news – including recent cases against boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather, pop star Chris Brown, and actor Mel Gibson — two leading experts said they were not surprised by the reported prevalence. And in Britain this week, police said they are investigating photos of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson that allegedly show her husband’s hands around her neck.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which bills itself as the largest organization of feminist activists in the U.S., said, “I think we know how to prevent it. I think we’ve just begun develop the political will to implement the programs that we know need to be put into place.”

Those programs include, O’Neill said, services that allow survivors to become economically self-sufficient so they can live apart from their abusers, and holding intimate-violence criminals accountable.

She called the 1994 Violence Against Women Act “a pretty good role model” that began “shifting the culture and the opportunities for women so they’re not dependent on an individual who may turn out to be violent.” Among the features of that law, which extends coverage to male victims: tougher federal penalties for repeat sex offenders, and the creation of a federal “rape shield law,” which prevents offenders from using a victim’s past sexual conduct against the victim during a rape trial.

But such cultural reform has yet to reach every corner of the globe. According to a recent United Nations report, 125 countries have outlawed domestic violence. By that math, 70 countries have not made domestic violence illegal. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, a court ruled in 2010 that a man is permitted under Islamic law to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he leaves no marks and has tried other methods of punishment.

In fact, the rates of physical and sexual violence against women are likely higher than the new report found because female victims are often reluctant to reveal such crimes, O’Neill said.

“I’m, myself, a survivor of domestic violence and I didn’t talk about it publicly for 30 years,” O’Neill said.

In addition to physical and sexual attacks by intimate partners, women face still more forms of intimidation from partners that can be equally controlling, said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, based in Denver.

The finding of a 30-percent worldwide victim rate doesn’t surprise Smith, she said, adding: “Those numbers are consistent with what domestic-violence advocates know happens in local communities all over the country.”

“What is important to notice about this report: there’s a whole other layer of violence that happens that isn’t physical – emotional, economic, verbal, stalking, threats with weapons – that would raise those numbers exponentially,” Smith said.

“They are still terrifying. They are ways to control another human being,” Smith added. “We need to pay attention to the (new) numbers because when we have this amount of people being physically assaulted, it indicates a much broader problem of violence.”