TIME politics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Male Justices Have ‘Blind Spot’ About Women

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the taping of "The Kalb Report" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. on April 17, 2014.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the taping of "The Kalb Report" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. on April 17, 2014. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Notorious R.B.G strikes again

In the wake of the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows religious employers to deny birth control coverage to female employees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the male justices in the majority have a “blind spot” about women’s issues.

“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Katie Couric asked Ginsburg in a Yahoo interview.

“I would have to say no,” Ginsburg replied.

“But justices continue to think and change. They have wives. They have daughters,” she continued. “By the way, I think daughters can change the perception of their fathers. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”

But will Ginsburg still be on the court tomorrow? Some liberals are urging Ginsburg, 81, to retire so President Obama can fill her seat with another Democrat.

“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” she said.

So it looks like Notorious R.B.G is here to stay, and now she finally knows about her nickname. Couric asked her about the Tumblr a female fan created that compares Ginsburg to the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

“She has created a wonderful thing with Notorious R.B.G.,” Ginsburg said. “I will admit I had to be told by my law clerks, what’s this Notorious. And they — they explained that to me.”

TIME startup

ManServants: The Startup That Promises to Make (Almost) All Your Fantasies Come True

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Ladies, are you tired of (and maybe a little grossed out by) the male strippers at bachelorette parties? Do you wish instead that you could just hire a hot guy to serve you food, do your laundry, or dole out creative compliments whenever you walk into a room? Beginning in the fall, new San Francisco-based startup ManServants promises you can have all that, and more, with their rent-a-perfect-guy service.

The men for hire go through “a very rigorous training process,” co-founder Dalal Khajah told Mashable, and they can be hired to do whatever the client wants. During the testing phase of the service, one woman wanted a sassy gay friend to give her relationship advice. Another wanted her man to serve her food while singing songs from The Little Mermaid.

The singing will cost you extra – according to ManServants’ website, the standard services include waiting on you hand and foot, serving drinks, acting as a body guard, taking photos, giving compliments, and “[cleaning] up your hot mess.” For an additional fee, you can get your ManServant to do things like speak in an accent, or give you a spa day complete with cucumber water and chocolate covered strawberries. (The website doesn’t say what it will cost you to hire your ManServant, but he will be compensated by the company beginning at $80 per hour and $300 per day.)

Josephine Wai Lin, Khajah’s business partner, explained all the customizable options: “Every woman’s fantasy is different.”

But one thing the men won’t do is fulfill fantasies that are less innocent than say, singing “Under the Sea.” In the ManServants code of conduct it says, “A ManServant keeps his penis in his pants and out of the lady’s face.” Chivalry isn’t dead!

The company’s vision is “to empower women to make their own rules. Rules a ManServant may then follow.” So watch the hilarious promo video, and start coming up with ideas.

TIME psychology

What People Learn About You From Your Selfies

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Woman looking at reflection Vintage Images—www.jupiterimages.com

The pictures you post online could affect the way people treat you in person

According to new research, there are scientific reasons why you judged that girl who posted a selfie on Instagram last night.

It’s no secret that people make snap judgments about each other, but the study, conducted by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York, was able to accurately predict what those judgments would be based on facial measurements such as “eye height” and “eyebrow width.”

Previous studies have shown that first impressions often fall into three categories: approachability, dominance, and attractiveness. The researchers at the University of York took 1,000 photographs from the Internet, analyzed the facial features of the subjects (who were all Caucasian), and studied how people reacted to each photograph. They were then able to develop a statistical model that predicted what the viewer’s impression of the face would be based on the measured facial features.

The findings of this study help illuminate the importance of these impressions in an age of social media, in which pictures of faces proliferate and people meet, talk, and even date online. According to the researchers‘ report, curating the perfect photo for these websites isn’t as trivial as it seems. “Some of the features that are associated with first impressions are linked to changeable properties of the face or setting that are specific to a given image,” they wrote. “So things like expression, pose, camera position, lighting can all in principle contribute alongside the structure of our faces themselves.”

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that snap judgments based on a photo could shape the way we respond to a person even after we’ve met them in person. The researchers explain it this way in the introduction to their report: “Although first impressions are formed rapidly to faces, they are by no means fleeting in their consequences. Instead… facial appearance can affect behavior, changing the way we interpret social encounters and influencing their outcomes.”

Less surprisingly, the research showed that “masculine” faces, determined by factors such as cheekbone structure, eyebrow height and skin texture, were seen as dominant, whereas more feminine faces were perceived as more attractive and youthful.

But the researchers also found that the shape and size of a person’s mouth directly affected his or her perceived approachability, and that larger eyes tend to predict higher levels of attractiveness.

So it’s time to stop making fun of people who obsess over choosing their profile picture. Richard Vernon, a PhD student who worked on the study, said, “Showing that even supposedly arbitrary features in a face can influence people’s perceptions suggests that careful choice of a photo could make (or break) others’ first impressions of you.”

TIME energy

Obama Approves Sonic Cannons to Map Atlantic for Offshore Oil and Gas

Offshore drilling in the Atlantic is up for debate
The Atlantic offshore territory has been off limits to U.S. oil drilling, but that could change Brasil2 via Getty Images

Over environmental objections, the Obama Administration moves forward with exploration that could yield new domestic oil and gas sources

The Obama administration reopened part of the Eastern seaboard Friday to offshore oil and gas exploration, promising to boost job creation in the energy sector while at the same time fueling the fears of environmental groups.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates that 4.72 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas lies beneath the coast from Florida to Maine. The recent decision allows exploration from Florida to Delaware and could create thousands of new jobs supporting expanded energy infrastructure along the East Coast.

“Offshore energy exploration and production in the Atlantic could bring new jobs and higher revenues to states and local communities, while adding to our country’s capabilities as an energy superpower,” American Petroleum Institute upstream director Erik Milito said in a statement.

Environmentalists worry about damage to shorelines, and to the tourist industry. They also worry about the safety of ocean wildlife. The exploration will initially be conducted via seismic surveys that use sonic cannons to locate oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor. The cannons emit sound waves louder than a jet engine every ten seconds for weeks at a time.

“We’re definitely concerned,” Hamilton Davis, energy and climate change director for the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, told TIME. “The exploration activities lead in the direction of actual development of oil and gas, and from our perspective as a coastal organization that worries about our environmental ecological landscape as well as our [tourism] economy, the oil and gas industry certainly doesn’t seem to fit into that equation. Just the impacts from exploration activities on marine wildlife I think would give most people pause… You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of animals that will be negatively impacted as a consequence of these activities.”

BOEM said it approved the seismic surveys with the environment in mind. “After thoroughly reviewing the analysis, coordinating with Federal agencies and considering extensive public input, the bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank in a statement.

Sonic cannons are already used in the western Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, but many constituents and elected officials in the newly opened East Coast territory have expressed their concerns about the testing and eventual drilling. Congressional officials from Florida, including Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, and Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, signed a letter to President Obama opposing the decision.

“Expanding unnecessary drilling offshore simply puts too much at risk. Florida has more coastline than any other state in the continental United States and its beaches and marine resources support the local economy across the state,” the letter states.

The area to be mapped is in federal waters, not under the jurisdiction of state law. Energy companies will apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits expire.

 

TIME Body Image

Harvard Women’s Rugby Team Wants You to Know Strength Is Beautiful

Lydia Burns and Shelby Lin

"Ripped," "so strong" and "fearless"

Amid movies and advertisements that promote stick-thin women, and even fitness magazines that focus on “lean” and “toned” bodies, the Harvard women’s rugby team has an important message: strength is beautiful.

The team staged a photo shoot in which they all wore matching sports bras and spandex and wrote empowering messages on each other’s bodies. “Powerful,” reads one girl’s knuckles. “Ripped,” says another’s bicep, and “Beautiful & Fierce!” announces another girl’s stomach.

“I think the notion of strength being beautiful is so overlooked in our society because strength is historically associated with masculinity, and women are taught that they must be strictly feminine to be beautiful,” player Helen Clark told TODAY.com.

The photos were published in June along with an essay in the Harvard Political Review, and have gone viral in recent weeks.

“We hope seeing our photos will encourage women to go out and find a space like rugby where their bodies are celebrated for their inherent strength and power,” Clark said, “Rather than just for how they look in a bikini.”

TIME Food & Drink

This Sweet Invention Dispenses Cake from a Can

Think microwaveable cake batter

Looking for a way to binge on baked goods without the wait-time of actually baking?

Two Harvard students are working to patent Spray Cake, which releases cake batter out of a dispenser that works like a whipped-cream can. The accelerant in the can releases air bubbles inside the batter, eliminating the need for baking soda and baking powder so the confection is ready to eat almost instantly. It takes 30 seconds to bake a cupcake in the microwave, and only one minute to bake a full cake.

John McCallum, a junior and the brains behind Spray Cake, came up with the idea as a final project for his freshman year Science and Cooking class. It was his soon-to-be girlfriend, Brooke Nowakowski, who saw its potential: “He was just like, ‘Cool. Lab project,’ ” she told The Boston Globe. “But I thought it could go somewhere.” And she argues it’s good for weight control because, “You can simply pull it off the shelf, make one cupcake, then put it back in the fridge” — which won’t take nearly as long as it took Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids to make a single cupcake for herself:

 

TIME Crime

Murdered Boy Gets Superman Logo On His Memorial After All

U.S. Anticipates Return Of "The Man Of Steel"
CHICAGO - JUNE 27: A moviegoer wearing his Superman tee-shirt is seen in the lobby prior to watching the new Superman Returns movie on June 27, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. The theater had a special showing of the much anticipated new Superman movie at 10pm. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images) Tim Boyle—Getty Images

DC Entertainment will now allow the Superman "S" to appear on the gravestone of a 5-year-old boy murdered by his grandparents

After initially saying the famous Superman “S” logo could not be used on a young boy’s memorial statue, DC Entertainment has reversed its decision.

Jeffrey Baldwin, 5, was starved to death by his grandparents—they were later convicted of second-degree murder— in 2002. His family said he loved to dress up like a superhero and pretend to fly, so Ottawa resident Todd Boyce raised money for a statue that would depict the young boy as his beloved Man of Steel. But DC Entertainment refused to grant the rights to use the iconic “S” shield logo on his memorial.

On Wednesday, however, the company changed its tune.“We are honored by the relationship that our fans have with our characters, and fully understand the magnitude of their passion. We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected,” according to a statement from the company.“DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance.”

TIME U.S.

Duck Dynasty Family Takes On Public Health

Duck Dynasty Mia Roberts cleft lip
Duck Dynasty's Mia Robertson attends a press conference to raise awareness of cleft lip and palate treatments on July 8, 2014 at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington. Paul Morigi—WireImage/Getty Images

The Duck Dynasty family is leveraging its fame in pursuit of a new challenge: treating cleft lips

America’s much-loved Duck Dynasty clan seems to be all over Washington these days – Willie Robertson was recently spotted at a Nats game with the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Phil Robertson’s nephew is running for Congress, and the family has attended the White House correspondents dinner two years running. Now they are in the nation’s capital taking on a new issue: public health.

Mia Roberston, 10, daughter of Jase and Missy Robertson, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. After her final corrective surgery in January, the family started the Mia Moo Fund to raise awareness and money for research and treatment of the birth defect. Mia and her parents spoke alongside Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), also born with a cleft lip and palate, in front of the Capitol Tuesday about the work of the Fund and the struggles of growing up with the condition.

“As the Robertson family, we don’t back away from any challenges,” said Missy about their commitment to their daughter and other children born with cleft lips or palates.

According to the Mia Moo Fund’s website, “The organization began in 2014 after Mia… completed surgery for her cleft palate. As Mia entered surgery, thousands of supportive fans tweeted, blogged and talked about how strong and beautiful she was. It was both empowering and inspiring. It has since become our mission to bring this type of support and love to each and every child that suffers from cleft lip and palate.”

Both Franks and the Robertsons invoked God as they talked about this mission.

“God has blessed kids like Mia and Representative Franks with an extra measure of courage,” Jase said.

Mia was quick to refer her own experience to faith, as well. “God is bigger than any of your struggles,” she said, her voice barely audible as she read from her prepared speech. “Don’t forget that.”

TIME Obama

Obama Threatens to Go It Alone if Congress Doesn’t Help Fix Highways

Obama-Infrastructure
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the economy in Georgetown Waterfront Park on July 1, 2014 in Washington. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

Obama threatens to continue acting without Congress if they don't fix the Highway Trust

President Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday was intended to call Congress to action on replenishing a fund for state and federal highway projects. Instead, it turned into a political rant against House Republicans, with Obama saying he’ll proceed without Congress’ help if need be.

The Highway Trust Fund is due to run out in 58 days, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, putting 877,000 jobs and $28 billion in U.S. exports at risk. The fund is rapidly depleting due to declining gas tax revenues, a problem Obama wants to fix by eliminating corporate tax breaks. House Republicans, however, have balked at his plan.

“House Republicans have refused to act on this idea,” said Obama. “I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted, it’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff.

“No, seriously. They’re not doing anything. Why don’t they do this?,” Obama added, before arguing that the U.S. spends a smaller portion of its economy on infrastructure than “just about every other advanced country.”

House Republicans, meanwhile, want to keep the highway fund rolling by ending Saturday U.S. Postal Service deliveries or enacting more stringent state online sales taxes. But in Tuesday’s speech, Obama was clearly frustrated by Congress’ inaction and with the increasing partisanship of the issue — House Republicans last month said they plan to sue Obama for what they argue has been the President’s abuse of executive actions, which allow the executive branch to take certain actions without approval from the legislature.

“It’s not crazy; it’s not socialism. It’s not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken, it’s just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing,” the President said, adding that if House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and his party won’t cooperate, he will continue to act independently.

“Middle class families can’t wait for a Republican Congress to do stuff,” Obama said. “So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.”

TIME Sexual Assault

1 in 5: Debating the Most Controversial Sexual Assault Statistic 

Independent Womens Forum Rape
Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, speaks at an Independent Women's Forum panel discussion at the Fund for American Studies in Washington on June 26, 2014. Amber Schwartz

Does America really have a "rape culture"?

A conservative women’s group is trying to debunk the claim that one in five women is a victim of sexual assault in college.

The startling one-in-five statistic has become a rallying cry for campus judicial reform and entered the public lexicon through widespread dissemination by the media and the Obama Administration. Obama created a White House task force on campus sexual assault earlier this year, and Congress is currently considering proposals to combat sexual violence on campus.

At a Senate hearing Thursday, the one-in-five statistic was invoked in opening statements. Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of education for civil rights, said that “sexual violence is pervasive” on many college campuses and James Moore, compliance manager in the Clery Act Compliance Division of the Education Department, said we are experiencing a “crisis of sexual assault” on campus. (The Clery Act, passed in 1990, requires colleges and universities to publish annual reports on security and crime statistics, as well as publish information about sexual assault policies and programs.)

But the Independent Women’s Forum, based in Washington, D.C., hosted a panel Thursday for about 100 people at The Fund for American Studies that questioned the validity of one-in-five figure.

“I do not believe that the one in five statistic is trustworthy,” said Christina Hoff Sommers, self-titled “factual feminist” and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Inflated statistics lead to ineffective policies. Worse than that, they can breed panic and overreaction, and that’s what I think we have right now. I believe that the rape culture movement is fueled by exaggerated claims of victimization.”

Is it exaggerated? The oft-touted statistic comes from a 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. The study was a Web-based survey circulated to a random sample of 5,446 undergraduate women at two major public universities. The survey found that 19% of the female respondents had experienced completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college.

Yet the survey response rate was 42.2% and 42.8% at the two universities, and Sommers believes the fact that less than half the women chose to respond to the survey points to a troubling selection bias in the respondents. “The people who feel the most strongly about the survey, for whatever reason, are the most likely to respond,” she said.

Sommers and other members of the IWF panel also question the ways this study defined sexual assault. In the executive summary of the 2007 study, the researchers wrote, “Legal definitions of sexual assault factor in one’s ability to provide consent, and individuals who are incapacitated because of the effects of alcohol or drugs… are incapable of consenting.”

In other words, this survey classified sexual encounters that occurred while the woman was intoxicated as a form of sexual assault, regardless of whether the perpetrator was responsible for her intoxication or she consumed the substances on her own. “I can imagine many cases where someone was incapacitated, unconscious: could not consent,” said Sommers. “But there are other cases where it can be quite debatable.”

“Proponents [of the 1/5 statistic] are exaggerating the threat, too often confusing regretful sexual decisions made while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with actual rape,” Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of IWF, wrote in a statement circulated before the panel.

“If sexual intimacy under the influence of alcohol is by definition assault, then I would say a significant percentage of sexual intercourse throughout the world and down the ages would qualify as a crime,” Sommers said. (Sommers wrote an article for TIME in May 2014 about the “panic” she sees surrounding this issue.)

Cathy Young, columnist for Newsday and contributing editor at Reason magazine, believes that conflating drunken sex with more serious assaults undermines the gravity of the issue: “This is trivializing to the experience of women who unfortunately have had the experience of being violently raped,” she said.

Instead of one in five, Sommers believes the real number is closer to one in forty. In 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report called “Violent Victimizations of College Students, 1995-2002,” with a section specifically dealing with sexual assault. This study also has an expansive definition of sexual assault (“Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats”), but does not have the same restrictive view of alcohol as the Campus Sexual Assault survey. “They made it clear they were asking about a serious violation,” Sommers said.

The response rate for this survey was 80% to 88%; double that of the 2007 survey, and the results showed an annual rate of sexual assault against female students to be six per one thousand, which translates to about one in forty over four years. This means that 2.5% of women are sexually assaulted in college, not 20%. It is worth pointing out that the figures in the Bureau of Judicial Statistics survey are at least 12 years old.

“Sexual assault on campus is a genuine problem,” said Sommers. “But to get smart solutions, inflated statistics are not the answer.”

But whether the statistic is one in five, one in forty, or somewhere in between, Andrea Bottner, former director of the Office of International Women’s Issues in the George W. Bush administration, believes that those aren’t the numbers we should be worried about.

“One in five does not bother me too much as a statistic,” she said. “Frankly, I think it’s the wrong statistic to be focused upon. The number that comes to my mind is sixty percent. About sixty percent of rapes in this country are never reported… To me, every time a victim comes forward, I imagine two more next to him or her who don’t. Those are the people we need to reach.”

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