TIME career

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde: Female Equality Laws Are Good For the Economy

BELGIUM-GREECE-EU-EUROGROUP-FINANCE
JOHN THYS—AFP/Getty Images International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde gives a joint press after an Eurogroup Council meeting on February 20, 2015 at EU Headquarters in Brussels. ( JOHN THYS--AFP/Getty Images)

Notes GDPs would increase dramatically if laws changed to make it easier for women to work

International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde has some good news for economies in the developing world: in one step, they can boost their GDPs up by up to 30 percent. All they have to do is let women into the workforce.

In an article posted Monday on the IMF’s blog, Lagarde discusses a new study that found that over 90% of countries worldwide have some kind of legal restrictions that keep women from working, getting loans, or owning property. Women make up 40% of the global workforce, but in some regions they’re vastly underrepresented– only 21% of women in the Middle East and North Africa work outside the home.

Lagarde says that fixing the laws that keep women from fully participating in the economy could boost GDPs– by a lot. Getting women equally represented int the workforce would amount to a 9% increase in Japan’s GDP, a 12% increase in the United Arab Emirates, and a 34% increase in Egypt. In the US, our GDP would increase by 5% if we made it easier for women to participate in the economy.

Changing the laws is only the first step– Lagarde also notes that childcare and maternity leave benefits also play a major role in whether and how women work outside the home. Currently, the US is one of few developed countries that offers no guaranteed maternity leave, and the IMF study found that in 2009, the U.S. spent only 1.2% of our GDP on family benefits– less than any other developed country. Oh great.

TIME Television

Marisa Tomei to Play Gloria Steinem in HBO Miniseries

US-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-OSCARS
Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez—AFP/Getty Images Marisa Tomei arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills on Feb. 22, 2015

Steinem will consult on the project, which George Clooney is producing

Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei will play the renowned feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem in an upcoming HBO miniseries.

The series, called Ms., will focus on the creation of Ms. magazine in 1971 and the feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s, the Wrap reports. Steinem herself will consult on the project, and Kathy Najimy will co-star. Bruce Cohen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov will executive-produce alongside Najimy and Tomei.

Tomei, who won an Oscar for her role in My Cousin Vinny, previously worked with Clooney and his producing partner Heslov on the 2011 drama The Ides of March. She recently inked a development deal with HBO.

[The Wrap]

TIME feminism

The Failure of Corner Office Feminism

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

The Sheryl Sandbergs of the world want us to 'Lean In,' but many women are still struggling just to get in the game.

Let the hate mail begin: I don’t like what feminism has become.

While I think the movement has swept me and most of my peers out of our mothers’ more narrow confines and into the broader world with spectacular, hands-down success, I hate what it has come to. Which is, as far as I can tell, a bunch of women at the top of the heap talking about why things are no fair in the uppermost stratospheres of professional success.

Because this is, comically, what popular feminist discourse, the stuff that comes to the rest of us via magazines and websites and heavily-publicized books, has come to. It’s no fair! I’m thinking in particular of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” in The Atlantic, Naomi Wolf’s Vagina: A New Biography, and another article in The Atlantic that argues that hooking up is “an engine of female progress.” Most recently, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling Lean In urged women to take the bull by the horns at work, full-speed ahead, no stopping until you reach the pinnacle, gals!

It’s true that things still aren’t fair—just ask your average working mother, not to mention single mother, not to mention the woman who’s working two jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table. But things tend to be pretty rosy for the women who occupy corner offices at various corporate law firms, medical practices, pharmaceutical giants, petrochemical plants, Hollywood entertainment shops, state governments, state departments, universities, and banks. But all we hear about are how rotten things are for professionally successful women who, on top of being a minority in the board room, still have to deal with overbearing men talking down to them, cutting them off mid-conversation, or, God forbid, complimenting their appearance.

There’s also the little matter of the help. You know, those kindly women, usually with skin darker than your average Scots-Irish, who do the dishes and the laundry and take the little ones off to nursery school. Who’s looking out for them? Not to mention that, even with two working parents sharing the housework and childcare, there’s only so much time, energy, and most of all, extra cash to go around. In other words, how many women other than those at the top can afford help to begin with?

Our current economy rewards the highly educated, the highly placed, the highly connected, the highly ruthless and the highly motivated, while spitting out pretty much everyone else, men as well as women, including people who may have graduated from Ivy League schools but still aren’t quite up to the challenges of working endless hours in order to achieve someone else’s idea of success.

It’s no coincidence that back in the 1960s when the feminist movement focused on equal opportunity in education, the professions, and the world at large, the economy was roaring along—underpinned by a tax code that demanded that the luckiest and richest among us pay taxes in accordance with their incomes—creating in turn a national demand for a shot at all those goodies. These ideas seeped into American society at the exact same time that reliable birth control, in the form of the Pill (introduced in 1960), came along, allowing great swaths of women, for the first time in human history, to go all the way without worrying about getting knocked up. This was the movement that swept me, and most of my female peers, not only into rewarding work but more profoundly into the understanding that the world was as wide-open to us as it was to the young men in our bio and Shakespeare classes.

But today, when girls as young as 12 are fully versed in the various forms of birth control, feminists don’t seem to speak for anyone other than themselves—or at least the loudest voices don’t. For example, where were the loudest voices—Sheryl Sandberg comes to mind—when, in recent years, Planned Parenthood has had its funding slashed again and again, thereby depriving countless thousands of poor women not only access to reliable birth control, but to Pap smears as well? In Texas alone, more than 60 clinics serving mainly poor and minority women have been closed for lack of funding.

It would be nice if today’s feminist banner-wavers would focus more on things like restoring funding to family planning clinics and breast-cancer screening for the poor, classes in childhood and maternal nutrition, jobs skills, and accounting, and less on, for example, why there aren’t enough women law professors being cited in legal publications. And while they’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt if those who fly the feminist banner stopped degrading women who decide that they’d rather stay home with their kids and drive carpools after all.

Turn back the clock on women’s rights? Not in a million years. Equal pay for equal work; equal access to health, education, property and opportunity; the right to choose to bear children or not, and to appear in the world without being harassed, sexually intimidated, or otherwise used as objects of male lust or power? Yes, yes, yes, and a resounding yes. I’m not suggesting for even a nanosecond that it’s okay to pay a woman a penny less than her male counterpart, or that she should have to put up with even the smallest amount of sexual harassment in the workplace. But to return feminism to its days as a generator of social justice? For that, we women—and men—need to refocus on those who really need help: the barely-middle-class, the working poor, the destitute, the impoverished, and the millions upon millions of women in the Middle East and Africa and Central America who are regularly denied education, sold into marriage or prostitution, trapped in violence, mutilated, humiliated, violated, and worse.

In the meantime, sisters of the corner office, get a grip.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Controversy About This Feminist Manifesto Is Nothing New

Betty Friedan
Jim Seymour—;The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Betty Friedan pictured in 1965

Feb. 19, 1963: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published

To feminists of the Lean In era, the revolutionary premise of The Feminine Mystique — that women could, and should, be more than full-time homemakers — seems so dated it’s almost quaint. But its lasting subversiveness is apparent in its listing on a conservative magazine’s 2005 roster of the “Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.” Betty Friedan’s feminist manifesto, published on this day, Feb. 19, in 1963, made the list at #7 (just behind Marx’s Das Kapital) more than four decades after becoming a wildly controversial bestseller.

The magazine found her slightly less noxious than Hitler, whose Mein Kampf measured up at #2, but took issue with her characterization of stay-at-home mothers as prisoners of “comfortable concentration camps.”

The Feminine Mystique provoked even wider outrage in its day. Even before the book came out, there were those who couldn’t stand it — within the very publishing house that ultimately produced it. According to the New York Times, while the president of W.W. Norton lauded Friedan’s book proposal, calling it “overstated at almost every point, yet entirely stimulating and provocative,” another staffer objected that Friedan’s arguments were “too obvious and feminine.”

“I got very tired of phrases like ‘feminine mystique,’” the staffer said.

The Times gave the book an ambivalent review, calling it provocative and highly readable but also challenging Friedan’s central claims. “It is superficial to blame the ‘culture’ and its handmaidens, the women’s magazines, as she does,” the review alleges. “To paraphrase a famous line, ‘The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.’”

TIME, meanwhile, paid little heed to Friedan and gave more ink to a 1964 book praising traditional stay-at-home motherhood, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Phyllis McGinley. (According to TIME, McGinley insisted that becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet was “an accident, and that her role as a housewife (was) more satisfying.”)

Rebutting the Smith College-educated Friedan and her ilk, who rejected the “sweet, simpering and sort of stupid” feminine ideals of their day, McGinley suggested that wives let their husbands educate them. “The whole duty of a wife is to bolster her husband’s self-esteem,” she writes, per TIME. “A man’s ego bruises easily. It is not nourished like a woman’s by the sheer biological ability to bear children.”

And, after being criticized for undermining the traditional family structure in some circles, she found herself criticized elsewhere for not undermining it enough.

Although she was credited with helping found the second-wave feminist movement, some of the movement’s members found her too tame to lead a revolution. Friedan was no bra-burner, after all. She shaved her legs, wore makeup, dressed stylishly, and, according to TIME, “insisted that it was not necessary to give up femininity to achieve equality.”

In her memoir, as reviewed in TIME, Friedan recalled New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug’s objection to Friedan founding the National Women’s Political Caucus: “‘This is my turf,’ she screamed at me.”

Read TIME’s full review of that memoir, here in the archives: The Friedan Mystique

TIME feminism

How Betty Friedan Responded to Her Critics

'Children don't need all that mommyness. It doesn't matter to them who waxes the floor,' the author said after writing The Feminine Mystique, which was published on Feb. 19, 1963

When The Feminine Mystique hit bookstores on Feb. 19, 1963, more than a few readers dismissed author Betty Friedan’s claims as dangerous. “If most mothers followed her advice, divorce and juvenile delinquency would increase tremendously,” read one letter to the editors at LIFE. “By the time American women have been indoctrinated by Betty Freidan and Simone de Beauvoir, they’re ready to commit mass suicide,” read another.

To these readers, Friedan’s identification of “the problem that has no name”—the elusive sadness of housewives whose lives revolved around vacuums and burp cloths rather than self-actualization—represented a threat to the social order. To Friedan, it was long past time to name the source of so many women’s unhappiness so that steps could be taken to address it.

The words “anger” and “angry” appear frequently in reviews and reactions published in response to the book. LIFE called Friedan an “Angry Battler for Her Sex,” and the book, “an angry, thoroughly documented book that in one way or another is going to provoke the daylights out of almost everyone who reads it.”

While it’s tempting to write off these characterizations as dismissals of the author as hysterical or unserious, Friedan herself owned that anger. It was one of the many forces—along with a desire to reframe the guilt so many mothers and housewives felt about wanting more–that drove her to write the book in the first place.

In an interview with LIFE in November 1963, after the book had been marinating in the minds of the American public for six months, Friedan took the opportunity to respond to her critics, many of them women. She called out those who saw the book as a call to action they weren’t prepared to take:

I guess a lot of women don’t like my book because they feel threatened by it. Perhaps it’s because they don’t take themselves seriously, won’t work to the limit of their ability. For them it’s easier—they can always say what a great actress or writer they could have been if only they’d kept at it, but of course they gave it up to make a home. They don’t subject themselves to the decisions and actions it takes to get started.

She identified what she deemed an insecurity among working women who took issue with the book:

Capital C Career Women seem to resent my book, maybe because I say that all women should try to do what the Career Women are already doing. Maybe they’re finding they’re not so special. Maybe they don’t want others muscling into the act.

To the men who jokingly lamented an equivalent “masculine mystique”:

Masculine mystique? Sure there’ve been a lot of jokes. My husband was the first to crack one. There’s some truth in it. Why should men be all that strong? This man’s-world-woman’s-world bit is for the birds. Men aren’t barred from growing as women are. Yet men are victims of the feminine mystique too because it keeps them from knowing women as human beings.

To those who believed subscribing to her worldview required a gargantuan effort and guaranteed a miserable, sexless existence:

You don’t have to choose a joyless celibacy if you want to use your brain. You needn’t make huge decisions, you have to make the right little ones—like studying for the exam instead of going to the movies and writing in the morning instead of getting an early start for the beach.

Dismantling the feminine mystique, Friedan said, need not begin as an international movement. It could—and should—begin in the very same home that cultivated the mystique in the first place. “You have nothing to lose,” she reassured skeptics, “but your vacuum cleaners.”

TIME Friendship

5 Ways to Celebrate ‘Galentines Day’ Like Lelise Knope

No boys allowed

While Parks & Recreation’s Leslie Knope was certainly not the first to make a girl’s celebration out of Valentine’s Day, she did it best.

“Ladies celebrating ladies,” she says of her annual pre-Valentines day brunch. “It’s like Lillith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas.” And that mentality is totally consistent with Knope’s code: “hos before bros, uteruses before dude-erusus, ovaries before brovaries.”

So here are 5 great ways to celebrate Galentines day in the spirit of civic-minded, lady-loving Leslie Knope.

1) Make pancakes with your girlfriends to the soundtrack of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 “Glass ceiling” concession speech, then discuss women in politics over brunch.

2) Play women’s-only charades, including only books or movies written by or about women. Consider team names like “Geraldine Ferraro” or “Ruth Bader Ginsberg.”

3) Enlist your friends in a high-stakes poker game, and then donate the winnings to the International Rescue Committee, to fund a year of a girl’s education (only $58 bucks.)

MORE 8 Fun, Not-Cheesy Ways to Celebrate Valentines Day

4) Binge watch Broad City (another Amy Poehler project) and take a shot every time Abbi or Ilana choose radical acceptance over judgement or competition. Take two shots when Bevers does anything revolting.

5) Dance party. Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift only. No exceptions.

And no chocolate diamonds, under any circumstances.

Read next: It’s Better to Be Single on Valentine’s Day

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

There’s Already a Campaign to Boycott Fifty Shades of Grey

Universal Pictures

Some say the movie glorifies violence against women

Not everyone is eagerly anticipating the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.

While some fans of E.L. James’ steamy novels are looking forward to seeing the graphic S&M scenes on the big screen, others are pre-emptively objecting to the glamorization of violence, especially violent sex. They’re trying to start a social-media movement to boycott the much anticipated movie, encouraging would-be moviegoers to donate money to domestic-violence victims instead.

MORE Here’s How The Shot the Sex Scenes in 50 Shades of Grey

Using the hashtags #50DollarsNot50Shades and #50ShadesIsAbuse, some protesters are calling for viewers to boycott the movie and donate the 50 bucks they would spend at the movie theater (on tickets, babysitter, drinks and popcorn, etc.) to help domestic-violence victims instead. Run by www.stoppornculture.org, the campaign’s Facebook page suggests making donations to domestic-violence shelters instead of going to see the movie, because “Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.”

“We realize it’s a movie, and we also realize it’s supported by many women,” says Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“The thing that concerns us about Fifty Shades of Grey is that anytime people are operating in that lifestyle, it should be a choice,” she says.

MORE These Were the Hardest Scenes to Shoot for the Stars of 50 Shades of Grey

Is this the beginning of the backlash to the movie? The book had its own well-documented backlash when it came out in 2012, but that was before all the headlines about domestic violence and sexual assault that have come to the forefront since then, as has the debate over the definition of “consent” when it comes to sexual behavior.

Boycotts not withstanding, the film is expected to be a hit. So for those who do see it, Glenn has this advice: “Violence against women is one thing, choosing to operate in an alternative lifestyle where there are parameters and choice is another. For any young person who is seeing this movie, I hope someone is having a discussion with them about choice vs. coercion.”

TIME Television

Transparent Creator Jill Soloway Developing Feminism-Themed MTV Comedy

The IMDb & Amazon Instant Video Studio At The Village At The Lift - Day 4 - 2015 Park City
Jerod Harris—Getty Images Jill Soloway attends the IMDb & Amazon Instant Video Studio on Jan. 26, 2015 in Park City, Utah.

In collaboration with the creators of the web series #hotmessmoves

The creator of Amazon’s original series Transparent is developing a female-driven, feminism-focused comedy for MTV.

Jill Soloway has received plenty of praise—and a Golden Globe—for Transparent, but at MTV she’ll be shining the spotlight on writers Lyle Friedman and Ashley Skidmore, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will follow two grown women trying to save womankind 10 years after meeting at camp, where they bonded over second-wave feminism and were struck by lightning.

Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Friedman and Skidmore, who will executive produce, are staff writers on the TV Land comedy Younger, and the creators of the web series #hotmessmoves. Though Soloway is also an executive producer, she described her role as a “godmother” in a statement.

“Lyle and Ashley have a magical ability to tap into the female psyche, and through their own special brand of truth and humor they absolve us of our most humiliating moments,” she said.

[THR]

TIME

Watch Fox’s Megyn Kelly School Mike Huckabee Over ‘Trashy Women’ Comments

"We're not only swearing, we're drinking, we're smoking, we're having premarital sex"

After Mike Huckabee said that New York women were “trashy” for cursing in a professional setting, Megyn Kelly set him straight.

Huckabee said in a Jan. 23rd radio interview that he was shocked at the way professional New York women threw around f-bombs. “This would be considered totally inappropriate to say these things in front of a woman, and for a woman to say them in a professional setting, we would only assume that this is a very, as we would say in the South, that’s just trashy.”

The presidential hopeful said that there’s a “cultural divide” between people who live in the “bubbles” on the coast and the people who live in “the land of what I call god, guns, grits, and gravy,” which, incidentally, is also the title of his book. He goes off on a diatribe about the “culture of crude.”

Kelly listened politely to the former Arkansas governor before telling him what she really thought of his “culture of crude.”

“I do have news for you before I let you go,” Kelly said. “We are not only swearing, we’re drinking, we’re smoking, we’re having premarital sex with birth control before we go to work, and sometimes boss around a bunch of men.”

“Aw, I just don’t want to hear that!” Huckabee responded.

 

TIME feminism

How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Without a magic wand

After a U.S. official suggested this week that Anna and Elsa from Frozen could be good ambassadors for fighting climate change, we got to thinking about how some other Disney Princesses could wield their mighty influence on young American minds.

Princess Diana raised awareness about AIDS and land mines after her fairy-tale wedding glow faded, so why shouldn’t Disney Princesses be do-gooders, too? Here are some ways these fictional characters could change the world.

Read next: Alan Menken Tells the Stories Behind Your Favorite Disney Classics

  • Mulan (from Mulan)

    Disney

    She could fight for increased protections for women in the military, especially when it comes to being sexually assaulted or filmed in the shower. She could also fight to reform the hairstyle rules for military women, so that no female soldier ever has to give herself a terrible haircut with her dad’s sword ever again.

  • Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

    Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
    Disney

    She could campaign for child literacy programs and for more online education options for people who live in boring towns. She could also be a vocal advocate for increased social security and adult-home-care programs to reduce wolf attacks among the elderly.

  • Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

    Disney

    She could be an spokesperson to clean up the oceans and save the diversity of species under the sea. She could also fight for immigration reform, so that evil witches stop taking advantage of anyone who wants to cross a border. And she could do it all in mime.

  • Pocahontas (from Pocahontas)

    Disney

    Her conflict resolution skills could make her an excellent candidate to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, especially in areas with indigenous tensions. She could also fight to eliminate corporal punishment and serve on the board of Save America’s Forests.

  • Cinderella (from Cinderella)

    Disney

    She could fight for a higher minimum wage in the service industry and advocate for increased protections against child labor. She could also secretly fight to lower estate taxes so that other children of rich parents don’t end up poor like her.

  • Tiana (from The Princess and the Frog)

    Disney

    The star of the New Orleans fairy tale could demand a larger investment in small businesses and an increased environmental commitment to global warming to reduce the rising waters that threaten her hometown.

  • Jasmine (from Aladdin)

    Disney

    She could be a vocal advocate for the rights of women in the Middle East, and could fight for an expansion of girls’ education in that region. She could also oppose any laws that forbid women to drive cars or operate magic carpets.

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