TIME Media

Watch: Verizon’s New Ad Is About How We Discourage Girls

Only 14% of teenage girls say they want to be scientists

First Dove, then Pantene, now Verizon. The telecom company’s new schmaltzy ad is just the latest in long line of feminist-inspired TV spots cleverly designed to align big companies with popular women’s issues.

The advertisement, voiced by Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, is meant to highlight the subtle ways young girls are discouraged from pursuing STEM at school.

It’s in line with the Verizon Foundation’s work to encourage girls to pursue science careers, according to AdWeek, and was produced in cooperation with Makers. And since only 14% of teenage girls say they want to be scientists, maybe the ad will help us all think twice about the way we talk to girls.

While I admire the sentiment behind trying to encourage more girls to code, it’s a little suspicious that Verizon is getting on this bandwagon right after feminism is becoming a valuable brand. Still, anything’s better than the totally horrifying advertising we used to see from big companies.

TIME pay gap

Millennial Women Are Still Getting Paid Less Than Men

And millennial men are totally smug about it

Naive millennials thought that the pay gap was only for mid-level executives, but new research shows that even the youngest generation of women are more financially vulnerable in the workplace. Despite an earlier Pew report that showed women gaining parity with men, new research from Wells Fargo shows that college-educated millennial men made $20,000 more per year than women with the same education level. The median annual income for millennial men was $83,000, while women made only $63,000.

The Wells Fargo data didn’t mention anything about a breakdown by occupation, but other research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that even in occupations that are dominated by women, men still tend to earn more. But the most recent findings also contradict the notion that the pay gap can be attributed to women slowing down at work because they’re on the mommy track– this data shows that women are making less than men far before they start to think about having families. This goes with other research that finds that the pay gap starts with the first job a student gets out of college which can put them behind for their whole career.

Some attribute the wage gap to women’s failure to negotiate, but recent studies have shown that no matter how a woman negotiates her salary, it can often have negative consequences. As Maria Konnikova wrote recently in the New Yorker:

The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate. Even women penalized the women who initiated the conversation, though they also penalized the men who did so. They just didn’t seem to like seeing someone ask for more money.

More: There’s Even a Wage Gap in Kids’ Allowances

There’s also a disparity between men and women when it comes to savings. Of the 55% of millennials who say they’re saving for retirement, 61% are men and only 50% are women. And 58% of men feel “satisfied” with their savings, while only 41% of women do. And millennial women are far less confident about their financial futures, since only 62% say they’ll be able to afford the lifestyle they want in the future. 80% of men say they’re confident they’ll be able to live the life they want.

Millennial women get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to debt too. 45% of millennial women said they felt “overwhelmed” by their debt, while only 33% of men felt that way. One in five millennial women is “worried” about making ends meet, while only one in ten men is.

Moral of the story: millennial dudes are not only making more and saving more, they’re utterly confident about it.

TIME relationships

This Is the Definitive Phone Number to Give Sketchy Guys Who Demand Your Digits at Bars

Smart phone webphotographeer—Getty Images

Texts and calls prompt automated feminist quotes

In a perfect world, a woman would be able to politely deny a man’s request for her number and go back to peacefully drinking her gin and tonic. But any woman who has, say, stepped out of the house or interacted with strangers in public places, knows that sometimes rejected advances are met with machismo vitriol, and even violence.

That’s why the Feminist Phone Intervention hotline number was created. The next time an unwanted suitor demands your number, and you want to escape the situation, give him the following: (669) 221-6251. “Because,” according to the project’s Tumblr, “(669) UGH-ASIF, WTF-DUDE, and MAJR-SHADE were taken.”

All calls and texts prompt an automated quote by feminist writer bell hooks. Choice words of wisdom include:

“Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.”


“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”

This is way better than the “Rejection hotline.

TIME politics

Hillary Clinton Wants You to Call Her a Feminist

Clinton Global Initiative America Meetings Begin In Chicago
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on June 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The CGI was established in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton with the intention of convening world leaders to address pressing global issues. Scott Olson--Getty Images

During an appearance in Chicago, the "Hard Choices" author and potential 2016 Presidential candidate revealed she doesn't believe there's "anything controversial" about being a feminist

Though we live in an era in which women in the public eye seem to waffle over whether or not they consider themselves feminists, Hillary Clinton has made it perfectly clear: she’s a feminist and she has no problem with letting the world know.

During an appearance in Chicago’s Harris Theater with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday night, Clinton defined the ‘f-word’ simply as supporting equal rights for women, before adding, perhaps pointedly, “I don’t see anything controversial about that at all.” She also addressed the women — and men! — who view feminism as old-fashioned or out of date, saying, “I don’t think you’ve lived long enough.”

As the former U.S. Secretary of State, Clinton discussed how feminism plays a key role in the U.S.’s foreign policy. “[W]omen and girls … [are] central to our foreign policy,” she said, explaining that nations that support women are more stable and “less likely to breed extremism.”

Clinton — who is widely thought to be the leading Democratic contender for the 2016 presidential race though she hasn’t committed to running — is busy promoting her new book Hard Choices, which was released this week. The 656-page political memoir goes into detail about the many difficult decisions she’s already made throughout her career in politics. Evidently, deciding to call herself a feminist wasn’t one of them.



TIME feminism

The Surprising Countries With More Women in Corporate Leadership Than the U.S.—Or Even Scandinavia

Female Manager
Thomas Koehler—Photothek via Getty Images

Why Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, and Armenia (among others) are doing a better job with executive gender equality.

Where’s the best place to live if you’re female? For years, the answer has remained: go north, young woman. The Nordic region consistently ranks highest on the global gender parity charts, which grades nations on bridging gender gaps in political and economic empowerment. Some experts attribute the region’s success to gender quotas, which are used to boost women’s leadership on corporate boards and in government. The basic theory: more female boardroom directors mean more female CEOs.

It’s not quite working out that way.

A recent Wall Street Journal article offers a gender quota reality check: only 3 percent of 145 Nordic large-cap companies have a female chief executive. In Norway, the first country to pass legislation on corporate gender quotas (women must comprise 40 percent of corporate boards there), none of its 32 large cap companies has a female CEO.

This means it may be time to find a new set of nations to put on our gender parity pedestal; some new models are emerging in places you wouldn’t expect.

How did Scandinavia become a women’s empowerment mecca, anyway? Gender parity became known as a Scandinavian novelty back in the 1970s, when the region implemented its first successful legislative gender quotas as a response to pressures from women’s groups and female politicians. The government never employed a law or constitutional mandate to recruit women into politics; instead, political parties incorporated voluntary quota targets to improve female recruitment. “The pressure to increase women’s representation was applied to all political parties in Scandinavia,” says Professor Drude Dahlerup of Stockholm University, creating the illusion of a uniform gender quota program. Today, Scandinavian legislatures boast roughly 40 percent female political participation, the highest in the world.

Success in bridging the political gender gap encouraged countries within the region to tackle the next area of female disempowerment – the corporate sector. Unlike legislative gender quotas, corporate gender quotas arrived via national legislation.

Beyond the boardroom, the law seems to be having little effect: Female leadership at the managerial level is low and virtually nonexistent at the executive level. Proponents of gender quotas contend that quotas are necessary to overcome the systemic discrimination that has prevented women from reaching the C-suite. By helping women gain access to opportunities once elusive to them, they can then proceed to climb the proverbial ladder of success. Yet, quotas have seemingly failed to promote women in this way; as one Swedish banker points out, “even with a 50/50 division of male and female employees, all my managers are male.”

If the use of corporate gender quotas in the region most adept to bridge the corporate gender gap produces only marginal results, quotas may not be the solution to the problem – or at least not in the corporate realm. The irony is that “highly-developed” countries that have also implemented corporate gender quotas perform similarly to the Nordic countries. Spain (22 percent), Germany (14 percent), and Switzerland (13 percent) have some of the lowest proportions of women in senior management roles in the world, despite their own domestic policies addressing this issue.

Things aren’t much better in the United States, where female executive growth has remained stagnant. Although women comprise nearly half of the workforce, according to Catalyst, only 14.3 percent hold top executive office positions at Fortune 500 Companies and only 20 percent are in senior management roles.

So where are women climbing the corporate ladder? In countries you would probably least expect. The highest proportions of women with senior roles are in the BRICS nations–Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There, women comprise 30 percent of senior management positions, which is higher than the global average (24 percent). What is more surprising is that none of these countries have enacted compulsory quotas or legislation addressing this issue. Russia has the highest proportion of women in senior management globally (43 percent) without this type of gender programming. The same applies for the neighboring Baltic States—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, and Armenia– which boast 30 percent or more. Between 2012 and 2013, China doubled the number of senior management roles held by women from 25 per cent to 51 per cent.

Why are women in emerging markets becoming business leaders faster than those in the developed world? Increased investment in women’s education is a major catalyst. Women are graduating from universities and graduate programs at higher rates than men and are better positioned for senior management positions when they open up. For Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, this growth can also be traced back to the promotion of women within Communist regimes. In the former Soviet Union, Communist leaders promoted women within rapidly expanding services sectors, such as health, education, and accounting. Equal opportunity is deeply embedded in Chinese society, which has helped boost gender equality (Mao Zedong famously said that “women hold up half the sky”). This plus rapid urbanization and low childcare burdens from China’s one-child policy enables more women to work.

Child planning and work-life balance challenges continue to be the most common reasons why women turn down senior positions within companies. Even among the Nordic countries where social and economic policies are especially supportive of working mothers, women typically begin to drop off in the middle of management trajectories, coinciding with the time they begin to have families.

That illuminates a flaw of the corporate board quota system: too much emphasis is placed on boosting numbers of women on top, instead of the middle. The theory that more women at the top will inspire women to strive to the top is problematic if there are no women to promote. The mid-career space is where companies need to find solutions to keep female talent strong. According to Sofia Falk, founder of Swedish company Wiminvest, companies would be wiser to offer management incentives to women in the form of private child care, grocery shopping, shared management responsibility, or technical solutions to work from home instead of more money or a company car.

Despite these mixed results, support for corporate gender quotas continues to grow. According to the 2014 International Business Report the proportion of business leaders who support the idea of quotas rose from 37 per cent to 45 per cent in the past year; this support includes businesses in regions that have yet to implement corporate quota policies, like Southeast Asia (55 percent) and Eastern Europe (43 percent). Gender quotas are a start, but smart companies will recognize that it will take a lot more – mentoring programs for women, stronger family support policies, and equal pay structures – to finally shatter those glass ceilings.

Maria Saab, J.D., is a research fellow at the New America Foundation, and a contributor to New America’s Global Gender Parity Initiative. This piece originally appeared at The Weekly Wonk.

TIME faith

Meet Riverside Church’s First Female Pastor

Dave Cross

Rev. Amy Butler talks about feminism, her salary, being a single mom, and what it means to lead one of the country's most storied congregations.

Update added on June 12, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, who has been the pastor at Washington, D.C.’s Calvary Baptist Church for the past eleven years, was chosen Monday to be the first female senior minister at The Riverside Church in New York City. The Riverside Church has been a pillar of faith and activism in New York since its first service in 1930, with its famously diverse congregation participating in political issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to immigration. TIME sat down with Rev. Butler to talk about her upcoming transition.

Your emphasis at Calvary has been on unity and coming together, but Riverside’s congregation is more than twice the size of Calvary’s, and it’s interdenominational. Are there challenges that you think will come with that and do you have a plan for how you’re going to approach the new congregation?

There are many challenges ahead, and this is a diverse community. If you think about doing and being a diverse community together, this is the perfect place to try to do it because all of the pieces are there. And this is a community that has valued diversity for all of its history and, as we all do, struggled with what that means in day-to-day life. I’m really looking forward to trying to figure out how we can make that diversity into an asset and something that is really a compelling and attractive expression of our community. Diversity doesn’t always have to be hard and terrible. It’s a challenge, always it’s a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for modeling what the church can be in the world.

Not only is the Riverside Church diverse, but also it is politically active. What do you see as the intersection of religion and politics, and what do you hope to do with that at Riverside?

The role of the church in society is changing very radically. Fifty years ago the church had a loud and compelling voice at many of these conversations. Increasingly, the church is becoming marginalized. And I think that at this point in history it’s a great opportunity for us as people who claim the message of Jesus, the gospel of loving God and loving each other, as this radical and prophetic place where we can be the church together. So I think the opportunities are boundless and endless, and I think increasingly we’re going to be feeling opportunities to be prophetic and speak truth to power in ways that we may not have had when we were part of the group sitting around the table.

You wrote in an Associated Baptist Press column in April that, “The church is not as vibrant in our society as it once was. In fact, the question of whether church as we know it is viable for the long term is a question begging to be asked.” So I’m going to ask it – do you think the current institutional model is viable? What are you going to do at Riverside to make it relevant and sustainable?

I think the church of the past is not the church of the future, and I think we don’t know what the church of the future is yet. I think the church is not going away because people are looking for community and people are looking for a place to ask the big questions. And if the church can provide a place in which both of those things are present, it’s going to be a place where people are going to want to come and be part of it. So I don’t know what the future of the church looks like, but it’s going to look different. I think at the Riverside Church we could be a place where some of those future expressions of church start to emerge, and that’s one of the things I find so exciting about this opportunity.

You’ve been open about your own struggles with faith. How do you navigate the relationship between your own personal questioning and your role as a leader of the church?

I think traditionally people have expected clergy to be the ones that have all of the answers. Here’s the truth: nobody has all of the answers. We’re all on this journey of figuring out what it means to be human in this world and to understand God’s role in our lives and in the world at large, and I think questioning together is a much more powerful experience. That’s the kind of leadership approach that I take.

I have to ask after the controversy over your predecessor Rev. Brad Braxton’s resignation [related to his more than $450,000 compensation]. What is your salary going to be?

I’ve always heard that it’s not polite to talk about what you make, but I’ll be earning a salary of $250,000. It’s quite a generous salary and it presents an opportunity for me to think about how to be a good steward of the tremendous resources that I am becoming a recipient of. And it’s also a good model for the church as a whole. The Riverside Church has many, many resources, so how do we, as a faith community, think about how to best be stewards of that tremendous gift?

What do you see as the biggest fiscal challenges ahead for Riverside?

I think the future of the church probably does not include building big cathedrals like this in major cities. But places like the Riverside Church are a gift, and can be a gathering place for people who are seeking God in the middle of a very busy and powerful city. So I think our place is important, and I think one of our challenges is going to be moving into the future thinking about how we preserve that and how we make it accessible to as many people as would like to be part of it.

You’re a single mother, you were the first female senior minister of Calvary, and now you are going to be the first female senior minister at Riverside. Where do you see yourself fitting in the modern feminist landscape?

I really recognize the significance of my call. I really want to commend the Riverside Church for taking the step of hiring a woman. That said, there are many, many gifted women around this country who are leading churches and who are doing all kinds of amazing professional roles and being mothers at the same time. And so hopefully this can be a recognition of that fact. It’s not something new; it’s happening everywhere and has for some time. Because this is such a public decision, I hope that it can be affirming of the many different roles that women play.

Do you have anything else that you want to add about the upcoming transition?

Having been the pastor here at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., for 11 years has been such a great time of preparation and growth for me, and I’m leaving behind this amazing, amazing community here. And that is giving me a lot of the courage to move into this new, big role.

[Update: After the story was published, Butler asked to add additional context to her description of her salary. The following question was asked and answered by email.

Your salary sounds different from your predecessor’s. How did that figure into your decision?

The Riverside Church made it clear that they wanted to ensure equity in what they offered me. As their first female pastor, I felt that was an important message to send. And I felt that exact numbers—especially for such a humbling offer–were less important than the witness of equity. So the overall compensation won’t be the same, but we agreed to keep the same salary of $250,000 and for the church to provide for my housing, health insurance, and contribute to my retirement. I’ve found it is easy to think in terms of what we are owed or what we own, but it’s important to ask instead how we can use the resources we have, and how we might be used by God through them. Riverside has blessed me and given me quite a responsibility with their offer.]

TIME feminism

Feminism Has a Bra-Burning Myth Problem

Steinbrueck Holds Rally At Brandenburg Gate
A flag with the female gender sign waves at an Equal Pay Day rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate on March 21, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry—Getty Images

Bras were never burned at the 1968 Miss America protest, but that the image persists shows how full of holes our knowledge is of the Women's Liberation Movement.

Imagine an America where women had the right to vote but could be rejected for a job because of their gender. Imagine an America where women were refused admission to colleges and technical schools and denied access to credit cards. Imagine wanting to buy a house and being turned down for a mortgage because you’re a woman. Imagine being a teacher and being fired for being pregnant.

This is what America was like before the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Women’s Liberation Movement changed women’s lives socially, economically, and politically. It was described as “the revolution that will affect everybody” on the September 4, 1970, cover of LIFE magazine. And it did. So why do I always get the same question from younger audience members at screenings of my independent documentary, Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation: “Why didn’t I know about this?”

The first time I got the question was in a letter from a first-year college student who had watched the film in her classroom. The information in the film was new to her and she wrote that it made her angry that she didn’t know this history.

I began making my film, Feminist, in 2004 as a straightforward documentary about historical facts, but I learned so much that I finished the film a different person. My feminism strengthened to the point where I can easily talk with people who reject the term feminism because the facts of the movement are within reach for me and I can share the reasons why feminism changed our country for the better. I understand now that not remembering this movement preserves a male view of American history that values male leaders of history over female ones.

Ten years ago, a co-worker at my film-editing job at Technicolor whispered to me: “Are you a feminist?” She was putting distance between herself and the word—something I had been observed other women do over the decades. I reached into my memory for images and quotes to help explain why I was a feminist and I couldn’t grasp any.

I knew I had positive feelings toward feminism. My family had discussions about women’s movements at the dinner table. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I lived in Little Five Points in Atlanta, the area where the political activists, gay women and men, filmmakers, theater people, and feminists lived, and I was immersed in the counterculture of that time. I even volunteered at the feminist bookstore Charis Books and More.

At the time I had the discussion with my co-worker, there were no documentary films about the entirety of the women’s movement, so I decided to make my own. (Many years after I started the project, PBS, in partnership with AOL, aired a series on the Women’s Liberation Movement in 2013.) My film is an independent film born out of a need to tell a story that hadn’t been told. My budget was 90 percent financed by me.

One of the things I realized in making this film was that the movement does not figure prominently in history textbooks. My daughter’s 4th-grade textbook History-Social Science, California Studies (Houghton Mifflin) includes a six-page chapter, “A Call for Equality,” that covers the years 1960 to 1975. There is a discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Act, and Cesar Chavez. Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers, is only mentioned briefly. There is just one sentence about the Women’s Liberation Movement: “Women also spoke out against unequal treatment in the 1960s.” The message to students: You don’t need to remember these women.

That message is also conveyed in our public memorials where we don’t honor the women of the Women’s Movement. Only nine of the 100 statutes in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building are of women. Not one of them is a woman from the Women’s Liberation Movement. I have never seen a park or an elementary school named for a feminist from that time. Moreover, there is not even one federal holiday in the United States named for a woman.

When I started the film, I figured we don’t celebrate the Women’s Movement like we do other social movements because it was too complex—encompassing issues of class, religion, race, and language, among others. The feminists of the 1960s and ’70s also prided themselves on not having leaders: Every woman had a voice in the movement. I thought it might be hard to pull out individual successes to honor. But I was wrong: As I worked on the film, I discovered many concrete successes—including ones that weren’t included in textbooks or honored in public memorials.

Here’s one: the annihilation of segregated employment listings in newspaper—the Female Help Wanted and Male Help Wanted sections—in 1973.

Then there’s Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which gave a name to the discontent of middle class housewives and the rigid social roles they were pressured to fulfill. She and others went on to create the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, which differed from other women’s organizations of the time because it took political positions.

I learned about other heroes of the movement, like Aileen Hernandez, the first female commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her relentless work to include gender discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act led to the founding of NOW. She was joined in that contentious fight by Pauli Murray, whose insight and actions helped to propel the Women’s Movement forward. Murray also helped write NOW’s mission statement.

My film also explores an important day in women’s history: Aug. 26. In 1920, it was the day that women’s right to vote became law, and, in 1970, NOW organized the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26. Many worried about a low turnout, yet there were 50,000 people in attendance. In 1971, a joint resolution requested by Congresswoman Bella Abzug made Aug. 26 “Women’s Equality Day”—a commemorative day, not a federal holiday.

The feminists of the Women’s Liberation Movement—who considered themselves second-wave feminists following in the footsteps of the suffragists—saw that women’s history was a necessary part of their movement.

When they marched in 1968 to protest the Miss America Pageant, they held posters with images of 19th century suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth that read: “Our Heroines.” The stories of these early feminists were minimal in textbooks of the time, even though suffragists were very disruptive – they were arrested, jailed, and force-fed when they went on hunger strikes. When I interviewed feminist Shelia Tobias for my film, she told me: “One of the great travesties of growing up in the ’50s was not knowing about women’s history except for a brief moment in time in which there was suffrage.”

By the 1970s, feminists were trying to correct the historical record to include women’s history. They began women’s studies programs in universities and instituted Women’s History Month in March.

It’s important to note that the feminists made up the Women’s Liberation Movement as they went along—there was no guidebook. No one had protested these ideas before—including the fact that a recorded history that focuses on men alone helps to maintain an unequal society.

And now we have problems with our cultural memory of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I think our failure to honor the movement is rooted in our conflicted feelings about women as major players in American history.

The way we remember the Miss America Pageant protest in 1968 in Atlantic City, New Jersey is a good example. There is no statue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to commemorate an important protest about standards of beauty for women and a contest tied into capitalism, war, and race. Instead, our cultural touchstone from that day is the negative and trite association of feminists as “bra-burners.”

Bras were just one of the items protestors were encouraged to bring that day that signified how the male-dominated culture was keeping women locked into rigid ideas of beauty, but they weren’t burned. Starting a fire on the boardwalk was illegal, so protestors opted to Playboy magazines and other items in a Freedom Trash Can. Still, the bra-burning image remained—a symbol that was easy to belittle as women focusing on something trivial. Misinformation and myths sometimes serve as placeholders in our memory when facts are not remembered.

I consider myself a person who actively fights for women’s reproductive rights and many would expect that my partisan walls would harden after making the film, but they actually softened. I was surprised to find out there were many conservative women who were feminists during the women’s movement: One of the artifacts I collected during the making of my film is a badge that reads: “GOP for ERA” (the controversial Equal Rights Amendment). I now listen to women who have different political opinions than I do about very controversial topics such as reproductive rights.

Recently, two conservative women who are actively anti-abortion—whom I might have gotten into pointed arguments with in other circumstances—came to a screening of my film. At the end of the film, I asked who would consider themselves feminists. One raised her hand. The other pinned on the button I gave audience members that read, “Proud to be a Feminist.”

Jennifer Lee is the Los Angeles-based filmmaker who made Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

TIME politics

Are You There, Angela Merkel? It’s Me, Hillary!

Hillary Clinton Addresses National Council for Behavioral Health Conference
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 06: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during the National Council for Behavioral Health's Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on May 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. Patrick Smith—Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's new book is not as boring as you think. It's actually kind of funny.

Who knew Hillary could be so hill-arious?

Her new book Hard Choices isn’t as dour as the title suggests or as long and boring as it looks. It’s actually really funny. It probably would sell better if it were called something like Richard Holbrooke Wore Yellow Pajamas or Are You There, Angela Merkel? It’s Me, Hillary, but neither of those titles sound quite as presidential.

Hillary comes off as smart, tough, and kind of… cool. Maybe even cooler than 1980s-Obama-with-cigarette, if you factor in her Normcore advantage. It’s probably part of a highly calculated personal branding move in anticipation of some kind of big national announcement (touring with Katy Perry?) but it’s appealing nonetheless.

She told Diane Sawyer in an interview Sunday night that she’s finished being the scripted, guarded cautious Hillary we saw in the 2008 campaign, when Obama sneered that she was “likable enough.” But she also says she’s sick of the whole “likability” question altogether. “I’m done with that, I’m just done,” she said. “I think I have changed, I’m not worried so much about what other people are thinking…I’m going to say what I know, what I believe, and let the chips fall. For me, it’s time. I don’t know if I could have done it earlier, because I was trying to find my way.”

So in Hard Choices, she shows much more personality than we’ve seen from her before. For example, when she talks about being compared to William H. Seward, who was Secretary of State under Lincoln and part of his “team of rivals,” she says “I hope no one ever describes me as a ‘wise macaw,’ which is how Seward appeared to the historian Henry Adams.”

Or when she says her first meeting with Obama after her 2008 defeat was “like two teenagers on an awkward first date,” but later describes the moment she and the President became official BFFs:

Before one of our meetings in Prague, on that same April trip, [Obama] pulled me aside and said, “Hillary, I need to talk to you.” He put his arm around me and walked me over toward a window. I wondered what sensitive policy matter he wanted to discuss. Instead he whispered in my ear, “You’ve got something in your teeth.”

The book is funny in a way that only the unexpectedly personal observations of an unfunny person can be. For example, this is how she explains her “Texts from Hillary” meme to her fellow olds:

“Her photo, to everyone’s surprise, became an internet sensation many months later and the basis for a ‘meme’ known as ‘Texts from Hillary.’ The idea was simple: an internet user would pair the photo of me holding my phone with a picture of another famous person holding a phone and add funny captions to narrate the texts we supposedly sent back and forth. The first one posted showed President Obama lounging on a couch, with the caption ‘Hey, Hil, Watchu doing?’ the imagined response from me: ‘running the world.’ Eventually I decided to get in on the fun myself. I submitted my own version full of internet slang: ‘ROFL @ ur tumblr! g2g–scrunchie time. ttyl?'”

Somewhere a lightbulb just went off over Dianne Feinstein’s head.

Hillary chuckles at the German newspaper that featured her and Angela Merkel as interchangeable faceless pantsuits, and wonders aloud whether Putin was messing with her when he told her a sad story about his childhood. She admitted she’s “no Condi Rice on the piano” but still tried to play along with Bono after Nelson Mandela’s funeral. She calls former French President Nicolas Sarkozy her “Prince Charming” for helping her when her shoe fell off. She reveals they sometimes watched romantic comedies on the State jet, and that Richard Holbrooke wore yellow PJs on long flights. She even talks about America’s foreign policy using a quote from A League of Their Own: “it’s supposed to be hard… the hard is what makes it great.”

“In politics a sense of humor is essential,” she writes. “There are countless reasons why you have to laugh at yourself.” And it may be that this enormous behemoth of a book is just the kind of controlled environment where Hillary can let her freak flag fly. She’s too calculated to get funny in off-the-cuff interview, and she’s too serious to crack jokes in speeches or debates. Obviously every joke and story in the book is carefully crafted to be as unobjectionable as possible (I’d love to read the uncensored version), and the fact that nobody comes off badly is probably even more proof that she’s trying not to annoy anyone before she *maybe* runs for President.

Hard Choices isn’t likely to convert any Hillary-haters or get her a job writing for Parks & Rec, but it’s still kind of funny, which is funnier than I thought it would be.







Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: We Need to Stamp Out Misogyny in Sports

#YesAllWomen Live Rally in Seattle supports victims of violence
More than 100 community members came in support of the #YesAllWomen Live Rally in Seattle, May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Sports plays a role in perpetuating sexism and misogyny—and it can play a role in ending it.

The most moving reading I’ve done in the past six months has come from the anguished tweets on #YesAllWomen that followed the Elliot Rodger shootings in Santa Barbara, Calif. Even more depressing than his horrific actions is the feeling that the national debates about cultural misogyny, mental-health care and gun control that followed have already lost momentum — shoved back into their dusty corner, awaiting the next bloody tragedy. Public outrage has a short half-life. Fist-shaking and finger-pointing quickly degenerates into helpless shrugging.

But we can’t let go of this question: Why in America do our mentally disturbed take out their anger so violently? In a Sept. 19, 2013, op-ed article in the New York Times, Stanford University psychological anthropology professor T.M. Luhrmann explained how when schizophrenics in the Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) hear voices, they are told to do domestic chores like cook, clean or bathe. But schizophrenics in San Mateo, Calif., hear voices that tell them to take very violent actions like cutting off a head and drinking the blood. In India they clean; in America they kill. America also has the highest gun-ownership rate in the world. And our number of multiple killings is nearly as high as that for the rest of the world combined.

Even more disturbing is why so much violence in America is directed at women. The answer to this question, at least in part, is that it’s a result of a lifetime of cultural influences. And while there are surely plenty of cultural influences to blame, one of the sources of this negative influence is amateur and professional sports.

Surprised to hear me say that? I’ve spent much of my life in sports and promoting sports as a positive influence on our youth and our culture. The benefits are obvious: building healthy bodies, practicing sportsmanship (should we call that sportspersonship?), learning teamwork, creating a supportive community and much more.

In fact, the image of girls and women in sports is much more culturally positive than that of mainstream society. In the sports world, women are praised for their athletic ability — not their physical appearance. We cheer the sweaty woman running down the field for her effort. Mainstream America tells her heels are required because she’s too short, makeup is required because her face isn’t attractive enough, cleavage is required to give men a reason to pay attention, hair coloring is required because aging is forbidden and blondes are sexier, Photoshopping is required because no woman (not even a model) can match the fantasy woman our culture promotes on the covers of almost every women’s magazine. (It’s not a coincidence that Rodger gave his object of hatred a hair color — “blonde slut.”) But in sports, women stand tall and proud in athletic shoes and uniforms because we’re more interested in what they do than how they look.

But — there’s a big but. Despite all the good in sports, there are many aspects of it that encourage our culture to look at women as less valuable than men.

The easiest way to determine women’s value to their culture is to look at how much we pay them in relation to men. Some studies suggest that in general women make less doing the same jobs as men (the Census Bureau concludes that women earn 77¢ for every dollar men earn). This national trend extends to professional sports. According to Forbes, the maximum salary for a player in the WNBA is $107,000, compared with the $30.5 million Kobe Bryant will make. Inbee Park, who won the 2013 U.S. Open in golf, received $585,000 for her victory. Justin Rose, the men’s winner, received $1.4 million. This disparity is seen less in tennis because Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open all pay male and female winners equally (which is why 7 of the 10 top-paid female athletes in the world are tennis players).

This discrepancy extends to coaching as well. For Division I college sports, men get paid significantly more. Male basketball head coaches averaged $71,511, while female coaches averaged $39,177. Even in gymnastics, which is predominantly female, male coaches are paid more. This doesn’t even address the fact that there are more opportunities for males than females to play sports, both as amateurs and as professionals.

Many will argue that the pay difference is the result of free-market supply and demand. More people want to see men play professional basketball than want to see women play, so the players are paid accordingly. You can’t argue with economics. There is truth to this. You can’t force people to attend a sporting event if they don’t want to.

However, this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can change things. First, we need to address why they don’t want to watch. This goes back to cultural biases. If we don’t value girls in sports in middle school and high school, then we don’t grow up to value them as professional athletes. And by value, I mean make athletic opportunities available, pay coaches equally and promote female sports with the same vigor with which we do male sports.

At the same time, the disrespectful and disparaging language used in sports furthers the gender gap. Male coaches often address their male athletes as ladies whenever they want to humiliate them. “Come on, ladies,” they’ll say, “lift your skirts.” Or, “You’re playing like a girl!” This is treated as a joke or good-humored tradition, but its long-term social effect is not funny. Even in movies and TV shows, we see tough women turning to men and saying, “Quit acting like a girl.” Cue audience chuckle at the reversal. But all that does is prove we’ve brainwashed women to be derogatory toward themselves.

We also need to address the culture of violence surrounding our athletes. When we see them resolving problems through violence, it can send a message to others to emulate them. Baltimore Ravens tackle Jah Reid was arrested for allegedly head butting, kicking and punching a man in a strip club (what attending strip clubs says about our culture of devaluing women is another matter). Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested on charges of kidnapping and assault of his girlfriend. Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones was arrested for stomping on the leg of a homeless man. Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was charged with murdering a friend. This year alone football players Chris Rainey, Robert Sands and Daryl Washington were arrested for domestic battery or assault. We can’t as a culture glorify violence and then be surprised when our members resort to it as our “heroes” do.

Which brings us back to #YesAllWomen. Despite more than a million responses, it probably won’t change anything. It should be a national wake-up call that such a forum even needs to exist. And we should celebrate the opportunity for women to express their frustration. But we need to remember that while misogyny may be perpetuated mostly by men, it is enabled by both men and women in society who embrace gender inequality — or simply let it go unnoticed.

It’s reminiscent of the 1947 film Gentlemen’s Agreement, in which Gregory Peck plays a journalist who pretends to be Jewish in order to write about anti-Semitism. His Waspish fiancée realizes that there’s a “gentlemen’s agreement” to ignore distasteful anti-Semitic comments (and by implication racist, homophobic and misogynist comments) as if they never happened. She also realizes that ignoring them is part of the problem because the silence encourages them and thereby taints our whole society.

We can change things. Small things. One at a time. We start by not remaining silent in the presence of misogyny, not tolerating violence as a form of communication, and demanding gender equality in education, sports and jobs. Right now, tennis is showing us the way. All athletes need to help finish the job.

Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player. Follow him on Twitter (@KAJ33) and Facebook (facebook.com/KAJ). Abdul-Jabbar also writes a weekly column for the L.A. Register.

TIME viral

Watch High School Boys Explain Why They’re Feminists

Yes, men can be feminists

There have been a lot of question marks surrounding the definition of “feminist” recently. Do feminists have to hate men? Can men even be feminists? (Pharrell, who came under fire for “kind of rapey” undertones in Blurred Lines, doesn’t “think it’s possible.”)

Well seven high school boys are here to set the record straight. In a video posted to Little Red School House, women’s studies teacher Ileana Jiménez’s blog, male students not only declare “I am a feminist,” but they explain why.

“It does embody more than equal rights for women and benefitting only women,” one student said. “It can help us all.”

(h/t: Cosmo)

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