TIME Education

Title lX: How a Good Law Went Terribly Wrong

The landmark legislation was supposed to bring equality, instead it devastated mens' sports on campus

A weary wrestling coach once lamented that his sport had survived the Fall of Rome, only to be vanquished by Title IX. How did an honorable equity law turn into a scorched-earth campaign against men’s sports? This week is the 42nd anniversary of this famous piece of federal legislation so it’s an ideal time to consider what went wrong and how to set it right.

Title IX was signed into law by President Nixon on June 23, 1972. In 37 momentous words, it outlawed gender discrimination in all publicly supported educational programs. Before its passage, many leading universities did not accept women and law schools and medical schools often used quotas to limit female enrollment. As for sports, female student athletes were rare — and received precious little support from college athletic programs. The logic behind Title IX is the same as that behind all great civil rights legislation: In our democracy, the government may not play favorites among races or religions or between the sexes. We are all equal before the law — including students in colleges and universities receiving public funds.

Title IX applies to all areas of education but is best known for its influence on sports. Women’s athletics have flourished in recent decades, and Title IX deserves some of the cheers. But something went wrong in the law’s implementation. The original law was about equality of opportunity and indeed forbade quotas or reverse discrimination schemes. But over the years, government officials, college administrators and jurists — spurred on by groups like the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation — transformed a fair-minded equity law into just such a quota-driven regime, with destructive results.

Women’s groups strongly object to the “q” word. “Title IX does not in any way require quotas,” says the National Women’s Law Center. “It simply requires that schools allocate participation opportunities non-discriminatorily.” That can mean many things, but in the hands of bureaucrats and advocates, this diffuse requirement somehow came to mean that women are entitled to “statistical proportionality.” That is to say, if a college’s student body is 60% female, then 60% of the athletes should be female — even if far fewer women than men are interested in playing sports at that college.

Title IX defenders will tell you that there are several ways that schools can satisfy the non-discrimination standard other than proportional representation. That is true on paper but false in practice. The regulations are murky and ever-changing, leaving most schools to scramble to the only safe harbor: Proportionality.

Schools have cut back on male teams and created new women’s teams, not because of demand but because they fear federal investigations. Since football is a money-generating male sport with large rosters, Title IX quotas have all but decimated smaller less lucrative sports such as men’s swimming, diving, gymnastics and wrestling. More than 450 wrestling teams vanished since 1972, with only 328 remaining.

Then why not say that men’s sports were a casualty of football rather than Title IX? Because women’s groups have consistently rejected reasonable solutions to the football challenge. College football is qualitatively different from sports like diving, rowing and tennis. It is a mass spectacle, loved by millions of students, and integral to the identity and history of colleges and universities everywhere. It requires a large number of players and has no female counterpart. So why not just take it out of the Title IX mix? That one concession would have saved hundreds of small male teams. But no such concession was offered. Football is not destroying men’s teams; intransigent women’s groups and their “proportionality gap” bear most of the blame.

Look what happened at Howard University in Washington, D.C.: The school’s student body is 67% female, but women constitute only 43% of its athletic program. In 2007, the Women’s Sports Foundation, a powerful Title IX advocacy group, gave Howard an “F” grade because of its 24% “proportionality gap.” Howard had already cut men’s wrestling and baseball and added women’s bowling, but that did little to narrow the gap. Unless it cuts almost half of its current male athletes, Howard will remain under a Title IX cloud and legally vulnerable. The school’s former wrestling coach, Wade Hughes, summed up the problem this way: “The impact of Title IX’s proportionality standard has been disastrous because … far more males than females are seeking to take part in athletics.”

But the Women’s Sports Foundation disagrees. Girls are every bit as interested in sports as boys. According to its Title IX Myths and Facts, “Given equal athletic opportunities, women will rush to fill them; the remaining discrepancies in sports participation rates are the result of continuing discrimination in access to those opportunities.” And many well-meaning judges and government officials have agreed with them.

But there’s overwhelming evidence that women, taken as a group, are less interested than men in competitive sports. In 2012, a group of psychologists analyzed men’s and women’s propensities by looking at how many of them pursue team sports in their leisure time. Intramural sports are recreational games that college students can play just for the love of the sport. The researchers found that only 26% of intramural participants are women. They also studied recreational activity in 41 public parks in four different states. Lots of women were exercising, but only 10% of those playing competitive team sports were women. A 2013 ESPN report on youth sports found that 34% of girls in grades 3-12 say sports is a big part of who they are; for boys the figure is 61%.

No matter how much the Title IX activists and government officials want to pretend otherwise, the sexes are different. Overall, women care far less about athletics, both as participants and spectators. Sports Illustrated for Women, first published in 2000, was marketed to females between the ages of 18 and 34 with a “passion for sports.” The magazine lasted less than two years. The Women’s United Soccer Association and the American Basketball League were supposed to appeal to this same passionate demographic: Both folded after a few seasons. There is no call for magazines such as Vogue, Allure and Cosmopolitan, or websites like Jezebel, to include stories about draft picks, photographs of awesome plays and up-to-date information about fantasy teams and brackets.

Meanwhile, men by the legion (and a small percentage of women) support a vast network of sports magazines, websites, radio shows and fantasy teams. More than half of young men are sports-obsessives, and many would give their right arm to play competitive sports in high school or college — or even to sit on a bench all season with only a remote chance of playing.

“Build it and they will come,” says the National Women’s Law Center. But they don’t come. At least not many. So colleges are going to absurd lengths to achieve gender balance. It is not an easy task when women now far outnumber men on many campuses—thereby raising the proportionality hurdle—yet far fewer of them aspire to play varsity sports. Many schools solve the problem by axing men’s teams or limiting their rosters. Padding the women’s numbers is another common maneuver. As a 2011 story in The New York Times reported, nearly half of the fencers on Cornell’s women’s fencing team were men. Because of some loophole, male practice players counted as women. And, according to the Times, players don’t actually have to play to be counted as members, so at many schools dozens of girls are technically on teams — but never play. Some —like several women that were on the University of South Florida’s cross-country roster — didn’t even know they were listed.

Title-niners treat women’s underrepresentation in sports as an injustice that must be aggressively targeted. But areas where men fall behind raise little concern. They cannot have it both ways. If Howard University’s 24%sports gap (favoring males) warrants federal intervention, then its far more serious 34% attendance gap (favoring females) should warrant a Congressional investigation.

Instead of more investigations, restrictions, closed opportunities, bean counting, number fudging and gender politics, we should follow the advice of the novelist (and former wrestler) John Irving: “Keep Title IX: eliminate proportionality.” I know of no better way to celebrate this intrinsically good law on its 42nd anniversary.

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of several books including The War Against Boys and hosts a weekly video blog The Factual Feminist . Follow her @CHSommers

TIME Religion

Activist Who Pushed Mormon Church to Ordain Women Excommunicated

Kate Kelly
Kate Kelly at a vigil in Salt Lake City, June 22, 2014. Rick Bowmer—AP

Convicted of apostasy by all-male jury

Kate Kelly, an activist who agitated for the Mormon church to ordain women, was excommunicated Monday by an all-male panel of judges.

Kelly organized the group Ordain Women in 2013 to demand that the Mormon Church allow women to be priests, and she quickly became the leader of the church feminist movement. She drew national attention for protesting the church’s refusal to ordain women by lining up Mormon women of all ages outside church conferences in Salt Lake City, according to the New York Times.

On Monday, Kelly received an email from Bishop Mark Harrison telling her that an all-male panel of church elders had convicted her of apostasy and voted for her excommunication on Sunday. “Our determination is that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church,” Bishop Harrison wrote Kelly, according to a statement on Ordain Women’s website.

“The decision to force me outside my congregation and community is exceptionally painful,” Kelly said in a statement. “Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities. I love the gospel and the courage of its people. Don’t leave. Stay, and make things better.”

Kelly was warned in May that she would face church consequences if she did not disaffiliate from Ordain Women and take down the website, but she refused. She chose not to attend the hearing, but sent a letter to the judges asking them to “allow me to continue to worship in peace.”

 

 

TIME Television

Yang Lan, the ‘Oprah of China,’ Expands Her Reach

Yang Lan
Yang Lan at a benefit on May 15, 2013, in New York City. John Lamparski / WireImage / Getty Images

Yang Lan is partnering with MAKERS to bring the women's-stories platform to China

Correction appended June 23, 2014, 4:45 p.m.

Last year, MAKERS — the AOL-owned hub for women telling the history of feminism via their personal stories — made news with a PBS documentary. Now it’s going global.

MAKERS and AOL announced in April that they partnered with Sun Media Group to bring the initiative to China. This weekend, TIME premiered 10 of those stories, about women as diverse as an LGBT rights activist and an expert in traditional Chinese dance.

Though she’s not a subject of one of those videos, there’s one important Chinese woman whose story is in the subtext of all the others. That’s Yang Lan, a woman often referred to as “China’s Oprah.” She’s a co-owner of Sun Media, and serves as Executive Producer for MAKERS China. Though American audiences may be unfamiliar with her, the Oprah comparison doesn’t necessarily go far enough. Her personal and business reach is Oprah-like but on a Chinese-population scale — her own social-media account reaches 50 million people a day — and her TV personality is more in the Barbara Walters mold, with a serious interview show called One-on-One and a The View-style panel show, Her Village, which is also a supersized web platform. The latter reaches 300 million people a month between TV and online content. Her Village‘s website will be the distribution platform for MAKERS China; as a point of comparison, 2.6 million people watched the PBS documentary when it premiered.

“The Chinese Internet is developing at a breathtaking pace,” Lan tells TIME, noting that the urban/rural gap in broadband access has not held true for mobile Internet, with the result that there are more than 600 million mobile Internet users in China, which is about half of the population. “It’s opening a new area for us because we are a private media company while all the TV networks are highly regulated and government-owned. Suddenly the internet gave us this open space to reach our audience directly with no barrier in-between.”

So it’s not just that Internet usage is growing. Lan says that she the foreign fascination with Chinese censorships is fair — it’s a topic that often comes up when she appears in Western media, and she says that the attention is a good thing because it provides an incentive “to move China forward” — but that the full picture of life as a media mogul in China is a lot more nuanced than it might seem. She explains that, for instance, her company produces Her Village but the TV station is government-owned and can just choose not to show something. However, there are different “levels of censorship” and the Internet is more relaxed. “Nowadays for example when some part of my television show cannot be broadcast on television because of the censorship,” she says, “I can get the full version on the Internet.”

Lan’s insight and influence were crucial to helping MAKERS China happen. Exporting the American version with American producers and slotting in Chinese women and Chinese stories wouldn’t be the same thing, says McGee. “That’s a completely different experience from having [Lan's] team make them from a Chinese perspective,” she says. Though she and Lan both stress that MAKERS and MAKERS China share their goals and values — and an emphasis on stories of courage, breaking through, being true to yourself and giving back to the community — there are differences between what the two audiences expect.

Take, for example, “leaning in.” Though it’s still the catchphrase of the moment for a lot of MAKERS-style feminism in the U.S., it doesn’t quite jibe with the Chinese experience. “In the case of Chinese women some of them were pushed in,” Lan explains. “When Mao Zedong said women should work, “holding up half of the sky,” suddenly every woman worked. For my mother’s generation, that was the case. Nowadays it’s all about free choice. What I always try to emphasize is if it’s based on your true love, your true passion, your true talent and your free choice, being a full-time housewife is just as challenging and respectable as being a woman CEO.”

And the number of people poised to hear that message, and the message of MAKERS, is about to get even bigger: Lan tells TIME that she’s expanding Her Village from a weekly TV show to a daily show, and — perhaps more significantly — launching an app version within the next few months.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the relationship between AOL and MAKERS. AOL owns MAKERS.

TIME feminism

17 Famous Women on What Feminism Means to Them

Thoughts on the other 'F' word from Lena Dunham, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Shailene Woodley, Halle Berry and more

“Are you a feminist?” might be the toughest question a female celebrity has to answer in 2014. Taylor Swift stays clear of the word. Lena Dunham embraces it and Beyonce grew into it. Let’s just say it’s complicated. Come on too strong and a young actress can risk alienating a fan base that isn’t steeped in day-to-day gender issues. Avoid the question and they incur the wrath of the Internet and feminists everywhere. Here’s a look at what some famous women have said about the other “f” word.

 

  • Sinéad O’Connor

    Sinéad O'Connor
    Sinead O'Connor performs on July 27, 2014 in Wiltshire, England. Philip Ryalls—WireImage/Getty Images

    Sinéad doesn’t like any label that ends in -ist, and that includes the f-word, she told The Guardian in July.”I don’t think of myself as being a feminist,” the 47-year-old musician said. “I wouldn’t label myself anything, certainly not something with an ‘ism’ or an ‘ist’ at the end of it. I’m not interested in anything that is in any way excluding of men.”

    The declaration came as a bit of a surprise to some fans, given that O’Connor titled her tenth and most recent album I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss. The hashtag #banbossy campaign was created by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, and has been supported by fellow self-described feminist Beyoncé.

  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus Norway Concert
    Miley Cyrus performs onstage near Oslo, Norway. on May 28, 2014. Bendiksby, Terje/AFP—AFP/Getty Images

    “I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything,” the 21-year-old “Wrecking Ball” singer told the BBC last November. “I’m a feminist in the way that I’m really empowering to women,” she said to Cosmopolitan in December 2013. “I’m loud and funny and not typically beautiful.”

  • Beyoncé

    Beyonce Attends Met Gala
    Beyonce attends a Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York on May 5. Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images

    Beyoncé was hesitant to describe herself as a feminist to British Vogue in April 2013. “That word can be very extreme,” the 32-year-old said. “But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”

    But the singer seems to have come around. Her self-titled December 2013 album features a number of feminist ideas. Her song “Flawless” sandwiches an excerpt from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk, “We should all be feminists,” in between lyrics like “I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife.”

    After the album’s release Beyoncé even wrote a post for the Shriver Report called, “Gender Equality is a Myth!” in January. “We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet,” she wrote.

  • Shailene Woodley

    Shailene Woodley at "The Fault In Our Stars" Premiere
    Shailene Woodley attends "The Fault In Our Stars" premiere in New York City on June 2. Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images

    The 22-year-old Fault in Our Stars actress made waves in May with her response when TIME asked if she considered herself a feminist: “No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance…My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism.”

    The Internet was outraged on multiple levels, especially because her response seemed at odds with the strong females characters Woodley has played in movies like Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.

  • Lana Del Ray

    Lana Del Ray Cinema Against AIDS Event
    Lana Del Rey performs during amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala on May 22 in France. Kevin Tachman/amfAR14—WireImage

    Del Ray went into left field recently when Fader magazine asked her if she was a feminist. “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” the 27-year-old singer said. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested…My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.”

  • Lena Dunham

    Lena Dunham 2014 Bookexpo America
    Lena Dunham attends the 2014 Bookexpo America on May 31 in New York City. Steve Sands—WireImage

    “Women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is my greatest pet peeve,” said the 28-year-old Girls star and writer in 2013 during an interview with Metro. “Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist.”

  • Salma Hayek

    Salma Hayek Cannes Film Festival
    Salma Hayek attends the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17 in Cannes, France. Foc Kan—FilmMagic/Getty

    “[Feminism] means being proud of being a woman, and [having] love, respect and admiration and the belief in our strong capacities,” the 47-year-old actress told Stylist in 2012. “I don’t think we are the same, women and men. We’re different. But I don’t think we are less than men. There are more women than men in the world – ask any single woman! So it is shocking that men are in more positions of power.”

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift RED Tour
    Taylor Swift performs in Singapore on June 12. Nicky Loh/TAS—2014 Nicky Loh/TAS

    “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have,” the 24-year-old pop star told the Daily Beast in 2012. “I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

    Swift’s ambivalence didn’t stop one Brown University student from creating a popular parody Twitter account that adds feminist phrases Taylor Swift song lyrics.

  • Amy Poehler

    Amy Poehler 2014 Bookexpo America
    Amy Poehler attends the 2014 Bookexpo America on May 31 in New York City. Steve Sands—WireImage

    Instead of steering clear of the word, Amy Poehler has publicly embraced feminism. “But then they go on to explain what they support and live by — it’s feminism exactly,” the 42-year-old comedian told Elle magazine in January. “I think some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience and that word is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.’”

  • Halle Berry

    Halle Berry "Extant"
    Halle Berry attends the premiere of "Extant" on June 16 in Los Angeles. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty

    “I would say on some levels I am [a feminist]. Angela Davis is one of my heroes,” the 47-year-old Oscar winner told Ebony in April, referring to the political activist known for her feminist views. “And Gloria Steinem—these are people who, as I was growing, I was moved by and impacted by and thought very deeply about.”

  • Kelly Clarkson

    Kelly Clarkson The Voice
    Kelly Clarkson performs on NBC's The Voice on Dec. 3. NBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    “I wouldn’t say [I'm a] feminist, that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist it’s just like, ‘Get out of my way I don’t need anyone,’” the 32-year-old American Idol winner told TIME last year. “I love that I’m being taken care of, and I have a man that’s an actual leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense … but I’ve worked really hard since I was 19, when I first auditioned for Idol.”

  • Ellen Page

    Ellen Page X-Men Premiere
    Ellen Page attends the "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" world premiere on May 10 in New York City. Gilbert Carrasquillo—FilmMagic

    “I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” the 27-year-old Juno and X-Men star said in a 2013 interview with The Guardian.

  • Rashida Jones

    Rashida Jones Upfront
    Rashida Jones attends the 2014 TNT/TBS Upfront on May 14 in New York City. Paul Zimmerman—WireImage

    “I would [call myself a feminist], yes.” the 38-year-old Parks & Rec star told Amanda de Cadenet in 2013. “I believe in the unadulterated advancement of women. And we have so far to go still. I do think because women are so clever and flexible and such good communicators, it been hard for men to evolve and keep up. I think we could do a little better to help them out.”

  • Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga artRave Tour
    Lady Gaga performs during her "artRave: The Artpop Ball" tour in New York City on May 13. Kevin Mazur—WireImage

    “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture — beer, bars, and muscle cars,” the 28-year-old pop star told a Norwegian journalist in 2009.

    However, the “Bad Romance” singer seemed to backtrack later that year when talking to the Los Angeles Times. “I’m getting the sense that you’re a little bit of a feminist, like I am, which is good,” she said. “I find that men get away with saying a lot in this business, and that women get away with saying very little . . . In my opinion, women need and want someone to look up to that they feel have the full sense of who they are, and says, ‘I’m great.’ “

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry Radio 1
    Katy Perry performs live at Radio 1's Big Weekend on May 25 in Glasgow, Scotland. Dave J Hogan—Getty Images

    “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women,” the 29-year-old “Roar” singer told Billboard magazine in 2012. However, since then, the young celeb has changed her tune on the topic. “A feminist? Um, yeah, actually,” she told an Australian radio host in March when asked if she considered herself one. “I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.”

  • Leighton Meester

    Leighton Meester Tony Awards
    Leighton Meester attends the 68th Annual Tony Awards on June 8, 2014 in New York City. D Dipasupil—FilmMagic

    The 28-year-old Gossip Girl star surprised some fans in February when she told OOTD magazine who her role model was. “The American writer Betty Friedan — she fought for gender equality and wrote the great book The Feminine Mystique which sparked the beginning of a second-wave feminism,” Meester said. “I believe in equal rights for men and women.”

  • Jenny Slate

    Jenny Slate Late Night
    Jenny Slate is shown during a June 19 interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers in New York. NBC—NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images

    “Am I a feminist? F–k yeah, I’m a feminist,” the 32-year-old Saturday Night Live told MTV News in June. “I think that unfortunately people who are maybe threatened by feminism think that it’s about setting your bra on fire and being aggressive, and I think that’s really wrong and really dangerous.” Slate also agreed that her latest movie, Obvious Child, which centers around her character considering an abortion, is a feminist film.

TIME Media

Meet 10 of China’s Most Powerful Women

The critically acclaimed MAKERS series goes to China

After its critical acclaim last year with the documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America, AOL has taken its storytelling brand to China to highlight women whose accomplishments have shattered expectations and serve as an inspiration to their peers. The selection process was overseen in part by Yang Lan, a broadcast journalist often dubbed the “Oprah of China.”

Li Yinhe

First female sexologist in China

After studying at the University of Pittsburgh, Li became fascinated by the widely available research on American sexual mores, completely absent in her native China. Her book, Their World: a Study of Homosexuality in China, proved iconoclastic for the country.

Gong Li

Actor

Known for films like Raise the Red Lantern and Memoirs of a Geisha, Gong has starred in numerous Chinese films that have won her awards from the Berlin International Film Festival to Cannes. She was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2000.

Fu Ying

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

After a string of government jobs, Fu became China’s ambassador to the Philippines in 1998, then to Australia in 2003, then to the U.K. in 2007. She’s been praised for her expert handling of the media after western pushback against China’s successful bid to host the Olympics.

Guo Jianmei

First public interest lawyer in China

In 1995, Guo was inspired at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women by Hillary Clinton’s now-famous maxim: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” Not long after, she founded a women’s legal aid NGO, which subsequently earned her an award from Clinton as a Woman of Courage.

Li Yan

Short-track speed skating coach

Li won a silver medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics and later went on to coach Apolo Ohno to his gold medal win in the 2006 Winter Olympics. She has coached the Chinese national team through the last two Olympic seasons.

Hu Shuli

Investigative journalist

The editor-in-chief of Caixin Media Company has made a name for herself through hard-hitting journalism—a particularly challenging accomplishment in China. She famously reported on corruption in the financial industry, and has been included on the TIME 100.

Dong Mingzhu

Chairman and president, Gree Electric

Dong rose through the ranks at Gree Electric, first selling air conditioners then overseeing the sales team. She was appointed director of the department in 1994 and increases sales by a factor of seven. This accomplishment paved the way for her to eventually take the top job at the company.

Yang Liping

Dance artist

A dancer from rural China, Yang studied the dance cultures of various Chinese minorities as a young woman. Committed to bringing these traditions to the wider public, she raised money to create and perform her first piece, “Spirit of the Peacock” in the 1980s, and went on to direct, choreograph and perform in blockbuster dance shows throughout China, Europe and the U.S.

Laura Cha Shin May-lung

Former vice-chair of the China Securities Regulatory Commission

After a successful career as a lawyer, first in California then in Hong Kong, she joined the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and eventually held the position of Deputy Chairman. She then moved on to be vice chair of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, becoming the first non-mainlander in the role.

Yan Geling

Novelist and screenwriter

Yan is known in the U.S. for books like The Banquet Bug and The Lost Daughter of Happiness. Many of her novels have been adapted for films like The Flowers of War, and her stories are highly acclaimed in China.

TIME Culture

Game of Thrones: More Feminist Than You Think

(L-R) Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke and Sophia Turner in Game of Thrones HBO (3)

As the finale airs, let's look past that rape scene and judge the show as a whole

This post is filled with Game of Thrones spoilers

There’s been a lot of justifiable hand-wringing over the way women have been treated on Game of Thrones this season. And if a scene where Jaime rapes his love and sister, Cersei, next to their dead son’s body wasn’t upsetting enough, the director of the episode stirred up further controversy by saying the act “becomes consensual by the end.” Writers and critics spilled a lot of ink explaining why rape can’t become consensual, including me.

What was especially disturbing was that particular sex scene was consensual in the books. The show writers decided to add the part where she protests against him as he’s having sex with her (even if they didn’t think of it as rape). And women didn’t fare any better in the next episode in which a group of nameless, topless women are raped in the background of a scene.

But there’s still a compelling argument for why we shouldn’t write off Game of Thrones’ treatment of women yet. As the season has progressed, the women of the show have grown more powerful, sometimes even more so than their male counterparts.

For some female characters, this growing strength has been literal: Arya killed her first grown man with her sword; Ygritte refused to be scared by some cannibals threatening her and threatened them right back; Olenna Redwyne murdered Joffrey. Others have grown psychologically stronger: Daenerys learned to objectify men in the same way men on the show have objectified other women; Shae delivered the deciding blow in Tyrion’s trial; Sansa recently learned to use her sexual wiles to manipulate Littlefinger. Yes, women on the show are treated as sex objects, but now they’re learning to wield their sexuality as a weapon.

Add these evolutions to the already-strong portrayals of other women on the show: Brienne is as strong as Jaime; Melisandre has total control over Stannis Baratheon; Yara Greyjoy can captain troops; Daenerys is queen of her own people; Cersei is the strongest of her siblings; and Margaery and Cersei are vying for control over the king. The strength of these women is all the more impressive considering they live in a male-dominated world in which women don’t inherit property (except in Dorne), can’t be warriors (except among the wildlings and the ironborn) and are mainly expected to just produce heirs.

Whether fans like it or not, rape is a part of the Game of Thrones world—both in the books and onscreen. “Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” George R.R. Martin, author of the book series and occasional writer on the show, told the New York Times. “To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest.”

And while it’s disturbing that the creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff saw fit to add the Cersei rape scene, they have also diverged from the book in positive ways for women. They added a scene set in Sansa’s chamber where Sansa tells Littlefinger suggestively that she “knows what he wants,” leaving the viewer to infer that she’s learning to be as cunning as he is. In the books, Daenerys frets over whether she should sleep with Daario; in the show, she confidently commands him to strip and gazes at him in the way many kings on the show have gazed at nude women before. The show writers even give the badass Ygritte a much more robust role than she gets in the books. Sometimes the show makes women less powerful, and sometimes it makes them more powerful.

Sunday’s season finale will determine where the women of Westeros stand. But taking the season as a whole, girls seem to be closer to running the Game of Thrones world than they ever have before.

Still not satisfied? Then take comfort in the fact that next season of Thrones looks to be the most woman-centric yet: they’re adding three of Oberyn’s daughters and Arianne Martell to the cast. With each passing season, it seems more likely that a woman will capture the iron throne.

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

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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.”

and

“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.

 

 

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