TIME Opinion

#WomenAgainstFeminism Is Happening Now

Let's bite the hand that feeds us, shall we?

When Newton said that every action would have an equal and opposite reaction, he couldn’t have foretold that his Third Law of Physics would apply to internet feminism. But even though the backlash is hardly “equal and opposite,” once again, just like in the 1970s, some women seem to be misunderstanding the basic principles of feminism in order to rail against women’s rights with the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism.

This week, perhaps because of the anti-feminism bubbling up on the internet (although they didn’t explicitly say so), NPR re-promoted its 2011 interview with prominent antifeminist activist Phyllis Schlafly who campaigned to stop the 1973 passage of the Equal Rights Amendment–the legislation that would have provided men and women total legal equality. She basically sums up the conservative mindset about feminism:

A lot of people don’t understand what feminism is. They think it is about advance and success for women, but it’s not that at all. It is about power for the female left. And they have this, I think, ridiculous idea that American women are oppressed by the patriarchy and we need laws and government to solve our problems for us… And they’re always crying around about things like the differences between men and women are just a social construct. So they’re really in a fight with human nature. I would not want to be called a feminist.

It’s no surprise that the 89 year-old Schlafly feels this way. But it is somewhat surprising that a small, yet vocal group of young women has started to echo her rallying cry, first on a Tumblr, then on Facebook (with over 11,000 likes) and now with the adorable #womenagainstfeminism hashtag. Most of the posts include some reiteration of the central misunderstanding about feminism, that a core belief of feminism involves hating men.

While this hashtag is unlikely to undo all the progress made by women like Gloria Steinem and Beyonce, it is troubling, as Jessica Valenti over at The Guardian has explained:

Women stopping the progress of other women – especially those who don’t have the power and prestige to work for DC think-tanks or pen anti-feminist books – stings much more than when men do it. That may be a double standard, or naive – I don’t believe in an all-encompassing sisterhood, after all – though it does remind me of how powerful feminists really are: we’ve taken on not just the men in our way, but the women as well.

But there will always be some women who don’t understand feminism, just like there will always be some people who deny global warming. There’s no use getting all worked up over a few stragglers who haven’t gotten on the bandwagon.

So let’s just try to nip this in the bud. Sorry, Phyllis Schlafly, but feminism is here to stay:

With reporting contributed by Hannah Goldberg

TIME Opinion

Have the Feds Made School Food Worse with Government-Approved Junk?

Vending machine
Getty Images

"Healthy" snacks in schools are seriously lacking in nutrition

Last week I attended the School Nutrition Association’s annual meeting in Boston, a gathering of the nation’s school food service workers. While most of the controversy lately has focused on the federally-required improvements to nutrition standards for school lunches, getting lost in the shuffle are new standards coming online this fall for school snacks and beverages.

These foods are known collectively as “competitive foods” because they compete with the school meal program; think kids eating their lunches out of vending machines. With schools desperate for extra cash, the likes of Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay take full advantage by hawking their unhealthy products to schoolchildren.

This problem caused Congress and the White House to include in its 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requirements that U.S. Department of Agriculture set nutrition guidelines for foods sold outside the school meal program. (Thanks to a lawsuit filed by the soda lobby some thirty years ago, a court found that USDA had no authority over soda and junk food, and it’s taken this long to correct that decision.)

To help guide USDA, the Institute of Medicine made science-based recommendations to the agency for the best nutritional approach. But as often happens in Washington, what starts out as a public health policy comes out the other end as industry-friendly, watered down rules.

Instead of insisting that schools do right by kids – and the taxpayer-funded school meal program – by removing vending machines altogether, the feds just required a few tweaks to the ingredients. Big Food put its sophisticated R&D departments to work and out came “USDA-compliant” junk food. Several vendors proudly told me that their “healthier” products weren’t even available in stores, as if this were a good thing.

But is it really better now that “reduced fat” Cheetos have replaced regular in schools? Can parents rest easier knowing their kids are buying “whole grain” Pop-Tarts still containing 15 grams of sugar? Can USDA really claim that the “low sugar” line of Gatorade products (called G2) is significantly superior nutritionally, given that they contain artificial sweeteners and dyes?

As I warned in my comments to USDA last year, too narrow a focus on nutrition indicators such as whole grain and levels of sugar and fat would not address the bigger problem with competitive foods: branding. Corporations hawking junk foods and beverages in schools have no problem tweaking a few ingredients as long as they remain in front of the eyeballs of impressionable youngsters. Schools are not only big business, they are essential to ensure brand loyalty for life.

While real food such as fresh produce, along with truly healthy snacks such as dried apples, were also on display in the expo hall, several vendors I spoke to complained about the challenge of being able to compete with the likes of Kellogg’s and PepsiCo on price, given the economies of scale.

Now with the federal government seal of approval on dressed up junk foods, what messages are we sending to children in their place of learning? That Cheetos and Pop-Tarts are great snacks as long as they contain a sprinkling of “whole grains”? That blue-colored Gatorade is an acceptable beverage as long as it contains fake sugars? Some have defended these changes as incremental. OK, but given how hard it was to get the current rules passed (not to mention the ongoing fight over school meals), it’s likely to be a very long time before we see real improvements.

Meanwhile, school kids are now being exposed to deceptive marketing messages on health-washed junk foods, brought to them by mega-corporations who aim to get them hooked on a lifetime of bad eating habits, all courtesy of the federal government.

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer and president of Eat Drink Politics, a corporate watchdog consulting firm.

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Contends with Congressional Backseat Drivers on Ukraine

Congress again threatens to push Obama foreign policy with legislation

A Malaysia Airlines jet is shot down over the Ukraine and Congress is, of course, full of back-seat foreign policy advice for President Obama. The problem is when they start passing some of this advice to be signed into law.

Some say Obama has already been too aggressive. “[T]he crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when the EU and U.S. overthrew the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych,” said former Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican. “Without U.S.-sponsored ‘regime change,’ it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.”

On the other side of the hawk spectrum, Republican Senators such as Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk felt compelled by the tragedy to call on Obama to pass energy, banking and defense sectoral sanctions against Russia, which has been supporting Ukrainian separatists but denies having anything to do with the downing of the plane. Thus far the Obama Administration’s punishment for Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and rabble rousing in eastern Ukraine has been targeted individual sanctions and visa restrictions.

“I don’t know how anybody can say our response has been anything but timid and cautious,” said Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. “Hopefully on the positive side, this will galvanize the international community to take the kind of steps that should have been taken months ago to push back on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and cause him to pay the kind of price that he should pay for this outrageous act.”

Kirk also called on Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a wrongful death suit. “I want to hear that the Department of Justice will bring one hell of a wrongful death suit against Russian assets located in the United States to make sure that there is significant cost paid by Russia for this action of shooting down with an international airliner with a weapons system that is directly related to Russian armed forces,” he told CNN.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, went so far as to call on Obama to arm the Ukrainian government. “Now is the time to provide Ukraine with the weapons and other military assistance they have requested and require to defeat the separatist groups and secure their country—assistance that, had we provided it earlier, might have enabled Ukrainian forces to succeed in this effort by now and thereby prevented last week’s tragedy,” McCain said on Monday.

So far, all Obama has threatened is to levy unspecified costs against Russia, along with urging the Europeans to step up on sanctions.

Congress, and particularly the party in opposition, has often expressed strong views on the President’s foreign policy. Despite the fact that, constitutionally, foreign policy is the purview of the Oval Office, Congress drove the War of 1812 and was a key factor in the Mexican-American War. They also dragged Franklin Roosevelt’s heels in getting into World War II and had an enormous impact on Vietnam policy, not to mention Democratic efforts to defund President George W. Bush’s actions in Iraq.

But Obama not only has to contend with opposition complaints about his foreign policy, but with some friendly fire as well. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has been the driving force to get Obama to beef up sanctions against Iran, support Israel more strongly and hold a tougher line on Cuba. Menendez has helped push through sanctions that the Administration has explicitly said it didn’t want, something he could do again against Russia if the Administration doesn’t act.

Obama has not had an easy time with Congress on much of anything, but particularly on foreign policy. The other end of Pennsylvania Avenue is quick to condemn, and yet when they are asked to act, for example with Syria or Libya, they suddenly remember the separation of powers. Congress in both instances failed to pass any kind of resolution approving action in either country. That’s because polls show that from Libya to Syria to the Ukraine, the American people have zero desire to engage in more wars. Which means that despite the sturm und drang coming out of the hawkish wing of the GOP, Obama is probably more likely to listen to Paul’s libertarian Dovish wing.

TIME Opinion

Kim Kardashian’s Genius New Game Is Basically Dante’s Inferno

iTunes

Kim is a Virgil for our time

“In order to win at life, you need some Kim K skills,” Kanye West told GQ in a recent interview. But how do you get that life-winning ability to pose, network and maneuver your way to fame? By playing her gaming app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, of course. Forbes estimates Kardashian herself could make $85 million from the game, and it’s been a blockbuster ever since its release almost a month ago.

The app is an immersion into the glamorous Kardashian world, complete with photo shoots, club openings and feuds with wannabe celebrities. It’s the fame game, and it’s addictive; you simply can’t stop checking your makeup, posing and attending promotional events. More than 100,000 users have given Kim Kardashian: Hollywood a perfect rating in Apple’s App Store, driving up shares of Glu Mobile, the company behind the game, 24% since it was released June 25. In-app purchases — things like clothes, energy, cash and star-power can be acquired with real-world money while playing the game— could generate an annual revenue of $200 million.

I’m no Hollywood fashionista, but from the first time I played, I had a nagging sense of déjà vu. Slowly, it dawned on me: I’ve heard this story before, in 11th grade English class. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood reminds me of that super-long 14th-century poem about the nine circles of hell, each filled with sinners punished in a manner fitting their crimes, poetic justice if you will. Kim Kardashian’s game is Dante’s Inferno.

It’s basically the same idea, except you (Dante) can dress up in customizable hair and outfits that get increasingly elaborate as you get richer/closer to the center of hell. Kim is like Virgil, but she traded in her black robe for a sparkly silver dress, because shrouds are so 14th century. The circles of hell are levels of fame, natch.

But what’s so hellish about an addictive game that allows users to play at being beautiful reality show stars? Um, everything. In the Kim Kardashian universe, your character can’t sleep, eat or see any friends who aren’t “contacts” to help you get more famous. You have no family (Kim has family, but you don’t) and nobody to love. Your only human contact is with other hell-walkers game characters with whom you can either choose to “network” or “flirt.” You’re not allowed to do anything but go to club openings, photo-shoots or red carpet premieres. You can’t read.

The only good thing about this world is that a flight from LA to Miami costs $15.

It’s no coincidence that you enter this inferno by committing one of the seven deadly sins: Greed. When the game starts, you’re a lowly boutique clerk, and you’ve just closed up the aptly-named “So-Chic” store, when you’re approached by the one and only Kim Kardashian. “Hi! Is this your store? Are you open? I could really use your help,” her character says. Your options are: “still open,” “just closing,” and, in a terrifying premonition of your name-dropping future, “Kim Kardashian.”

If you have any respect for order in the universe, you pick “just closing,” because you did just close the store, and no celebrity will make you break the rules. But if you do that, Kim Kardashian says, “Oh no! I’m having a fashion emergency. The back of my top is ripped, and I’m on my way to a shoot with Garrett St. Clair, THE Garrett St. Clair.” Because you’re supposed to know who that is.

“I don’t want him to see me like THIS,” she whines. “But I don’t know of any boutiques around here.” She’s in downtown L.A., mind you.

Here, the game gives you no option. The only possible choice is “I can help!” If you try to leave and return to normalcy, Kim Kardashian says “I love fashion and I love to shop!” The game forbids you from exiting, and you can feel the devil’s icy claws clutch your ankles.

At this point, you are already doomed, your soul has already become too blackened for absolution. For when Kim Kardashian asks how much the outfit is, the game’s only option is to tell her: “no charge.” When she says “No, really? I can’t!,” the game’s only option is “(insist.)” Later, when your boss asks you to work on a night when Kim has invited you to a party, your only options are “use your charm” and “mention Kim.” Blowing off the party and going to work is not a possibility. You’re in Kim’s world now.

There’s no way to get through the game without committing one of the seven deadly sins at almost every possible junction. You go out of your way to humiliate your enemy, Willow Pape (Wrath.) You’re always trying to be as famous as Kim (Envy) and you’ve got an eye on your next big publicity stunt (Pride.) After the first level, you never go back to work at “So Chic,” (Sloth) and dollar bills appear every time you check your makeup (Greed.) We all know what your manager means when he tells you to “keep your head down – or up…or wherever the photographers want it!” (Lust.) The only sin you don’t commit on the long journey from D-list tag-along to A-list star is Gluttony, because this is Los Angeles, after all.

It’s been nearly a month since the game came out, and I’m still in Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood, checking my eyeliner, changing my outfit, flirting and networking and promoting brands and slowly spinning deeper and deeper into darker circles of hell. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

 

 

 

TIME Opinion

Forget the Boy: Watching Patricia Arquette Age in Boyhood Is Astounding

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood IFC

On the magic of watching a mother mature onscreen

With a just a few alterations, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood could just as easily have been called Motherhood. The film follows a fictional boy, Mason, as he grows from 6 to 18, but the audience also watches his family grow around him. It’s an astounding to see actors age 12 years over the course of three hours without the help of makeup or prosthetics. But while much of the focus has been on the transformation of the boy in the film, what truly stood out for me was the transformation of the mother, Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette.

I first found myself first identifying with Mason and his sister—I, too, stood in line for the Harry Potter books as a child. But as the kids grew older and moodier, I turned my attention to Olivia. I went through (and perhaps am still going through) my disgruntled teenage years where communication with your parents seems impossible. I know what it felt like to be the kid who doesn’t call home enough from college. But I didn’t know what it felt like to be the parent who continues to love and support an unappreciative child.

The brunt of parenting burden in the movie falls on Olivia, who raises the children as their father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) flits in and out of the picture, pursuing his dream to become a musician. I studied Arquette as her attitude, her prospects and her body changed. Arquette is currently 46, which means she was probably 33 when she started filming Boyhood. That’s peak actress age, according to Hollywood: from then on as looks fade, the number of opportunities shrink. So it’s rare and fascinating to see a real actress allow herself to age onscreen.

In many scenes, Arquette goes with little to no makeup (she is a divorced mom trying to balance work, school and raising children, after all). Her hair styles and clothing change as time passes and she settles into being a not-so-cool mom. Her body weight fluctuates as the real-life Arquette becomes pregnant, gives birth and changes in size over the course of the 12 years. These weight gains and losses parallel moments in the film as she goes through marital problems, financial problems and divorce.

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood IFC

It’s a selfless performance that exposes Arquette to the ravages of time. She’s a beautiful woman and continues to look beautiful throughout the movie, but the trials of motherhood surface on her face. Ethan Hawke (through no fault of his own) doesn’t go through nearly as dramatic a physical transformation.

Linklater doesn’t stop at studying how a woman’s body changes over 12 years: he’s also relentlessly realistic about Olivia’s depressing fate. Olivia’s flaws are put under the microscope: the children spend more time with her and therefore can see each mistake she makes romantically or otherwise; Mason Sr. has the privilege of hiding his dalliances. Seeing Mason Sr. is a rare joy for the kids, while Olivia must take on the role of the nagging mom.

In the end, she finds herself truly alone as her son leaves for college. He doesn’t thank her for her sacrifices, and she resents him for it. “Is that all there is? I thought there would be more,” she says. It’s not a glorified portrait of motherhood but a gritty and sobering one. It made me never want to reproduce and feel endlessly guilty about not calling my parents more often.

And that’s what’s so unusual about Boyhood. We now know that cinema can depict the passage of time convincingly in a way we never thought possible before. Here time is real. We watch it accumulate on the actors’ faces and understand the toll it takes on adults and on mothers specifically.

TIME Opinion

Todd Akin Still Doesn’t Get What’s Wrong With Saying ‘Legitimate Rape’

Todd Akin
Then-U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)) address the media on September 24, 2012 in Kirkwood, Missouri. (Whitney Curtis--Getty Images) Whitney Curtis—Getty Images

He says it's a law enforcement term. It's not.

Former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin went on MSNBC Thursday morning to try to explain his much-maligned comments from 2012 in which he said abortions wouldn’t be necessary for rape victims. “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” he told a St. Louis TV station in 2012.

Akin was on MSNBC to promote his new book, Firing Back, but he also took it as an opportunity to explain his earlier flub. “Legitimate rape is a law enforcement term, it’s an abbreviation for ‘legitimate case of rape,’” he told Chuck Todd. “A woman calls a police station, the police investigate, she says ‘I’ve been raped,’ they investigate that. So before any of the facts are in, they call it a legitimate case of rape,” explained Aiken.

 

But is ‘”legitimate rape” really a law enforcement term? We asked some experts.

“I’ve taught police officers, and worked with police officers on every continent in the world, and that’s something I’ve never heard in my 50 years in law enforcement,” says Dr. James A. Williams, former Chief of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces for the U.S Department of Justice, who also worked in municipal law enforcement in New Jersey. “I’ve never heard of that. Never.”

Richard Lichten, a veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and expert on sexual assault investigations agrees:

“I have 30 years of experience, I’m qualified to testify in federal court on the way to investigate sexual assault crimes, and I’ve never heard of that,” said Lichten. “In all my life I’ve never heard of that.”

Nonetheless, Akin believes that everyone took what he said out of context. “This was intentionally misunderstood and twisted for political purposes. It doesn’t make any sense to say ‘a conservative is saying that rape is legitimate,’ that doesn’t even add up.”

But the real problem isn’t that people think conservatives are pro-rape, it’s that Akin’s comment sounds like victim-blaming. By calling some rapes “legitimate,” he is (perhaps unintentionally) implying that some aren’t. And that has lead his critics to say that Aikin wants to make sure that a woman’s claim of rape is “legitimate” and that they aren’t just making it up to get a free abortion or something.

Once the topic of abortion came up, the interview took an even more controversial turn. When asked point-blank whether rape victims should be allowed to have abortions if they get pregnant, Akin turned it around. “Should the child conceived in rape have the same right to live as a child conceived in love?” he said. “I had a number of people in my campaign that were children…who were conceived in rape.” That assertion was not immediately verifiable.

Chuck Todd (rightly) pointed out that if Akin had staffers who were conceived from rape, then wouldn’t that disprove his theory that women can “shut that whole thing down?” Yes, according to logic, but all Akin had to say was: “I believe that little children are special.”

 

 

TIME psychology

The Myth of the Diseased Immigrant

Border Patrol agents process a group of migrants from Honduras and Guatemala, mostly women and children, found walking near the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas, June 18.
Border Patrol agents process a group of migrants from Honduras and Guatemala, mostly women and children, found walking near the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas, June 18. Jennifer Whitney—The New York Times/Redux

The debate over the border crisis has descended to a sad—and depressingly familiar—place

Want to know how far we’ve sunk? Here’s how far: There was never any chance at all that we would handle the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children running for their lives and arriving at our border with any maturity or grace at all. There was never a chance we’d take them in, get them fed and settled, and then consider sensibly how we can address the immigration-emigration mess on both sides of our border—and on our border—while working to send the kids safely home.

Instead we got the usual circus, the usual call to send in the troops, lock down the border, impeach the president—because, well, why not?—and under no circumstances to consider the comprehensive immigration reform bill languishing in the House. And now, at last, we have arrived at the inevitable sub-basement level of the debate. Now the nativists and xenophobes have played their nastiest—and least surprising—card: the border must be secured and the immigrants sent back because they are, of course, diseased.

That ugly cawing has been growing in the past week—and a lot of it has come from the usual sources. “Our schools cannot handle this influx, we don’t even know what all diseases they have,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Alan Long, the Mayor of Murrieta, Calif., where sign-waving protesters blocked buses carrying immigrants detained at the Texas border, argued, “[Y]ou don’t ship people that are ill and contagious all over the country.”

In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) added his addled voice: “Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles. This makes Americans who are not vaccinated—and especially young children and the elderly—particularly susceptible.”

But as numerous sources, most notably The Texas Observer and the New Republic, have reported, the immigrants have more to fear from us than we do from them. The fact is, children from Guatemala, where health care is fully subsidized by the government, have a better chance of being vaccinated than kids in Texas, where one in six people is uninsured. The fact is, in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala again, the vaccination rate for measles is 93%, compared to 92% in the U.S.—and it’s much lower in some poorly vaccinated pockets like New York City, where there has been a recent measles outbreak.

The myth of the diseased immigrant is not exclusively an American phenomenon. All cultures exhibit it and none can completely avoid it. The behavior is deeply, deeply rooted in our brains—specifically in our amygdalae, where base feelings like rage and suspicion and impulsiveness lie. As I write in my upcoming book The Narcissist Next Door, this form of tribal narcissism—of elevating your group above others—was essential for our early survival. The clan that knows you best is the one that is likeliest to protect you and feed you and keep you alive. Wander too far from the campfire and you may run into the alien other—unfamiliar people who would just as soon eat you as say hello. So we’re hardwired to see them as strange and menacing and the people we know as familiar and good.

In the modern era, that simplistic truth becomes harder to sustain, so we lard it up with invented justifications: it’s not that people from the other side of the border are innately bad, it’s that they pose a particular menace. Their frail genes will weaken our hardy stock; their dark-skinned men can’t resist our light-skinned women; and, inevitably, they bring diseases that can strike us all dead.

The nativists and their raging amygdalae have always made claims like this and surely always will. The measure of a culture is not in silencing them—they will never go completely quiet—but in marginalizing them. They are free to descend to—and live in—the sub-basement of the debate. Everyone else is welcome to come up and enjoy the daylight.

TIME Opinion

16-Year Old Gives Television Interview After Alleged Rape Photos Went Viral

Victim was mocked with #jadapose until supporters flooded the hashtag with encouragement and outrage

A 16-year old girl who says she was drugged and raped at a party spoke out on Houston local TV about how it felt to have images of her alleged assault circulated around social media.

While rape victims are are usually kept strictly anonymous, some survivors are beginning to speak out against their attackers, especially when the assault makes its way onto social media. Daisy Coleman, the Maryville teen who was viciously cyberbullied after she publicly accused a fellow high school student of raping her, was one of the first survivors to publicly identify herself, but others are following suit. Some victims have even taken to Twitter to publicly discuss their experiences with sexual assault.

“Anonymity has always been the default,” said Jennifer Marsh, VP of Victim Services at Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. “But in the cases we’ve seen recently—everything is already out there. Her face was out there. So at that point it’s a question of regaining control of the narrative of what happened to you.”

The Houston teen, identified only as Jada, said she went to a party with friends where the host gave her a drink she now believes was spiked with a drug. She passed out, and doesn’t remember anything from when she was unconscious. It wasn’t until Jada saw disturbing pictures and tweets on social media, that she believed she’d been raped. “Everybody knows,” Jada told KHOU 11. “And everybody’s texting me are you OK? You’re going to be OK, and I was like alright.” (TIME doesn’t usually identify rape victims, but we are making an exception in this instance because Jada wanted to come forward.)

It’s not immediately clear who originally tweeted the photos, because the photos have been mostly removed and some Twitter handles of people close to the incident have been de-activated. But the pictures soon went viral under the hashtag #jadapose, allegedly referring to the position of her body in the photographs. The alleged rapist was reportedly denouncing Jada and her story before his Twitter account was deactivated, including one tweet that said “HOW ITS RAPE? YOU HAD 2 MONTHS TO SAY SOMETHING BUT YOU AINT SAY [SH*T] TILL YOU GET EXPOSED?”

Other Twitter users followed suit, using the hashtag to mock Jada:

https://twitter.com/lowkeyitsmoe/status/486718561075724288/photo/1

The original photographs have since been reported and mostly removed and Jada’s supporters have started a Twitter backlash and used the hashtag in her defense.

And now she’s angry. “I had no control,” said Jada. “I didn’t tell anyone to take my clothes off and do what they did to me.”

The circumstances of Jada’s decision to come forward are truly horrific and no teenager should have to endure the double violation of a rape and then a social media maelstrom at her expense, and no victim should feel she has to identify herself in order to stop abuse. But maybe there’s a silver lining in this strategy for survivors. By coming forward, Jada traded her anonymity for a face and a voice, and with identity comes a certain kind of power.

 

 

TIME Opinion

Here’s Hoping No Man’s Sky Isn’t the Next Elder Scrolls: Arena

How deep can a sci-fi game about "exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated universe" really be?

I want to think well of No Many’s Sky, a game — at least I think it’s a game — about ripping off into an infinitely big, infinitely procedural, infinitely beautiful universe and doing, well, we’re not sure exactly what yet.

Exploring? Check. Cataloging other species? Maybe. Dogfighting in a spaceship? Perhaps. Wondering a lot what the point of No Man’s Sky is? Sounds like it.

If you want to know a little more, GameSpot’s just done a superlative series of videos on the game — each about 10 minutes long — and gleaned a few more details from Guildford-based developer Hello Games. You can find those videos clustered here.

The promise of No Man’s Sky isn’t so much that it looks amazing, like a reified Roger Dean painting, but the moment in that initial surprise reveal trailer back in 2013 where, down on an otherworldly planet, someone swims out of a sparkling azure ocean, strides across a beach bounded by crimson and gold grass and climbs into an X-Wing-like spaceship (without the wings). The canopy pops down, the music kicks up, and the ship rockets into the sky…then flies out of that sky and into starlit orbital space, bustling with asteroids and plasma-trailed fighters and Brobdingnagian capital ships, all of that rendered as one balletic, seamless sequence — a beautifully choreographed wish-fulfillment tease.

That go-anywhere, do-anything premise may be one of the oldest and most anticipated and most often broken promises on the books. Games have been making it for decades, this notion that a video game (or whatever you want to call these things now, as they pull against that term’s shackles) can be a portal to another world — a place as real as reality, and as lovely, dark and deep.

But we know it’s still a false promise in 2014, how easy it is to shatter the illusion when you brush against the simulated world’s facades. And so playing massively-single-player games that purport to simulate towns or cities or worlds or universes requires a psychological ingredient without which the games wouldn’t work: projection. Humans are masters of interpolation, and to play a game that’s partly a world-building exercise on its own terms, you have to suspend entire mountain ranges of disbelief.

We’ve come parsecs over the decades, graphics-wise, but made very little headway in world-building games when it comes to genuinely simulating said worlds. The occupants of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim are only slightly smarter (if prettier) signposts and semaphores than the ones we pinballed between in The Elder Scrolls: Arena 20 years ago. The guards in Assassin’s Creed IV are mostly brain-dead obstacles you have to puzzle past — weaponized dots on a map not so different from the ones we slunk past in Castle Wolfenstein or the original Metal Gear. The juking, jiving citizens wandering the streets of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V are props you’re meant to experience in passing, if at all: jostle or walk on by, pull out a gun and threaten or simply ignore.

It’s the cost of doing business given today’s technological limitations: build the stage, staff it with actors roughly as versatile as brainless animatronics, then let you wander around a sandbox filled with sand you’re only allowed to sculpt into a handful of things. Today’s go-anywhere, do-anything games are far nearer souped-up Choose-Your-Own-Adventures than the sort of idealized virtual reality experiences involving at least Turing test-passable encounters we’ve been dreaming about (in books and movies and games) for decades. They’re the sum of their mechanics (racing, shooting, flying, this or that mini-game, etc.) and little else.

To be fair, No Man’s Sky isn’t promising the moon (or at least not that sort of moon). Hello Games hasn’t created some exotic form of in-game artificial life, or devised a way to let you literally do whatever you like in the game (say become an interplanetary rock star, or a solitary backwater spinner of clay pots), or — and I say this presumptively but assuredly — found a way to eliminate the telling facades. No Man’s Sky will have limits, and I’d wager they’ll be as profound in the end at the micro level as the game claims to scale at the macro one.

But will it be any fun to play? That’s the question, once you’ve throttled any pretense of it being a game about letting you do whatever you like. What do you do in No Man’s Sky, and what makes it worth doing? Will that list of to-dos, once they’ve been enumerated, wind up looking like so many others? A lot of the novelty of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena vanished, for instance, once you smacked into its procedural seams and wound up surrendering to its rail-like “go to this dungeon, get this widget” story rhythms.

Will No Man’s Sky end up in the same shortfall trap? Will I care once I’ve cataloged my 134th kind-of-sort-of-dinosaur-thingy? Splashed around in my 532nd alien ocean? Destroyed my 43rd capital ship? Collected my umpteenth bounty?

Hello Games doesn’t want to say what the point of the game is. I admire their reluctance to, but I’m also worried about their reluctance to. I’d like to think there’s a rabbit in the hat (or maybe a whole bunch of rabbits waiting to pop out), but I’m a skeptic. I’ve been here too many times before. I want to believe No Man’s Sky‘s going to be more than just a pretty bauble of a game, but history and hindsight haven’t been kind to dreamers when it comes to open-ended games.

I suppose that’s what No Many’s Sky has going for it most at this point, having fired our imaginations. We’re still in the dreaming stage, and between now and the game’s unspecified future release, there’s still hope.

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