TIME

Sen. Gillibrand Speaks Out on Secret Service Director

Kirsten Gillibrand and Nancy Gibbs speak at the TIME and Real Simple's Women & Success event at the Park Hyatt on Oct. 1, 2014 in New York City.
Kirsten Gillibrand and Nancy Gibbs speak at the TIME and Real Simple's Women & Success event at the Park Hyatt on Oct. 1, 2014 in New York City. Larry Busacca—Getty Images for Time Inc.

'If someone resigns, it's always the woman'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she wasn’t surprised by the resignation of Julia Pierson, the first woman to head the Secret Service, who stepped down Wednesday after the public learned of a number of potential threats that slipped past the President’s security detail.

“Obviously there was a massive failure that needed to be taken responsibility for,” Gillibrand said Wednesday during an interview with TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs at the Women and Success event hosted by TIME and Real Simple. “But I do find that women are often eager to take responsibility for things… inevitably, if someone resigns, it’s always the woman.”

The junior Senator from New York has been speaking candidly about issues women face in the workplace and beyond since the release of her book, Off the Sidelines.

“I think for a lot of us, we feel deeply responsible for how our teams are run, how our businesses are run,” Gillibrand said.

Additional reporting by Eliana Dockterman and Charlotte Alter.

TIME women

The Most Game-Changing Part of the ‘Affirmative Consent’ Law

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds.

Consent and lack of consent can look the same

If you’re interested in women’s safety in general and, specifically, women’s safety on college campuses, it’s been a noteworthy week. On Monday, the Huffington Post looked at data from 125 schools, from fiscal year 2011 through 2013, and determined that a “conservative estimate of the cases shows 13 percent of students found responsible for sexual assault were expelled; at most, 30 percent were expelled.”

Stated without the arithmetic: over the past two years, people found guilty of sexual assault – which includes rape, harassment and stalking – were, by a wide margin, allowed to continue their education on the same campus with their victims. In one case where the assault was caught on videotape, the assailant’s punishment was “expulsion after graduation.”

The policies that govern how some schools deal with rape are created and modified by the Association of Student Conduct Administration, a group that describes itself as “the premier authority in higher education for student conduct administration and conflict resolution.” The ASCA recommends that “legalistic language,” such as “rape,” “judicial,” “defense” or “guilty” should be yanked from policies and procedures. To my knowledge, the ASCA doesn’t offer suggestions about what words should be used instead.

If those responsible for student welfare were known to work in tandem with local law enforcement, semantic arguments like these would be just another example of academic nitpicking. In a recent study, however, 73% of schools surveyed had no protocols in place for working with the police and of those that do, the systems are inadequate to the task. Often, a rape victim’s one shot at justice is through a system created by ASCA, an organization whose president-elect, Laura Bennett, is quoted as saying “‘Rape’ is a legal, criminal term,” a harmless enough assertion if she didn’t go on to say, “We’re trying to continue to share we’re not court, we don’t want to be court – we want to provide an administrative, educative process.” Sadly, the “educative” outcome seems to be how to get away with raping a schoolmate.

Having a bad system in place is probably better than having no system, but that’s only from the perspective of the institution, not the victim. It’s easy to suggest that a porous response to rape allegations serves the reputation of any school where these crimes occur – or allegedly occur. Local law enforcement has to make these statistics a matter of public record, while university administrations are under a different set of rules, and, in most cases, no set of rules.

In one survey, 40% of the schools surveyed hadn’t conducted a single sexual-assault investigation in five years, which, not surprisingly, can lead to low numbers of reported sexual assaults. One theory is that an entire generation of women students believe that, as with their sisters in the armed forces, reporting sexual misdeeds is a risky and futile undertaking. A more troubling corollary is that school administrators downplay this criminal behavior as a matter of course, that anything that might smear a school’s reputation needs to be minimized for the good of all involved. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Anyone looking at the current state of administrative response to rape and sexual assault on campus could make an easy leap from benign negligence to silent conspiracy. Everyone simply understands what needs to be done, and why. A look back at how Jim Crow was allowed to fester for decades in the United States speaks to the effectiveness of this approach. As with Jim Crow, the killing of any deep-rooted collusion requires increased public awareness, individual outrage and political courage.

This week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB967, a bill that could substantially change the nature of sexual conduct on campus and, we can only hope, across the nation. Instead of “No means no,” the new definition of consent will require “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” In short, “No means no” will be replaced with “Yes means yes.” Also, please note the word “conscious.” Anyone drugged, drunk, unconscious or asleep cannot, by definition, consent.

What’s astonishing about this legislation is not that we finally have a law to address the fundamental nature of sexual consent; what’s astonishing is that we needed a law to clarify this in the first place.

Yes, this law isn’t perfect. Unless every dorm room comes equipped with a court reporter, there will continue to be miscommunication. Still, the most important, most game-changing part of this new law may be a single phrase: Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.

This is huge. It should be the beginning of every conversation with college freshmen. High-school freshmen, while we’re at it. As Dr. Deborah Davis, J. Guillermo Villalobos and Dr. Richard Leo have written in a recent publication for the Oxford University Press:

“…the most commonly reported signal to indicate consent, used roughly equally by both men and women, was simply not resisting the sexual advances of the other person (i.e., expressing no response). Nevertheless…lack of resistance to sexual advances could have very different meanings for the two interacting individuals. It might be reflect reactions such as shock, confusion, shame, fear of repercussions of refusal, and others.”

Consent and lack of consent can look the same. A gesture or comment might seem like nothing, but it might be the one chance a woman has to stop something she no longer feels comfortable doing. And it’s important to understand that this new standard also protects men ­– men who may have thought their partners were consenting and genuinely shocked to learn otherwise. The law, and the public, must demand a new conversation for our children and for everyone’s children. When asked why so few expulsions were given out for sexually based offenses, ASCA’s Bennett said, “The worst thing we can do is tell someone they can’t go to school at our institution.”

She’s wrong. The worst thing we can tell someone is that if they’ve been sexually assaulted on campus, they’re on their own.

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

TIME women

I’m Dating a Guy Almost 20 Years Younger Than I Am—And It’s Awesome

Christine Fitzgerald
Carlos Navarro/Photography by Navarro

So what?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I’m 45. I’ve been through two unsuccessful marriages. I drive a red Camaro. I guess you can say I’m in the throes of a major midlife crisis. I’ve been checking a lot of things off of my bucket list. One of them was to try my hand at stand-up comedy. The first thing you learn in Stand-up 101 is “write what you know.” I’ve had a lot of life experiences one could label as interesting, but my current dating situation is certainly fodder for comedy — and maybe it shouldn’t be.

In my act, I start by addressing my age, my failed marriages, and the fact that I’m constantly at the hair salon and Ulta. As Dolly Parton once famously quipped, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Because of all of this, I’m constantly called the “c-word” — that “c-word” being “cougar.” I do really hate that word. But, when you’re dating someone almost 19 years younger than you are, the association is inevitably going to happen.

So, how did I end up in this situation? Well, since my divorce, my experiences in the online dating world have been pretty disastrous, to say the least. Every time I gave OKCupid a try, I specified my desired age range for a mate to be between 35 and 55 years old — and I’d get constantly barraged with messages from enthusiastic young 20-somethings looking to be my “cub.” The perception that I’m (supposedly) at my sexual peak seemed to be the prime motivation for these boys to reach out to me. Not that it was very different from the responses I got from men my age — they were just far less eager and often downright aloof.

One guy I dated on and off I dubbed “Copperfield” (as in magician David Copperfield), as he’d disappear for weeks at a time between dates. I also had more than one man my age ask if I’d like to enter into a “friends with benefits” arrangement. No thanks. My prospects were drying up rapidly and I was getting increasingly discouraged.

I was still poking around on Tinder and Match when my best girlfriend told me about a guy. I have always been a big fan of stand-up comics. I dated one when I was in my early 20s and he’s still one of my best friends. When my BFF told me the guy was a comedian and then sent me his picture, I was immediately interested. He did look a bit younger than I was (he has what can best be described as a baby face). I asked my friend how old he was, to which she replied, “He’s in his early 30s.” Both of my husbands were a few years younger than I was, but I had never been with someone more than 10 years my junior. I had been on a few dates with 30-somethings, but nothing really came of those.

He and I met soon after and were instantly attracted. It took us a few months to actually start dating — I was still trying to make it work with guys my own age and he had other pursuits for a while as well. I was honestly hesitant at the start — what was I going to tell my family? I broached the topic first with my aunt/godmother. She’s younger than my mom (she’s the one who introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll, so I figured she’d be as good a jumping-off point as any). I told her what the situation was and she helpfully boiled it down for me. She asked me, “Are you happy?” I said, “Yes I am.” She countered with “Well, that’s all that matters.”

I still haven’t told my folks, but I suspect my mom has figured it out. I’m okay with not having to discuss it further for the time being.

There are some “cultural” differences that occur when you’re dating a younger guy. I was a junior in college when he was born. He’s never seen “Raising Arizona,” but he loves Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. He still thinks farts are a little too funny. He describes himself as an “old soul.” I’ve taken him to social gatherings where he was one of the youngest adults there, and, thanks to his amazing sense of humor and the fact that he performs on stage in front of hundreds of strangers a week, he’s blended in with flying colors.

So, we’re making a go at it. The age thing doesn’t really bother me. In reality, I am old enough to technically be his mother, but I still don’t care. I get the occasional look — especially when we go out for drinks and get carded (hey, at least I’m still getting carded). And I’m pretty sure more than one person thought that, with our similar hair, skin and eye colors, that we were either brother and really older sister or mom and son, but the pros far outweigh the cons in our relationship.

We have fun together. He’s turned me on to some new music and I’ve introduced him to some “classic” movies (if you consider “Better Off Dead” a classic movie, which you really should). He’s an amazing cook. He sends me a text or Facebook message every day. He gives great hugs. He really loves me. That’s all I need.

I know I’m still going to have to defend my decision to a lot of people — and I’m ready to do so. You only have one life and it’s really short. I want to see where this goes for a while. I want to be happy. Until I’m no longer happy in this relationship (if that even happens), I’m going to enjoy every moment.

You know, I could go on and on about the whole double standard thing, but you and I both know that’s not going to change anytime soon and I feel like talking about it is just a waste of breath. I just thought that sharing my story might help shatter the stereotype of the “c-word.” The moral of the story: Be with whomever makes you happy. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks. I sure don’t.

Christine Fitzgerald is a marketer, celebrity journalist and contributing editor to Socialite Life.

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

TIME Iceland

Iceland Is Running a Gender-Equality Conference Without Any Women

Iceland's Foreign Minister Sveinsson addresses the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Sept. 30, 2013. Adrees Latif—Reuters

The "Barbershop" conference aims to encourage men to talk about gender equality among themselves

Iceland is organizing a gender-equality conference that won’t have any female attendees.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said the “Barbershop” conference aims to bring together a group of men discussing gender equality among themselves, focusing particularly on violence against women.

“For our part, we want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way,” he said, describing the first-of-its-kind conference as an “exceptional contribution to the Beijing+20 and #HeforShe campaigns.”

The event will take place in January and will be co-hosted by the South American nation of Suriname, according to Sveinsson.

TIME Dating

Men of All Ages Want Women in Their Mid-20s, Study Says

Couple holding hands while riding bicycles
Cavan Images—Getty Images

Whereas women tend to prefer men of the same age or slightly older

Straight men of all ages tend to have their romantic sights set on women in their mid-twenties, while women prefer men who are about the same age as they are, according to a new study.

The survey out Friday, financed by the government-backed research funding group Academy of Finland, gathered data on 12,000 Finns and found that women, on average, are looking for partners who are about their age or slightly older. But men across the age spectrum have a sexual preference for women in their mid-20s. This remains true for men of all ages—men in their early-20s or younger are attracted to women older than themselves and older men are attracted to younger women.

The findings are similar to data culled from the dating website OKCupid, which found that male users of the site of all ages, by far, are looking for women in their early-20s.

TIME women

I Wrote an Article About Marriage, and All Anyone Noticed Is That I’m Fat

Galit Breen Wedding
Courtesy of Galit Breen

When I wrote my article, I included wedding photos that I had never shared online before, because of the way my body looked in them

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

My husband and I celebrated our 12th anniversary this June. We’ve had a good run despite my over-thinking and his over-scheduling, so I did what we writers do: I wrote a neat and tidy article titled “12 Secrets Happily Married Women Know.”

I was feeling especially comfortable in my skin at the time. I’ve been running and lifting and eating (mostly) well, and I’m healthy. The warmth of summer — the rays that hit me in slices throughout the day, the constant comfort of my family around me, the looseness that comes with a lack of a schedule — all wore me down, softened my edges, sent me out of my comfort zone and for one teeny tiny moment, I set aside my deeply ingrained defense mechanisms.

I had met a friend for lunch the week before. She faced me across fresh shrimp and cold beer and we talked about our children and our writing, the threads that hold us together. “I never see candid photos of you,” she mused. The hair on my arms, my shoulders, and the back of my neck stood on end. “I’m not judging,” she added, “But I noticed that you like to have control over that.”

She was absolutely right in the non-annoying way that only heart-deep friends can be.

I do like to have control over photos that are taken — and shown — of me. I’m a selfie re-taker, a Facebook un-tagger, a strategic chin-hand-child placer, and I’m (almost) always the person behind the camera, rather than the one in front of it. When you’re fat, and you don’t want to be, you memorize these tricks of the trade.

So yes, my friend was right. I am normally so very careful about the photos I share, not necessarily for privacy, but definitely for vanity.

But this summer, I was softened. And when I wrote my article, I included wedding photos that I had never shared online before.

I used to hide them because of the way parts of my body looked in them. My chin (double), my waist (wide), my arms (thick). But I included them because, without my armor, I could see what had always been there — my husband and I look so happy in them. Joyful, really, and truly in love. And that’s what my article was about, so I embedded the photos, sent my article into my editor, and really and truly didn’t think about them again.

In the body image wars that women, that I, have with ourselves — this was a win.

When my article got some traction, I decided to take a peek at the comments it was getting. This is a cardinal rule never-ever meant to be broken. But I was curious and I (quite naively) thought, Bring it. I could take whatever commenters could possibly dish about my thoughts on marriage. And this is still true. What I couldn’t take, however, is what commenters — people, human beings — said about my body.

Here are a few screen shots I captured that day, or one of the days after that I went back and looked again (and again).

I peered at comments like these through splayed fingers, counted how many “Likes” these got as opposed to how many readers told these people to stop being like “that” — whatever “that” might be. Cruel, unnecessary, fat-focused. Behind the safety of my screen, I was keeping score — for my article or against my body. Because these are the two camps that the commenters joined.

I couldn’t stop looking. “Cut it out,” my husband said, shaking his head, desperate to help. But what could he possibly do or say to soften this, or to soften me again?

I kept going back to check on it — like a tended fire that I needed to know if it would be smothered or fanned.

On good days, I started dialogue about internet comments, misogyny, and body image. On better days I began writing this article. But on hard days, which was most of them, I cried.

I cried for the words flashing through my mind — Fat. Ugly. Heifer. — and I cried for the way that I averted my eyes whenever I passed a mirror. I cried trying to figure out what my husband thought reading, seeing, feeling those words and how they would make him read, see, and feel about me. I cried for my daughters seeing those words said about their mom or ever hearing them, or even worse thinking them, about themselves.

And I cried for the desire that I had to show photos of myself today — Look! I’m “better” now! Not perfect, but not as fat as that! My self worth suddenly became entrenched in those words. I was tethered. I was also perpetuating the exact same thing those commenters were — fat is bad, body commenting is normal, and valid. I cried a lot about that.

Our society’s incessant focus on women’s bodies and the way we deem it necessary and appropriate to comment on them is, at best, misguided, and at worst, damaging.

There are very few times that I think it’s okay to comment on a woman’s body — in a complimentary or in a negative way. As a mother and as a woman, I think we all need to stop that conversation, to consider it taboo.

People say that the way we’re spoken to becomes our self-talk. In my experience this is very true. And as much as we’re loved, it’s incredibly difficult to undo this.

I can’t tell you how body talk makes every woman feel, but I can tell you that staying away from body compliments and body bashing, body noticing and body commentary leaves room for the kinds of words that we want the women — and the girls — in our lives to hear, to repeat, to have written to them by the typewriters in their own minds. And that, can’t hurt.

Galit Breen is a Minnesota writer. She has had essays published in several magazines and anthologies, co-directs the Listen to Your Mother Show in the Twin Cities, and writes for allParenting, Everyday Family, Mamalode Magazine, and The Huffington Post blogs.

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

TIME

John Oliver Gave a Big Boost to Women’s Scholarship Funds

Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 1
Comedian John Oliver during an interview on June 11, 2014. NBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Society of Women's Engineers calls the bump in funding the "John Oliver bounce"

A scathing segment Sunday from Last Week Tonight host John Oliver brought a welcomed boost in scholarship funds to one Chicago-based women’s organization, the group said this week.

During Oliver’s 15-minute takedown of the Miss America pageant, which claims to be the “world’s largest provider in scholarships for women,” the host mentioned the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) along with other organizations that provide women-only higher-education scholarships for women. An SWE spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday it has received about 15% of its expected annual donations in two days thanks to the HBO host’s plug.

The SWE has provided about $3 million worth of scholarships to women pursuing careers in engineering over the past six years, the Tribune reports. The $25,000 the organization has received this week is said to be going to the group’s scholarship fund.

A spokesperson for the organization dubbed the bump in donations they received after Oliver’s nod the “John Oliver bounce,” a riff on fellow late-night host Stephen Colbert’s “Colbert bump.”

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME feminism

Sorry, Privileged White Ladies, but Emma Watson Isn’t a ‘Game Changer’ for Feminism

UN Women's "HeForShe" VIP After Party
Actress Emma Watson attends the UN Women's "HeForShe" VIP After Party at The Peninsula Hotel on September 20, 2014 in New York City. Jim Spellman—WireImage/Getty Images

How will the men who support He For She actually stand in solidarity with women?

xojane

This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I woke up yesterday, my Facebook feed was buzzing with the news of Emma Watson’s “groundbreaking speech.” On September 20, Watson used an emotionally stirring speech at the United Nations to launch He For She, a new campaign that urges men to “speak out about the inequalities faced by women and girls.” People who never mention the words “feminism” or “women’s rights” were suddenly interested.

More specifically, the campaign centers around a website where men and boys can acknowledge that gender equality is a human rights issue and pledge to fight the inequality that women and girls face. On the “Take Action” page, the site encourages users to tweet and Instagram with the hashtag #HeForShe. Beyond that, there is little discussion of what the men who sign this pledge can actually do to improve the lives of women.

“I am so excited about #HeForShe,” one random girl from my sorority wrote, “because it finally shows that feminism isn’t about hating men. I love men!” “Emma Watson gives feminism new life,” read one CNN headline. Another blog noted that she completely changed the definition of feminism while dressed in Dior. Media outlets that had only previously used the word “feminist” to describe hairy-legged stereotypes were now salivating over a newer, hipper, prettier feminism based entirely on an 11-minute speech at the United Nations.

Most egregiously, Vanity Fair called Watson’s speech a “game changer” for feminism: “Watson is potentially in an even better position than many of her peers,” writes Joanna Robinson. “Her role as Hermione Granger, the universally adored heroine of the Harry Potter series, gives her an automatic in with male and female millenials. This is a rare case where an actor being conflated with their role might be a good thing. In this way, her widespread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the F-word like Beyoncé.”

Despite the slight toward Beyonce’s feminist work, I thought for a moment that Robinson and others who were anointing Emma Watson as feminism’s brightest young mind might have actually been right. There is something uniquely brave about a young woman identifying as a feminist, especially when so many others, like Watson’s contemporaries Shailene Woodley and Taylor Swift, shy away from the label.

But at the same time, when I hear this speech being discussed as a defining moment in feminism, I worry about the message that the He For She campaign sends to people who still aren’t sure that feminism is looking out for their best interests. More specifically, will He For She leave behind many of the people who most need feminsm’s help?

To begin with, the name “He For She” is problematic, no matter how you slice it. Some may call these criticisms divisive and nitpicky, but there is nothing feminist about a campaign that reinforces a gender binary that is harmful to people whose gender identities don’t fit into such tidy boxes. When we reinforce the idea that only people who neatly fit the gender binary are worthy of being protected and supported, we erase and exclude the people who are at most risk of patriarchal violence and oppression.

Which is something that Emma Watson knows only a little bit about. It was encouraging that Watson acknowledged some of the privilege that led her to that United Nations stage, but she failed to mention the things that are most important. She noted that her parents and teachers didn’t expect less of her than male students, but failed to mention how the automatic advantages that being white, wealthy, able-bodied, and cisgender have colored her life experience. The state of affairs for women that Watson presents in this speech is a best case scenario. There was no discussion in this speech as to how He For She can improve the lives of women and nonbinary people who will experience intersectional oppressions, like racism, transphobia, and fatphobia.

This is not to suggest that what Emma Watson did wasn’t brave. Women face consequences when they speak up on feminism, as evidenced by the internet trolls who threatened to release nude photos of Watson shortly after her speech (luckily this turned out to be a hoax). Anyone who uses their platform to spread feminist ideas deserves respect, but we should probably be a little more careful in who we choose as our thought leaders. Especially when there are hundreds of women who are directly impacting the lives of women through their work and writing.

In reality, Emma Watson is the kind of woman that mainstream feminism — the feminism that gets a place on the United Nations’ stage — has worked the hardest for. When Watson speaks of equal pay, she’s talking about the white women who make 78% of their white male counterparts, not the 46% gap that Latina women face in the workplace. When we discuss sex work, we don’t talk about the transgender women who rely on the industry to survive. Put simply, the discussion that He For She and Emma Watson are having fails to invite the people whose voices need to be heard most to the table.

Of course, the most crucial component of the speech is Watson’s call to action for men that support equality. “Unintentional feminists,” she calls them. These, of course, are men who have been “turned off” by their own assumptions about what feminists are. Men are an important component of breaking down barriers for women, but after years of begging from feminists of all ideological backgrounds, they shouldn’t need a verbal engraved invitation from an actress to get involved. More importantly, there is little discussion of how the men who support He For She will actually stand in solidarity with women.

Many men who consider themselves vocal advocates for feminism have also had a real problem with talking over the women they’re supposed to be supporting. The space of male allies in feminism is a tenuous one, and one that is only successful when male allies use their platforms and privilege to amplify the voices of women, trans men, and nonbinary people. Instead of “He For She,” perhaps the campaign should have been branded “Stand With Women,” to imply that men would be standing beside women instead of standing up for them. Women don’t need to be rescued, whether it’s by men, Emma Watson, or the United Nations. Positioning men as the saviors of oppressed women isn’t productive, and devalues the work that feminists have been doing for decades.

Paying lip service to feminist ideas without actually doing any work to undo oppression isn’t feminist, and it certainly isn’t new. Every few months, it seems as if the media identifies an actress as the new young feminist darling, and Emma Watson is only the latest in the procession. Emma Watson may be making feminism more palatable for people who aren’t comfortable with in-your-face confrontations from less camera-friendly feminists, but she isn’t doing anything new or groundbreaking.

And it’s unfortunate that Emma Watson is selling the same boring, one-dimensional feminism that’s existed since the first hypothetical bra was burned instead of really changing it. She doesn’t deserve to have her privacy and body threatened by terrible internet trolls, but she also probably hasn’t earned her place as a defining feminist of her generation. If Emma Watson really wanted to be a “game changer,” she should have handed the microphone to Laverne Cox or Janet Mock to add some desperately needed diversity to the U.S.’s contingent of U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors.

Amy McCarthy is a freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas.

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

TIME women

Making Abortions Illegal Doesn’t Make Them Go Away

Abortion Pill Expected To Be Available in Australia Within Year
The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486, is pictured in an abortion clinic February 17, 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand. Phil Walter—Getty Images

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds.

Forget Roe v. Wade. The pro-life lobby won the next battle while no one was looking

Imagine this:

You are a parent. Your 16-year-old daughter comes to you. She’s pregnant. You assure her you will support her in whatever decision she makes. She takes a few days to think and comes back to you. She’s not ready for a child; can you take her to a clinic?

The nearest clinic is 75 miles away and the laws of your state require women seeking abortions to first receive counseling and wait 24 hours before returning for the procedure. A first-trimester abortion costs between $300 and $600 on average. You work as an aide at an assisted-living center, and your daughter doesn’t have health insurance. You and your husband share one car. You aren’t in a position to take time off or stay overnight in a motel on top of paying for the abortion.

Jennifer Whalen doesn’t have to imagine this situation; this is her story, as told to Emily Bazelon of the New York Times. Whalen’s initial reaction was to call a local women’s center on her daughter’s behalf but she was told no one there could help. With no options in her community, and hamstrung by a “wait law” specifically legislated to inconvenience women seeking an abortion, Jennifer and her daughter searched online and found a site with misoprostol and mifepristone—medications she had never heard of before—available for $45.

“I read all the information,” Whalen told the Times. “They said these pills would help give a miscarriage, and they were the same ones a doctor would give you.” She had no idea that buying them without a prescription was illegal.

Jennifer’s daughter took the pills as instructed. She began to feel stomach pains, so Jennifer took her to the ER. Because she wanted her daughter to get the best medical care, she told the doctor about the pills. Not long after, Jennifer awoke to a knock at the door; the police officers had a search warrant and found the empty misoprostol and mifepristone boxes.

Rebecca Warren, the Montour County district attorney, charged Whalen with a felony and three misdemeanors in Dec. 2013. In order to be able to work again once she got out of jail (she’d have lost her job at the assisted-living facility had she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors), she pleaded guilty to the felony and was sentenced to nine-to-18 months in jail. She has just begun serving her sentence. Her youngest child is 11.

Abortion is legal, in theory. In practice, 87% of counties in the United States don’t have a single abortion provider, as of 2012. For those people for whom the fetus is a viable human being whose needs outweigh every other person in the equation, this is a victory. Jennifer, her husband and her three children might disagree. They might also note that these laws disproportionately punish the working class, people for whom “family planning” is more than just a catchphrase. If you can’t afford a night at Motel 6 and two days off work, how exactly are you going to manage the costs associated with an extra child?

Making abortions illegal doesn’t make them go away, and a decade of insidious legislative maneuvering isn’t going to change that. Since there has been an understanding of what pregnancy means on a biological level, human beings have been coming up with methods to end some of these pregnancies and most of these methods are risky, some life-threatening. But when someone is desperate, risk looks different. A stranger telling you to lie on a kitchen table, or drink this bottle of turpentine, or a friend whispering to you to just insert this wire and ––

How far we’ve come.

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds. Her articles have been published in, among others, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping. She is a passionate animal lover, an indifferent housekeeper and would eat her own hand if you put salsa on it.

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

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 24

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Because of America’s unique relationship with Liberia, we have an obligation to help fight the Ebola outbreak there.

By James Ciment in Slate

2. Medical research often doesn’t account for different ethnicities, and underrepresented groups suffer.

By Estaban G. Burchard in Nature

3. One way to head off sexual violence in professional sports: start with high school coaches.

By Libby Nelson in Vox

4. Beyond the sharing economy: Is “reputation” the next important currency?

By Heather Schlegel on CNN

5. Powerful protests over climate change target corporations – and new leadership is needed to restore faith in capitalism.

By Judith Samuelson in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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

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