TIME Books

Controversy About This Feminist Manifesto Is Nothing New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIME violence against women

Someone is Finally Starting to Count ‘Femicides’

A man holds a poster depicting slain Ozgecan Aslan during a march of members of Turkey's Bar Association in Ankara, on Feb. 16, 2015 to protest against a law that strengthens the police's power.
Adem Altan—AFP/Getty Images A man holds a poster depicting slain Ozgecan Aslan during a march of members of Turkey's Bar Association in Ankara, on Feb. 16, 2015 to protest against a law that strengthens the police's power.

Domestic violence has been long documented, but one woman in the UK is starting to count all women killed by men--not just current or former partners

With the growing awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, we rarely use the most concise word for brutality against women: femicide, the murder of a woman. Femicide is rarely tracked by government agencies, but now one woman in the U.K. is beginning to compile a list of women killed by men.

Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of British anti-violence organization nia, has been keeping track of all women killed by men (all men–not just current or former partners). On her blog, Counting Dead Women, she’s tallied up 126 women killed by men in 2012, 144 in 2013, and 148 in 2014. Smith is just one woman counting up news reports of dead women in her spare time, but she’s the closest thing the U.K. has to an official count of women killed by men. When she was approached by global law firm Freshfields about preventing violence against women, she realized that “they were looking for records of women killed in the UK, the most comprehensive thing they could find was my blog, which isn’t great,” she says

Now, in collaboration with Women’s Aid, an anti-violence non-profit organization, and with support from Deloitte LLP, a financial consulting firm, Smith recently launched the first Femicide Census, just to track UK deaths. Smith said she’s already gotten interest from the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa and Portugal.

Femicide is gaining mass attention all around the world– most recently, in Turkey, where a young woman named Ozgecan Aslan was recently murdered and burned after she tried to fend off a rapist with pepper spray. Crowds incensed by the murder are taking to the streets and social media to demand a change in the culture of violence against women, an issue that is coming out of the shadows.

“We don’t talk about male violence against women enough, we talk about domestic violence,” Smith said. “So there’s this idea that it’s not disproportionally men killing women, it’s people killed in domestic violence. Actually, if you look at the numbers and look at the history of what’s going on, it’s a predominately one-way issue.

The phrase “femicide” isn’t new– it was made used publicly in 1976 by feminist writer Diane E. H. Russell at first International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women in Brussels, Belgium, and has been used in multiple scholarly and policy papers on violence since then. But it hasn’t quite entered our lexicon for the discussion of violence against women, especially in the U.S.

We don’t hear it as consistently in the United States because it’s more of an international term,” explains Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “But we’re probably seeing a resurgence in the term as more attention is focused on international violence against women.”

The U.S. doesn’t track “femicide” specifically, because we tend to call these murders “homicides” or “female homicides.” And while there is a lot of research on fatal domestic violence, (64% of murdered women in 2007 were killed by a current or former partner, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics) the data is not usually presented in the broader context of women being killed by men. One exception is the gun-control advocacy nonprofit Violence Policy Center-- they estimate that 1,706 American women were killed by men in 2012, whether in domestic disputes or not (although victims were 13 times more likely to be killed by a male they knew).

Even if the U.S. isn’t quite on board with the phrasing yet, “femicide” advocates say that the word is a useful way to think about these kinds of murders. Femicide includes any kind of domestic violence that ends in death, rape that ends in murder, honor killings, and any other murder where the victim’s gender is a factor in her death. The UN estimates that of all the women murdered in 2012, almost half were killed by partners or family members, compared to 1 in 20 men. One of the major contributing factors to femicide is many countries is the lack of punishment for offenders, which sends the message that violence against women is normal behavior. In 2013, UN Women called for urgent government actions to prevent femicide and increase punishment of killers, and pursued active projects in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua to achieve that end. But the problem persists– according to a recent report by Al Jazeera, six Mexican women are murdered every day.

So ‘femicide’ doesn’t just refer to the killing of women–it can also refer to the entire system that condones those murders or fails to prosecute those responsible. It’s a similar concept to “rape culture,” except it applies to murder.

“When we talk about genocide and those kinds of terms that are assigned to mass violence, femicide was born,” Glenn added. “I think it’s being used to not only give some political urgency to this, but to help people understand the real crimes that are being committed against women, the mass murder, assault, and harm that’s being done to women across the globe.”

Crimes like the killing of Ozgecan Aslan in Turkey last week. Police have arrested three men in connection to her death, but that may be besides the point. “We’re not just looking at the criminal justice system for the answers,” Smith says. “We need to realize it’s a much bigger societal problem and more ingrained in the core of our culture.”

MONEY retirement planning

What Women Can Do to Increase their Retirement Confidence

150212_FF_WOMENDONTTALK
Izabela Habur—Getty Images

Knowing how much to save and how to invest can help women feel more secure. Here's a cheat sheet.

Half of women report feeling worried about having enough money to last through retirement, according to a new survey from Fidelity Investments of 1,542 women with retirement plans.

Those anxieties aren’t necessarily misplaced either.

Women have longer projected lifespans than men and even if married, are likely to spend at least a portion of their older years alone due to widowhood.

“So they need larger pots of money to ensure they won’t outlive their savings,” says Kathy Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity.

Earlier research by the company found that while women save more on average for retirement (socking away an average 8.3% of their salary in 401(k)s vs. 7.9% for men) they typically earn two-thirds of what men do and thus have smaller retirement account balances ($63,700 versus $95,800 for men).

Also, while women are more disciplined long term investors who are less likely than men to time the market, women are also more reluctant to take risk with their portfolios, says Murphy.

“And if you invest too conservatively for your age and your time horizon, that money isn’t working hard enough for you,” she adds.

How Women Can Increase their Confidence

Financial education can help women reduce the confidence gap, and get to the finish line better prepared, says Murphy.

According to the Fidelity survey, some 92% of women say they want to learn more about financial planning. And there’s a lot you can do for free to educate yourself, notes Murphy. As an example, she notes that many employers now offer investing webinars and workshops for 401(k) participants.

You might also start by reading Money’s Ultimate Guide to Retirement for the least you need to know about retirement planning, in digestible chunks of plain English. In particular, you might check out the piece on figuring out the right mix of stocks and bonds, to help you determine if you’re being too risk averse.

Also, simply calculating how much you need to save for the retirement you want—using tools like T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Planner—can help you make plans and feel more secure.

The 10-minute exercise can have a powerful payoff: The Employee Benefit Research Institute regularly finds in its annual Retirement Confidence Index that people who even do a quick estimate have a much better handle on how much they need to save and are more confident about their money situation. Also, according to research by Georgetown University econ professor Annamaria Lusardi, who is also academic director of the university’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, people who plan for retirement end up with three times the amount of wealth as non-planners.

Says Murphy, “We need to let women in on the secret that investing isn’t that hard.”

More from Money.com’s Ultimate Guide to Retirement:

TIME relationships

The Valentine’s Day That Should Have Stopped Me From Getting Married

broken-red-heart
Getty Images

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

All I wanted to do was to give him a special gift for Valentine's Day

xojane

I think it’s safe to say the color most closely associated with Valentine’s Day is red. Red hearts, red roses, red wine. Or in the case of my 2003 Valentine’s Day, red flags.

I was never super-into Valentine’s Day — at least not after elementary school; I would actually take a lot of care choosing my mass-marketed, perforated Valentines at CVS and deciding whichGarfield & Friends” character made the most sense to give to which classmate. Once I got to middle school, I quickly realized it served as an opportunity to feel rejected if I didn’t have a boyfriend or disappointed if I did and he didn’t put as much thought into a gift as I did. (I’m sorry, but a personalized dude-bracelet from Things Remembered is a way more thoughtful gift than a made-in-China teddy bear from Drug Fair.)

Come high school, Valentine’s Day just became uncomfortable. My freshman year, a sophomore boy who had a girlfriend snuck an extremely intense, handwritten poem into my backpack — my first taste of how terrible people can be to their significant others on a day that’s supposed to celebrate them. After that, I don’t even think I acknowledged Valentine’s Day until my sophomore year of college, when I bought the guy I’d been dating for two weeks a frame for his favorite picture of him and his best friend, and he bought me a white negligee; that sufficiently creeped out sexually inexperienced 19-year-old me.

Because every day is Valentine’s Day when you’re in love, I got engaged on a random October day in 2002, at age 23, to a guy I’d been dating for only about half a year. We just knew, you guys, we just knew. Terry (most definitely not his actual name) and I had met through The Onion‘s online personals (do those even exist anymore?) before Internet dating was even remotely normal, and in addition to all the lovey-dovey stuff we were pretty sure we were genuinely feeling, we were intent on proving that rushing into marriage in one’s mid-20s after meeting through a satirical-news website was a totally reasonable thing to do and also probably the wave of the future.

MORE 17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

The following Valentine’s Day would be our first together. Neither of us cared about it, but in the grips of excited fiancéehood, I thought, hey, why not do a little something special? My idea: Print out and frame the deactivated Onion dating profiles that brought us together.

A few months earlier, I had made the mistake of forgetting to deactivate my profile and was very publicly reminded to when, early in the summer, I became a “featured single” in Time Out New York, which mined The Onion and Nerve for its personals. Terry’s profile was also still active at the time; it was our first time doing online dating and we honestly just forgot that we’d have to proactively disable our listings. After my embarrassing appearance in TONY, he and I both turned off our profiles. We actually took turns doing so at the same computer, and he even unsolicitedly told me his password as a symbol of his trustworthiness.

On the afternoon of February 14, while Terry was at work at a wine shop in our neighborhood, I signed back into The Onion personals for the first time since I’d deactivated my account back in the summer. I figured if I couldn’t find his inactive profile by directly typing in its old URL, it would be okay to sign into his account using the password he’d told me — just this once — so I could access the old profile and print it out. Even the idea of innocently doing that for the sake of the gift made me uncomfortable, though, so I was relieved when, after typing in the URL of his old profile while still signed into my account, it was viewable.

The relief immediately turned to nauseated distress when I realized the profile was still active. I had seen him deactivate it months ago; either he hadn’t done it correctly, or he’d reactivated it at some point since we’d gotten engaged.

It soon became clear that it was the latter, because the content of his profile was completely, horribly, devastatingly different.

“I’m engaged to an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between merlot and cabernet,” it read. “I’m miserable. If you’re an oenophile and aren’t put off by my current situation, let’s talk.”

It took every muscle in my body to keep vomit down; I literally clenched my feet to help stop myself from throwing up. My face was tingling painfully, like when a limb falls asleep. I was too upset to cry — yet.

Feeling like my body was being held together by safety pins, I called Terry. I knew he wasn’t allowed to have his cell phone on the store floor, so I wasn’t surprised when it went to voicemail.

“Terry, you need to come home as soon as possible,” I said, knowing the anger I was trying to keep contained was clear in my voice. “If they let anyone go home early tonight, please make sure it’s you.”

As I waited for him to come home, I started digesting what I’d seen. My fiancé hated me, apparently due to my wine ignorance, and he was actively looking to either cheat on me or leave me for someone else. He hadn’t let on to me that he was unhappy, that my lack of interest in wine or anything else about me was enough to do something so cruel.

An hour later, and shortly after I’d finally started crying, Terry walked through the door.

“What’s wrong?” he said, seeming genuinely concerned.

I handed him a printout of his profile — a much different printout than I had intended to frame for Valentine’s Day.

“What is this?” he said, playing dumb.

“Oh, come on,” I said, my volume already bordering on a yell.

“Uh… wow,” he started. “One of the guys must have done this as a joke,” meaning one of the guys in his sketch-comedy group. He knew I was insecure about whether or not they liked me, so they were an easy scapegoat.

He looked up at me, and one of his eyes crossed. That was his tell. That was what I’d come to identify as the sign he was lying.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Terry, don’t lie to me,” I shouted, my face red and wet.

He was quiet for a while. I could tell he just wanted to run, or at least go into a different room, but we lived in a studio apartment. If he felt stuck with me before, I imagine it was infinitely intensified in those moments.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said, sighing. “I’ve been freaking out lately.”

“Why not tell me?” I think I was screeching at this point because our dog, Max, had hidden in the bathroom. “Why do this? Why call me an idiot and look for someone to cheat on me with, and on a public website? The one we met on!”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. He looked like he might start crying, too.

“Do you want to marry me?” It was a question, but my inflection went down at the end of the sentence.

Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.”

“I don’t believe you,” I replied.

And I shouldn’t have. He wasn’t ready to marry me or anyone else. He wasn’t ready to admit that there were many things about me — many non-wine-related things — that he didn’t like. But after several days of his timid attentiveness, I forgave him.

And after several months of trying to forget a flag so red it was practically on fire, I married him.

I think we actually did love each other, at least a little bit; but more than anything, I think we wanted to not be wrong. We wanted to believe two twentysomethings who couldn’t even make ends meet had made the right decisions, no matter how hasty and immature and delusional those decisions were.

About two years after we got married, we separated — and far more amicably than we’d spent the second year of our marriage. Our goodwill toward each other had run out, and we had matured enough to admit we weren’t right for each other and never had been.

Although I know, looking back, that I should have swallowed my pride and called off the wedding after that Valentine’s Day, there’s no point wasting time regretting how things panned out.

I’m actually really pleased with the balance I’ve developed between being guarded and trusting, and it’s something I’m always fine-tuning. My tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt might prevent me from fully honing my red-flag-detecting abilities, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never marry another guy who calls me an idiot — to my face, on a dating website, or otherwise.

Marci Robin wrote this article for xoJane.

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 society

Why I’m Glad I Was Bullied

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Because there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times

xojane

I spent the week before I entered middle school sobbing like a Disney princess. I sobbed in the bathtub, I sobbed on the couch, and I sobbed with my head in a pillow. Elementary school felt like a safe and tangible part of my childhood and now, all of a sudden, it was ripped out of my tiny, monkey bar–callused hands.

“Why aren’t you excited?” concerned family members and close friends asked me, as my bottom lip quivered amongst a sea of tears.

“Because I don’t want to grow up!” I wailed, not knowing how else to describe the pain I was feeling.

I was right to be afraid of what was to come, but not for the reasons I thought. From the moment I entered middle school as a fifth grader until the moment I graduated as an eighth grader, I was bullied, nonstop, every day. Bullied for four years straight.

On my very first day of middle school, I remember getting off the bus, walking toward the school, opening the front door (which was heavier than expected), waving to my uncle, and nervously shuffling toward my home base room. Yes, that’s right, my uncle was the principal of my middle school.

In my moments of dramatic sobbing, I never once whined about having my uncle as my principal. I whined about missing my elementary school teachers. I whined about being in a school that was 15 minutes (instead of five) away from my home, my safe place. But I never whined about that specific familial connection. I didn’t think it was a big deal, especially since I wasn’t one of those kids who was thirsty for attention. Instead, I was quiet, contemplative, and a decided introvert. Definitely not the ideal combination for the negative attention I was about to receive.

After excitedly waving to my uncle on that first day, that’s where the fun ended. Immediately, I became a verbal punching bag for my hormonal, misunderstood peers. Once they finished bullying me about my relationship with my uncle, my weight (or lack thereof), my acne, my home life, my shyness, and even the way I dressed were picked apart. I was quiet, which made me an easy target. Unbeknownst to them, I was also suffering with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Even better.

The most distinctive part of my bullying experience was the fact that I’d lost my name and, as a result, my identity. I became “the principal’s niece,” instead of Anna. Teachers made fun of me, taking out their feelings about my uncle on me. My friends asked for favors that I didn’t have the power to give them, causing innate disappointment. Everyone thought that my good grades were an act of favoritism. My efforts were no longer my own, swirling down the middle school drain, along with my name.

When you’re being bullied, there is no one else that can understand what you are going through. There is no one that can understand your specific situation. That would explain the responses I received when I tried to make my loved ones understand why I started ignoring my uncle:

“Anna, you need to stop being so sensitive.”

“Get a backbone, Anna.”

“Grow up, Anna.”

When I look back on that time in my life, all I see is my small, petite body attempting to walk through a sea of darkness. I see myself, begging to stay home. I see myself having panic attacks at six o’clock in the morning because I couldn’t fathom what my peers and teachers would say to me during the school day. I see myself trying to put into words what I was suffering with, trying to figure out why my anxiety and OCD were getting worse.

I used to talk about this experience all the time, bringing it up in therapy appointments and to anyone that wanted to know why I hated that part of my life. After a while, I stopped, not because it no longer mattered to me, but because I acquired a characteristic I never thought I’d acquire: Strength.

Bullying is a problem. It is a disgusting, evil problem that can cultivate mental illness, suicide, and self-destruction. But as someone that has been affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially (therapy is expensive) — in every way possible — I can absolutely say: I am glad that I was bullied.

My experience with bullying has given me a powerful sense of empathy, allowing me to connect with others in ways I never thought possible. Bullying has taught me my worth, making me the strong, empowered, outspoken woman that I am today.

If I could go back in time and tell my dejected, bullied self something, I would say this:

“Anna, you are sensitive and you are quiet, but there is nothing wrong with that. That does not make you weak. Right now, you are surrounded by darkness, but you are still full of light. I know that you are scared, confused, and anxious. I know that you are suffering. But you get through it. Life is hard, but it gets better. Life is hard, but you never stop rising and shining. And that is what matters.”

In life, we all go through our own Dark Ages. We all suffer and doubt ourselves at times. We are all victims of bullying (no matter what anyone tells you). At the time, such an experience may not seem beautiful or universal. In fact, during and for a long time afterward, it will seem really terrible and it will cut you off from the rest of the world.

But there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times. There is something extraordinary about knowing that you are not alone in the way that you feel. And, yes, there is something universally powerful about being able to not only survive, but to thrive.

It has been six years since I left middle school and, in those six years, I have been bullied every now and then. People have said terrible things to me, but I’ve stood up for myself. I stood up for myself because I know my own worth. I know that people only hurt others because they, themselves, are hurting. I know that now. And in knowing that, I know that bullying has made me better. It has made me both a lover and a fighter. It has made me the woman I am today.

Anna Gragert wrote this article for xoJane.

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 Friendship

5 Ways to Celebrate ‘Galentines Day’ Like Lelise Knope

No boys allowed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And no chocolate diamonds, under any circumstances.

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

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 12

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

1. Proprietary tech under the hood means farmers can’t service their own equipment. Time for open source tractors.

By Kyle Wiens in Wired

2. These grassroots efforts to improve life are glimmers of hope for Guatemala.

By Shannon K. O’Neill at the Council on Foreign Relations

3. Secular Americans aren’t morally adrift. For many, altruism is their moral compass.

By Nick Street in Al Jazeera America

4. It takes a package of policies to substantially reduce poverty.

By Linda Giannarelli, Kye Lippold, Sarah Minton and Laura Wheaton in MetroTrends

5. “Ultimately, the most effective way to create shareholder value is to serve the interests of all stakeholders.”

By Marc Benioff 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.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 5

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

1. Could Blockchain — the secure, encrypted network that powers Bitcoin transactions — be used to build a safer alternate Internet?

By Scott Rosenberg in Backchannel, on Medium

2. One NGO is crowdfunding the fight against human trafficking.

By Leif Coorlim at the CNN Freedom Project

3. High-achieving, low-income students get into selective colleges when they actually apply. Virtual college counselors can make sure they do.

By Bloomberg Philanthropies

4. “Vocal fry” and other patterns in the speech of younger women might signal a change for generations to come.

By Chi Luu in JSTOR Daily

5. Scientists are hoping genetically-modified coral can save the Great Barrier Reef.

By Laura Clark in Smithsonian Magazine

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.

TIME Middle East

ISIS Manifesto Depicts Its Grim Vision of the Role of Women

The newly translated document offers a glimpse into the true expectations for women under ISIS

Women should be married from the age of nine and only educated to the age of 15 according to a manifesto from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted to a jihadist forum.

The document was first posted by the media wing of the Khanssaa Brigade, an ISIS women’s group and was translated into English by the British think tank the Quilliam Foundation. It lambasts the “Western program for women” and lays out the expectations for the “sedentary” role of women under ISIS, which controls swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Haraqs Rafiq, the managing director of Quilliam, said in a statement that the manifesto provides a starkly different perspective on female life under ISIS than that projected by some of the hundreds of Western women who have traveled to the region.

“It allows us to look past the propaganda banded about on social media by Western supporters of ISIS, enabling us to get into the mind-set of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women who willingly join its ranks,” he said.

The manifesto, which Quilliam says was likely intended to attract women from the conservative Gulf region, discusses a female education focused on religion and says the “purpose of her existence is the Divine duty of motherhood.”

 

TIME society

How My Dad’s Brain Cancer Finally Convinced Me to Quit Facebook

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

My therapist says that Facebook comes up in sessions with her clients on a daily basis, and I can see why

xojane

Facebook has an average of 864 million active daily users, but as of a month ago, that number was reduced by at least one person—me. And every time I tell someone that I hit the “Delete My Account” button, it’s like I’m making some shocking confession.

“Why?” most ask incredulously.

While there is no one answer, the tipping point was my dad’s recent diagnosis with stage four glioblastoma—brain cancer.

I got my dad’s news in the middle of October when he had quite suddenly begun experiencing symptoms. His wife took him to the ER where doctors later discovered a large mass in his brain.

My dad and his wife have been together for 19 years. He moved in with her and her two young daughters—much younger than me—after my parents divorced when I was 15. I often daydreamed about what my dad’s life must have been like with his new family. But I didn’t have to wonder once I finally visited their home many years later and saw all of the family photos around their house: posed pictures of the four of them all in black T-shirts and khakis, pics of them in formal wear on a cruise ship, candids from holidays past.

He had obviously built a strong relationship with his stepdaughters, particularly the youngest. And it would be her face I was left staring at on Facebook after my dad’s diagnosis. She changed her profile photo to a picture of her and my dad, which felt like a punch in the stomach even though I knew logically that it wasn’t about me. I clicked on her profile at least once a day to see if she had changed it.

In order to further pick at the scab, I took to Googling her name with my dad’s name. I found out they had done a 5k together a couple of years ago and that when she played soccer in high school, my father and her mother were listed as her parents.

I told all of this to my therapist, who did not respond the way I had hoped.

Instead she said, “I think you should block her on your Facebook feed.”

I cried when she said that because something in me craved the tortuous feelings that came from clicking on this girl’s profile. But I was prepared to do it. However, when I started thinking about it—really thinking about it—I realized that her profile picture and updates weren’t the only things I was discontent about being on Facebook.

My therapist says that Facebook comes up in sessions with her clients on a daily basis, and I can see why. It offers us innumerable opportunities to compare our own lives with the lives that our Facebook friends choose to present to us. And I say “choose to present” because it hardly ever offers the whole picture. Someone announces her new job but fails to mention she was fired from the last one. Other people overstate their financial status, relationships, how perfect their kids are, or just how amazingly fun and interesting their lives are in general.

So after some reflection, I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why I ultimately quit:

Being on Facebook gave me a false sense of community. I’d been kicking around the idea of getting off of Facebook for awhile but would excuse the fact that I was still on it with exclamations like, “This is the only way I still keep up with some people!” But if someone isn’t even worth an email, text, phone call, or postcard, are they really worth me “keeping up with” on Facebook? And can that even be considered keeping up with them?

For me, Facebook made me feel like I had this village of support around me, but it was essentially a form of voyeurism. What I needed to do was return some emails, send some texts, reach out to people—and not just “like” their status update about having pancakes for brunch or comment on a picture of their kid’s latest dance recital.

I needed something real. I needed someone to see me with puffy eyes and unwashed hair and baby-food-stained sweatpants while I drank boxed wine and watched Gilmore Girls reruns. I needed someone to hit the metaphorical thumbs-up sign on that picture, and I needed to do the same for other people.

It made me feel sad/annoyed/jealous. Seeing the photos my dad’s stepdaughter was posting of the two of them together—memorializing him like he was already gone—was killing me. Then there were the complaining vaguebookers, not-so-humble braggers, and myriad other photos, links, and updates that were bumming me out.

Plus, I didn’t like feeling bad about myself for not having a new job or new dog or freshly blown-out hair or a perfectly Pinterest-ed party to photograph and post on Facebook. Or, perhaps most importantly, a picture of me and my dad looking and feeling healthy.

It was a time suck that distracted me from the present moment. I would find myself mindlessly scrolling through a high school acquaintance’s 200-photo album of Disney World photos and then looking up to realize I’d let a whole hour pass doing something I didn’t consciously even want to be doing. What else could I have been doing with that time that would be way more enjoyable for me?

So what does life after Facebook look like?

I have friends telling me they wish they could do the same thing. Newsflash: They can if they really want to. But I know how they feel. For the longest time, I’ve felt like I needed permission to do something as simple as quitting Facebook. So I finally gave myself the go-ahead.

I’ve had more interactions with people via email, text, phone, and in person. I think some of the people that have reached out to me think I’ve suddenly unfriended them on Facebook, but regardless of the reason, it’s been nice to actually have one-on-one chats with folks about what’s going on in their lives and in mine.

I have more time. Last night after my three-year-old and her eight-month-old sister were tucked into bed and the dishes were done and the comfy pants were on, I slow danced in the kitchen with my husband and cried into his shoulder (I’m still a bucket full of emotions). I’ve also finished two and a half books, sent out thank-you notes for Christmas presents, and figured out how to properly shape my own eyebrows. And I’ve learned I need to find a hobby.

I still don’t know if I made the right decision, though. So I ask you: Have you pulled the plug on your Facebook account? If so, what was the tipping point for you? If not, have you thought about it? What’s stopped you from quitting?

FYI, if you’re looking to take the plunge: Save yourself the time and trouble of looking for the link on your Facebook profile page and just google “Delete Facebook account.” You want the first link that pops up. You’ll have the opportunity to download a copy of your info—all the photos and such you’ve uploaded to Facebook—and then you can either deactivate or permanently delete your Facebook account. I opted for the latter.

Jen Harper wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: These Texting and Social Media Habits Could Sabotage Your Love Life

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