TIME indonesia

Female Police Recruits in Indonesia Are Made to Take ‘Virginity Tests’

Incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Indonesian army and police during the rehearsal for the ceremony to greet Joko Widodo as the country's new leader at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Oct 19, 2014 Firman Hidayat—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

"All women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity,” says the police force's jobs website

Woman applying to join Indonesia’s national police are subjected to “virginity tests” that are described by recipients as “painful and traumatic,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.

Although senior police authorities insist the practice had been abolished, HRW claims to have interviewed female police officers and applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the “discriminatory and degrading” test — two of them in 2014.

Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at HRW, said the practice “humiliates women” and called on police authorities to “immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it.”

The practice is administered as part of the recruitment physical examination, two senior policewomen told HRW, and is intended to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact.

One 24-year-old recruit described the test as “really upsetting” in an interview with HRW. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore,” she said. “It really hurt. My friend even fainted because … it really hurt, really hurt.”

In response to the HRW report, a spokesman of the Indonesian police told local media that “there are no virginity tests in the selection of policewomen.” But he added: “In the selection process, there are comprehensive medical tests for men. In medical tests for men and women, we also conduct examinations of reproductive organs, not virginity tests.”

However, the Indonesian national police’s jobs website still states: “Policewomen must also undergo virginity tests. So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”

Only 3% of Indonesia’s 400,000 police officers are women. Married women are not eligible to join the police.

“So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence — not a measure of women’s eligibility for a career in the police,” Varia said. “This pernicious practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers.”

— With reporting by Yenni Kwok

Read next: ‘Virginity Tests’ Throw Spotlight on Indonesia’s Conflicted Sexual Morality

TIME Companies

GM CEO Won’t Receive Women’s Award Amid Protests

GM CEO Mary Barra Addresses Detroit Economic Club
General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra address the Detroit Economic Club October 28, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Barra announced that GM will be investing $540 million in its plants in Michigan. $240 million of that will be invested in the company's Warren Transmission Plant, allowing them to produce the transmissions for the next-generation Chevrolet Volt in Michigan, as opposed to in Mexico. Bill Pugliano—Getty Images

The museum said it was not presenting Mary Barra with the award “at this time”

The National Women’s History Museum has agreed not to bestow an award on General Motors CEO Mary Barra amid objections over the company’s delayed recall of vehicles with a faulty ignition switch.

Barra was slated to receive the museum’s Katharine Graham Living Legacy Award at a ceremony next Monday in Washington, D.C., but GM said late Wednesday that she was no longer going, the Detroit News reports.

The museum said it was not presenting the award “at this time.”

Activists and family members of people hurt or killed in accidents involving the faulty ignitions voiced opposition to the award this week. “We believe that Barra should focus on GM’s remaining safety problems before traveling around the country to accept awards,” Peter Flaherty, the president of the National Legal Policy Center, wrote in a letter to the museum.

The faulty ignition-switch has been linked to 32 deaths and led the automaker to recall 2.59 million vehicles in February.

TIME career

Being Rich Is Not a Priority for Women, Survey Shows

In a global survey, a majority of women did not list wealth as their top goal

When women are asked to imagine success, becoming extremely wealthy is not the first thing that comes into their minds. Instead, across countries and continents, mothers, daughters and wives are more concerned about financial security for their families.

That’s one of the main findings of a survey of women and men ages 21 to 69 in the United States, United Kingdom, China and Brazil. While economic concerns among both sexes continue to decline, most respondents are still worried about just getting by.

Nearly 80% of women said they’d rather have more money than power or sex in their lives, according to the survey, which was backed by public relations firm FleishmanHillard and Hearst media. Yet a deeper dive suggests the drive behind the money is for security as opposed to excelling financially.

The results have dramatic implications on not just women’s ability to accrue wealth, but also on financial planners. Women are expected to earn $18 trillion in the U.S. this year — 50% more than they earned five years ago. On a global level, by 2030, women will control two-thirds of our nation’s wealth. As taking smart risks with their money falls to the wayside in place of more practical bets like planning a family trip or going out to eat, women are less likely to invest their money.

What’s more is that women feel increasingly untrustworthy of financial institutions. Only about a third of women surveyed in the U.S. said they were loyal to one financial services company. That figured dropped to just 16% among women in the U.K. Also, more than half of women in the U.S., U.K. and China reported to be “overwhelmed” by the products and choices available today for financial services.

The cautious and overwhelmed attitude toward financial planners breeds an attitude of self-reliance, says Steve Kraus, senior vice president and chief insights officer Ipsos MediaCT’s audience measurement group, the third-party organization that conducted the report’s research. This leads women to believe that saving their money for a rainy day is better than taking it to a big bad bank.

“It is men who are more likely to say that they want to start spending again, and it is men that are most likely to say that I am going to invest in the coming months,” says Kraus. “There is not a lot of trust in financial brands right now, and we see growing numbers of women feel more self-reliant.”

Eve Ellis, a financial adviser with the Matterhorn Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, says it is too easy to generalize among an entire group of women about their attitudes toward financial planning and investing. Yet she has seen some women, in their desire for financial security, be overly cautious in their investment choices.

“Sadly, investors who are too cautious as they invest in the markets may miss opportunities to achieve the very security they seek,” she said. “The old credo too often stands true: No risk, no gain.”

The report did include a silver lining for financial planners looking to recruit more female clients. More than ever since the end of the Great Recession, women are thinking longterm about their financial strategy. Some 75% of women would opt out of a significant promotion if their child could get into a top college. This gives financial advisors a clue of how to talk to women about their future.

Fidelity is the most-trusted financial services brand among American women, according to the report. Kristen Robinson, senior vice president of women and young investors for personal investing at Fidelity, said women are looking for a holistic approach to investing. Partly to solve the common problem of feeling overwhelmed by investment choices, Robinson said the company is also working to increase its visibility among professional women by hosting more educational workshops.

“Women work very hard to make progress in so many ways. Yet only when they have the ability to control their own financial futures will they realize the full extent of their true power,” Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson and President of Personal Investing Kathy Murphy wrote in the October 6th issue of Fortune.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 12

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

1. “Seven years after returning from Iraq, I’m finally home.” One veteran reflects on how service after his time at war changed his life.

By Chris Miller in Medium

2. Humanity’s gift for imitation and iteration is the secret to our innovation and survival.

By Kat McGowan in Aeon

3. Amid news of a groundbreaking climate agreement, it’s clear the China-U.S. relationship will shape the global future.

By Natalie Nougayrède in the Guardian

4. Lessons a year after Typhoon Haiyan: The pilot social safety net in place before Haiyan struck the Philippines helped the country better protect families after the disaster.

By Mohamad Al-Arief at the World Bank Group Social Protection and Labor Global Practice

5. A handful of simple policy reforms — not requiring new funding — can set the table for breaking the cycle of multigenerational poverty.

By Anne Mosle 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 women

Did We Give the Pill Too Much Power?

birth control pills
Getty Images

Elizabeth Weingarten is the associate editor at New America and the associate director of its Global Gender Parity Initiative.

The answer to why we are still struggling with reproductive rights in this country may have to do with our original—and perhaps unrealistic—expectations of how much the pill could change things in the first place

This pill came with a promise: help extinguish sexism from public life by removing a key roadblock for women. If women could plan when and whether they became pregnant, they should be better able to develop careers and livelihoods, avoid a life of economic dependence on men, and form identities outside of motherhood.

In many ways, the birth control pill kept that promise by enabling women to enter the workforce, improving their health by helping them to space out pregnancies, and allowing them to have sex for pleasure. But more than 50 years after the pill first came to market, its promise of access and equality remains unfulfilled for millions of other women.

Think about the Hobby Lobby decision, which ruled that certain businesses can deny employees coverage for contraception on the basis of religious beliefs. The fact that many insurance plans still don’t cover contraception or infertility treatments. “Time passes and yet we’re still kind of stuck when it comes to reproductive rights,” said New York Times Health reporter Catherine Saint Louis at a recent New America NYC event. Cost and culture still prevent millions of low-income women here and abroad from obtaining the pill.

“The things we’re talking about [today] are the same things [Margaret Sanger, one of the pill’s bankrollers and the founder of Planned Parenthood] was talking about in 1914,” said Jonathan Eig, the author of the book, “The Birth of the Pill.” “I honestly believe she thought once the pill got out there, the genie would be out of the bottle, women would have all the power they needed and everything would be fine after that… I really think she’d be stunned.”

So how did we get here?

At least in part, the answer may lie in the scope of our expectations; we have asked a lot of one medical invention. After all, said Eig, the idea that the role of a woman is to be a vessel for a child is rooted in thousands of years of history. This biological difference is the foundation of gender inequality – the thing that for centuries kept them out of economic and professional competition with men, noted New Republic Senior Editor Rebecca Traister.

That’s a powerful dynamic and hard to reverse. The pill turned into a silver bullet, that single technological innovation that would allow us to avoid confronting the deeper, more impactful social structures that sustain gender discrimination. We can’t ask the pill and its users to fix a problem the rest of us choose to ignore.

Here in the U.S., the pill put “all of the onus and responsibility [of pregnancy] on individual women without a sense of accountability of community and government to support whole and healthy lives,” explained Tiloma Jayasinghe, the executive director of the anti-violence against women organization Sakhi for South Asian Women. But “we’re not in this by ourselves.”

It also sidelined men, taking their responsibility out of the equation and separating them from the reality of reproduction, Traister said. “That’s how you get Rush Limbaugh talking about, ‘how much sex are these women having that they have to pay this amount per pill?’ What it has done is further made reproduction ‘women’s territory’ in certain ways.”

“It was a double-edged sword,” said Eig.

Even when companies clumsily try to give agency to women, it illustrates how much society has put women in an untenable situation. Facebook and Apple announced recently that they would begin offering egg freezing as part of their healthcare benefit plans. Critics accused the tech companies of putting pressure on women to sacrifice life for work, and decried the use of egg freezing as dangerous. But that criticism is misguided, argued Traister. Rather than blame Facebook and Apple, why not fault a “system that repeatedly puts new possibilities on offer and keeps them from people who need them”? Everyone, not just tech companies, should offer these types of benefits because they’re part of women’s health, she said.

Improving women’s health is a major benefit of the pill. Before the pill, birth control was inefficient, inaccessible, and often completely controlled by men. Consequently, women were having more children than they wanted – often faster than their bodies could handle them. In many cases, this led to maternal and infant death, or economic instability and famine.

That’s still the case overseas, where Silver Bullet laziness may also be a factor. Though the pill has led to many health benefits, including a reduction in infant and maternal deaths around the world, its effects have been uneven and limited in certain developing countries. “The WHO and other organizations are promoting the use of the pill to space pregnancies, and yet they are doing so in countries where women don’t always have control of their bodies or access to the pill,” Jayasinghe said. She suggested that the pill’s success may lead to complacency in those regions: “We have it now, our work is done. But it’s not done.”

So how do we change the system here and abroad?

For many countries, harnessing the power of the pill will require a major culture shift. It needs to become okay for mothers to talk to daughters and fathers to talk to sons about contraception, which won’t be an easy fix, Jayasinghe said. (And critically, contraception is much more than just the pill. There are other forms of more reliable contraception – like IUD and hormonal implants – that in some cases are even preferred by women, but may be pricier or harder to access).

Here in the U.S., “we need to broaden our discussions to beyond fighting about abortion to a fuller scope of what do rights mean – the full scope of contraception,” Jayasinghe said. Abortion is just one issue in a women’s life – and making it a nitpicky focal point of reproductive conversations is limiting, she suggested. Ideally, legislators would introduce – and pass – some kind of comprehensive women’s reproductive rights and healthcare bill. That also means recognizing infertility as a real health problem, Saint Louis noted. Right now – in many circles – it’s an “I’m so sorry you waited until you were 35 [to have kids] problem, rather than recognizing that it affects 19-year-olds.”

It’s also critical to include men in conversations – both personal and public – around reproductive issues. Research shows that when men and women are required to take sexual education classes together, for example, birth rates drop dramatically, Eig pointed out. And after all, the scientific mastermind behind the pill was a man – Gregory (Goody) Pincus.

“There’s still a long way to go,” Eig said. “If there were more people like Goody [Pincus] fighting today, we’d see more innovation and more attention still being brought to this cause.”

This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

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 China

U.N. Panel Claims China Tried to Silence Women’s Rights Activists

Some claimed to have been censored by "state agents"

A United Nations committee on women’s rights accused China on Friday of aiming to silence activists who were scheduled to testify about the government’s human rights record at a conference in Geneva.

Some activists claimed to have been censored by “state agents,” according to Reuters, and at least one wasn’t able to travel to Switzerland based on “travel restrictions.”

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women asked that China “take steps to ensure that in the future no travel restrictions are placed on individuals/human rights defenders,” and also to fight other practices like forced abortions and “infanticide of girls.”

Read more at Reuters

TIME women

Rose McGowan Was Right: Women Can’t Lean on the Gay Rights Movement Anymore

amfAR LA Inspiration Gala Honoring Tom Ford Hosted By Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Rose McGowan attends amfAR LA Inspiration Gala honoring Tom Ford at Milk Studios on October 29, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage

Steve Friess is a freelance writer.

LGBTers were once so desperate for allies that they supported any and every liberal cause

Seventeen years ago, in the dark ages of the gay-rights movement, I was a member of the board of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association when we voted to move our 1998 national convention from San Diego to Las Vegas in protest of California’s passage and subsequent legal defense of Proposition 187. Prop 187 had nothing to do with gay rights; it was a measure, later thrown out by the federal courts, that stopped undocumented immigrants from using health care, public education and other social services in the state.

I was new then to identity politics, so I naively wondered what this issue had to do with ours. It was explained to me that we “owed” our friends in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists because they moved their convention some years earlier from Colorado after that state passed a measure, also later invalidated in court, that barred cities or the state from enacting gay-rights measures.

The episode springs to mind this week because actress Rose McGowan endured a crushing backlash for her declaration that gay men owe it to women to support her definition of feminism. “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so,” she told the American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis on his podcast. “I have an indictment of the gay community right now. I’m actually really upset with them.” After she was attacked for these statements, she backpedaled modestly and apologized for glibly suggesting the gay-rights movement was all about earning the ability to appear in Speedos in pride parades and take drugs. On Twitter, though, she suggested gay men owe women like her because, “I fought for your right to do that as well.”

To those who were offended and appalled by these remarks, I say, get used to it. But the Rose McGowans of the world also better get used to not being able to count on “gay people” as automatic supporters of every liberal or progressive cause. LGBTers were once so desperate for political allies that they had little choice but to show support for any and every other group that might return the favor, from racial minorities to women to the poor.

Now that gays have become stunningly successful at winning their key battles at a speed that is the envy of other minority movements, their political priorities are changing and their monolith is crumbling. There will always be a hearty component of the LGBT population who agree on principle with the goals of progressive groups, but going forward neither other oppressed groups nor the Democratic Party should assume gay support without earning it. We are morphing from an interest group to a constituency.

The fact is, the objectives of gay activists are decidedly different from that of advocates for abortion rights, amnesty for undocumented immigrants, universal health care, gun control, government assistance for the poor or legal protections for racial minorities. What these contingents and gays chiefly had in common – and still do, though perhaps not for long – were common enemies. It was the same gang — the religious right, straight white men and Republicans in general – who opposed all of us.

Yet as civil rights movements go, the gays have had a staunchly conservative and traditional agenda. Our chief aims over the past two decades were legal recognition of same-sex marriage, permission to serve openly in the armed services and freedom from legal interferences in private, consensual, adult sexual relationships or discrimination because of it. Translation: we’re pro-family, pro-military and anti-Big Government. Given that, is it really an obvious contradiction or hypocrisy to be both gay and a member of the National Rifle Association? Or to be gay and believe in lower taxes and less regulation? Or, heck, even to be gay and believe that abortion is murder – especially when science could very soon help parents screen for and then dispose of their gay fetuses?

For a long time – and still in certain quarters today – African-American and feminist leaders took great offense to the LGBT community’s insistence on equating the gay struggle with theirs. It has certainly been rhetorically useful for gays to do this, especially when we fought for an integrated military and marriage equality. But perhaps, after all, they were right. But now they resent not having knee-jerk support from gays and they wonder why that is.

Please note: I am not stating my own political beliefs here. I absolutely believe that gay people, having been oppressed and subject to vicious discrimination, would do well to hold on to their sense of social justice and have that empathy influence their views on many other matters.

But the cold reality is that progressive groups will someday soon be unable to presume the overwhelming support of gay people. The nation is rapidly approaching a point at which sexual orientation is seen as a distinction as insignificant and immutable as eye color. Once gays are comfortably mainstreamed, Republican presidential candidates will garner ever-larger chunks of votes from fiscally conservative and religious gays.

McGowan may not realize it, but this is what is bothering her. Gay men are, in fact, men first. We probably aren’t actually more misogynistic, as she contends, but there’s no obvious reason why we would necessarily be any less misogynistic than any other men.

There will be times in this gay new world when the interests of LGBTers will align in direct, obvious ways with that of other minorities, or in which alliances will be mutually beneficial to similar aims of both sides. And there will be times when they won’t. That’s going to be quite a shock to everyone who took us for granted for so long.

Steve Friess is an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based freelance writer and former senior writer covering technology for Politico.

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 politics

Who Remembers the Greatest Woman to Rule the Ancient World?

Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut Michelle McMahon—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Hatshepsut, a woman who was Egypt’s king, serves as a model and cautionary tale for today’s female politicians

This November, nearly 200 women ran for Congress. Most didn’t win. Of the 535 representatives and senators currently serving, only 99 — 18.5 percent — are women. Why are there so few women in positions of power in this modern age?

One way to answer that question is through the story of the greatest woman ever to rule in the ancient world — an Egyptian pharaoh.

In Egypt in the 15th century B.C., women were considered sexual companions and the carriers of men’s seed—not rulers. But Hatshepsut found her way to the throne of the richest and most powerful state in the ancient world. Then, a mere 25 years after her death, ruling elites had her statues smashed into bits.

I wrote my book about Hatshepsut, The Woman Who Would Be King, after the birth of my son. Motherhood made me realize, as I never had before, how trapped women are by our bodies. Hatshepsut must have felt the same kind of entrapment after she gave birth to the child of her half-brother, the king, while still in her early teens. That child was a girl, not the son for whom her people had hoped. But Hatshepsut’s lack of a son laid the foundation for the rest of her strange, charmed life.

Hatshepsut’s husband passed away after only three years of rule, when Hatshepsut was very young, perhaps 16. At the time, the next in line to be king of Egypt was a mere infant—not her own baby, but a baby belonging to one of her husband’s second-class wives.

Hatshepsut had the power to fill this vacuum. Her bloodline was impeccable, back to kings of the earlier 18th Dynasty. She had an education, likely begun in early childhood. Not only was she the highest-ranking royal wife, but also she was Egypt’s most powerful priestess.

Hatshepsut made sure the young king — that infant son of a lesser wife — was educated, brought up in the temple mysteries, and trained in the military arts. But since he was so small, Hatshepsut took charge.

So it was Hatshepsut who gave the vizier — the king’s second-in-command — orders about trading ventures to the land of Punt, who discussed treasury matters with her royal steward, and who put down insurrections in Kerma (in modern-day Sudan). She personally oversaw the collection of the spoils of war, according to a tomb inscription written by her overseer of the treasury.

Then, for reasons that were not recorded, Hatshepsut was given — or decided she needed — more. When the young King Thutmose III was just 8 or 9, Hatshepsut was crowned king alongside him, with the full support of her courtiers, Egypt’s elite families, and its powerful temple priesthoods. Hatshepsut became a king — because ancient Egypt had no word for a female ruler.

She won this prize because she was the most able person for the job. Hatshepsut also built a strong cohort of supporters — men whose continued prosperity depended on her power.

When Thutmose III was approaching his 16th year, she tried another strategy to retain power. In statuary, in reliefs, maybe even in rituals before her elites and populace — she took on the appearance of a man. She bound her breasts; she wore a masculine kilt; she tied on the long beard of kings. She was ostensibly past childbearing years, which meant that she would never bear her own heir to the throne, and her co-king was quickly becoming a man. She had to stay ahead of him.

Historians have given many explanations for Hatshepsut’s power plays — an unreasonable greed and lust for influence being chief among them. But she actually helped Thutmose III’s position by keeping him by her side. Thutmose III accompanied her on campaigns to Kush, presumably participating in the battles, the dispatch of enemies and the taking of spoils. The investment paid off: Thutmose III became the greatest warrior king Egypt had ever seen.

The history of her reign became troublesome as Thutmose III was grooming his chosen son to be next in line. The possibility of another woman taking the throne was a complication he decided to erase. So down went the statues and the first layer of the temple reliefs.

We’ve come a long way since the 15th century B.C., but what’s interesting is how much remains the same.

Kara Cooney is associate professor of Egyptian art and architecture at the University of California at Los Angeles. She wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

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 advice

How to Feel More Empowered on a Daily Basis

Game
Getty Images

The most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

The word “power” can conjure up a lot of opinions and reactions, especially for women.

Many of us, when we think about powerful women, imagine (best-case scenario) Olivia Pope in all her white-wardrobe glory or (worst-case scenario) Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada—no-nonsense, borderline-aggressive, delegating pros wearing power suits and designer heels.

While I’m all about great shoes and bold women, the distinction I want to make here is that powerful does not need to mean power over other people. In fact, the most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered.

So what does that actually mean? I think the word “empowered” has become so overused that it’s almost lost its meaning. To me, empowered means feeling charged, confident, proud, inspired, and passionate. It’s feeling like you’re in the driver’s seat of your life (instead of in the back seat, watching your life pass by through the window).

Sadly, most of us don’t feel empowered on a daily basis… maybe not even a weekly or monthly basis.

What can you do to feel more powerful and in control of your daily life?

Consider the areas of your life that currently feel disempowering.

Maybe you feel trapped, stuck, or unfulfilled at work. Or maybe some of your relationships are making you feel undervalued or invisible.

Feeling disempowered can make you feel completely out of control and at the mercy of your situation. Most people’s default reaction to feeling disempowered is to either 1) shut down and want to give up or 2) to blame someone or something else. In both cases, you relieve yourself of responsibility, which only serves to make you feel more powerless.

So how can you take back your power over one small (or large) piece of this situation?

Here’s a great example:

I was working with one of my life-coaching clients recently, and she was feeling completely powerless about her work schedule. She really values freedom and flexibility, and she hated that she had to sit at her desk until 5:30 or later every afternoon, regardless of whether she’d finished her work for the day or not.

Every hour that she sat at that desk, with no work to do, she felt increasingly more resentful. It got to the point that she was considering quitting because she was so frustrated.

I asked if she’d talked to her boss about having a more flexible schedule, based more on productivity rather than arbitrary hours. “Oh, no, I can’t ask that. That’s not how my company works. Plus, I’m afraid my boss will think I’m lazy.”

(MORE: The Power of Power Poses)

But eventually, her misery outweighed the discomfort of having that conversation with her boss. She decided to take action and ask for what she wanted; we even planned out, in advance, how she could frame it as a win-win for her and her company.

The result? Her boss was completely open to the idea, and now she has a much more flexible work schedule. She feels valued and unrestricted at work now, and her resentment and powerlessness evaporated.

That’s exactly what I mean about getting back in the driver’s seat of your life.

Consciously relive your wins on a regular basis.

When was the last time you feel completely charged, confident, proud, inspired, and capable of anything?

Whether it was yesterday or six months ago, you probably haven’t thought back on that moment much since it happened.

But the criticism or negative feedback you got about your last project? That’s probably running through your head on repeat.

As humans, we’re wired to hone in on the negatives and quickly forget about the positives in our past. It takes consistent effort to consciously rewire your brain to relive your past wins more often than your failures.

One way to do this is to create a personal “Brag Sheet”—I’m not talking about a résumé, here. This is a list of all the things that you’ve done that have made you feel proud and amazing, big or small. No one has to see this but you, so you get to include anything you want.

Keep your brag sheet somewhere visible—on your computer desktop, the notes app on your phone, or the nightstand by your bed—so you can see it regularly and continually add to it.

Bam, instant internal power boost.

Challenge yourself to face your fears regularly.

A while back, I wrote an article called Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You, which was inspired by the book, My Year With Eleanor. In the memoir, the author, Noelle Hancock, released her social anxiety and regained her confidence and passion for life by facing one of her fears every single day for an entire year.

While I’m not necessary suggesting you to go extremes like she did, I do believe that deliberately facing down your fears (whether it’s speaking up in a meeting or going skydiving) is an instant confidence booster. It puts the other stressors in your life in perspective and makes you realize, “If I could do that, then I can do anything.”

(MORE: Is Short Hair the New Power Move?)

TIME Business

France Investigates Higher Prices for Women’s Products

Petition notes that women's products are priced unfairly compared to men's

The French Finance Ministry has promised to investigate why certain women’s razors, shaving creams, and deodorants are more expensive than men’s, even though the products are practically identical.

The inquiry comes after a French women’s group launched a petition against what they called an “invisible tax” on products marked as “feminine.” Secretary of State for women’s rights, Pascale Boistard, even tweeted (in french) “Is pink a luxury color?”

A Change.org petition aimed at getting Monoprix, a major French retail brand, to change its pricing has gained almost 40,000 signatures. The petition notes that a packet of 10 males razors costs less than a packet of 5 female razors, even though the products are basically the same. Monoprix denies the price discrimination, saying that the different pricing comes from the fact that men buy more razors than women do.

The “invisible tax” isn’t just in France– American products marketed towards women are also more expensive than regular products. Bustle broke down how nearly identical products at CVS are priced differently depending on whether they’re being sold to men or women. For example, a men’s dandruff shampoo costs $7.99, while a women’s dandruff shampoo costs $10.99, even though they’re made by the same company (Head & Shoulders) and promise the same thing.

In 1995, California passed a law to ban gender-based price discrimination, citing analysis that women were spending an extra $1,350 a year because of the bias. But that only applies to service pricing– car washes, dry cleaning, etc. — not products in stores.

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