Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS and the Media’s Double Standard on Pseudoscience<p> Recently, Olga Khazan of <em>The Atlantic</em> <a href="">tried to figure out</a> &ldquo;The Baffling Rise of GOOP&rdquo;&mdash;actress Gwyneth Paltrow&rsquo;s trendy lifestyle website, which has recently been accused of promoting deceptive health claims. Khazan wonders what the site&rsquo;s popularity says about the future of health journalism.</p> <p> Khazan does a good job navigating the oddball world of GOOP pseudoscience and the enormously lucrative business of selling snake oil to a new market of consumers who are equally parts gullible and health obsessed. Yet, as with anyone examining their own trade, Khazan fails to see what&rsquo;s truly wrong with health (and frankly, all) journalism today&mdash;routine double standards, crushing cynicism, and the media&rsquo;s utterly ridiculous and embarrassingly sycophantic admiration of the Hollywood elite.</p> <p> Khazan clearly sees a problem&mdash;that not enough journalists are asking the necessary tough questions about Gwyneth&rsquo;s wacky claims. But ultimately, Khazan reasons that this is simply a budgetary matter:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Fact-checking often doesn&rsquo;t fit into increasingly tight media budgets, or isn&rsquo;t much of a priority, so dubious health claims about&nbsp;prolonged fasting&nbsp;or avoiding gluten ricochet around the internet.</p> <p> Really? How lazy and impassive have journalists become that they require a fact-checker to look into the validity of GOOP&rsquo;s various bizarre claims? Does it really require a fact-checker on staff to look into Gwyneth&rsquo;s assertion that water has feelings or that crystals heal clinical depression and that walking barefoot on grass heals &ldquo;everything from inflammation and arthritis to insomnia and depression?&rdquo; In fact, before &ldquo;fact-checkers&rdquo; became a thing, weren&rsquo;t reporters supposed to be the checkers of facts?</p> <p> Well, yes. And that&rsquo;s why Khazan&rsquo;s reasoning comes off as just another tired excuse for bad reporting. What Khazan and many journalists don&rsquo;t want to admit is that reporters give GOOP a pass because its creator, Paltrow, is one of them&mdash;an elitist. She&rsquo;s a member of the &ldquo;in crowd.&rdquo; She&rsquo;s liberal, wealthy, and an A-list, Academy Award winning actress who claims to be &ldquo;incredibly close to the common woman&rdquo; while selling $5,000 vases (or does one call them vaaahses when they&rsquo;re that expensive?), $8,000 tents, and a $500 umbrella. In fact, Paltrow is peak elite.</p> <p> Is there a more protected or privileged class than that tiny demographic?</p> <p> Even after the actress admitted on <em>Jimmy Kimmel Live</em> that she doesn&rsquo;t &ldquo;know what the f*ck we talk about [on GOOP&rsquo;s website]&rdquo; the media chuckled and turned the other way. Or rather, they turned their attention back to what they view as a much more dangerous group of pseudoscience peddlers&mdash;like those who suggest prayer can help those suffering from diseases, never mind that <a href="">there&rsquo;s actual evidence</a> that prayer can help with disease management and recovery.</p> <p> I mean, the gall of these Christians!</p> <p> One need only juxtapose the media&rsquo;s reaction to two similar yet vastly different recent comments made by two actors in the wake of Hurricane Irma to understand the problem. When actress Jennifer Lawrence claimed Hurricane Irma was Mother Nature&rsquo;s way of punishing Americans for electing Trump, the mainstream media yawned (save for a few articles that tried to explain her comments because, come on, cut her a break, it&rsquo;s Trump, so anything goes, right?).</p> <p> Yet when actor and vocal Christian activist Kirk Cameron made the equally ludicrous claim that Hurricane Irma was sent by God to teach man &ldquo;humility, awe and repentance,&rdquo; the mainstream and entertainment media blew up, generating dozens of headlines and smug stories denouncing such dangerous theories. I mean, really: awe, humility, and repentance? What gives, Kirk? How could you suggest such things?</p> <p> This all makes me wonder. What would reporters do if Gwyneth suddenly &ldquo;found God&rdquo; as they say, and GOOP started recommending Christian-based health treatments like bathing in the waters of the Grotto of Massabielle in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, France; or gave travel tips on a pilgrimage to the Bosnian town of Medjugorje, where, in the 1980s, townspeople started seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. That sort of passes the GOOP snobbery smell test, right? I mean, if those waters or visions were in Detroit, Michigan, or Columbus, Ohio, no dice, but Europe? Maybe.</p> <p> Or what if Goop offered its readers an interesting how-to article on praying the rosary or the chaplet of St. Michael or maybe a nice, short piece on how going to Mass improves mood. One can probably predict the outcry from the media: CRUCIFY HER!</p> <p> Gwyneth is no dummy. She gets that wacky health claims are best kept firmly secular. And she understands she&rsquo;s mollycoddled by members of the mainstream press, who act more like <em>Tiger Beat</em>-clutching preteens at a boy band concert than the skeptical investigators they were hired to be. Perhaps that&rsquo;s the answer to Khazan&rsquo;s question about why Goop remains so popular.</p> <p> Knowing her courtiers won&rsquo;t ask tough questions or write essays that could damage the brand, GOOP carries on with its dangerous and deceptive health claims, entirely unchecked.</p> GunlockFri, 15 Sep 2017 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolitics in the classroom<p> As kids head back to school, it&rsquo;s natural for parents to worry. Will little Timmy make friends? Will Susie get over her nervousness? Will they like their teachers? These are the natural concerns of parents. Yet, conservative parents worry about something else: will teachers push a political&mdash;and liberal&mdash;agenda during daily lessons?</p> <p> Consider just a small number of recent examples:</p> <p> Just after the election in November 2016, a California history teacher compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. He was suspended and later retired after he didn&rsquo;t receive an apology from school officials. Needlessly to say, he also failed to apologize to his students.</p> <p> In February 2017, the city of Alexandria, Virginia shut down the entire city&rsquo;s school system because of a teacher-organized walk out to support &ldquo;A Day Without a Woman,&rdquo; which was just a paid day off in celebration of a liberal political agenda. No one from the Alexandria school system has investigated this incident nor issued guidance to school principals or teachers to prevent further disruptive political activism.</p> <p> In April 2017, a teacher in Seth, West Virginia embraced the humor you&rsquo;d expect from a seventh grade boy, by affixed an anti-Trump patch to her shirt that said &ldquo;Tuck Frump.&rdquo; This was worn in her classroom while she taught. Several of her students shared pictures of her wearing the patch on social media.</p> <p> In June 2017, the New York Times reported that a teacher in New Jersey digitally altered a child&rsquo;s yearbook picture, airbrushing out the &ldquo;Make America Great&rdquo; slogan on his shirt. The teacher also refused to print the student&rsquo;s pro-Trump yearbook quote.</p> <p> And a few weeks ago, a teacher Georgia made two students leave a classroom for wearing &ldquo;Make America Great Again&rdquo; shirts and suggesting the campaign slogan was akin to wearing a swastika. At least in this case, the school superintendent instructed all principals to meet with their teachers and staff to remind them that their political opinions should be kept out of the classroom.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> Left wing teacher calls Make America Great Again clothing Nazi swastika<a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Valerie Johnson (@Valerie74189942) <a href="">September 6, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> These are all deeply concerning incidents, particularly to conservative parents. Yet, for parents in Berkeley, California, this might also be a safety issue.</p> <p> When Berkeley middle school teacher Yvette Felarca isn&rsquo;t teaching, she runs an ANTIFA-related organization called By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which, like ANTIFA, is an extremist left-wing political organization that physically attacks its opponents, vandalizes private property, and encourages other activist organizations to adopt their dangerous and destructive tactics.</p> <p> We all saw these tactics on full display on Inauguration Day&mdash;a national holiday supposedly to celebrate the peaceful, non-violent passage of power from one leader to another. Yet, ANTIFA decided to break this tradition by lighting trash cans on fire, throwing rocks and bottles at police, setting a car on fire, and vandalizing dozens of businesses in the nation&rsquo;s capital. They haven&rsquo;t stopped. ANTIFA has continued to set fires, storm buildings, and threaten violence on college campuses throughout the United States.</p> <p> Since 2016, federal authorities have been warning state and local law enforcement that ANTIFA has become increasingly dangerous, with the Department of Homeland Security now classifying ANTIFA&rsquo;s activities as &ldquo;domestic terrorist violence.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, this doesn&rsquo;t seem to worry Berkeley officials, who haven&rsquo;t removed Felarca from the classroom.</p> <p> The hypocrisy is hard to miss: The Left spend countless hours demanding that schools be &ldquo;safe spaces,&rdquo; free of violence and clear of &ldquo;dangerous&rdquo; people (like Republicans, feminist writers like Christina Hoff Summers and Camille Paglia, scholars like Charles Murray and others who promote messages of limited government and economic freedom). Yet there seems to be little concern for children who are being left alone with Felarca, who has actually been filmed physically assaulting a man with whom she disagrees. It begs the quite reasonable question: How will Felarca deal with a student who disagrees with her?</p> <p> Americans are growing weary of politics, especially in their children&rsquo;s schools. It&rsquo;s time for it to end and for so called &ldquo;child safety experts&rdquo; to demand an end to political bullying in our nation&rsquo;s schools.</p> <p> Talking about the role of teachers in a child&rsquo;s life, President Ronald Reagan said, &ldquo;In the hands of America&rsquo;s teachers rests the formidable responsibility of molding and inspiring tomorrow&rsquo;s heroes&mdash;the medical scientists who will invent cures for disease, the businessmen who will found whole new industries, the writers, artists, doctors&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p> Teachers should get back to this noble goal.</p> GunlockTue, 12 Sep 2017 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTeacher punished for alarmism over this kids science project... • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 12 Sep 2017 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Do Former GMO Execs Lead An Anti-GMO Lab? It’s Not A Change Of Heart<p> Environmental activists like to denounce conservatives as anti-science, but in many cases they ignore inconvenient evidence themselves. For a deliciously ironic example, look no further than genetically modified food. Environmental alarmists have baselessly proclaimed GMOs a hazard, but the same biotech executives who create GMOs have found a market opportunity in the junk science these groups peddle.</p> <p> The story begins with the <a href="">Non-GMO Project</a>, a nonprofit organization that runs a popular verification program for non-engineered foods. Companies pay to have their food tested by a consortium of approved labs. Once the labs sign off that they&rsquo;re GMO-free, the companies may advertise their goods using the Non-GMO Project&rsquo;s iconic logo on their labeling.</p> <p> That cute orange butterfly has become an ersatz Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the GMO-phobic. But one of the top labs the Non-GMO Project uses is run by none other than the supposedly evil biotech executives who came up with food-engineering methods. <a href="">Genetic ID is owned</a> by the New York City-based global private equity investment firm <a href="">Paine Schwartz Partners</a>, which specializes in food and agribusiness investments.</p> <p> You Knew the Big M Was Involved</p> <p> The firm is led by David Buckeridge, a former CEO of Advanta, a global GMO seed company. Two of the firm&rsquo;s current operating directors, John Atkin and Robert Berendes, were most recently employed as top execs at Synterga, a subsidiary of ChemChina&mdash;the world&rsquo;s largest agrochemical and GMO seed producer. Operating Director John &ldquo;Jack&rdquo; Anton served as chairman, CEO, and co-owner of candy giant Ghiradelli Chocolate Company and in executive roles for such large food companies as Carlin Foods and Nabisco.</p> <p> Big Ag! Big Food! Big Sugar! What&rsquo;s next, Monsanto?</p> <p> Yes! Former Monsanto executive Steve Padgette joined Paine Schwartz Partners as a partner in 2016. He didn&rsquo;t just work at a GMO industry leader&mdash;he helped create the technology, co-inventing Roundup Ready, a tool that allows genetically modified crops to withstand a powerful weed-killer.</p> <p> This amazing innovation helps farmers produce a higher yield on less land, which is great news for the environment. Yet the Non-GMO Project has demonized Roundup Ready technology, referring to it as &ldquo;toxic&rdquo; and <a href="">saying</a> it &ldquo;can cause tumors, multiple organ damage and lead to premature death&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p> Similarly, <a href="">thousands of credible scientific tests</a> have certified that GMOs are safe. So has basically every major health and medical organization, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the European Union, and the National Academy of Sciences.</p> <p> Capitalizing on Manufactured Ignorance</p> <p> But environmentalist alarmists&mdash;like those at the Non-GMO Project&mdash;have been extraordinarily effective in persuading the public, regardless of what science says. A recent <a href="">Pew Research Center survey</a> found that 57 percent of American adults believe GMOs are unsafe to eat. Those same wary consumers would doubtless be shocked that so many former biotech executives are the ones signing off on their beloved orange butterfly.</p> <p> The Genetic ID execs haven&rsquo;t had a Pauline conversion about GMOs. Instead, they&rsquo;re savvy business leaders capitalizing on the market opportunity inadvertently created by the anti-science Left. They&rsquo;ve realized that, largely due to the dearth of accurate reporting on GMOs, many shoppers want GMO-free food.</p> <p> Maybe that&rsquo;s cynical. Or maybe it&rsquo;s just meeting the needs of the market, however irrational. Regardless, in this case, consumers are the ones paying the high price for meaningless and unnecessary food labels while others profit from their fear.</p> GunlockThu, 7 Sep 2017 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow Parents Can Combat Liberal Bias in Schools<p> Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidency last November &mdash; in what &ldquo;Big Agenda&rdquo; author David Horowitz called a political earthquake &mdash; nearly 5,000 Seattle high school students marched out of school to protest the election results. Many of them wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts.</p> <p> The now-embattled mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, tweeted his support for those students for standing up for inclusiveness, as the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.</p> <p> Since then, things in the Emerald City have not calmed down &mdash; as the radical Left continues to stoke the embers of rebellion and resistance.</p> <p> Recently, a cover story for a local parenting magazine offered a detailed step-by-step guide on &ldquo;how to inspire meaningful rebellion&rdquo; in children. It advised parents and guardians to allow kids to question their authority and to model the type of rebellion parents believe is important.</p> <p> Seattle is one of many places across the country that aims to indoctrinate schoolchildren with leftist propaganda. Chicago is another.</p> <p> Recently, the West Chicago Public Library Board voted 6-1 to keep the age-inappropriate picture book, &quot;This Day in June,&quot; which celebrates the LGBT lifestyle, on its shelves, according to the Illinois Family Institute (IFI).</p> <p> As reported in an article by IFI&rsquo;s Thomas Madison, 90 percent of those in attendance were pro-LGBT supporters of the book &mdash; an all-too-common scenario with book controversies these days. &ldquo;Those who seek to normalize disordered sexuality are far more passionate, tenacious, and bold than are those who oppose the normalization of sexual deviance,&rdquo; wrote Madison. &ldquo;The Left seems to care far more about promoting lies to young children than conservatives do in protecting them from lies.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Given the liberal madness, &ldquo;conservative parents need to come out of their shells and &mdash; while still being patient, polite, and compassionate &mdash; begin conversations within their&nbsp;religious&nbsp;communities, with their children&rsquo;s teachers, with city officials and school&nbsp;boards, and with other parents,&rdquo; said </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><em><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF</span></em></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">), a non-partisan research and educational institution in Washington, D.C.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">A mother of three young boys and the author of &quot;Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back,&quot; Gunlock urges parents to acknowledge the ever-expanding liberal bias in schools &mdash; and to fight back.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an extremely corrosive influence on our children&rsquo;s education. Parents should understand they need to take action to reverse this trend before&nbsp;it&rsquo;s too late,&rdquo; she told LifeZette. &ldquo;For too long, conservative parents have sat back and let the pendulum swing far to the Left.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">And while Gunlock acknowledges that most teachers do their&nbsp;best to keep&nbsp;politics out of the classroom, &ldquo;increasingly now, we see this changing, with some teachers feeling it&rsquo;s their duty to go beyond the three Rs &mdash; reading, writing and arithmetic. Today, some teachers want to expand general education to&nbsp;include&nbsp;extreme left-wing social justice issues, animal rights, environmental issues, and the agenda of the LGBT community,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Parents should be quick to heed Gunlock&rsquo;s warning. Public school teachers are behind the leading far-left militant group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) that is part of the Antifa network, which federal officials say is committing &ldquo;domestic terrorist violence,&quot; as a recent Daily Caller article noted.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> BAMN also played a key role in riots in Berkeley, Sacramento and elsewhere, with scores of public school teachers among its ranks &mdash; including Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher and pro-violence militant.</p> <p> And let&rsquo;s not forget the recent incident when a first grade girl was sent to the school office &mdash; and questioned for bullying after allegedly &quot;misgendering&quot; a classmate in a &ldquo;pronoun mishap&rdquo; at Rocklin Academy in California. Rocklin has been mired in controversy ever since a kindergarten teacher included a &ldquo;gender reveal&rdquo; for a little boy who was transitioning to a girl, according to a report by Fox News.</p> <p> With expanding culture wars and liberal bias in schools, Gunlock said that &ldquo;parents need to speak up and tell school officials that the discussion of certain topics and&nbsp;political activism inside the classroom will not be tolerated.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;Demand to know&nbsp;specifics, and make your opinion known if you disagree with a particular lesson plan or the inclusion of certain&nbsp;subjects,&rdquo; she added.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">And if that doesn&rsquo;t work: &ldquo;Parents&nbsp;can start pulling their children out of public schools and transferring them to&nbsp;either&nbsp;religious schools or&nbsp;beginning&nbsp;to home-school them,&rdquo; said Gunlock &mdash; though she acknowledges not all parents are in a position to do either of those.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;People should have greater choice in where their children attend school &mdash; especially if there&rsquo;s going to be such a cultural and political disconnect between teachers and parents,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">And though Gunlock realizes it&rsquo;s hard to go against what&rsquo;s considered politically&nbsp;correct, &ldquo;it takes only one brave voice to&nbsp;encourage others to&nbsp;engage and speak up,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> GunlockWed, 6 Sep 2017 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumANTIFA violent protestor still has her teaching job • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 5 Sep 2017 15:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTeachers should be teachers • Fox & Friends GunlockTue, 5 Sep 2017 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParents: review curriculum before school year starts • Fox & Friends GunlockFri, 1 Sep 2017 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNo, ‘Wonder Woman’ isn’t a ‘step backwards’<div> <p> James Cameron, the director of a number of highly grossing blockbuster films such as &ldquo;The Terminator,&rdquo; sci-fi spectacle &ldquo;Avatar&rdquo; and &ldquo;Titanic,&rdquo; isn&rsquo;t &ldquo;the king of the world&rdquo; this week. After hurling a trio of insults at Patty Jenkins, the director of the summer mega-hit &ldquo;Wonder Woman,&rdquo; Cameron is finding himself the target of feminist ire.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s well deserved.</p> <p> In an interview with the Guardian,&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1504016014455000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEX8HRwix84e9AF78cwbjjyt1IvwQ" href="" target="_blank">Cameron said the movie was a &ldquo;step backwards&rdquo; for women</a>, even calling the superhero an &ldquo;objectified woman.&rdquo; And in a stunningly rude move, he dismissed the praise the film&rsquo;s actors and director have received as only &ldquo;self-congratulatory back-patting.&rdquo;</p> <p> While some might dismiss Cameron&rsquo;s statement as the normal and legitimate criticism one director offers another in the industry, many women will view his comments more negatively (even reminiscent of that of that harmless yet petty ex-boyfriend annoyed by a former girlfriend&rsquo;s success &mdash; ahem .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. Kathryn Bigelow). Or worse for Cameron&rsquo;s brand, women may view his callous insults as evidence that he&rsquo;s utterly confused about what women want to see in movies. You know, simple things: thoughtful plot lines, character developments and relationships between men and women that don&rsquo;t come off as high school-level love triangles on a sinking ship.</p> <p> Of course, a careful read of the Guardian interview reveals a more basic motivation behind his spiteful reaction to the movie: Narcissism. Explaining his reaction to the Wonder Woman character, Cameron made clear he has trouble reconciling the fact that modern female superheroes look different from the fictional female protagonists he developed for Terminator and Terminator II.</p> <p> According to Cameron, Sara Connor &mdash; the main female character in the early Terminator franchise &mdash; was a far better female icon, because, despite being stunningly beautiful and possessing a Crossfit-champion level of physical fitness, Connor &ldquo;wasn&rsquo;t a beauty icon.&rdquo; Cameron also suggests Conner is a better representation of a woman because she was &ldquo;troubled&rdquo; and was &ldquo;a terrible mother.&rdquo;</p> <p> Perhaps Cameron is trying to make the case for complexity and against what he sees as cultural standards of female heroism, both physical and intellectual. But here&rsquo;s how it actually sounds: The marks of a real woman, to Cameron are homeliness, troubled minds and crappy parenting skills. Is anyone surprised James Cameron&rsquo;s been married five times?</p> <p> Cameron&rsquo;s correct that actress Gal Gadot&rsquo;s version of Wonder Woman is different than most female movie versions of superheroes. Gadot plays Wonder Woman not just as a feminist but also as genuinely feminine, softhearted and nurturing. Her Wonder Woman is even motherly &mdash; quick to coo over babies, likable, unfailingly kind and even emotionally atuned to the pain of children.</p> <p> These traits, the politically incorrect would say, are womanly characteristics, and entirely inconsistent with what Cameron views as a tough female role model and superhero for the 21st century.</p> </div> <div> Wrong.</div> <div> <p> <a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1504016014455000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFaGK-_IQkSeMqDvGjwwXsJbFSJuQ" href="" target="_blank">In a statement responding to Cameron&rsquo;s jibes, Jenkins rejects those notions</a>&nbsp;as well as Cameron&rsquo;s suggestion that softness and femininity are barriers to superhero-club status. One can almost see Jenkins slow-walking Cameron through Women 101, writing, &ldquo;If women always have to be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren&rsquo;t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven&rsquo;t come very far have we?&rdquo;</p> <p> The happy news is that women have come far &mdash; from the days where women were expected to only serve certain roles and from the one-dimensional depictions provided for years on TV and in the movies. Jenkins understands women&rsquo;s true progress &mdash; a concept lost on Cameron and, sadly, many Hollywood executives who continue to refuse women the directorships of major studio productions.</p> <p> We should forgive Cameron&rsquo;s sloppy yammering about women &mdash; clearly a subject he finds confusing. But he would be wise to learn from his this situation and recognize that tactless and mean-spirited comments like those he made about Wonder Women don&rsquo;t go unnoticed &mdash; particularly among women he might someday want to purchase movie tickets.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 28 Aug 2017 09:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParenting: Sacrifice or Privilege<p> Karen Rinaldi makes some really good points in her&nbsp;<a href="">New York Times piece about motherhood</a>&nbsp;and how it is too often portrayed and thankless drudgery. Not so, says Rinaldi who begins the piece by explaining how she enjoyed hanging out with her own children on a recent vacation:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> I was looking forward to uninterrupted time with my boys. We would spend days by the ocean and take trips to the boardwalk, where they would scream with delight while riding the roller coaster &mdash; the same one I&rsquo;d ridden when I was their age, then ridden alongside them until Hurricane Sandy deposited it into the Atlantic. We&rsquo;d ram one another with bumper cars; we&rsquo;d ride the old-fashioned merry-go-round, waiting until my youngest son&rsquo;s favorite horse, bright-blue Freddy, became available. Some days were sure to end in tears of exhaustion, but the tears didn&rsquo;t outweigh the joy. Even on the bad days.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s true that too often moms are portrayed as slaves to their children and that motherhood brings no joy. Rinaldi explains that this narrative isn&rsquo;t just cultural; it&rsquo;s etymological, saying the word &ldquo;motherhood&rdquo; has evolved to become synonymous with &ldquo;sacrifice.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> When we cling to the idea of motherhood as sacrifice, what we really sacrifice is our sense of self, as if it is the price we pay for having children.</p> <p> Rinaldi wants to see this change and for people to see motherhood as a privilege rather than a sacrifice:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> By reframing motherhood as a privilege, we redirect agency back to the mother, empowering her, celebrating her autonomy instead of her sacrifice. Granted, some of us have more autonomy than others. There are many mothers who would not have chosen motherhood, for financial or personal reasons. Still, by owning our roles as mothers and refusing the false accolades of martyrdom, we do more to empower all women.</p> <p> It was also refreshing to see Rinaldi take on that popular concept that&nbsp;<a href="">stay-at-home moms should earn a six-figure salary</a>&nbsp;for taking care of the kids and the home:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Calling motherhood &ldquo;the hardest job in the world&rdquo; misses the point completely because having and raising children is not a &ldquo;job.&rdquo; No one will deny that there is exhaustion, fear and tedium. Raising a family is hard work, but so is every other meaningful aspect of our lives.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> The language surrounding child rearing as a job surely derived from caregivers&rsquo; and homemakers&rsquo; efforts to be acknowledged as fulfilling an important role. And clearly raising children is one of the most important things we do &mdash; for both women and men &mdash; but that does not make it a job. In a job, an employer pays for services an employee agrees to perform. And there is a boss to whom the employee reports. In the case of parenting, who would that be?</p> <p> Enter jokes about that &ldquo;who&rdquo; being the kid. But my kid has exactly $5.40 in his piggy bank and he&rsquo;s not giving me a dime.&nbsp;</p> <p> Rinaldi goes slightly off course at the end of her piece, trotting down the predictable anti-male path of suggesting dads don&rsquo;t really do much and that parenthood is largely a women&rsquo;s job. Certainly that&rsquo;s true in some households but to suggest today that most men don&rsquo;t contribute is just silly. Yet, overall, Rinaldi is to be applauded for encouraging a change to the &ldquo;woe is me&rdquo; narrative so prevalent in the parenting world today.&nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 7 Aug 2017 09:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists? • Cam & Co GunlockFri, 4 Aug 2017 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMale Fertility Is Not In Crisis Because Of Plastic<p> Look out, boys! It appears your sperm is taking a hike (or should I say a swim?). So says a hot, <a href="">new, headline-grabbing study</a> that claims men in Western countries have a lower sperm count than their counterparts in South America, Asia, and Africa.</p> <p> Okay, so if you&rsquo;ve recently been to Europe and seen the <a href="">men&rsquo;s fashion on display</a>, you might give credence to this claim.</p> <p> But, before we go full into full &ldquo;Children of Men&rdquo; panic mode&hellip;</p> <p> &hellip;.let&rsquo;s examine, first, the actual research, and then the researchers making this claim, both of which deserve deeper scrutiny.</p> <p> <strong>The Research on the &lsquo;Sperm Crisis&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> Is there a sperm crisis? Who knows! That&rsquo;s about the best answer science can give us at this point because sperm hasn&rsquo;t been a big area of study to date, so there&rsquo;s not a great body of evidence that can say either way. There are <em>some</em> studies, but the quality of those studies is mixed so again, who knows.</p> <p> But one thing is very clear. People aren&rsquo;t having many kids in the European Union countries (except for Denmark, which is currently experiencing a baby boom). Is that because they can&rsquo;t? The evidence says it&rsquo;s more of a choice than a result of infertility. Most Europeans simply appear pretty ambivalent about parenthood.</p> <p> Yet that didn&rsquo;t stop these researchers from making up a reason. Without even a nod to the fact that it&rsquo;s common to see a reduced birth rate as a country develops economically, the researchers instead looked for a villain. And they found one: Plastics!</p> <p> The study&rsquo;s researchers are correct in saying that plastics are hard to avoid, especially in Western nations. Plastics are everywhere&mdash;in your water bottle, your toothbrush, earbuds, the car dashboard, that shopping cart you use at the grocery store and the treadmill you use to work out, food containers, eyeglasses, your computer and smart phone, hair products and makeup containers, your hairbrush and razor. Even your clothing contains plastic. The list is too long to detail here, but you get the point.</p> <p> Why all this plastic? Well, plastic is durable and safe and cheap to use so manufacturers love the stuff. So, since we&rsquo;re surrounded by plastic and it&rsquo;s tough to go a day without touching it, it&rsquo;s pretty easy to suggest a connection between plastic and [name the disease or terrifying condition]. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happening with this classic correlative study. The researchers found a correlation between a substance and a disease. Far less dramatic (and headline-creating), however, the researchers did not discover that plastic <em>causes</em> the low sperm count.</p> <p> <strong>These Two Things Exist at the Same Time!</strong></p> <p> Journalist Rob Kemp, in an article for <em>The Telegraph</em> cleverly titled &ldquo;<a href="">Male fertility: hard facts vs flaccid myths</a>&rdquo; (get it?), reminded readers that these studies do more harm than good:</p> <p> In 2015, I spoke to Paul Serhal, male fertility consultant and Medical Director of the London-based<a href="">&nbsp;Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health</a>, about why he thinks such &lsquo;scare stories&rsquo; surrounding sperm health are a distraction from the real causes for concern</p> <p> &lsquo;Although there are issues over the influence of plastics and chemicals on health and wellbeing, this study linking plastics compounds and sunscreen chemicals directly to low sperm count is far from conclusive,&rsquo; Serhal argues. &lsquo;None of these elements are likely to be the root cause of problems for couples desperate to conceive.&rsquo;</p> <p> The difference between correlation and causation is important because it immediately limits the study&rsquo;s usefulness. Correlatives studies shouldn&rsquo;t automatically be thrown in the junk science bin, but people should know that they have limits and are often used by activists to further fears of certain products&mdash;especially those made of plastics or that contain chemicals (note: <em>everything</em> contains chemicals, a fact activists like to deny).</p> <p> One other way to explain the limits of correlation versus causation is to consider that the study might have found a correlation with some other materials&mdash;like wood (still quite ubiquitous in everyday items), glass, metal, water, and food. All of these things surround us every day. Should we blame those items? Of course not and let&rsquo;s face it, it&rsquo;s a lot harder to make wood and water sound scary. Not so of chemicals.</p> <p> The chemicals that make up plastics often have scary-sounding, multisyllabic names&ndash;like polyethylene, polypropylene, bisphenol, phthalates, and, here&rsquo;s a good one: acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). ABS may be tough to pronounce, but it&rsquo;s a workhorse chemical that makes plastics super tough for such unglamorous things as drainage pipes and far more glamorous things like electronic equipment exoskeletons, like the outer shell of your computer (you know, that thing that keeps your expensive Mac damage-free when the TSA guy rifles through your carry-on bag). Chemicals are pretty great, huh?</p> <p> <strong>This Study Also Ignores Other Key Factors</strong></p> <p> Interestingly and perhaps intentionally, the study also failed to consider other factors that could affect a man&rsquo;s sperm count, which according to the Mayo Clinic includes smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, obesity, past and present medical conditions and medication use, a history of cancer, and the rather obvious detail of whether the patient has experienced trauma to the abdominal, pelvic, or testicular area.</p> <p> Instead, the researchers collected already completed studies on sperm count then determined if the study&rsquo;s subjects (who all happened to be from Western, English-speaking countries) came in contact with plastics, which as I explained above are hard to avoid in Western countries.</p> <p> See how that works? They could just have easily examined the availability of individually packaged snack-sized containers of Jell-O pudding and concluded, yup, where pudding&rsquo;s available, men have a lower sperm count. Fun! Shall we try other things commonly sold in developed nations?</p> <p> <strong>Now Let&rsquo;s Look at the Researchers</strong></p> <p> Next, let&rsquo;s look at Shanna Swan, one of the lead researchers of the study. Swan looks legitimate. She&rsquo;s a professor of environmental medicine and public health obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. But she&rsquo;s also a well-known anti-chemical activist and an acolyte of <a href="">Frederick Vom Saal, an environmental activist</a> who has been dismissed by the National Toxicology Program and whose work other experts in the field of reproductive health (like Richard Sharpe, <a href="">here</a>) have denounced.</p> <p> Like Vom Saal, Swan has made a name for herself producing scientifically laughable yet headline-grabbing studies. She&rsquo;s boosted by activists who love her alarmist and regressive message and supported by a mainstream press incapable of understanding the basics of scientific research and rigor.</p> <p> <a href="">Consider another Swan &ldquo;study&rdquo; published a few years ago</a> on the chemicals phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA). For that study, Swan studied ten women who lived in an Old Order Mennonite community in New York State. This handful of women was described as adhering &ldquo;to a simpler lifestyle than the general U.S. population&rdquo; and the study disclosed that the women grew most of their own food without using agrochemicals, consumed few processed foods, used fewer household chemicals and personal care products, and relied far less on automobiles for transportation than your average American woman.</p> <p> For the study, each woman provided Swan urine samples over a 48-hour time period and, not surprisingly, Swan found that these chemical-rejecting and plastics-avoiding Mennonite women had less chemical exposure levels. In other news, kids like ice cream.</p> <p> Naturally, the hysterical headlines started to appear. Articles were published in a variety of mainstream publications, including United Press International, WebMD, and BusinessWeek, as well as other online publications and blogs all declaring that Americans are consuming dangerous levels of chemicals due to their exposure to plastics.</p> <p> At the time that Swan presented this study and answered concerned media inquiries about it, she suggested a <a href="">few minor changes to our collective lifestyles</a> would remedy the situation. Specifically, she suggested we all live like Mennonites, forgoing things like Wi-Fi, television, and cars. She also said Americans should begin consuming mostly homegrown produce&mdash;because busy moms and dads have enough time to plow, plant, and harvest massive quantities of produce every year.</p> <p> As a working mom of three kids, I have a ton of time to devote to grinding the grain I&rsquo;ve just planted, grown (without pesticides, natch) and harvested for the bread I have to make from scratch (even though I can get an already baked loaf at the store for less two dollars, and it comes with a free bag!). I&rsquo;ll also have to spend all my free time and each evening canning enough summer-grown food to last throughout the winter. Personally, I look forward to having cows and chickens living in my backyard, which will provide milk, eggs, and eventually meat for the family. What neighbor doesn&rsquo;t like having to listen to the sounds of animals being slaughtered?</p> <p> Swan also suggests you make yourself feel terrible by taking a pass on cosmetics and limit your use of personal care products. And she wants us all to get around town using sources other than automobiles, which is a head-scratcher considering we&rsquo;ll all have to move into the country to have enough acreage to grow all that food and raise those animals.</p> <p> <strong>The Truth about the Sperm Crisis</strong></p> <p> Science can be boring, which is why this seemingly reputable and dramatic fertility crisis study generated so many headlines. This exposes two troubling realities.</p> <p> First, science reporting is in crisis because the public can no longer rely on journalists to carefully examine a study&rsquo;s methodology to determine its validity, nor can the public expect journalists to examine the motivations behind the study&rsquo;s researchers to determine if that scientist is actually an activist pushing an agenda. (If so, it&rsquo;s fine to report on the study, but the researchers&rsquo; motives should also be exposed.)</p> <p> Second, these dodgy studies reveal that the field of science is increasingly becoming a tool of activists eager to scare the public and halt innovation in products. Scientists have one job: to make discoveries that will improve the human condition. It begs the question: Are researchers like Swan and her partners doing that?</p> <p> Are they helping people when they make weak correlations between modern conveniences and affordable products and diseases? Are they helping women by telling them to spend every waking hour growing, making, and preserving their own food? Was life really better 100 years ago, before everyone had a car, air conditioning, and easy access to modern conveniences? Was life better in 1917, when worldwide life expectancy was around 35 years?</p> <p> Swan and many other activists&rsquo; regressive goals will do one thing: harm people and bring innovation and product improvement to a screeching halt. People (and in this latest case, men) deserve better information about health trends that may signify a problem. Sadly, today science is taking a back seat to activism. That needs to change.</p> GunlockWed, 2 Aug 2017 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists?<p> Today&rsquo;s parents worry constantly about the kids: What are they doing, seeing, saying, eating? Is that shampoo safe? Are they watching too much television? Thanks to antivaccine campaigners, add measles to the list.</p> <p> In 2000, doctors were celebrating that measles essentially had been eradicated in the U.S. Even people who could not safely receive the vaccine, such as newborns, were protected by what&rsquo;s known as &ldquo;herd immunity.&rdquo; When a large portion of a population is immunized, there are few potential carriers to spread the disease, which shields everyone.</p> <p> <a href="">READ THE ARTICLE AT WSJ.COM</a></p> GunlockTue, 1 Aug 2017 11:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLena Dunham gives dog back to shelter due to "behavioral problems" • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 18 Jul 2017 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLassie Came Home. Lena Dunham’s Rescue Dog? ‘Re-Homed’ When He Became Inconvenient<p> Hollywood stars like their accessories&mdash;expensive jewelry, the latest high-end purse, arch-breaking shoes and overpriced clothing, rare pieces of art, sleek cars&hellip;and lately, pets.</p> <p> Of course, entertainers are a capricious lot, so they soon tire of these little playthings and shift their short attention spans to the next new, shinier, and pricier object. This sort of impulsiveness is perfectly fine when it applies to the latest Burberry clutch or Berluti Derbies, but when it happens with pets, well, that&rsquo;s a different story.</p> <p> Consider <em>Girls</em> creator and actress Lena Dunham and her rescue dog Lamby Antonoff-Dunham (named also for Dunham&rsquo;s musician boyfriend Jack Antonoff). The hyphenated surname makes clear that with Lamby&rsquo;s arrival, Jack and Lena were playing house and little Lamby was their child. The couple (or their public relations people) even promoted Lamby online, providing him his very own Instagram account (with 17.3 thousand followers) and a Twitter account (with, somewhat reassuringly, only 950 followers). Dunham&rsquo;s boyfriend Jack Antonoff even seemed a little jealous of Lamby&rsquo;s celebrity status, <a href="">telling</a> <em>Vogue</em> in 2014:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> I knew things were getting weird on&nbsp;<a href="">Instagram</a>&nbsp;when somebody recognized Lamby on the street. I was like, &ldquo;Oh. This is a famous dog.&rdquo; People can handle this kind of thing, but a dog shouldn&rsquo;t have to go through it.</p> <p> In Antonoff&rsquo;s defense, it can&rsquo;t be easy living in the shadow of a shameless self-promoter and professional nudist like Dunham while also having to contend with the growing fame of the family dog/child. Yet, Lamby&rsquo;s hyphenated last name and his social media presence, combined with Antonoff&rsquo;s suggestion in the <em>Vogue </em>interview that Lamby had to suffer eager fans approaching the dog on the street (and let&rsquo;s be real, Lamby&rsquo;s hardly being swarmed by paparazzi Kardashian-style, no matter how much Antonoff might desire it), is the type of bizarre anthropomorphizing behavior common with Hollywood stars and their pets. To Dunham and Antonoff, Lamby was their child.</p> <p> But then, just a few months ago, Antonoff and Durham did the unthinkable, at least when it comes to parenting children: They gave Lamby away because of &ldquo;behavioral problems.&rdquo; According to a report in<em> <a href="">The Cut</a></em>:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Last week, Lena Dunham&nbsp;<a href="">revealed the answer</a>&nbsp;to a social-media mystery. What ever happened to Lamby, the rescue dog who was the subject of her Instagrams and a&nbsp;<a href=""><em>New Yorker&nbsp;</em>essay</a>&nbsp;before he disappeared a few months back? It turns out Lamby had quietly and discreetly checked into a canine rehabilitation center, the Zen Dog, before eventually being re-homed. &ldquo;There were so many lessons in it, about forgiving myself and loving with an open palm and giving in to a larger plan,&rdquo; she wrote, without apparent irony.</p> <p> Interestingly, it was Lamby&rsquo;s social media profile that made people notice his disappearance. Forced to address it after her fans persisted in asking about Lamby, Dunham implied to <em>People </em>magazine that Lamby had been biting people. Sounding desperate about the situation, she said she was heartbroken that Lamby had to be &ldquo;re-homed&rdquo; (a euphemism that, like &ldquo;pre-owned,&rdquo; instead of &ldquo;used,&rdquo; sounds better than &ldquo;gotten rid of&rdquo;) adding, &ldquo;When you love something you have to let it go,&rdquo; and noting that she and Antonoff &ldquo;needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy.&rdquo; That beloved boy, she said, would be missed forever. Then, in what can only be described as a peak millennial moment, Dunham promised to someday &ldquo;really write about the pain and relief of letting Lamby go off and really be Lamby.&rdquo;</p> <p> Except, Lamby isn&rsquo;t really going to be allowed to be Lamby, right? Dunham didn&rsquo;t release Lamby into the wild or set him free into a mosh pit of dog bite fetishists willing to be attacked. No. Dunham gave him to a dog trainer, where his Lamby &ldquo;spirit&rdquo; will likely have to be broken until he is ready for re-adoption.</p> <p> Certainly, no one should have to keep an animal that bites, but Lamby&rsquo;s sad journey was likely the result of Dunham trying to look charitable and woke to the needs of animals without really wanting to put in the time it takes to care for a pet. The next time Dunham rescues a dog, she should consider adopting an older dog that, you know, won&rsquo;t be around long. It&rsquo;s an ideal solution for a busy actress who wants to appear socially conscious without the hassle of actually caring for something.</p> GunlockTue, 11 Jul 2017 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum