Irin Carmon

Why Do We Throw Prostitutes in Prison?

Sex worker activists (who want the sex trade to be treated like any other work) and prostitution abolitionists (who want to see it disappear entirely) don’t agree on much, but they do on this: Giving people charged with prostitution a felony also gives them a criminal record that makes other work almost impossible to find, thus trapping them into selling sex in perpetuity.

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One Company Has Enormous Power in the Breast Cancer 'Market' - and Their Pricey Test Could Be Costing Lives

So far, much of the heated discussion about Angelina Jolie’s brave Op-Ed in the New York Times today has focused on her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene. As Salon noted here, that’s not the only option. But for those who do want to consider following Jolie’s path, there are structural barriers to even gaining the information to make those choices, something she mentions but doesn’t explain. It’s because one company, Myriad Genetics, owns the patent to the two genes that indicate an increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. You read that right: The genes themselves, not the procedure to test for them. And the Supreme Court will decide in a matter of weeks whether that should continue.

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Organic Eden Foods’ Secretive Right-Wing Agenda

The slogan for Eden Foods, which describes itself as the “oldest natural and organic food company in North America,” is “creation and maintenance of purity in food.” Its CEO and founder, Michael Potter, has been prominent in debates over labeling of organic food and GMOs. But the company has been quietly seeking in court another form of purity — to Catholic doctrine about sex being solely for procreation. That goes not just for Potter, but for all 128 of his employees.

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How to Talk About a Woman’s Looks

There were, perhaps, stupider things said recently than “How did it become so difficult to call a woman good-looking in public?” but I didn’t happen to hear them. So congratulations, Dylan Byers of Politico. Your commentary on the president calling California Attorney General Kamala Harris “by far, the best looking attorney general” made my brain hurt.

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Why the Anti-Gay Movement Got Humiliated in the Supreme Court

It didn’t take long for the empty truth about the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act to be exposed Wednesday, and there was little equality opponents could do. At the Supreme Court hearing, Elena Kagan, the newest justice, read from the House Report from Congress when it passed the law in 1996, which summarized DOMA’s entire legal underpinning: “Congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.” According to people in the room, there were gasps and laughter at the so-called “gotcha moment.”

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What's It Going to Take to Get Men to Stop Raping Women?

“I wouldn’t say she was completely passed out but she wasn’t in any state to make a decision for herself.”  That’s what one of the witnesses in the Steubenville, Ohio, trial told police of the 16-year-old girl at the center of the case, according to ABC News. Perhaps that witness was one of the three football players who have not been charged but are expected to testify for the prosecution in the trial, which began Wednesday.

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Female Yahoo! CEO Kills Work from Home Option? Why Americans Need a More Flexible Workplace

I don’t have children, although someday I hope to, but I am a big fan of efficiency and changing from pajamas into pajamas. In other words, I am a fan of working from home, which is why I was dismayed to see that Yahoo!’s new-ish CEO, Marissa Mayer, has signed off on eliminating it as an option for her employees. This is about more than lifestyle or employee cohesion (or pajama pants). It’s a deeply political move.

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Why Are Conservative Men Obsessed With Your Being Pregnant?

In the fast-growing canon of literature panicking over the supposed fertility crisis, one alarmist feature on the declining birthrate provides an innovation: an anthropological excursion to a hookah bar in the East Village to hear from the young miscreants themselves. (“Decadence,” thy name is hookah.)

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Notre Dame’s Real Dead Woman

Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

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Rape in the Age of Social Media

A video of a gleeful teenage boy crowing, “She is so raped” and “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!” An Instagram image of the same girl of Steubenville, Ohio, limply borne by boys holding wrists and ankles. An 11-year-old girl whose gang rape in Texas last year was discovered by adults via cellphone video, a video she then had to watch when she took the stand. A teenage boy in Canada who posted photos on Facebook of a 16-year-old girl being gang-raped, sentenced last year to probation and ordered to write an essay on “the pros and cons of social media.”

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