Sign up for The week in patriarchy, a newsletter on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.
The gender wars are heating up
Are you a victim of thermal bullying? Does your partner or roommate always get their way when it comes to hot your house is? If you answered “yes” then stay strong – you’re not alone. According to a new study, conducted by researchers from Ohio State University, a lot of households contain a “thermostat dictator” who rules the temperature dial with an iron fist. As it turns out there’s a gendered nature to this – the thermostat dictator is normally a man.
The study, Thermostat wars? The roles of gender and thermal comfort negotiations in household energy use behavior, examined temperature discussions in 112 Ohio households. They found that men tend to get their way while women are more likely to be forced to compromise.
“It’s possible that women are losing the thermostat battle,” the study’s lead author told CNN. “This hints at a status quo gender bias in thermostat settings that leads to a home thermal environment that does not cater to women’s preferences.” Women’s preferences, by the way, tend to veer towards warmer environments, while men prefer it chilly. There is actually a fascinating scientific reason for this: it is because men are from Mars (where it’s normally a cool -81F), while women are from Venus (a toasty 864F).
Temperature is about more than just comfort. Studies show that women are more productive and perform better on math and verbal tasks in warmer temperatures. However, as you may have noticed yourself, most offices are freezing, catering to men’s preferred temperatures. According a 2015 study, the optimal office climate has been tailored to the work clothing and metabolic rates of a 154-pound, 40-year-old man.
While there has been a fair amount of research and discussion around “sexist” air-conditioning in the workplace, this latest study is the first to focus on household temperature settings. It should be noted, of course, that the sample size was pretty small, so the findings aren’t exactly definitive. And it’s also worth noting that living in a single-sex household isn’t a failsafe way to end the thermostat wars. My otherwise perfect girlfriend likes to sleep in morgue-like temperatures while I prefer not to lose feeling in my feet during the night. Seriously, the first person who can invent dual-temperature beds deserves a Nobel peace prize.
Oklahoma woman free after serving time for boyfriend’s crime
If all the talk of thermostat wars has got you feeling chilly, don’t worry – this next bit is guaranteed to make your blood boil. In 2004, a woman called Tondalao Hall and her then boyfriend, Robert Braxton, were arrested on child abuse charges. Braxton had beaten Hall’s three-month-old daughter, breaking her ribs and femur. Hall hadn’t abused the child but she hadn’t reported it either – because Braxton also abused and terrorized her. He pleaded guilty to child abuse, she pleaded guilty to enabling it. Guess how much time each of them served? Braxton spent two years in jail, and Hall spent 15 years in jail (she was sentenced to 30). Let me repeat that: she served more than seven times as long in prison for his crime. She only got out of prison last weekend. Oklahoma, it’s worth noting, has the highest rate of female imprisonment in America. And more than half of these women, like Hall, are also victims of domestic or sexual violence.
Australian man avoids prison for live-streamed assault
Luke James, 27, accidentally live-streamed himself assaulting his pregnant girlfriend. He got zero jail time for the attack and his lawyer downplayed the whole thing as “just as a slap”.
Facebook sucks (up to Brett Kavanaugh)
Sorry, I mean FACEBOOK. While the company may have had a recent rebrand, its values (or lack thereof) don’t appear to have changed at all. On Thursday, the tech giant was the “gold circle” sponsor for the rightwing Federalist Society’s annual gala dinner. The keynote speaker at this was none other than Brett Kavanaugh. This isn’t the first time Facebook has appeared to support Kavanaugh; during the Senate hearings in 2018 the company’s head of global public policy turned up to support his pal. Facebook’s sponsorship generated a massive outcry and protestors interrupted his speech with rape whistles.
Rise of the VSCO girl – explained
If you’re wondering what on earth a “VSCO” girl is, the Guardian has a handy explainer. Beware, it might make you feel very old indeed.
Gen Z is calling Gen X the ‘Karen generation’
I’m afraid it is not a compliment. Condolences to everyone named Karen.
Germany gets rid of tampon tax
Germany has voted to no longer tax tampons as a “luxury good” (a 19% rate) and tax it as a daily necessity (a 7% rate) instead. This is bloody good news. Menstruating is hugely expensive as it is – one study found British women spend an average of £2,280 ($2,945) on disposable sanitary items over their lifetime.
Grants for innovations addressing safe abortion
Around 25m unsafe abortions are estimated to take place each year. Nearly 70,000 women die every year because of complications from unsafe abortions, while an estimated seven million are admitted to hospital. If you’ve got an innovative idea for how to widen access to safe abortions, then Grand Challenges Canada wants to hear from you. The Canadian nonprofit is awarding $250,000 grants for ideas that make abortions safer and increase access to existing methods of abortion in low- and middle-income countries. You can apply here.
The week in Purrtriarchy
Please meet Quilty – possibly the world’s most cunning cat. The Houston shelter cat is something of an escape artist – he has a reputation for repeatedly opening doors and letting his fellow felines in the shelter break free. And he’s not just good as escaping – in his former home he used to let the dog into the house. Quilty became an internet star this week after his escapades went viral and it now looks like he’s on his way to being adopted. Let’s hope Quilty finds a furrever home – one with good locks.
In the US, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is at 800-799-7233 or chat for support at www.thehotline.org.