#ThrowbackThursday: Serena Williams Wins the Australian Open, 2017

Serena Williams at the 2017 Australian Open (Indian Express)

United States’ Serena Williams celebrates after winning the first set against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In January, tennis superstar Serena Williams beat her sister, fellow tennis star Venus Williams, in the final set of the Australian Open. The win was her seventh Australian Open title, and 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Williams is now back to being the #1-ranked tennis player in the world.

Williams was also in the early weeks of pregnancy during the Australian Open. So there’s that.

What Makes Someone Monogamous?

Wedding rings (BBC)

Wedding rings (BBC)

We can’t distill monogamy into a single magic formula. But some scientists have recently made strides in determining what factors might make a person monogamous.

One possible factor: genetics.

Researchers at Harvard University recently published a study examining the mating habits of deer mice and oldfield mice. In the wild, deer mice are promiscuous and oldfield mice are monogamous. Scientists first undertook an experiment to see how the two types of mice compare in parenting their young. Different parenting metrics were observed, such as building nests for the offspring.

After noting that the deer mice put in less parental efforts, the researchers wanted to see if the differences were down to genetics (ah, the old nature vs. nurture debate!). Five pairs of deer mice and oldfield mice were interbred, which produced 30 hybrid mice and later 769 (!) third-generation mice.

The parenting behaviors of these second- and third-generation hybrid mice ran the gamut from hardly involved to heavily-involved in their offsprings’ lives. In observing this, scientists were able to identify parts of DNA (termed loci) that determined parenting behaviors. The experiment’s abstract in scientific journal Nature explained the findings:

Using quantitative genetics, we identify 12 genomic regions that affect parental care, 8 of which have sex-specific effects, suggesting that parental care can evolve independently in males and females. Furthermore, some regions affect parental care broadly, whereas others affect specific behaviours, such as nest building.

The abstract also notes that a certain gene expression is primarily responsible for the level of nest-building. No word on how that would translate to humans (the gene for interior decorating?), but it’s exciting to see some strides made in genetic research.

How Many U.S. Adults Have Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

In answer to the headline, quite a few. In fact, the number might be higher than you think.

The answer: Almost 50% of U.S. adults have human papillomavirus (HPV).

In case you’re blissfully unaware, HPV is “the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus is most commonly transmitted during vaginal and anal sex. In worst cases, HPV can morph into genital warts and cause cancer.

A report published by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 42%+ of U.S. adults ages 18-59 had genital HPV. Certain strains of the virus affected 25%+ of adult men and 20%+ of adult women. These strains caused 31K cases of cancer per year.

The report also found that 7%+ of U.S. adults had oral HPV, and 4% had HPV strains associated with mouth and throat cancers.

Rates of HPV broke down along demographic lines:

The highest rate, 33.7 percent, was found among non-Hispanic blacks; the lowest, 11.9 percent, among Asians. The prevalence of genital HPV infection was 21.6 percent among whites and 21.7 percent among Hispanics.

The study was the first of its kind to examine HPV in adults.

This study really drives home the need for HPV vaccination. Yet despite a push for getting adolescents vaccinated, the HPV vaccination rate remains stubbornly low: “Only 30-40% of teens who should be getting immunized receive the three-dose shot, and only 10% of men do.”

The Philippines Might Get Access to Free Birth Control

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Women in the Philippines might soon get access to free birth control.

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order for women of the country to receive free birth control, as well as access to further reproductive health services.

The order implements the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012, which promotes family planning with the support of the state. It was signed into law that year. The order took 13 years to be signed into law (so it was introduced in 1999…yikes).

It’s estimated that there are currently 6M women without birth control within the country, with 2M women classified as poor. There are 24 live births per every 1K people, giving the country the 66th highest birth rate in the world. Considering that abortion is illegal, the need for some form of birth control is high:

More than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 90 percent of unintended pregnancies occurred in the absence of modern contraceptive methods.

Duterte’s goal is to completely eradicate any “unmet family planning needs” by 2018.

The U.S. Abortion Rate is at its Lowest Numbers Since 1973

Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

WASHINGTON – JANUARY 22: Pro-choice advocates participate in protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

A recent study released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest rate since 1973.

The study claims that in 2014, the abortion rate is 14.6 abortions per ever 1K women of childbearing age (defined as ages 15-44). The rate peaked at 29.3 abortions per 1K women in 1980-1981. In 2013, the abortion rate “fell below 1M for the first time since the 1970s.”

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

The study also found that 12% of clinics had at least one patient who tried to self-induce her abortion. There was no correlation between the closing of abortion clinics and more restrictive abortion laws by state. In areas where more abortion clinics opened, there was not a higher abortion rate.

There appears to be a substitution effect at work, with other birth control methods taking the place of abortion. Most notable is that of the intrauterine device (IUD), which has gained in usage over the past several years.

But why 1973? 1973 was the seminal year where the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. It’s a good sign that women are using more birth control methods and not having to rely on abortion to get rid of unintended pregnancies.

Wonder Woman is No Longer a U.N. Ambassador

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

 

DC Comics superhero/feminist icon Wonder Woman has been ousted as the United Nations (U.N.)’s Honorary Ambassador for female empowerment. The character was officially unveiled as the ambassador on Oct. 21. The unveiling tied into the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal #5, which “seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.’

Her last day as ambassador was Dec. 16. Girlfriend didn’t even have the job a whole two months.

The reason for the end of Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is slightly unclear. Around 45K+ people showed their displeasure with the iconic character’s new role by singing a petition. But the U.N. claims they made the end date soon after the character’s debut in the role, and not as a result of the protests.

 

The Newest CoverGirl Wears a Hijab

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

CoverGirl is making strides in inclusivity in their marketing outreach this year. Earlier, the brand announced beauty blogger James Charles as its first male spokesmodel. Now, CoverGirl has tapped beauty vlogger Nura Afia. Afia wears a hijab as part of her Muslim faith.

The 24-year-old will be the first spokesmodel to wear a hijab. Afia will appear in a commercial, and will serve as an ambassador for the So Lashy! Blast Pro Mascara. She hopes that her wearing hijab will normalize Muslims for the rest of America.

Afia began posting makeup tutorials on YouTube in 2011. She now has 215K subscribers and 13M video views. But this isn’t Afia’s first major brand partnership: she’s previously partnered with Revlon.

Beauty that’s inclusive to Muslims is massive, and poised to grow even bigger. According to Ogilvy Noor, by way of The New York Times:

The Muslim personal cosmetics and care market is now worth more than $54 billion, a figure that is expected to reach $80 billion by 2020.

Wonder Woman Will Be the U.N.’s Honorary Ambassador for Female Empowerment

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

In addition to being the Amazonian Princess of Themyscira and civilian Diana Prince, Wonder Woman can add another title to her resume: United Nations’ Honorary Ambassador.

Wonder Woman’s promotion will kick off a campaign dedicated to women’s empowerment. This ties into the U.N.’s sustainable development goal 5, which promotes worldwide gender equality.

Though Wonder Woman will be used as a symbol of women’s empowerment throughout the world, it’s worth noting that most of the top U.N. jobs are held by men.

Wonder Woman will be formally announced as the honorary ambassador on October 21st, 75 years after her character first debuted. Actresses Lynda Carter, who’s played the character in the 1970s TV show, and Gal Gadot, who’ll depict the character in a big-budget DC Comics movie next year, are expected to attend the ceremony.

Beauty Blogger James Charles is CoverGirl’s First Cover Boy

James Charles (Elle)

James Charles (Elle)

Cosmetics giant CoverGirl made history this past week with the announcement of their newest spokesmodel. The newest face is 17-year-old beauty blogger James Charles, who’s made history as the first male spokesmodel for CoverGirl. He’ll advertise the brand’s So Lashy mascara, and has already met fellow spokesmodel Katy Perry.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Charles’ name: He came to our attention earlier this year with a tweet showing off his redone senior portraits, complete with notable highlight and his own ring light.

Charles only began experimenting with makeup last year, and has already amassed 74K+ subscribers to his YouTube channel and 500K followers on Instagram.

Charles’ selection isn’t without precedent, as men have been used in cosmetics advertising before: MAC has used RuPaul and Johnny Weir before.

Trends: Latex Dresses

Beyoncé, Met Ball 2016 (US Magazine)

Beyoncé, Met Ball 2016 (US Magazine)

The 2016 Met Ball (that is, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit’s annual swanky party) took place this past Monday, and all eyes were on the stars to see who wore what. The theme “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” ensured that attendees and fashion obsessives would see some futuristic outfits.

And what could be more futuristic than latex?

Beyoncé wore a light-pink long-sleeved beaded latex dress. Model Bella Hadid wore a tight black spaghetti-strap bustier and pencil skirt, designed by custom latex couturier Atsuko Kudo, to the after party.

The latex dress trend isn’t limited to real life. Taylor Swift wore a white two-piece latex outfit in her “Bad Blood” video, and the aforementioned Beyoncé has a bright red minidress as one of her current “Formation” tour costumes. Both of these were Kudo pieces.

But neither of the aforementioned ladies started this trend. That honor goes to Kim Kardashian back in 2014. She wore a peachy-pink Kudo creation (can you tell he’s got the custom latex market on lock?) to the Australian launch of her fragrance. Incidentally, her outfit was the identical forerunner of Hadid’s (though Kardashian has also worn the black version of the outfit).

Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian (Wetpaint)

Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian (Wetpaint)

Why is latex having a moment right now?

It’s possible that this is part of the long-range ripple effect from “Fifty Shades of Grey” that began ramping up last year. Everybody remembers (and was intrigued/titillated by) the playroom scenes, whether they read the book(s), saw the movie or both.

The book and movie’s success can be traced to many women’s hidden desires to be more sexually daring. However, in real life, some women may not feel comfortable completely putting themselves out there, sexually-speaking, in all their freak-flag glory. Donning a latex dress (or any fetishwear) can feel liberating, as if a woman is letting her “bad” side out to play. But it’s also safe in that the wearer can take it off at the end of the night (or session).

“Fashion Police” co-host Tim Gunn (also of “Project Runway” fame) hit the nail on the head when critiquing Beyoncé’s Met Gala look: “It has S&M written all over it.”

Well, yes. That’s sort of the point.