Robin Wright’s Bold Move and Other Notes from the Week

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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week. 

Sweatergate: Meteorologist Asked to Cover Up on Air

A meteorologist was asked by a coworker to cover up while she was on air doing a weather report. Liberté Chan works for KTLA in Los Angeles and was handed a gray sweater while on air as a joke in response to emailed complaints from KTLA viewers. The station had been receiving complaints in real time about Chan’s dress choice for the morning, dubbing it “inappropriate for work” and saying that it made her look like she just came from a cocktail party. Chan took it like a champ; she played along, stopped the report to put the sweater on. She did say, however, that it made her “look like a librarian.”

Chan later came out with a personal statement about what is now known as “sweatergate” on her blog, Life of Liberté. “I was surprised since I hadn’t seen any of the emails and didn’t think there was anything that inappropriate (the beads/sequins were probably a little much for the morning, but what girl doesn’t like something that sparkles?!), so I played along and put on the sweater.”

Chan said that even though she knew that the dress was not the best choice she had to wear it because her first dress option for that day didn’t work well on camera. She also said that the station did not force her to wear the sweater and that it was a joke. But Chan did express frustration with the fact that viewers were more focused on what she was wearing rather than her job performance. In a video that she made after the incident she said, “It’s a dress, people! Can we talk about my weather performance?”

Women in a professional workplace are often judged first for their physical appearance, with their accomplishments as an afterthought. While Chan was too racy, Nicola Thorp was recently dismissed from her temp job for not wearing high heels on the job. Women in the workforce are all too familiar with this catch-22, and the exhaustion that can come from worrying about fashion choices when the priority should be work performance. Until this attitude changes, let’s remember, like Chan, to be proud of our accomplishments and not let the haters get us down. —Gabriella Patti

All-Female Shakespeare Performance Coming to the Park

This summer the Public Theater will present an all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew. This comes as a part of the famed—and free—annual Shakespeare in the Park series in New York City’s Central Park, which this year commemorates four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death. 

As we learned in our high school English class, traditional Shakespeare performances four centuries ago had all-male casts—no women allowed. Visionary director Phyllida Lloyd is famous for her all-female takes on Shakespeare on both sides of the Atlantic, most notably Henry IV and Julius Caesar, and is now exploring the famous battle of the sexes play with one gender. “To be invited to the Park—the greatest free Shakespeare festival in the world—is a great honor, and I don’t take it lightly,” says Lloyd. I have to say, I’m curious to see what this new representation draws out of the age-old play! The showings start May 24 and continue through June 26. —Hannah Allen

Robin Wright, Like a Boss

On Tuesday, actress Robin Wright took a page straight out of the Claire Underwood handbook and told a roomful of media, activists, and philanthropists at the Rockefeller Foundation that she made a bold move after learning that costar Kevin Spacey was out-earning her in their Netflix series House of Cards. Wright says that she demanded producers level out her $420,000-per-episode compensation contract with Spacey's $500,000 rate.

“I was like, 'I want to be paid the same as Kevin,' “ Wright said, according to the Huffington Post. “It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards.” 

This story draws attention to the very real issue of equal pay. A woman starring side-by-side with a man in a show about a unique marriage based on absolute equal division of power and priority is somehow worthy of less compensation? This is a real issue that warrants attention. 

“I was looking at the statistics, and Claire Underwood's character was more popular than [Frank]'s for a period of time,” she said. “So I capitalized on it. I was like, 'You better pay me or I'm going to go public.' And they did.” Claire Underwood would approve. —HA

Can Data Be Sexist? Apparently

There’s a lot of hype about big data these days, especially where it promises innovations for pressing challenges like poverty. However, data enthusiasts often overlook the fact that data may be missing or biased, particularly concerning issues facing women. Data on sensitive issues like violence against women may be virtually nonexistent. Other data is notoriously difficult to collect. For example, women often perform undocumented work by renting out rooms in their homes or styling hair, which isn’t accounted for via traditional data collection.

Fortunately, a United Nations–led organization, Data2X is working to address gender data issues. Data2X has worked to identify crucial gaps in data representation for women like health care utilization, maternal mortality rates, and primary school enrollment rates. Backed with a recent endowment of $80 million from the Gates Foundation, Data2X hopes to equip policy analysts and decision makers with a more accurate representation of the issues facing women around the world.

Data 2X undoubtedly has its work cut out. Collecting and using data about disadvantaged groups requires scientists to be even more vigilant about privacy and data storage. Nevertheless, working toward data equality is a critical step in the pursuit of women’s rights. As two U.N. advocates noted, “If data isn’t from all of us, then data isn’t for all of us. And biased, incomplete data won’t work. We need more and better gender data to have the complete data picture.” I would hope that collecting better data will result in supportive policies for women worldwide. —Rachel Wilkerson

Model Files Lawsuit Against Hugh Hefner in Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case

Model Chloe Goins opened up a lawsuit against Hugh Hefner after allegedly being sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby at the Playboy Mansion in 2008. She claims that Hefner should have known that he was putting her at risk by inviting her over while Cosby was present. Goins is seeking a jury trial and damages.

Goins claimed that in 2008, when she was 18 years old, Hefner introduced her to Cosby at a party at the Playboy Mansion. Cosby offered drinks to her and a friend. Goins felt sick, and Hefner offered her a bedroom to lie down in. She alleged that she blacked out and woke up naked with Cosby in the room with her and a sticky substance on her chest. Goins had originally filed a complaint against Cosby in December 2015, but withdrew it in February.

Goins believes that Hefner should have known that Cosby had a history of sexual assault. Since 2005, more than forty women have placed allegations that Cosby sexually assaulted them. Many of the stories involve The Cosby Show star drugging and raping them. While Hefner’s contributions remain unknown, we do know that drugs and blurred lines of consent were routine activities for Hefner in the Playboy Mansion, according to Holly Madison’s account in Down the Rabbit Hole.

This seems to be yet another chapter in the narrative of Cosby’s protection. His public image as a family man and comedian have kept him fairly sheltered from the sexual assault allegations. Perhaps Goins’ lawsuit will keep this issue from being swept under the rug. —Gabriella Patti

Speaking of Holly Madison . . .

This week New York Times bestselling author Madison released her second book titled The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice, and the Road to Reinvention. This comes after her 2015 book, Down the Rabbit Hole, revealed Madison’s far-from-picturesque experiences living at the Playboy Mansion. Suffice it to say, it was a much more complex and troubling experience than media scripts would have you believe.

Madison was interviewed this week for Vice’s women’s channel Broadly, which calls her new book “a Jane Austen novel set in Las Vegas.” “What's so interesting when I came out with the first book a year ago,” Madison told Broadly, is that “so many people jumped at me and said, ‘You can't be a feminist because you were with Playboy in the first place, or you did this so you can't do this, or you used the word girl to describe a grown woman in your book, so you can't be a feminist.’ Of course, that's all B.S., but I definitely feel like I've learned a lot. And I love that term born-again feminist. It applies to me definitely.”

And for Forbes Madison shared that the image built for her at Playboy has “made it harder to land the kinds of opportunities I want. If I wanted to participate on reality TV competition shows or be in a bikini the rest of my life, it might be a different story, but since that isn’t the case, I would say it makes it harder.” But, if this book reveals anything, it's that hard work doesn't scare her. Wishing you all success, Holly, with your new book and your newly forged path! —Mary Rose Somarriba

DC Comics Releases Plan to Create a Female-Centric Superhero Movie

Harley Quinn, the anti-heroine in the upcoming movie Suicide Squad is getting her own spinoff movie. The character played by Margot Robbie would be one of several DC Comics female heroes and villains featured in the upcoming movie. Harley Quinn is the girlfriend to the Joker and an adversary to Batman. Originally a sidekick, her character has taken off and could take the place of Wonder Woman as DC’s leading female character.

The movie details have not yet been released, however we know that the writer is female and the movie will feature characters such as Batgirl and Birds of Prey. According to The Hollywood Reporter, DC is focusing on its female characters because of a rise in female readership. DC recently released DC SuperHero Girls, a line of comics for a female demographic, and is set to release a Wonder Woman movie in 2017.

This is great news for those of us who appreciate the superhero franchise. While DC is adding more female characters, Marvel Comics’ portrayal of female superheroes has been a disappointment. Characters such as Black Widow and Scarlet Witch are written as flighty, weak sidekicks, with little significance to the plot. Recently Iron Man 3 director Shane Martin revealed that the movie was supposed to have a female villain, but this was nixed by Marvel over a fear of toy sales being low. 

DC is listening to the public’s desire for strong female characters, whether they are heroines or villains. Consider me excited that women will have more representation in the superhero-verse. —Gabriella Patti

Christina Aguilera Inspires Fellow Working Mom on The Voice

The Voice coach Christina Aguilera is doing more than vocal mentoring for the show's front-running contestant Alisan Porter.

The mother of two has also had an impact as a shining example of work/family balance in the music business for the contestant. Aguilera is “the physical representation of what I want to be when it comes to being a working mom in the music business,” said Porter, a 34-year-old mother of two. Porter landed a spot on Aguilera's team at the beginning of the season and added how relieved she was to see such a big star have some semblance of a work-life balance.

"That's been my biggest thing, just watching her. I've seen her with her kids a bunch of times; they've been here a bunch of times, and my kids have come," she said. "Just knowing that it's possible for me to be able to do that and my kids will be cool, they'll still have time with their mom and all that kind of stuff, is number one."

Aguilera has spoken publicly many times about how being a mother has affected her. It's nice to see that her passion for singing and sharing her incredible gift won't suffer. It's also nice to see that her choices also inspire others! —HA

Graduates Get Timeless Life Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg

This week in trending news, Lean In author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave graduates of UC Berkeley, and viewers everywhere, life lessons for when life doesn’t go according to plan. "The easy days ahead of you will be easy," she warned. "It’s the hard days—the days that challenge you to your very core—that will determine who you are." Sandberg drew from Martin Seligman’s three "P’s"—personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence—to recommend ways to overcome pitfalls of claiming responsibility for things that aren’t our fault, feeling that if one thing goes wrong everything is wrong, and feeling like temporary anxiety we feel may last forever. For Verily this week, Rachel Wilkerson shared how this advice, while at times a bit optimistic, rang true to her after her personal experience with trauma. —MRS

Helping a Sister Out

Upon the screening of his father’s latest film at the Cannes Film Festival last week, Ronan Farrow took the opportunity to call out the media for not putting Woody Allen under greater scrutiny for the sexual assault allegations he’s received from Dylan Farrow, Allen’s adoptive daughter and Farrow’s sister. "Being in the media as my sister's story made headlines, and Woody Allen's PR engine revved into action, gave me a window into just how potent the pressure can be to take the easy way out," Farrow rote. “Very often, women with allegations do not or cannot bring charges. Very often, those who do come forward pay dearly, facing off against a justice system and a culture designed to take them to pieces.” Verily’s article this week on 5 misconceptions our culture has about sexual assault couldn’t be more timely. —MRS

Personal Enrichment Is ‘In’

Have you ever experienced burnout? Have you ever found it hard to stop the daily grind and take on a personal project or goal? How about just read a non-work-related book? If your answers are yes, then you’re in good company with such female celebs as Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, and Jessica Biel. As Anna Quinlan wrote for Verily this week, these are just some of the young ladies in the spotlight today who are now finding it a worthwhile consideration to take a break from churning out their entertainment projects to take some time for self-reflection and enrichment. Sounds like something all of us can benefit from! —MRS