We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Love to Orlando
While politicians were using the Orlando tragedy as a gun control talking point, local Chick-fil-A employees responded by distributing sandwiches and sweet tea to police and blood donors. After 49 people were killed at a night club in Orlando on Sunday, the community rallied around the victims. And though the company is typically closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A employees were no exception. As Baleigh Scott wrote for Verily this week, the Orlando tragedy touches on many contentious subjects—the LGBT community, terrorism, and gun control. But instead of using the victims’ lives as one more point in a national argument, some are choosing simply to express their support and love to those in need of healing. —Madeline Fry
The 70th annual Tony Awards aired on Sunday, bringing out the best and brightest stars of Broadway to celebrate the achievements of the past year’s theater season. The star of the Late Late Show, James Corden, proved a charming and energetic host of the festivities. He began the broadcast with a message of love and support to those in Orlando, and then moved on to an opening number about being a little kid dreaming of the stage, which highlighted the diversity and openness of the theater community. Indeed, after the controversy of #OscarsSoWhite, many were quick to notice and celebrate that all four acting categories for musicals were won by actors of color.
As expected, Hamilton was the night’s big winner, bringing in 11 awards, including Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr), Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer), Best Direction of a Musical for Thomas Kail, Best Original Book and Score for writer/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Best Musical.
There were a lot of emotional moments throughout the night, too. Jayne Houdyshell (who won for her performance in The Humans) spoke of the joys of winning her first Tony at the age of 62; Frank Langella (winner for The Father), paid tribute to his brother who suffers from dementia and therefore provided painful inspiration for Langella’s performance; Goldsberry talked about how everyone told her she was wasting the prime of her career by having children, but called them one of her greatest blessings (more on that below); and Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a sonnet paying tribute to his wife, the people of Orlando, and the need to appreciate and love life every day: "My wife’s the reason anything gets done/ She nudges me towards promise by degrees / She is a perfect symphony of one / Our son is her most beautiful reprise. / We chase the melodies that seem to find us / Until they’re finished songs and start to play / When senseless acts of tragedy remind us / That nothing here is promised, not one day...”
Other big winners of the night included Cynthia Erivo for her stunning performance in the revival of The Color Purple, and Jessica Lange for her role in the revival of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. —Monica Weigel
Renée Elise Goldsberry's Struggle to Grow Her Family
When Renée Elise Goldsberry won Best Featured Actress In a Musical for her role as Angelica Schulyer in Hamilton, she stole the show with her performance. But it’s her acceptance speech that has everyone talking—especially for anyone who has been through the struggle of infertility.
"I would just love to say that if you know anything about me I have spent the last 10 years of my life—what some would consider the lifeblood of a woman’s career just trying to have children," Goldsberry said as she took the stage. "And I get to testify in front of all of you that the Lord gave me Benjamin and Brielle and he still gave me this." According to People, Goldsberry gave birth to her first child in May, 2009, and she and her husband adopted their daughter, Brielle, in 2014. Seeing Goldsberry not only proudly hold her Tony up high, but also knowing she’s celebrating with her much-loved family, was enough to bring the audience to tears. —Hannah Allen
Women Required to Register for the Draft
The Senate approved a bill requiring women to register for the draft on Tuesday, but the legislation must pass through a committee of both the House and the Senate before it can go further. If the bill passes the house, women turning 18 on or after January 1, 2018, would be required to register for conscripted service. The United States has not used the draft since the Vietnam War, but that doesn’t mean the principle of the decision won’t have an effect on women. —MF
Target Employees and Bystanders Defend Breastfeeding Mom After Verbal Attack
This week in Torrington, CT, new mom Jessie Maher was breastfeeding in a Target store when a male customer began verbally attacking her, saying that what she was doing was “gross,” “disrespectful,” and even calling her a “whore,” according to Maher’s Facebook post and video footage of the incident. After he threw a fit and demanded a refund, female customers began to stand by Maher’s side as Target employees surrounded the man. In the video Maher says that she’s shaking, and the women immediately respond, telling her that she has nothing to be ashamed of because this is a “beautiful moment.”
As Gwen Stefani and other celebrities take a stand on public breastfeeding through pictures and social media posts, Maher’s story is just a recent example of the realistic and much less glamorous situations that breastfeeding women face every day. As one woman said to Maher in the video, with “all the horror in the world, this is the last thing he needs to be worried about,” especially since we’re talking about something as natural as a mother feeding her child. —Grace Cooper
Anne Hathaway is a U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador
On Wednesday the United Nations announced that Anne Hathaway would be joining the ranks of other celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson as a Global Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women. Hathaway, already known for her feminist efforts, will focus specifically on the hardships that mothers everywhere face. Topics such as affordable childcare, unpaid leave, and the wage gap are high on this new mom’s to-do list. And, with her dedication and enthusiasm, we think this real-life Mia Thermopolis will do great things. —GC
Brooklyn Public Pool Accommodates Jewish women
For Hasidic Jewish women, who object to swimming in co-ed pools, one Brooklyn public pool provides a solution: women-only swim hours on Sunday afternoons and weekday mornings. But after an anonymous complaint, the city temporarily removed the decades-old policy before reinstating it with the promise to find a solution. The Metropolitan Recreation Center maintains the policy to accommodate the large Hasidic community in the area, but critics protested that women-only hours impose religion on everyone who uses the pool. Though the question has sparked a nationwide conversation, it hasn’t flooded the Metropolitan Pool. Patrons told local radio station WNYC they don’t mind accommodating the women. For now, Hasidic Jewish women can continue to follow their religious conscience while enjoying a summer swim. —MF
Female Veteran Responds to Person Who Says She Shouldn’t Have Parked in Veteran Parking Spot
This week in Concord, NC, Rebecca Landis Hayes went grocery shopping. She parked in a spot reserved for military veterans like herself, and went inside. When she returned she found this note: “This parking is for veterans, lady. Learn to read and have some respect.”
Hayes took to Facebook to respond to this anonymous accuser. Hayes gave all sorts of reasons for why she parked in the spot—it was hot, the parking lot was full, etc. But none of these were quite as important as the fact that Hayes is a veteran. She is a veteran just as her husband is a veteran. While most veterans are thanked, Hayes and her female counterparts are often questioned and even ridiculed.
What this “caring” civilian failed to realize is that just because Hayes is a woman in business casual clothing doesn’t mean that she hasn’t worn a uniform at some point in her life. Hayes shouldn’t have to be “sorry that your narrow misogynistic world view can’t conceive of the fact that there are female veterans.” As a veteran of the United States Navy, Hayes certainly deserves the same respect as any man who has served. —GC
Affirmation of the Week: Coffee Is Good For You
If you’d be lost without a cup (or two) of coffee each day, we have good news: Your caffeine kick might be keeping you from developing cancer. The World Health Organization now says drinking coffee regularly may decrease your risk of certain types of cancer. The W.H.O. panel had previously linked coffee drinking with developing cancer, but it now says this claim lacks evidence. However, if you like your coffee (or tea) piping hot, you may want to cool it, as drinking anything hotter than 149 degrees might lead to throat cancer. But if you keep your beverages at a reasonable temperature, drink away. —MF
Indian Student Rescues 111 Child Laborers
The bravery of one young woman helped to liberate 111 child laborers from inhumane working conditions in a large ceramics factory in Morbi, India. Jharna Joshi, a 22-year-old student from Ahmedabad, was visiting relatives in Morbi when she saw many children being loaded onto buses that didn’t go to a school. After local officials dismissed her initial suspicions, she embarked on an undercover operation to discover the truth about the factory.
Under the guise of seeking work in their management department, Joshi discovered that a factory was illegally employing over one hundred child workers, several of whom were below the legal working age of 14. All the children worked in harsh conditions from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., violating the legal limits of work for minors. The children were not allowed to go outside and often endured stifling temperatures without water.
Joshi brought her evidence of the company’s violations to authorities, who coordinated a raid of the factory.
Unfortunately, following the raid Joshi was attacked by thugs who confirmed her identity as a whistleblower. Her attackers are thought to be linked to Sonaki Ceramics, the factory in question, whose owner was livid following the rescue operation. Joshi’s persistence and nerve to challenge injustice serves as a compass for us all. —Rachel Wilkerson
The Latest News on Women and Anxiety
A recent Cambridge review found that women are twice as likely as men to experience anxiety disorders. Efforts to reduce the stigma of mental health issues have been increasing as celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristen Bell, and Brooke Shields open up about their own experiences. North Americans have the highest rates of anxiety disorders, according to the study, and in young adult populations the numbers only get higher. So, combine North American, young adult, and female, and there’s a good chance this hypothetical woman will struggle with anxiety at some point in her life.
The study didn’t attempt to explain this phenomenon, but Anna Quinlan, writing for Verily, offered a hypothesis earlier this week: “Young women today face more pressure than perhaps any generation in history. From the never-ending pressure to look good, increasing public data about seemingly insurmountable wage gap woes, the timeless concern of finding the perfect mate and determining if and when children fit into the picture (and how that might affect one's career), and the myriad ideals that many women feel obligated to comply with to succeed in life, there is certainly no shortage of causes for worry.” There’s also research to suggest that physical differences between men and women, such as hormones and neurotransmitters, may be a key factor in the disparity between the sexes. But whatever the cause, this study reminds us that speaking up and asking for help is the best thing any woman can do for her mental health. —GC
New Disney Princess To Come This Year
This Sunday, Disney released the teaser trailer for its 56th animated feature film, adding another Disney princess to the collection. But there’s something special about this new character that’s sure to make it a landmark film—our new princess is Polynesian. Moana Waialiki, played by the newly discovered Auli'i Cravalho, is on a quest to find a hidden island and rescue her people. While she’s got a lot more going on than your stereotypical waiting-for-prince-charming princess, Moana also has Maui the demigod, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and another friend, who happens to be a pig, there to help.
This movie promises to continue the celebration of feminism we saw in Frozen, while bringing the diversity that most other Disney princess movies lack. Disney has taken diversity in casting to heart, too. The two stars of the film, Cravalho and Johnson, are Hawaiian and Samoan, respectively. The independent female plotline and Polynesian culture of Moana are sure to make this film a must-see for loyal Disney lovers and even the girls that dress up as hot dogs for princess day. —GC