We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Four Women Allege Donald Trump Made Sexual Advances Without Consent
The second debate between the presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took place on Sunday, but you probably don’t need me to tell you that. The town hall-style debate included much reference to the days-prior news that Trump was recorded in a 2005 interview with Billy Bush saying that as a celebrity he could get away making any sexual advance on a woman, wanted or not, whether a kiss or a grab of the crotch. Trump publicly apologized, saying that the words are not a reflection of who he is, that the campaign has changed him, and that he promises to be a “better man.” When asked directly by debate moderator Anderson Cooper if he had ever made an unwelcome sexual advance, Trump said no. But since then at least four women have alleged that Trump kissed or groped them without their consent.
What hurts me most as a woman this week is watching the country politicize an issue that sadly extends far beyond party affiliation, creed, ethnicity, or sex. Sexual assault that needs to be addressed and fought, no matter whose politics one supports. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Kim K. and Ken Bone Sexy Costumes = Cultural Face Palm Moment
Justified by the pretense of cultural relevance, online costume shops came up with some less-than-tasteful get-ups for the upcoming Halloween season this past week. While we’re all about donning witty spoofs and caricatures on October 31, some recent costumes cross the line by echoing our culture’s tendency to over-sexualize and even practice victim-shaming.
In a costume priced at $99.95, Yandy.com presented the “Sexy Undecided Voter,” a short and tight version of the red sweater that insta-famous Ken Bone wore at the second presidential debate Sunday. Bone quickly became an internet sensation after the debate, not because he asked the candidates a thought-provoking question about energy and the environment, but because, as one Twitter fan put it, he is “the human version of a hug.” The costume sold out quicker than Bone’s Twitter account exploded to 215,000 followers. No seriously—the "sexy" version of someone who was described as a "human hug." Face palm.
An entirely different reaction was unleashed at another company’s decidedly unsuccessful effort at a timely response to a popular trend this week. On Tuesday, Costumeish announced on Twitter that they removed the “Parisian Heist Robbery Victim Kit” from their website due to “extensive out-lash” at the costume portrayal of Kim Kardashian gagged and tied up, a play on the star's ordeal during Paris Fashion Week. As Gabriella Patti put it for Verily, “The ongoing marketability of the ‘sexy’ version of decidedly un-sexy things might seem trivial, but it's not. Halloween has always sparked controversy as a one-night glimpse into an underbelly of our zeitgeist—a costumed affair that's actually quite revealing about popular culture.” With that in mind, let’s not allow destructive trends in popular culture to inform our costume choices this year. —Deanna Rosa
Janet Jackson Is Pregnant at 50!
Janet Jackson and her husband are preparing to welcome their first baby, officially confirming the news this week in People magazine while showing off her growing baby bump. The official announcement verifies what many have been suspecting since April when the 50-year-old star announced her Unbreakable world tour would be postponed, which she attributed to her and her husband, Wissam Al Mana, planning their family. Suspicion of a baby on the way was heightened in September when the singer stepped out in London sporting a growing bump while shopping for some baby goods. The star gushed this week about her pregnancy, saying, “We thank God for our blessing.” —Katie Faley
Science Shows Heartbeats Start Earlier Than We Thought
New research by a team at the University of Oxford suggests that the human heart starts beating significantly earlier than scientists previously believed. Up until now, researchers thought (based on studies of developing mouse embryos) that human heart muscle started contracting to beat around day twenty-one of a pregnancy. The new study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, also used data from mouse embryos, but the results suggest that the first beat is around day sixteen of a human pregnancy. The researchers involved in this study hope that a better understanding about how the heart forms in the womb will enable them to prevent heart conditions that arise as a foetus develops. —Sophie Caldecott
Selena Gomez Champions Mental Health
Back in late-August, Selena Gomez announced that she would be taking time off from her music career in order to deal with her recent lupus diagnosis. The 24-year-old told People then that she wanted to “be proactive and focus on [her] health and happiness and decided that the best way forward is to take some time off.” Since this announcement, Selena has resurfaced at a treatment facility just outside of Nashville. “Selena is dealing with lupus,” says one source about her hiatus, “but this break is to focus on her mental health.” According to this source, her time in Tennessee is giving her an opportunity to retreat to a "private and quiet place" to manage her anxiety and depression. In just the past few weeks, her fans have spotted her seeming "happy and relaxed" while out at restaurants with her family.
Especially with World Mental Health Day falling on this past Monday, Gomez’ actions help to spread awareness about the importance of mental health care. We hope that by spending the necessary time on herself, Gomez’ actions encourage young women to end the stigma against mental illnesses and to seek the necessary help in battling them. —Mary Brodeur
Dylan Rounds Out Nobel Prize Winners
The latest of the 2016 Nobel Prize Laureates were announced Thursday morning, awarding Bob Dylan with the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” As the first musician to receive this honor, 75-year-old Dylan made history as he arguably marked expansion of the Swedish Academy’s traditional definition of literature. Literary scholar Sara Danius explained the phenomenon to the New York Times using Dylan’s own lyrics: “The times are a-changing, perhaps.”
Dylan joined the list of ten other individuals who received a 2016 Nobel Prize in the past week. On October 3, the academy presented the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.” David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on October 4 "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter." The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa on October 5 “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.” On October 7, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize "for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than fifty-year-long civil war to an end." The Svergies Riksbank Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom on October 10 "for their contributions to contract theory."
The 2016 Laureates—a name which refers to the laurel wreath worn by the god Apollo of Greek mythology—are now among the ranks of 911 individuals and organizations honored with a Nobel Prize since 1901. —Deanna Rosa
Syrian Mother is Marvel’s Newest Superhero
The comic franchise Marvel is known for superheroes such as Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Widow. They are now adding a new hero to their ranks; the incredibly brave Madaya Mom. This new comic book series is a collaboration between Disney owned ABC News and Marvel, tells the real-life account of a mother living in the Syrian town of Madaya. Syria has been involved in a civil war since 2011, and the citizens of Madaya have been living in an open-air prison, suffering from starvation, lack of heat and airstrikes.
The series is based on a collection of blog posts by the Madaya mother of five, who wrote about day-to-day life in her overlooked city. This correspondence began in January between the Madaya mom (who has chosen to remain anonymous) and ABC News. The comic book will feature parts of this correspondence. The opening line of the comic is from the correspondence. She said, “Today our one meal was rice and bean soup…our bodies are no longer used to eating.”
Marvel has been incredibly remiss when it comes to representing women in their franchise, so what better way to do it then with an incredibly current topic and a real life hero for the masses. Sometimes heroes are not red heads in tight spandex suits with superhuman abilities, but rather those who carry on and survive in the most atrocious of conditions.—Gabriella Patti
Now in Theaters
Looking to wash down this rough news week with a good thought-provoking film? We recommend The Girl on the Train if you’re looking for a film even better than Gone Girl, or The Birth of a Nation for something that will be on your mind for days. —MRS