Introducing "While You Were Out," a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it's something you'd discuss at the water cooler or at happy hour, you'll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to whether whether it's praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We're pleased to bring you the Verily editors' quick takes on the happenings of this week!
Pigs Flying, and Other Things That Happened This Week
George Clooney married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in Venice this week. According to TIME, this news doubles the chances of Clooney running for president.
I’d Like to Thank God, My Parents, and That Random Guy Who Made Out With Me…
In its latest issue, Marie Claire features a cover story on Ariana Grande that boasts “how she shot to the top” of her career: apparently making out with a guy in a music video. Really? According to Grande, the sexed-up image garnered more attention for her music and is responsible for her success. It’s hard to believe the mini-Mariah Carey wouldn’t have made it to the top of the charts based on sheer talent alone. It’s one thing to say a raunchy vid was a turning point in one’s image but quite another to say it’s responsible for skyrocketing your career. Memo to Ariana teen fans: We don’t recommend this as a reliable method to advancement.
“Saying No is Sexy”
So says the Zero Dark Thirty actress Jessica Chastain in a recent interview with Refinery29. She explains: “A struggling actress came up to me—she was really struggling in Los Angeles, and she said she didn’t know what to do because some of her friends were saying she needed to go to all these parties. That’s absolute bull. You don’t need to go to a party to become an actress. You don’t need to schmooze. You don’t need to date someone in the industry. A woman should be comfortable and understand that her value is from her talent and intelligence, and not from her sex. Respect your talent and make sure other people do. A lot of people will try to demean you.” Amen to that.
Yes Means Yes
California recently legislated that a nonresponse to a sexual advance means no; only a verbal yes means yes. Newsflash: Women are human beings with voices; if we don’t go so far as to say we’re interested, chances are we aren’t! Whether this will decrease the state’s number of sexual assaults is unclear, but at the very least, it’s a timely if not obvious reminder that, despite what some fantasy-minded men may wish, a nonresponse is just that—nothing.
Thanks But No Thanks
In other news, some techies developed an app to determine if two people are having consensual sex. Hey, everyone’s texting these days, so why have a human conversation with the person you’re about to get in bed with when you can make a few clicks on a screen instead? It starts with one person asking another if they’re “Good2Go.” The partner can then choose from three replies: “No thanks,” “Yes, but … we need to talk,” or “I’m Good2Go.” Next they confirm their sobriety level: “Sober,” “Mildly intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go,” or “Pretty Wasted.” If someone clicks “Pretty Wasted,” the screen immediately revises the answer to “no.”
The problem is, no matter how well-intentioned it may be, the app is crap. First, didn’t we just learn that only yes means yes? The gimmicky phrase Good2Go in the place of a clear yes is, at the very least, bad timing for marketing brand-name recognition. Second, don’t “pretty wasted” and “intoxicated” mean the same thing? And wouldn’t intoxication rule out the probability that people will answer rationally? Come on, people.
Fashion designer Stella McCartney made an Instagram faux pas this week publishing what looks like a malnourished model wearing the designer’s latest tank top, with the caption, “Worn well!” After receiving backlash the account replaced the image with a healthier looking model wearing the same shirt. The flub revealed something we don’t always see so starkly under the layers of designer clothes: many models have sickly physiques. While Stella was right to swap out the photo, we’ll be happy when she and other designers swap out these unhealthy beauty standards in their work across the board—not just as a quick effort of PR cleanup.
On the Plus Side...
There’s this new thing called Full Figured Fashion, featuring style on diverse women of ethnicity, size, and shape on the runways. Alexandra Boos, who works for TRUE Model Management and PLUS Model magazine, launched a showcase of fashion befitting real women in downtown Manhattan this past summer. Are initiatives like this celebrating obesity, as some think? I don’t think so. The New Yorker article profiling the movement includes a quote from a woman who admits she’s in a weight-loss program. But, I say, no matter where a woman is on her journey, she deserves to have stylish clothing options.
Je Ne Sais Quoi
No one can seem to make sense of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest stunt. The Chanel designer, who’s known for saying “everything I do is a joke” began his latest runway with a mock feminist protest. Models carried signs with obscure messages like “Boys should get pregnant, too!” Since among the gibberish signs was one that read “He For She,” I’m going to take a guess that he’s taking a swipe against Emma Watson’s UN initiative, suggesting it’s a charade of little substance. You disagree? Well when it comes to Lagerfeld’s motives, a random guess is as good as any.
In the November cover story of Cosmopolitan, model Emily Ratajkowski, most famous for appearing topless in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video, makes a provocative statement: “I feel lucky that I can wear what I want, sleep with who I want, and dance how I want, and still be a feminist,” most likely referring to her music video claim to fame. The interview was to promote the film Gone Girl, where she plays Ben Affleck‘s mistress. Speaking to Yahoo Style, Ratajkowski says she sees the woman she plays as “extremely sweet.” “She’s a nice person who really loves her boyfriend. No mistress feels like the mistress—they feel like a loving wife or girlfriend, you know?” Sort of how someone hurting the feminist cause doesn’t always feel like someone hurting the feminist cause, right?
Because, you know, showing men fully clothed next to nearly naked women has nothing to do with inequality of the sexes. Nor does a song with rapey lyrics about pushing women to do what men want. Not to mention how Ratajkowski admitted last year in an interview that the video director kept pushing her to be in the video after she first declined the offer. No, this doesn’t feel like it hurts the feminist cause at all.
But Not All is Lost...
Gail Dines, researcher and author of the book Pornland: How the Porn Industry Has Hijacked Our Sexuality has come out with a powerful documentary.