“While You Were Out” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the watercooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Bravo to New York Magazine
When you sit down to read this week’s New York magazine cover story on thirty-five Cosby accusers who share their stories of rape and assault, you better have your tissues ready. And your stomach empty, for that matter. Featuring a striking cover of women sitting down next to each other in solidarity, along with one empty seat for the voices that have not yet spoken, the magazine also includes a photo essay and a “compilation of the interviews with these women, a record of trauma and survival . . . [all] interviewed separately, and yet their stories have remarkable similarities. . . . Each story is awful in its own right. But the horror is multiplied by the sheer volume of seeing them together, reading them together, considering their shared experience.”
New York’s handling of the difficult topic is striking in that it breathes hope into the story. Not only are these women’s voices all the stronger for their standing together, but there is also a palpable sense that they themselves are being transformed in the telling of their stories; that they are being reminded of what was true all along—that they are not alone. —Mary Rose Somarriba
NFL Hires First Female Coach
On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals signed Jen Welter as a training camp and preseason coaching intern, making her the first female to coach in the NFL. Welter is one of seven interns that coach Bruce Arians has hired, and her contract will end with the preseason, but the move is historic nonetheless.
This isn’t the first time Welter has made history. In January 2014, she played running back for Texas Revolution in the Champions Indoor Football league, becoming the first female to play men’s professional football. A year later, she was hired by the Revolution to coach linebackers and special teams, becoming the first female coach in a men’s professional football league.
I am never a fan of elevating people to positions that they do not deserve for the sake of some misguided understanding of gender equality, but rewarding people for their legitimate qualifications and merit regardless of gender? I’m all for it. Welter’s resume speaks for itself: fourteen years playing professional football, rugby at Boston College, a pair of gold medals playing for Team USA at the International Federation of American Football’s Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013, and a master’s in sports psychology as well as a Ph.D. in psychology. In the words of Justin Timberlake, “Damn, girl!” —Baleigh Scott
Unexpected Movie Opened
This past weekend a film called Unexpected hit theaters, starring Cobie Smulders, the actress best known for her role as Robin on the hit TV series How I Met Your Mother. Smulders’ character in Unexpected is starkly different from the vivacious love interest she played on the show. Here she plays a serious science teacher, Samantha, who is dedicated to helping her high school students excel. The movie in large part tracks the relationship between her and star student Jasmine (played by budding actress Gail Bean) who becomes unexpectedly and unhappily pregnant.
While I was skeptical going into the film, expecting to see another cliché, patronizing portrayal of a sage white person guiding a black youth through life’s difficulties, I was pleased that the movie avoided this pitfall by portraying the ways in which Samantha failed to understand Jasmine’s life circumstances. At the same time, Samantha’s distress over her own pregnancy echoes the sentiments of countless mothers-to-be, even those happy about their pregnancies. As a mom myself who experienced an unplanned pregnancy, I found it refreshing that Unexpected doesn’t glamorize pregnancy but rather demonstrates how potentially distressing the process can be. —Mariel Lindsay
In empowering news, an 8-year-old British child with cerebral palsy (a neurological condition that affects muscles and movement) completed a triathlon last Saturday to the sound of raucous applause from the crowd. After a 100-meter swim, 4000-meter bike ride, and most of a 1,300-meter run, Bailey Matthews pushed aside his specially adapted walking frame to complete the final 20 meters of the course unaided. You can watch the inspiring moment on YouTube. —Sophie Caldecott
Olsen Twins Pondering Fuller House Role?
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen could be pondering involvement in the new Netflix series of Fuller House after all, it was reported on Tuesday morning. The twins had previously declined the offer to reprise the role of Michelle in the new sequel to the beloved eighties and nineties sitcom Full House, but Netflix boss Ted Sarandos told fans that they are still “teetering” over the question of “whether or not they’ll be around” for filming. The new series is set to air in 2016. —SC
Math Says This is the Perfect Age to Get Married
Sociologist Nick Wolfinger of the University of Utah published a study that says there’s a certain window of time in our lives to get married if we want the longevity cards stacked in our favor. Published by the pro-marriage Institute of Family Studies, the findings suggest that people who get married between the ages of 28 and 32 are least likely to split up.
Wolfinger analyzed data from 2006 to 2010 and the 2011 to 2013 National Survey of Family Growth. What he found was basically an upside-down bell curve with the odds of divorce declining as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties, and the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties. For each year after age 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5 percent, according to the study. This is counterintuitive to the belief widely held by sociologists that waiting longer to get hitched usually leads to more stability. —Hannah Allen White
Cara’s Awkward Interview
We’ve all seen interviews with celebrities and wondered how they remain so gracious in the face of seriously dumb questions. This week, during an interview promoting the film Paper Towns, Cara Delevingne showed some serious RBF and offered sarcastic responses to hosts of the show Good Morning Sacramento. It didn’t help that they started the interview by calling her “Carla” and that their first question was whether the lead actress had even read the book on which the movie is based. After flashing a look of disbelief and annoyance, Delevingne replied in fashion: “No, I didn’t read the book or the script for that matter. . . . No, of course I read the book. I think the book’s amazing.” If that was the minor fender bender, the interview quickly became a seven-car pileup, with the hosts asking patronizing questions and Delevingne continuing to give looks of sheer annoyance at the monitor before giving similarly sarcastic responses.
Ultimately the reporters called Delevingne out on her stormy demeanor and suggested that she “go get [her]self a Red Bull” and “take a nap.” After cutting the interview short and killing the feed, the three anchors took the rest of the time allotted to basically bash Delevingne for her perceived lack of professionalism. Very classy. —HAW
Bobbi Kristina Brown, Rest in Peace
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 22-year-old daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston and R&B artist Bobby Brown passed away this week after six months in a medically induced coma. The young woman had been found facedown and unresponsive in her bathtub in January and never regained consciousness. Sadly, Brown’s short life was filled with drama right up to the end. She was found by boyfriend Nick Gordon (whom Brown claimed to have married, but her family denies there was any legal union), and both the Brown and Houston families have been suspicious of his potential involvement in her death. While an autopsy revealed no significant injuries, toxicology reports will take weeks to complete. Brown’s body has been released to her family for burial. Funeral plans are not yet set, reportedly due to family tension, but it is thought that there will be a service in Georgia where Brown lived, followed by burial in New Jersey next to her mother, who in a horrible connection was also found dead in her bathtub following complications from cocaine use in 2012. —Monica Weigel
Woman Defends Self, Kills Serial Killer
A West Virginia woman who shot and killed a man that allegedly attacked her after responding to her escort ad may have taken down a serial killer without realizing it, according to police investigation this week. After the attacker, identified as a 45-year-old man named Neal Falls, beat and choked the victim, she grabbed his loose handgun and blindly shot over her shoulder, hitting him in the head and killing him.
The incident is causing police to reexamine a string of cold cases involving missing and murdered escorts. The list includes four Portland-area prostitutes who went missing between 2000 and 2008 (when Falls is said to have been renting a room in the area) and whose dismembered remains were later found along highways, as well as similar cases in both Ohio and Nevada. In Falls’ car, police found several axes, a shovel, bleach, handcuffs, knives, and a machete, along with other grisly items. A list of about ten women’s names—all of them escorts in West Virginia—along with their ages and phone numbers was also found among his possessions.
Three cheers for self defense, but this incident—and the myriad of unsolved cases to which it may be linked—should make us consider the realities of the escort industry. A 2004 study estimated that the murder rate for an American prostitute was 204 for every 100,000—more than twenty times higher than the national average. Another 58 percent of American prostitutes reported violent assault at the hands of sex buyers. Due to the underground nature of the industry, statistics on prostitution are somewhat murky. Still, to the extent that they shed light on the dangerous realities of prostitution, these are figures that ought not be ignored. —BS
Shooting During Screening of Trainwreck in Louisiana
Two women were killed and nine people wounded in a gun attack that occurred during a screening of Amy Schumer’s new movie, Trainwreck, at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, last Thursday. The 58-year-old gunman, John Houser, entered the theater and sat down like everyone else before standing up and shooting apparently at random with a handgun about twenty minutes into the movie. When police arrived on the scene, he took his own life. Officials have since been investigating the killer’s motives; the discovery on Sunday that the movie title, date, time, and location were written down in Houser’s journal suggests that the attack was premeditated. —SC
Planned Parenthood Faces More Scandalous Videos
The abortion provider faced more outrage this week as a fourth video was released showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal body parts after abortions. Despite president Cecile Richards insisting that the organization makes no money off the exchange of fetal tissue, the latest video shows Planned Parenthood affiliates pricing out baby parts while dissecting an aborted baby. Perhaps most disturbing, a doctor mentions how sometimes women deliver an “intact specimen” that provides the greatest amount of useful organs to harvest. Richards has said, “We look forward to the facts coming out.” I can’t help but agree on this one. —MRS
American Dentist Poached Lion
There has been widespread media outrage this week at the hunting death of Cecil the lion, a popular animal in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Cecil, who was part of a conservation study being conducted by Oxford University, was skinned and beheaded, and the GPS device he had been outfitted with was destroyed. Two men from Zimbabwe are being held in connection to the death, and authorities are also interested in American dentist Walter Palmer, who allegedly paid the men to assist in the hunt as sport. Palmer, who has had to close his dental practice in Minnesota due to backlash from the story, claims that he participated in the hunting trip under the assumption that all proper permits had been secured and was unaware that the animal he hunted was part of a conservation study.
The widespread media coverage and public outrage about the incident has itself caused outrage on a variety of social media outlets, with many questioning why the death of an animal has caused more media attention than stories involving human deaths, including Sandra Bland’s death in a Texas jail and the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the selling of aborted babies’ organs. Sad news all around. —MW
In Happier Animal News . . .
A bird-watcher named Ian Ellis of Lincolnshire, England, saved a baby seal this week. Ellis was intrigued when he saw a strange herd of cows gathered around a marsh through his telescope while looking for birds. After deciding to get a closer look, the man discovered that the cows weren’t gathered around a bird but a 5-day-old baby seal!
The tiny animal likely swam into the marsh when the nearby North Sea was at high tide, only to become trapped after the tide receded. Ellis couldn’t find the baby’s mother and called for help. After receiving instruction on how to carefully pick the baby seal up, Ellis brought her to the Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary, where she will receive rehabilitation for hunger and dehydration. The seal, since named Celebration, will be released back into the wild once she has reached between sixty to seventy pounds and can feed on her own. —HAW
Another Feel-Good Chaser for Good Measure
A mailman in Utah turned into a literary fairy godfather after a young boy on his route requested extra junk mail so that he could practice reading. Ron Lynch was approached by 12-year-old Mathew Flores, who wanted to read but couldn’t get to the library because his family doesn’t have a car, and he couldn’t afford the bus. Mathew’s resourceful solution was to get his hands on as much junk mail as possible. Thankfully, Lynch responded by putting Mathew’s story on his Facebook page, asking his friends to donate or send books to the Flores family. The request went viral, and hundreds of books from all over the world have since arrived for Mathew, who has promised to read all of them and share them with his family and friends. —MW