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While You Were Out: Good News for Parents at Netflix, Cosmo Gets Censored, Wildfires in California, and More


“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.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Wife Expecting Baby After Three Miscarriages

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in an emotional post on his Facebook page that he and his wife are expecting—and further, that it hasn’t been an easy journey. “Priscilla and I have some exciting news: We’re expecting a baby girl!” he wrote. “We’ve been trying to have a child for a couple of years and have had three miscarriages along the way.

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience. Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you—as if you’re defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.” Here’s to acknowledging the challenges of miscarriages that so many people experience in silence, and here’s to their long-awaited happy news! —Mary Rose Somarriba

A Good Week for Joyful Dads

This is also the week in which singer Macklemore released a soulful single called “Growing Up”—a song he dedicated to his newborn daughter, Sloane. Macklemore starts by singing, “They say boys dont cry/But your daddy shed a lot of tears,” and he then continues with a song full of life advice for his little girl. Among my favorite parts is his salute to the mama: “They say girls shouldnt be tough/And moms should raise their kids at home/But baby, I know that that isnt true/Cause your mommas the toughest person I know/I wanna raise you to be like her.” If the heartfelt lyrics weren’t enough, “Growing Up” features a crooning Ed Sheeran in the refrain. What’s not to love? —MRS

Keep Calm & Break Records

This week U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky broke the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle record at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia—a record she had previously broken three times before. She swam the distance in fifteen minutes and 27.71 seconds, beating her previous record by about two-thirds of a second. The kicker? She wasn’t even going for the record. Her coach, Bruce Gemmell, instructed her to take it easy for the first three-fifths of the race so that she wouldn’t be worn out for the finals on Tuesday. “I was barely even focusing on this morning’s swim,” Ledecky says. “I was so relaxed.” If that was going easy, I can’t wait to see what she will do at the Olympics next year. —Baleigh Scott

Turkish Couple Feeds 4,000 Syrian Refugees on Their Wedding Day

Turkish couple who married last week in the city of Kilis, near the Syrian border, invited the 4,000 Syrian refugees who were sheltering nearby to their wedding feast. The wedding party, including the bride in her full wedding outfit, all pitched in to help serve the meal. As the groom said, “Seeing the happiness in the eyes of the Syrian refugee children is just priceless. We started our journey to happiness with making others happy, and that’s a great feeling.” Talk about starting off on the right foot! —Sophie Caldecott

Netflix Announces Unlimited Maternity and Paternity Leave for First Year

Hip hip hooray! On Tuesday Netflix announced that it will now be offering U.S. employees unlimited maternity and paternity leave for the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. In the words of Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer, “Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field. . . . This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.” It’s great to see another big company follow in Vodafone’s footsteps and realize that supporting working parents is good for business. —SC

Cosmopolitan Magazine Gets Covered Up

Rite Aid and Delhaize America announced this week that they are going to begin putting Cosmopolitan magazine behind blinders to help prevent minors from being exposed to the overly sexual cover stories. Behind the push for censorship is a group called Cosmo Harms Minors, whose leader is Victoria Hearst—granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, who happens to have been the founding publisher of Cosmo magazine. The magazine, deemed “pornographic” by the group, will now rest behind U-shaped blinders in markets, preventing shoppers from reading the racy cover stories but still showing the cover models and magazine title.

Though the censoring of a magazine for the purpose of preserving the innocence of minors is laudable, the targeting of Cosmopolitan magazine, a publication that was considered revolutionary for women in the 1960s, has angered some women’s rights groups. While these companies and organizations are focused on a woman’s magazine, some point to mags such as GQ and Rolling Stone, which offer similar sexual content and are usually left out for all eyes to see. Some also argue that the blinders covering the magazine actually place emphasis on the most sexually explicit content: the scantily clad cover models. One thing that seems to be clear, though, is that Cosmopolitan is hailed as a tour de force in influencing young women’s sexual experiences, and that isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing. —Mercedez Rassi

Meet Fidelity Dating, the Online Dating World’s Reply to Ashley Madison

Just a few weeks after Ashley Madison, the leading online infidelity dating site, was hacked and threatened with the release of sensitive information about its users, there’s a new kind of dating website on the scene. Fidelity Dating’s tagline—“Love is Precious. Stay Faithful”—is clearly a direct response to Ashley Madison’s infamous “Life Is Short. Have An Affair.” The new website calls itself “the premier dating site for finding singles who believe in being faithful” and says that its “mission is to help singles find an honest faithful relationship.” Obviously, there’s no guarantee that cheating won’t happen on the website just like anywhere else in life, but it’s certainly nice to see someone trying and standing by the idea that “affairs destroy lives.” —SC

Woman Realizes You’re Supposed to Take the Plastic Part Off Earrings

In a story that went viral this week, Twitter user Chelsea Smith had an epiphany about a specific jewelry item and posted a photo with the caption, “After my nineteen years of living I have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off.” After 45,000 retweets and full feature articles all over the Web calling in expert jewelry designers on whether you’re supposed to take the plastic off earring backs, the jury is still out on Smith’s discovery. Personally I have always taken the plastic off my earring backs, so this whole situation has left me scratching my head. But according to the poll that Buzzfeed did, I am in the overwhelming minority. —Hannah Allen White

Gisele’s Poor Choice of Cover-Up

Gisele Bündchen, “retired” Brazilian supermodel and wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, caused quite a stir in Paris this past week by allegedly donning a burqa to disguise herself as she visited a building that houses a plastic surgeon’s office. While this all remains speculative (no one from Bündchen’s PR camp has commented on the story), the Daily Mail ran a series of pictures of two women donning burqas exiting a car driven by the supermodel’s longtime chauffeur. This caught the attention of the press for a myriad of reasons, the primary one being that France passed a “burqa ban” in 2010 that forbids the wearing of the garment (which fully hides the face of the person wearing it) in public. So if the women in the pictures wanted to avoid attention, this was not the smartest way to do that. Also, considering this took place during the month of Ramadan, wearing clothing that is considered holy by believers as a disguise is not just poor planning but actually offensive. Gisele, if that was indeed you, maybe just try a big sun hat next time? —Monica Weigel

A Terrible Week for True Love

In the sad news of celebrity breakups, this week we’ve been hit with a triple whammy. First, we mourned the split between Hollywood darlings Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to the point that it reached worldwide trending topic status on Facebook and Twitter before the couple could even comment. When they did it was to assure everyone that their marriage is very much intact. Thank heavens.

A day later, nineties rock icons Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani announced their split after almost fifteen years of marriage. Stefani’s breakout hit with band No Doubt called “Don’t Speak” sung of the painful breakup between her and the band’s guitarist, so fans were overjoyed when she found real love with Bush frontman Rossdale. We waited for a similar outcome as the Smith/Pinkett scenario but to no avail. They’re really breaking up.

Saddest of all, perhaps, was the day following the Stefani/Rossdale announcement when actual archetypes of healthy, productive, unshakable love Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy released a statement saying they are calling it quits as well: “After careful thought, thoughtful consideration, and considerable squabbling, Miss Piggy made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship.” This is a particular blow because The Muppets returns to ABC next month. “We will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al.,” the statement continues. If The Muppets’ writers think this is funny, they’re way off; divorce is never funny. As for the viewing public, belief in all things romantic has been sharply called into question. Try and stay strong, everyone. —HAW

Wildfires Rage in Northern California

More than 13,000 people have been required or urged to leave their homes in Northern California as wildfires spread ten miles from Clear Lake—the largest natural lake within California about a hundred miles from San Francisco. The blaze has been burning for more than a week, and although no official cause for the fire has been identified, the drought plaguing California certainly isn’t helping. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, has the wildfire listed as the nation’s highest priority for crews and equipment, and President Barack Obama has asked his aides to stay in close touch with California Gov. Jerry Brown and other local officials, the White House said. —HAW

Intimidated into Silence

Captain Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing military pilot in Afghanistan, has been forced out of the air and into hiding. Now 23 years old, Rahmani faces death threats from both the Taliban and members of her extended family for daring to work in the male-dominated world of military aviation.

Rahmani joined the Afghan Air Force in 2011 when it started recruiting women after efforts were made to improve gender equality at the end of Taliban rule. Her decision quickly gained national and international attention, and, in 2013, Captain Rahmani started receiving death threats. A letter mailed to her doorstep read, “If you carry on doing your job, you will be responsible for your destruction and that of your family,” and it advised her to “learn from Malala Yousafzai,” the teenage Nobel laureate who was nearly killed for campaigning for women’s rights in her home valley of Swat, Pakistan. Rahmani hasn’t flown since early July because of security risks.

This week Rahmani told the Wall Street Journal, “I really wanted to be in the military. I really wanted to be in the Air Force, but I can’t continue like this.” As a woman in a male-dominated (albeit nonmilitary) field, I find that stories such as Rahmani’s are at once inspirational and heartbreaking—a reminder of how far we have come and how much work is left to be done. —BS

The Problem with Amnesty International’s Move on Prostitution

This week Amnesty International delegates are meeting in Dublin to consider decriminalizing pimps and sex buyers of prostituted women, a move that has received backlash from women’s groups, celebrities, and, most recently, a petition signed by 153 scholars and researchers. The signers state: “In light of the documented psychological and physical harms caused by the sex trade, we oppose the proposed policy of Amnesty International . . . [which] would promote and expand the sex trade and has been shown to be associated with increased trafficking and increased prostitution of children and vulnerable adults based on race/ethnicity, sex, and poverty.” Whereas Amnesty International is emphasizing a “right to prostitution,” its opponents insist we focus instead on a right not to prostitute—that is, the freedom for prostituted women to leave the sex industry if they wish, which, according to research, the majority do: In a study conducted over nine different countries, 89 percent of prostituted people say they want to get out. (As discussed in Verily’s article this week, that desire to leave is shared by many in the porn industry as well.) —MRS 

What Happened When a Female Writer Pretended to Be a Man

A female writer recently revealed that she contacted fifty literary agents with an introduction to her novel under her own name and fifty more under the guise of a made-up male identity. The results of her experiment? Her fictional male alter ego was eight and a half times more successful with exactly the same material. Read an interesting and nuanced analysis of why this might have happened in the author’s own words here. —SC

Lauryn Hill Wows in Rare Performance

Strumming my pain with his fingers/Singing my life with his words.” Lauryn Hill’s voice might be best known for her song “Killing Me Softly,” which she covered with the Fugees in 1996, but this week she wowed viewers with a rare performance singing a different cover. Hill was invited to sing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote a record being released by multiple artists commemorating Simone. I leave you with the perfect song to start your weekend. —MRS