We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Female Celebs Sound Off on International Women’s Day
So International Women’s Day happened this week. Some celebrities like Kim Kardashian chose to use it as an excuse to defend their choice to share random nude photos online. Suffice it to say, I don’t view that as the model of women’s empowerment. But I found Pink’s words much more powerful on that day: “Shout out to all the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’ In the quit moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention, you will feel something called pride and self resepect. Keep on resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself.” Amen, sister! —Mary Rose Somarriba
A Remarkably Simple Way Men Could View Feminism
Actress Emma Watson’s interview with Esquire came out this week, sharing the UN Good Will Ambassador’s views on how feminism can be embraced by men. As Baleigh Scott writes this week for Verily, it all comes down to listening. Men don’t need to wear a badge that says “Feminist”—they should simply talk to the women in their lives about how they experience things. Do they feel their bosses talk more condescendingly to them in the office than to men? Do they know feel ogled in the street by cat callers? Start conversations with the women in your life and see if it makes you feel like something ought to change. So simple, yet so brilliant. —MRS
Erin Andrews Granted $55 Million in Court Case
This week, a jury awarded sports reporter Erin Andrews $55 million in a lawsuit against her former stalker and Marriott Hotels. If you haven't been following the case, Michael David Barrett filmed Andrews through a peephole while she was naked in her hotel room and posted the video online, resulting in millions of views. In the lawsuit, Andrews explained the emotional distress and damage this has caused to her professional and personal in the years following. The defense tried to argue that Andrews's career was helped by the video (as in, people want to watch you on TV because they saw you naked on the Internet). Thankfully, the jury saw the situation for what it was and awarded Andrews her due, although there have been reports that she may see only a fraction of the $55 million. We hope this helps her close the door on what has surely been a painful experience. —Emily Mae Schmid
Downton Comes to a Beautiful End
Downton Abbey, one of the most beloved shows the past six years, has finally come to a close as its finale was aired this week. As Verily’s Monica Weigel writes, “The show heralded the resurgence of the PBS Masterpiece drama, and while it may have slipped slightly from truly good television to a bit of a guilty pleasure over the course of its six seasons, the show offered many memorable moments and a few messages that I think any Verily woman would appreciate.” The show's focus on family and women has always made Downton a Verily staff favorite. It will be sorely missed! —Diana Stancy
Amy Adams Opens Up About the Gender Pay Gap
Amy Adams recently shared in GQ's April issue that she knew she was being paid less than her male costars in American Hustle, but decided to do it anyway. "I didn't speak out about it before and I'm probably not going to speak about it forever because I disagreed with . . . people who had opinions on how women should go about negotiating. The truth is we hire people to negotiate on our behalf, men and women. . . . I knew I was being paid less, and I still agreed to do it because the option comes down to do it or don't do it. So you just have to decide if it's worth it for you. It doesn't mean I liked it." She explained that for her the issue was not so much about how much she got paid, but rather that women "have been conditioned to not be controversial, to not cause problems" in whatever industry they're in, which is why she was proud of her co-star Jennifer Lawrence for speaking out about the issue. The actress also commented on the fact that at the end of the day, she's just making movies: "Life to me is more important than movies." —Sophie Caldecott
Music Helps Refugee Children Overcome Language Barriers
A recent graduate of Columbia University, Kate Eberstadt, is working at the American Academy in Berlin to create a children's choir at a refugee camp. The Hutto Project, whose motto is "Spread Light," is serving children from a variety of cultural backgrounds, all of whom are suffering the huge trauma of displacement and an uncertain future. By helping them to express themselves through choral music, as well as providing them with the chance to participate in other arts workshops such as dance, theatre, and creative writing, the Hutto Project team hopes to build bridges between the different groups of children who have been clustered together during this humanitarian crisis, as well as creating the infrastructure they need to learn to explore their voices in a healthy way. As Eberstadt put it, "Music provides these children a chance to share a common language." —SC
Houston Tackles Sex Trafficking with Sting Operation Focused on Curbing Demand
In a press conference on Monday authorities announced the success of a sting operation they called “Operation Traveling Circus.” The operation was designed to identify victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, arrest the consumer base of “johns” and weed out traffickers who capitalize on the sex industry in the Houston area. The success was quantified by more than four hundred arrests.
The Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Harris County District Attorney's Office, and the Houston Chapter of the YMCA addressed the recent joint operation that started January 4 and went until February 26. Along with their news of success Houston authorities announced one of the most progressive policy shifts regarding prostitution and sex-trafficking by displaying a so-called “Wall of Johns” covered with mug shots of those arrested at the press conference. Authorities said they will not be posting mugshots of those arrested for prostitution because they believe many of them are victims of trafficking and statuatory rape. "Prostitution is a crime, but it is not victimless. Many are caught in prostitution, known on the streets as 'the game,' where their bodies are treated as cash cows by their pimps," explained Assistant DA Anne Johnson. A serious dose of poetic justice for type who exploit women. We applaud Houston's efforts and success in making their city safer for women! —Hannah Allen
Kelly Clarkson Joins Conversation About Kesha’s Alleged Abuser Dr. Luke
In the wake of the most recent judgement in Kesha’s ongoing case against Dr. Luke—in which she was seeking to break her contract with him due to allegations of sexual assault—many celebrities have come out in public support of the all-but-silenced songstress. Among her latest supporters is singer Kelly Clarkson. Not only did she tweet her support for Kesha's plight but is now sharing her own experience regarding Dr. Luke, saying that Dr. Luke is “not a good person,” acted “demeaning” toward her, and “lies a lot.”
None of Clarkson’s claims relate to anything sexual (Dr. Luke continues to fully deny all of Kesha’s accusations), but he did respond to Clarkson’s comments by having a representative quote a passage from another record exec's memoir that said Clarkson was difficult to work with after coming down from her initial fame, suggesting that if their relationship was strained it was her fault. Clarkson speaks from her experience working with Dr. Luke on the tracks “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes.” —HA
Soccer Star Brandi Chastain Pledges Her Brain for a Worthy Cause
The health effects of concussion have been in the spotlight recently, what with Will Smith's recent movie Concussion. The degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is believed to be caused by frequent head trauma, has long been on the radar for high-impact sports like football and boxing. Recent research has revealed that it can also be an issue in soccer, however, where athletes frequently head the ball. Out of a study conducted on 307 brains at Boston University, only seven of them belonged to women; Brandi Chastain has already done much to inspire young girls to play soccer, and her decision to donate her brain after her death to research in this area is another gift to the next generation of female athletes. —SC
Maria Sharapova Steps Down Amid Failed Drug Test
Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and the world’s highest-paid female athlete, made a public announcement on Monday that she had tested positive for a recently banned drug prior to the Australian Open this January. The tennis anti-doping program confirmed that Sharapova failed the test on January 26, when she also lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. She tested positive for meldonium, which in large doses can be used as a performance enhancer. Russia's prominent athlete explained in her statement that she had been prescribed the drug—which is made in Latvia and not available in the U.S. for sale—in 2006 because of a deficiency in magnesium irregular EKG results, and a risk of diabetes, according to the New York Times.
She also admitted that she was unaware that the drug was on the banned list—a list which is emailed to all professional tennis athletes every year. Meldonium was added this year. She did, however, take full responsibility for this. Sharapova’s sponsors have already responded. Nike, with which the tennis star had a full clothing line, has stated that it is suspending their contract with her until the case has been ruled. Sharapova is suspended for the time being and awaits a further ruling. —Mary Grace Mangano
In Other Sports News
After an illustrious eighteen-year career in the NFL, quarterback Peyton Manning announced this week that he's hanging up his jersey and retiring. He leaves on a high note, having led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory last month. In an emotional retirement speech, Manning expressed deep gratitude to his hometown of New Orleans, the Indianapolis Colts—with whom he played for fourteen years, and the Denver Broncos, where he spent the final four years of his football career. Manning has been the subject of recent controversy stemming from new details surrounding a 1996 incident in which the director of health and wellness at the University of Tennessee—where Manning was a student—accused Manning of making "unwanted sexual contact" with her. Manning didn't address the matter at his retirement speech press conference but instead focused on his love for the game of football. "It's not about mastery," Manning said with a quivering voice about his exemplary track record on the football field. "It's about reverence for the game." —Anna Quinlan
J. K. Rowling Reveals Latest Stories in Recent Promo Online
Author and queen of the wizarding world, J. K. Rowling delighted us with new stories centering around magic in the New World by releasing a series called The History of Magic in North America on her website Pottermore.
The first installment of the collection, "Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century," would "examine the early days of the magical community on the continent, the Native Americans and skin-walkers," before continuing to the "real histories of the Salem witch trials and the Scourers (a rogue band of magical mercenaries)," all of which would explain why it was apparently much more dangerous to be a witch or a wizard in North America than in Europe. Rowling also explains about Native American witches and wizards, basically stating that the legend of Native American "medicine men" comes down to wizardry. She also suggests that Native American witches and wizards are preternaturally gifted in "animal and plant magic," and able to construct potions that are of higher complexity and construction than their European counterparts.
Although Rowling has come under fire for cultural appropriation, as she is a white woman of considerable profile assigning explanation to an already stereotyped idea that Native Americans are inherently magical beings and that this is problematic because she hails from the culture that was instrumental in the dismantling of Native American culture, I think it's worth pointing out that Rowling is an author of fantasy fiction and not a historian. —HA
A Timely Reminder to Be Brave, Not Perfect
In a recent Ted Talk, founder and CEO of the computer science educational group Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, revealed a key difference in the way boys and girls are socialized. According to Saujani, boys are socialized to embrace bravery while girls are socialized to embrace perfection. As a result, this leads girls to avoid tasks they believe perfection cannot be attained. She says, “Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure. They’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all As. Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high, crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off head first. . . . We’re raising our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave.” Additionally, she cited a report from the Harvard Business Review that shows men will apply for jobs if they meet only 60 percent of the requirements, whereas women will apply only if they meet all the requirements. But there's hope: We can teach girls to be brave, as Anna Quinlan shared this week. May we all take a lesson from this story as we learn to be brave and continue to believe in ourselves. —DS