We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Bill Cosby Will Take the Stand
Eleven years after Andrea Constand accused Bill Cosby of rape, a Pennsylvania court found enough evidence to send Bill Cosby to trial.
Constand's initial case was dismissed in 2004, but it has only recently been taken seriously as accusations from other women have compiled to reveal an eerily similar pattern of abuse. The details of the accusations of more than 50 women are horrifyingly similar, many of them relaying a similar set of circumstances involving alcohol and drugs, followed by sexual assault.
The defense attempted to discredit Constand’s statement by pointing out discrepancies and changes of language in her statement. They leveraged tactics commonly used to dismiss accounts of sexual assault, as Cosby’s lawyer maintains that she “did not say no” and was not able to say no after being drugged. While it will be up to the jury to decide what happened in this case, we know that victims of sexual assault may experience shock that complicates reactions during and memories after the event.
As a previous article mentioned, rape isn’t just a physical assault; it is also an assault on the mind. Many of the women, Constrand included, looked to Cosby as a mentor or sought career advice from him. Part of the horror of the Cosby case is the blatant exploitation by a trusted figure.
As the trial unfolds, one of the key pre-trial issues is whether or not the 50 women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault will be allowed to testify. Regardless of the outcome, we commend women everywhere who speak out against sexual violence. —Rachel Wilkerson
Highlights from the Billboard Music Awards
The Billboard music awards took place this past Sunday, full of great music, masterful showmanship, and surprising moments of vulnerability from pop stars. Pink performed “Just Like Fire” while flying through more actual fire than risk management ought to have allowed on the stage. Adele launched a new music video (featuring a swoon-worthy Dolce & Gabbana gown in addition to phenomenal vocals). Celine Dion honored her husband who died four months earlier by singing Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.” Behind a backdrop with portraits of Prince and a purple velvet throne, Madonna paid tribute to the singer with a moving rendition of “Nothing Compares 2U.” While Madonna’s tribute stirred some controversy about Prince’s approval, Questlove maintained that singing his work was a brave way to honor the star’s memory. As one writer put it, Madonna’s performance “reminds you how fragile all our old musical heroes inevitably become.”
One of the most powerful moments of the night was Kesha, who delivered Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” with an authenticity that brought the longest standing ovation of the night. Kesha has been embroiled in a legal battle with Dr. Luke, her former mentor that she has accused of sexual assault. Amid threats of canceling her performance and speculation that she might not perform, Kesha delivered a gutsy performance that testified to her powerful vocal ability and inner strength. Ben Folds backed her performance on the piano, and said afterward in an interview with Rolling Stone: “ the main thing is that Kesha has had the same choice as everyone: take the tough road and stick up for herself or just get in line. The fact that her personal and artistic growth is so important to her that she's willing to be kicked off television shows and not put a record out—that's what people are responding to.”
While there’s an undeniable fascination with pop stars that always accompanies a production like the Billboard Music Awards, the songs of resilient artists is truly something to celebrate. —RW
That’s Professor Jolie to You
The London School of Economics may have figured out how to ensure that students strive for perfect attendance; They've announced that Oscar winning actress and UNHCR goodwill ambassador, Angelina Jolie, will be partnering with faculty as a visiting professor in practice for the newly developed course on women, peace, and security. Jolie, although best known for her acting roles on the big screen and the gaggle of adopted and biological children that she shares with husband Brad Pitt, has been using her stardom to advocate for refugees and victimized women since 2001 when she witnessed war-torn Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. "My eyes started to open," Jolie says about the trip that propelled her into action. Since then, she has amassed a wealth of experience both abroad and in Washington D.C. (pushing for legislation) that makes her a natural fit the LSE course, including serving as co-chair of a Global Summit To End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London in 2014.
“It is vital we broaden the discussion on how to advance women’s rights and end impunity for crimes that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual violence in conflict," says Jolie of the impact she hopes the course will have. “I am looking forward to teaching and to learning from the students, as well as to sharing my own experiences of working alongside governments and the United Nations.”
The course, which LSE says is the first of its kind, aims to “[develop] strategies to promote gender equality and enhance women’s economic, social and political participation and security.” We'd show up for that class, Hollywood professor or not. —Anna Quinlan
Indianapolis 500 Prepares to Fight Sex Trafficking
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is on track to draw the race's largest crowds in years. As we've written about here in the past, large sporting events like the Super Bowl or World Cup, are hotbeds for the heinous practice of sex-trafficking. This one is no different.
Public safety officials caution that the sheer scale of the 500 will almost certainly bring an increase in customers for the sex trade—an industry where victims as young as 12 or 14 can be recruited, coerced or forced into prostitution. The likelihood of increased human trafficking led authorities this month to launch an awareness campaign featuring billboards, bus advertisements, and fliers dispelling myths about the industry. One message reads: "She looked 18. She's not."
Sgt. Jon Daggy, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective who worked on the vice unit for years says there are some signs that hint toward such activity. He suggested hotel workers watch for anything suspicious, such as a grown man walking with young girls who are clearly unrelated to him. “This is an issue we all need to be aware of and educated on," Walsh said. "And we all need to work together to make sure we have a coordinated community response to this." —Hannah Allen
Love & Friendship in Theaters
Good news for lovers of all things Austen! Adapted from an unfinished novella of Austen’s, the new film Love & Friendship is a romantic comedy that joined the Austen canon this month. The film chronicles the excursions and romantic debacles of Lady Susan (played by Kate Beckinsale) and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark).
Lady Susan is an anti-hero, “someone who would be thoroughly annoying in real life, but quite delightful in fiction.” Several critics have lauded the addition of a wholly modern character who exploits social norms to Austen's heroines, while other find her character’s self-satisfaction distasteful. Regardless of the morals or merits of the character, Beckinsdale delivers serious speeches and snappy one liners with a self-aware comedic tone that carries the film.
To add to its charms, the witty banter unfolds against the backdrop of a grand country estate. The Economist praised the film as “rollicking, visually stunning, and light,” and the New Yorker declared it “deeply satisfying.” For those of us who fancy a lavish costume drama with quick-witted banter, we can look forward to the merriment of meeting Austen’s “Lady Susan” on the silver screen. —RW
Elijah Wood Warns of Child-Abusing ‘Vipers’ in Hollywood
This week Elijah Wood made headlines after an interview went off on a tangent discussing a 2015 documentary on child abuse called An Open Secret, which he’d watched recently. As a former child star, Woods said that he noticed many of his peers were preyed upon and that victims “can't speak as loudly" as the powerful voices in Hollywood. "That's the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people," he said. "They can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged." Referencing the BBC host Jimmy Savile who was accused of molesting hundreds of children, Woods added, “You all grew up with Savile...it must have been devastating. Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry—people who only have their own interests in mind.”
After Woods’ tangential remarks made instant headlines, the actor felt compelled to clarify a couple days later: “This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated. But as I made absolutely clear to the writer, I have no firsthand experience or observation of the topic, so I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen.” Still, worthwhile to bring it up, because actor Corey Feldman took off where Woods left off, speaking from his personal experience to confirm Woods’ suggestion. The Goonies star said that pedophiles in Hollywood, some of whom remain at large in the business, would “pass around” him and his fellow acting colleague Corey Haim (who tragically died in 2010 of drug-induced pneumonia), inviting the boys to parties and offering to help in their careers.
Given that the Oscars’ best film last year was one that told a heroic story of good journalism putting the spotlight on corruption and sexual abuse committed by those in the Catholic Church, I wonder if journalists will now rise to the occasion to do the same to corruption and abuse in Hollywood? Woody Allen’s son Ronan Farrow asked a similar question a few weeks ago. It's fair to say the world deserves some answers. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Garbage Is Back . . . Again!
If you're a '90s girl like myself you remember Garbage front woman Shirley Manson. Red hair, black eyeliner, Scottish accent and songs like “Only Happy When it Rains.”
As with so many iconic groups of that time fading into obscurity it's so good to see Garbage release a new song this week. “Empty,” the first single off of Garbage’s upcoming album Strange Little Birds shows in its music video a pink-haired Manson front and center on a soundstage. Director Sam Bayer’s camera whips around her and her fellow bandmates, as they plough through the track like they've never had down time.
In this age of streaming, synths, and computerized beats, it’s clear the band has stuck firmly to their alt-rock roots. Strange Little Birds, which is Garbage’s sixth album and their second after an extended hiatus, comes out on June 10. —HA
Deaf Contestant Wins Dancing with the Stars
This Tuesday, Dancing with the Stars awarded its mirrorball trophy to its first deaf champion, Nyle DiMarco. In addition to perfect-score performances, DiMarco wowed viewers by his inspiring perseverance in the face of adversity. As a result, we at Verily thought it a fitting time to celebrate DiMarco and other past DWTS finalists who didn’t let their physical limitations hold them back—contestants like Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Purdy who had both legs amputated after a form of bacterial meningitis and Iraq War veterans Noah Galloway and J.R. Martinez who suffered severe war injuries. If you’re looking for an inspiring send off for your weekend, this won’t disappoint. —MRS
You Don’t Have to Be ‘Sexy’ to Be Successful
This week U.S. soccer champion Carli Lloyd shared in an interview that she feels she has received less recognition for her accomplishments in the public square because as a woman she’s not playing the “hot” card. "I'm not going to go and pose for a swimsuit edition because that'll just ruin my reputation right off the bat,” Lloyd told ESPN. Further, it’s completely beside the point. A woman shouldn’t have to showcase her sexuality to be recognized for her accomplishments. At least not if we want to live in an equitable world.
If you haven’t heard of Lloyd’s accomplishments yet, she scored 3 goals in the first 16 minutes of the 2015 World Cup final against Japan. “I've kept to myself, I've put my head down, I've gone to work. And I have felt undervalued…," she said. "Those 16 minutes were 13 years of hard, hard work… But yet you never see my face or my name out there. And it has frustrated me my entire career.” For Verily this week, Anna Quinlan asks, if Lloyd portrayed a sexier image, “would she be recognized then? Maybe. Would it be worth it? Not if she prioritizes being authentic over seeking recognition from others. Because she's made it clear that's not her.” Here’s to Lloyd for being resilient in a culture that tells women they must fit a mold to be successful. We beg to differ. —MRS
Facebook Banned Ad of Plus-Size Model . . . Before Reversing
After Facebook removed an ad featuring plus-size model Tess Holliday on the grounds that it violated their health and fitness guidelines, the public outcry was so loud that Facebook reversed itself. But not before sparking a national conversation on whether imagery of larger-sized women is “glorifying obesity” or not. As Hannah Allen writes for Verily this week, it does much more to bring dignity to people of all sizes than it does promote unhealthy lifestyles. I have to agree. —MRS
The Bachelorette Returns . . . with Verily Coverage!
This week The Bachelorette premiered its latest season. This season, I’m pleased to say Verily Relationship Editor Monica Gabriel Marshall is watching the show, as she puts it, “so you don’t have to.” Let’s face it; The Bachelorette may be one of the strangest things on television, but for many it’s a recurring guilty pleasure. So this week we launched a recap and commentary series that we hope you’ll enjoy. Whether or not you’re a fan of the show, you’ll find humor and insights, even if just insight of what not to do when dating. Read Monica’s hilarious first piece here. —MRS
In Other Pink News . . .
Chart-topping singer, Pink, who's been out of the spotlight for three years, chatted about motherhood and her new single, "Just Like Fire" this week, revealing that her 4-year-old daughter, Willow, is one of her toughest critics. "She finds my singing distracting," Pink said, although her latest single, which she recorded for the forthcoming fantasy film, Alice Through The Looking Glass, has gotten Willow's seal of approval. "The movie celebrates uniqueness," the singer says, "and that's a big thing in our house."
Of her recent hiatus from recording, Pink says that normal demands of motherhood, like bake sales (!) have occupied most of her time. "I love being a mama," she says. "I made a choice a long time ago that I was going to have a successful family and that is my absolute number one goal in life.”
While her always-toned physique has graced many magazine pages, the singer admits that even she isn't immune to criticism from body shamers. She doesn't let it bother her, though, and embodies healthy body image, which she hopes to pass along to her daughter as well. “There are so many different kinds of bodies,” she says. “Look, my thing is if you have all four limbs and all five senses, you're doing a-OK and anybody that has an issue with that needs to find some gratitude.” Sing it from the rooftops, Pink. —AQ