We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Gorilla Harambe’s Death Turns Ugly
This past weekend, tragedy and controversy struck the Cincinnati Zoo after a 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe was shot after a 4-year-old boy found himself in the gorilla’s habitat. The child reportedly crawled through the barrier, fell into the pit, and was then dragged and thrown around by the gorilla. In a statement released on the zoo’s Facebook page, Zoo Director Thane Maynard said, “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger, and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team.” Maynard said that the zoo had no choice, as a tranquilizer would have little to no effect on a 450-pound gorilla.
Harambe’s death is a great loss of an endangered animal; however, it is disconcerting to see the national blame game that has followed. Many have aimed a witch hunt against the young boy’s parents, claiming that negligence on their part caused the death of the gorilla. Some have even gone so far as to send death threats to both the parents and their young son.
In the midst of all the panicked and accusing comments, a former zookeeper released a simple statement about the tragedy. Amanda O’Donoughue, who in the past worked closely with apes and described them as “kind, curious, and sometimes silly," added that "they are also very large, very strong animals.” O’Donoughue used her platform to turn the conversation toward the safety of zoo facilities, saying that no one should ever be able to slip into any animal enclosure.
As an animal lover, I am devastated, and I understand that the cry of justice for Harambe was born out of a desire to protect all animals. But this serves as a reminder that when the conversation becomes fueled by hatred and anger rather than humanity, we've clearly lost our priorities. —Gabriella Patti
Amber Heard Files Restraining Order Against Depp
On Friday, Amber Heard filed a restraining order against her husband, Johnny Depp. Heard was granted the restraining order and has filed papers to end their fifteen-month marriage. Subsequently, photos have been released of alleged abuse that Heard received at the hand of Depp. Heard said that Depp was both “verbally and physically abusive” throughout the relationship. She finally filed for divorce, she says, when he threw his cell phone at her, hit her, and pulled at her hair during a domestic dispute.
LAPD was called to the scene on the night of the dispute, but LAPD Sgt. Marlon Marrache said that Heard did not file a report, and no signs of abuse were found.
Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp came to his defense on Instagram with a photo of herself as a baby with her dad captioned, "My dad is the sweetest, most loving person I know, he's been nothing but a wonderful father to my little brother and [me], and everyone who knows him would say the same.”
This statement from Lily-Rose was accompanied by an article penned by Depp’s friend comedian Doug Stanhope claiming that Heard is blackmailing her estranged husband. Depp’s lawyer alleged that Heard is claiming abuse for monetary gains, and on Twitter #imwithjohnny has been trending.
This defensive response seems to highlight the problem with how we discuss abuse. Depp, similar to Bill Cosby, is highly regarded and loved, and society is ready to kick Heard’s allegations to the curb rather than soil his name. Of course, more facts are needed, and we can only hope they will come to the surface. But by rushing to an accused defense, we perpetuate a system that protects abusers and keeps victims in the shadows, ashamed and vulnerable. In the meantime, Amber Heard deserves to be heard. —GP
The New Nude That We Can All Get Behind
In her 2013 novel Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asks, “When you use the 'nude' color of underwear and Band-Aids, do you already know that it will not match your skin?” For many women, the answer is yes. One team of women is out to change that. Naja is a “radically different, thoughtful lingerie brand that was created for smart, funny, courageous and sexy women.” In addition to redefining the color nude in fashion, the company values sustainable materials, craftsmanship, and creating supportive jobs for women heads of households. Rather than taking the traditional route of marketing lingerie with hyper-sexualized ads like Calvin Klein, Naja ads feature women who look strong and empowered.
Atima Lui—entrepreneur, Harvard Business grad, and recently, lingerie model—joined Naja’s campaign to redefine standards of beauty in the lingerie industry. In a promotional piece for one of Naja’s seven varieties of nude, Atima speaks about how she has embraced her aesthetic as "a very dark-skinned Sundanese woman." In a culture where being assaulted by hyper-sexualized ads is the norm, Naja’s campaign cultivates a rich definition of beauty. Its underwear ads highlight the women who wear their products, their origins, and stories, rather than letting an industry dictate what’s sexy and what’s not. —Rachel Wilkerson
Björk Speaks on Facing Sexism
Speaking at the Australian launch of her art exhibit Björk Digital, alt-rock icon Björk said this week that while she has been “very lucky,” she has still faced sexism in her career. “The fact I’m a woman and I can do what I do, it’s kind of unique, really,” Björk said. “I’ve been really lucky. But I have been hitting walls. What’s really macho, for example, is music journalism. It’s really like a boys’ club. They like music that is… well, a lot of it is for boys.”
As a woman who got her start in journalism as a rock writer, I know too well that this is true. Björk, commonly recognized for her creative innovation, added, “I actually think a lot about my music is quite conservative.” She doesn’t believe she’s as off-the-wall as others do; on the contrary, she just thinks other artists just play it too safe. —Hannah Allen
Kit Harington Doesn’t Like Being Objectified Either
Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington (aka Jon Snow) has called out what he called “sexism toward men” in an interview with the Sunday Times this week.
“I like to think of myself as more than a head of hair or a set of looks,” Harington said. “It’s demeaning. Yes, in some ways you could argue I’ve been employed for a look I have. But there’s a sexism that happens toward men. There’s definitely a sexism in our industry that happens toward women, and there is toward men as well. . . . At some points during photo shoots when I’m asked to strip down, I felt that.”
By sexism, Harington seems to mean objectification, and, yeah, it’s real. Moreover, it’s nice to hear some men affirm that it’s not an enjoyable experience. —HA
And the Self-Made Women of the Year Are . . .
The second annual list of the richest self-made women was released by Forbes magazine. No one seems the least bit surprised that Queen Bey herself came in at 56th with a reported net worth of $265 million. At age 34, the twenty-time Grammy winner continues to prove that girls run the world. Also on the list is America's #squadgoals leader Taylor Swift, coming in as the youngest woman on the list at #60 with a $250 million net worth. The richest self-made woman in America is Diane Hendricks, who owns ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing and siding in the country. Hendricks is worth $4.9 billion, $1.2 billion more than last year when she came in second. —HA
. . . Not Elizabeth Holmes
Notably off the list this year was CEO Elizabeth Holmes. This time last year, Forbes had just named 31-year-old Holmes, of revolutionary blood-testing company Theranos, the richest self-made woman in America with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. Fast-forward to this week’s announcement, and it appears that maybe she’s actually worth much less. Like, $4.5 billion less. That’s right, after Theranos has failed to make good on myriad promises—including a supposed 120 different approvals that would be obtained from the FDA as well as substantiating data, none of which have been submitted—Forbes announced this week that, based on Holmes’ 50 percent stake in Theranos, she just might be broke.
The company is privately held, funded by VCs who retain “participating preferred shares” of the company, meaning that in the event of liquidation they would receive payment before Holmes. That, coupled with the fact that Theranos is “being investigated by an alphabet soup of federal agencies” after a slew of allegations about the accuracy (or lack thereof) of their blood tests, points to a strong likelihood that Holmes is unlikely to profit from her stake in the company she founded.
Holmes is scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in August and so far appears ready to defend herself. Following a story in Quartz about her fall from wealth, she emailed the publication, explaining that “as a privately held company, we declined to share confidential financial information with Forbes. As a result, the article was based exclusively on speculation and press reports.” Alright then. —Anna Quinlan
The Bachelorette: What the Chad?
Monica Gabriel Marshall continued her coverage of this season of The Bachelorette, and boy did this week give her plenty to talk about. Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher had her fill of uncomfortable dates, red roses, and a surprising amount of deli meat in week two of the hit ABC show. This week’s episode consisted of two dates: (1) a firefighter training test and (2) a practice marriage proposal. As far as a realistic dating experience goes, we hope JoJo is able to filter through all the weirdos during these equally weird date activities, so she can pick the right guy. And hopefully that guy is not Chad.
This week Chad kept up his pattern of jerky behavior and gave Marshall plenty of red flags to unpack. “A healthy, loving relationship should feel like you are looking in a mirror," Marshall says, "and the reflection looking back at you is the person you want to become—not the hot stuff facade that you want everyone else to see.” In case you missed it, the “hot stuff facade” she refers to is our friend Chad. Luckily he was quickly upstaged by another bachelor, Chase, who took JoJo on a spontaneous date to a mock winter wonderland. Despite the whirlwind that was this week’s Bachelorette, next week promises just as much excitement with a double episode and, we hope, the last one where we'll see Chad. —Grace Cooper
Sexual Assaults Ensue at German Music Fest
This week twenty-six women have come forward to say they were sexually assaulted at the Schlossgrabenfest festival in the city of Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt. Fourteen have made formal criminal complaints. The tactics are being described by outlets as a smaller scale but similar incident to the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne. Three Pakistani men between the ages of 28 and 31 were arrested Sunday and are currently under investigation. There are concerns that the incidents could cause a backlash against immigrants after it emerged that most of victims described their attackers as foreign in appearance, just like in the New Year’s Eve attacks. —HA
Kristen Bell Joins Celebs in Destigmatizing Mental Illness
In an interview this week, Kristen Bell opened up about her struggle with depression during college. By joining the ranks of other brave female celebrities who have publicly spoken about their mental health—such as Demi Lovato, Lena Dunham, and Brittany Snow—Bell hopes that she will encourage other people to take their own and others’ mental health concerns more seriously.
Bell rightly points out that mental health issues, although perhaps not as tangible as physical health problems, are just as serious: “If you tell a friend that you are sick, his first response is likely, 'You should get that checked out by a doctor.' Yet if you tell a friend you’re feeling depressed, he will be scared or reluctant to give you that same advice. You know what? I’m over it.” And we are, too. —GC
Alicia Keys on Why She Went Makeup-Free
Alicia Keys wowed this week with a beautiful essay about ditching her makeup to find a more authentic sense of self. In her writing, Keys talks about the pressure that comes from society’s stereotype of the perfect woman—something she’s sung about before in her songs. While on her makeup-free journey, Keys participated in an unplanned photoshoot which she afterward described as “the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful” she had ever felt.
It’s important to note that the artist does not pass judgement in her essay—she’s not here to make a critic or a hero out of herself. However, Keys does seem to suggest that there is a line between adding and taking away from a woman’s authentic beauty. As Hannah Allen wrote this week, “If it becomes less an experience of self expression and more an experience of meeting expectations then, Houston, we've got a problem.” In a world where Kim Kardashian spends about two hours getting herself Instagram-ready every day, Alicia Keys definitely has the right idea. —GC
Adele Chastises Fan for Filming Her Concert
Hello? It’s Adele. In real life. That’s a paraphrase, but it’s basically what the British songstress told a fan at a recent concert in Verona, Italy. After noticing the fan filming her performance, she took advantage of a break between songs to chastise her. “Because I’m really here in real life, you can enjoy it in real life, rather than through your camera,” she quipped. “Can you take your tripod down? This isn’t a DVD, this is a real show, and I would really like you to enjoy my show because there’s lots of people outside that couldn’t come in.” Oh, snap!
Footage of the incident—presumably captured by other fans taking video—surfaced online almost immediately, with the public opinion seemingly split as to whether Adele’s position was warranted. One Facebook user commented: “I agree with Adele. It's better to enjoy a concert in real life, which means feeling the surroundings, the music, and the whole experience itself.” While another Facebooker retorted: “The fan paid to be there . . . so shut up, Adele!” Yikes.
Adele hasn’t commented on the incident; she’s busy living her real life, and maybe this is all “Water Under the Bridge.” —AQ
See Something, Say Something
According to this story, while dining at a restaurant this week, Monica Kenyon witnessed a man at another table pour a mysterious substance into his date’s drink while the diner was in the bathroom. Instead of sitting idly by like the bystander effect dictates we do, she decided to take action.
Kenyon's fellow diner followed the unsuspecting woman into the bathroom to tell her what had happened only to find out that the man was not a first date but actually a good friend. The woman returned to her table and resisted her date’s hints to drink, while the management was alerted and began to review security tape footage. Then, while awaiting the check, the Santa Monica PD arrived to arrest the man. Afterward several other diners approached the women to applaud them. So many women experience date rape, and stories like this prove just how easy it can be to turn a blind eye. It’s a good thing there are heroes out there who are brave enough to give this woman’s near sexual assualt a better ending. —GC