We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Terror Attack in Nice Kills at Least 84 and Injures More Than 100
Yesterday on the French holiday of Bastille Day, dozens of people were killed and more than a hundred were injured when a man driving a large truck barreled through crowds at a celebration in the coastal city of Nice. The man, who appears to have been alone in this attack, was shot by police, but not before running over numerous people in the crowded beach area. The truck was found to be full of firearms, explosives, and grenades. While no terror organization has taken responsibility for the attack, French President François Hollande extended the nation’s state of emergency for three months. Our thoughts and prayers are with France and the world during this volatile time. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Multiple Women Come Forward with Harassment Allegations Against Fox Head Roger Ailes
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has come under fire this week as he navigates a legal battle with former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson. Last week Carlson, who hosted The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, announced that she was leaving the network on the same day she filed a suit against Ailes for sexual harassment. Since then, at least six other women have come forward with similar accusations.
One of the accusers is former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle, who alleges that Ailes told her, “You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.” According to Boyle, “He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work—everyone’s got their friend.” When Boyle ultimately refused, she lost all assignments and was later informed by a confidant, “Word went out you weren’t to be hired.” Another woman alleges that Ailes requested sexual contact from her when she was invited at age 16 to be a walk-on for a show. When she refused, he blackmailed her that if she told anyone, he’d hurt her reputation because he “got it all on tape.”
While the legal proceedings are still playing out, it is certainly disturbing to hear these claims sprout up. The story rings eerily similar to what happened when the numerous allegations came forth against Bill Cosby, who used his victims’ professional success as simultaneous bait and blackmail. If Cosby’s case tells us anything, it’s that we’d be wise to take these allegations very seriously.
On a personal level, for those of us reading the headlines, rather than doubting their seriousness due to some victims’ years of silence, we’re better off considering some of the reasons why assault victims in general can take years to speak up, and how snap judgments doubting them can compound their pain. If we want a world with less sexual harassment and assault, we’ll want to make it a world in which more women feel comfortable speaking up, not fewer. We’ll be watching how this legal case unfolds. —MRS
Serena Williams, On and Off the Court
After winning the Wimbledon championship on Saturday, Serena Williams is just two titles shy of holding the most Grand Slam wins of any tennis player ever. With twenty-two wins from the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open championships combined, she’s now tied with retired champion Steffi Graf. The all-time Grand Slam record, also held by a woman, Margaret Court, is twenty-four titles.
At age 34, Williams is the oldest woman to win a major title in tennis since the 1960s. She’s a force to be reckoned with, but amid all her successes—including running her own fashion line—she’s pleading to be measured against everyone rather than ranked based on how well she does something “for a woman.” Like many female athletes, Williams has faced criticism over the validity of her success and constantly has to fight for the same recognition her male counterparts get. As Vogue pointed out, if you Google “tennis player with the most Grand Slams” you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see any mention of Serena Williams.
Speaking of Gender Disparity in Sports . . .
The “Oscars of Sports,” aka the ESPYs, took place this week. The glamorous event handed out dozens of awards to the biggest names in sports, and everyone got to do one more victory lap on their most recent season. Among the winners were Steph Curry (Best Record-Breaking Performance) and LeBron James (Best Male Athlete). Recent retirees and all-time greats in their respective sports Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, and Kobe Bryant each took home an Icon Award honoring their time as professional athletes.
The ESPYs were opened by NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and James, who used the moment to call for social change and decreased gun violence. But one of our favorite moments was when the Best Female Athlete award was given to Breanna Stewart. The UConn women’s basketball star and number one pick in this year’s WNBA draft used her acceptance speech to call for increased gender equality in sports, saying, “I’d like to thank my fans, my family, UConn, my coaches, and all my teammates. I’d also like to thank ESPN and the media. During my time in college, I received much media attention. I am grateful for that.” She went on, “But now that I am in the WNBA, playing with other amazing female athletes, I’m trying to understand why we, as professional female athletes, don’t receive anywhere near the fame. This has to change.” Way to use your spotlight moment to raise such important issues, Breanna! —Emily Mae Schmid
Taylor Continues to Conquer the World, NBD
Take a break from all the Hiddleswift and Calvin Harris hoopla for a moment because Tay has a new headline out. It’s official: Taylor Swift is the world’s highest-earning celebrity of 2016, Forbes magazine announced on Monday. Apparently the $170 million that she earned on tour for 1989 (as well as various endorsements, including Apple and Diet Coke) over the past year is more than enough to land her the number one spot on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s one hundred highest-earning entertainers.
Despite Swift at the top, the “Celeb 100” list has shockingly few women, with only fifteen making the list in total, down from sixteen women last year. Other women include Adele at No. 9 (who, interestingly, is the only musician on the list who made more than half of her money from her music alone), Kim Kardashian at No. 43, Jennifer Lawrence at No. 50, and Katy Perry at No. 66. Way to go, ladies. —Sophie Caldecott
New Prime Minister for the United Kingdom Takes Her Spot
This week the U.K. got its second-ever female prime minister since the Iron Lady, but not without a heated debate about gender roles—and not even for the reason you imagined. Unlike the current United States presidential race, Britain’s race had two female contenders. But a media storm of drama ensued after contender Andrea Leadsom responded to an interviewer’s question about motherhood, causing some to speculate whether she was saying the fact that she was a mother made her a better candidate. After Theresa May revealed that she cannot have children, Leadsom apologized and backed out of the race, and May became the U.K.’s second female prime minster. —Grace Cooper
Funny Video of the Week
The sketch comedy group Nuclear Family released a video this week for the Underwritten Female Character. Before you get too excited—or confused—the trailer is fake, but the message is very real. In the trailer Bree Essrig plays the “manic pixie dream girl.” With the help of her other underwritten female character (UFC) counterparts, such as “sassy” or “eye candy,” Essrig’s job is to defy her own marginalized character stereotype through a series of tasks, like talking about anything other than the fact that she just got dumped by her boyfriend. While this trailer is pretty funny, it’s also an unfortunately real example of the flatness and lack of development that films tend to give a lot of female characters. Here’s to laughing and to appreciating the well-developed, independent female roles that women deserve! —GC
. . . Which Brings Us to Ghostbusters!
The film world has been abuzz with the release of the new Ghostbusters reboot this week. The film’s all-female cast—starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon—has been subject to controversy since the trailer’s release, and even before that when the movie was just in its planning stages. Because the franchise has developed such a cult following, many fans of the original movie have taken to the Internet to slam the all-female reboot.
The movie’s director, Paul Feig (of Bridesmaids fame), told New York Magazine that he’s been subjected to two years of Internet trolling and harassment because of it. “I didn’t realize that for certain older guys, the original Ghostbusters is the equivalent of a tree house that has the ‘no girls allowed’ sign on it,” Feig told the magazine. “And I think they look at me as the guy who came up, took the sign, lit it on fire, and then painted the inside of the tree house pink.”
Despite controversy, the movie is receiving mixed, but mostly positive, reviews from men and women alike. Like any film reboot, it’s being held to a lot of standards and expectations. All feelings aside, it’s true that giving females good roles shouldn’t have to be such a big deal. —GC