We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Case Is Now in Court
In 2013, Taylor Swift alleged that a Denver-based DJ sexually assaulted her by reaching under her skirt and grabbing her butt during a photo at a pre-concert fan reception. David Mueller denies the incident entirely and filed a suit against Swift in 2015 claiming that her false allegation caused him to lose his job. Swift counter-sued for assault and battery, and the case has come before a U.S. District Court with and eight-person jury this week in Denver. Swift's mom took the stand on Wednesday, and Taylor, herself, testified on Thursday. Reuters reports that when directly asked if he had grabbed Swift under her skirt, Mueller told the court, "No, I did not." Swift's words from the stand were "so apparently devastating to Mueller that her lawyer, D. Douglas Baldridge, declined a chance to cross-examine his own client when [Mueller's lawyer] was done questioning her," according to Reuters.
Mueller is seeking $3 million in damages. Swift is seeking $1. Her goal with the suit, she said, is to, "serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts." The trial is scheduled to end by August 17, according to the Washington Post. —Megan Madden
Google Employee Fired for His Comments About Women in the Workplace
This week, everyone was talking about the Internet giant Google, and its male employee who challenged diversity attempts to include more women in engineering roles with an internal memo he send around titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber." On Tuesday, that man, 28-year-old James Damore, was fired.
Many of his anti-diversity arguments, while well-organized, are based upon old stereotypes, reminding me of the Harvard President who sparked controversy a decade ago by saying (incorrectly) that women were biologically worse at math. Damore argued, as reported by The New York Times, that "'personality differences' between men and women — like a woman having a lower tolerance for stress — help explain why there were fewer women in engineering and leadership roles at the company."
Some other points he made, though, do hold a grain of truth. Research by economists does indeed show that more women are willing to trade a lucrative career track for careers or jobs that have better flexibility or work-life-balance. Google ultimately fired him in accordance with their company mandate that employees not advance "harmful gender stereotypes.”
I know firsthand, as a woman in tech, it can be easy to get caught up in indignations. It's unfortunate that Google fired him, though. Silencing this one man, who represents undercurrent thoughts of many more men in this industry, will not solve the systemic issue. We need to face facts with facts, and engage those who hold misperceptions in real dialogue. Ultimately, men and women need to work together and see an individual's talents—including women's technical prowess—and to see any differences as strengths, not weaknesses. Otherwise, any hope for diversity in tech (and everywhere, really) is a pipe dream. —Maria Walley
Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett Returning to Screen
Two of our favorite redheaded comedians will be returning to the small screen soon. The story of comedian Lucille Ball, star of the 1950s show I Love Lucy, and her husband Desi Arnez will be brought to life by Amazon Studios in a movie called Lucy and Desi. Actress Cate Blanchett is set to portray Ball. The studio is still casting Arnez as well as actors to portray Vivian Vance and William Frawley—aka onscreen buds, Fred and Ethel. However, the movie will not focus on the comedic gags and antics of Desi and Lucy’s onscreen relationship, but rather it will focus on their tumultuous relationship of 20 years that sadly ended in divorce.
In other news, a new adaption of The Carol Burnett Show called A Little Help With Carol Burnett will soon be streaming on Netflix. The half hour segments will feature Burnett interviewing children ages 4 to 8—it’s destined to be hilarious. —Gabriella Patti
Speaking of our Redheaded Friends . . .
Heads up, all you lovely gingers; you might be getting your own emoji, thanks to a proposed list of new emojis that, if approved, is set to roll out June 2018. (Wait, there wasn’t one already?) Twitter was all aflutter with news of the update, which also includes a hiking boot, a frisbee, and a slightly less exciting frowning pile of poo. —Krysta Scripter
Anna Faris and Chris Pratt Split, and Fans Were Overcome
Hollywood couple Anna Faris and Chris Pratt announced their split in a statement delivered via social media on Sunday night. The couple, who have been married for eight years, said, “We tried hard for a long time, and we’re really disappointed. . . . We still have love for each other, will always cherish our time together, and continue to have the deepest respect for one another.” As to their 4-year-old son, Jack, they said, “Our son has two parents who love him very much, and for his sake we want to keep this situation as private as possible moving forward.”
Faris and Pratt were a beloved public couple, and their fans were distraught over the news, claiming that love must be dead. However, as clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow told Verily this week, love takes work and it is important to realize that there are steps that can be taken to protecting our own relationships from the inevitable hardships. So while it might be difficult, love is certainly not dead! —GP
Young Woman Accused of Encouraging Suicide Was Sentenced
In a landmark case that could determine the legality of telling someone to commit suicide, Michelle Carter was sentenced to two and half years of jail after being previously found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Carter was 17 years old when she sent hundred of texts to her on and off boyfriend, Conrad Roy, encouraging him to commit suicide, the most damning one telling him to get back into a car with a portable generator that eventually killed him. Carter texted another friend afterwards, saying “His death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him."
Carter faced up to twenty years in prison, but the prosecution argued that Carter’s erratic behavior was caused by her antidepressants and she was “involuntarily intoxicated.” Roy’s father and sister both spoke and wept before the sentencing, and Carter was seen crying during the official reading. —KS
Sinéad O’Connor Says She Is Suicidal and Alone in Viral Video
Late last week, the Irish singer posted an alarming video, in which she can be seen crying in a motel room and declaring that her family and friends have abandoned her because of her mental illness. "People who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on Earth," O'Connor said in her video. "You've got to take care of us. We're not like everybody." The singer continued to say she was suicidal and that besides her doctor and her psychiatrist, she felt entirely alone. She tagged it #OneOfMillions, saying she hoped "that this video is somehow helpful” for the millions of people who also suffer from mental illness.
This is not the first time O'Connor has alarmed fans and followers with her social media posting. She previously posted to Facebook in 2015 that she had overdosed after a lengthy custody battle concerning her youngest son and his father, Irish musician Donal Lunny.
On Tuesday a post on O’Connor’s Facebook let fans know that the singer was safe, not suicidal, and surrounded by loved ones. —KS