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Droves of Women Suffering Depression from The Pill—and Other Notes from the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Eight Dead as New York Is Marred by Senseless Violence

Late Tuesday afternoon, a truck drove onto a bike path in Lower Manhattan, colliding with a school bus and ultimately killing eight people and injuring many more. The driver then emerged and was shot by police officers, who then took him into custody. Not even a month after the devastating shootings in Las Vegas, the New York attack has left the country reeling. According to TIME, “Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that the suspect, who they identified as Sayfullo Saipov, had been planning the attack for weeks, and committed the act in the name of ISIS.” The victims include five Argentinian citizens who were celebrating the anniversary of their high school graduation, two Americans, and a young mother of two from Belgium. Mayor de Blasio spoke about the attack, saying, “We know that this action was intended to break our spirit, but we also know New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient, and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence.” For Verily, Madeleine Kerns wrote about what it was like to be just a few blocks away from the incident babysitting a confused and sad 5-year-old. Sometimes, when words fail us, children remind us of important lessons. —Victoria Rabuse

Top NPR Editor Resigns, Accused of Sexual Harassment 

Michael Oreskes, NPR executive, resigned this week in the wake of several sexual allegations made against him. The allegations come from two women who claim Oreskes made unwanted sexual advances on them back in the 1990s when they were interviewing with him for jobs at The New York Times, where he was then working as bureau chief. According to The Washington Post, Oreskes “abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper.” These women did not speak out against Oreskes until this week, probably prompted by the recent vocalizations against sexual assault. Oreskes’ resignation from his high position at NPR is just one of many recent scandals in the past month wherein men in high places have been scandalously toppled from their thrones. —Mary Margaret Olohan

Forbes Announced Its List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Forbes Magazine has released its list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and there are some interesting new additions as well as some noticeable absences. Angela Merkel is ranked as the most powerful woman in the world, followed by Theresa May and Melinda Gates. Hillary Clinton, who only last year had obtained the prominent spot of No. 2 on the list during her bid for presidency, is now ranked down at No. 65. Similarly, Ivanka Trump has made a completely new appearance on the list at No. 19, while first lady Melania Trump is conspicuously absent. Beyonce has made the list at No. 50. While Forbes clearly put some serious effort into making this list, it’s interesting to ponder who we think deserves to be here and why. Find some Verily thoughts on powerful women here. —MMO

More Women Are Opting Out of The Pill

This past week, British Vogue reported that “younger women are turning away from the pill in droves,” citing a new NHS study that shows a drop in users by more than 13 percent between 2005 and 2015. The birth control pill was first introduced in the 1960s and since then, the issues it causes have become more prevalent. Women using the pill have reported extreme emotional highs and lows with little in-between, depression, anxiety, and even links to different forms of cancer. Many of the women Vogue spoke to talked about how much happier they felt only weeks after cutting the pill out of their lives. Vogue cites a University of Copenhagen study from last year that found “Women taking combined oral contraceptives were 23 per cent more likely to be treated for [depression]; those on the progestogen-only pill (known as the mini-pill) were 34 per cent more likely. Teens taking the combined pill were discovered to be at greatest risk, with an 80 per cent increased likelihood of being prescribed antidepressants.” With such risks, more women than ever are turning to variations of natural family planning. Many women and medical professionals have shared their thoughts on fertility-awareness based methods (FABMs) and charting with Verily. —VR

Selena Gomez Wins Billboard Woman of the Year and Splits from Her Longtime Boyfriend

Selena Gomez has been having quite the week. Though her famous boyfriend, The Weeknd, infamously broke up with her the other day, Gomez was also just named Billboard’s 2017 Woman of the Year. Last year’s recipient was Madonna, and according to Billboard, the award is given to those who stand out for their example as positive role models and service to others. John Amato, president of the Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group, says that, “Not only is Selena soaring on the charts, but she continuously inspires young women everywhere to be authentic, give back and to not be afraid to use their voice. . . . She is never afraid to speak her mind and has used her platform to advocate for the needs of others.” Gomez has been linked to mental health awareness efforts on more than one occasion. Many of her advocacy attempts have been scorned, though. Her recent music video for "Fetish" was criticized for sexualizing mental disorder. And 13 Reasons Why, a hugely controversial Netflix series, which she helped produce, was seen by many as the wrong approach to covering mental health among young people. —MMO

Another Step Forward for Women in Saudi Arabia

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia also made headlines when they announced that women would finally be allowed to drive. Now it has been announced that, starting next year, Saudi Arabia will finally allow women to enter sports stadiums and view games—although they will be seated in a “family section” separate from the men.  It was reported that “Many restaurants and cafes, which often also have separate entrances for women, have similarly segregated seating arrangements. The authority said the three major sports stadiums in the capital, Riyadh, and the cities of Jiddah and Dammam will undergo renovations to accommodate families.” This is a huge step for women’s rights and one we hope opens even more doors for the women in Saudi Arabia. —VR

New York Times Asks: What Do We Know About Rapists?

Through examining a fascinating study done on rapists, their motives and afterthoughts, the New York Times has revealed a common theme: these rapists “do not believe they are the problem.” The study, which was completed in the seventies by a researcher who recruited his participants by placing a newspaper ad that said: "Are you a rapist?" and offering anonymity to anyone who called him. Nearly two hundred people did call. The research reveals that many men who have committed rapes will not actually label the crime as such; while they will admit that they forced the victim to commit nonconsensual acts, they will always answer “no” when asked if they committed rape. Similarly, many of these men are those underdogs who watched on the sidelines as “jocks and the football players got all the attractive women.” These underdogs attempt to become more powerful through such violent actions later in life. The Times poignantly noted the researcher's assertion that, "the main common theme between these men is that they are unwilling to consider themselves as guilty of any wrongdoing—and this is why they are willing to do it again." —MMO

Beauty Pageant Flipped on Its Head

Anyone who has watched Toddlers and Tiaras or even Miss Congeniality has gotten a taste of the beauty pageant scene, which is often criticized for being anti-feminist and perpetuating the objectification of women with elements such as the infamous swimsuit competition. This past Sunday, however, the Miss Perú pageant took a new approach with the “question segment” of the pageant. Rather than sharing their bodily measurements, contestants stood in front of the audience in sequined mini-dresses and shared facts about violence against Peruvian women. Buzzfeed News shared screenshots of the contestants with their facts underneath, such as “My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco, and my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country”; “Almendra Marroquín here. I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: More than 25 percent of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools”; and “My name is Romina Lozano and I represent the constitutional province of Callao, and my measurements are: 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014.” The Huffington Post also shared that, “During the swimsuit portion of the competition, the pageant organizers displayed different media headlines of stories about the murder and assault of women in Perú.” While greater awareness of rape culture is an important cause, this bold decision to pair such a controversial event as a sexualized beauty pageant with facts about sexual violence toward movement gives us pause for thought. Regina Limo, a feminist columnist at the popular site, told NPR that while she thought sharing the statistics was a positive step she too felt conflicted over the medium the method was shared: "a 'superficial' event that reinforces unrealistic social expectations that burden women." Likewise, Lizzy Cantú, a journalist and former editor of a women's weekly magazine called Viù, told Vox, “I guess what is a bit problematic is that you are still using women's measurements — bodies — to sell a message. But I do think that some messages need the widest available distribution.” Despite the mixed messages, we hope this move by the Miss Perú pageant will inspire more meaningful conversation about our current epidemic of sexual violence towards women. —VR

100-Year-Old Grandma Gives Sage Advice in NYC

In the age of the internet, there’s almost no limit to the information we instantly have at our fingertips. But life is more than facts and figures, and sometimes we all need some good old-fashioned perspective. New York University adjunct social media professor Mike Matthews found a way to offer that when he set up something that resembles a lemonade stand for his grandmother, who lives in Washington state, to Skype with his fellow New Yorkers. “Talk with My 100-year-old Grandma,” reads the sign that invites passersby to spend some digital time with Eileen Wilkinson, better known as Grandma Eileen. She regularly doles out advice garnered from her one hundred years—everything from falling in love to how to talk to “old people”—and asks questions to get people to pause and reflect. Thanks to Matthews, Grandma Eileen also has a presence on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, revealing how encouraging and empowering social media can be when it’s put to good use. —Lindsay Schlegel