We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Harvey Weinstein Reaches Tentative $25 Million Settlement with Accusers
On Wednesday, former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein reached a tentative $25 million settlement with dozens of accusers. The producer has been publicly accused of decades of sexual assault by more than thirty women since 2017. According to the New York Times, the deal would be paid out by insurance companies representing the Weinstein Company and would not require Weinstein to admit any guilt. The settlement would be shared among all of Weinstein’s alleged victims and would bring almost all lawsuits against Weinstein and his company to an end.
While several lawyers have already agreed to the terms on behalf of their clients, not everyone is completely satisfied with them. Katherine Kendall, an actress who accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back to 1993 said that she is disappointed by the terms but agreed to them for the sake of the other plaintiffs. “We reject the notion that this was the best settlement that could have been achieved on behalf of the victims,” said attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent several of the plaintiffs. However, Genie Harrison, another attorney representing one of Weinstein’s victims said that she believes that this is the best they could do under the circumstances, as further negotiations may have left victims empty-handed.
It’s completely understandable that so many of Weinstein’s accusers want to settle and end this long, painful saga, and we stand by them. However, we are sad for their sakes, that better terms were not negotiated, particularly ones that bring Weinstein to justice and force him to admit culpability. —Gabriella Patti
Nike's New Modest Swimwear Includes Swim Hijab
Nike debuted a new swimwear collection this week called Victory Swim. It’s unlike Nike’s other products, however, because it emphasizes a combination of modesty and function. It even includes a hijab.
In a press release, Nike explained that in listening to athletes, they heard that the current range of products on the market wasn't meeting the needs of women who didn't want to sacrifice body coverage for comfort and performance in the water. The typical swimwear available either made a full range of motion difficult or compromised on modesty.
The line includes a full body suit as well as swim separates, consisting of a tunic, leggings, and the aforementioned hijab, giving women the chance to select various levels of modesty.
So-called “burkinis” have been controversial. This past summer, groups of French swimmers protested a ban on such swimsuits by joining Muslim swimmers at pools where they officially weren’t welcome, resulting in the police being called and tickets being issued. Similar draconian laws have been passed in cities in Germany and Switzerland.
It’s not just Muslim women who could benefit from Nike’s new swim line: women who are managing skin cancer risk or hoping to delay signs of skin aging might appreciate getting almost full-body 40 SPF sun protection without applying a drop of sunscreen. And, frankly, any woman who simply feels a bit more comfortable with less skin on display could enjoy it too. Count me as interested! The line will be available online February 1. —Margaret Brady
Finland's New Prime Minister Is a 34-year-old Woman
On Tuesday, Finnish politician Sanna Marin became the youngest prime minister in the world, and in her country's history.
After previously serving as the nation’s transportation minister, Marin was sworn into her new role to replace Antti Rinne, who resigned after he lost the support of his party's coalition partner over fall out from a postal worker strike. Like Rinne, Marin is a member of the Social Democrat party, which leads a center-left alliance of parties in Finland's parliament.
Marin is not the only young woman taking a leadership role in Finnish politics: in fact, all of the major parties are led by women, most of them also in their thirties. Overall, more than 40 percent of the parliament is female. Marin narrowly beat Antti Lindtman, a male leader in the Social Democrats, to become prime minister.
Compared to her fellow rulers around the world, Marin is just slightly more junior than her Ukrainian counterpart, who is 35. New Zealand's prime minister is 39. “I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate," Marin was quoted by AFP. Congratulations to her! —MB
Golden Globe Nominations Announced: Female Directors Shut Out
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the 2020 nominees for Golden Globe Awards this week. Netflix dominated, scoring nominations in both film and television categories, but the biggest story was who didn't make the list: women directors—zero of them.
In a year that saw many prominent films from women, including Little Women, Frozen 2, and The Farewell, the omission is remarkable but perhaps not surprising: only five women directors have ever been nominated for a Golden Globe, and only one has ever taken the award home (Barbra Streisand for her efforts on Yentl in 1984). The last time a woman was nominated was in 2015, with Ava DuVernay up for Selma.
About a hundred members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voted on the nominees and the results are often a harbinger of future Oscar victories. The directors who did make the cut included: Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). The single most nominated film was Netflix's Marriage Story, including nods for best picture and for Scarlett Johansson as best actress. A complete list of nominees can be found here. —MB
Supreme Court Rejects Case Challenging Kentucky Law Requiring Doctors to Show Ultrasounds to Abortion Seekers
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a case that challenged a Kentucky law that requires doctors to show and explain ultrasounds to women seeking abortions. The challengers, which included Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, claimed that the law violates the doctors’ first amendment rights. The state of Kentucky said that the law, which has been in place since 2017, is part of a process of informed consent. The state said that the law, “does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading, and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion.”
Kentucky is one of several states to have passed laws requiring doctors to provide information about ultrasounds and fetal heartbeats. —GP
In Spite of Ban, Nepali Women Still Being Isolated to “Menstruation Huts”
CNN has reported that nearly 80 percent of teenage girls who took part in a new study in Nepal said they’d spent time in dangerous outdoor huts during their periods—even though the practice was outlawed in 2018 after several women died from exposure.
The practice is called “Chhaupadi,” and it’s been a custom for centuries among Hindu communities in mid-Western Nepal. Chhaupadi is rooted in an ancient belief that women are “unclean” when menstruating, necessitating their removal from the household and that they spend the night alone in outdoor sheds designated for the purpose. They are often forbidden from engaging in normal daily activities, as well.
The study found that Chhaupadi is practiced by wealthy families and impoverished ones alike; in fact, 66 percent of girls in the top wealth bracket spent their periods outdoors. Female teachers, health professionals, and leaders also participate. At least four women have died from the practice this year, including a 17-year-old victim in February who died of smoke inhalation after she tried to light a fire to keep warm.
It is technically a crime to force a woman into a menstruation hut, and despite evidence to the contrary, government officials claim the practice has been eradicated. Women’s rights organizations explain that in spite of the law, the tradition of Chhaupadi is enforced informally by local communities, especially by older women, including mothers and grandmothers of the menstruating women themselves. —MB
Russia Banned from Competing in International Sporting Competitions over Doping Scandal
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that Russia will be banned from all world sporting events for the next four years due to a doping scandal. This ban most notably prevents Russian teams from competing in the World Cup and the Olympics.
WADA came to the decision after concluding that Moscow had tampered with and deleted data and laboratory results that may have shown positive drug test results or data linked to drug cheats. Although the sanctions prevent Russian teams from competing, individual Russian athletes who can prove that they are not complicit in the scandal are allowed to compete as neutral athletes. —Gabriella Patti
Miss South Africa Crowned 2019 Miss Universe
Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, was crowned Miss Universe 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia this week. Tunzi is the fourth black woman to have been crowned in a major pageant this year. “Tonight a door was opened, and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine,” Tunzi wrote on Instagram. While there remain troubling aspects of pageants these days, we hope that Tunzi uses her fame to do good! —GP
Good News of the Week
The story of a five-year-old Michigan boy, Michael, went viral this past week after he invited his entire kindergarten class to attend his legal adoption ceremony. While Michael relaxed in his seat next to his new legal parents, his classmates sat behind him waving paper hearts on sticks. During the hearing, each one of his classmates introduced themselves to the court and explained why they were there. “My name is Lily and I love Michael,” said one little girl while another boy said that “Michael is my best friend.”
“His whole kindergarten class and school being here to say ‘we love you,’ and ‘we support you’ and ‘we’ll be here not only today, but in all the years in the future,’” the Honorable Judge Patricia Gardner said. Congratulations to Michael and his family on the occasion of his adoption! —GP
Watch of the Week
Lizzo’s recent hit “Good As Hell” is hard not to bop along to. But after watching this music video featuring Louisiana students and musicians, it’s bound to become your personal anthem anytime you’re feeling down after a setback.
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