Welcome to the fifth edition of the 162 Report. As part of SKDKnickerbocker’s Women’s Leadership & Advocacy Practice, this bi-monthly newsletter tracks the stories affecting the 162 million women living in the United States who inspire our work. Know someone who would enjoy the 162 Report? Anyone can subscribe by emailing us at [email protected].
WOMEN IN POLITICS
Just Like “Dinner in Texas”
More alike than their political affiliations would suggest, Cecile Richards and Barbara Bush sat down over lunch to discuss the challenges of growing up in political families and the politicization of health care, especially for women.
The women reminisced about what it was like growing up in a political family—Bush remembers a time when she was 8, and asked a friend when her grandfather’s inauguration was. “I had just been to my grandfather’s, and I assumed everybody had one,” Bush recalled. Richards, on the other hand, was 30 when she moved back to Texas to help with her mother’s campaign, with a 4-year-old daughter in tow and twins on the way.
Both women share a strong desire to impact the day-to-day lives of Americans by way of public health initiatives through their respective organizations. Bush remarks: “Since I was born, in 1981, we’ve had the drugs to save the millions of kids around the world who die every year. Yet the number of deaths hasn’t dropped at all. We have the tools to keep people healthy, but the systems are broken.”
Bringing the conversation back to both women’s southern roots, Richards notes that women’s health “[is] like dinner in Texas: Women took the chicken legs after everyone else had eaten.” Yet, as evidenced by what Richards and Bush have worked on, on both domestic and international fronts “if women are healthy, their families are healthy, their communities are healthy. It’s one of the most powerful ways to make social change.”
Read more here.
WOMEN IN ADVOCACY
Notorious R.B.G & Stopping the Sham
In a landmark 5-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court struck down a pair of Texas abortion restrictions that would have left all but 10 abortion clinics in the state. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Breyer in his majority opinion, and penned her own scathing concurring opinion that, in one brief paragraph, warns lawmakers across the country that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions will never be tolerated by the high court—citing that abortions are statistically safer than many common medical procedures, including tonsillectomies, colonoscopies, in-office dental surgery and childbirth, yet Texas does not subject those procedures to the same onerous requirements.
“Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H.B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions,” Ginsburg wrote.
The ruling has sent a ripple of relief around the country for women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Just days after the Court’s decision, laws restricting abortion access began to crumble, including laws in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama, Indiana and Florida.
“The decision is so strong, it gives us the momentum we needed,” said Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center of Reproductive Rights. “The court set a very powerful standard by reaffirming the constitutional right to an abortion.”
Planned Parenthood also announced its intention to strip now-unconstitutional anti-abortion laws from eight states. “We will use this ruling to go state by state, legislature by legislature, court by court, and law by law, until every single one of these dangerous restrictions is repealed,” said Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We will not stop until women’s health and lives come first.”
Read more here and here.
WOMEN IN BUSINESS
This Bee’s Got the Buzz
Up since 5:00 in the morning, having already scanned through several newspapers, downed two Nespressos, lured her three kids out of bed, and prepared breakfast and lunch for her whole family, Samantha Bee sat ready to speak with Rolling Stone.
From the get-go, Bee and her Full Frontal with Samantha Bee team leaned in to the sexism they knew would accompany a show in which wit is delivered in a higher register, from the tag line “Watch or you’re sexist” to the very first promo, in which Bee turns down a platter of meat (“Actually, you know what? I think I’m kind of done with sausages”) before signing off with a middle finger to the status quo: “And I am female as beep.”
Bee began her television career on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2003. In February 2015, Stewart announced he was leaving the show. When Trevor Noah was hired as Stewart’s successor, it was tempting to view the development as history repeating itself—“a blond, middle-aged, white woman with tons of experience losing out to a younger, calmer, less experienced biracial dude,” but TBS took it to the next level, and offered Bee a satire show of her own.
In the first step towards her inevitable prosperity, Bee utilized a blind application to go about hiring writers, so that the process didn’t favor people who’d already had success. She ended up with a writers’ room that looked kind of like America: 50 percent female; 30 percent nonwhite. “We don’t feel like we solved the diversity problem. We didn’t fix racism, quite,” Bee jokes. “I mean, we almost did. We’ll see how things pan out. I’m feeling quite good about it.”
Read more here.
WOMEN IN SPORTS
Four-foot-nine, 19 years old, and endlessly enthusiastic, Simone Biles is sure to make a distinct impact on the upcoming Olympics gymnastics. Biles’s gymnastic style is notably unique—she consistently competes with notable, physically materialized joy and ease, and a smile across her face, which stand stark in comparison to her competitors, will certainly help Biles to stand out.
Since 2013, no rival has come close to the marks she has earned en route to three consecutive world all-around championships and, last week, her fourth national title in a row at the P&G Championships in St. Louis, won with a career-high score that was nearly four points ahead of nearest competitor Aly Raisman.
“You run out of adjectives when you are talking about Simone Biles,” said former gymnast-turned analyst Tim Daggett.
Biles has the potential to win five gold medals; she’s the definitive favorite for the coveted all-around. She’s expected to lead an uncommonly strong U.S. squad to the prestigious team title. And barring a rare misstep, she’ll be untouchable on vault, floor and beam, given the degree of difficulty of her routines. Until then, Biles has just one more hurdle to clear: Making the official five-woman roster, which will be named following the U.S. women’s Olympic trials in San Jose July 8 and 10.
Read more here.
The Full Picture
At the culmination of the White House’s first United States of Women summit, Oprah noted in conversation to Michele Obama, “We live in a world where you are constantly being bombarded by images.” Across the ocean, the new mayor ld transportation that might cause women to feel pressured “into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies”—an initiative Khan had integrated into his election campaign.
Although Mayor Khan’s efforts shouldn’t be entirely discounted, is this effort really just reinforcing stereotypes instead of grappling with the real issue: how do we change the paradigm altogether?
“The solution to body-shaming isn’t to limit the number and kinds of bodies we are exposed to,” said Peggy Drexler, assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University. “The more sorts of bodies young women see—fat, thin, short, tall—the better they understand that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that theirs fits in somewhere.”
Read more here.
WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING
- They’re the mothers of the victims and the mothers of the victims’ children — all left behind to grieve, to fight as America bears witness to another black death at the hands of law enforcement. USA Today chronicles their impossible heartbreak.
- Forbes lists the world’s 100 most powerful women— a roundup with Angela Merkel at the top for the sixth year running—based on an analysis within the context of each women’s career, of money, media presence, spheres of influence, and impact.
- Media Planet talks with PopCap’s Cara Ely and Heather Hazen about how they climbed the ladder in the gaming industry, and how more young girls can too.
- The New York Times highlights the upcoming remake of “Ghostbusters,” featuring Kristen Wiig, Melisa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon; the film has received criticism that it should not have been remade, nor should it showcase primarily female actors.
- Without EU employment protections, U.K. women may suffer disproportionately post-Brexit, Slate examines. Just as Britain may get its first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.
- The Washington Post reports that the gender pay gap is slightly lower in D.C. than around the rest of the country.
- TIME profiles Congresswoman Katherine Clark, the woman behind the recent Democratic sit-in protesting the GOP’s refusal to hold votes on gun-control provisions in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.