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What Lady Gaga said on World Mental Health Day, the number of #MeToo tweets in the past year, and the return of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
On NBC’s “Today Show” Thursday — coinciding with the International Day of the Girl — former first lady Michelle Obama unveiled a new project: the Global Girls Alliance. The project is intended to help educate millions of adolescent girls denied the chance to finish high school, and is one of three public moves Obama has made this fall. In September, she launched a voter registration drive; on Nov. 13, her memoir, “Becoming,” will be released, and she’ll embark on a 10-city tour.
Obama’s close friends say that, out of the White House, the former first lady is finally able to do the things she cares about. “The possibilities are infinite,” said longtime friend and former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who describes Obama as fired up and happy. “Now she’s able to lead her best life and to create and own it in her own image.”
It has been a year since the New Yorker and the New York Times published allegations that would eventually lead to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s downfall — and give rise to the #MeToo movement. A new Pew Research study shows that the hashtag #MeToo has been used more than 19 million times on Twitter since actress Alyssa Milano popularized it. Activist Tarana Burke created the term, and founded the movement, in 2006.
The hashtag averages 55,319 uses in a day, the study finds, and the day it was most used on Twitter was Sept. 9, when the former chief executive of CBS, Leslie Moonves, resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. The study also shows the global impact the movement has made: Seventy-one percent of the tweets were in English, while 29 percent were in other languages.
In her first extensive interview as first lady, Melania Trump was remarkably candid with ABC News’s Tom Llamas: She said she is “the most bullied person in the world,” remarked that people should be heard but have “really hard evidence” if they come forward with allegations of sexual assault, and revealed the meaning behind the green Zara jacket she wore in June, which read “I really don’t care, do u?” on the back. While her spokeswoman denied any meaning to the jacket’s words at the time, Trump told Llamas that it was indeed a deliberate choice, meant “for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me,” she said. “I want to show them that I don’t care. You could criticize whatever you want to say, but it will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”
It has been nearly two weeks since Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to finalize papers for his wedding. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, was waiting outside. In an opinion piece for The Post, Cengiz wrote that Khashoggi had been “increasingly worried about an unprecedented wave of arrests in his country” before entering the building. “After seeing how relaxed he was, I waited patiently and full of hope,” she wrote. “But after three hours I was overcome with fear and concern.”
No one has seen him since he entered the Saudi consulate. Turkish officials said they have recordings proving Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance; President Trump said there would be “severe punishment” if this is the case. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s official press agency vehemently denied the claims and said it rejects “threats.”
In a piece for the New York Times published Saturday, on Khashoggi’s birthday, Cengiz wrote: “If the allegations are true, and Jamal has been murdered by the errand boys of Mohammed bin Salman, he is already a martyr.”
On Tuesday, President Trump announced that Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is resigning at the end of the year. The resignation caused a lot of speculation about her reasons and her replacement.
A growing list of replacements includes several people, though Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell — whom many considered a front-runner — has removed her name from consideration.
Haley, who became one of the staunchest supporters of the Trump administration’s agenda and is a rising star in the Republican Party, reassured reporters that she is “not running for 2020.” With Haley’s departure, there are five women left in Trump’s cabinet.
When former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta took to social media last week to retell the decade-old story of her co-star at the time, Nana Patekar, trying to change a dance sequence so he could inappropriately touch her, she received an outpouring of support. Then, a torrent of allegations against prominent Indian men flooded social media and WhatsApp inboxes. One of the most high-profile among them is M.J. Akbar, a former newspaper editor and the junior minister for foreign affairs, who several women allege has sexually harassed or violated them. Akbar has denied the allegations.
Various stories, now well into the hundreds, have been met with public apologies and resignations. A movie production company also dissolved after one of its partners was charged with assault.
On Wednesday, people around the globe shared their own stories and offered words of support to others as part of World Mental Health Day. Lady Gaga, whose latest movie, “A Star Is Born,” has been garnering praise since its Oct. 5 release, weighed in by writing an essay for the Guardian with the World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom. “Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address,” they wrote, and called for increased care and resources.
Following Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice, along with the one-year anniversary of the first reports of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo was a central theme on the campaign trail this past week.
While drumming up Republican support at a rally in Erie, Pa., Wednesday night, President Trump joked about the “rules of #MeToo.” Talking about the 2016 election, he said that he could no longer use the phrase “the woman who got away” to refer to Republican presidential candidates being unable to win the state of Pennsylvania in recent years.
In North Dakota — a state that Trump won by 36 points in 2016 — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is falling behind her Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer. This week, the New York Times reported that Cramer called #MeToo a “movement toward victimization,” prompting a forceful response from Heitkamp, who said that her mother was sexually assaulted as a teenager. “And I want you to put this in there, it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim,” she said.
Social media is clearly a vital platform for women sharing their #MeToo stories, but it is also an essential one for candidates trying to reach voters. That’s why some found a directive from Mormon Church President Russell M. Nelson disconcerting: Last week, he invited women to take a 10-day fast from social media. While many Mormons don’t believe his call was political, others say it comes at an inopportune time with the midterms — they worry that candidates will lose chances to motivate female voters.
In other election news, The Post reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been mounting an expansive effort to elect Democrats across the country for the upcoming midterms, with some of her efforts overtaking the traditional duties of Democratic Party campaign committees — including giving contributions, providing policy documents and meeting with candidates one-on-one. In boosting more than 150 campaigns across all 50 states, Warren is further positioning herself for a potential presidential run she said she will “take a hard look” at after the midterms.
Last week, Taylor Swift broke her career-long silence on politics on Instagram, where she has 114 million followers. She declared that she’ll be voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House in Tennessee, where she’s registered, and urged fans to vote. She also wrote that the voting record of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who’s running for Senate, “appalls and terrifies” her.
Vote.org, the website she linked to, reported nearly 156,000 unique visitors in the 24 hours after her post went up — second only to the numbers on National Voter Registration Day — and 65,000 registrations. A causal link has not been established, but it’s likely Swift’s post had some effect.
At the American Music Awards Tuesday night, Swift reiterated her message. “This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people?” Swift asked the audience. “It is the midterm elections on November 6. Get out and vote. I love you guys.”
Marcel Rosa-Salas is a documentary filmmaker and a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at New York University. She co-founded “Top Rank Magazine,” a biannual print publication created by, for and about women of diverse backgrounds, and co-hosts the “Top Rank” podcast. Rosa-Salas, along with her co-founder and co-host Isabel Flower, will be doing a live taping of the research-based podcast — this time, speaking with social media influencer Desmond is Amazing — Oct. 25 in New York City. This week, we asked Rosa-Salas to fill in the blank.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” returned to the CW this past Friday for its final season. The show — created by Rachel Bloom, who also stars as Rebecca Bunch, and Aline Brosh McKenna — has been celebrated for its depiction of mental health. In Season 4, which features 18 episodes instead of the previous seasons’ 13, audiences will watch as Rebecca recovers from her suicide attempt at the end of last season. In an interview, McKenna told The Washington Post that the season deals with “Rebecca trying to find an ethical way to take responsibility for the things that she’s done. She confronts her privilege a bit; she’s always been a little blinded about that. And she now has a diagnosis, so she’s working on herself, but she’s not perfect.”
This year, The Lily is the official media sponsor for Bentzen Ball, a comedy festival in Washington, D.C., featuring acts by Tig Notaro, Michelle Buteau and others. If you live in the area, click on our Instagram post to find out how to enter to win an all-access festival pass, Lily swag and more.
I moved into my first studio apartment more than two months ago, but it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to decorate. At the recommendation of a friend whose decorating skills I trust, I recently bought three Society6 posters to brighten up the space. Society6 has a huge range of images, from photography to paintings to lettering, and you can search by style and color. Plus, the 18 x 24 posters are extremely affordable. For my apartment, I chose two abstract images, plus one that looks like a pink Pantone paint swatch with the label: “Mantone: Fragile Masculinity.”
—Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor
*Have an idea for a news-inspired baiku? Send us your creation at lily [at] washpost [dot] com, and you might see it in the next Lily Lines. We follow 5-7-5.
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