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This week:

Berkeley, Calif., switches to gender-neutral language, the latest in the Jeffrey Epstein case, and why women are more likely to be injured in car crashes.

Michelle Obama stresses diversity after Trump’s racist comments

On Friday, former first lady Michelle Obama weighed in on the controversy that dominated the news last week, when President Trump said that four lawmakers should “go back” to their home countries. The Democratic congresswomen he was targeting — Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — are all citizens of the United States, and three were born in the country. On Tuesday, the House voted 240 to 187 to condemn the racist remarks. Only four Republicans backed the measure.

Meanwhile, Trump flip-flopped on his supporters’ response to the feud. At a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, his supporters yelled, “Send her back,” as he berated Omar. Although Trump condemned those chants on Twitter, by Friday he was attacking the four lawmakers again and calling his supporters “incredible people.”

Berkeley’s municipal code now features gender-neutral language

(Lily illustration)
(Lily illustration)

Last week, the Berkeley, Calif., City Council voted to change the city’s municipal code to include gender-neutral language. Along with replacing “he” and “she” with “they” and “them,” words such as manholes will be known as maintenance holes, man-made will be human made and pregnant women will be replaced with pregnant employees. The ordinance was supported unanimously by council members, who sought to make the city more inclusive for its non-binary residents. It also followed a city clerk review that found the code primarily contained masculine pronouns.

“There is power in language,” Rigel Robinson, a council member and co-sponsor of the ordinance, tweeted. “This is a small move, but it matters.”

Top positions in the cannabis industry are increasingly male-dominated

(iStock; Lily illustration)
(iStock; Lily illustration)

Even as cannabis companies are trying to become more female-friendly, women are increasingly getting pushed out of the industry’s highest ranks, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek. The cannabis industry used to be comprised of relatively diverse local start-ups, but as venture capital and Wall Street money have moved in, men have begun dominating top positions. In 2015, for example, 36 percent of pot executives in Colorado were women; that dropped to 27 percent in 2018.

Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and CEO of Akerna Corp., which provides consulting services and compliance software to the cannabis industry, called this a “discouraging trend.” “I’ve watched one woman after another take in some type of capital or partnership deal for her business, and next thing you know she’s no longer the CEO,” Billingsley told Bloomberg.

The latest in the Jeffrey Epstein case

(New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP; Kevin Hagen/Getty; iStock; Lily illustration)
(New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP; Kevin Hagen/Getty; iStock; Lily illustration)

On Thursday, a federal judge denied multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s request for bail as he awaits his trial on sex trafficking charges. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman wrote he was “concerned for new victims” and that Epstein’s sexual conduct with young girls “appears to be uncontrollable.” The judge deemed Epstein a significant flight risk, noting that investigators had found cash, loose diamonds and an expired foreign passport with Epstein’s picture but another name in a safe in his home.

A video also surfaced last week in which Trump and Epstein are shown mingling with NFL cheerleaders at a 1992 party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. In the footage — re-released by NBC News — Epstein and Trump laugh and point out women on the dance floor. Trump has repeatedly said he is “not a fan” of Epstein’s.

Girls’ advantage in reading could be contributing to the gender gap in math jobs

A study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, has a new explanation for why math-oriented careers are disproportionately male-dominated. Researchers looked at reading and math test scores from 300,000 15-year-olds in more than 60 countries, and found that while boys and girls scored similarly on math, girls scored significantly better on reading. Girls, the researchers found, recognized they had a “comparative advantage,” which led them to pursue humanities in their studies and careers. As a CNN article points out, researchers don’t claim this is the only explanation for the gap — girls also internalize stereotypes about who is good at math from a young age, for example.

A major investigation from the Atlantic found that in 49 out of every 50 rape cases, the alleged assailant goes free. The alleged rapist often goes on to assault again — meaning that rape is the easiest violent crime to get away with.

Several cracks in the criminal-justice system contribute to this, including 911 calls in which police discourage victims from filing reports and cases not being assigned to detectives. One of the most visible issues is untested rape kits. And even when an arrest is made, the Atlantic reports, “the prosecutor may decline to bring charges: no trial, no conviction, no punishment.”

—Claire Breen, Lily multiplatform editor

• Following a leak of thousands of text messages in which Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló used homophobic and misogynistic language, protesters in Puerto Rico demanded that Rosselló resign. Several Democratic presidential hopefuls also called for his resignation over the weekend.

• Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced that Natalie Portman will play a female Thor in Phase 4 of the Marvel Comics Universe.

• Last month, 35-year-old Cynthia Arnold broke the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon while pushing a three-person stroller. She finished the Missoula Marathon in Montana in 3:11.54 while pushing her three children — 7, 4, and nearly 2 — in a stroller.

• Leana Wen was forced out as president of Planned Parenthood after just eight months in the job. According to people with knowledge of the board’s decision, the ouster came amid a dispute over her management style and the direction of the organization. In a New York Times opinion piece, Wen cited philosophical differences and her attempts to depoliticize the organization.

(Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty)
(Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty)

At least 33 people were killed in an apparent arson at an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan, on Thursday. Almost two-thirds of the victims were women: a reflection of the hiring practices of the studio, Kyoto Animation, which is known for employing more women.

Poorna Jagannathan. (Vikas Vasudev)
Poorna Jagannathan. (Vikas Vasudev)

You may recognize actress Poorna Jagannathan for her recent television appearances, including a recurring role on Season 2 of “Big Little Lies,”which wraps this weekend, and as Salma in Hulu’s “Ramy.” The actress will star in “Share” — an HBO film premiering July 27 — as the mother a 16-year-old who finds a disturbing video of a night she doesn’t remember. It was just announced that Jagannathan will also be a series regular in Mindy Kaling’s upcoming Netflix comedy, which is inspired by Kaling’s childhood.

You produced a play, “Nirbhaya,” back in 2013. What inspired the project? “‘Nirbhaya’ was created as a response to the 2012 Delhi gang rape and subsequent death of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey. I was living in Mumbai when I heard the news of the rape. I immediately knew that what happened on that bus wasn’t an anomaly, but the domino effect of a culture that has been quiet about the epidemic of sexual violence for way too long. And I felt deeply complicit in that culture of silence: I had been sexually assaulted at 9 and had never spoken about it. So ‘Nirbhaya’ was born out of the need to break our silences as a society and shift shame from the survivor to the perpetrator.”

What message do you hope audiences take away from “Share”? “‘Share’ is an intimate portrait of sexual violence. But more importantly, the film explores what it looks like to fight back — in a public way. It looks at the fallout from seeking justice. And it makes you ask, ‘If you knew what justice looked like, would you still pursue it?’ I think we as a society encourage survivors to speak out, but then send them into a heavily rigged system.”

Which role have you most enjoyed portraying? “Hands down, my favorite show to be in recently has been ‘Ramy’ on Hulu, which I think is a genius comedy. My character, Salma, is at the perfect intersection of all the things I care about: immigration, religion, sexuality, motherhood. Sometimes I feel trapped as a female South Asian actor — I’m handed these roles that fit neatly into the model minority paradigm: the smart, competent, high-functioning doctors and engineers. I often say it’s a golden box, but it’s still a box.

But when we only tell those stories, then we deprive ourselves and our community of portraying the issues that really affect us: stories of addiction, of depression, of sexual violence, of not belonging. I felt Ramy Youssef made otherness totally mainstream with his show.”

I’ll admit it: When nitro cold brew first became “a thing,” I refused to drink it. What a gimmick, I thought. Then, a co-worker ordered it at my favorite coffee spot in Washington, D.C., and I figured I’d give it a try, just for kicks. But after that first sip, my mind was forever changed. It really is creamier and smoother than plain old iced coffee. When I feel like treating myself on hot and humid afternoons, this is my new go-to.

Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor

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