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How menopause could contribute to women’s risk of Alzheimer’s, an OB/GYN reacts to T.I.’s comments about his daughter’s hymen, and a Q&A with the woman who flipped Trump off, then won an election.
Today’s featured news
There are 12 states, plus Washington, D.C., where it’s legal for pharmacists to prescribe birth control: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and West Virginia. Last week, Kroger, a national grocery store, announced it will be prescribing birth control at every one of its pharmacies across seven states — dramatically increasing the number of women who will be able to get birth control without first going to the doctor. However, as Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener reports, pharmacy-prescribed birth control has been slow to catch on. There are several reasons, including the fact that insurance companies don’t typically cover the cost of the pharmacist’s time (at Kroger’s, that’ll cost women $35) and a general lack of awareness that pharmacies offer such a service. The idea, however, has broad bipartisan support, and would make birth control considerably easier to access, especially for low-income women, according to experts. As pharmacist Sally Rafie put it:
A recent case in Australia — in which a man weaponized technology and smartphone apps to remotely stop and start the car of a woman he’d dated for six months, and track her constantly — illustrates how some abusers are using surveillance and tracking technology to perpetuate abuse. Erica Olsen, director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told The Washington Post:
More than 50 percent of victim service providers reported that offenders use apps to track or stalk their victims, according to a survey. Digital intimate partner abuse is hard to fight, according to experts, because the relationship between abuser and victim is “socially complex.”
Two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women. As the Atlantic reports, that’s often chalked up to the fact that women live longer than men. But some researchers have recently been exploring the ways in which menopause could play a role — specifically, how the dramatic decrease in estrogen during perimenopause, the transition to menopause, may cause an early onset of the disease.
Some are exploring a new type of estrogen therapy, but that comes with its own set of risks; one researcher told the Atlantic that developing methods of treatment and prevention for women who are still sharp and nearing the end of their reproductive years — instead of pursuing treatment when women are older — “is a necessary paradigm shift.”
Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker, was about 40 seconds into her speech about the need to protect the environment for generations to come when she was heckled by a colleague. Swarbrick swiftly retorted, “OK, boomer” — a quip that has become a rallying cry for millennials and Gen Z. A video of the exchange quickly went viral.
Swarbrick had been speaking on behalf of the Zero Carbon bill, which aims to make New Zealand reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the point that the country becomes mostly carbon neutral by 2050. Later in the week, New Zealand’s Parliament joined forces across the aisle to pass the bill.
The latest from the campaign trail
+ Breaking with other members of “The Squad” — who have endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) endorsed her home-state candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for the Democratic presidential nomination. Separately, two leading male candidates, former vice president Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have been escalating attacks against Warren — including painting her as “angry,” which many people said was sexist. In an email to supporters, Warren said, “I am angry and I own it.”
+ Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) picked up an endorsement from Higher Heights, the country’s largest online political organization aimed at electing black women.
+ A piece in the New York Times highlighted the “wry, wholesome, self-deprecating, sometimes hokey funny” humor that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) brings to the campaign trail.
+ We’re a year out from the 2020 presidential election. Here’s a guide to the major events that will happen before then.
Five need-to-know stories in 100 words or less
1. Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, as well as mathematician Katherine Johnson and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughn — the real-life women behind “Hidden Figures,” which charted the African American women’s work at NASA during the 1950s and ’60s — are being awarded Congressional Gold Medals, the highest civilian award in the United States.
2. In a New York Times video op-ed, 23-year-old Mary Cain — who, at 17, was the fastest girl in a generation — described how a “systemic crisis in women’s sports and at Nike” pushed her to be thinner and thinner, leading to physical and mental detriment. On Friday, Nike said it would investigate the Nike Oregon Project and coach Alberto Salazar following Cain’s and other women’s allegations.
4. In 2006, under Oklahoma’s “Failure to Protect” law, Tandalao Hall, then a teenage mother, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the abuse her boyfriend inflicted on her two children. Last week, Hall was released 15 years early after pleading her case before a parole board.
5. Rapper T.I. set off a slew of criticism after saying in a podcast that he goes to the gynecologist every year with his 18-year-old daughter to “check her hymen” and make sure it’s “still intact.” Read what an OB/GYN wants T.I.’s daughter to know about her right to privacy and virginity as “a social construct of the patriarchy.”
This week, we hear from newly elected Juli Briskman
In 2017, a photo of Juli Briskman went viral — and got her fired from her job with a government contracting firm. You may have seen it: Briskman, riding her bicycle, flipped off the presidential motorcade as President Trump departed his golf club in Sterling, Va. On Tuesday, Briskman, 52, flipped a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, beating out a Republican. In what she says constitutes “sweet justice,” Briskman’s district includes that Trump golf course.
Briskman was part of a wave of Democrats flipping seats in Virginia — including taking control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation. (For the first time ever, a woman will be the speaker of the House of Delegates, and a black woman will be the majority leader.) The shift also means Virginia may become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would enshrine in the Constitution a prohibition on discrimination based on sex. Briskman mentioned passing the ERA, securing equal housing opportunities and fighting climate change as her main points of focus as she assumes her new role.
On campaigning as a single mom: “I guess I’m kind of used to having a lot of balls in the air as a single mom already. I’m lucky to have my kids slightly older now — my daughter driving was really a godsend. … She’s been very understanding about helping out, driving her brother to Boy Scouts as needed, that sort of thing.”
Her advice to other women interested in getting politically involved: “On the local level, the most important thing is to seek what you’re passionate about. Then investigate and learn what the job actually is. … If putting yourself out there like that is not part of your natural instinct, there are so many things that women can do and are doing. First, read the book ‘Good and Mad’ and see how women are at the heart of revolution.”
What she attributes to flipping the legislature: “There’s no doubt the Trump effect was in play in Virginia. But I don’t think that’s what won it for us. We worked hard. We knocked on the doors, we made the calls, we raised the money. We came together as a coalition. We had coordinated campaigns from school board all the way to state delegate.”
Things we love but weren’t paid to promote
For months, I had a footwear dream: a pair of heeled, leather oxfords chic enough to make a statement and comfortable enough to wear during a long walk. This proved trickier than I’d expected. In stores, I saw ankle boots galore, but a much smaller selection of women’s oxfords. I stumbled across one very stylish pair, but they were $495, and that felt obscene. Eventually, I settled on these oxfords from Sofft. (If you buy them, I suggest ordering a half-size up.) They’re supremely comfy, and I’ve racked up compliments. There you have it, folks: a footwear dream come true.
—Nneka McGuire, Lily multiplatform editor
Our current on-screen obsession
Lily video editor Maya Sugarman is watching “Roll Red Roll,” a documentary streaming on Netflix. Here’s what she has to say about it:
“‘Roll Red Roll’ is a documentary that goes beyond the national headlines after the assault of a teenage girl by members of a high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio. The film has powerful interview footage with crime blogger Alex Goddard, who found lots of social media evidence and brought attention to the case — which ultimately garnered the attention of the Anonymous hacker group. It looks at the intersection of rape culture, social media and football.”
[bye-koo] Saying goodbye with a haiku
“Sane” by Greentea Peng
Listen to everything we’ve recommended here.
A quick, curated list of Team Lily’s go-to content this week