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This week:

What it’s like to be a woman navigating Japan’s grueling corporate culture, the fate of Missouri’s sole abortion clinic rests with a judge once again, and a recommendation for walking-friendly summer sandals.

How the market for menopausal women is changing

Earlier this month, the New York Times published a report looking at the growing market for products made for women going through menopause. Menopause has historically been a taboo subject — but with new hair products, skin serums and multivitamins, all sleekly packaged, it seems that times are changing. Companies such as Better Not Younger, and Bonafide are capitalizing on stylish, upscale products for middle-aged women who don’t believe they’re “at the end” of their journeys, as one woman explained it to the Times.

Dazed Digital also recently reported on the phenomenon. “The body positivity and female empowerment movement has really helped to drive change in this category,” Theresa Yee, a beauty editor, told Dazed. “Products catering to menopausal women are now starting to emerge in the mainstream market.”

Controversial ‘female Viagra’ approved by the FDA

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

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a controversial new medication. Its aim? To enhance sexual desire in premenopausal women. The drug, marketed as Vyleesi, comes in the form of a shot in a push pen device that can be self-administered. It is meant for women who have reduced sexual desire that causes them distress — a condition known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, which the medical community recognizes can be a serious issue.

However, there’s disagreement as to how widespread the condition really is, and several women’s health advocates are arguing that more information is needed before the approval of the new drug. “The public can’t have confidence in the safety of the drug because we don’t have access to long-term safety information about it,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research.

State health department denies permit for Missouri’s sole abortion clinic

For the past month, the fate of the only abortion clinic in Missouri — the St. Louis Planned Parenthood — has hung in the balance. On Friday, the state health department rejected the clinic’s permit application: Health department director Randall Williams said the clinic had not yet corrected deficiencies the agency identified after an inspection, and again cited concerns over “failed abortions.” Now, the decision rests with a federal judge.

Planned Parenthood and representatives of the state’s health department had a hearing in front of Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer on Friday. According to the Associated Press, Stelzer will now issue a directive outlining next steps, which could determine whether the Planned Parenthood clinic will be allowed to continue performing abortions. It’s unclear when that directive will come, but for now, clinic staff members say they will continue providing abortion services.

Women-oriented company selling sex toys is suing New York’s transit authority

(iStock; Unsplash; Instagram; Lily illustration)
(iStock; Unsplash; Instagram; Lily illustration)

Women’s sexual health start-up Dame Products is suing New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for what it calls sexist double standards for advertisements. The company alleges that, after receiving a preliminary approval from the MTA in September, its final ads were rejected in November. The ad campaign in question pictured object-like, variously colored sex toys along with taglines including “Toys, for sex.” Dame argued it was “sexist” that male-oriented pharmaceutical and supplement companies were allowed to advertise on the subway, while a female-oriented company was not. It cited companies such as Hims, which sells products treating hair loss and erectile dysfunction and whose ads were displayed in the city’s subway system.

MTA spokesman Maxwell Young told the Hill that the MTA could not comment on the lawsuit directly, but “their public statements are clearly inaccurate as the MTA’s advertising is in no way gender-based or viewpoint discriminatory.” Young added that the MTA’s advertising policy page says ads for “sex toys or devices for any gender” are banned.

Appeals court allows the Trump administration’s family planning rules to take effect

After lower federal courts blocked a Trump administration rule that strips federal Title X funding from any family planning clinic that provides abortions or abortion referrals, a federal appeals court said Thursday the rules can take effect while lawsuits play out. In a boon to the administration and antiabortion activists, the ruling denies tens of millions of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood, which serves a large portion of low-income patients receiving family planning and health services under Title X. For the first time, the new rules will also allow faith-based clinics to promote “natural” family planning methods, including abstinence.

Filmmaking has historically been a male-dominated industry. But more women are making independent films than ever, according to a new study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. Culling from nearly 1,000 films shown at 22 film festivals between July 2018 and this month, researchers found that women made up nearly a third of the directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers and editors. That’s up several percentage points from a decade ago. What’s more, films directed by at least one woman had significantly increased female representation among writers and editors. On films directed exclusively by men, meanwhile, women made up only 11 percent of writers and 21 percent of editors.

These Japanese ‘salarywomen’ are navigating the country’s brutal corporate culture

Yuko, 25, works for one of Japan’s biggest trading firms. (Shiho Fukada for The Lily)
Yuko, 25, works for one of Japan’s biggest trading firms. (Shiho Fukada for The Lily)

You may have heard of Japanese “salaryman” culture, in which businessmen clock long hours and then go out to obligatory drinks with bosses and clients late into the night. While this corporate world has historically been dominated by men, a new generation of “salarywomen” are joining their ranks. Lily contributor Abigail Leonard talked to some of these women in Tokyo — including Yuko, 25, who works as an accountant at one of Japan’s biggest trading houses. Young women like Yuko hope their generation will be the first to have it all: a management-track job and two kids.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 11: Yuko Kobayashi is photographed in the Kanda district in Tokyo, Japan on June 11, 2019. Male-dominated “salaryman” culture — in which workers are expected to clock brutally long hours and then attend obligatory drinks late into the night — is ubiquitous in Japan. (Shiho Fukada for The Lily)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 11: Yuko Kobayashi is photographed in the Kanda district in Tokyo, Japan on June 11, 2019. Male-dominated “salaryman” culture — in which workers are expected to clock brutally long hours and then attend obligatory drinks late into the night — is ubiquitous in Japan. (Shiho Fukada for The Lily)

But gender roles remain deeply ingrained in the culture, Leonard writes. Even as the government spearheads initiatives to make it easier for women to work and raise children, many women still hold on to traditional notions of what it means to be a wife and mother. Read the full piece here.


• Janet Mock, the director, producer and writer of “Pose,” became the first transgender woman to call the creative shots at a major content company after signing a three-year, multimillion-dollar contract with Netflix.

• Following a six-week trial, Keith Raniere, who founded NXIVM, an Albany, N.Y.-based group authorities called a cult-like secret society of “sex slaves,” was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking.

• In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, published in the Cut, writer E. Jean Carroll alleged that President Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusation, saying that he didn’t know who Carroll was. Carroll’s allegation is one of at least 15 that have been lodged against the president since his 2016 campaign.

• After pulling off a 2-0 win against Sweden, the U.S. women’s soccer team faces Spain in the World Cup’s round of 16 today at 12 p.m. Separately, the women’s national team said it has agreed to begin a mediation process with the U.S. Soccer Federation in its gender discrimination lawsuit.

(Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)
(Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)

Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee Nation — was appointed 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States on Wednesday. She has written eight collections of poetry, including the award-winning “In Mad Love and War” (1990). Her term, which was announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, begins this fall, and will make her the first Native American to serve in the honorary position. Hayden, who made the selection, said in a statement, “Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry — ‘soul talk’ as she calls it — for over four decades. To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and mythmaking.”

Harjo believes poetry can heal; the 68-year-old told The Washington Post that she understood this early in her life. “Poetry came to me at a point in which I had no words to express the depth of experience of being Native in this country,” she said.

—Claire Breen, Lily multiplatform editor

I do a lot of walking, so I’m always on the lookout for a pair of cute, comfortable walking shoes. A couple of years ago, I was complaining to my mom that it is always so difficult to find a pair that meets that criteria. Then, she suggested I look at Dansko; she said her Dansko clogs were the most comfortable pair of shoes she owned. I was skeptical but, to my surprise, found plenty of heeled sandals and colorful mules to my liking. I pretty much wear my sandal clogs all summer long now. Sure, they may get a bad rap for being “mom” shoes, but what’s wrong with dressing like our moms? Mine is my fashion icon.

—Claire Breen, 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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