This article is part of the Lily Lines newsletter. You can sign up here to get it delivered twice a week to your inbox.
Not-to-miss moments from the impeachment hearings, another country slashes its “luxury” tax on tampons, and how credit cards can be sexist.
Today’s featured news
In 2019, sex dolls are warm to the touch and can talk. Powered by artificial intelligence, they’re not so much dolls as they are robots, reports Lily contributor Danielle Braff. (They also cost up to $30,000.) Consumers are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars for sex dolls for a variety of reasons, according to experts: They might struggle with dating or supplement intimacy in their marriage with use of a doll.
While the robot companions aren’t likely to take much business away from real-life sex workers right now (they’re too expensive), the artificial sex partners could encourage violent sexual behavior or short circuit human connection, experts say. And one day, they could have a significant impact on the sex industry: Across the world, doll brothels are opening, but legal ambiguity has thrown them into limbo. Read the full story here.
The very first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival began Wednesday. On Capitol Hill — as William B. Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified — drag performer Pissi Myles drew attention with a blonde wig and shiny red minidress. “I’m flipping my wig over the high-energy proceedings today,” Myles said in an interview.
On Friday, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers that reading the rough transcript of Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky left her “shocked” and “devastated.” During Yovanovitch’s testimony, Trump took to Twitter to criticize her in real time, which Yovanovitch called “intimidating.” As The Washington Post reports, Yovanovitch is just the latest woman who has “refused to acquiesce to Trump in the face of personal and gender-specific attacks.”
More public hearings are scheduled for this week. Keep up to date here.
How impactful is litigation in fighting harassment and bias? A study, reported by Harvard Business Review, looked at 171 high-profile lawsuits filed against private companies from 1997 to 2008. It found that “lawsuits did have equity-enhancing effects: Regardless of whether it involved sex, race, color, or national origin, a discrimination lawsuit produced measureable gains in managerial representation” for black women, white women and black men. The data indicated gains of 10 percent for black women in management positions.
Lawmakers in Germany last week repealed a 19 percent tax imposed on tampons, pads and menstrual cups, which were previously deemed “luxury” items. After a years-long push from activists, menstrual products will now be classified as “essential,” joining the ranks of products such as cut flowers and pet goldfish that are subject to a 7 percent tax.
As The Post reports, taking on the “tampon tax” has become a major issue worldwide. Campaigners say that women have no choice whether they get their period or not and therefore shouldn’t have to pay a high tax on menstrual items. Countries such as Kenya, Canada and India have repealed menstrual taxes as well. In the United States, menstrual products are subject to sales taxes in 35 states.
Generation Z, those born in 1997 and later, has a new term for Generation X-ers, who are middle-aged: the “Karen Generation.” Riffing off an Internet meme that dubs Karen a middle-aged, entitled white mom, younger users on social media started using the term after a New Zealand lawmaker’s “OK, boomer” comment went viral, BuzzFeed News reports. Karens are “privileged from the system the boomers set up for them and [are] now acting entitled and working against Gen Z,” one 23-year-old told BuzzFeed. “They’re usually racist, homophobic, and transphobic, don’t believe in vaccines or climate change, and are mostly also the parents of Gen Z children.”
Five need-to-know stories in 100 words or less
1. After Evo Morales stepped down as Bolivia’s president amid political turmoil, the second vice president of the Bolivian Senate, Jeanine Añez Chavez, declared herself interim president and promised to “reconstruct democracy.”
2. Journalist Emily Maitlis was celebrated for her interrogation of Prince Andrew, which aired on BBC News over the weekend. British media roundly criticized responses from Andrew, who has come under scrutiny for his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
3. The Country Music Association Awards featured the theme of “celebrating legendary women in country music” this year. Singer Kacey Musgraves took home two trophies — for female vocalist and music video of the year — tying with Luke Combs for most awards of the night.
4. Mo’Nique sued Netflix for race and sex discrimination after it offered her $500,000 for a comedy special and refused to negotiate further. The suit says that the offer is representative of the pay gap black women face, and stands in contrast to other deals reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars for specials from Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres, among others.
5. Goldman Sachs said it will review credit limits for Apple Card holders on a case-by-case basis after tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson drew attention to the fact that his wife received a credit limit 20 times lower than his. But it’s not just the Apple Card consumers should be wary of, given a long history of gender discrimination in credit lending and the rise of AI algorithms, writes Lily multiplatform editor Lena Felton. Read the full piece here.
This week, we hear from disability activist and fashion influencer Sinéad Burke
Sinéad Burke is an Irish disability activist and British Vogue contributing editor. The first little person to attend the Met Gala, Burke recently launched a new podcast series, “As Me with Sinéad,” in which she interviews stars in the worlds of fashion, entertainment and academia.
Burke says that while the show is based on the empathy she’s fostered being a little person, the podcast provides a platform to be herself. “It’s not about what I look like,” she says. In the same vein, the point of the show is to strip away the outward personas of some of its featured stars. Fashion icon Victoria Beckham, comedian Tig Notaro and actress Jameela Jamil are three of the guests to date.
On why she loves wearing a leather jacket: “Not only is it something I feel very comfortable in, it translates to the world that I’m not a child. I’m an adult. I had this recent incident where I was out to lunch with a friend, and we were handed one adult’s menu and one child’s menu. … For me, clothes have the power to eliminate some of that awkwardness, but also some of that ignorance, whether it be unintentional or intentional.”
What writing taught her about the fashion industry: “Due to me being a little person, in many ways I naively thought that fashion excluded me and me only. And what I realized when I started writing my blog was that actually many people feel that way. Many people felt alone and felt an inability in what it is they could wear.”
How she wants the fashion world to change: “We need to change the whole system. … How do we employ people? How accessible are those methods? It’s thinking about who gets to be in what roles. I would love to see a disabled CEO of a fashion company. But I also think we need to look beyond — we need to challenge who can afford design college. It goes to the elementary level; we need to encourage children that fashion is a world that is open, inclusive.”
Things we love but weren’t paid to promote
I have long struggled with an addiction to jeans (in the eighth grade, I spent all of my Christmas money on a Seven for All Mankind bootcut pair). These days, I’m a loyal Levi’s customer. When I saw these “Ribcage” flared crops on sale, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. For as much as it costs to take a single Soulcycle class, I have found my new favorite pair of jeans. They’re the most high-waisted Levi’s jeans I’ve ever owned, and after doing a little DIY hemming to get the right length (I’m short), they’re perfect.
—Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor
Our latest TV obsession
Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener just watched 11 episodes of “Lizzie McGuire” in one sitting. But she isn’t the only one — the show, which ran from 2001 to 2004, is now available to stream on Disney’s new platform, Disney Plus. “All over the country, people — the majority of whom are almost certainly millennial women — are binge-watching Lizzie McGuire,” Kitchener writes. Read why they can’t stop watching.
[bye-koo] Saying goodbye with a haiku
This newsletter was made while listening to:
Listen to everything we’ve recommended here.
A quick, curated list of Team Lily’s go-to content this week