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This week:

Explaining the Supreme Court’s upcoming gay rights and abortion cases, why these women’s swim team members are suing their university, and something special for food-lovers.

Quick hits

Today’s featured news

In ‘Batwoman,’ Ruby Rose appears as first gay superhero in a lead TV role

“Batwoman,” which premiered Sunday on the CW, has garnered attention for featuring the first gay superhero in a lead TV role. Speaking to The Washington Post, Australian actress Ruby Rose, who identifies as gay, said it’s significant that her character’s sexuality actually doesn’t factor heavily into the show. “You don’t fight crime in a gay way or in a lesbian way,” Rose said. “She’s a superhero. That’s what she is.”

Batwoman first appeared in the pages of DC Comics in 1956 and was killed off in 1977; she was reintroduced for good in 2006 and, for the first time, was openly gay. Although gay heroes have appeared throughout the CW’s DC shows, they’ve only ever been supporting characters.

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

Four big cases are coming to the Supreme Court

This week, when the Supreme Court returns for its new term, it will hear arguments on three cases that present this question: Is it legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender? Last week, the Supreme Court also said it will review a Louisiana abortion law in a case that could shape abortion rights in the United States.

These are the first major gay rights and abortion cases without Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was previously the deciding vote in such cases. Kennedy has been replaced with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who is much more likely to side with the conservative justices.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the upcoming cases:

Oct. 8: Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC

What they are: Zarda and Bostock involve two gay men who allege they were fired because of their sexual orientation, while Harris Funeral Homes involves Aimee Stephens, who says she was fired from her job for being a transgender woman.

Why they matter: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex,” but does not expressly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. These cases will decide how broad the federal anti-discrimination law is, and whether it protects gay and transgender employees.

Later this term: June Medical Services v. Gee

What it is: A 2014 Louisiana abortion law requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — a requirement that some argue unduly burdens women’s access to abortion. Practitioners have said the law would force most of Louisiana’s clinics to close, leaving only one doctor eligible to perform abortions.

Why it matters: While a ruling on the case would probably not overturn Roe v. Wade, it could be the first step in incrementally dismantling the right to an abortion.

(Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE; Lily illustration)
(Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE; Lily illustration)

Elizabeth Warren denounces right-wing smear campaign with ‘cougar’ tweet

After two right-wing provocateurs made unsubstantiated claims about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), the Democratic 2020 hopeful made a pointed response on Twitter. The two men, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl (who, as CNBC reports, have a history of making outlandish claims), held a news conference last week alleging Warren, 70, had hired a 25-year-old former Marine as a male escort. At a poorly attended news conference, the two men displayed a sign reading: “Elizabeth Warren cougar?”

Warren’s response came in a sly tweet, in which she used the mascot of her alma mater, the University of Houston Cougars, to talk about student debt.

(Instagram)
(Instagram)

Russian women are fighting strict beauty standards with a body-positivity movement

A flood of social media posts featuring women’s pimples, cellulite and hair loss has hit Russia, where women’s rights activists say strict beauty standards feed into low self-esteem and eating disorders. As the Guardian reports, the hashtag #AllIsFineWithMe, first started by Russian teenage Instagram influencer Natalia Zemlianukhina, is the latest effort to combat what activists call a “patriarchal, body-conscious country.”

From our staff writer

Caroline Kitchener reports on a swim team’s lawsuit

(photo Courtesy of Niagara University swim team member; iStock; Lily illustration)
(photo Courtesy of Niagara University swim team member; iStock; Lily illustration)

Their university stood by while the men’s swim team threw slurs, the women’s team says. Now they’re suing.

Last month, three members of the Niagara University women’s swim team filed a lawsuit against their school, alleging the school knew about sexual harassment by the men’s team and did nothing to stop it. Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener reported on the story. Kitchener writes:

Women on the Niagara University swim team ... had to be vigilant, said Nastassja Posso, a member of the women’s team. Because the men’s team would already be lined up on the pool deck. And you never knew what they were going to say.

“They’d call us ‘princess thigh gap,’ ‘whale,’ ‘water buffalo’ … They would start pointing and laughing, making moaning noises, orgasm noises,” said Posso. “And our coach is just acting like he doesn’t hear it.”

ICYMI

Five need-to-know stories in 100 words or less

1. After what would have been a historic spacewalk was canceled over the availability of suits, an all-female spacewalk is back on, NASA announced Friday. Later this month, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will venture out to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the International Space Station.

2. In another controversial case of a white officer fatally shooting a black man, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years for shooting Botham Jean in his own home. At the emotional trial, Jean’s brother, 18-year-old Brandt Jean, hugged Guyger, setting off a debate about forgiveness.

3. In the latest chapter in the affirmative action debate, a federal judge ruled that Harvard University does not discriminate against Asian Americans in undergraduate admissions. We asked current Harvard students how their relationship to their Asian American identity has changed once on campus. Read their stories here.

(Caroline Kitchener; Lily illustration)
(Caroline Kitchener; Lily illustration)

4. Last week, the low-price fashion chain Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy and said it will close up to 178 of its more than 500 stores in the United States. After the news broke, Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener spent five hours at a Forever 21 store in Woodbridge, Va. Here’s what she learned.

5. In a New York Times op-ed published two years after the first allegations against Harvey Weinstein went public, Rowena Chiu, a former assistant to Weinstein, said the disgraced Hollywood mogul attempted to rape her in 1998 and explained why she kept silent for many years. She writes, “It is important to me now that I speak up, that I allow my voice, an Asian voice, an assistant’s voice, to join the array of voices in the #MeToo movement.”

A quick Q&A

This week, we hear from artist Judy Chicago

(Donald Woodman)
(Donald Woodman)

Judy Chicago, who recently turned 80, has been creating feminist art for decades. In her new series, “The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction,” Chicago meditates on what climate change and human behavior are doing to the planet. The exhibition will be on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., through January.

On activism in the art world: “Most of the activism in the art world never succeeds, because artists have been taught by university art programs to ‘speak in tongues,’ that is, to make art about subjects that few people care about in forms that most people can’t understand.”

On her upcoming retrospective at the De Young Museum in San Francisco: “This is significant in that it will make clear why I say that I am most proud of the fact that I have worked for almost six decades and produced a huge body of art about a variety of subjects in a range of techniques. That is what I am most proud of: my lifetime of art.”

Her message to other women: “If you want to know what obstacles exist for women, study my career. If you want to know how to overcome them, study my career and the careers of successful women artists who are our foremothers, like Georgia O’Keeffe, Berthe Morisot, Frida Kahlo, Kathe Kollwitz, Emily Carr or others who have managed to create great art in the face of the many obstacles that still face us.”

For the foodies

A bite from our friends at Voraciously

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

“We should all know how to make chocolate chip cookies. They’re simply part of being a human in the world,” writes cookbook author Joy Wilson, better known as Joy the Baker, in Voraciously’s new newsletter series, Baking Basics. (If you haven’t checked out Voraciously yet, it’s The Washington Post’s destination for all things food.) For Week 1, Wilson gives her recipe (plus tips) for creating classic chocolate chip cookies. Hint: A specific range for “room temperature” really matters.

Lily Likes

Things we love but weren’t paid to promote

Fall means I can start wearing my favorite boots again. After much contemplating (due to their high price), I bought these Red Wings at the start of autumn 2018 after an extensive search for an everyday boot. Four reasons I love them: 1. They’re comfortable enough to walk around in.2. They can be worn with everything from jeans to dresses and tights.3. People tell me they’re cool. 4: A heel on a classic boot style is hard to come by, and I am short. Pro tip: Buy them from REI if you’re a member and get that dividend.

—Amy King, Lily editor and creative director

Baiku

[bye-koo] Saying goodbye with a haiku

This newsletter was made while listening to:

“Lark” by Angel Olsen and “2 Cool 2 Car” by Anna Burch

Listen to everything we’ve recommended here.

P.S. …

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Meet Kim McLarin, The Lily’s new columnist

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