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How ISIS is using TikTok to appeal to girls, Rep. Katie Hill announces her resignation, and remembering civil rights reporter Kathryn Johnson.
Today’s featured news
Women across the country have been receiving almost identical versions of a card congratulating them on their forthcoming baby. The front of each card is exactly the same: There’s a kissy-faced avocado, with a little pink heart nestled in its pit. Inside is the message, “Congratulations!! I’m so excited for you!,” signed by Jenny B, plus coupons and gift cards. The problem? Most of the women aren’t pregnant, and they don’t know a “Jenny B.” What’s more, many of the cards are going to their parents’ homes, which has sparked heated family conversations in some cases.
The target demographic for the card seems to be women in their 20s. This is exactly what happened to Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener, who started investigating the origin of the mysterious “Jenny B” cards after one landed in the mailbox of the house she grew up in. Read the full story here.
Islamic State militants have begun posting short propaganda videos to TikTok, a social network popular with teenagers and known for irreverent, silly videos, as was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. At least two dozen ISIS accounts were recently banned from the platform for posting videos featuring corpses, Islamic State fighters with guns and women who called themselves jihadist. According to the Journal, some of the videos were filtered with pink hearts, sparkling glitter, flowers and emojis to appeal to girls.
A TikTok spokesperson told Elle that the videos had “very limited views,” and said the platform “aggressively moderates, targets, and shuts down” terrorist-related content. But the recent news could be indicative of how the Islamic State may target young people in the future. One George Washington University research fellow told Elle that appeals like this to a younger female audience are “effective for the group in prepping women for the roles they play in ISIS.”
Paid family leave policies are often thought of as a boon to women in their careers by encouraging them to take time off in the short-term but not leave the workforce entirely. But a new study — analyzing the short- and long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act, which offered parents six weeks of partially paid leave — found that paid leave reduced employment by 7 percent and lowered annual wages by 8 percent for first-time mothers six to 10 years after they gave birth. As The Washington Post reports, researchers also found that women with access to paid leave were no more likely to stick with the same employer than women without it.
Researchers analyzed data and surveys to figure out why. While California’s paid leave act applied to both men and women, women are more likely to take advantage of it than men. The study suggests additional leave time may be encouraging women to spend more time with their children and less time working, which can increase “gender division rather than narrow it.” Vicki Shabo, a senior fellow on paid leave policy and strategy at New America’s Better Life Lab, said the study could provide lessons to other states in the process of rolling out policies — and it sends a message to dads:
Harvey Weinstein has made few recent public appearances since 2017, when dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment or assault against him, sparking the #MeToo movement. But he did attend a recent comedy show at Downtime NYC, a basement speakeasy, where he was confronted by a group of women. During intermission, 21-year-old Zoe Stuckless went up to his table and began asking him for his name; then, she was told to leave. “Nobody’s really going to say anything?” Stuckless shouted.
Comic Kelly Bachman and her friend Amber Rollo followed soon after, shouting at Weinstein as they passed by his table: “You’re a monster.” Bachman, a rape survivor, performed a set earlier in the night, during which she called out Weinstein.
A spokesperson for Weinstein blasted the comics. “This scene was uncalled for, downright rude and an example of how due process today is being squashed by the public,” the representative said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
New York City’s Central Park has existed for 166 years. But until now, none of its 23 statues have honored women. That’s soon changing, because a city commission last week voted to approve the design for a monument to three pioneers in the fight for women’s rights: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. The work by artist Meredith Bergmann will be unveiled in 2020, which marks 100 years since American women won the right to vote.
The design generated controversy last year, when it only showed Anthony and Stanton. The likeness of Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist, was added after critics asked why the monument did not include African American women who were activists for the same cause.
Last week, 16-year-old Noor Abukaram set a record for her fastest cross country race ever, in Findlay, Ohio. But in the latest instance of athletic dress codes that critics say discriminate against Muslims, Abukaram was disqualified for wearing her hijab — even though she has been wearing one while competing for the past three years. The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires a waiver from students who want to wear a head covering for religious reasons, a requirement Abukaram and her family didn’t know about. In an interview with The Post, Abukaram said:
“I was disqualified from something that I love to do because of something that I love. Because of something that’s a part of me.”
Five need-to-know stories in 100 words or less
1. A week after the House Ethics Committee opened an inquiry into allegations that Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) had an intimate relationship with a congressional staff member in her office, Hill announced her resignation Sunday. Hill’s spokeswoman said that the resignation is not immediate, and that Hill is still deciding on when she will leave office.
2. Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired Thursday after his offensive, vulgar comments toward female reporters during a celebration of the team’s earlier win against the Yankees came to light. The Astros initially dismissed Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein’s account of the incident, which was later corroborated by others.
3. A Bangladeshi court sentenced 16 people to death for the murder of 18-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi, who was lured to the roof of her school, doused in kerosene and lit on fire in April. The mob came for her, according to prosecutors, because she spoke out about the headmaster of her school inappropriately touching her. Authorities said her murder was ordered by the principal, and the headmaster is one of the 16 ordered to death.
4. For the first time, a Democratic presidential primary debate will have an all-female moderator lineup. The Nov. 20 event in Georgia, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, will feature Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC; Andrea Mitchell, host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC and NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent; Kristen Welker, NBC News’ White House correspondent; and Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for The Post.
5. In a nod to transgender and nonbinary customers, the Venus symbol — long a sign of the female sex — will no longer appear on packaging for Always brand sanitary pads, Procter & Gamble announced last week. Some on social media criticized the decision and called for a boycott, saying the company was pandering to a liberal base.
Remembering a history-making woman
Kathryn Johnson, a trailblazing reporter for the Associated Press, began covering Martin Luther King Jr. when he was a little-known Baptist preacher from Atlanta. By the time he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, Johnson had become so close to the King family that she was the only reporter Coretta Scott King allowed inside her house that day.
Johnson died Oct. 23 at 93 in Atlanta. She began her career in 1947 after graduating from Agnes Scott College, an all-women school in Georgia. Throughout her career, which spanned a half-century, she broke groundbreaking stories on the civil rights movement. She covered the integration of the University of Georgia, the March 1968 massacre of Vietnamese civilians at the village of My Lai and more.
This week, we hear from actress Sarah Baker
On being part of “The Kominsky Method”: “Getting to work with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, it just doesn’t get better than that. Arkin has been one of my heroes for so long, so hearing both his and Michael Douglas’s voices at the first table read I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m here.’”
On the projects she’s proudest of: “It’s terrible because [Louis C.K.] ruined it for everybody, but doing an episode of ‘Louie’ was amazing. It was a great piece of writing. As a character actress, it was the first time I felt like I could step into a big voice, a monologue.”
On women in Hollywood: “In terms of making our way in this world, yeah, I would love to see women more respected. But I feel like I know so many brilliantly funny women — women who are writers, showrunners, directors. I have to remind myself that it’s still a struggle out there for women, because the women I know are just so good that they’re rising to the top despite all the impediments put in their way.”
Things we love but weren’t paid to promote
Genexa Sleepology has been helping me sleep for the last few weeks. I used to take melatonin when I had trouble sleeping. That worked well but would sometimes leave me feeling groggy in the morning. Sleepology puts me to sleep slowly and I wake up without grogginess and feeling well-rested.
—Ross May, Lily art director
[bye-koo] Saying goodbye with a haiku
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