Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Valentina (@valzarya) here. Scottie Nell Hughes is the latest to sue Fox News, Asian-American women are sick of being stereotyped, and Billie Jean King and Emma Stone talk Battle of the Sexes. Enjoy your Wednesday.
• Lunching with a legend. Yesterday, I traded the office cafeteria for a luncheon co-hosted by tennis great Billie Jean King. The annual event celebrates individuals who have used their platforms to promote the mission of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative: Equality for all.
Speaking at the Rainbow Room at the top of the Rockefeller Center, King recounted her first non-meeting with this year’s award winner, showrunner Shonda Rhimes: “I was too shy to talk to her,” she said.
While the Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator was gracious in accepting the award, she did point out that its mere existence points to the severity of the problem. “It bothers me that we need an award for inclusion and equality,” she said.
As the event coincided with the premiere of Battle of the Sexes, a biopic that culminates in King’s infamous 1973 match against Bobby Riggs, the tennis icon also invited Emma Stone—who plays King in the film—to take part in a conversation about social justice. The 28-year-old had an interesting take on King, whom she said she considers “an activist—who is really great at tennis.”
Stone, who put on 15 pounds of muscle for the role, said she saw her physical power as a manifestation of her newfound voice on behalf of the gender parity movement; the same, she said, applies to King: The tennis star used her strength on the court to spark change.
Despite all the talk about strength, when the discussion’s moderator, Teneo managing partner Kim Davis, asked the women to summarize their authentic selves, both admitted to being scared to speak up—at least some of the time. “I feel like an imposter,” said Stone. King was adamant, however, that there are no excuses for not using your voice: “If you’re a whistleblower, it’s going to be really rough—but you have to do it. You have to do the right thing.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Scottie Nell sues. Scottie Nell Hughes, a political commentator who formerly appeared on Fox News, is suing the network, saying it took her off the air after she accused host Charles Payne of raping her. Hughes alleges that Payne pressured his way into her hotel room in July 2013 for a “private discussion,” then raped her. According to her suit, Payne then forced Hughes into a sexual relationship in exchange for career opportunities. Payne’s attorney said his client “vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless complaint.”
• The furor at Fox. Speaking of Fox News, former anchor Bill O’Reilly—who was fired over allegations of sexual harassment—said yesterday that he was the victim of a “political and financial hit job” and that he “never mistreated anyone on [his] watch in 42 years.” O’Reilly was forced out of the network after The New York Times reported that Fox had paid five women a total of $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims.
• The bamboo ceiling? Asian American women are the demographic group that is the least represented in the executive suite relative to their percentage in the workforce—which may have something to do with the fact that they have to contend with both sexist and racist stereotypes. As entrepreneur and investor Susan Wu puts it, “As an Asian American woman, I’m either a caricature object of sexual interest, a nerdy engineer, a newly arrived immigrant, a tiger mom or an aggressive dragon lady.”
• Dear Mom, Love Serena. On the heels of giving birth to her own daughter, Serena Williams has posted a touching letter to her mom on Reddit. In the missive, she thanks her mother for her sacrifices and, in its subtext, seems to mull the difficulty of raising an African-American little girl amid a culture that can be both racist and sexist. “I don’t know how I would react if [my daughter] has to go through what I’ve gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day,” she writes.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• When gender is a jail. Incarcerated women are often housed in different conditions than their male peers. Since the prison system was built for men, prison activists say that little thought has been given to providing equal services for women, even as their population has grown. Take, for example, the case of Taylor Blanchard, who faced up to 10 years in prison for a crime that would’ve sent men to boot camp for six months to a year.
• The sky will fall. China’s Chairman Mao once famously proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky.” A bold statement, but it hasn’t exactly played out that way: The last woman to run the Middle Kingdom was the Dowager Empress—more than 100 years ago—while the country’s governing body, the Politburo, has welcomed only a handful of women since it was formed. And progress is unlikely, reports the WSJ, as President Xi “has compounded an unabashed sexism in senior party appointments with a broad assault on civil society, including feminist groups.”
• She told you so. In October 2014, Ann Ravel, then a vice commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, accused the organization of ignoring the growing force of the internet in politics. A year later, while pushing for the commission to require state and local campaigns to declare foreign contributions, she quipped, “I mean, think of it, do we want Vladimir Putin or drug cartels to be influencing American elections?” But despite her repeated warnings, only now is the commission beginning to act: It unanimously voted to reexamine the rules surrounding disclosures on online ads last week.