Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The wave of sexual harassment revelations crosses the pond, we have mixed feelings about princess costumes, and a bot uses literature to creep us the heck out. Happy Halloween!
• Trick or tweet. While there’s no shortage of big, important stories to cover this morning, today is Halloween, so if you’ll indulge me, let’s start with a tale of a bot designed to do nothing more than to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Shelley—yes, “she” was named after genre pioneer and Frankenstein author Mary Shelley—creates stories based on the roughly 700 megabytes of horror fiction that have been written in Reddit’s r/nosleep forum over the past decade. Every hour, the bot tweets an opening line for a collaborative horror story. Then other Twitter users can continue the story by adding another line ending in the hashtag #yourturn.
At a time when many of the scary words that get thrown around on Twitter are meant to wound and harass, it’s fun to see what social media users can do when they come together for a common cause—even if that cause is just creeping us out.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• The princess problem. One angst-inducing question for feminist parents on Halloween is how to deal with their daughter’s desires to dress up as Disney princesses. Some childhood experts have criticized the characters—which include classic princesses like Belle from Beauty and the Beast as well as newer heroines like Moana—for reinforcing gender stereotypes and encouraging an unhealthy preoccupation with physical appearance. Here’s the verdict:
• ‘Sex pests’ across the pond. My London-based colleague Claire Zillman has a good breakdown of the “sex pest” scandal roiling the U.K. Parliament. Despite the goofy name, its a serious issue: Several U.K. MPs have now been accused of sexual harassment—and more may be named soon (one notable detail: a group of parliamentary researchers created a spreadsheet to track the alleged offenses of numerous ‘high libido MPs’). While some are asking how much Theresa May knew about the allegations, the PM is now calling for a better process for filing complaints against legislators.
• Four decades. The Harvey Weinstein story continues to metastasize. According to the latest report from the New York Times, which recounts the experiences of Hope Exiner d’Amore, Cynthia Burr, Ashley Matthau, and Lacey Dorn, the mogul’s sexual harassment and assault habit dates back to (at least) the 1970s.
New York Times
• More marching. Perhaps not surprisingly given the stories above, a group of nonprofits is planning a “Take Back the Workplace” protest march for Nov. 12 in Hollywood. If successful, this protest strikes me as the type of thing that could spread across the nation—much like the Women’s March events did earlier this year.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Digital concierge service John Paul has named Amber Treshnell as CEO, Americas.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Today in ‘duh.’ A new NBC News/WSJ poll finds that 48% of working women say they’ve been sexually harassed on the job. That stat is even higher for women age 18 to 34, 56% of whom said they’d faced unwanted advances or other harassment. Interestingly, the poll also suggests that awareness of the problem is growing: 67% of men surveyed, and 71% of women, said they believe sexual harassment is widespread.
• Women of North Korea. This story looks at how two young women in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s inner circle—his wife Ri Sol Ju and his younger sister Kim Yo Jong—offer “clues about the running of the opaque regime.”
• Justice for Wall. Danish inventor Peter Madsen has admitted to dismembering the body of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall. He has changed his story of how she died several times and now claims that she was a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning while on board his submarine.
• Cuban chic. Idania del Rio and Leire Fernandez, co-founders of Cuban clothing brand Clandestina, have launched an online store that allows them to sell their wares in the U.S.—no small feat in a country with very little internet access.
ON MY RADAR
More publishers cut ties with Terry Richardson
Judge blocks White House policy barring transgender troops
New York Times
Why your HR department can’t stop sexual harassment
Chinese agency denies overwork led to young model’s death