Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We look at the #MeToo movement in China, explore alternatives to the Bechdel test, and ponder whether the GDP is sexist. Have a fantastic Wednesday.
• A sexist metric? In the Broadsheet, we often write about the ways in which existing economic systems exclude or marginalize women. Between earning less than their male counterparts and taking on the bulk of unpaid labor (e.g. caregiving), women often seem to get the short end of the financial stick. Yet gender bias is even more deeply rooted than we realize, argues Quartz‘s John Havens. In fact, GDP, economists’ main metric of a country’s success, largely excludes women.
GDP, or gross domestic product, is the sum of “consumption, investment, and government spending (plus exports, minus imports).” What it doesn’t include is things like childrearing, cooking, and cleaning—activities that many women in the world spend their time on. If unpaid labor were to be included in the metric, it would make up about a third to half of a country’s GDP, Riane Eisler, president of the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS), tells Havens.
At first glance, this might seem most relevant to economists and other wonks. But excluding unpaid labor from macroeconomic metrics goes beyond a theoretical devaluation of the work that women do. “One effect of GDP is that it justifies government policies that allocate little or no funding to support the essential work of caregiving,” Eisler says. “This is a major factor in the disproportionate poverty of women worldwide, as it is women who still primarily perform this work for free in households, with no retirement or pensions.”
In other words, because the data isn’t holding world leaders’ feet to the fire when it comes to supporting their female citizens, policies that support those citizens aren’t being created. Including women’s well-being and progress in any metric of economic success is one way of imposing a system of accountability on leadership—the same way that many companies are now tying executives’ compensation to progress on diversity initiatives. One possible alternative that Eisler’s CPS has created is the Social Wealth Economic Indicators. The system uses metrics like child poverty rates, public spending on family benefits, and funding for childcare and education to measure countries’ human capacity development.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Here are (more) all-male nominees. Nominations for the British Academy Film Awards have arrived—and the best-director category is, once again, all-male.
• The next Bechdel test. Speaking of gender inequality in Hollywood, analysis blog FiveThirtyEight posits that the often-cited Bechdel Test doesn’t fully address a film’s sexism, or lack thereof. (To pass the test, a movie must have at least two named female characters who have at least one conversation that is not about a man). Here are 12 other possible ways of measuring gender equity in movies—and how the top 50 films of 2016 fared by those metrics.
• Harris makes history. When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation in December amid allegations of groping women, his exit opened up a spot on the high-profile Senate Judiciary Committee. Minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has named two black Senators—Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)—to the committee. Only one African American lawmaker had previously served on the committee in its 201-year history.
• #WoYeshi. This fascinating WaPo story details the effects of the Harvey Weinstein investigation on China. Chinese state media reportedly crowed over the case, holding it up as proof that Chinese culture is superior to Western culture and that harassment doesn’t happen in China because men in the country are taught to “protect” women. Some women believe otherwise: “China’s #MeToo moment still hasn’t arrived, suppressed by a patriarchal culture and a male-dominated one-party state that obsessively protects those in power.”
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The New York Public Library has appointed Geetanjali Gupta as chief investment officer. Hearst has named Liz Plosser editor in chief of Women’s Health. Jennnifer Gefsky has been named a partner in the Labor & Employment Group at Epstein Becker Green.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Go, Glossier. Emily Weiss’s beauty brand Glossier is not yet four years old, but is already worth $34 million. While much has been written about both founder and company already, this tidbit stood out to me: When seeking her first round of funding, Weiss visited 12 VC firms and received 11 “no” answers. The sole “yes” was from Forerunner Ventures partner Kirsten Green. (Women funding women!)
New York Magazine
• Origins of V-Day. This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s legendary play about women’s relationship with their bodies. Since 1998, versions of the play have been performed around Valentine’s Day as part of the “V-Day” campaign, which has raised over $100 million to fund educational campaigns about violence against women. Two decades letter, the conversation about sexual abuse remains (sadly) relevant.
• Will Roseanne MAGA? The upcoming remake of the sitcom Roseanne is causing controversy thanks to its star Roseanne Barr’s real-life support of President Trump. Barr says she intends for the show—about a working-class American family—to be “a true reflection of the society we live in. Half the country voted for him, half of them didn’t. It’s just realistic.”
New York Times
• Angie’s kitchen. The Times takes us behind the scenes at Beatrice Inn, a buzzy NYC restaurant run (and owned) by chef Angie Mar. The restaurant is notable not just for its numerous awards, but for its culture. “As reports of abuse and sexual harassment in the restaurant business continue to break, Ms. Mar provides an obvious reminder: It is possible—it has always been possible—for a chef to pursue excellence without creating a toxic environment.”
New York Times