The conversations from Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London have been candid and, in some cases, alarming.
Laura Boldrini, the former president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies — their lower house of parliament — shared pointedly about the abuse she regularly receives for her advocacy on behalf of refugee rights. It’s not just the anonymous masses, either — Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing League party, and now Italy’s minister of the interior, has compared her to a blow-up sex doll and posted cries for her to be raped or killed on social media.
“Why do we as women have to accept this? Why is this considered almost normal?” she asked. Instead of challenging her progressive views, Boldrini says Matteo is using “sexism as a political weapon, instigation to rape as a political weapon.”
While still in parliament, Boldrini established a committee to assess hate and hate speech in the country, the first EU country to conduct such a survey. The report, released last summer, found that women were the most likely to be targeted by hate, followed by the LGBTQ community and migrants.
Boldrini offers a solution. “We have to start with boys, with men,” she says. “We have to educate them on supporting equal rights.”
The dark side of human nature also pre-occupies Joanna Shields, CEO of Benevolent AI, a healthcare start-up, and an alum of Google, Facebook, and the British government. Her prescription is similar: Educate everybody.
Shields describes herself as a skeptic of the “tech will bring the world closer” ethos that described early social media, and fears that unrestrained use of AI will yield unanticipated social ills far beyond “fake news.” She recommends businesses, non-profits, researchers, and governments come together to create policies about how AI will be used.
“The digital revolution was a dress rehearsal for what’s to come,” said Shields. “AI will change our lives in ways that we don’t truly understand.”
Find more coverage of Fortune’s MPW International Summit on Fortune.com and at #FortuneMPW and #MPWSummit on social media.
|Bozoma Saint John is leaving Uber to become CMO of Endeavor|
|Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. The high profile marketing exec was brought on during the Travis Kalanick era, and while “nothing horrible or terrible happened,” she told Techcrunch, the allure of working as a marketing chief with a big portfolio of brands and artists was too strong. She says she plans to use pop culture to advance the narrative on equity, diversity, and inclusion, which she deeply cares about. “Sometimes people think [pop culture] is superficial,” she says. “These are where the stories that are being told are created. If we can help influence that, then that’s so much better for the entire narrative of what we need to get across.” On Uber’s toxic corporate culture, she politely says that they’ve been doing the work, but “[t]here’s still a lot to be done in that regard.”|
|The Ad Week Creative 100 list is out, and Ava DuVernay is on the cover|
|Her story, linked below, does her clear justice – by making sure that in addition to her extraordinary talent and exhaustive capacity, it focuses on her generosity as a catalyst for change. “She understands that her work—whether it’s commercials or a documentary film or even a sci-fi fantasy—has meaning beyond entertainment, whether representational or historical,” says Kristina Monllos, who trailed DuVernay as she was scouting scenes for the upcoming Netflix mini-series about the Central Park Five. She talked about modern storytelling, her fight for inclusion riders in the entertainment industry, and reminds us that the intersection of the arts and activism is neither surprising or new. “Activism is inherently a creative endeavor—it takes a radical imagination to be an activist, to envision a world that is not there,” says DuVernay. (And she’s human – she procrastinates!)|
|Critics of top-grossing movies are overwhelmingly white and male|
|Speaking of popular culture and important stories, Variety’s Brent Lang reports on a new study that reveals the homogeneity of movie criticism, and its potentially dampening effect on the industry. A new study by researchers at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism shows that white critics wrote 82% of the reviews of the top 100-grossing films of last year, and nearly 78% of the reviews surveyed were written by men. “Now consider the effect this has on how films are valued, before and after they are made, and the effect that has on which films are made, who gets to see themselves in the culture, and how they’re represented when they do,” tweeted Franklin Leonard, creator of The Black List, a network of overlooked scriptwriters and the movie makers who “discover” them.|
|A new podcast hopes to get to the heart of the divide in St. Louis, Missouri|
|St. Louis native Umar Lee became quasi-famous as an activist in the wake of the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown and for his unsuccessful attempt to curb the growth of ride-sharing apps in the area. (Lee is a longtime taxi driver.) He’s now got a new podcast called St. Louis Speaks, in which he’s hoping to have richer conversations about diversity and culture change. “I’m trying to come at things from a nonpartisan perspective, give everyone a fair shake,” Lee says. Lee, who is white, is a graduate of the Ferguson/Florissant school system and spent his 17th birthday in jail. “When I talk about these problems, it’s not abstract,” he says. “I’m not some square-ass dude. Anything bad that can happen in St. Louis has happened to me.” And, he’s not here for your hipster crap. “I’m not sitting in a coffee shop sipping a kale smoothie talking about a study from the Ford Foundation,” Lee says. I haven’t listened to all the episodes, but I did catch that the interview with the former St. Louis comptroller is labeled “explicit.”|
|St Louis Magazine|
The Woke Leader
|A story of everyday racism|
|Brian Jones is an educator, activist and the associate director of education at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. As a light-skinned, middle-class black man, he has straddled a difficult line. On one hand, he grew up mocked for his kinky hair and was followed in stores; on the other, being light and “well-spoken” – he was sometimes deemed “one of the good ones” by certain white people. Either way, it stung. “At some point, I figured out (at least, intellectually) that it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ I am – my fate is bound up with all of those who are ‘bad,'” he says, and with that, a call to a personal activism. But he also frames it in a way that often comes as a surprise to people for whom equity feels like oppression. “That message, to paraphrase activist Alicia Garza, is that the kind of equality black people need to be free is the kind of equality that will make everyone else free.”|
|Being trans at the beach|
|“The beach, the pool, the lake, or anywhere skin is expected to be shown can be emotional places for anyone with a body,” says Lia Clay. “But those of us who are trans have (at least) another layer of anxiety: Are we safe?” To answer that question, Clay, who is a white trans woman, took an epic road trip to discover what safety meant to trans people around the country. The photos and stories are gorgeous, enlightening, surprising, and in some cases, heartbreaking. “Being exposed at the beach can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but especially when your body is already treated constantly as a spectacle by cis people,” said one beachgoer. Said another, “I feel especially self-conscious and more dysphoric about my gender than usual when I’m at the pool, as swimming attire usually covers less skin. If I plan on swimming, I can’t layer up to hide the parts of my body that I am dysphoric about.”|
|The Lost Arcade is a really good documentary about the way people love games|
|The Lost Arcade was a complete surprise. On the surface of things, it’s the story of a sketchy looking arcade in Chinatown that drew together a diverse group of people who loved playing digital games. But it ended up being so much more. For one, it has the best opening scene of any documentary I’ve seen in ages. But it’s also about misfits and cast-outs, of people with imagination but no homes, business visionaries disguised as maintenance people, and how communities are transformed in the strangest ways by the people you least expect. It’s also about how the shallow victories of gentrification and technology innovation don’t really matter if you’ve got friends who will battle you and quarters in your pocket, especially if you’ve got next. It was so good, that when I finished watching it I watched it again, just to be sure. The Lost Arcade is available on Amazon, iTunes, all over the place. Let me know what you thought.|
|The Lost Arcade|