Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Female veterans in Congress team up on fundraising, Nike’s sponsorship deals haven’t always allowed for maternity leave, and we’re reminded that toxicity isn’t reserved for masculinity. Have a great Tuesday.
• A ‘toxic perspective.’ Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines aimed at promoting better mental health for boys and men got plenty of attention since they targeted the rigid construct of “traditional masculinity,” which the APA cited as a key source of stress, anxiety, and poor outcomes among males.
Now the APA is out with a fresh take on treating girls and women. USA Today has a helpful rundown of what the new guidelines for therapists include:
- Recognizing women’s resilience and using affirmative approaches
- Understanding multiple layers of identity and oppression (race, disability, sexuality, economic background, etc.)
- Being aware of contradictory messaging around what it means to be female
- Confronting their own personal and institutional biases
- Offering diagnosis only when necessary and using unbiased assessment tools
- Knowing about alternative forms of healing, including indigenous methods and community resources
The APA’s recommendations for men flagged the over-reliance on the too-narrow “traditional” concept of masculinity, “including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.” Clinging to this insufficient set of traits can cause men frustration and stress and can keep them from asking for help when they need it.
Interestingly, the APA’s new guidance for women call out a too-narrow social construct of being female that’s also harmful for mental health: “For many women, there is a disconnection between the discourse around the joys of motherhood and the lived experience of parenting.”
Report author Debra Mollen expanded on that point to USA Today:
“Mothering puts tremendous pressure on women. If things aren’t working well in your life, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, the message you get is you need to be trying harder. … It’s a profoundly toxic perspective, and for mothers in particular it fails to take into the account the systemic factors that we don’t have the language or vision to explain.” To be clear, Mollen isn’t saying there’s a problem with motherhood itself, but with society’s fixed perception of it.
Interesting too is the APA’s rationale for updating the guidelines in the first place. In recent decades, the report says, women “have encountered dramatic and complex changes in education, work, reproductive and caregiving roles, and personal relationships.” Some of those changes have yielded more equality, but—at the same time—they’ve altered the way women and girls experience adversity.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Moving on. Weeks ago, U.K. regulators blocked a $9.5 billion deal that would’ve seen the Sainsbury’s grocery chain take over Asda, Walmart’s U.K. grocery unit. Speaking at a retail conference this morning, Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna explained how she’s moving on from the setback with a ‘that was then, this is now’ attitude. Fortune‘s Phil Wahba reports from Amsterdam.
• Sale season. Sales might be in store for a few women-led companies. Chico’s FAS, the troubled retailer now led by Bonnie Brooks, was offered a $407.8 million deal from Sycamore Partners to take the company private. An investor has taken control of the cycling chain Flywheel, led by Sarah Robb O’Hagan and co-founded by Ruth Zuckerman, and is looking for buyers.
• Warehouse discrimination. Three Muslim women who work for Amazon at a warehouse in Minnesota accuse the tech giant of religious discrimination and retaliation. They weren’t allowed time or space to pray and were assigned less desirable work than their white coworkers, the women allege in a federal complaint. An Amazon spokesperson says prayer breaks of less than 20 minutes are paid, as required by law; employees can request longer unpaid prayer breaks “for which productivity expectations would be adjusted.”
• Run from this one, Nike. Olympic runner Alysia Montaño shares how Nike’s support for gender equality in its advertising can run counter to its treatment of female athletes in track and field—specifically, women who become pregnant and see their deals cut while they can’t compete. Track athletes, without professional teams, are more dependent than others on sponsorship income; Nike admitted that some female athletes have had sponsorship payments reduced because of pregnancies.
New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Mary Winston was named interim CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond as the company battles activist investors. Toshiba nominated Ayako Hirota Weissman to its board of directors as part of a board overhaul.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Serve first, fundraise second. Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Chrissy Houlahan, and Elissa Slotkin are launching a first-of-its kind joint fundraising effort: the Service First Women’s Victory Fund. The fund will raise money for the five women, who are either veterans of the military or the CIA, and for women service leaders running for office in the future.
• Unofficial ghostwriter. And you thought women secretly authoring books under men’s names was a nineteenth century thing! A new biography claims that Susan Sontag was not just a collaborator but the true author of her first husband Philip Rieff’s 1959 work Freud: The Mind of the Moralist.
• Defense attorney or dean? Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. faced months of scrutiny on campus for joining Harvey Weinstein’s defense team. He and his wife, lecturer Stephanie Robinson, were also the first African-American faculty deans on campus. Sullivan and Robinson will no longer serve in the faculty dean roles, Harvard said last week.
New York Times
• Shoot for the stars. For the first time in NASA’s history, three of its four science divisions are run by women. The women achieving this milestone include Nicola Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division; Sandra Cauffman, acting director of NASA’s Earth Science division; and Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science division.