Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Hillary Clinton’s political experience is showing up favorably in the polls, and Kate Middleton is in New York City this week. Read on to hear why I think the media’s obsession with Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story is all wrong. Enjoy Tuesday.
• Beyond blood. “She no longer devotes time to novels or friends, doesn’t date, doesn’t own a television and hasn’t taken a vacation in ten years. Her refrigerator is all but empty, as she eats most of her meals at the office,” New Yorker’s Ken Auletta writes in a profile about Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes is the founder of Theranos, a blood diagnostics firm that now is valued at more than $9 billion. Click over to Fortune to watch Pattie Sellers’ on-stage interview with Holmes at the MPW Next Gen Summit. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Experience matters. A new Bloomberg poll shows that voters feel that Hillary Clinton’s past political experience gives her a “leadership” edge on her possible Republican rivals during the (still hypothetical) 2016 presidential campaign. Bloomberg
• No more ‘Mad Men.’ Two years ago, San Francisco-based ad agency Eleven Inc. had no female creative directors and a not a single woman in senior management. Today, it has a female partner and a female creative director, and 46% of the people in its creative department are women. Fortune
• ‘Individual problem’ Childcare has been regulated as an “individual problem” that families are supposed to deal with outside of work, says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. Care.com founder Sheila Lirio Marcelo wants to fix that, and now has 13 million registered users looking for help with caring for their kids. She got the idea for the company the day her father had a heart attack and fell down the stairs while carrying her baby. “My mission is peace in the home,” she told Bloomberg. Bloomberg
• Get comfortable. For Susan Coelius Keplinger, president and CEO of ad-tech firm Triggit, getting better at taking risks is an easy process: Start out by taking small risks, then work your way up to the big ones. Extreme athlete Keplinger explained that in kitesurfing, for example, “it’s about understanding the nuances of the kite,” and what may or may not happen under what kinds of conditions. Fortune
• Did you miss MPW Next Gen? That’s OK. Check out our Facebook page to view all the photos from our inaugural summit last week — including pictures of MINK founder Grace Choi using a 3D printer to put on nail polish.
• Resume Update: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, is now a member of Salesforce’s board of directors. Catherine Keating, head of investment management for the Americas at JP Morgan, is now CEO of Commonfund, a fund responsible for nearly $25 billion in assets. Trudy Rautio, CEO of Carlson, will become the newest member of Cargill’s board of directors. She will replace Linda Zarda Cook, a former executive director of Royal Dutch Shell who resigned in July.
Why the media obsession with Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story is wrong
If I read about the sexual assault scandal at University of Virginia today for the first time, I would have no idea what’s really going on.
First, I would see a bunch of people referencing a Rolling Stone cover story outlining a gruesome gang rape of a freshman woman named “Jackie” at a fraternity party. But then when I go read the article, I’m confronted with a 600-word editor’s note first casting doubt on Jackie’s reliability as a source. After digging a little deeper, I would discover that the fraternity in question, Phi Kappa Psi, is denying Jackie’s claims entirely and poking major holes in Rolling Stone’s retelling of her story.
Now, media outlets like The Washington Post and Fox News are focusing more on how Rolling Stone messed up and less on the culture that led this story to be told in the first place. Overall, I’m left with the impression that rape on college campuses, and rape at UVA in particular, is not something that I need to worry about after all. That’s a big problem, and quite frankly, may be just as big of a failure on the part of the media as was Rolling Stone’s initial report.
In some ways, whether or not a college student told Rolling Stone the truth about being sexually assaulted on campus is irrelevant. President Obama continually cites that 1 in 5 women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted. What’s more is that up until Rolling Stone‘s story began to unravel, most people believed Jackie’s account to be true. Most of us could accept that a teenage girl attending a prestigious school in the south could be brutally gang raped with no fallout or repercussion. In the wake of the accusations, several key members of the UVA community came forward saying they were not surprised by the story. Former UVA professor John Foubert, for example, said the story was a “graphically written piece that was compelling, but not a bit of it surprised me.” On a personal note, when I shared the story with friends who graduated from UVA just two years ago, the response was pretty much the same: disappointment, but not disbelief.
When campus officials first read the report, UVA President Teresa Sullivan first did very little, but then called for an immediate ban on Greek life and eliminated all alcohol on campus aside from beer. Yes, the move seemed strong given the extent of the accusations, but it just goes to show you how willing administrators were to believe that a rape of that nature could occur on campus. After all, a student was gang raped on campus 30 years ago at the same fraternity. It is in the realm of possibility that it could happen again.
What all these reactions show is that Jackie’s story aside, UVA suffers from a culture that makes rape not only believable, but socially acceptable. By no means is UVA unique, but it now stands out given Rolling Stone’s initial attempt to shine light on the issue. Until we get to a point where sexual assault on college campuses becomes so socially unacceptable that stories like Jackie’s are entirely unbelievable, we are failing.
On Monday, national fraternity and sorority organizations with a presence at UVA came together to demand that administrators apologize and lift the ban on Greek life activities on campus. The request is sound given the holes in Rolling Stone’s reporting. But I worry that if Sullivan caves and does what the Greek system is asking her to do, she will be signaling that her work is over. UVA and other colleges around the country should use the national attention on this issue as an opportunity to enact real change and eradicate rape on campuses. If they don’t, in 30 years we’ll find ourselves in the same situation we are in today.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• A royal visit. On Monday, Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, met with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, in Harlem. The two women visited children and wrapped presents at the Northside Center for Child Development. “They thought she was the princess from Frozen,” school administrator Rose Ann Harris said of Middleton’s visit. Time
• It’s true. Remarried men really do prefer younger women. One in five men who remarry find themselves with a woman at least 10 years younger, according to the Pew Research Center. To put that into perspective, only one in 20 men marry someone that much younger for their first marriage. Pew Research
• Riddle me this. For yesterday’s Final Thought I included the following riddle: “A father and his son are in a car accident. The father is killed and the son is seriously injured. The son is taken to the hospital where the surgeon says, ‘I cannot operate, because this boy is my son.'” How is this possible? The surgeon is the boy’s mother. Despite how obvious it sounds when I spell it out, a majority of people don’t initially picture the surgeon as a woman.
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