Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Valentina (@valzarya) here. Jane Fonda makes a heartbreaking revelation, Elon Musk takes business advice from a ten-year-old girl, and I’m joined by inimitable Fortune writer Beth Kowitt on this week’s episode of Broad Strokes. Have a relaxing weekend!
• It’s. Not. Your. Fault. In an interview with Room actress Brie Larson for Net-a-Porter’s magazine The EDIT, Jane Fonda talked about the “extent to which a patriarchy takes a toll on females” and revealed for the first time that she has been raped, among other atrocities. “I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing,” Fonda said.
Fonda’s words are shocking in their own right, but the way she spoke about feeling responsible for what happened to her struck me as remarkably similar to the way the women involved in the 69,000-person class-action case against Sterling Jewelers spoke about their experiences at the company. Employees at the Kay Jewelers parent allege that female workers were routinely groped, demeaned, and urged to sexually cater to their bosses to stay employed. (Sterling disputes the allegations.)
Like Fonda, many of the women who spoke about the case recall feeling at fault for being sexually harassed. “I was so embarrassed,” former Sterling employee Kristin Henry told The Washington Post while describing an incident in which a senior male manager tried forcibly to kiss and touch her. “I was afraid of what would happen next, how I would be treated, if it was something he would tell other employees about.” And this feeling of humiliation didn’t end when she left her job. “Friends to this day ask: What ever happened to that job? And it’s one of those situations: Do I tell the truth? Or do I say I just moved on, to save myself the embarrassment?”
While stories like Fonda’s and Henry’s are, unfortunately, far from unique, they never cease to shock and enrage me. After this past couple of weeks’ flurry of news stories about the reported (mis)treatment of women in the workplace—looking at you, Uber—I think it’s worth taking some time to remind ourselves that being a victim of unwanted sexual advances is not a cause for shame. And the best way to fight back against harassment is to do exactly what Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post was the catalyst for the company’s current culture crisis, did: speak up.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Speaking of Uber… Two weeks after Fowler published the blog post in which she wrote about the sexual harassment and sexism she experienced while working at Uber, both she and the ride-hailing app have lawyered up—despite there being no actual lawsuit. Fowler tweeted that the company is blaming her for users who have deleted their accounts. Meanwhile, an Uber spokesperson said the unicorn’s law firm is “investigating Susan’s claims, not Susan personally.” Recode
• ...and Sterling…That the case against the jewelry company has dragged on under the radar has thrown the shortcomings of arbitration into sharp relief. Arbitration clauses—which are common in employment contracts—force workplace claims like sexual harassment and gender discrimination out of court and shield them from public view. Women who were part of the Sterling suit, for instance, were barred from seeing the allegations of other Sterling employees and from talking openly about their own grievances. Washington Post
• Senate to play by NFL rules. While most White House watchers were occupied with Donald Trump’s speech to Congress and Jeff Sessions’ alleged meetings with Russia this week, the Senate saw a minor victory for diversity. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked his caucus to adopt new rules to promote ethnic diversity among Senate staff, including a version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which will require the upper house to interview at least one minority applicant for senior job openings in the future. Politico
• B-school bummer. Over the last five years, women have made up just 38% of MBA applicants despite representing 45% of all business school entrance exam takers. Their biggest reason for not applying? Money—especially the fact that women make less of it than men. Alice Leri, an associate dean at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, explains to the Financial Times: “It’s going to take them longer to make up for the money they have spent on their education.” Financial Times
• On Conway and competition. For this week’s episode of Broad Strokes, I’m joined by Fortune senior writer Beth Kowitt. Beth and I discuss the ever-controversial Kellyanne Conway, the latest revelations about Uber, and how employers can use insights about female competitiveness to bolster women in the workplace. Fortune
• She’s going places. Ten-year-old Bria Loveday penned a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday suggesting the business magnate launch a homemade commercial contest. Within the hour, Musk responded on Twitter, praising Loveday’s idea as “great” and promising to implement it. Her father says she is a martial artist and aspiring politician who hopes to galvanize change when she grows up. Looks like she’s already on the right track. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Bob Mankoff is leaving the post of cartoon editor at The New Yorker after more than two decades, and will be replaced by editorial staffer Emma Allen.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Call me never. If you’re still not convinced that tech has a culture problem, consider the case of the CEO who directed a reporter to a sex hotline. Ryan Holmes, the founder and chief executive of social media management platform Hootsuite, told a Bloomberg reporter to call 1-800-EAT-DICK because he was unhappy that the writer questioned the valuation of his startup. Fortune
• Semantics matter. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem writes about her issue with the terms “chick flick” and “chick lit.” At the core of her objection is that “adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are ‘novelists’ and ‘female novelists,’ ‘African-American doctors’ but not ‘European-American doctors,’ ‘gay soldiers’ but not ‘heterosexual soldiers…'” New York Times
• AI’s here to help. Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday, leaders at two tech giants insisted that artificial intelligence is intended to help—not hinder—the human workforce. Vanitha Narayanan, chairman of IBM India and Leonie Valentine, managing director of sales and operations at Google Hong Kong, agreed that many companies—especially service-oriented firms—benefit from technology, which won’t supplant human workers. Fortune
• Modest tastemakers. Burberry, DKNY, and Uniqlo are just a few of the brands that have launched “modest” fashion lines in recent years. Bloomberg profiles a few of the amateur designers and bloggers who amassed millions of followers on social media and grabbed the fashion industry’s attention. Bloomberg
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ON MY RADAR
Brands are telling single women to treat themselves The Ringer
In defense of celebrity feminism New Republic
Why should a man care about Planned Parenthood? GQ
What’s at the root of women’s love connection with white wine? WSJ