Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Tony Robbins apologizes for saying #MeToo accusers are wallowing in victimhood, the fashion industry emerges as a major perpetuator of the pay gap, and Molly Ringwald reflects on the films that made her famous. Have an energizing Monday.
• Ringwald reflects. In this insightful essay, Molly Ringwald reflects on the iconic movies she made with John Hughes—films that launched her career, and which shaped the way Americans see the teenage experience.
Her feelings about the movies—The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink—are complicated. Before Hughes, fictional portrayals of teens in TV or film were either corny or exploitative, and overwhelmingly male. He shattered that mold, writes Ringwald:
“No one in Hollywood was writing about the minutiae of high school, and certainly not from a female point of view….That two of Hughes’s films had female protagonists in the lead roles and examined these young women’s feelings about the fairly ordinary things that were happening to them, while also managing to have instant cred that translated into success at the box office, was an anomaly that has never really been replicated.”
Yet rewatching those films, she finds it impossible to gloss over certain troubling moments, which to our modern eyes clearly depict women being sexually harassed or abused. (Ringwald also mentions the movies’ inescapable racism and homophobia.) Referencing scenes where a drunk girl is “traded” for a pair of underwear or a character being groped by one of her classmates is played for laughs, she wonders about the signals such moments have sent to decades of young viewers.
This is, of course, a debate that goes far beyond the films of John Hughes. We are surrounded by works of art that helped define our culture—and that still hold much to love and admire—while also containing aspects that clash with the values many hold of us dear. Fortunately, we live in a world where we’re all able to make our own decisions about whether to continue to embrace such works, to reject them entirely, or to search for our own middle way.
In Ringwald’s judgment, the key for dealing with such complicated art is to talk about it—both its strengths and its failings. “The conversations about them will change, and they should,” she writes of Hughes’s films. “It’s up to the following generations to figure out how to continue those conversations and make them their own—to keep talking, in schools, in activism and art—and trust that we care.” New Yorker
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Tony’s sorry... Motivational speaker Tony Robbins has apologized after becoming the subject of heated criticism on social media over comments he made at an event in March, when he said that some women were using the #MeToo movement to revel in victimhood. One audience member, Nanine McCool, objected at the time, telling Robbins he misunderstands the movement. Numerous others, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, weighed in after his comments went viral. BuzzFeed
• …and so is Sheryl. In her latest stop on what I’m calling the Great Facebook Apology Tour, Sheryl Sandberg appeared on the Today show, where she confirmed that the company cannot allow users to completely opt out of sharing their data without creating a paid product (something Facebook has not given any indication that it plans to do). She also objected to the idea that user data is the company’s primary product—though mostly on semantic grounds, i.e. that the company doesn’t actually sell your data to advertisers. Fortune
• Feliz cumpleaños! This weekend’s Google Doodle honored iconic Mexican actress María Félix. Sunday would have been her 104th birthday; she died in 2002 at the age of 87. Félix starred in more than 47 movies in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and France, but spurned Hollywood, where she was only offered stereotyped parts as a “Latin spitfire.” Fortune
• Out of fashion. The U.K.’s new rule requiring large companies to report their gender pay gaps has revealed an ugly trend: Fashion and beauty brands, which focus on female customers and employ an overwhelmingly female staff, have some of the largest pay gaps. Among the companies called out for pay inequities: Condé Nast Publications Limited, Karen Millen, Victoria’s Secret, and Burberry. New York Times
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Female fight club. Meet some of New York City’s badass female fighters—women who compete in boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, and other combat sports. They might even convince you to try throwing some punches yourself. According to Muay Thai fighter Gianna Smith, “You’d be surprised how good it feels to hit things.” New York Times
• #Twinning. We’ve all been there: You walk into the office, or a meeting, or an event, and someone else is wearing your exact outfit. Customers of StitchFix, the styling service led by CEO Katrina Lake, share their stories of unexpected twinning. Why single out StitchFix? Users say they were surprised to bump into their fashion doppelgangers because the company touts its personalization factor. WSJ
• Save your stereotypes. A study of 523 companies finds that “benevolent sexism”—gender stereotyping that can seem positive for women, but ultimately walls us off from certain roles or opportunities—follows women all the way to the C-suite. For instance, the researchers found that board members expect female CEOs to act as “collaborators,” whereas they are likely to view male CEOs as “self-interested or opportunistic.” While that might read as a win for women leaders, it nevertheless puts them in a box—and can lead to heavy penalties for female CEOs who fail to conform to the stereotype. CNN Money
ON MY RADAR
Bill Cosby returns to court. Here’s why his trial is no repeat. New York Times
The effects of #MeToo on film’s violent male gaze Jezebel
The NFL’s plan to protect America from witches The Guardian
Anne Wojcicki wants to be healthy at 100 New York Times Magazine