Aretha Franklin, Serena Williams, Madonna: Broadsheet August 17

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We reflect on the Material Girl’s cultural import, Serena Williams opens up about the reality of getting back on the court as a mom, and we all pay homage to the late, great Queen of Soul. Have a joyous weekend.


 Rest In Power, Queen of Soul. While Aretha Franklin's death, which was announced yesterday morning, is incredibly sad, getting the opportunity to read so much wonderful writing about her life has been a true joy. A few of my favorites below:

The Washington Post obit highlights her "feminist anthems that gave unprecedented voice to black women in particular." Of Respect, perhaps her most iconic song: "the Otis Redding hit... became a crossover smash in 1967 after Ms. Franklin tweaked it just so (a “sock it to me” here, some sisterly vocal support there), transforming the tune into a fervent feminist anthem."

"'Whenever women heard the record, it was like a tidal wave of sororal unity,' the song’s producer, Jerry Wexler, said two decades after Ms. Franklin first declared, 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me,'" writes WaPo's J. Freedom du Lac.

Beyond honoring the stunning power of Franklin's music, a few pieces made thoughtful points about her larger cultural impact. The New York Times notes that "it was not long into her ascent that she began marshaling the power her nascent stardom commanded to extend the parameters of how we understood and defined black beauty." Writing for Buzzfeed, Tomi Obaro urges us not to stop at calling Franklin a great singer or even a great artist—she was a genius, and we should acknowledge her as such.

This New Yorker profile from 2016 is full of gems, including the fact that Franklin required cash in hand before she would perform. David Remnick explains: "She collects on the spot or she does not sing. The cash goes into her handbag and the handbag either stays with her security team or goes out onstage and resides, within eyeshot, on the piano. 'It’s the era she grew up in—she saw so many people, like Ray Charles and B. B. King, get ripped off,' a close friend, the television host and author Tavis Smiley, told me. 'There is the sense in her very often that people are out to harm you. And she won’t have it. You are not going to disrespect her.'"


 Serena's story. Time's new Serena Williams cover story looks at the tennis legend's return to the court after the birth of her daughter. It hasn't been smooth or easy, but Williams, who says she's been buoyed by the support of other working moms, is determined to forge ahead. “I’m not done yet, simple,” she says. “My story doesn’t end here.” Time

Capitalism gets a makeover? Sen. Elizabeth Warren has introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, which would, as Vox puts it, "redistribute trillions of dollars from rich executives and shareholders to the middle class—without costing a dime." Among other things, the Act would require that large corporations allow their workers to elect 40% of their boards, prevent corporate officers and directors from selling stock for a certain amount of time, and require that 75% of board members or shareholders agree to political donations. Vox

 Undoing underemployment. Fortune's Anne Fisher looks at how underemployment—which, in the case of workers who have a college degree, means working in a job that doesn't require one—can cause longterm problems for your career. The issue, she writes, is especially acute for women. "Not only do more women (47%) than men (37%) start out underemployed after college, but women are more likely than men to stay that way." Fortune

 Enter the Hive. PepsiCo is launching The Hive, which my colleague Beth Kowitt describes as "a new operating entity within the larger company that will focus on developing emerging brands." Emily Silver, a longtime exec at the company, will run the unit. Fortune


 Celebrate! I love this celebration of Madonna's 60th birthday (which was yesterday). It's amazing to reflect on all the ways the singer/dancer/trendsetter/icon has shaped our culture and challenged our ideas about how women are "supposed" to be behave. New York Times

 Status seekersErin Reid, an associate professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, writes about her research on dual-career couples and how husbands perceive the value of their wives' work. She finds that, rather than base their opinions on the amount of money their wives earn, men judge the value of women's work on its social status—"its worth and prestige in society."  Harvard Business Review

 Wrestling with a question. Intergender wrestling is pretty much what it sounds like—a violent, if scripted, sport-meets-performance that pits men and women against each other. The question raised by this ESPN story: Is it okay for men to brutalize women in front of a hooting crowd—as long as the action is "fake?" ESPNW

 Madame mayor. Meet Julia Fahl, a 28-year-old first-time candidate who recently defeated incumbent Dave DelVecchio, known as simply "Mayor Dave" to residents of Lambertville, N.J. He'd been in office since Fahl was born. New York Times

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Tinder plaintiffs suing Match Group have been placed on administrative leave  Fortune

Omarosa claims Ivanka Trump 'would not stop' complaining about SNL's 'Complicit' perfume ad  People

Rose Byrne: A comic superstar flying surprisingly under the radar  Vanity Fair

How I get it done: Samantha Bee  The Cut


She is the reason why women want to sing.
Mary J. Blige, on the legacy of Aretha Franklin

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