Skip to Content

Madonna Aretha Franklin, Asia Argento, Simone Biles: Broadsheet Aug. 21

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Madonna gives a baffling VMA tribute to Aretha Franklin, the cost of motherhood is sneaking up on women, and Tarana Burke responds to the allegations against Asia Argento. Go get your Tuesday.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• ‘No model survivor.’ The #MeToo movement was rocked late Sunday night by a New York Times report on Asia Argento’s alleged deal to pay off a young actor who accused her of sexual assault. The Italian actress and director was one of the first Harvey Weinstein accusers and then became a vocal leader of the #MeToo movement.

The NYT alleges, however, that as she was assuming her #MeToo mantle Argento was quietly paying $380,000 to actor Jimmy Bennett, who says Argento sexually assaulted him a few years ago when he was 17. The two had worked together on the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. The age of consent in California, where the alleged assault took place, is 18.

(Argento did not provide a comment to the Times.)

In addition to exposing Bennett’s alleged trauma, the report threatens to undermine the #MeToo movement, since it accuses one of its leaders of the kind of abuse she was speaking out against.

As #MeToo supporters digest the implications of the allegations and the complexities therein, it’s worth considering the response of activist Tarana Burke, who founded the original #MeToo movement more than a decade ago.

“I’ve said repeatedly that the #metooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward,” Burke wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender,” she said. Just as “there is no one way to be a perpetrator,” Burke said, “there is no model survivor.”

“We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior. People will use these recent news stories to try and discredit this movement—don’t let that happen. This is what [the] Movement is about. It’s not a spectator sport,” she said, “It is people-generated.”

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Ready, set, Reinvent. Mark your calendars for Fortune‘s newest conference, Brainstorm Reinvent, taking place in partnership with McKinsey & Company on September 24th and 25th in Chicago. The summit will focus on the need for businesses to reinvent themselves in the face of disruptive technologies. Weight Watchers’ Mindy Grossman, Siemens U.S.’s Barbara Humpton, and Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson have already signed on as on-stage participants. You can find information about attending here

• Tune in. CNN’s Poppy Harlow is out with a new podcast series called “RBG: Beyond Notorious” that focuses on the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (It accompanies the network’s documentary RBG.) The podcast series will feature Ginsburg herself and people who know her best, including her granddaughter Clara Spera.  iTunes

• Sticking it. When Simone Biles won her record-breaking fifth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships this past weekend, she did so in a teal leotard. She said the shade, associated with sexual abuse survivors, was intended to honor the victims of Larry Nassar. “I stand with all of them,” she said, “and I think it’s kind of special to unite [people].” Huffington Post

• Calling it a day. You’ve got to hand it to Arianna Huffington: at least she tried. The media mogul and sleep guru this weekend urged notorious workaholic Elon Musk to “change the way” he works “to be more in line with the science around how humans are most effective.” “You need it, Tesla needs it and the world needs it,” she pleaded. “You think this is an option,” Musk shot back. “It is not.” Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Catalyst, a global nonprofit focused on empowering and accelerating women in business, has announced Lorraine Hariton as its new president and CEO. Sara Auspitz is joining E! as head of current.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Dis-respect? At the MTV VMAs last night, Madonna was supposed to pay tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin, but her speech, which started “Aretha Franklin changed my life,” is being criticized as overly self-indulgent.  Vox

Parenting inflation? The New York Times‘ Claire Cain Miller takes a look at new research that suggests that, due to shifts that started in the 90s, motherhood has become more demanding—and that those costs are often underestimated by women. So what changed? “Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.” The result: Many women who had planned to keep working end up dropping out of the labor force. New York Times

Biking to birth. If you were impressed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who became the second-ever head of government to give birth while in office earlier this year, consider Julie Anne Genter, the country’s minister for women, who just cycled herself to the hospital to deliver her first child. It was no big deal, she said: the ride was mostly downhill. The Guardian

Share today’s Broadsheet with a friend.
Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.

ON MY RADAR

If only her voice could change the way the Mets play New York Times

The pursuit of blondness  The Atlantic

Sexism is alive and well at China’s biggest gaming convention SCMP

The best and worst cities for women entrepreneurs Fortune

QUOTE

The bees are doing great.
Second Lady Karen Pence on the beehives she installed at the vice president's residence.