Michelle Obama ‘Becoming,’ Transit Tax, Leana Wen: Broadsheet November 13
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Uber takes steps to better track sexual harassment and assault during rides, there’s a pink tax on getting around New York City, and Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is sure to be a bestseller. Have a terrific Tuesday.
• Becoming a bestseller. In case you missed it, which honestly would've been hard to do, Michelle Obama has a new book out today titled Becoming. Plenty of tidbits from the memoir have trickled out in recent days as the former first lady has returned to the media circuit. (Her arena-sized book tour also gets underway this evening.)
The revelations so far have been surprisingly personal for Obama, a friendly yet impeccably polished first lady who never strayed far from her upbeat, "we go high" talking points. There are, of course, her unvarnished comments about President Donald Trump: her accusations that his "birther" conspiracy put her family in danger, her labeling of him as a "misogynist," and her admission that she "stopped even trying to smile" at Trump's inauguration—a point that photos of the event make plainly obvious.
Then there are the disclosures about her family life, namely that she and husband Barack attended marriage counseling—"I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently," she says of that period—and that she miscarried before conceiving her two daughters through in vitro fertilization. Her candid talk of infertility—she administered the IVF shots herself while Barack was away serving in state legislature—is being credited for dispelling the taboos around such struggles.
In an interview with Oprah about her new book, Obama explains why she's giving readers intimate insight into her life. "I hate when people who are in the public eye—and even seek the public eye—want to step back and say, 'Well, I’m not a role model. I don’t want that responsibility.' Too late. You are. Young people are looking at you. And I don’t want young people to look at me here and now and think, Well, she never had it rough. She never had challenges, she never had fears."
The flashy rollout of Becoming is likely to continue an impressive run for first ladies. Julia Grant, widow of Ulysses, couldn't find a publisher for her 1899 book—"You can well imagine my great disappointment and sorrow," she wrote a friend—but every first lady who's managed to put out a memoir has produced a bestseller, according to presidential historian Craig Fehrman.
There's little doubt Michelle Obama, who signed a joint book deal with Barack for a reported $65 million, will continue that trend—Becoming is already No. 1 on Amazon. She may also add to this one: many memoirs by first ladies—fascinating figures swept into the most public of political spheres by means of their marriage and held to ferociously high standards—often outsell their husbands' books.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Track changes. Uber—the company still in recovery from its own turmoil over sexual harassment—debuted a new system for tracking sexual assault and harassment committed during rides. Created with the National Sexual Violence Research Council, the "taxonomy" puts names to offenses from "leering" to rape to better track what occurs on Uber's watch. Uber has made the taxonomy public in the hope that other companies will also use it—and says it will publish a report on the rates of assault occurring during its rides sometime in 2019. Fortune
• Jet set. Elizabeth Shaffer and Lizzy Brockhoff were the first and second product managers at Jet.com. Now the pair is launching Masse, a shopping and social app where users can recommend products and keep track of their recommendations instead of losing that record to ephemeral Facebook feeds. Fortune
• More Trudeau. CNN's Poppy Harlow sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently appeared at Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal. Covered in their interview: Trudeau's new legislation on pay equity, the 50/50 gender breakdown of Trudeau's cabinet, and how Trudeau's mom made him a feminist—but wife Sophie Trudeau made him a "better feminist." CNN
• Planned Parenthood press. New Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen gave her first batch of interviews as head of the organization. In Elle, Wen shares her background and what drove her to become a doctor. In The Cut, Wen goes into her legal efforts to battle abortion restrictions. Wen also appeared on CBS This Morning, where she said that "healthcare shouldn't be political."
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Facebook promoted Anne Kornblut to director of news, new initiatives. Sahar Elhabashi is leaving Condé Nast to be VP, head of content business at Spotify. Sky's Anne Mensah is leaving the network to join Netflix, where she'll lead U.K. productions. Sue Suh will be chief people officer at Time. Travel + Leisure promoted Jacqueline Gifford to editor-in-chief.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Transit tax. Another pink tax—this one on your time and money. Women in New York spend $26 to $50 more per month on transportation because of safety concerns. Women who are their family's main caregiver—and have to shepherd kids around the city—spend as much as $100 extra a month. Wired
• Football, finally. Iranian women were allowed to attend a live soccer game at a public stadium this weekend for the first time since 1979's Islamic Revolution. About 1,000 women watched Iran's Persepolis play Japan's Kashima Antlers. Quartz
• Bridging the age gap. A new crop of women's groups are bringing together older women, often excluded from career-focused circles. Some of these groups combine younger and older women to provide both "energy and history." New York Times
• Channel flipping. Joanna Gaines may join the very small club of women with an entire TV network in her name (hi, Oprah!). Gaines and her husband Chip of HGTV Fixer Upper fame are reportedly in talks with Discovery for their own linear channel and streaming platform. Variety
ON MY RADAR
These wacky chairs help women exact revenge on manspreaders Fast Company
How Busy Philipps spun her intimate, wildly popular Instagram stories into E!'s newest talk show Adweek
The president of NARAL gets coiffed for battle The New Yorker