Taylor Swift takes on toxic masculinity—and takes control of her own image
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The former mayor of Baltimore is sentenced to three years in prison, we hear from Laurene Powell Jobs, and pair of pop stars make news. Have a wonderful weekend.
– The Man and the Ex. It’s been a tough news week! So let’s celebrate the fact that we made it to Friday with something a little lighter—a pair of fun stories about two of the pop world’s MPWs, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
Yesterday, Swift dropped a new video for “The Man,” the latest single from her most recent album, Lover. The song, for those who haven’t heard it, might be her most explicitly feminist, laying out all the ways Swift believes she’s faced a sexist double standard as a famous—and occasionally infamous—woman. The video takes that concept a step further, putting Swift in full drag (including beard!) and letting her live her most toxic masculinity-drenched life, consequence free.
There’s a lot of enjoyable writing out there about the video—including Vulture’s deep dive into its many easter eggs (quite a few of which jab at Scooter Braun) and Jezebel’s theory that the whole thing is one big Leonardo DiCaprio subtweet. But perhaps most striking is that it’s Swift’s directorial debut—and that she so proudly claims that authorship, trumpeting in the closing credits that she directed, wrote, starred in, and, yes, “owns” the video.
Lady Gaga, meanwhile, plays a very different kind of role in this essay by New York Times editor Lindsay Crouse titled, simply and brilliantly: “My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend is Lady Gaga.” I don’t want to spoil much about Crouse’s delightful piece—after all, the summary is right there in the headline!—so I’ll just say that, while comparing yourself to someone like Gaga could shake even the most confident among us, Crouse manages to see the superstar as inspiration rather than competition. I encourage you to read the full story—I promise it will start your weekend off right.
Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Children's book consequences. Catherine Pugh, the former mayor of Baltimore, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday. Pugh was forced to resign last year after earning $800,000 in income and funding her political campaigns by selling her self-published Healthy Holly children's books and then failing to deliver them to public schools. She pled guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy. Washington Post
- LPJ in NYT. Laurene Powell Jobs sits for a NYT Corner Office interview—rare for the usually private philanthropist and businesswoman. (Before agreeing to do the interview, Powell Jobs insisted on interviewing the writer.) She discusses her work with the Emerson Collective, the influence Steve Jobs had on her worldview ("to pull out any one way ... is impossible, because I have integrated so much of him"), and the wealth gap. "It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined," she says. New York Times
- Coronavirus report. The White House named Debbie Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator, as coronavirus response coordinator; she'll report to Vice President Mike Pence's office. In Iran, vice president for women and family affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has been infected with the virus. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation proposing a way to pay for the U.S. response to the outbreak: use the funding allocated for President Trump's border wall.
- Explaining how to handle a mansplainer. Fortune's advice columnist Jennifer Mizgata answers an important question: how do you deal with mansplaining at work? If there's an egregious offender in your office, "to mitigate the impacts of this mansplainer on you and your career, you need to address his behavior and how it’s impacting your work." Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Levi Strauss & Co. hired Tracy Layney of Shutterfly as SVP and chief human resources officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Spreadsheet success. Remember the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which tracked retailers that carried Trump and Ivanka Trump products? The activist behind that movement, Shannon Coulter, is now tallying which companies employ forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims. The campaign again encourages readers to make purchasing decisions based on the information or contact companies that take part in the practice. Washington Post
-Senator, Secretary, podcaster. Hillary Clinton is reportedly launching her own podcast this spring—just in time to make her voice heard during the 2020 presidential election. Politico
- Another kind of small business owner. Is an abortion clinic the hardest small business to run in America? Amy Hagstrom Miller, owner of Whole Woman’s Health in Austin, calls the surcharges clinic owners face the "abortion tax." An anti-abortion campaigner offered Hagstrom Miller's landlord five years of rent to prevent her from holding onto the space. Then she had to spend about $100,000 on a search for a new landlord willing to rent to her, security for staff and patients, airfare for doctors flying in, legal fees, and higher rates charged by contractors nervous about protesters or boycotts. Bloomberg
- Miss Black America for Buttigieg. With the South Carolina primary coming up this weekend, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has one endorsement on his side: Miss Black America 2018, Ryann Richardson. Buttigieg is polling around 4% with black voters in the state, but Richardson decided she was in his camp after he "accept[ed] accountability" when she asked him about the police shooting of Eric Logan in South Bend. Before being crowned a pageant queen, Richardson ran startups and founded Uber’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Washington Post
ON MY RADAR
The making of Six: How Tudor queens turned into pop stars New York Times
It doesn't take much to be seen as an unruly woman Vulture
Canada reveals it’s been providing security to Harry and Meghan—but will cut them off in the ‘coming weeks' Washington Post
I testified against Harvey Weinstein. He was found guilty, so why don’t I feel relieved? Elle
-Autumn de Wilde, the rock-and-roll photographer making her feature directorial debut with her adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma.