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Pope Francis (R) with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the end of their private audience on January 26, 2016, at the Vatican. (ANDREW MEDICHINI/AFP/Getty Images)


The Week in Women: sculpture censorship, Disney’s parity problem, and Beatrix Potter 2.0

By Brigit Katz on January 29, 2016

It’s the end of the week, which is the perfect excuse to indulge in a little #flashbackfriday, as the kids these days say. For this week’s news roundup, we’re harkening to the favorite pastimes of our youth, and skipping back in time to the days of ancient Rome. Let’s get started, shall we?

A lost Beatrix Potter novel, which was recently rediscovered in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, will be published for the first time in September 2016. Pre-orders for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots have already driven the book to the eleventh spot on Amazon UK’s bestseller list. The novel, written by Potter in 1914, chronicles the exploits of a crime-fighting black cat and will feature a “guest appearance” by Peter Rabbit. The terrifying Mr. McGregor does not seem to be included in the narrative, which is probably a good thing, because we still have the occasional nightmare about that dude.

A new study found that female characters in modern Disney films speak less frequently than male characters. The proportion of female-delivered lines to male ones in the early princess films is closer to equal, with Cinderella around 60/40, for example, and Sleeping Beauty at 70/30. When it came to films made between 1989 and 1999 — like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid — men were found to speak for more than half the time. Frozen gave 59 percent of its lines to men, but you try telling that to any parent whose ears have been barraged by an incessant stream of “Let It Go.”

For the ultimate throwback, we take you to ancient Rome — or a sanitized version of it, at any rate. In advance of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to Rome, and a meeting with Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, officials covered up nude statues in the city’s Capitoline Museum as a gesture of respect to Rouhani’s conservative values. The move drew criticism from women’s rights groups, who called on the Italian government to speak out against oppressive Islamic strictures on women, rather than acquiesce to them. Ultimately, Italy stuck by its decision and spared Rouhani any sight of contoured, marble tushies. We can’t say the president was quite so lucky during his visit to France.