The Week in Women: A sexist politician’s comeuppance, Coca-Cola’s ad fail, and another harassment scandal

(Coca-Cola / YouTube)

Flex your debating skills and call your maddeningly out-of-touch relatives, because this week’s newsletter is all about politics. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Tatyana Felgenhauer, the Russian radio journalist and Vladimir Putin critic who barely survived being stabbed in the neck last month, said she is not convinced by the state’s claim that her attacker was mentally ill. Authorities said one Boris Grits attacked Felgenhauer as she came out of a morning news meeting on the 14th floor of the Echo of Moscow radio station, evading a security guard by spraying him with gas. “I’m confident that he is sane, he had planned it very carefully,” Felgenhauer said. Incidentally, a number of other journalists at Echo of Moscow have been attacked — and one was recently forced to flee the country.

A Saudi Arabian Coca-Cola advertisement tried to jump on a political bandwagon and, um, it did not go so well. The ad, which was meant to celebrate the country’s decision to lift its much-maligned ban on women driving, featured a man teaching his daughter to drive by balancing a Coke bottle on the dashboard. While some praised Coca-Cola for depicting a scene that until recently would have been illegal, others derided the ad for attempting to monetize a hard-won political achievement. But let’s be honest: They’re hardly the only big American brand to skim some publicity off that monumental cultural shift.

Three female former aides to U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence, who recently introduced a bill to require congressional staffers to take a course on sexual harassment, have claimed that they endured sexual harassment from Lawrence’s own chief of staff. The women told Politico that Dwayne Duron Marshall regularly commented on their physical looks, asked inappropriate questions about their dating lives, and engaged in unwanted physical contact. They also said that they told Lawrence that Marshall was making them uncomfortable, but the congresswoman said in a statement that “[n]one of the concerns brought to my attention involved allegations of sexual harassment.”

John Carman, a New Jersey politician who joked that the Women’s March would interfere with women cooking dinner, was unseated by — wait for it — a first-time female candidate. Ashley Bennett, now a member of the Atlantic County freeholders board, was in fact one of dozens of women who flocked to a January meeting to protest Carman’s remarks. “People want change,” Bennett told after her unlikely win. “I am beyond speechless and incredibly grateful to serve my community.” The loss might sting for Carman, but on the bright side, he’ll now have plenty of time to cook his own meals.

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