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Octavia Spencer, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in 2012; LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the pre-season, in October, 2018.  (Photos by Jason Merritt/Harry How/Getty Images)
Octavia Spencer, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in 2012; LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the pre-season, in October, 2018. (Photos by Jason Merritt/Harry How/Getty Images)

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The Week in Women: LeBron’s Greatest Assist – AOC’s Scottish Fan – Bachelet Trumps Trump

By on January 31, 2019

STACEY’S BACK
Stacey Abrams always told us she was planning to get back in the ring, and finally the woman who would be (should be) Georgia’s governor is back where she belongs: in the national spotlight.

Chuck Schumer, our runner-up for ally of the week (read on for the winner) has nominated Abrams to give the Democrats’ response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Whether or not you plan to watch Trump bloviate beforehand, Abrams’ response will be a must-see.

Her selection marks the first time a black woman has delivered the address, and also represents a positive shift in strategy from the Democratic Party, who in the last two years enlisted Steve Beshear and Joe Kennedy to plead to white Trump voters following his SOTU addresses. Abrams’ selection tells us the party is finally trying to expand their base with optimistic and inclusive messaging, rather than just trying to flip red voters with giddy attacks. For what it’s worth, Kennedy has already shared his advice for Abrams, encouraging her to ‘misplace your chapstick’ after his shiny lips were mocked on social media during his address.

WHAT A MENSCH
Basketball superstar LeBron James has dished out more assists than any other forward in the NBA today, and it turns out he still has time to serve some huge ones off the court too. At a Sundance panel this week, actress Octavia Spencer revealed that James intervened to make sure Netflix was giving her equal pay for their work on an upcoming series.

When men who hold the keys to power stand up for women who don’t (as LeBron has done time and again) the speed of progress surges. James has played in sneakers emblazoned with ‘Equality’ across the heel, partnered with Sheryl Sandberg to encourage co-parenting, and repeatedly endorsed the addition of more female coaches to the league.

While those gestures have all been public, this private one reveals James still shows up when nobody’s watching.

PELOSI POWER
The government shutdown is over, and ‘No Nickname Nancy,’ as CNN dubbed the formidable House speaker, wasted no time this week advancing two major bills to safeguard gender equality laws.

Pelosi kicked off Wednesday morning by reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which bans salary secrecy and helps workers sue for damages in discrimination cases. This bill has been brought to the last 11 congresses without resolution, but with the 116th having more fired-up female members than ever before, Pelosi rightfully fancies her chances (and smartly tapped AOC to give a barnstorming speech at yesterday’s launch event.)

Pelosi also used her powers to extend the Violence Against Women Act which had expired in December — because apparently even laws with titles like that need to be reviewed.

KINDNESS AWARD
Indiana superintendent Casey Smitherman could lose her job after telling a doctor that a sick student (who she knew wasn’t insured) was her son so he could get treated.

Smitherman has been charged with insurance fraud for her good Samaritan act, but in a country that holds a quarter of the world’s GDP the real scam is that the number of uninsured children in America (almost four million) grew last month for the first time in over a decade.

TRY ALL YOU WANT
The Trump administration tried to prevent two-time Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s confirmation as the U.N.’s High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Their complaint cited Bachelet’s views on Israel and photographs alongside “Latin American dictators,” but Foreign Policy believes the administration was more concerned that Bachelet would continue the U.N’s record of looking into America’s human rights abuses.

For Bachelet – whose father died in prison after being tortured by the goons of Chile’s brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet (while Bachelet was incarcerated with her mother) – Trump’s attempt was no great obstacle. Tina Brown was able to toast the High Commissioner’s first months on the job at the annual ‘Women of Impact’ dinner in Davos last week.

ON OUR MIND
Ireland’s abortion ban might have been thrown out, but the stigma surrounding the procedure hasn’t gone anywhere.

U.S. soccer star Megan Rabinoe has told men to “take the next hundred years off, then we’ll see where we are.”

Angela Merkel is increasingly addressing the impact being a woman has had on her career.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted her endorsement of “clever young woman” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

SURPRISE!
The creator of TV’s Suits has confirmed that Meghan Markle is unlikely to come back for the show’s next season.

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Previous newsletters

The Week in Women: Wintour Stays Woke – AOC’s Oscar Moment – Weinstein Sinks Lower

The Week in Women: Venezuela’s Lost Women – Hollywood’s Divorce Doctor – Roe v. Wade Protected

The Week in Women: Doyennes of Davos – Rihanna’s House – The Tinder Whisperer