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Alysia Montaño at the 2015 Pan Am Games. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
Alysia Montaño at the 2015 Pan Am Games. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)


The Week in Women: Which Olympic athlete just exposed Nike’s anti-maternity contracts?

By on May 14, 2019

“Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy – Until I Wanted a Baby.” A three-time U.S. running champion has bravely turned against her sponsors, attacking their recent spate of feminist commercials as “just advertising.”

In a bold new video essay shot in the style of a Nike motivational spot, Alysia Montano reveals that male executives at both Nike and Asics told her they wouldn’t pay her sponsorship fees during her pregnancy and early maternity. This meant Montano had to independently arrange for her breast milk to be shipped from China to the United States after her daughter was born, just so she could compete in enough races to satisfy her Nike contract.

It’s an issue that’s apparently rampant in an industry where almost all of a woman’s livelihood comes from her sponsors. A fellow runner Montano interviewed for the piece, Phoebe Wright, revealed that “Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete — there’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”

“This attack was part of a horrifying new trend … it was designed to be broadcast on the internet.”

With a strongly-worded opinion piece in the New York Times, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gets honest about how in the 21st Century, leaders can no longer singlehandedly protect their countries. Despite the sweeping gun reforms Ardern was able to heroically pass in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, the Prime Minister writes that she won’t be able to truly rest until social media platforms prove they’re working harder to remove terrorist content before it goes viral and inspires others.

“No-one,” Ardern writes, “should be able to broadcast mass murder,” revealing that she was one of the social media users who inadvertently saw the footage of the Christchurch carnage.

Just days after posting on social media that she feared her life was in danger, a prominent Afghan journalist and adviser to the Afghan parliament has been gunned down in Kabul.

Mena Mangal was killed on Saturday morning in a brazen, public attack carried out in broad daylight. While the murder remains under investigation, Mangal’s mother (in a video posted to Twitter) named a group of men as suspects — claiming they had previously kidnapped her daughter but escaped justice by bribing their way out.

President Trump’s spiritual adviser has announced that she’s quitting her church after God “personally told her she needed to found a further 3,000 churches, a university and a performing arts center.”

Paula White, who started counseling the President in 2002, preaches something called “prosperity gospel” — a philosophy which advocates that the faithful will prosper financially if they give their money to church leaders. Previously, she’s called working for Trump “an assignment from God” — and staunchly defended his child separation policies.

It’s easy for a feminist empowerment tweet to go viral these days, and 99 percent of the time we’re firmly on board.

But Alyssa Milano’s call over the weekend for women to go on a “sex strike” in response to Georgia’s abortion ban was met with more confusion than retweets. As one Twitter user responded,“This idea pushes a sexist narrative that sex is something WE give to men as currency. That is not empowering. At all.”

In a strange turn, Milano’s call instead saw her earning praise from an unintended fanbase — the anti-abortion, pro-abstinence crowd.And hers wasn’t the only confusing tweet to cause a viral stir over the weekend: After actress Constance Wu appeared to complain that her television show was being renewed, her apology urged readers to “believe women” — a phrase typically invoked when discussing sexual assault, not lucrative television deals.

A popular Chinese radio program inspired by NPR’s “This American Life” has used its significant platform to share one woman’s #MeToo experience, defying the government’s attempts to censor the hashtag.

Norway’s new health minister, Sylvi Listhaug, has shocked Norway by declaring that “people should be allowed to smoke, drink and eat as much red meat as they like.”

“You’ll have better luck finding Waldo at Coachella.” Journalist Adiba Nelson has written about her struggle to find a parenting book that takes the distinct experiences of black mothers into consideration.

After Georgia, more “heartbeat” abortion bills are gaining momentum across the South, from Louisiana to Mississippi and Alabama. In all honesty, this could be our leading story each newsletter, so great is the effect that these bills, if passed, will have on millions of Americans. Wherever you are, you can support the fight by donating to the ACLU of Georgia, or to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight.

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