Jun 14
Her eye on the news
'Bad business'

Alexis Berger, 32, was a successful marketing executive at mobile branding firm Kargo Global — a company she helped to grow into a booming $100 million a year business — until she was fired for, as an arbitrator put it, “acting like a man.” Several fellow executives started lodging complaints about her behavior — accusing her of being too emotional, aggressive and profane — even though Berger alleges that similar behavior from male colleagues went unpunished. Arbirator Billie Colombaro found that she had been wrongfully terminated and awarded her $41 million. “These men behaved in the same or worse manner as that for which Kargo disciplined Ms. Berger,” he wrote in an 83-page decision. “They criticized behavior from her that they would accept from a man to run her out of the company. It is clear from Kargo’s actions and collective attitude that a woman is not permitted to act like a man.” One male executive was confronted with several sexual discrimination complaints from other women employees, while another allegedly taunted Berger for being gay and talked about “flipping her back,” according to court documents.

Berger was making more than $1 million a year plus commission at the company, and had a $9 million stake in the firm. She is hoping a Manhattan federal court judge will uphold the arbitration, but Kargo denies any wrongdoing. “For 14 years, our company has endeavored to provide full and equal opportunities to our employees, and it is at the core of our culture. Alexis was a close friend of our founder and was the highest-paid executive in the entire company,” the company said in a statement. “We believe that the award rests upon a manifest disregard of the New York Law and will, at a minimum, be substantially set aside. We look forward to telling the full story in our upcoming legal filings.”

Read the full story at the The New York Post.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that a male executive at Kargo Global was the subject of sexual harassment complaints, when they were actually sexual discrimination complaints made to the company’s human resources department.


In Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, women dressed as “handmaids” from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale in protest of a bill that would effectively ban most abortions after 13 weeks of pregnancy — more than 10 weeks earlier than the 23 to 24 week legal benchmark set by Roe v. Wade. Images of the women, wearing long red robes, white bonnets, and staring ‘meekly’ at the floor of the statehouse while male politicians fought over their reproductive rights, drew strong reactions online.

In a number of recent protests across the country, women have dressed as “handmaids” as a statement about what some have decried as nationwide attacks by conservatives on issues pertaining to abortion and women’s rights. In Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which has also recently been adapted to TV by Hulu, religious fanatics took over the U.S. government and relegated women designated as “handmaids” to be sex slaves, whose purpose was solely to produce children.

In a recent statement, Atwood herself took aim at a recent abortion law passed in Texas for making it “virtually impossible” for women in Texas to obtain abortions.

Read the full story at USA Today.


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‘Secret dress code’

A 20-year-old college student says she was kicked out of a mall in Kentwood, Michigan, after a security guard told her that other mall-goers had complained about her outfit.

“As many of you know, it is NINETY degrees outside today in West Michigan. Aka, really hot. So, of course, I decided to dress for the weather: shorts and a tank top,” wrote Hannah Pewee in a now viral Facebook post. “But apparently, how I was dressed was too ‘slutty’ for the public, as I was kicked out of the Woodland Mall today. Yup. Apparently some anonymous person reported me to MALL SECURITY for inappropriate dress and I was kicked out. Never mind that within a one foot radius there were plenty of other girls dressed just like me, since it’s NINETY degrees outside.”

The incident, she admitted, was so embarrassing that she almost cried. By the time she returned home, “shaking” with anger over the humiliation that had been inflicted on her, she discovered that the mall’s clothing guidelines said nothing about the size or length of one’s garments. Adding to the absurdity, she said, the shorts she was wearing that day had actually been bought at a store in the same mall.

“They claimed their policy was that ‘everything needed to be covered,’” wrote Pewee. “This isn’t accurate, as when I got home and checked their website, their policy was only, ‘Appropriate attire, including shirts and shoes, is required.’ The offensive article of clothing appeared to be the shorts, which I had purchased at Forever 21 in the Woodland Mall last year. I found this ridiculous. Why should we shop at a store we can’t even wear the clothes of?”

According to a response posted by the organization to an angry commenter on the mall’s social media page, the Woodland Mall has apologized to Pewee for “enforcing a dress code that didn’t take into consideration current summer trends.”

Pewee has since updated her status, calling on the mall to at the least make their dress requirements explicit and publicly available before they humiliate other unsuspecting girls for violating their “secret dress code.”

Read the full story at Yahoo News.


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‘I want to kick’

Becca Longo, an 18-year-old kicker from Arizona, has become the first woman to earn a football scholarship at the Division II level or higher. The teenager, who can regularly hit field goals from 45 yards out, will become one of roughly a dozen women to have ever played college football at any level once she begins school at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. And according to Longo’s coach, Alex Zendejas — a member of the most prolific and famed family of kickers in all of professional football — Longo’s kicking career might not end in college.

“What separates you from everyone else is that you stuck with it, even in the hard times,” Zendejas told Longo, according to a profile by the Bleacher Report. “You have all the potential in the world. Keep at it, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be the first female playing on Sundays,” he said, referring to the day of the week on which the majority of NFL games are played.

In 2004, when Longo was only 5 years old, she watched high school kicker Heidi Garrett smash a 48-yard field goal — a kick that still holds the record for the longest high school field goal by a female — against her cousin’s football team in California.

Later, as a freshman in high school, she surprised a group of boys — and herself — when she blasted a ball across the field on a dare. That same day, Longo spoke with her father about trying to become the school’s kicker. After an inexperienced Longo wowed a group of former players and coaches at a workout, famed kicker Mike Vanderjagt among them, she began practicing with Zendejas and his son, Alex Jr., a former Arizona kicker who is perhaps best known for missing a crucial extra-point attempt in 2009 against Arizona State in double-overtime. After her first day of practice with Zendejas, she went and spoke to the athletic director of her high school.

“I want to play football,” she told him. “I want to kick.”

In her first season kicking for her school’s Junior Varsity team, Longo made 34 out of 37 attempted kicks. She’s faced doubters too. “I’ve heard people say that I’m just a publicity stunt, that I don’t deserve this chance,” Longo told the Bleacher Report. “I don’t let that bother me. I just need to stay true to who I am — and stay true to what I’ve learned and keep improving — and I’ll be just fine. I really believe that. I really do.”

That mental toughness will serve Longo well as her potential future as a kicker in college, and maybe even the pros, will likely have more to do with her mental strength than her physical strength — at least according to Zendejas Jr.

“Kicking isn’t about all the makes; it’s about how you respond to the misses,” he said. “This is what I tell Becca. She’s going to confront difficult times. How she responds will define her. But she’s ready. She’s ready for anything.”

Watch video of Longo in action below.

Read the full story at Bleacher Report.


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‘Absolutely not’

When Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak paid a visit to Ocean City, Maryland, to cover recent controversy over a ban on women being topless in public, she uncovered an interesting trend — those who complained most vehemently against topless sunbathing were not controlling men, but rather older married women.

Earlier this year, an activist had issued a legal challenge to the city contending that if men were allowed to be topless at the beach, then women should be allowed to do so as well. With Maryland law unclear on the issue, lifeguards were initially advised to not confront bare-chested women. Amidst uproar over the issue, the Ocean City council met on Saturday to pass an official ban on being bare-chested in public — unless, of course, the beachgoer is a man.

“Not here, Ocean City is not that kind of place. It’s a family place. Absolutely not,” 55-year-old grandmother Cynthia Heath vented to Dvorak. Together with her husband, her 9-year-old granddaughter, and her granddaughter’s friend, the Heath family had just finished eating a lunch at Hooters — a restaurant chain whose name summarizes its primary brand of appeal.

“I don’t want him looking at that,” she added, referring to her husband with whom she had recently celebrated her 33rd wedding anniversary.

“I’ve been on the lookout all day,” said the husband helpfully. “I was hoping I would see just one.”

Most of the young men that Dvorak talked to seemed to agree with Heath’s husband — all women, they argued, should be topless at all times. At least one male teenager, however, retained the self-awareness to add more to the conversation.

“What about breastfeeding?” noted 18-year-old Lewis Woodward. “I don’t see anything wrong with that. That exposes breasts. A woman has the right to decide what to do with her body.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Women across the globe parade shirtless in campaign for ‘equal topless rights’

Words matter

Was it sharp-elbowed partisan criticism, or was it flagrant sexism? During an appearance on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show Tuesday night, a male pundit, discussing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, described U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ tough queries as “hysterical.” That male pundit was none other than Jason Miller, formerly the communications adviser for the Trump campaign.

Of course, Miller didn’t get off scot-free after making the comment. USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers took issue with Miller’s assessment and challenged him to give a tangible example that demonstrated Harris acting in a hysterical manner. Miller, flailing, was unable to do so.

“I think she asked a lot of questions, actually,” Powers said. “She was very dogged, there’s no question, but I wouldn’t say she was any more dogged than [Democratic Senator from Oregon] Ron Wyden.” Miller stuck to his assessment, and Powers reiterated her point that Harris and Wyden questioned Sessions with the same zeal, but Miller would only refer to Harris as having been hysterical.

“It’s just women that usually are called hysterical,” Powers concluded. Watch the tense segment below.

Another point Miller brought up was that “this was the second hearing in a row” in which Harris subjected a witness to a tough line of questioning. In fact, it’s the second hearing in a row where she was repeatedly interrupted for trying to get witness to answer, and not dodge, her questions. A similar scenario played out last week during the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. CNN put together some highlights of her being cut off by the committee chairman.

At one point during the exchange, Sessions got testy and said to Harris, “I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.” Watch that back-and-forth below.

As The Washington Post notes, Harris has established an impeccable record as a public prosecutor. Over two terms as San Francisco’s first female district attorney and as California’s first female attorney general, she established a reputation for being a tough and fair law enforcer. Now that she’s ascended to the U.S. Senate, those same qualities are being criticized by male colleagues and cable TV pundits.

Why? Thousands of years of sexism. The word “hysterical,” as The Huffington Post points out, has a deeply sexist history. It was coined by Hippocrates and its root word, from the Greek “hystera,” means uterus. More recently, Sigmund Freud declared that hysteria was a “disease” that could only afflict women. It’s also one of the top five words women most dislike being used to described them, a study found last year.

Words matter.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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