Nov 06
Her eye on the news
Double standard?

In the last couple of weeks, a news photo showing a woman riding her bike and giving the finger to President Trump as his motorcade drove by her went viral. The image, captured by Getty Images photographer Brendan Smialowski, showed Juli Briskman riding her bicycle on a road in Sterling, Virginia, her arm thrust high into the air and her middle finger raised, giving the unmistakable message that needs no translation. The photo was an instant hit on social media, with many who used the hashtag #Her2020 urging Briskman to mount a White House bid. Late-night TV hosts joked about it. It was all fun and games — until Briskman was abruptly fired from her job over the pic.

Briskman, who made the image the cover photo on her Facebook page — “He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” she said in an interview with HuffPost — also took the precaution of informing the H.R. department of her employer, Akima LLC, about her appearance in the viral photo. But last Tuesday, Briskman recalled, she was summoned to a meeting where she was informed that she was in violation of the company’s social media policy.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,‘” Briskman told HuffPost. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.’” Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two teenagers who handled social media at the company, said she’d been at the job with Akima, a government contractor, for a little more than six months. She argued that the photo hadn’t taken place while she was on the job and she did not reveal on her Facebook page that she was an Akima employee. The response, she said, was that the company is a government contractor and bad publicity could hurt business.

An attorney who specializes in social media issues told The Washington Post that Briskman’s honesty may have sealed her fate with the company.“You can’t see her face, she is totally unidentified in that picture,” lawyer Bradley Shear said. “But once she identified herself to her employer, they had to consider that information.”

Briskman was especially bothered by the fact that she lost her job, but a male colleague who put the company in a similar predicament recently was allowed to keep his job after the incident. In that case, the man, who made it known that he was an Akima employee on his Facebook page, was allowed to remove a post, which was clearly partisan and also profane, and remain in his job. “How is that fair?” she wondered.

Read the full story at HuffPost and The Washington Post.


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'Men's issue'

Ben Affleck, who, in the immediate days after the initial allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein emerged last month, found himself apologizing to actress Hilarie Burton for the way he treated her 14 years ago, is vowing to put his own behavior under the microscope. Affleck told The Associated Press that the allegations against Weinstein have opened many people’s eyes to how widespread the problems of sexual harassment and assault are not just in Hollywood, but all walks of life. And he said it’s caused him to reevaluate his own actions.

“For me, that means also looking at my own behavior and addressing that, and making sure that I’m part of the solution and, you know, making positive steps, and that we’re calling out other guys when we’re seeing behavior that’s inappropriate,” Affleck said. “Two things need to happen,” he continued. “One: more women need to be in positions of power so that women feel comfortable coming forward. And two … it can’t just be a woman’s issue. It’s gotta be a men’s issue as well, otherwise it will always be an issue.” In a separate interview, Affleck also said he would donate future residual payments from Weinstein-related films to charity.

Last month, Affleck issued an apology on Twitter to Burton after he was accused of groping her during a 2003 appearance on MTV’s TRL. Below, watch his complete remarks to the AP.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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Anok Yai was hanging out at Howard University’s homecoming party when a photographer asked if he could snap her picture. The resulting image, which shows Yai staring into the camera, curly hair bouncing on her shoulders, has since gone viral — and has helped land Yai a modeling contract.

The 19-year-old is a student at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where she is majoring in biochemistry. According to The Washington Post, Yai and a friend took a trip to Howard’s homecoming celebration, and it was there that she by chance met Steve Hall, a Howard graduate and professional photographer. Hall documents black fashion and culture on his website, The Sunk. When he saw Yai, he told her that she is “the physical embodiment of what [his] art is,” Hall recalled in an interview with the Post.

Hall posted his photo of Yai to Instagram, where it has since racked up more than 19,000 likes. And Yai, who is of Sudanese descent, was inundated with phone calls from modeling agencies.

“There was one day where I had a bunch of classes, and I had done about three to four interviews, and my sister kept saying here’s another one, and here’s another one,” Yai told the Post. “And I was nervous because I had just gone from being a random girl living in New Hampshire to an Instagram-famous model. I wasn’t sure if I could handle all the expectations.”

Yai has since signed with Next Models agency, whose clients have been featured on high fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, The Telegraph reports. Yai told the Post that she hopes to use her newfound fame to instill confidence in other women of color.

“When I was younger I was extremely insecure about my skin color,” she said. “All I saw was light-skinned and white girls in the media … Now, I can use my mind and tell people about colorism and teach girls about self-confidence.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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Armed men forced a 16-year-old girl to march half-naked through a village in Pakistan, claiming they had acted in the name of their family’s “honor.”

The incident stemmed from a dispute between two local families, the BBC reports. The brother of the unnamed victim was accused of engaging romantically with a local girl, whose family was enraged by the affair. A council of elders ordered the young man to pay a fine, and the conflict was officially closed — but the girl’s family was not appeased by the verdict.

The eight men who were apprehended in connection with the incident are reportedly related to this young woman. Police are searching for a ninth suspect. The victim told local media that she was filling water pitchers with her cousins when the men attacked her.

“They shoved me around, and I fell down,” she said, according to the BBC. “Then they cut my clothes with scissors. One of my cousins tried to cover me with her dupatta [a long scarf], but they snatched it away.”

She added that she ran into a house in an effort to hide from her attackers, but they dragged her back into the street. “A neighbor tried to intervene but they threatened him with their guns,” the girl said.

The girl was forced to stay outside, with her body exposed, for an hour. The men subsequently let her go.

Read the full story at the BBC.


When Shalane Flanagan crossed the finish line of the 2017 New York City marathon on Sunday, she became the first American woman to win the race since 1977.

According to The Associated Press, 36-year-old Flanagan pushed past Mary Keitany of Kenya, who has won three consecutive New York City marathons. Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya won the men’s race.

professional long distance runner, Flanagan had been training hard for the marathon since fracturing her lower back — an injury that prevented her from participating in the Boston Marathon in the spring. Her efforts helped her achieve a history-making win. The last U.S. woman to place first in the New York race was Miki Gorman, who crossed the finish line first in both the 1976 and 1977 marathons.

“It’s indescribable,” Flanagan said, according to the AP. “It’s a moment I’m trying to soak up and savor.”

Below, watch her approach the finish line in the final stretch of the race. Pay particularly close attention at the 59-second mark when she knows she’s got the race in the bag and she pumps her fist in the air and mouths a … well, a battle cry of sorts. Great stuff!

Read more at The Associated Press.


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Record numbers of women are running for public office, according to a new report by CNN. And many women entering the political fray are motivated by none other than President Donald Trump.

The surge in female candidates is reflected across the nation, in a number of different ways. Applications to Emerge America, which offers training courses to Democratic women, are up by 87 percent, for instance. Some 19,000 women have contacted Emily’s List, which helps pro-choice candidates get elected to office, about standing for election in the 2016 cycle since Trump got elected. Forty-three women are volleying to represent the Democratic Party in the Virginia House of Delegates — and 26 of those candidates have never before run in a public election.

“It’s unprecedented,” Virginia Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring told CNN. “I think this is just the start.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many women are driven to political action by their opposition to Trump and the policies of his administration. But Erin Loos Cutraro, co-founder and CEO of She Should Run, told CNN that Trump has in some ways exerted a positive influence, proving that unconventional candidates — including, perhaps, women — can attain the presidency.

“He fuels a conversation that there’s no one path to the White House, there’s no one background,” she said. “The electorate is obviously looking for a different model, a different type of leadership.”

Read the full story at CNN.


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