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Women in the News + Words of Love from Jonathan Van Ness

September 23: Badass women and the news that affects them

Mitra Norowzi

Company Culture

  • Lingerie company ThirdLove (3.4 stars) appeared to surface just as many women were starting to become disenchanted with Victoria’s Secret’s (3.0 stars) exclusive (read: outdated) brand image. Touting itself as a woman-led startup, ThirdLove also employed a diverse cast of models to show off their inclusive product line. But an investigation by Vox has unearthed complaints from employees who say founder Heidi Zak’s husband David Spector, who is co-CEO of the company, is much more involved in day-to-day operations than they were led to believe. They describe Spector’s management style as “condescending” and “bullying” and report a culture where negotiating is discouraged, overtime is expected, and pay is low. One source told Vox, “In a by-women, for-women company, it’s pretty ironic that we’re all tiptoeing around a man.” Vox

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that Walmart (2.5 stars) likely discriminated against 178 women workers by underpaying them and denying them promotions based on gender. This EEOC determination asks the retail giant to change its practices and reach a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs, or face a lawsuit from the agency. Wall Street Journal

  • Nearly 50,000 General Motors (3.1 stars) workers with the United Auto Workers union have gone on strike to call for fair wages, affordable health care, profit sharing, and job security. NPR

Quick Hits

  • A new study from the American Medical Association has found that 1 in 16 American women report their first sexual experiences involved rape, sexual assault, and/or coercion. The study also found that the men responsible for these “forced sexual initiations” tended to be older than the women, who were usually 18 or younger. VICE

  • While it can be easy to dismiss most companies' mission statements as corporate mumbo jumbo, new research suggests the language used in such messaging does have noticeable effects. The study found that companies that utilized more aggressive, confrontational, or competitive language in their core statements were more likely to have EEOC complaints filed against them by workers. Fortune

  • This New York Times interview with “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness is a must-read. The usually bubbly hairstylist and self-love guru, who came out as nonbinary in June, revealed his past struggles to reconcile with lingering trauma from an early childhood sexual assault, a history of substance abuse, and the fear he felt while making the decision to go public with his H.I.V-positive status for the first time. Van Ness’s memoir is set to release on Tuesday and will delve further into these topics, but we’ll leave you with this beautiful quote from the interview: “I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.” NY Times

  • On Sept. 17, Sarah Thomas, an American ultramarathon swimmer and Colorado native, became the first person—ever, in the history of ever—to swim the English Channel four times. It took her 54 hours. NPR 

Around the World

  • Somalia: Did you know more than 20 percent of the world’s camels live in Somalia? While much of Somalia’s economy has suffered due to the country’s ongoing civil war, camel raising remains one of the most lucrative business opportunities. Camel trading has traditionally been limited to men, but that didn’t stop 55-year-old ZamZam Yusuf. Beginning with a modest herd of 30 camels, she now has 145 and employs 10 people to help her manage them. ZamZam dreams of her herd one day reaching 1,000 camels, but in the meantime, she speaks at schools and workshops to bring more women into the fold. Al Jazeera

  • Canada: Justin Trudeau has issued an apology after photographic evidence of not one, not even two, but three separate instances of the prime minister wearing blackface/brownface makeup have surfaced. Vox

  • Everywhere: An estimated four million people took to the streets on Friday to draw attention to climate change. Catalyzed by the activism of Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, Friday’s demonstration is thought to be the largest climate demonstration in history. USA Today 

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