I’m in control.

I’ve had a horrendous cough for the last few weeks (Is my pneumonia back? Did my pneumonia a few years ago give me chronic asthma? No one seems to be able to tell me…) and was bummed to miss out on most of Outside Lands this past weekend, despite two wristbands sitting alone at Will Call with my name on them.

But by sheer force of will, I did manage to convince Paul I wouldn’t have an asthmatic emergency, drag myself out of bed, and book a babysitter to attend the last 90 minutes of the San Francisco music festival Sunday night.

The headliner was Janet Jackson: And it was the first female headliner to ever close the festival at the main stage.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, there was no family that cast a broader pop culture shadow than the Jacksons. I remember watching Janet play a young Penny on “Good Times” and the prime of her career was a soundtrack to so many junior high dances. In my 20s, “Nasty Boys” was a karaoke go-to for me. And of course there was the famous wardrobe malfunction, which Guinness once said was the most searched item in Internet history. It said so much about how women are viewed in our culture, both the ripping of her clothes and the fact that she was the one banned from performing for life as a result, not the man who did the ripping.

So many of the amazing bands I missed over the weekend I could see another time, but Janet Jackson in this history making spot at my favorite festival? I was going.

Sadly, that sentiment wasn’t shared by the majority of the festival’s attendees who were flooding over to see DJ Snake, as I finally entered the Polo Grounds. It was a sparser crowd than I remember seeing at an Outside Lands’ closer.

I’d love to say she brought the house down for those loyal fans who stayed. The truth is the show was a bit of a disappointment. There was a lot of posing. More dancing than singing. And she breezed through her hits pretty rapidly…I wanted to savor them. A DJ played “Escapade” while Jackson was off-stage changing. I have to be honest: The performance itself was not all I was hoping.

She had, at times, the air of an icon who knew she was an icon who we should be happy to be in the presence of. And d**n right, Janet. You are. You pushed the envelope on women’s sexuality, signed record-breaking deals, wrote hit songs in your early teens, had your first baby at 50, and survived a famously tumultuous family, amazingly carving your own identity as a superstar away from the tremendous shadow of that family. Being in your presence was enough. Here’s hoping we get another female closer in future years…and that the crowd recognizes how groundbreaking they are.

Onto questions:

Sarah Lacy

Good News / Bad News of the Day (August 14, 2018)

The Good News

Checkmate
Young girls in the world of scholastic chess are taking on the sexist undertones (and overtones) of a game long dominated by men. While many of these girls still play in tournaments that are almost entirely boys, the K.C.F. All-Girls National Championships also gives them a rare opportunity in the sport: To play exclusively against other women. Read On…

Only Natural
Natural Cycles has become the first contraception app approved by the FDA. Of course, anything that uses the body’s “natural response” to plan out fertile days isn’t going to be 100% effective, but the move is an exciting step in women’s reproductive technology. Read On… Read more...

Good News / Bad News of the Day (August 13, 2018)

The Good News

Different Than We Thought
When we think of psychopaths, our thoughts immediately turn to the Hollywood portrayal of them of as criminals. (How often have we heard of a serial killer deemed a psychopath on a TV show?) However, plenty of people who are diagnosed with psychopathy aren’t necessarily turning to a life of crime, and like any other condition, elements of psychopathy can appear on a sliding scale. Katie Heaney talked to a woman who received the diagnosis about what life is like for her and how she views the world differently. Read On… Read more...

Silicon Valley is better than Wall Street at giving opportunities to women…yikes.

I have spent my career covering Silicon Valley, not Wall Street. I am happy to call BS all day long on the former, but admit I’m no expert on the latter. And yet, we’ve all noticed that Wall Street—the most cartoonish ecosystem for over the top sexism—has been the most eerily quiet during the #metoo movement.

From Vanity Fair last February on why: “With so many stories of sexual harassment spanning decades, why aren’t the women on Wall Street leading the #MeToo charge? An obvious answer: the money. Wall Streeters often have a great deal of money tied up in their firms in the form of stock, and they usually have to sign non-disclosure agreements, either as a condition of employment or to get money when they depart… Read more...

Getting rid of the exclamation point

Newsletter editor Lily here.

This week, grammar’s on my mind. More specifically, exclamation points. I’ve been revisiting the debate about how women tend to use exclamation points in the workplace more than their male counterparts, and how they’re often used to strike that impossible-to-find tone of being chill and not intimidating while still attempting to be taken seriously. Whew, it’s exhausting.

So I decided to do an experiment: I did a deep dive into my inbox. Looking through my own emails as well as the emails of men I correspond with professionally (colleagues, freelancers, clients), I realized that yes, I am in fact a serial exclamation point user. I use them to thank someone for doing work they should be doing anyway! I use them to stave off the anger of a rude client! I use them to email my team very mundane announcements! And in reality, 95% of those exclamation points aren’t needed whatsoever. Read more...

Good News / Bad News of the Day (August 10, 2018)

The Good News

Bittersweet
By a vote of 38-31, the Senate in Argentina rejected a bill that would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. While the loss is obviously bad news, abortion activists are excited that the conversation to decriminalize abortion is more lively than ever before, and their example is leading the way elsewhere in South America. Currently, Brazil is also considering decriminalizing abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which would be a  huge step for the nation. Read On… Read more...

It’s not just Brock Turner

Nothing will get you blackballed from doing business in Silicon Valley like trash-talking Stanford. While individual darling companies may come and go, Stanford is the underpinning of Silicon Valley’s talent machine dating back to the days of Fred Terman.

And so here we are again, with more disturbing details of the school’s lax attitude towards taking on the sexual assault that happens on its campus. And here we are again, seeing major Stanford donors in the tech world apparently without outrage. Read more...

Good News / Bad News of the Day (August 9, 2018)

The Good News

Say Hello to the New Guys
Newsletter editor Lily here. Piggy-backing off of Sarah’s intro from yesterday about how we don’t celebrate men doing things that are considered “feminine,” the NFL just announced that this season will be the first to feature male cheerleaders. Read On…

Let’s Fix the Hypocrisy
Meredith Bodgas noticed that Working Mother, where she worked, had a serious problem: The company’s own maternity leave policy was so stingy that the organization wouldn’t have made its own 100 Best Companies list, which includes certain maternity leave requirements to even be considered. Bodgas ended up petitioning their male CEO (that’s a whole other story…) and got expanded benefits to new moms. Read On… Read more...

A Boy Named Sue

My friend—and badass Mama Bear—Robin Wolaner brought up an interesting observation to me this week: What’s up with all these badass women naming their girls explicitly male names—think more “Henry” than “Andi”—and absolutely no trend of boy babies being named Sarah or Lily?

On one hand, I love the idea reclaiming exclusively masculine names for badass little girls…For a long time I wanted to name a daughter “Willy” if I was lucky enough to have another one. Not short for anything: Just Willy. Cute right? Read more...

Good News / Bad News of the Day (August 8, 2018)

The Good News

Bringing the Fight to Appalachia
Much of the conversation about abortion has been taking place in large metropolitan areas like New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. A group of women in Pittsburgh, however, are trying to flip the script in their area and show that they can and should be loudly pro-choice in a region starting to feel overrun with crisis pregnancy centers. Their goal? Use the same tactics that anti-abortion protesters have long used—like protesting outside of clinics—for their own benefit. Read On… Read more...