Female U.K. MPs Share Tales of Harassment: Broadsheet

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Kathryn Murdoch wants to fight climate change, Uber adds new safety features, and politics are getting brutal in the U.K.—and elsewhere. Have a zen weekend. 


– U.K., U.S., us. While the impeachment-related chaos unfolding in Washington, D.C., has sucked up most of the news cycle oxygen this week, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that things are no more tranquil in the U.K.

You will remember Jo Cox, who, as this WaPo story reminds us was “a Labour lawmaker and Brexit opponent who was murdered days before a June 2016 referendum by a far-right domestic terrorist who yelled ‘Britain first!’ before shooting and stabbing her to death.” Several members of Parliament have invoked her fate this week while asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop using inflammatory terms like “surrender” and “capitulation” to describe opponents’ actions, expressing fear for the safety of their colleagues. Johnson’s response? “Never heard such humbug in all my life.”

Cox’s widower Brendan Cox told the BBC: “Where language gets more extreme, response gets more extreme. . . . The reason it matters is because it has real-world consequences.”

One facet of those real-world consequences is revealed by The Guardian, which interviewed four female MPs about the harassment and intimidation they’ve faced for simply doing their jobs.

“The abuse comes in all forms,” and it’s directed at “pretty much at all politicians,” says Tulip Siddiq, a Labour MP and a native Londoner. “But if you are also female and from an ethnic minority background, the abuse has a different angle… It’s not just about ‘betraying’ the country, it’s about ‘betraying the country that gave you a safe home.’ And then the old chestnut ‘go home;’ ‘If you’re not going to deliver Brexit, go home.’” 

While I’m sure white male MPs also face abuse, it’s hard to miss how many of the insults hurled at the four invoke their gender, race, and religion.

The U.K. is certainly not the only place on the globe where there seems to be a rising tide of such hateful rhetoric—sometimes spilling over into physical violence. I’m not such a Pollyanna as to believe that this kind of aggression is going to vanish overnight or that we can all just put aside our deeply-held beliefs and befriend those who disagree with us. But I will ask you to spend this weekend trying to be kind—to others and to yourself.

Kristen Bellstrom


– Murdoch by name? Kathryn Murdoch married into the Murdoch family, and has rarely spoken to the press since then. But she is now going against the grain of the Fox News-founding billionaires to take up activism against climate change. New York Times

– Safety first. Fortune‘s Danielle Abril reports on new safety features introduced by Uber yesterday, part of an effort to address ongoing concerns about sexual assault and other incidents experienced by riders and drivers. Riders will get a PIN number to enter to ensure they’re getting into the right car. Eventually the verification process will be completed via ultrasound waves between the rider’s and driver’s phones. Fortune 

– Not-new moms. As children get older, the needs of working parents change. Along with parental leave programs, childcare gaps like summer vacation become a top concern. But parents report feeling more capable of balancing motherhood or fatherhood with work as time passes, according to the authors of Maternal Optimism: Forging Positive Paths through Work and Motherhood. Harvard Business Review

– Best bet. Fortune‘s Phil Wahba writes about how Best Buy, led by MPW honoree and CEO Corie Barry, is betting on senior citizens to be one of its major drivers of growth as it looks to hit the $50 billion sales milestone in 2025. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Germany’s representative on the executive board of the European Central Bank, Sabine Lautenschläger, quit; she was the only woman among the 25 members of the governing council. COO Maelle Gavet left Compass. Debenhams CFO Rachel Osborne left to join Ted Baker in the same role. Former BET CEO Debra Lee joins the board of Burberry. Nike’s Monique Leeuwenburgh joins M&S as head of product development, technology and innovation for womenswear. 


– Diversity and inclusion. Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis writes for Fortune about the importance of including people with intellectual disabilities in diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s a “business imperative,” Davis argues. Fortune

– Beauty and Bitcoin. Remember Michelle Phan, the YouTube beauty blogger and Ipsy co-founder who was one of the first influencers? She’s back after a multi-year disappearance—during which she really only surfaced to post her 2017 video, “Why I Left.” What’s she up to now? Building her beauty brand—and dabbling in Bitcoin. The Cut

– Top 100. The Root 100 is out, featuring this year’s 100 most influential African-Americans, ages 25 to 45. Stacey Abrams tops the list, joined by Lizzo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, #MuteRKelly co-founder Oronike Odeleye, and Meghan Markle. The Root

– Groundbreaking decisions. Ruth I. Abrams was the first woman to sit on Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court, a body founded in 1692. Her decisions on family law and gender discrimination—preventing a man from cutting off alimony if his ex-wife “did something he didn’t like, like moving in with someone else,” and granting visitation rights to a lesbian woman who helped raise her ex-partner’s son—influenced progress nationwide. Abrams died at 88 this month. New York Times 

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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“It really did feel like there was something that was not wanting to let me win.”

-Demi Moore on whether sexism contributed to negativity that surrounded some of her projects