Trends: Slaying While Pregnant

 

Beyonce's performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

Beyonce’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

It seems like almost every female celebrity is pregnant right now (and that almost all of them are pregnant with twins). But instead of lying low and taking it easy during their pregnancies, many of these women are stepping it up, and making pregnant and non-pregnant women alike look like slackers.

First case in point: Beyonce. Leave it to Queen Bey to put us all to shame. The superstar performed a set during this year’s Grammy Awards. One portion featured her leaning back in a chair perched at a very precarious angle. (I don’t know about you, but my heart was in my throat for that whole portion. And I audibly exhaled when she got off that chair.)

Beyonce had also been scheduled to perform at Coachella before withdrawing. But we can’t fault her for that, considering she’s done more while pregnant than many people do in their lives.

Serena Williams is widely acknowledged to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) tennis player in the world. Last month, she announced her pregnancy. When she announced the news, Williams was 20 weeks along. Someone very smart (and awesome) did the math and realized that Williams had recently played in a match while pregnant. And, as Laura Wagner at “Deadspin” put it, this wasn’t just any match:

Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, her record-breaking 23rd major, without dropping a single set, while nine fucking weeks pregnant. She is the greatest of all time.

Elsewhere in entertainment, Gal Gadot has been preparing for her upcoming movie “Wonder Woman.” Last November, she shot reshoots for the movie…while also five months pregnant. And she was probably doing more than a few stunts. NBD.

It’s great that we’re seeing so many women dominate during a time in life when women traditionally have been relegated to the sidelines.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Serena Williams Wins the Australian Open, 2017

Serena Williams at the 2017 Australian Open (Indian Express)

United States’ Serena Williams celebrates after winning the first set against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In January, tennis superstar Serena Williams beat her sister, fellow tennis star Venus Williams, in the final set of the Australian Open. The win was her seventh Australian Open title, and 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Williams is now back to being the #1-ranked tennis player in the world.

Williams was also in the early weeks of pregnancy during the Australian Open. So there’s that.

What Makes Someone Monogamous?

Wedding rings (BBC)

Wedding rings (BBC)

We can’t distill monogamy into a single magic formula. But some scientists have recently made strides in determining what factors might make a person monogamous.

One possible factor: genetics.

Researchers at Harvard University recently published a study examining the mating habits of deer mice and oldfield mice. In the wild, deer mice are promiscuous and oldfield mice are monogamous. Scientists first undertook an experiment to see how the two types of mice compare in parenting their young. Different parenting metrics were observed, such as building nests for the offspring.

After noting that the deer mice put in less parental efforts, the researchers wanted to see if the differences were down to genetics (ah, the old nature vs. nurture debate!). Five pairs of deer mice and oldfield mice were interbred, which produced 30 hybrid mice and later 769 (!) third-generation mice.

The parenting behaviors of these second- and third-generation hybrid mice ran the gamut from hardly involved to heavily-involved in their offsprings’ lives. In observing this, scientists were able to identify parts of DNA (termed loci) that determined parenting behaviors. The experiment’s abstract in scientific journal Nature explained the findings:

Using quantitative genetics, we identify 12 genomic regions that affect parental care, 8 of which have sex-specific effects, suggesting that parental care can evolve independently in males and females. Furthermore, some regions affect parental care broadly, whereas others affect specific behaviours, such as nest building.

The abstract also notes that a certain gene expression is primarily responsible for the level of nest-building. No word on how that would translate to humans (the gene for interior decorating?), but it’s exciting to see some strides made in genetic research.

How Many U.S. Adults Have Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

In answer to the headline, quite a few. In fact, the number might be higher than you think.

The answer: Almost 50% of U.S. adults have human papillomavirus (HPV).

In case you’re blissfully unaware, HPV is “the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus is most commonly transmitted during vaginal and anal sex. In worst cases, HPV can morph into genital warts and cause cancer.

A report published by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 42%+ of U.S. adults ages 18-59 had genital HPV. Certain strains of the virus affected 25%+ of adult men and 20%+ of adult women. These strains caused 31K cases of cancer per year.

The report also found that 7%+ of U.S. adults had oral HPV, and 4% had HPV strains associated with mouth and throat cancers.

Rates of HPV broke down along demographic lines:

The highest rate, 33.7 percent, was found among non-Hispanic blacks; the lowest, 11.9 percent, among Asians. The prevalence of genital HPV infection was 21.6 percent among whites and 21.7 percent among Hispanics.

The study was the first of its kind to examine HPV in adults.

This study really drives home the need for HPV vaccination. Yet despite a push for getting adolescents vaccinated, the HPV vaccination rate remains stubbornly low: “Only 30-40% of teens who should be getting immunized receive the three-dose shot, and only 10% of men do.”

NPR Releases 2016 Staff Diversity Numbers

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

In April, National Public Radio (known colloquially as NPR) released its staff diversity data for 2016. Here were the main findings for that year:

According to NPR’s human resources department, of the 350 employees in the news division as of Oct. 31, 2016, 75.4 percent were white. Asians made up 8.3 percent of the staff, followed by blacks or African-Americans (8.0 percent), Hispanics or Latinos (5.4 percent), those who identified as two or more races or ethnic identities (2.6 percent) and American Indian (0.3 percent).

NPR has been tracking this data since 2012, and it’s interesting to see how the numbers fare on a long-term basis. Spoiler alert: they pretty much flatlined. This falls in line with long-term newsroom diversity trends. Per the American Society of News Editors (ASNE): “In 2016, minorities comprised about 17 percent of employees at daily newspapers and 23 percent at online-only sites.” Pretty bad.

Here’s where NPR falls in comparison to other media:

NPR is behind The Washington Post (31 percent diverse) and The Los Angeles Times (34 percent). At 25 percent diverse, NPR is just above The New York Times newsroom, which is about 22 percent diverse.

Newsroom diversity has become part of a larger conversation regarding workplace, and companies publicly releasing they diversity data. But some newsrooms are refusing to disclose their data. The ASNE reported that 737 newsrooms responded with data for the 2016 survey. That’s out of 1.7K+ newsrooms contacted, making a 42%+ response rate.

 

Trends: Genderless Awards Categories

MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees Daniel Kaluuya, Millie Bobby Brown, and Emma Watson (Entertainment Weekly)

MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees Daniel Kaluuya, Millie Bobby Brown, and Emma Watson (Entertainment Weekly)

Last month, MTV announced that its MTV Movie Awards would be no more. Instead, the show would now involve awards for TV, and be called the MTV Movie & TV Awards. But that wasn’t the only new thing the cable network had in store for its new awards show: Certain major categories will be gender neutral.

This new gender neutrality spans the acting categories: Best Actor in a Movie (which includes Emma Watson from “Beauty and the Beast” and Daniel Kaluuya from “Get Out”) and Best Actor in a TV Show (which includes Donald Glover from “Atlanta” and Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things”). Of course, some categories have always been gender-neutral, inkling Best Kiss, Best Villian and Best Hero.

There’s clearly a sea change happening, as mainstream culture has gotten hip and woke to the nuances of gender identity. And the young generation isn’t averse to asking for what they want, particularly in terms of representation. Actor Asia Kate Dillion, known for their role on Showtime’s “Billions” as a non-binary character (and TV’s first one at that!), wrote to the Television Academy and asked them to reconsider their binary male and female categories. This was a big ask: the Television Academy governs the Emmy Awards. The Television Academy was very receptive to Dillon’s letter, and Dillon decided to submit themselves under Best Supporting Actor

If the Emmys were to do away with gendered categories, the award show would be getting back to its roots. The Emmys enacted separate categories for male and female performers in 1951, its third year.

I hope this new gender consciousness grows until it becomes so commonplace we no longer need to remark on it.

#ThrowbackThursday: “Best Kiss” at the MTV Movie Awards, 2000

Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar win "Best Kiss" at the MTV Movie Awards, 2000 (IBTimes)

Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar win “Best Kiss” at the MTV Movie Awards, 2000 (IBTimes)

Let’s take it all the way back to the year 2000. Remember when? I was in middle school, about to go to high school, and the MTV Movie Awards were a big deal. You had to watch them, and see who got awards like “Best Movie,” “Best Hero,” and “Best Villian.”

But the above categories (and all the rest of them) paled in comparison to “Best Kiss.” Each year, we voted to see which of our fave onscreen couples would win, get up onstage and give the audience what we so obviously wanted. And each year would be the same: they’d tease us, before finally going in for the kill. And the crowd went wild!

In 2000, actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair won for “Best Kiss.” This was based off their now-iconic scene in “Cruel Intentions” (also, watch the whole movie if you haven’t seen it). Their acceptance kiss was light and quick, and both women giggled. But it became a seminal moment in pop culture history.