TIME faith

Meet Riverside Church’s First Female Pastor

Dave Cross

Rev. Amy Butler talks about feminism, her salary, being a single mom, and what it means to lead one of the country's most storied congregations.

Update added on June 12, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, who has been the pastor at Washington, D.C.’s Calvary Baptist Church for the past eleven years, was chosen Monday to be the first female senior minister at The Riverside Church in New York City. The Riverside Church has been a pillar of faith and activism in New York since its first service in 1930, with its famously diverse congregation participating in political issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to immigration. TIME sat down with Rev. Butler to talk about her upcoming transition.

Your emphasis at Calvary has been on unity and coming together, but Riverside’s congregation is more than twice the size of Calvary’s, and it’s interdenominational. Are there challenges that you think will come with that and do you have a plan for how you’re going to approach the new congregation?

There are many challenges ahead, and this is a diverse community. If you think about doing and being a diverse community together, this is the perfect place to try to do it because all of the pieces are there. And this is a community that has valued diversity for all of its history and, as we all do, struggled with what that means in day-to-day life. I’m really looking forward to trying to figure out how we can make that diversity into an asset and something that is really a compelling and attractive expression of our community. Diversity doesn’t always have to be hard and terrible. It’s a challenge, always it’s a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for modeling what the church can be in the world.

Not only is the Riverside Church diverse, but also it is politically active. What do you see as the intersection of religion and politics, and what do you hope to do with that at Riverside?

The role of the church in society is changing very radically. Fifty years ago the church had a loud and compelling voice at many of these conversations. Increasingly, the church is becoming marginalized. And I think that at this point in history it’s a great opportunity for us as people who claim the message of Jesus, the gospel of loving God and loving each other, as this radical and prophetic place where we can be the church together. So I think the opportunities are boundless and endless, and I think increasingly we’re going to be feeling opportunities to be prophetic and speak truth to power in ways that we may not have had when we were part of the group sitting around the table.

You wrote in an Associated Baptist Press column in April that, “The church is not as vibrant in our society as it once was. In fact, the question of whether church as we know it is viable for the long term is a question begging to be asked.” So I’m going to ask it – do you think the current institutional model is viable? What are you going to do at Riverside to make it relevant and sustainable?

I think the church of the past is not the church of the future, and I think we don’t know what the church of the future is yet. I think the church is not going away because people are looking for community and people are looking for a place to ask the big questions. And if the church can provide a place in which both of those things are present, it’s going to be a place where people are going to want to come and be part of it. So I don’t know what the future of the church looks like, but it’s going to look different. I think at the Riverside Church we could be a place where some of those future expressions of church start to emerge, and that’s one of the things I find so exciting about this opportunity.

You’ve been open about your own struggles with faith. How do you navigate the relationship between your own personal questioning and your role as a leader of the church?

I think traditionally people have expected clergy to be the ones that have all of the answers. Here’s the truth: nobody has all of the answers. We’re all on this journey of figuring out what it means to be human in this world and to understand God’s role in our lives and in the world at large, and I think questioning together is a much more powerful experience. That’s the kind of leadership approach that I take.

I have to ask after the controversy over your predecessor Rev. Brad Braxton’s resignation [related to his more than $450,000 compensation]. What is your salary going to be?

I’ve always heard that it’s not polite to talk about what you make, but I’ll be earning a salary of $250,000. It’s quite a generous salary and it presents an opportunity for me to think about how to be a good steward of the tremendous resources that I am becoming a recipient of. And it’s also a good model for the church as a whole. The Riverside Church has many, many resources, so how do we, as a faith community, think about how to best be stewards of that tremendous gift?

What do you see as the biggest fiscal challenges ahead for Riverside?

I think the future of the church probably does not include building big cathedrals like this in major cities. But places like the Riverside Church are a gift, and can be a gathering place for people who are seeking God in the middle of a very busy and powerful city. So I think our place is important, and I think one of our challenges is going to be moving into the future thinking about how we preserve that and how we make it accessible to as many people as would like to be part of it.

You’re a single mother, you were the first female senior minister of Calvary, and now you are going to be the first female senior minister at Riverside. Where do you see yourself fitting in the modern feminist landscape?

I really recognize the significance of my call. I really want to commend the Riverside Church for taking the step of hiring a woman. That said, there are many, many gifted women around this country who are leading churches and who are doing all kinds of amazing professional roles and being mothers at the same time. And so hopefully this can be a recognition of that fact. It’s not something new; it’s happening everywhere and has for some time. Because this is such a public decision, I hope that it can be affirming of the many different roles that women play.

Do you have anything else that you want to add about the upcoming transition?

Having been the pastor here at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., for 11 years has been such a great time of preparation and growth for me, and I’m leaving behind this amazing, amazing community here. And that is giving me a lot of the courage to move into this new, big role.

[Update: After the story was published, Butler asked to add additional context to her description of her salary. The following question was asked and answered by email.

Your salary sounds different from your predecessor's. How did that figure into your decision?

The Riverside Church made it clear that they wanted to ensure equity in what they offered me. As their first female pastor, I felt that was an important message to send. And I felt that exact numbers—especially for such a humbling offer--were less important than the witness of equity. So the overall compensation won’t be the same, but we agreed to keep the same salary of $250,000 and for the church to provide for my housing, health insurance, and contribute to my retirement. I’ve found it is easy to think in terms of what we are owed or what we own, but it’s important to ask instead how we can use the resources we have, and how we might be used by God through them. Riverside has blessed me and given me quite a responsibility with their offer.]

TIME feminism

Feminism Has a Bra-Burning Myth Problem

Steinbrueck Holds Rally At Brandenburg Gate
A flag with the female gender sign waves at an Equal Pay Day rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate on March 21, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry—Getty Images

Bras were never burned at the 1968 Miss America protest, but that the image persists shows how full of holes our knowledge is of the Women's Liberation Movement.

Imagine an America where women had the right to vote but could be rejected for a job because of their gender. Imagine an America where women were refused admission to colleges and technical schools and denied access to credit cards. Imagine wanting to buy a house and being turned down for a mortgage because you’re a woman. Imagine being a teacher and being fired for being pregnant.

This is what America was like before the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Women’s Liberation Movement changed women’s lives socially, economically, and politically. It was described as “the revolution that will affect everybody” on the September 4, 1970, cover of LIFE magazine. And it did. So why do I always get the same question from younger audience members at screenings of my independent documentary, Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation: “Why didn’t I know about this?”

The first time I got the question was in a letter from a first-year college student who had watched the film in her classroom. The information in the film was new to her and she wrote that it made her angry that she didn’t know this history.

I began making my film, Feminist, in 2004 as a straightforward documentary about historical facts, but I learned so much that I finished the film a different person. My feminism strengthened to the point where I can easily talk with people who reject the term feminism because the facts of the movement are within reach for me and I can share the reasons why feminism changed our country for the better. I understand now that not remembering this movement preserves a male view of American history that values male leaders of history over female ones.

Ten years ago, a co-worker at my film-editing job at Technicolor whispered to me: “Are you a feminist?” She was putting distance between herself and the word—something I had been observed other women do over the decades. I reached into my memory for images and quotes to help explain why I was a feminist and I couldn’t grasp any.

I knew I had positive feelings toward feminism. My family had discussions about women’s movements at the dinner table. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I lived in Little Five Points in Atlanta, the area where the political activists, gay women and men, filmmakers, theater people, and feminists lived, and I was immersed in the counterculture of that time. I even volunteered at the feminist bookstore Charis Books and More.

At the time I had the discussion with my co-worker, there were no documentary films about the entirety of the women’s movement, so I decided to make my own. (Many years after I started the project, PBS, in partnership with AOL, aired a series on the Women’s Liberation Movement in 2013.) My film is an independent film born out of a need to tell a story that hadn’t been told. My budget was 90 percent financed by me.

One of the things I realized in making this film was that the movement does not figure prominently in history textbooks. My daughter’s 4th-grade textbook History-Social Science, California Studies (Houghton Mifflin) includes a six-page chapter, “A Call for Equality,” that covers the years 1960 to 1975. There is a discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Act, and Cesar Chavez. Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers, is only mentioned briefly. There is just one sentence about the Women’s Liberation Movement: “Women also spoke out against unequal treatment in the 1960s.” The message to students: You don’t need to remember these women.

That message is also conveyed in our public memorials where we don’t honor the women of the Women’s Movement. Only nine of the 100 statutes in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building are of women. Not one of them is a woman from the Women’s Liberation Movement. I have never seen a park or an elementary school named for a feminist from that time. Moreover, there is not even one federal holiday in the United States named for a woman.

When I started the film, I figured we don’t celebrate the Women’s Movement like we do other social movements because it was too complex—encompassing issues of class, religion, race, and language, among others. The feminists of the 1960s and ’70s also prided themselves on not having leaders: Every woman had a voice in the movement. I thought it might be hard to pull out individual successes to honor. But I was wrong: As I worked on the film, I discovered many concrete successes—including ones that weren’t included in textbooks or honored in public memorials.

Here’s one: the annihilation of segregated employment listings in newspaper—the Female Help Wanted and Male Help Wanted sections—in 1973.

Then there’s Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which gave a name to the discontent of middle class housewives and the rigid social roles they were pressured to fulfill. She and others went on to create the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, which differed from other women’s organizations of the time because it took political positions.

I learned about other heroes of the movement, like Aileen Hernandez, the first female commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her relentless work to include gender discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act led to the founding of NOW. She was joined in that contentious fight by Pauli Murray, whose insight and actions helped to propel the Women’s Movement forward. Murray also helped write NOW’s mission statement.

My film also explores an important day in women’s history: Aug. 26. In 1920, it was the day that women’s right to vote became law, and, in 1970, NOW organized the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26. Many worried about a low turnout, yet there were 50,000 people in attendance. In 1971, a joint resolution requested by Congresswoman Bella Abzug made Aug. 26 “Women’s Equality Day”—a commemorative day, not a federal holiday.

The feminists of the Women’s Liberation Movement—who considered themselves second-wave feminists following in the footsteps of the suffragists—saw that women’s history was a necessary part of their movement.

When they marched in 1968 to protest the Miss America Pageant, they held posters with images of 19th century suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth that read: “Our Heroines.” The stories of these early feminists were minimal in textbooks of the time, even though suffragists were very disruptive – they were arrested, jailed, and force-fed when they went on hunger strikes. When I interviewed feminist Shelia Tobias for my film, she told me: “One of the great travesties of growing up in the ’50s was not knowing about women’s history except for a brief moment in time in which there was suffrage.”

By the 1970s, feminists were trying to correct the historical record to include women’s history. They began women’s studies programs in universities and instituted Women’s History Month in March.

It’s important to note that the feminists made up the Women’s Liberation Movement as they went along—there was no guidebook. No one had protested these ideas before—including the fact that a recorded history that focuses on men alone helps to maintain an unequal society.

And now we have problems with our cultural memory of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I think our failure to honor the movement is rooted in our conflicted feelings about women as major players in American history.

The way we remember the Miss America Pageant protest in 1968 in Atlantic City, New Jersey is a good example. There is no statue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to commemorate an important protest about standards of beauty for women and a contest tied into capitalism, war, and race. Instead, our cultural touchstone from that day is the negative and trite association of feminists as “bra-burners.”

Bras were just one of the items protestors were encouraged to bring that day that signified how the male-dominated culture was keeping women locked into rigid ideas of beauty, but they weren’t burned. Starting a fire on the boardwalk was illegal, so protestors opted to Playboy magazines and other items in a Freedom Trash Can. Still, the bra-burning image remained—a symbol that was easy to belittle as women focusing on something trivial. Misinformation and myths sometimes serve as placeholders in our memory when facts are not remembered.

I consider myself a person who actively fights for women’s reproductive rights and many would expect that my partisan walls would harden after making the film, but they actually softened. I was surprised to find out there were many conservative women who were feminists during the women’s movement: One of the artifacts I collected during the making of my film is a badge that reads: “GOP for ERA” (the controversial Equal Rights Amendment). I now listen to women who have different political opinions than I do about very controversial topics such as reproductive rights.

Recently, two conservative women who are actively anti-abortion—whom I might have gotten into pointed arguments with in other circumstances—came to a screening of my film. At the end of the film, I asked who would consider themselves feminists. One raised her hand. The other pinned on the button I gave audience members that read, “Proud to be a Feminist.”

Jennifer Lee is the Los Angeles-based filmmaker who made Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

TIME career

A Letter to America’s CEOs: Gender Parity Is an Economic Imperative

Dear CEOs and business leaders,

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so too has their commitment to social change. Heightened competition coupled with a more sophisticated and demanding consumer has led to increased innovation, enhanced corporate social responsibility efforts, and in turn, greater value for both business and the communities they serve.

From poverty to education – our global corporate community has made significant inroads to drive social awareness and inspire a call to action for greater progress and prosperity. But for all the good we have accomplished together, it seems that some of the biggest challenges still left to tackle can be found within the walls of our own institutions.

When it comes to gender equality and cultivating a stronger foundation for female leadership, have we gone far enough? If we are to be candid, I am afraid I’m not so sure.

A simple Google search reveals a lot about the current thinking about women. If you type ‘women should’ into the search bar, Google’s autocomplete suggestions offer insight into what people think women shouldn’t do rather than what they should: ‘women should not vote,’ ‘women should not work,’ and ‘women should be seen and not heard.’

Because humans take their subliminal cues about how to behave from whom they perceive to be the majority, this is a powerful way to reinforce negative social norms – in the home, in our communities and in our places of work.

The benefit and value of female leadership in the workplace is clear. In fact, a 2010 global survey of executives found that 72% agree there is a direct connection between gender diversity and business success. Yet only 28% say it is a top 10 priority for senior leadership.

These numbers suggest that it may not be as much about shattering the glass ceiling but rather an onus for all of us to prime the pump along the way. The best outcomes are had when change comes from within – and in the case of gender empowerment, it needs to start at the top.

Our company takes no moral high ground to lecture others. We too have much work to do when it comes to improving gender equality and reducing barriers to success throughout our own institution. But as a global organization with employees across 85 offices worldwide, it’s an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

What we have found at Ogilvy Public Relations is that by engaging both men and women on this issue, we can achieve greater gender equality across all levels of leadership.

Men have a critical role to play in advancing diversity and inclusion efforts, particularly in the realm of gender equality and bias. Yet too often, men stay firmly affixed to the sidelines – not necessarily because they don’t care, but because they don’t see it as their place or responsibility.

Last year, Ogilvy launched a Women’s Leadership Professional Network, sponsored directly by our executive team as an opportunity to facilitate mentorship, sponsorship and training programs for gender bias and empowerment within the organization.

Today the WLPN group has more than 200 participants in our New York office alone – and many of them are men. Together these men and women are helping create a new narrative to effectuate change and make meaningful improvements to our corporate culture.

To be sure, crafting a great narrative is no substitute for genuine action. But if we can couple that real work to change gender bias with stories that prove a new majority of males has arisen – we can redirect social norms.

Warren Buffett famously said that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was only competing with half the population. Today fortunately that couldn’t be farther from the case – and we are all better for it. The competitive landscape is filled with bright women and men ready to tackle our future challenges. But if we are to maximize this potential, we must reframe the gender gap – not as a women’s issue – but as a moral and economic imperative that must be solved together.


Christopher Graves is the Global CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations and serves on the board of its parent company, the Ogilvy & Mather Group. Mr. Graves is a member of the UN Women’s Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council (PSLAC), a CEO-level taskforce designed to advance global work in the areas of economic empowerment, violence against women, and closing the women’s funding gap.

TIME health

Louisiana Bill Would Require Women to Stay on Life Support if Pregnant

The bill would require doctors to keep women on life support regardless of family's wishes

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon decide on a bill that could require hospitals to keep pregnant women on life support, regardless of her family’s wishes.

The bill, which passed the Louisiana State House of Representatives last week, specifies that if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, she must be kept on life support.

State lawmakers say the law would protect healthy fetuses from meeting an untimely demise as a result of the mother’s condition. Abortion rights groups oppose the legislation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

A state Senate version of the bill allowed family members to request that expectant mothers be taken off of life support, Huffington Post said, but the provision was scrapped in committee. Jindal is expected to sign the bill into law.

A similar law faced scrutiny in Texas earlier this year, when a 14-week pregnant woman was kept on life support for weeks after her husband found her unconscious. A judge later ruled the family’s request to remove her from life support must be granted.

TIME movies

The Obvious Question About Obvious Child: How Do You Make a Rom-Com With an Abortion?

Obvious Child
Chris Teague

How a funny movie on a controversial subject made it from page to screen

Last month, following a Maryland Film Festival screening of the new movie Obvious Child (in theaters June 6), an audience member asked what many in the room were probably wondering: Considering the fact that the entire plot of this romantic comedy revolves around an abortion, was it hard to get the movie made? Who would fund such a controversy-magnet? Who would distribute it?

But writer-director Gillian Robespierre — who, due to the success of Child, her first feature film, was scheduled to have her last day at a desk job the following Tuesday — shrugged off the assumption that such a feat would be particularly difficult. In fact, as she told the audience that day, the abortion plot line was less of an obstacle than the abundance of fart jokes were.

The line drew laughs, but Obvious Child didn’t exactly have a quick path to the big screen.

It started in 2007, when movies like Knocked Up and Juno, as well as the Gloucester pregnancy pact, had put unplanned pregnancy in the public consciousness. Robespierre found movies like Knocked Up funny, but didn’t think they depicted a realistic version of what unplanned pregnancy would be like for a real young woman. She and her friends decided to make a short film in which the unplanned pregnancy would lead to a result that they thought real-life women they knew would choose. The movie wouldn’t be glib about abortion, but would treat it as a safe and legal procedure that happens in the world and can be taken seriously without seeming like a tragedy. “I didn’t want to see a movie where she was riddled with guilt. I don’t think we make light of that emotionality,” Robespierre told TIME just before that Baltimore screening. “It’s a heavy moment in a person’s life and it’s not like she’s super excited about this, but she knows from the beginning that she’s not in the right place, emotionally or intellectually. All of those reasons make it an easy choice for her.”

That 2009 short, which starred a then-unknown Jenny Slate, was positively received in the feminist blogosphere, which encouraged Robespierre to move forward with a feature-length version, which would also star the now-better-known Slate, who is profiled in this week’s issue of TIME. Elisabeth Holm, who produced the film, had no hesitations about the controversial content. “It’s just a very empathetic portrait of a complex human experience,” she tells TIME. “So to me it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Not everyone was sure it would work. “I think for the first couple of years of talking about this project to people there was this reaction of: ‘Interesting. We’ll see if you can pull that off,'” she recalls. But when Holm and the other executive producer on the film, David Kaplan, began a concerted effort to seek financing, they found it easier than they had expected given the hot-button topic. They quickly cobbled together money from three companies and from grants. For those who passed on the too-controversial proposition? “I guess if the topic scared people off, they weren’t the people we were meant to work with.”

Those who weren’t squeamish knew what they were getting into. Expanding from a short to a feature meant more time to address the subject of abortion head-on, and making the effort to take steps like working with Planned Parenthood to ensure accuracy; the healthcare organization vetted the script for a scene that involves a consultation with a nurse, to be sure the dialogue was realistic. Robespierre was even allowed to film at a clinic, an experience that ended up being Robespierre’s favorite part of making the movie, the part where it felt like “everyone clicked together.”

“We always say that it’s not an agenda-driven movie,” says Robespierre, “but it is.”

The finished product premiered at Sundance this year with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign and was quickly snapped up by hip distributor A24 (the company behind films like Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring and Under the Skin) for a reported “low seven figures.” A24, no stranger to controversial films, may have seen an opportunity where others may have seen potential for scandal. Holm says: “They felt that [abortion] was for sure going to be a part of the conversation, and that was in part why they were excited to pick up the movie.”

Robespierre and Slate both say that reaction at festivals has been overwhelmingly positive — as has critical reaction — but exposing the movie to the world beyond feminist bloggers and film-festival attendees has, naturally, come with some negative feedback. Its creators and stars are prepared for that, but remain undaunted.

It helps that Obvious Child isn’t really a movie about abortion. It’s really about a life that gets messy, and the struggle to find confidence. To that end, the movie may just sound more controversial than it actually is. The film works hard to strike a balance between gravity and humor; Holm recalls that she and her colleagues decided in the ending room to keep a particularly uncomfortable joke toward the end of the movie in the film. “It is putting that toe over the line, and that’s an okay thing to do especially in moments of tension — we all just find relief in humor and laughing about these things. The film hopefully has enough heart and sincerity and humility that it earns those moments. But it was never our intention to just make something provocative for the sake of being provocative,” she says. “A24 felt that the film was really funny and sweet and relatable. Abortion was just one unique element.”

It was that realism and honesty — realistic characters, realistic friendships and, yes, a realistic look at the possible options a pregnant woman faces — that propelled the film from funding to filming to distribution. As Gaby Hoffmann, who plays the heroine’s best friend (and who recently made public her own real-life pregnancy), puts it, “Most of the women I know [have had an abortion] and it’s sort of despicable the way it’s been skirted around again and again and again and again, in culture, in media, where we have no problem showing gratuitous violence and sex — not that those two things are equal, because they’re not, but certainly plenty of sex scenes — and not the consequences of such. I didn’t give it a second thought at all. I think it’s so weird that it’s standing out as being a film that actually addresses abortion in a straightforward way. I can’t believe that that’s the case. It is, but it’s baffling to me.”

And standing out never hurts. So, back in Baltimore, Robespierre suggested a possible reason why it was easy to find financing: “It seemed,” she told the crowd, “like people were waiting for this story.”

TIME Television

Cosmos Writer Ann Druyan Talks Sexism in Science, Saving the World

Plus: an exclusive look at Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing Carl Sagan's legacy, from the 'Cosmos' making-of documentary

The 13-episode arc of the revamped version of Cosmos — this year’s take on the classic 1980 Carl Sagan docuseries — draws to a close on June 8. But, as Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and a writer, producer and director of the new Cosmos, tells TIME, there’s still a long way left to go — both in the field of science, and in the world.

With respect to the big picture, Druyan says that she was surprised that negative response to the show’s forthright discussion of controversial topics like evolution and global warming was so “limp.” Cosmos has “torqued the zeitgeist,” in her words, making science seem cool and worth talking about. (Seeing astronomer Jan Oort trending on Twitter was a highlight of her experience this season.) But there’s work to be done, she says.

“I’m really optimistic. I was born that way, but I also feel that there’s so much reason to hope,” she says.

And there’s work to be done on a human scale, too.

One of the scientists featured in the finale will be Vera Rubin, an astronomer whom Druyan describes as a personal hero. Rubin, as Druyan relates in the video above, couldn’t even get an application for graduate school because she was a woman; she went on to make important discoveries about dark matter.

Druyan experienced a lesser version of that same bias in her own life, but that’s another thing she’s optimistic about. “I certainly experienced a huge amount of sexism. I was very lucky to have a valiant champion in Carl Sagan, who didn’t have that kind of attitude, but I remember routinely being dismissed, interrupted — I’d say something and people at a meeting would turn to Carl or someone else and say, that was a really great idea you had,” she says. “One of the reasons I’m so optimistic is I have seen major changes in that blindness and so many other forms of blindness in my lifetime, and some of the most optimistic people couldn’t have anticipated them.”

Cosmos, she hopes, will be a way to convince girls and boys to keep opening science to different kinds of people. That’s why the show is structured the way it is: relaying the stories of the lives of scientists rather than just their discoveries. “So many of the stories of the heroes of knowledge that we tell in the series were people who were written off because they were too poor or because they were female or for other reasons. The community of science has a lot to answer for because for so long it was so exclusive,” she says. “It’s only in recent times that it’s changed.”

The Cosmos team has provided TIME with a first look at the Cosmos making-of documentary special feature that will come with the Blu-ray of the show, which will be released June 10:

TIME russia

Putin on Clinton: ‘It’s Better Not to Argue With Women’

"Maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman," Putin said

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered some decidedly 19th century reasons for avoiding a debate with Hillary Clinton.

“It’s better not to argue with women,” he said in an interview with Radio Europe 1 transcribed and posted to the Russian President’s official website on Wednesday.

Putin was asked how he might respond to Clinton’s recent comments comparing Russia’s intervention in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Europe. Clinton has since walked back the statement.

“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” Putin said, “but maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

To which the interviewer responded: “Women must be respected, of course, and I’m sure you respect them.”

Putin had no direct response.

TIME India

Photos: Indian Village Shocked By Brutal Rape and Murder Case

These disturbing photos show scenes in India following the rape and killing of two teenage girls. The girls—aged 14 and 15, according to the Associated Press—were raped and killed by attackers who hung their bodies from a tree in the country's Uttar Pradesh state. Villagers found their bodies early Wednesday, hours after they disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village, local police said

The specter of sexual violence continues to haunt India. A year and a half after the gang rape and murder of a student aboard a New Delhi bus sparked nationwide street protests, once again the nation is confronting a similar act of evil.

Last Wednesday, two sisters were found hanging from a mango tree after they had been gang-raped and strangled in a field near their home in rural Uttar Pradesh. The girls, apparently aged 14 and 15, had been looking for somewhere to relieve themselves as there was no toilet at home — a predicament they shared with nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion population.

Hundreds of angry villagers stayed next to the tree throughout the evening, silently protesting the lackluster police response. Officials, who allegedly shrugged off initial reports of the teenagers’ disappearance, have now detained five people in connection with the attack, including two policemen.

Nevertheless, protests continued outside the office of the state’s chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, on Monday, only to be dispersed with water cannons. Demonstrators claim that the girls were targeted as they were dalits — or “untouchables,” India’s lowest caste — and that their status also lay behind the muted police response.

Whether caste was a contributing factor has yet to be determined. What is undeniable, however, is that India is in the throes of a seeming rape epidemic, with almost daily reported occurrences of assaults against women, girls and even babies. In the countryside, village elders have been known to mete out rape as punishment for females they deem to be going against their traditions.

Amid the most recent uproar in Uttar Pradesh, a 22-year-old was found gang-raped and murdered in the Baheri area. She had been forced to drink acid before being strangled, a post-mortem revealed. And on Saturday, a youth allegedly attempted to rape a female priest inside one of the state’s temples.

New Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi was taciturn about sexual violence during his recent triumphant election campaign. That certainly cannot remain the case much longer.—Charlie Campbell

TIME movies

The Same Woman Wrote Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast—Here’s How They’re Linked

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, left, in a scene with her daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, portraying Young Aurora, in a scene from "Maleficent." Frank Connor / Disney / AP Photo

The woman behind Beauty and the Beast and Maleficent sees them as part of the same history

Linda Woolverton knows her Disney princesses. After all, the veteran screenwriter worked on Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, the 2010 Alice in Wonderland and the Sleeping Beauty reimagination Maleficent, which arrives in theaters today.

So she speaks from experience when she says that Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie as the titular villain, couldn’t have existed until this point in time — because the world wasn’t necessarily ready for such a strong, complicated female protagonist.

When Woolverton worked on Beauty, she says, it was shortly after the arrival of The Little Mermaid; the Disney princess was well aligned with Ariel’s interests, like combing her hair and giving up her voice for a boy she barely knows. It wasn’t that there was explicit pressure to make Beauty‘s Belle behave like that, but that, Woolverton recalls, those attitudes just went without saying. “It was very difficult to change the point of view of the Disney princess,” she tells TIME. “It was just that the point of view of a Disney heroine is this; it isn’t somebody who does this. That was hard.”

So Belle’s book-smarts and bravery weren’t an accident. “After the women’s movement had been around, I really didn’t feel that we would accept yet another heroine who was insipid,” she says. “That was really how I conjured Belle up. She could still be the Disney princess but there she was thinking and saving her father, not having people save her, and changing the world from within. I was highly conscious of what we were trying to do.”

Woolverton says that she sees all of her characters — Belle, The Lion King‘s Nala, Mulan, Alice — as part of a gradual progression, one that extends into the world beyond her own work, the world of movies like Frozen and The Hunger Games, which have driven recent public conversation about what young girls should be able to expect from their cinematic role models. “Katniss Everdeen couldn’t have come on the scene 20 years ago when Belle came on the scene,” Woolverton says. “It’s an incremental process.”

The goal is to have heroines who are complex and action-driven, who can operate within the framework of classic tales without betraying modern consciousness that women have just as rich an experience of the world as men do. And part of that complexity is that sometimes the character can do bad things or act out of anger, and have to face the consequences of those choices. That’s where Maleficent comes in, as the result of a process that its writer started decades ago.

Maleficent is, for me, another step forward,” Woolverton says. “I feel like it’s succeeding and I feel proud of that.”

TIME Religion

The Most Powerful #YesAllBiblicalWomen Tweets

If the women of the Bible could return to life and speak, here's what they might say about #YesAllWomen

The shooting spree in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Friday–and suspect Elliot Rodger’s manifesto against women that appears to have been behind it–prompted an online conversation critiquing the beliefs society instills in men about women.

But alongside the #YesAllWomen hashtag cropped up another one–#YesAllBiblicalWomen–as people began imagining the way the women of the Bible would contribute to the #YesAllWomen conversation if they could speak today.

Feminist Jewish and Christian theology is a relatively new development in each faith’s history, and many of the women in the Bible, as these tweets suggest, experienced consequences of male entitlement. Here’s a selection of the #YesAllBiblicalWomen tweets, each sharing a Biblical woman’s story, from @AllBibleWomen and others:


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