Customers demanded more women at Medieval Times. They got more than they bargained for.

Brave knights. Fair maidens. A damsel in distress. That is sooo 476 AD. At least, we'd like to think it is.

Let's face it: The Middle Ages is one of our favorite periods of history to relive. And what is it often chockfull of? Dudes with swords who kick butt and helpless princesses who need saving.

Out of date, right?


Unfortunately, the truth is that men in the "lead" and women in "supporting roles" is as present now as it's ever been. Many of us are still bafflingly uncomfortable with the idea of a female president, but totally fine with a president who belittles and objectifies women on a near-daily basis!

That presents a special challenge for modern day re-enactments like Medieval Times, an elaborate theme restaurant in the United States and Canada that entertains diners with a live-joust and other medieval performances.

Though its show is set in the Middle Ages, Medieval Times' audience lives in the year 2018. And, lately, the restaurant's owners were getting more and more feedback about their 30-some-year-old performance: It needed more women.

Early this year, Medieval Times decided to make a big change to some of its shows: They would now feature a queen in charge, instead of a king.

Who rules a kingdom? A king, of course!

Well, not so fast.

All photos by Medieval Times used with permission.

Sure, the Middle Ages were the heyday of the patriarchy in a lot of ways, but queens were powerful, too, and played important roles. They were often key strategic advisors to the king behind closed doors. (Catherine de Medici, one of the late queens of France, was known for being particularly conniving and ruthless, for example.)

So, yeah. Queens did more than just sit around and look pretty.

Yet, since Medieval Times first opened its doors in 1983, the company's restaurants typically feature a live scene starring a "king" hosting a jousting tournament for the viewing pleasure of himself and the audience while they down their supper.

Clearly, rewriting this script wouldn't exactly be a stretch of history.

Actress Erin Zapcic prepares for battle.

Fortunately, starting at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey location on Jan. 11 — and soon rolling out to all nine Medieval Times restaurants — "Queen Dona Maria Isabella" is taking over.

“Where previously our female characters played in more supportive roles, we are now showing a woman fully in charge, a woman whose authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly rises to the occasion as a strong leader, squelching opposition,” says Ingrid Hunt, senior general manager at Medieval Times, in a press release.

The update might seem like a small tweak, but it's a big win for better representation.

Some data suggests that while roles for women (in Hollywood, for example) are on the rise, they still only make up about 32% of speaking parts. Female leads are even more rare.

Shows on broadway have a similar problem.

So a major rewrite to a decades-long show like Medieval Times — that brings in over 2.5 million audience members every year — is actually pretty awesome.

And the Chicago Times reports that the show's director, Leigh Cordner, took the gender-flip extremely seriously, spending well over a year rewriting the performance script to accommodate a matriarch in a powerful way.

We only hope that more and more shows follow suit and start to think outside the box about how women and people of color can be better represented in their performances.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture