Here's an empowering look at what happens when the funniest women on TV take a pop song literally.

Society often tells women they need to be quiet and polite. Who knew that combining Sara Bareilles and the women of "Saturday Night Live" could make breaking those rules so gratifying?


Sometimes speaking up can be a real challenge, especially if you're a woman. Whether it's a long-lost acquaintance (who you might rather stay lost) asking for your number or just having to ask an embarrassing question, weighing the balance between assertive and aggressive can be a bit of a struggle.


Studies have shown that when men speak up, this is seen as a positive trait; when women do it, they're viewed as pushy. "SNL" took a lighthearted look at what a world where women aren't afraid to "say what they wanna say" might look like.

The examples used include interacting with a long-lost acquaintance, speaking up when a friend tries to shortchange a group on a check, and asking someone for their name a second (or third) time. The examples — complete with slow-motion celebrations — are meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but they represent a larger, more serious issue.

Is this actually a problem?

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Professor Adam Grant wrote January in The New York Times, society expects women to be quiet and polite, all the while rewarding men who aren't. What's worse is that when women do speak up, they're often punished instead of praised. That's what makes the "SNL" video so much fun: It's an illustration of women bucking these expectations.

"Suspecting that powerful women stayed quiet because they feared a backlash, [Yale psychologist Victoria] Brescoll looked deeper. She asked professional men and women to evaluate the competence of chief executives who voiced their opinions more or less frequently. Male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings. As this and other research shows, women who worry that talking 'too much' will cause them to be disliked are not paranoid; they are often right." — Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg

So how can we fight these expectations?

The first step to fighting gender bias is acknowledging it. Take a look at the examples shown in the video. What appears rude when a woman does it might be viewed as ambitious when done by a man. Gender bias is the difference between viewing someone as entitled versus ambitious, and it exists everywhere, from the boardroom to the break room. We should celebrate the women who aren't afraid to shake things up and speak their minds.

So speak up and celebrate!

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Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

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via SNL / YouTube

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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