Why Demi Lovato's 'prank' on her bodyguard was a huge problem.

During a recent Twitter Q&A, Demi Lovato gleefully shared the "funniest prank" she'd ever pulled.

She wasn't quite prepared for the reaction though.

The singer behind such hits as "Skyscraper" and "Cool for the Summer" (my personal favorites) has always been frank and honest in the way she talks about everything from sexuality to beauty standards to mental health. That's awesome!


But when answering a fan's question about the greatest prank she's every played, Lovato steered into very uncomfortable territory. Writing about a trick she pulled on Max, a member of her security staff, Lovato showed some serious insensitivity.

"I hired a lady of the night in Vegas and sent her to Max's hotel room to surprise him," Lovato wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "She walked into his room without permission and grabbed him in his 'area' and he freaked the fuck out hahahahahaha."

Screenshot via Twitter.

Lovato's joke immediately drew a negative reaction, with Twitter users referring to the prank as "disgusting" and appropriately labeling it as an example of sexual harassment, which is especially salient considering that Max works for Lovato.

Lovato's prank was wrong, and it highlights two serious problems about how our society views instances of sexual misconduct.

First, Lovato's joke suggests that it's OK, even funny, to touch men inappropriately. And the idea that it's "just a joke" unintentionally furthers the stigma of being a male sexual assault survivor. While no one's laying the blame squarely on Lovato, the fact that this wasn't something she considered before posting it to her millions of fans shows just how much of a problem this is in American society, even as the #MeToo movement surges forward.

Second, the prank was demeaning to the sex worker Lovato hired. Not only did she lead the woman to a dangerous situation — she sent "the lady of the night" into Max's room without giving him any warning — but to use sex workers as punch lines to pranks is both humiliating and dehumanizing.

Lovato was mad at first but apologized soon after.

It sucks to be called out. And if it's ever happened to you, you know that the first response usually isn't calm acceptance but a kind of righteous indignation that makes it impossible to see other viewpoints.

"I swear, I could tweet something about craving jellybeans and it would offend someone," Lovato wrote soon after she began experiencing backlash.

But then her tone softened. Conceding that she'd made a "simple mistake" (agree to disagree), Lovato suggested that fans who don't think she takes abuse seriously check out her song "Warrior."

Shortly after, Lovato apologized to everyone she may have inadvertently hurt, and while "if anyone was offended" apologies are not the most ideal kind of apologies, it's a start.

The silver lining to this story is that Lovato's fans are calling out behavior that would have been seen as normal as recently as last year.

It's clear that all of us have some reflecting and learning to do in order to make sure that sexual misconduct and violence are taken seriously. Especially those whose public personas influence millions of people.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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