Halsey on Homelessness: “I Was Debating on Whether or Not I Should Let a Stranger Inside Me so I Could Pay For My Next Meal”


Halsey: Ending Youth Homelessness

Halsey, who came out as a bisexual years ago, was kicked out of her house when she dropped out of community college and struggled to pay for food and rent. Although she eventually became a best-selling artist/singer, she spoke about her most financially insecure times recently at a benefit for ending youth homelessness.

“When I was living in New York, I was a teenager. My friends were picking out decorations for their dorms, and I was debating on whether or not I should let a stranger inside me so I could pay for my next meal.” She told Ending Youth Homelessness: A Benefit For My Friend’s Place in Hollywood, California.

“It wasn’t because I did something bad. It wasn’t because something was wrong with me, and it wasn’t because my parents didn’t love me―because they did very much, but a series of unfortunate circumstances led me to be in that position, and it can happen to absolutely anyone.” 

She recalled the moment she scored a record deal with Capitol Music and had to tell a label employee that she was homeless.  

“I had one demo in my pocket, and I was carrying a gray duffel bag. Sat down in his cubicle at the time. And he asked me, ‘What’s in the bag?’ And I looked at him dead in the eyes and I said, ‘This is my house.’ I need you guys to realize that and while it’s very exiting that I am a record-selling, show-playing pop star, when I tell people that story, they go, ‘Oh my gosh, you went from being homeless to being a pop star, that’s amazing, we should help these people because we don’t know what they could become.’ Wrong. We shouldn’t help because we think there’s a chance that they could turn into a celebrity. We shouldn’t help because they could really make something of themselves ― because they are something right now. I know better than anyone how important having a creative outlet is when you’re in a time of need, but this is so much bigger than arts and crafts,” she continued. “This is life or death, and I hope that you take it very, very seriously. I really do. I remember one time I had $9 in my bank account. And bought a four-pack of Red Bull and used it to stay up overnight over the course of two or three days, because it was less dangerous to not sleep than it was to sleep somewhere random and maybe get raped or kidnapped.” 

Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home

How do wealthy women benefit from the labor of poorer women? Nannying is largely a woman’s profession, and not all nannies are $200,000 a year nannies. Globally, over 80 percent of domestic workers are women. And, unfortunately, in certain countries it is a radically underpaid position—considering the time investment and variety of responsibilities. But the overclass, the high achieving families, create so much wealth without dedicated nannies. In her new book “Women’s Work: A Reckoning With Work and Home,” Megan K. Stack writes about her experience as a high-level journalist living in China and India, and the women who took care of her kids, allowing her to achieve.

“Domestic labor is a model for the advancement and equality of upper-class women, but it depends upon a permanent underclass of impoverished women,” Stack tells Anna Walters in an interview for The Atlantic. “I’m not interested in a program for some women to advance on the backs of others.”

An extract:

Anna Waters: […] What was it about this dynamic that made you think twice, and want to examine it in this book?

Megan Stack: I moved pretty thoughtlessly into having a woman come into my home and work full-time. But very quickly, I started to experience things that surprised me. The emotional components of trust, love, and jealousy, the attempt to turn a household into a job site, and the way that intersects with power imbalances of money and race … I hadn’t anticipated it. The more I adjusted to being a mother, the more uncomfortable I was, because I was looking at my nanny and thinking, She’s a mother, too. Who’s taking care of her baby?

It opened up uncomfortable questions that I hadn’t addressed when deciding to hire her, and that I didn’t feel like the culture broadly had addressed, either. There’s been this global swell of domestic labor as an unregulated and poorly understood job sector, so these relationships exist on a global scale, but are basically unfolding in private. I wanted to make them public.

Women in Basketball

Notre Dame head women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw recently went viral on social media saying she would not hire another male coach on her staff. "How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future?" McGraw said. "We don’t have enough female role models, we don’t have enough visible women leaders, we don’t have enough women in power.

Women in Parliament: An Increasing Number Globally

The number of women represented in parliaments across the planet is increasing. Women now make up 24% of members of national legislative bodies, according to Pew Research. Nordic countries, as expected, are closest to achieving gender parity – making up 43% of parliamentary numbers. On the other end of the spectrum, in the Middle East and North Africa, 17% of parliamentarians are women.

The pace of gender equality in Japan, as one example, is slow—but steady. Women won 10.4 percent of seats in Japan’s recent regional assembly races. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, politics remains one of the most heavily male dominated professions in the country. Japan ranks 165 out of 193 countries in terms of women’s political representation. 

The Inter-Parliamentary Union figures run on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments by the 1st of January 2019. Fun fact: In politics, Rwanda, which has reserved at least half their Parliamentary seats for women, is ranked first. Yemen, Mironesia, Papua, New Guinea and Vanatu are ranked, respectively, last.

Saudi Arabia’s Unending and Arbitrary Arrests

Two US citizens were arrested in Saudi Arabia for women’s rights activism. This was the second wave of recent arrests made in the Kingdom, both protests focusing on laws that prohibit women from driving and the male guardianship system. Since the decapitation of Washington Post’s writer Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey last October, the Kingdom has had a zero tolerance policy on human rights activists.

“Saudi authorities seem to be hell-bent on silencing anyone who dares to speak up or even voice their opinions privately and publicly,” Amnesty International’s Middle East campaigns director, Samah Hadid told The Guardian. “This goes beyond just attacking activists and now seems to target different segments of society. This is a dangerous pattern.”

Acid Attacks Against Women

A man who appeared to be in his 30s, called for acid attacks against women in Algeria on social media. Online users in the United Kingdom quickly identified him and filed a complaint. The man soon after posted a second video apologizing for the threats, explaining that the comments came from anger. He must have been scared at the reception of the videos because the unidentified man began contacting women who had put his image up on their Facebook feeds. 

One commenter, named Dara, from the Mediterranean coast city of Béjaïa, was contacted by the man via voicemail.

“He said, ‘I’m the one who made the video about the acid. Please delete it from your page. I'm going to try to make another video to make things better.” France24’s investigative reporting program The Observer says. “I asked him to make another video stating clearly that people should not to carry out acid attacks against women’s rights activists. But he didn’t do that, he just settled for apologies.”

Cover photo via Glamour