Lots of things in life are sexist – but the phrase ‘nepo baby’ isn’t one of them

<span>Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters


Hear that? It’s the sound of some very upset nepo babies. A “nepo baby”, for those wondering what I’m talking about, is online slang for a celebrity who comes from a famous family. Which, by the way, seems to be every other person in the entertainment industry. The phrase, which isn’t necessarily an insult, has become popular, and some nepo babies are starting to feel somewhat attacked by the term. In the last few weeks a number of celebrity offspring, including Madonna’s eldest daughter and Zoe Kravitz, have given interviews where they’ve claimed that they haven’t reallllllly benefited from having famous parents but, even if they had, that’s fine because there is nepotism in every industry.

While all the nepo baby interviews have been getting attention, Lily-Rose Depp has been raising the most eyebrows. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Depp (an actor and the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis) insisted that talent trumps connections. “People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part,” Depp said.

I can definitely say that is complete nonsense. It doesn’t detract from Depp’s talent to acknowledge the fact that connections and privilege often play a huge part in success. As the saying goes: talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. When you pretend otherwise, when you pretend that we live in a pure meritocracy, you’re not just saying that you deserve your success, you’re saying that less successful people didn’t work hard enough or weren’t talented enough. You’re ignoring all the structural and systemic issues that allow some people to play life on ‘easy’ mode.

Depp didn’t just suggest that nepotism played no part in her success, she also – rather bizarrely – argued that the term nepo baby is sexist. “I just hear it a lot more about women, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence,” she said.

I’m not sure about that. I haven’t done detailed data analysis of gender-based applications of the term, but I can think of plenty of men who have been called a nepo baby, Brooklyn Beckham and Jaden Smith being two very high-profile examples. If we’re going to get all nerdy about nepo baby history, it’s also worth noting that the phrase gained popularity after Gen Z discovered Euphoria showrunner Sam Levinson was the son of Rain Man director Barry Levinson. And, of course, there’s the fact that the word nepotism comes from the word “nephew” and originally described the practice of priests giving cushy positions in the church to their nephews. Lots and lots of things in life are sexist; the phrase “nepo baby”, let us be clear, is not one of them.

Women sue Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan over Jeffrey Epstein ties

The women allege that the banks financially benefited from Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking. This isn’t the first time the banks have been under the spotlight for their relationships with Epstein: in 2020 regulators found that Deutsche bank maintained its relationship with the sex offender despite multiple “suspicious transactions” and “red flags” that could have been related to his alleged sex trafficking operation.

The rise of sad beige parenting

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What the hell is going on at Balenciaga?

The fancy fashion brand recently apologized for a very disturbing ad campaign which featured toddlers holding teddy bears in BDSM-inspired outfits. Hours after that apology Balenciaga posted another statement apologizing for showing “unsettling documents” splashed over a table in a separate advertising campaign: those documents were a copy of a 2008 supreme court ruling related to child sexual abuse images. I don’t know whether all this was a misguided attempt to be “edgy” but the whole thing is pretty horrifying. It’s also given a ton of ammunition to the right, who are currently spreading conspiracy theories about Balenciaga and using the campaign to push the talking point that liberals are “groomers”. (In the warped rightwing worldview luxury fashion brands count as liberals.)

The Athletic to double women’s sports coverage

The sports media company, which is owned by the New York Times, hopes to double the number of articles written about women’s sports from around 900 today to about 1,800.

Isabella Bird: the 4ft 11in Victorian adventurer who rode solo across Colorado on a horse

Ruby Wax has a nice piece in the Guardian on this forgotten adventurer.

More than five women and girls were killed every hour by a family member in 2021

A new UN report has found that 45,000 women and girls – 56% of the 81,100 murdered last year worldwide – were killed by their partner or other relative. Women are far more likely to be killed by family members than men. Eighty-one per cent of homicides worldwide are committed against men and boys, but only about 11% in 2021 were killed by a partner or relative.

Women in the New York Philharmonic outnumber men for first time

For much of its 180-year history, the Philharmonic was exclusively male. Now there are 45 women and 44 men.

The week in pestriarchy

Police in India are blaming rats for eating 200kg of seized cannabis that had been stored in police stations. “Rats are tiny animals and they have no fear of the police. It’s difficult to protect the drug from them,” court documents assert. Right. And I’m guessing the dog ate your homework too?