Posted in 2017-2018, What's Happening?

The Silent Domestic Violence Crisis

By Ellie McFarland

Sensitive Content

It is becoming increasingly apparent that sexual assault and domestic abuse are impending crisis on American social and legal culture. As more and more celebrities are outed as habitual predators or wife beaters, the media is being driven into a sex panic. It is splendid that these issues are being given more attention and that horrible people are being driven from powerful positions. However, these issues have been in the news for ages. It’s time to address the far more hidden, far more quiet issue of domestic and sexual abuse committed against men.

Recently, only a few months ago, the first men’s shelter in the country was opened in Batesville, Arkansas permanently. Prior to that, all other attempts to open a men’s domestic abuse shelters have been shut down due to primarily, and lack of funds, but also threats to the owners. The Batesville shelter set off a trend of increasing numbers of men’s shelters in South East and West America. Currently, it’s gotten up to 5 shelters and 10 hotlines. Only 15 resources for male victims of domestic abuse, and over 1500 resources for women.

Perhaps the reason there are so few shelters is because a commonly held belief is that men don’t need domestic abuse shelters because men are never the victims of domestic abuse; that domestic abuse is a strictly female issue. These notions are deplorable and damaging to men everywhere. In fact, it can be seen in male victims of abuse. Many of them say that they didn’t know men could be abused. Others say they feared to fight back because their abuser was a woman. This dangerous sentiment isn’t helped by movies and TV depicting wives hitting their husbands as something lighthearted, funny, or even desirable. That same thing would never be acceptable if a husband was slapping his wife.

There are deeply regrettable things being said about these domestic violence shelters. An article from Katie Fenton described men’s shelters as “a misuse of nonprofit funding”, and many readers responded by saying that the victims “probably deserved it”. There are stories upon stories of wives abusing their husbands and facing zero jail time. Take for instance the case of “AlienJack” (pseudonym), where his wife physically and emotionally abused him, stole his children, and even tore open his sutures after heart surgery. His wife also got no jail time.  

The deficit of Men’s domestic abuse shelters is a gravity some people have recognized in the Feminist circle, which on its own is good. However, their reasons to be concerned with male domestic abuse victims are far from pure. Some feminists say that the reason for men’s unwillingness to come forward about domestic violence is in truth, the patriarchy, and toxic masculinity. While working to end violence against all people is a noble goal, this way of going about it paints abuse victims as people who brought this on themselves, which is simply incorrect.

Domestic abuse is not a men’s or women’s issue. It is a human issue that spans across gender, race, and economic class. Claiming that domestic abuse against men is funny, the fault of the victim, or simply nonexistent is dishonest and is a symptom of an unequal society. The shortage of domestic violence shelters for men is a public health crisis and needs to be solved. It is up to everyone to provide help and safety to all victims of abuse, and collectively agree that violence is a serious crime that is not gendered.


Posted in What's Happening?

Nine Gendered Tropes In Cinema That Are Starting To Get Old

By Elizabeth McFarland

  1. The Bumbling Idiot Husband

You can see it in The Simpsons most prevalently, and you can even see it in Friends. This trope of the Bumbling Idiot Husband is characterized by a husband or boyfriend who is always messing things up. Either, for his wife or his kids. Now, here’s the important part, the idiot must have a wife or girlfriend who is nagging, and fixes all his problems for him. This trope is particularly annoying because it is both so frequent, and so easily spottable. Within the first few scenes of a movie, or first couple episodes of a television show, anyone with any knowledge of character archetypes can spot it easily. This is the studio’s trick to appeal more to women, but it’s not very impactful. Most women love their boyfriends or husbands, and furthermore, most women don’t want to want to date or marry complete idiots.

   2. The Nagging, Nitpicking Wife

Alongside the Bumbling Husband is the Nagging, Nitpicking Wife. They always seem to go hand in hand. Clara Murphy from Robocop is a very good example of the Nitpicker without the Bumbling Idiot. said it best, and described this trope as “an estrogen-soaked wet blanket.” The Nitpicker is unbearable, angry, strung out, borderline abusive, and mean. Although it doesn’t appear she has any reason to be. All these Nitpickers live very cushy lives in western American suburbia. These two are usually paired together, the Nitpicker and Idiot, in order to appeal to both sexes. Normal marital problems are exaggerated, and the real, serious, detrimental problems are entirely ignored.  Normally, these personality types would be perfectly fine, if they were not so common, and entirely because of the character’s gender. Then, they become annoying and useless archetypes.

  3. The “Badass” Woman Who Is Never Actually Badass

It’s wonderful to see strong women in film and TV, but it helps if these female characters are actually brave to any extent. This usually occurs when a male is the main character, and this fake badass is his “sidekick”. The Main Character (MC) and his other hero friends constantly say how impressed they are by her supposed “Badassery”, even though she never does anything impressive, or at least as impressive as her male cohorts. However, this is not to say that having a female character who is not strong or brave is a bad thing, it’s just poorly executed when the woman never does anything deserving of her praises. Black Widow in the Avengers movies is far from badass. She mostly stays in an airplane or government building and pines after Bruce Banner but she is described as Badass by fans of those movies, only based on those movies. This has become so detrimental, that some watchers or readers won’t even bother to read books or watch movies with reviews or descriptions that read along the lines of, “I love the female lead, she’s so strong and badass!” because those reviews are unreliable.

  4. The Automatic Feminist Icon

This isn’t really a trope, per say, but the Automatic Feminist Icon is really more of a title that fans (sometimes not even fans) give to directors and writers who create a female character who can throw a punch. This is rampant in comic book franchises. This theme surrounds Storm, Black Cat, Catwoman, and most famously; Wonder Woman. Now people might disagree on the ethics of modern day feminism, however, almost everyone can agree that hitting people is not a hallmark of feminism. Unlike the Fake Badass, this character is actually a strong female character, but somehow this comes to her detriment. You don’t have to sift for long through films that display violent women as the furthest thing from a feminist. Hard Candy is a good example of that.

  5. The Blockhead Jock

I understand most film writers are far passed their high school years, and most likely were tormented by jocks, but it is simply poor writing and a use of cliche to replicate your own triggers. It demonstrates a lack of understanding and reveals whether or not a writer is outdated. This trope is so common, and in almost every coming of age movie out there, I’m surprised that they haven’t renamed these movies, “Dumb Evil Jock vs. Smart Nice Innocent Nerd”. At this point, it’s more than a trope, it’s an embarrassing cliche that isn’t even accurate. I don’t know if movie studios have caught on, but usually, in order to be on a sports team in high school, athletes need to maintain a C in all of their classes, or at least a C average. I don’t know how it was in the 80s, perhaps it was like this, but why this trope prevails in modern America is beyond me.

   6. The Explosive

This is a trope which is most common in romance genres, most notably the Twilight franchise and many, many John Green films. These male characters are common and seen as the norm in society. These men are angry, abusive, or manipulative. Sometimes all three. And they are always the love interest or one of the love interests. Abusive men are no issue in film if they’re portrayed neutrally, or negatively, as the Villain or Bad Guy. But these men’s deplorable actions are meant to be seen as romantic. That is exactly the problem. Edward stalks and manipulates Bella, and starts fights with nearly every character in the book, and the outright creepiness of John Green’s characters goes without saying. Abuse is not romantic, and it can even be said that displaying it as romantic is harmful to society.

   7. The Damsel In Distress

You knew this one would make an appearance. The most common trope to apply to women is the Damsel in Distress. This can be seen in every single classic-era Disney movie that featured a female MC. You’ll see with this trope that a common theme is not the fact this character exists, but it’s either the frequency of the theme of the culture surrounding it. In this case, it’s the former. It’s entirely okay to have a woman that needs a man to be happy. Plenty of women in real life do. Rather it’s the fact that this archetype is so frequent, it becomes boring and overdone.  

   8. The Manly Man Who Hates Affection

We all know the type, stoic, strong, battle-hardened, and even has just a touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He’s seen in Lord Of The Rings, Pain And Gain, Merlin, That 70s Show, and even Groundhog Day. This man will not tolerate hugs or kisses from their significant other, and certainly not any brand of affection from another man. That is if they manage to actually land a significant other, and not just lead on, and manipulate some poor sap into giving “sexual favors”. Once again, this would be one hundred percent okay if this were simply the character’s personality. However, not only is this annoyingly common, but his emotional unavailability or straight up lack of emotions is portrayed as the thing that makes him manly and desirable. The fact he is haunted and easily, literally, triggered is meant to set him apart from all of his hopelessly boring other male competition.

   9. The Girl Who Was Pretty All Along

It’s seen in The Princess Diaries, Mean Girls, The Brady Bunch, Miss Congeniality, and plenty more. This realization by the class, or male lead may happen gradually, or all at once when the nerd takes off her thick-rimmed glasses. Suddenly her perceived ugliness vanishes and a genetically flawless celebrity is revealed to be hiding underneath. This one is above all just plain irritating. Is everyone in this movie blind, unable to recognise facial symmetry? What is it? In the real world no would think that, say, Emma Watson, with glasses is ugly. That’s just plain unrealistic.

Posted in What's Happening?

Why The Supplement Industry Is A Sham

By Madeline Marks

Dietary supplements have become a large part of health culture in America. Walk into any grocery store, find the right aisle, and you will discover walls lined with supplements. Supplements that claim to have the answers to weight loss, emotional well-being, and the common cold. I mean who wouldn’t want all of these things? It all seems to be too good to be true! Spoiler alert: it is. These supplements have not fared well in clinical trials. And their downsides can be disastrous. Where did this all come from, anyway? The prevalence of dietary supplements is at an all-time high. It certainly wasn’t like this seventy-five years ago. What changed? What started America’s supplement craze?

It all starts with a man named Linus Pauling; a great chemist, but terrible public health advisor. While supplements were in existence before then, they weren’t nearly as much of a fad as they were after the publication of Linus Pauling’s book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold. In this book, he recommended a dose of 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily, which is fifty times the recommended dose by the US Food and Nutrition Board (Barrett, Stephen. “The Dark Side of Linus Pauling’s Legacy.). Linus Pauling claimed he could not only cure the common cold, but cancer, as well. He later went on to state that vitamin C could also potentially cure heart disease, mental illness, pneumonia, hepatitis, polio, tuberculosis, snakebites, and even AIDS (Offit, Paul. “The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements.). His book was such a hit that by the mid-1970’s, 50 million Americans were taking this dose.

The thing is, none of Pauling’s claims held up in clinical trials. At least 16 refutable studies debunked his theory that vitamin C could cure the common cold. And about the whole cancer situation? A study by the Mayo Clinic involving 367 people with advanced cancer given Pauling’s recommended dose of vitamin C found that it had no clinically significant effect on their cancer. Pauling himself actually got cancer that killed him in 1994.

Thinking this whole thing looks a little shady? Allow me to introduce you to Arthur Robinson. He was a student and colleague of Pauling, who assisted Pauling in founding the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. Robinson conducted an experiment in which he gave rats Pauling’s daily recommended dose of vitamin C. His findings were shocking. He found the rats given the vitamin C developed skin cancer at twice the rate of the control group (Barrett, Stephen.

It’s not hard to imagine that Pauling was not pleased with these results. But instead of correcting his mistakes, Pauling killed Robinson’s animals, expounded him from the institute, and destroyed some of his results.

Robinson responded by suing the institute. He received $575,000 in compensation, $425,000 of which was for slander and libel. But still, Pauling’s ideas about vitamin C remained, untouched by the countless studies that refuted him.

Linus Pauling’s delusional ideas were the breeding ground for an industry worth $37 billion today; the supplement industry. However, because of current laws in place surrounding the industry, the FDA can do virtually nothing to regulate the supplements that make it to the shelves and can really only work to remove supplements that have already caused harm or injury. But why? Who is responsible for this?

In 1994, a bill was passed called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA. This bill basically gives the industry free reign to market whatever they want. The supplements do not have to be approved by the FDA in order to go on the market. In fact, the FDA can’t do this under DSHEA, and the FDA has to be the one to remove them if they become an issue. This results in an order in which supplements are taken off the market, with dangerous supplements being the first to be removed. Then follows products that are fraudulent or in violation of the law. The last tier is reserved for products taken for routine inspection. The supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the “Supplement Facts” label and ingredient information is accurate, including the dosage.  Even the FDA states on their website, “[The] FDA does not have resources to analyze dietary supplements sent to the agency by consumers who want to know their content. Instead, consumers may contact the manufacturer or a commercial laboratory for an analysis of the content.” (Mourali, Amir. “The Dark Truth About Nutritional Supplements.”). The thing was, it was pioneered by two US senators, both of which were receiving large compensation from the supplement industry.

The supplement industry is an issue that most people don’t realize we have. So what can we do about it? Well, we’re not going to go around advocating for a change. Let’s be honest — most people don’t have the time or motivation. The best thing we can do is simply not support the industry. So stop buying supplements you don’t need. Don’t let a scam from the 70’s influence where you spend your money.