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Domestic Violence Film

No Safe Spaces: When Violence Against Women is Fantasy and Reality

A ctress Rose McGowan made headlines recently while calling out a billboard for Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse movie and its connection to violence against women. While comic books, and by extension the movies that spawn from the books, are not bastions of world peace or shining beacons of how we should treat each other, McGowan’s beef with the billboard simply showed the main antagonist choking a blue-skinned woman.

To the trained eye of the average fan, this was simply Apocalypse doing Apocalypse things. But to anyone else it’s another reminder that women aren’t safe anywhere — even in the fictional realm of Hollywood.

“There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film,” McGowan wrote in a post on Facebook. “There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society.”

With the battle lines drawn, those who got the larger context found themselves on one side of the argument, while others, overwhelmingly men, decried the criticism as being too sensitive and politically correct.

You may be asking, “What does cinema violence against women have to do with anything that happens in the real world?” The answer, is simple: both are rarely taken as seriously as they should be.

You may be asking, “What does cinema violence against women have to do with anything that happens in the real world?” The answer, is simple: both are rarely taken as seriously as they should be.

Take the curious, and especially egregious case of Stanford swimmer rapist Brock Turner. After being convicted of raping a fellow student on the university campus, his father wrote an appalling, tone deaf letter to the judge begging for leniency. After a victim impact statement that went viral, Turner’s actions were rationalized by his father as a mere “20 minutes of action.”

“That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” the elder Turner said of his son’s six month prison sentence. Turner also called for Brock to not get prison time and, in what is truly perverse and tone deaf, said Brock would be better used teaching others about the consequences of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.

Brock Turner and his father are two more bricks in the giant tower of toxic masculinity. As is the X-Men billboard. Heinous individually, dangerous when paired with all the other tales of violence against women disregarded and not taken seriously.

The same culture that is dismissive of accusations that a billboard trivializes violence against women is the same culture that could do anything other than condemn a man who de-centers a victim to emphasize what a convicted rapist can teach society.

Let’s be crystal clear: Brock Turner may not be a monster, but his actions the night he decided to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster were absolutely monstrous. He may be a swimmer. He may be a good son. He may go on to be a model citizen from here on out. He is all those things and still a rapist at the same damn time.

The same culture that is dismissive of accusations that a billboard trivializes violence against women is the same culture that could do anything other than condemn a man who de-centers a victim to emphasize what a convicted rapist can teach society.

Men: It is long past time that we get serious about violence against women and live up to the titles we bestow upon ourselves.

We cannot be kings if the proverbial queens don’t feel safe moving around freely in the kingdom.

We cannot be leaders without leading with a servant heart.

We cannot be the head of households that are running as dictatorships.

And we cannot expect submission, if you subscribe to a biblical worldview, without safety.

To a fan of comics, the X-Men billboard is just a billboard. To others, it’s a fictional depiction of what happens in too many households. Brock Turner is yet another reminder that even when there is irrefutable evidence of violence, that justice may still be elusive.

If we are to live up to the idealized versions of manhood that many of us claim to be, we have to live up to that idealized version in times of peace and times of conflict. Women have long been in conflict. It’s time more of us joined the fight.

1. Rose McGowan Calls Out ‘X-Men’ Billboard That Shows Mystique Being Strangled
2. Stanford Sexual Assault Case Victim Impact Statement in Full
3. Stanford University STudent Brock Turner Sexual Assault Statement

By AJ Springer

AJ Springer is a writer, communications pro, nerd and nomad. Stomping competition is his hobby and job. You can find him on the Internets discussing current events, combat sports, pop culture and the finer points of pro wrestling. When not doing that, he can be found searching for a new home for his written words.