(Paraphrasing) Nash: “Patrick Stewart? Don’t know the name.” (30/5/13). Leaving aside Nash’s poor knowledge of one Britain’s most famous actors of all time, star of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men (Nash: “But Max, I’m too cool and hipster to watch superhero movies!”). Stewart has recently enjoyed widespread praise for a YouTube video that has become semi-viral.
The video features Stewart responding to a question while speaking at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas. A member of the audience queried Stewart on what he regarded to be his greatest achievement outside acting while mentioning her own history of sexual abuse. What followed was a brilliantly superb summation of the wide and serious problems surrounding domestic abuse in all it’s forms and how charities (such as Refuge, for which Stewart is a patron) help to alleviate the situation.
Stewart highlighted two defining problems that still plague society and women today.
1. Failures to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers
Stewart mentions that his own father, who caused so much trouble in his domestic life as a child, had suffered from PTSD (or as it was referred to at the time, Shell Shock) upon returning from the battle for France in 1940. Thankfully, we have moved on from the 1940s where support to such victims involved a brash statement of “Pull yourself together boy!”. However, while our methods of treatment have improved, there are still far too many former soldiers who slip through the cracks with more Falklands veterans committing suicide after than the conflict than the total number of British soldiers actually killed in the war. This a number that is expected to rise with the proposed increase of reservists by Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond. If untreated PTSD can cause untold trouble on the domestic front.
2. Victim blaming
Stewart then moves on to how his Mother was partially blamed for the violence she suffered at the hands of her husband by doctors and police offers at the time: “Mrs Stewart, you must’ve done something to provoke him. Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.”. Again, thankfully society isn’t as openly misogynistic as it was in the 1940s. Sadly, victim blaming for domestic or sexual abuses against women is still widespread. It’s not all from men with many women on the internet slut shaming their fellow women in the name of ‘modesty’. With at least 60,000 women and 9000 men being raped in year we do not need the stigmatisation and demonisation of women and being told that it was there fault for being raped. And with only half of all rapes being reported this figure could be much higher than we believe.
On a slight tangent, slut shaming doesn’t restrict itself to blaming victims, it’s also used as a method to attempt to shame women into covering themselves up under the guise of ‘modesty’. Sadly, this is something I witnessed before one of the shows of Things Can Only Get Better during the Guild Officer Elections regarding one of the candidates and an individual who remain nameless (to a degree this paraphrased as I can’t remember what was said word for word): “That (anonymous candidate) really likes to bang on about feminism and stuff in Guild Council. But when it comes to campaigning and lecture shout outs she has her cleavage on display for everyone to see, how hypocritical is that?”
No anonymous individual, the candidate in question “had her cleavage on display” not to win votes or not to ‘hit on the guys’, but because it’s what felt comfortable for her and that’s how she wanted to dress that day. Feminism is about choice of women to dress how they like without fear of misogynists like yourself attempting to shame women for simply dressing how they feel is comfortable.