Marvel’s Black Widow Needs Her Own Stand-Alone Film, ASAP

Marvel’s Black Widow Needs Her Own Stand-Alone Film, ASAP

We love strong, independent women destroying everything that comes at them.

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I remember the first Marvel movie I had ever watched. A classic move by twelve-year-old me: hopping on the mainstream superhero bandwagon to watch "The Avengers" before having seen any other Marvel film. Watching "The Avengers" was life changing for me—I finally understood all the obsession surrounding the franchise, and I was hooked from the moment the musical theme started playing. I remember seeing all of these people with special powers and skills—and all of them treating each other as equals. I was able to keep up with the plot despite having no backstory (a tribute to Joss Whedon's spectacular directing), and I immediately resolved to spend time watching as many of the stand-alone films as I was able to get my hands on.

Unfortunately, I haven't managed to watch all of them yet (I need to step up my game, I know). Over the years, I've watched every "Avengers" movie, two of the "Captain America" movies, the "Thor" movies, "Spiderman: Homecoming", the "Ant Man" movies, and (my personal favorite) "Black Panther". Despite loving all of these movies (almost more than life itself… I swear I'm not obsessed with the Marvel franchise), I spent years after the first "Avengers" movie wondering why I could never find a stand-alone film of Black Widow, the primary female protagonist seen in many Marvel movies.

In every Marvel movie, I saw her as a strong, independent, well-written female character. She has an excruciatingly intriguing backstory, which the movies only occasionally hint at, but they seem to have avoided giving her the proper attention she deserves. I don't know how many hours I've spent trying to piece together her backstory (given the fact that I have not read the comics and that I do not know how much spotlight she is given when she appears as a recurring character throughout the "Avengers" comics).

Recently, I heard rumors that a "Black Widow" standalone film is in the making. I wasn't sure whether those were exactly that, rumors, but it would seem that Scarlett Johansson, as Natasha Romanoff, is finally going to star in her own movie, drawing all the attention to this brilliant female character and the conflicts she has overcome, moving from the KGB and the USSR to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the United States.

Just think about the role she plays in every "Avengers" movie: she's in charge of her own unit of combat, and she plays an integral part in the planning of attacks and defense. Her dialogue is all well-written, provides proof of thought, and shows off her individual, unique sense of humor. A "Black Widow" film would depict the story of how a young girl changed into this amazing, intelligent, bad-ass woman who terrifies anyone she faces—I can't think of a better story or a better role model to have prevalent in mainstream media.

Black Widow has proven to me that women can fight and be integral to success in the media without having to deal with being sexualized through wardrobe choices and combative roles. She serves as a reminder and an example to all the young, impressionable girls out there who want to fight or be superheroes or warriors. Natasha Romanoff is a testament to independent women, women who take charge of their own lives, missions, and destinies, and women who don't need anyone telling them what to do in order to succeed. Marvel has done a fantastic job of introducing strong female characters, sorry, warriors, into the franchise, but still. I, for one, can't wait for this story to be aired and for this feminist icon to receive the big screen time she deserves.

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Just Because You Can Throw A Ball Does Not Mean Your Rape Is Admissible

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

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I wish rape didn't seep into every sphere of my life. But, like ink, it has.

Interpersonally, my childhood friend was gang-raped by members of the University of North Texas basketball team. As uncovered in an investigation, her circumstances were not isolated, unlike what it says in UNT's initial statement. I am proud to know my friend. I am proud to stand with her. However, I am ashamed at the situation and the commonness of her suffering among students just like me, on college campuses.

Politically, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, promotes new fortifications for students accused of sexual assault. Basically, the rules would reduce the legal classification of harassment while offering protections for those accused of wrongdoing. In my emotions, I firmly believe in the American ideal of being "innocent until proven guilty". However, even in a crime so entrenched in emotions, I must look at facts. Facts say that the falsification rate of rape is the same as most other crimes, somewhere around 5%. Therefore, I believe that DeVos' proposal would tilt investigations in favor of the committer and significantly lessen the number of victims who would have the assurance to come forward and tell his/her story. In a campus-setting, where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted, her "solution" adds gasoline to a country-wide fire.

Educationally, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University received just six months in county jail after being found guilty of five felonies, all of which amount to him raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In defense of the light sentence, the judge said, "the more time (Turner spends) in jail, the more severe impact" on his future, who wanted to go to the Olympics. Never mind the future of the victim.

First off, rape culture, a sociological concept in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized, exists. And while it exists everywhere, I can only speak with any authority on the campus setting, where hook-up culture is both catalyzed and camouflaged. Here, the area that needs the most treatment is in the locker room, on the court, or on the field.

Student athletes are proportionally the greatest perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

While a tiny 3% of male students are athletes, male student athletes are responsible for almost a fifth of sexual assaults on campus. And that is just the events that are reported, (just so you know, about 3 out of 4 go unreported). However, the NCAA has no policy that lessens a student's athletic eligibility in the face of sexually violent behavioral patterns. If you have allowed these numbers to simmer in your mind, you can see that this is unacceptable.

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

Most experts make cultural and institutional arguments.

Culturally, student athletes are not seen as "normal" students – rather, they provide a service to the college. Where most students get something from the college, student athletes give to the college, and we should be so lucky to have them grace us with their presence. It is a part of the status quo: high-status students on campus are athletes, especially males who play the most popular sports, like football, basketball, or baseball. These students carry social privilege.

Obviously, athletes are not naturally ethically worse than other students. I am simply saying that absolutely no one is immune to the culture that surrounds him/her, and we have a weird culture.

On average, athletes are more likely than other students on campus to buy into the cross-cultural concept of robust masculinity, which, in extreme cases, can lead to increased sexual aggression. Don't just take it from a non-athlete like me. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA champion and a former UCLA basketball player, declared the cultural privilege from which he benefited.

"I'm especially aware of the culture of entitlement that athletes feel... they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong."

I am not going to sugarcoat the point that we all know well: football players are comparable to celebrities on campus, which has dangerous implications for a certain untouchability in mindsets.

Institutionally, colleges are as inclined to protect the perpetrator over non-athletic peers. A Senate report concluded that administrators tend to do three actions to protect their athletes, and therefore, their brand.

1. Higher-ups at the school discourage victims from reporting to police outside of the university. In this method, they let the campus police "handle it" and not report to less-biased city forces.

2. Admins downplay an assault's severity, making it less 'criminal', more unintentional and of an event to "move on from".

3. The athletic department can work with the administration and strategically delay proceedings while athletes finish their season.

If these three things are not enough as far as systemic ethical transgressions go, when athletes are found responsible for sexual assault, they may face small consequences.

Just to pull an infamous example from my home state of Texas, Baylor University continues to wrestle with how to deal with battery; I don't need to go over the sheer amount of claims that they were conscious and compliant to most allegations of assault involving their student-athletes.

So, not only is our mindset messed up, but the administration who is supposed to protect us is similarly bungled.

Obviously, athletes are not bad people, only people that are subject to their environment and protected by their talent. But crime is crime. The unnamed victim of Brock Turner said it well as she argued that being "an athlete at a university should not be an entitlement to leniency, but an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law" no matter your status.

Throwing a ball does not make someone above the rules.

Yes, I realize that my words have become trite. Scary articles, documentaries, and books about the sheer magnitude of sexual crime in college abound. But I see my seemingly-repetitive diction more as a reflection of our fallen collegiate system, rather than of myself.

With my article, I only ask that you keep fighting for victims like my childhood friend, for the classmate who sits next to you in lecture, for yourself. This institutional and social discrepancy of "athletics above all else" happens at more universities than I had the breath to mention.

Your first step is taking a searing examination at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape in the systematic pattern of protecting student athletes more than other students. The next steps follow naturally. Take part in the activism at your school, encourage survivors, and productively confront the problem. Fear not, the policies will change with your effort.

Politics aside, we are in a time for you to continue speaking the truth, even if your voice trembles.

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Independence Should Not Take Away A Woman's Femininity

Why is it that when a woman is extremely independent, it automatically cancels out her sensitive and gentle side?

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There is a running joke in my friend group about how I am the dominant person in relationships, and that I intimidate guys who are interested in me. If I am being completely honest, it is true.

I have a very strong and independent personality. I'm not a fan of people doing things for me that I feel I can do myself, like put together furniture or check the oil in my car. I ask my father to teach me how to do these things all the time, not because I plan to be single for the rest of my life, but because I don't like to depend on anyone to do things for me.

So why is it that this type of independence gets interpreted as "too manly" or unattractive? I completely understand that men are supposed to provide for and protect their families. In fact, I encourage all men to make that their goal when it comes to taking care of their family. What I don't understand is why that means women should dumb down their abilities to make the man feel superior.

Now don't get me wrong. When it comes to things like taking out the trash or changing a tire, yes, of course I would want my man to do it. All I'm saying is that it is okay for women to know how or want to do things on their own.

Another thing I notice is that women are expected to be emotional and wear our hearts on our sleeves.

That's not fair.

Anyone who knows me knows I am far from emotional. I am not a crier. I will not be in my feelings if we don't talk for a day. I don't like to talk about my personal life. I am just a very private person in general. Therefore, it is easy for me to keep my emotions out of things and not get attached to people.

These traits are too often considered "male traits." But there are plenty of women in the world who share these traits as well. It just means we need to be loved and cared for in a different way. This also means we need significant others who know how to respect, talk to, and deal with strong-minded individuals such as ourselves.

At the end of the day, everyone is different and has their own preferences and ideas. I just think strong independent women should not be stripped of their femininity because they can do a "man's job" better than a man can. Independent women need love too!

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