Stop Normalizing Sexual Assault In Teen Movies

Happy International Women's Day, Now Can We Please Stop Normalizing Sexual Assault In Teen Movies?

It's 2019 and people are still confused about what sexual assault is, the last thing we need is young girls expecting sexual assault from an idealization of teen dramas and rom-coms.

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This week I was perusing Netflix when I happened upon the 2016 film "The Edge of 17," written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and starring Hailee Steinfeld.

As a 19-year-old girl, I am still very much a fan of teenage romantic comedies and all of the cliches that come with them. "The Edge of 17" is about the struggles of high-schooler Nadine when her best, and only, friend begins dating her loathed brother. Although the film stands above many teenage dramas or romantic comedies, it still features a plethora of stereotypical scenes and characterizations.

One of the first stereotypes shown in the film is the dreaded death of the main character's favorite parent. Nadine has to wrestle with the challenges of growing up without the parent who understood her the best: her father. Of course, the main premise of the movie, a best friend falling in love with a sibling, is one that has been seen and done many times before as well.

As I was watching "The Edge of 17," I could feel the direction the story was moving toward because of those teen movie cliches. Maybe it is because I have not seen a stereotypical teen movie in so long, but I have never noticed such a movie being as predictable as this one was. I still enjoyed it, though.

It was so predictable that I was not surprised when Nadine's revered boy-crush turns about to be a rotten, disgraceful human being. I expected him to kiss her without her consent and I expected him to try to force her to have sex with him.

This consistently happens in teen dramas and romantic comedies because these grody guys serve as a strong juxtaposition to the nice fellow that the main character will inevitably end up with at the film's finish.

This is precisely what happens in "The Edge of 17," as well as in other films. One of my favorite teen movies is "Easy A". and the main character Olive has to deal with a situation similar to Nadine's in "The Edge of 17." A boy asks her out on a date and kisses her consistently even when she tells him to stop. This also happens in "Eighth Grade" when Kayla, a young girl in eighth grade, is driven home by a senior in high school. The boy takes his shirt off and tries to initiate a sexual situation by forcing Kayla to take her own shirt off. Then, when she refuses and they sit in awkward, palpable silence he explains that he was trying to help her, that he wanted to make sure that she would be experienced sexually in high school. But, "Eighth Grade" and "Easy A" re-instill hope in the viewer as both Kayla and Olive end up with their destined nice fellow.

Until I watched "The Edge of 17," I did not realize how common it is for teenage films to present sexual assault.

Teenage films are normalizing sexual assault to young girls and teenagers who idealize the lives of the main characters presented in the films.

On the one hand, sexual assault is not an uncommon occurrence in our society. In the United States, one in three women has experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. One in five women will be raped at some point in their life, and women between the ages of 18 and 24 are 3 times more likely to experience sexual assault.

So, it could be argued that teenage films are not normalizing sexual assault, but are simply presenting the truth.

However, sexual assault is not an issue that is clearly understood by younger women in high school and college and I think that teenage films worsen that lack of understanding.

Watching these films a girl could be led to expect some form of sexual assault or to treat such instances of sexual assault casually as if they do not matter or are not much of an issue. A girl could also be led to assume that to meet someone who will genuinely love and treat her well she will have to struggle with sexual assault first.

It is important to educate younger women on what sexual assault is and how to recognize it, but I think that we can do that without causing them to expect sexual assault. Education on sexual assault needs to happen before college. Women need to know that sexual assault should not be normal or expected. If a woman is in a situation or relationship where she is experiencing sexual assault, then she needs to be able to recognize that what she is experiencing is wrong before she endures it for the duration of a relationship.

Happy International Women's Day, let's try to treat ladies a little more kindly in 2019.

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The Psychology Within Alice In Wonderland

Can you guess which mental disorders each character of Alice in Wonderland has?
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In light of the sequel, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," recently debuting, I decided to re-watch the 2010 prequel "Alice in Wonderland" when I noticed something I hadn’t before. Maybe some of you have picked up on it as well while others may think my thoughts are unfounded. However you may perceive it, I feel there’s something truly beautiful about the movie that I felt compelled to share.

The beauty I see in this movie is stems from director Tim Burton, his writers', as well as the producers’ ability to inadvertently shed light on multiple mental disorders, alluding them throughout the movie via main characters. Don’t believe me? Maybe dialogue that is used several times throughout the movie can attest to my theory:

“Have I gone mad?”

“I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers.

But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

However nowhere is it said that these were their intentions. My dissecting and diagnosing of fictional characters is not intended to offend anyone with said disorder. It is merely a theory that I believe those responsible for this movie have indirectly beautified mental illnesses and portrayed them in such lovely ways that the naked eye does not notice right away. It’s all truly beautiful once you view it in the same positive and analytical perspective I’ve stumbled upon.

Alice: Schizophrenia, Nightmare Disorder (Dream Anxiety Disorder), Psychosis

Alice is arguably in my opinion one of the most interesting characters portrayed. Rather than the confused child that wanders through a new, slightly mad unexplainable world in the 1951 cartoon film, Alice is described early on in the movie to stress concern over a reoccurring dream she had been having since she was young: a dream of her falling down the rabbit hole into a backwards, wonder of a world that she believed only existed in her imagination. This is an example of nightmare disorder, otherwise known as dream anxiety disorder.

Individuals suffering from DAD will have reoccurring nightmares or night terrors, portraying themselves in a situation that jeopardizes their life or personal safety, and usually occurs during the REM stages of sleep.

Animals that speak, a cat that smiles and evaporates into thin air, a hookah-smoking caterpillar, cake that makes you grow and a drink that can make you shrink; examples of Alice’s dreams until one day when she could not “wake herself up” and realizes it was more than a dream, and that these creatures were real. This is a sign of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is defined as abnormal social behavior and failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, and hearing voices, all of which Alice exudes. Lack of social engagement is also a symptom, which can explain the inability for Alice to converse with her mother, Hamish, Hamish’s mother, etc. in the beginning of the movie. She is constantly misunderstood and chastised for her odd comments and thoughts. It is also common for individuals afflicted with schizophrenia to experience hallucinations and delusions, for example, believing you are living in a backwards world such as Wonderland. Overall, Alice exudes the symptoms of psychosis, which is caused by schizophrenia. Psychosis can be defined as an abnormality of the mind, which causes a “loss of reality.”

Mad Hatter: Bipolar disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In my opinion, Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter in this film was multidimensional and layered with expression in comparison to other depictions. Mad Hatter explains halfway through the film that the Red Queen attacked his village area during a party gathering and set fire to the houses and took over as a vicious leader from that day on. This sparks his angry flashbacks when Alice often urges him to snap out of the reoccurring haunting visions. In these instances, you can associate these flashbacks with PTSD.

Individuals with PTSD have overcome a traumatic occurrence, such as a victim of war or rape. PTSD is basically a neurological reminder in the brain, giving the individual reoccurring nightmares (or even throughout their day) of the same or similar instances, random bursts of anger, heart palpitations, etc.

The Mad Hatter is depicted in this version of Alice in Wonderland with bipolar disorder tendencies. The Hatter is often gloomy and depressed over the way “Underland” is due to the Red Queen’s reign. In some occasions, however, the Hatter seems to be going through manic episodes, both happy and blabbering, jumping from topic to topic talking a mile a minute. This is where the Hatter displays symptoms of bipolar disorder, also defined as a manic depressive disorder. Mixed episodes often occur for someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder resulting in mood swings and difficulties with impulse control, which can explain the Hatter’s bursts of anger and confusion.

Absolem the caterpillar: Possible Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), Grandiose delusions

I use the word “possible” in analyzing Absolem because of the notorious argument that Alice in Wonderland is about drug usage. In every version of Alice in Wonderland that I can recall, the caterpillar is always smoking. There have been arguments as to what exactly he is smoking. Some believe it to be cannabis, although deemed unpopular of the time period when Lewis Carroll wrote these pieces, or opium due to Carroll’s own rumored personal usage of the drug. If, in fact, the caterpillar is smoking something a little too strong, one could argue that he could be suffering from HPPD, considering his constant questioning of what is currently happening. HPPD is unlikely but not impossible, yet grandiose delusions fits best for the witty caterpillar.

GD is a good fit due to Absolem’s belief that he is a prophet of Wonderland, and the fact that he solely speaks in riddles. Alice can never quite make out what he says, or rather, what he means. A common symptom of GD is the belief of omnipotence and egoism: an exaggerated belief of self-worth, something the caterpillar definitely exudes.


The Red Queen: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

Although technically we are not rooting for the Red Queen throughout the movie, she is definitely one of the most comedic, interesting love-to-hate character. Angry that she was not the favored daughter by her parents due to her quick ill temper and obscenely massive head, the Red Queen takes over “Wonderland” and turns it upside down into a depressing world, dubbed “Underland” in which all characters are miserable due to her cruelty.

The queen’s “large head” ties in with NPD. Often times if one is considered self-absorbed, they are said to have a “big head”. The definition of NPD is a personality disorder characterized by “exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others”. Often times this disorder is associated with both arrogance and egotism, but also jealousy. The Red Queen constantly wonders why the people of Wonderland choose to adore the White Queen, her sister, over her, much like her parents did years ago. Nevertheless, the Red Queen thinks very highly of herself, pampering herself with all the very best and nothing less.

PPD also comes into play with the Red Queen as evident by her everlasting paranoia and suspicion that someone is out to get her. “Off with their head” is the most common phrase used by the queen in this movie, threatening to persecute anyone who defies her, even in small instances, such as the frog servant who stole a piece of food when starved. The queen has a “generalized mistrust” for others, convinced someone in her radius will defy her in someway.

The White Queen: Perfectionism

There’s no doubt that the White Queen is everyone’s favorite of the queens, due to her daintiness and tranquility within her reign prior to her evil sister taking over Wonderland. The queen, however, seems to be suffering from Perfectionism. The White Queen cannot participate in the Frapjous’ Day due to her vow of never harming a creature, however, it is mentioned that she has the desire to on multiple occasion. She also grows tired of being dainty and tranquil, and actually breaks “character”, when the hound reaches her castle to give her news of the Red Queen. It can be argued that the White Queen has a diagnosis of Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is defined as a disorder in which the person's “striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations”. This is consistent with the White Queen’s dedication to being the queen everyone in Wonderland desires; in their eyes she must be the complete opposite of her evil sister.


The White Rabbit: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The White Rabbit is one of the most iconic characters and is affiliated with Alice in Wonderland, in each depiction. Hopping speedily away, he is first introduced to Alice before she falls down the hole into Wonderland. Carrying his clock, pointing hastily with worry in his eyes, the white rabbit draws Alice in because he believes she is the one to defeat the Red Queen.

A lot of people suffer with anxiety, so this “diagnosis” could be considered easy to detect. GAD can cause twitching, restlessness, insomnia, and agitation to name just few of the many symptoms, all of which the white rabbit exude. Nervous that he has brought the wrong Alice to Wonderland and that the Red Queen will prevail, the white rabbit is especially anxious.


The March Hare: Tourette’s Disorder, Tic Disorder

The March Hare, although quite creepy at first glimpse, is actually one of the most popular characters for younger kids who have seen this film; his gibberish language and sudden movements register in children’s mind as playful.

The March Hare, however, seems to be suffering with Tourette’s disorder or tic disorder. Both Tourette’s and tic disorder are disorders that cause the afflicted to have severe “tics” or involuntary movements and/or Coprolalia (sudden blurting of words). This is why the Hare constantly throws utensils at the tea party and blurts nonsense.


Tweedledee and Tweedledum: Shared Psychotic Disorder, ADD

The twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum share sentences, movements, and even thoughts. Constantly finishing each other’s sentences, you’d believe it is a sort of “twin telepathy”. However, this can be explained by shared psychotic disorder, or folie à deux, translated from French as “madness of two”. SPD is defined as “a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another”.

It can also be argued that the twins suffer from ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Considering they can never have a thought to themselves, and often find it hard to concentrate on one thought, ADHD suits them. They jump from thought to thought and find it hard to focus, which is a common occurrence from those diagnosed with ADHD. They fidget and squirm and sometimes blurt out inappropriate comments, which is what Alice was trying to avoid when they noticed her in the Red Queen’s castle posing as Um from Umbridge.


The Dormouse: Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

This little character you can’t help but adore with her outrageous spunkiness and more-than-often short temper. On multiple occasions, Mallymkun draws her sword angrily at Alice and other characters whenever confronted. For instance, when Alice asks for the Bandersnatch’s eye back to help retrieve the Vorpal Sword, instead of complying, Mallymkun draws her sword and shouts.

Everyone gets angry, however being angry does not mean you have IED. IED, or Intermittent Explosive Disorder, is a behavioral disorder in which the individual experience explosive fits of rage, anger, and violence for unidentified reasons, sometimes for no reason at all. Hard to diagnose, IED can be confused with other mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, or just regular everyday anger.

Again, I am no doctor. I am not qualified to diagnose anyone with mental disorders, and I cannot suggest that this somewhat of a conspiracy theory is actually real. These observations are simply my analytical dissection of a movie I deem beautiful. In my eyes, it is an ode to mental and behavioral illnesses, depicting them with a certain loveliness. The mind is beautiful, no matter what complications.





Cover Image Credit: thebarnumeffect.blogspot.com

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Periods Can Be Complicated, But How You Take Care Of Yourself Shouldn’t Be

Your period care should be easy, period.

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Moon day.

That time of the month.

Menstruation.

Your Period.

Ladies. We can all agree that our periods, depending on how your body works, can be super complicated. You have an entire list of things that can go wrong while you are menstruating and it's about a mile long. To list a few things that plague that majority of us women are well, the obvious bleeding, the cramps from hell, breakouts, mood swings, bloating, ruined underwear.

If any of those things haunt you for about a week or more every month, then I am not here to tell you that there is some magic pill to stop it all (Because we all know Birth control only does so much when it comes to weight gain, hormones, etc). No, I am here to let you know that just because you are on your period and it's complicated as hell, the way you take care of your body doesn't have to be.

Also to be clear I'm not trying to sell you on this whole crunchy approach either, where you ditch your sanitary products and paint with your period blood, that's more BuzzFeed's thing. I just want to let you know that if you don't like aspirin/Tylenol for your cramps you've got other options!

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's tackle the main portion of what we as women mostly face during this time of the month, the bleeding! Now, just in case we have anyone where who doesn't know too much about what's actually going on down there, the run down in simple terms is your vagina likes to practice having babies.

Though, obviously, if you haven't had sex, more specifically unprotected sex (or any other way of artificial insemination) your egg, that dropped from your ovaries doesn't stick to the uterine wall, and then once the cycle has ended and there is no baby, the walls that formed begin to break down. Thus you bleed. Obviously, it's a bit more complicated than just that, but you get the gist.

So, no doubt in my mind when you were introduced to sexual education in school, to help manage your bleeding, you were introduced to a Pad or Tampon. Probably something from the Always brand, well, I'm not "coming at you" if you love these kinds of products, I mean they are what I used when I first got my period. What bothered me growing up thinking that these were my only choices. Over the last few years, more specifically after I suffered from TSS symptoms after using a tampon, I've taken a deeper dive into products that steer clear from the traditional route.

AKA there are cleaner alternatives to overly pushed branded sanitary products we all know today that leave out harmful toxins and ingredients, just to make your period "smell/feel" better. Plus, a lot of these options are cheaper than the regular name brand. These brands create sanitary products that use no more than five natural ingredients.

The Honest Co.

L. (Chlorine Free)

Lola

If using pads and tampons isn't the route for you, there are also other products that are toxic ingredients free and eco-friendly, like the menstrual cups.

If you suffer from cramps during your period, you know how impossible it seems to go about your day. The media, your family and friends and even your doctors will tell you that the best solution for your cramps would be to take some kind of medication. While, there is nothing wrong with opting in for your Advil, or Tylenol, it's best to know that before you treat your symptoms with hard medicine, that there are other ways around it that don't have serious side effects.

The first tip is to regulate your diet with foods that help alleviate cramping. Introduce, bananas, and lemons into your system before your cycle begins. Banana is loaded with magnesium, which is great for muscle relaxation, while lemons introduce vitamin C, a key vitamin that helps your body absorb the iron from your foods. Iron is important for your body during this time, due to the fact that your body is losing quite a bit of blood.

If you haven't heard of heat compression, then you need to get on this next tip now. Heat compression has been used to help sooth cramping for years. Studies have found that using a heating pad, patch or some kind of container with fluid at 104°F (40°C) was as effective as taking ibuprofen. If you don't have a hot water bottle or heating pad, take a warm bath or use a hot towel on the areas where you are noticing the pain. You can find these products on Amazon or at your local Target, CVS or grocery store.

Mood swings can be extremely overpowering when it comes to our periods. It's something that either you go through, or you don't. If you have ticked off yes, then here are a few things you can to help regulate your body's hormones to get your mood in check.

Start with multivitamins like magnesium vitamin B, and calcium D. Magnesium as mentioned before not only helps alleviate cramps, but it supports your hormones, which hello, in case you haven't been following along controls PMS. Vitamin B and (c) D help reduce your estrogen levels back down to a more "normal" state. This just means, the excess estrogen your body produces during this time of the month, makes you go through PMS, along with other symptoms like cramping and migraines. These Vitamins can be found Amazon or by going to your local apothecary. Places like Target and your local grocery store also carry these vitamins close to their pharmacy aisles.

Though alternative care and knowledge for your periods is a viable option, the best care and instructions for more severe symptoms should come from your OB/GYN or your regular physician.

With the knowledge you now have over alternative care for your period, I can only hope you take the power back from not only your period but from the "norms" of what your period care should be. Take a stand for a cleaner more natural period care and start paying attention to what you are doing to your body.

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