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Does the #MeToo Movement Need the Power of Celebrity to Survive?

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Source: Prentsa Aldundia, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Over the past six months, the media and entertainment industries have been thrown into tumult by the series of allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent #MeToo movement.

At first, it was just a hashtag, but now, it is a full-fledged social justice campaign with concrete policy goals.

For the entertainment industry, part of the success of #MeToo can clearly be linked to the “celebrity factor,” that is, people are more likely to care about the movement when it relates to people they know, or think they know.

It makes sense: the drama of watching the movement impact more and more celebrities, victims and abusers alike, was shocking and not unlike watching an investigative drama movie unfold.

But going forward, the #MeToo movement seems to be approaching a wall. So far in the financial industry, there have been no high-profile men to step down as a result of #metoo allegations, despite wide scrutiny that there is a large gender pay gap among high-level executives and rumors of sexual harassment.

The question is: how can the #MeToo movement succeed in an environment unlike the entertainment and media industries, one that doesn’t have celebrities to wear Time’s Up pins?

The problems of sexual assault and harassment are systemic, not a phenomenon specific to one environment. These toxic behaviors are happening in every other industry, and in fact, could be much more pervasive in finance, advertising, tech, literary communities, or other traditionally masculine spaces.

“The thing is, #MeToo is making a difference when it involves prominent figures—people with clout or money enough to be considered newsworthy. It is not going to reach the predators who aren’t headline-worthy on their own,” Shauna Osborn argues.

About a month ago, the story broke that Sherman Alexie, beloved Native author of Young Adult literature and short stories, had been accused of sexual misconduct by over 10 women. It doesn’t come as much of a shock that Alexie, who is a pseudo-celebrity, thanks to his important work drawing attention to Native communities across the U.S., would be one of the first to be “taken down” by the movement.

There have been a few other Young Adult authors to be accused of sexual misconduct, including Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why), and James Dashner (Maze Runner).

Children’s literature seems like the natural next place for the #MeToo movement to reach, particularly because of how close it is to Hollywood; the works of these writers have recently been turned into Netflix series and a successful film trilogy.

Despite the advances #MeToo has made in children’s literature, there’s still a gap in women (and men) to come forward with abuse allegations in literary fiction, in addition to the publishing industry. In publishing, people in high-powered positions are able to radically influence the literary scene.

Despite women making up roughly 80% of the publishing industry, 51% of managers are men, and many women have anonymously come forward with harrowing accounts of sexual violence in the workplace.

“I was pushed against walls, cornered in hallways, and groped under my clothes at author dinners. In an effort to minimize the damage to our professional environment I brushed it off. When a coworker encouraged me to come forward, I felt I would be the one they fired.

I’ve worked in Hollywood, and I never experienced the level of assault and harassment that I experienced here,” a woman who works in marketing at a major publishing house reports.

Additionally, many women in publishing reported that there was no place to file a complaint even if they wanted to.

Much of the work that goes into developing a successful career goes far beyond activities in the office, including networking events, book fairs, and meetings with authors, where it’s extremely difficult to keep an eye on the behavior of men in positions of power.

Source: Mark Morgan, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

In order for #MeToo to gain traction in more industries, policy changes might be the first step. When the consequences for this kind of behavior are clearly established, the ripples might make their way towards breaking down harmful male entitlement and rape culture in the workplace.

Narrative can be another valuable tool for humanizing victims and calling attention to problems in an industry, which also doesn’t need the “celebrity factor” to succeed.

The more people who come forward, even if their voices aren’t as loud, the closer we as a society are to dismantling male power structures and widespread abuse in the workplace.

By: Emily Odion

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Halloween is Here-What to expect of it Amid the Pandemic?

Abrar Shah

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Two halloween jac-o-lanterns smiling and glowing in the dark outside of a house

Halloween this year will undeniably be different than in previous years. A significant number of young children across the country will be disappointed. Others will eagerly wait for the holiday to return to form next year, if even possible.

There is one clear takeaway from this year though. You should simply not conduct Halloween celebrations outdoors right now, for your own good. People are responsible for others now more than ever so it is a good time to reassess what holidays are truly important. 

Most people in the world are not fond of the pandemic, and rightfully so. Halloween arguably will take place in hell this year, since seeing a person without a costume in the current climate is more fear-inducing than a person with one. 

Since Halloween is in hell, there is no better time to mention one of Germany’s finest power-metal acts, Helloween. One of the pumpkin men’s most well-known songs is “I Want Out,” a strong summary of the average person’s feelings about the pandemic.

Of course, it is not impossible to celebrate Halloween right now. All indoor activities can simply remain as they are. People who interact with each other frequently enough would not have any additional concerns. 

For people who are fond of horror films, this year would arguably be the best Halloween possible. They can stay in and watch as many films back to back as they could possibly want. Plus, the great thing is that they are not putting anyone in danger unless of course there are a hundred people in the same room.

If you do consider having an army of individuals, AMC’s theater renting plan may be just for you. Many horror films are still meant to be savored on the big screen. 

Trick-or-treating this year for the casually-minded individual should be a no-go. Naturally, college students should not really see themselves performing the activity this many years later unless they truly believe they have an unseverable connection with it, perhaps because of younger siblings. 

The Halloween crisis this year brings up certain questions that you ought to ask yourself regularly, but are necessary to consider in the post-COVID world. Some of the following questions may seem awfully simple, but you’ll quickly realize the many things they can apply to, and make you reflect accordingly.

  • When was the last time you performed a task within its normal timeframe?
  • When was the last time you had to pick one activity over the other because of how much time other things were taking?
  • How many times have you spent consecutive holidays with the same people, and will that be the same this year?
  • Are there any activities you have done last year that have fallen out of favor this year?
  • Has the extended period of time at home made being home less appealing?
  • Has your household successfully maintained an olive branch for the duration of this year? In other words, have your family members kept the peace? 
  • What were some of your most important realizations over the past several months?
  • Do you consider all the sides to the story (If you’re an Extreme fan, the answer would perhaps be three)?
  • Have you developed any new habits (or even lost any)?
  • Have you had any major changes in perspective on standardized, cultural, or other issues?
  • Have you convinced yourself that a certain thing is more special than it once seemed?

These questions can go on and on. The important part is whether you can have answers to engage yourself with. 

The key idea left for you to consider is whether you will gain something from celebrating Halloween this year, whether it be in the standard fashion or tailoring your festivities in accordance with the current circumstances of the world.

Yes, the holidays only come once a year, but there is no better Halloween to decide how much you really care about this particular holiday going forward in your life, and whether it still brings as much joy as you may have had at a younger age.

Some people will challenge themselves to find a new way to enjoy something. Others will not let themselves be stopped from indulging in their pleasures. And then, of course, there are those who nod it off as another day in the week.

At the end of the day, you have to plan to do what you believe is best for you. You need to determine how meaningful it can possibly be, as well as how you would feel without doing it. The choice is yours, as it always has been, but will you make the right choice?

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3 Ways to Alleviate Germaphobia

Ivonne Scaglione

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Man sitting against a wall while wearing jeans, boots, and a sweater, looking. out at a large model of a virus

Germaphobia is the persistent and excessive fear of germs. As you know, we call them germophobic. Anxiety and germaphobia are inextricably connected but not necessarily the same diagnosis. So, what crosses the line between someone who is a germophobe and someone who is a little anxious about germs?

If we look at history, we can see that germs can wipe out entire populations. Besides global warming, another end-of-the-world scenario is an uncontrollable pandemic. But, so far, no pandemic has been even close to exterminating us. So far, we were able to control the virus and its expansion. And so far, we had our happy ending: humanity continued to prevail.

Around the 1920s, yellow fever created anxiety about hot humid weather and its mosquitos. Yet, with ingenuity, fish were used to eat the mosquitos’ eggs. Eventually, a vaccine was developed, and the disease was controlled up to this day. H.I.V is labeled as a pandemic and was controlled with medicines.

It’s not a death sentence anymore and people continue to live with the disease. Anthrax was controlled with an antibiotic named Cipro. Throughout history, there have been many deadly pandemics, including the swine flu and the avian flu, but nothing was more serious than the Spanish influenza of 1918. It killed at least 20 million people. Still, after this pandemic faded away, the homo sapiens continued to survive and rule the world.

During these historical pandemics, humans were witnessing their loved ones getting sick and dying. Naturally, the fear of invisible murderer pathogens began to possess people. However, some level of anxiety during a pandemic is normal. It can help.

Some level of anxiety reminds us to protect ourselves by being prepared. For example, using antibacterial soaps. For anxious people, these products not only promise to clean your hands but promise to destroy the troublesome germs. This is a serious growing business. In 1998, the profit for soap was about $400 million. It’s much higher now due to the pandemic.

A person washing their hands with soap under a faucet of running water
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According to the DSM-5, anxiety is the anticipation of the future while fear is an emotional response to threat. The latter creates a fight or flight response while anxiety is associated with hypervigilance about imminent danger. Avoiding touching doorknobs, public surfaces, using sanitizers, washing groceries, and keeping a distance from strangers without masks are all part of being cautious during these times. This doesn’t make you a person with a serious anxiety problem or a germophobe. Germaphobia occurs when there is excessive fear and anxiety with the thought of coming into contact with germs.

Under the DSM-5, Germaphobia would be under the category of specific phobia. Like the extreme fear of spiders or heights, there is a severe fear of germs. Phobias are usually characterized by overestimating the enemy. A germophobic will not be satisfied with only washing hands while singing the Happy Birthday song. Other criteria presented in the DSM-5 is avoidance. Germaphobia will cause impairment in different areas of functioning such as work or social activities.

For example, a woman who misses her meeting at work due to persistent handwashing in a public bathroom where she takes a long period of time attempting not to touch anything. Certainly, so far, we can’t stop pandemics from originating in some parts of the world, but we can learn to cope with the extreme fear of germs or germaphobia.

These are three ways you can alleviate germaphobia:

1. Be positive and hopeful

People with severe anxiety think catastrophically. Under any circumstances in which they are exposed to their fear, they will think of the worst possible scenario. A person with germaphobia will avoid any uncomfortable situation completely because of “catastrophic” and invasive thoughts. When we find ourselves in a situation that causes us anxiety, it’s important to have a positive attitude. When our brains receive this signal, it becomes easier to manage anxiety. Also, people with germaphobia are hopeless about the future. Therefore, they would rather avoid being exposed to their fear at all. Being hopeful can help us recognize that we have control of the situation by having a plan and taking care of ourselves. But, most of all, being hopeful makes us realize that not everything has negative outcomes. Catastrophic thoughts are irrational and untrue.

A woman in bed, wearing a grey sweater and shorts, with her hands over her eyes, under her covers, crying
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2. Meditate

Due to the rates for mental disorders in the western world being high, many Americans now turn to meditation for mental health. Even though mediation comes from Buddhism, any religion is welcomed to practice it. Throughout the years, meditation has become universal and people with different religious backgrounds practice it. The purpose of meditation is to allow you to look deep into yourself and stay in the present. It’s a way to connect with your deeper self. Spending that time of self-compassion will allow you to understand better your anxiety which leads to manage it better. Buddhism has harsh truths like pain is inevitable. This religion believes that life is suffering and accepting emotional pain will help you alleviate it. Instead of avoiding suffering, learn to deal with it. When you begin to surrender to it, you begin to accept it. The battle against fear and pain is over: Nirvana.

A woman in a green and white patterned shirt and pants, sitting on a dock on a body of water, in a yoga pose
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3. Stay grounded in the present

People with germaphobia and severe anxiety tend to live in the future. They are constantly vigilant of their present foreseeing a catastrophic future when exposed to their phobia. This will trigger irrational thoughts about suffering when it’s not happening. In other words, germophobes will suffer before something happens or they will suffer for what will never happen. It’s important to shift your mind to the present and stay grounded in it. Tell the catastrophic mind: “I am here, I am safe.” And, when you aren’t as safe as you would rather be, say: “I am still here breathing; this too will pass, and I’ll be OK.”

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How the Coronavirus is Shaping the 2020 Election

Ian Wentzlaff

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Elderly woman in a white long sleeve shirt, mask, carrying a black purse with her as she walks outside

2020, a year already destined to be recorded as one of the most bizarre times in recent history, adds another layer of intrigue in November: the presidential election will take place in the midst of a deadly pandemic sweeping across the globe.

Voters across the country are entering uncharted territory this fall; individual health concerns about contracting coronavirus will lead many to vote by mail for the first time.

Coronavirus has afflicted nearly every part of the world, but the United States in particular has felt its ravaging effects. The U.S. has accounted for over 200 thousand of the 1.15 million deaths related to coronavirus worldwide.

Another way of thinking about this: one out of every five people killed by the virus was an American citizen. This statistic weighs heavily on the minds of voters in the upcoming election, as the decision to vote traditionally or by mail needs to be made.

Microscopic image focused on a virus
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There is much confusion surrounding mail-in ballots, and rumors about the likelihood of voter fraud abound. The reality is that voter fraud of any kind is extremely rare in the United States. This extends to mail-in voting.

Causing more confoundment is the fact that voting regulations vary from state to state. Places like Hawaii, where mail-in ballots have been the norm for some time, will presumably have little trouble implementing this method again in this election.

On the flip side, a state like Alabama that only allows voters to register for absentee ballots may find the increased number of mailed-in votes difficult to process.

Yet another wrinkle in the mail-in ballot complex is the necessitation of so-called secrecy envelopes that are required by some states. Further, any vote cast via mail without a said envelope, which are sometimes called “naked ballots,” may not be counted.

However, the need for secrecy envelopes ceased to exist when mail-in ballots began being counted at a separate location from the public polling places, thus eliminating the need for secrecy.

These regulations may deter some voters from opting for a mail-in ballot this election. However, others may fear that the risk of contracting a deadly virus is too great at public polling locations, where thousands of people will congregate.

The virus’s recent resurgence in Europe has led many experts to predict that the United States will also see a spike in the number of cases very soon. This second wave may hit just in time for the election, and that unfortunate timing only adds to the existing fears of voters.

In this upcoming election, no matter which political party you align with or which candidate you prefer in the White House, vote in whichever way makes you the most comfortable.

If the risk of contracting coronavirus frightens you, know that all states are required to allow absentee ballots, and most states support general mail-in voting. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s voting regulations, and most importantly: VOTE!

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