Sir Patrick Stewart demands attention for a cause he cares about. Image from tv.msnbc.com.
This man commands a lot of power. He’s a Shakespearean actor who’s earned international fame from a campy science fiction series that ran for seven years. Nerds around the world have chosen, for nearly three decades, to set him on a pedestal for his talent and sheer classiness. And unlike politicians, he doesn’t have a true career investment in maintaining good public opinion (or at least a majority vote).
In the past week, all kinds of crazy news has broken on the feminist front:
- America’s Fox News went berserk over the revelation that women are the breadwinners in 40% of U.S. households.
- Conservatives in Afghanistan blocked a bill to protect women from intimate partner violence.
- YouTube commentators shamed a generation by protesting against a Cheerios ad featuring a biracial couple.
- Texas acquitted a man who shot a prostitute over $150.
Given all of this, there are 3 reasons why Sir Patrick Stewart is my hero.
1. There’s something about his voice – the precise accent, the rich tones – that commands my attention.
2. This video (YouTube):
3. Because he continues to loudly and firmly advocate against intimate partner violence.
And this video shows it: Sir Patrick Stewart resoundingly affirming that there is never an excuse for intimate partner violence.
I just about died with happiness when I saw this clip. I definitely shed several tears.
- Because I work with adolescent boys whose experiences are often reflected in Sir Patrick’s succinct words: “Because I couldn’t save my mother.”
- Because, far too often, we allow alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, gender roles, and more to become excuses for an abuser’s behavior.
- Because we forget that it is the abuser, not the victim, who needs to be held accountable.
What’s amazing to me isn’t simply that Sir Patrick shared his past. This is a challenge many never overcome. What’s amazing to me is how much work this man puts into connecting with international organizations. How much support he offers national ones. In a global community where we continue to struggle with the affirmation of a person’s right to live free of violence and discrimination (see above links), we have a very powerful voice for good.
Sir Patrick is receiving some criticism because of the attention he’s gotten for a few words. “He’s not the advocate getting called to the hospital in the middle of the night,” they say. Or, “He doesn’t run a safe house. He doesn’t go to court with victims or do their therapy. Why should he get the credit?”
Sometimes it’s not about whether or not we get credit. Sometimes it’s about whether or not we’re heard. In a sea of public voices clamoring against women’s rights, we have one of the kings of the nerd world – an often-underestimated percentage of the population – affirming that violence is a choice. Violence is learned. Violence can be stopped.
We all need to keep speaking. We all need to keep fighting. But sometimes, when the going is tough, it makes all the difference to be able to focus on the goodness of a man like Patrick Stewart, who’s using his past to save lives.