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I am not much of a consumer of pop culture. I rarely listen to music (I prefer silence). I don’t pay attention to what is on the bestseller list, but I do occasionally read books recommended or discussed on Facebook by writers in my network. I still own a flip phone, and I don’t have an iPad. I’m not addicted to movies or television either. I watch an episode of Orange is the New Black once a week, and at times I binge-watch the cop show Blue Bloods.  I haven’t been in a theater in over a year. So, when I tell you I watched Disney’s Maleficent this past weekend, please don’t be surprised that I am just getting around to it.

With all that being said, I loved the feminist twist of Maleficent. Sleeping Beauty was not saved by the prince on a white horse she was saved by the kiss of a faerie with a maternal-type love. It was a fantastic twist on a Disney classic. I told my niece, who is seventeen, and watched it with me, that I loved the fact that it was an “older” woman’s love that saved the princess instead of the kiss of a young prince. My niece told me that the movie, Frozen also had a character saved by the true love a woman, and in that case, it was the love of a sister.

As a woman who grew up with almost no other choices than a prince on a white horse, I am so happy to see this storyline change. I am sure the young girls growing up with other examples of true love, and heroines will have a bigger worldview than those of us who were raised that we would someday be swept off our feet by Prince Charming. I know women my age who still seem to be waiting for that prince to arrive so they can have that fairytale wedding and happy-ever-after.

I have been thinking about issues involving women for a very long time, but the movie Maleficent made me really curious about the mental health industry when it comes to both men and women.  In one article I read in the Guardian that women are 40% more likely to suffer from mental illness than men, and women tend to take action against themselves (eating disorders, cutting, etc.) while men tend to take action against their environment (substance abuse and anger problems).

Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States will be raped in their lifetime according to a New York Times article.

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused according to statistics. 

I know it isn’t the only contributing factor, but these statistics have to contribute to the higher numbers of women with mental health issues. We know that rape and childhood sexual abuse contribute to depression, PTSD, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, and suicide.

I don’t know how to change the horrifying statistics of child sexual abuse and rape, but I am hoping that if Hollywood continues to give us something besides a damsel in distress and a male to save her, that having examples of women saving women and women saving themselves will help women to be stronger, more independent and will give women positive role models on how to heal from trauma instead of turning on themselves by developing an eating disorder, self-injury, or even suicide.

Of course I wish the trauma that often causes someone to experience mental health issues didn’t exist. Can we work on that, please?

In the meantime, let’s buy products where females aren’t objects or victims and stop supporting magazines that sexualize teenage girls.

Every dollar you spend is a vote for something, please vote for less violence against women and more positive role models for our young girls – their lives may literally depend on it.