Bleats

Here's Why James Van Der Beek Mentioning Miscarriage On TV Is So Important

We don't often hear from the fathers.

Every now and again, reality tv can get really, really real. Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek has been competing on the US version of Dancing With The Stars that’s airing at the moment, and has opened up about his wife’s miscarriage. 

In an October episode, James first announced that he and his wife were expecting their sixth child. Breaking the awful news during the video package before his performance on the most recent episode, he said:

“My wife Kimberly and I went through every expecting parent’s worst nightmare. We lost the baby.”

“You never know why these things happen, that’s what I’ve been telling my kids. All you know is that it brings you closer together, it breaks you open, it opens up your heart, it deepens your appreciation. It makes you more human.”

Miscarriage is a heartbreaking topic, and it’s only fairly recently that we’ve seen a shift in the perception that talking about it is taboo. 

In Australia, every single day 282 women will lose a pregnancy before 20 weeks. A quarter of women under 35 will have a miscarriage, and for pregnant women over 40 that statistic rises to half. Most women will go on to have a healthy baby afterwards, but almost a third of them will get clinical diagnosis of post-partum anxiety or postnatal depression after their next child.

James speaking out about miscarriage on Dancing With The Stars is really important for a number of reasons, but also because we don’t tend to hear from the fathers who have lost pregnancies very often at all – and certainly not on a prime time reality show. 

There is hardly any research on how men deal with miscarriages, but anecdotally we hear stories about how trying to be strong for their partner can mean men can forget to look after themselves. It was a big moment for James Van Der Beek to open up on TV, and hopefully it will mean that some men feel less alone.

The Sentencing Of Aiia Maasarwe's Killer Should Signify A Shift In Our Blame

It should have never happened.

On January 16th this year, Aiia Maasarwe’s body was found in a Melbourne street. She had been beaten with a metal pole, sexually assaulted, set on fire, and left for dead. She had just gotten off the tram, and was calling her sister when she was attacked. She was only 21.

A billboard along the street leading to the mosque in Aiia Maarsawe’s home town in Israel.
Credit: AAP Image/Tessa Fox

Yesterday, the man who murdered her, Codey Herrmann, was sentenced to 36 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2049 after serving 30 years of that sentence. He’ll be 51 years old by then.

We’ve heard this story time and time again. As of this morning, 58 Australian women have been murdered since the beginning of 2019. Aiia was the first victim  of violence for the year, but sadly she was definitely not the last. 

People gather for a vigil for Aiia Maasarwe on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne.
Credit: AAP Image/Stefan Postles

As well as those 58 women, 20 children across the country have been killed too. The youngest was a Victorian child who was only three months old. 

Standing outside court, Aiia’s dad Saeed Maasarwe told reporters that “our compass is not revenge. We think all the time, our mind, our compass is positive, is not negative”. 

“This is not our compass, this is not our focus, but to care for the society, for the people, for the ladies [to be able to] go out and go back home,” he said.

Saeed Maasarwe, the father of murdered exchange student, Aiia Maasarwe.
Credit: AAP Image/James Ross

He also said that he hoped their experience made authorities think more about preventing crimes rather than responding to them after they’ve already happened. 

The attack on Aiia was a crime of opportunity that never should have happened. It’s an important point about prevention, but we have so many organisations working to prevent situations like this that it’s sometimes easy to forget that they shouldn’t be the ones bearing any responsibility. Front line services do their absolute best with what they’re given, but they can’t hold any blame when tragedies like this happen.

People gather for a vigil for Aiia Maasarwe on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne.
Credit: AAP Image/Stefan Postles

We’re hearing more now about what the court was told about Herrmann’s life. He had apparently lead a life of “extreme physical and emotional depravation“, and had diagnoses for drug-induced psychosis and severe personality disorder. The judge described his life before the murder as full of “profound chaos and despair”. 

Codey Herrmann arrives at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne.
Credit: AAP Image/James Ross

Herrmann’s background was taken into consideration when he was sentenced, but it’s important that we don’t start speaking about these aspects of his life as if they’re an excuse. A lot of people have managed to get through horrible circumstances in their life without murdering a random woman walking home at night. 

People leave floral tributes where the body of Isreali student Aiia Maasarwe was found.
Credit: AAP Image/Ellen Smith

I never quite know how to wrap these articles up. I can’t say that I hope something like this never happens again, because we all know it’s just a matter of time. I can’t try and find a silver lining amongst it all, because everything involved in these cases are just a horrible tragedy. I can’t tell you to stay safe, because I shouldn’t have to tell anybody that. 

I think I’ll just say the same thing I said when the news of Aiias death first broke: Vale, Aiia Maasarwe. You deserved better.

The Complaints For Libra's Period Blood Ad Are Just Straight Up Wild

Guys, there are much bigger things to complain about.

Remember the Libra ad that dared to – gasp! – show period blood on tv? It was as simple as showing Libra products in scenarios like a young woman taking a bloody pad off of her underwear, a man buying pads at the shops, and a close-up shot of a woman’s legs in the shower with blood running down them.

Since its release, Ad Standards (the group that deals with all the complaints about ads and decides whether or not they are offensive) has copped over 600 complaints about the Libra ad, making it the most complained about ad of 2019 so far. The runner up is the trailer for Jordan Peele’s movie Us, which has 244 complaints made against it.

Complaints ranged from “distasteful”, “unnecessary”, and “offensive and inappropriate”, all the way through to somebody claiming that the ad was not appropriate for children. Apparently they forgot that children get periods.

Colour me shocked.

Someone else, who had clearly put way too much thought into this, lodged a complaint saying that:

“It is also extremely offensive and inappropriate to show young teenage girls, between the ages of 12 to 16, getting their period, with blood dripping down their leg and of them peeling off a period stained pad from their underwear. It appeals to pedophiles to see young girls in this manner and is exposing to young females and extremely dangerous for young girls.” 

Now I would be so bold as to as to say that the problem in that scenario is the gross dude perving on the ad, and not the ad itself, but maybe that’s just me.

Thankfully, Ad Standards seemed to agree. They’ve thrown out all the complaints, declaring that the ad wasn’t in breach of any guidelines.

So to the people who have been so horrified by a natural process that they decided to go to the effort to tell Ad Standards about why a period ad is “disgusting and demeaning to women,” why not get mad about things that are actually disgusting and demeaning to women?

Why not get mad about the fact that 48 Australian women and 16 Australian children have been murdered this year alone? The vast majority of those 48 women were related to their murderer. The youngest kid to lose their life violently was a three-month-old from Victoria.

Why not get mad about the fact that the national pay gap is currently at 14%? On average, women working full time earn $1,484.80 per week, compared to $1,726.30 for men.

Why not get mad about the fact that girls aged 10 to 14 are the age group that is most likely to have survived sexual violence in Australia? The next most likely group to have survived sexual violence is women aged 15 to 24.

Or, you could be honest with everyone and admit that you don’t actually care that much about the demeaning of women, you just don’t want to see period blood while you watch tv.

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