According to the epilogue of the film “Shame,” 53 percent of all domestic violence cases were reported by men. And yet we’re still living in a society where domestic abuse on males in intimate relationships are not only shrugged off, but aren’t even considered actual crimes by most people. Though society has built this idea that almost all domestic violence cases have been on women and children, men are often the abused that have to suffer through physical and mental abuse from their spouses.
“Shame” is a sad and very intelligent short drama based around a young man named Lance. Director Jennifer Irons stages the opening scene of a fight between Lance and his girlfriend. We’re not sure what is happening, but the immediate response is that Lance did something terrible, and is probably inflicting punishment on his girlfriend. Director Irons plays with our perception of sexual dynamics from the outset and then explores Lance’s situation with depth. Lance comes home from a date with scratches on his neck, and his mother is enraged. Not only has this frequency of abuse increased, but Lance is refusing to do anything about it. Even worse, Lance’s dad also refuses to make a big deal out of this situation despite Lance’s sadness.
The disturbing fact is that director Jennifer Irons plays the entire situation with pin point accuracy. Not only would the son be considered somewhat emasculated at the admission of being a victim of domestic violence, but his father would, whether intentionally or not, be reluctant to act on this violence due to the long held notion that the man is the dominant figure in a relationship. “Shame” touches on a very rarely explored angle of domestic crime in America, and shows how no matter what kind of man, they too can be helpless victims to their wife’s or girlfriend’s physical and emotional abuse. No matter what the sex, domestic violence is domestic violence.