Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Serious talk about serious subjects

Warning: This post includes talk about rape, bullying, slut shaming, and the show "13 Reasons Why." If any or all of these subjects are uncomfortable for you, please feel free to stop reading now.
If you haven't seen the series, "13 Reasons Why," and you plan to, this post will have some spoilers. You might want to come back to this after you've watched the show.

A couple of weeks ago, Sean wanted to show me something on Netflix. We watched the first episode of the series, "13 Reasons Why," together. He proceeded to watch the rest of it on his own, and I spent several days trying to find the time to finish it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, it focuses on a high school, and specifically a group of students and their interactions and choices. Ultimately, the main character, Hannah, commits suicide, and we know that right away. She records herself on cassette tapes explaining the reasons why she felt that it was her only option.

At first I was concerned that the show was going to glorify suicide, and that the girl would be seen as a sort of martyr for her cause. It didn't do that, in my opinion. Though, since I've began the series, I've seen social media posts from others who believe that it sends the wrong message, I thought the show did a good job of portraying her imperfect humanness, and the people who could have been there for her if she had done more to reach out. It is fiction, but in my opinion it showed that there were adults who made mistakes, too, and that it portrayed pretty accurately the complexities, and stresses of high school culture.

I say high school culture because, so far, I haven't seen that same type of social order in the homeschool community. In high schools the athletes are revered, and seen as the most valuable students. Everyone else falls in line below them, down to the outcast and different.

This is nothing new. It's what we parents have all, who have attended school, experienced and witnessed.
But the way this series differs from our experiences includes cell phones, social media, and the Internet. Thanks to all of these, as well as some kids who make bad choices, Hannah gets labeled easy, and is called a slut.

There are two scenes that deal with rape. A girl who had been Hannah's friend is raped. And later, Hannah is also raped.

As soon as I finished the final episode, "Beyond the Reasons" came up next, and I watched it. It helped me to understand more about how they put the show together, and that they took everything they did seriously.

I couldn't wait to talk to Sean about it all. He hadn't watched "Beyond the Reasons", so we watched that together today, and then discussed the show at length.

I was anxious to talk with him about all of these subjects--Parties, drinking, judging, spreading rumors, rape, entitlement, consent, friendships, and the complex people that we all are. These are all tough subjects, but I think the show gave us a point of reference to have the discussion. I've tried talking to him before about some of these things, but having the show as a reference point gave our talk some added dimension. It also helped to watch the actors talk about filming, and how difficult it was, and the guy actors talk about consent, and rape, etc.

It gave me a chance to talk to Sean about victims, about how victims blame themselves, and to have others dismantle them, question their every move leading up to the victimization, as if it is their fault somehow, is so wrong. The focus should be on every move of the perpetrator/rapist, and why his/her actions are to blame. What one person can choose to do in response to being victimized is not the same for everyone. There are reasons why people react, or not, in high stress and traumatic situations.

We talked about what other characters could have done differently. Another child tries to commit suicide later in the show, and we talked about what that child could have chosen to do instead. Even if they felt there was no alternative, there are always people who care, and there are ways to get help. Suicide is not the answer.

If you are reading this and you are having suicidal thoughts, or plans, please text: CONNECT to 741741
Or call Suicide Prevention Services at 800-273-8255.
There is also a 24-hour crisis line 866-427-4747.
Even if you don't think anyone cares, people do care. I care. You are valuable. You are needed. You are wanted. You are here for a reason, and there are people who want you to know that you matter.
If you have been raped, or think you might have been raped, here is a link to a list of resources:

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