Rest In Peace Rehtaeh Parsons and the Conversation Too Late...
In the past, there were often stories in the news that would shake me to my core, leave me feeling helpless, disgusted and fearful for the world my children are being brought up in. I felt like I wanted to DO something. to SAY something, to grab a hold of humanity and give it a good hard shake. I may not have the widest reach in the world, the largest, most diverse demographic, but I have YOU.
You're reading this and that's something.
The subject of rape, social media and teenage behaviour have been highlighted in the news since a story about a rape case in Steubenville Ohio broke out last August.
I've watched, in disbelief, as the case caused debate over the definition of rape, fault of the victim, measure of guilt and numerous other aspects. All of which can be called nothing but disgusting distractions from the facts, the evidence and the horrible truth.
I'm from Canada and the thing about being Canadian is; that when horrible, newsworthy things happen in the U.S., we seem to collectively deliver the appropriate responses of shock, horror and remorse but secretly tell ourselves, "It wouldn't happen here," or "That kind of thing only happens in the States...".
I'm not saying we're naive to the fact that young women are being assaulted here, that girls all over our nation are being tormented with photos, taunts and jeers, no we're well aware, we've all gone through high school.
What I'm saying is that we've been shoving it under a rug, stuffing it behind lack of evidence, insufficient police work and lack of school intervention and now it's left a young girl dead and a nation with blood all over it's hands.
SHAME ON US.
Here's where my blood is boiling, my hands are shaking and I can't type my words fast enough to get this post out.
This is the name of a young girl who, on Sunday, was taken off of life support after being rushed to hospital, found having hung herself.
This young girl's story is hauntingly familiar, she went to a party, was assaulted by four boys, pictures were taken and then circulated. When she finally went to authorities, she was let down on so many levels it's enough to make you scream. For the months following the RAPE (which is what it was and I won't even give those boys the graciousness of saying allegedly), she was tormented by classmates, harassed and bullied to the point she had to leave her school.
Courtesy The Globe and Mail
A similar case was in the news in 2010, where a 16 year old girl was brutally
gang raped REPEATEDLY at a rave, while onlookers took photos, cheered and danced around the horrific scene for hours. I remember watching with disgust as the reporters interviewed kids from the girls school, "She's a slut," one of them said, "I heard she wanted it to happen," another jeered.
So what happened in this case? Surely with the number of people present at the time, someone came forward to support this young girl and hold the guilty parties accountable...
Last month, the man who posted the photos was granted a conditional discharge, sentenced to 18 months probation and required to do community service. Last year, Colton McMorris, the only man charged with assault in this case, had the charges against him dropped, due to lack of evidence.
Despite the fact that the victim herself pleaded to onlookers to come forward to help in catching the half dozen men allegedly involved and despite the fact that there was a crowd of people there that night, there was not enough evidence for the Crown to move forward. The most sickening thing I've read while following this case was from the father, he told reporters that "...the extent of injuries his daughter suffered would not have happened in a situation where she was willing." (see article here.)
What message are we sending our young people? Why on earth would a victim of assault come forward in the future?
This is not something new by any means. Growing up, stories like these would pop up all the time in my high school, "Did you hear what so and so did on the weekend, she's such a slut...", reputations were destroyed and these packs of cocky, selfish and entitled boys would walk away high-fiving and patting each other on the back, all the while being celebrated for excelling in sports, being popular etc. What's different is, with social media, these terrible things are being brought out into the open for the world to see. So let's take this opportunity to DO SOMETHING.
THE FACT IS THERE ARE YOUNG BOYS RAPING AND ASSAULTING OUR YOUNG WOMEN AND THEY'RE GETTING AWAY WITH IT.
The question is not how much blame to put on the girl for drinking, dressing provocatively or being at a party.
The question should be WHERE ARE WE FAILING AS PARENTS, AS COMMUNITIES, AS A NATION, that our young boys feel that this is acceptable behaviour?
Further, when the truth comes to light (and my head reels at the number of young girls who DON'T come forward), why are these young women being abandoned. The legal system, their teachers, their peers, EVERYONE is walking away and leaving them to pick up the pieces.
I look at my sons and think "What can I do to make sure they would be the one to step in and protect a young girl in this situation?"
In situations like this, I always try to figure out WHY? Why did these boys feel this was ok? Why did the men involved in the B.C case feel it was ok? What's more, why do they now feel ok walking away from it unpunished?
Maybe it's time we start looking at the pressures and expectations we put on our boys. We're always
talking about the pressure the media puts on young girls but what about the boys?
Think about what kind of men North America celebrates. There's a lot of sports fanatic, beer-guzzling, aggressive, male chauvinists and there's no denying that.
You don't see the kind, gentle-hearted man being portrayed as the "cool" one on t.v., worse watch MTV for an hour and tell me what kind of boys you see being reflected on "The Real World".
These questions don't being Rehtaeh back to her loving family, they don't stop the next group of drunk, idiotic, self-righteous boys from doing the unthinkable but they do ACKNOWLEDGE what's going on and at the very least we owe it to our girl's to have this conversation. We owe it to our boys too, so that if they ever were faced with a situation like this, they would have the confidence, the strength and the respect for themselves and another human being to put a stop to it, instead of GOD FORBID, giving into the pressures of wanting to "be cool" (which in my opinion is the ONLY explanation for why on earth not just one, but several people would do something so evil at the same time).
Please take the time to read this touching post by Rehteah's father (found here), if my words have not gotten the point across, maybe a man who has just lost everything can. Originally Posted on www.thehodgepodgediaries.com 04/11/13