I just finished a book called Asking for it. And the hashtag #notaskingforit was just trending in Germany a few months ago, after a celebrity was at court over a video of her having sex with two men appeared online – and clearly showed her saying “no” multiple times. (If you are German or know any german, you should read this article by one of my favourite bloggers.) And then there’s the Netflix documentary Audrie and Daisy about young girls that are being sexually abused. And obviously there’s , a new Netflix show I’ve only watched a few episodes of, but I already kind of know where this is heading.
But what I want to talk about today isn’t only the fact that society tries to tell girls that sexual assault is their fault if they choose to wear short skirts and show a bit of cleavage (which is bullshit by the way).But it’s the victim blaming itself that often follows after attacks. The bullying that makes the mental impact of the attack even worse. (Watch the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, which deals with that topic and the consequences, if you haven’t already.)
In a time of social media, the bullying is taken to a whole other level. It’s not only words being whispered when the girl walks down the halls in school, goes to the supermarket or visits the local mall. Those words follow her all the way home. She can’t look at her phone or open Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram/Twitter without facing the horrible words she’s being called. Without a real reason. I wish I could say “just because it’s easier to blame the victim” but that’s not true. I truly don’t understand why victim blaming is even a thing. What do people get from mentally abusing the already physically abused young woman, from excluding her from society, from making her feel like she’s done everything wrong when actually she didn’t do anything at all?
But bullying isn’t only a topic when it comes to sexual assaults and the aftermath.
It is a daily occurence, that might not even be seen as that.
I remember when I was younger, probably around 15, I posted a photo of me on my MSN space (if anyone doesn’t remember, it was a very old type of Facebook). I liked the photo. I don’t exactly remember why but I remember that I thought “okay, that’s cool, I’ll post this”. Just like it normally works. Apparently some people didn’t agree with me. I was called ugly in a comment under it by an anonymous person, for everyone to read. I knew who it was (two boys) and I played it cool but my confidence decreased to a very low point. How could I still be confident after two boys called me ugly? I don’t even know if they remember or if they know what they did to me but it hurt. And thinking about it, it still does a little.
So if I try to imagine a person nowadays, a girl or a boy, young enough not to know any better, being called bad words on the internet. And not only once but multiple times. Where does that lead us?
I don’t have children myself (yet), but I have a nephew and I’m gonna make sure to tell him how beautiful and precious he is every time I see him, but I am also going to make sure to let him know that everyone out there is just as precious and wonderful. Because that’s where we have to start. Make our children aware of how important their words are, how much they can hurt and how important it is to support each other rather than tear each other down.