“13 Reasons Why” denounces a reality

Vithoria Escobar

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High school is one of the hardest times of life. You’re only a teenager but you’re living a period where you’re discovering yourself, living new experiences and dealing (or trying to) with constant and intense feelings that you don’t really know how to deal with it or how it can impact your life.

***SPOILER ALERT BELOW***

Hannah Baker is a teenager who committed suicide and instead of a handwritten letter, she leaves 13 cassete tapes, each one dedicated to a specific person who, somehow relates to her suicide.

With a plot that is already sensitive, 13 Reasons Why (13RW) not only focus on the alarming issue that is suicide, but it leaves room to discuss awful topics that NEEDS to be discussed (bullying, misogyny, the lack of empathy and sexual abuse) and it discusses how these issues are part of our lives and their impact, revealing that even some silly teenager attitudes are absurd and problematic and can even trigger off horrible consequences for someone.

The fictional Hannah Baker is not only victim of a rape, but a rape that is combined with a sequence of situations and issues that are caused by the misogynist culture we live in. She suffers the violence of being labeled as a whore, of losing her best friend, of having her picture leaked, of being harassed by guys, of being judged, stalked and defamed. In the series, the character Bryce is the representation of these culture: he leaks Hannah’s picture in school, he rapes a drunk friend in a party, he rapes Hannah claiming that “she wanted it”, he constantly bully physically and verbally his classmates to show his masculinity and he’s always supported by his boy friends, but nothing happens to him, and he doesn’t even thinks that he did anything wrong. Then, feeling lonely and unsupported, Hannah decided to take her own life.

Suicide is an extreme and exaggerated attitude, and I agree that is never the answer. But what scared me the most in this show and the reason I decided to write about it is that the fictional Bryce and the fictional Hannah are real.

An anonymous research conducted by The Circular with girls in an age group of 18-28 years revealed that 58,76% of the respondents affirm that they already had sexual relations without consent. And other 19,6% wasn’t sure.

58,76% of girls affirm that they already had sexual relations without consent. (Survey conducted by Vithoria Escobar on SurveyMonkey.com)

As shocking as it is, these percentage represents a reality, represents a culture that supports abusers and blames and labels victims. Beyond hurting, this culture discourages women to expose their abusers, as the shame, fear and reactions they might have to face, makes them choose to hide and “forget what happened and go forward”. And that means the victim once again carrying a trauma in their back and the abusers free and unpunished.

Fortunately, these issues and therms as feminism, sorority and rape culture are gaining strength, girls are being encouraged to talk and are being supported and their  abusers are getting exposed. These revolution are leaving no room for abuse, excuses, labels or victim-blaming.

All these writing is to show that this series is actually a routine in high schools and college around the world and we are so used to it that we can’t see it. It shows how empathy, gender equality and feminism are necessary to EVERYONE, boys and girls, especially in such a sensible period as our teenage years.

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Vithoria Escobar