I was in a bit of a quandary as to where to blog this; here or on my website Only Five Star Book Reviews. Either would have been appropriate, but I still don't know if I am going to write a book review or an op-ed piece on the content. And, I guess I figured it will be a better fit here, because I can talk about anything, not just the writing, the characters, the pace, the story line, the theme, plot or a myriad of other writerly things.
I watched the Neflix series in two days while I was at home convalescing after a somewhat serious heart condition. I cocoon and nest when I am ill because I have learned through life the only person I can truly rely on is myself. So I hide. I don't want anyone to see me and I become paralyzed until the sympathetic nervous system finally lets go a week or two later. So, for a week or so I binge watch TV, sleep and read. Is it healthy? I don't know. Does it work? Yup.
So during this time I watched 13 Reasons Why. It was profound, sad, frustrating, and so many other things that I do not have words for it. Someone mentioned on my FB post that his daughter watched it and was angry about it. I wondered why. Why would this story of a young girl being bullied, sexually assaulted, lied about and abused make someone angry.
Sadly, this is high school. It was like this when I went. It was like this when my children went, and I bet it's the same now. There was nothing this girl experienced that a million other girls didn't experience. The difference being, however, now we get photographic proof, or video proof and this abuse follows you home. It's on your laptop, your phone, on every phone in the high school. The proof stays there forever. Thirty years later, you can google and find that video of you being sexually assaulted.
And the whispers never stop. You walk into a room and the room goes silent. You know they were just talking about how you gave John a blowjob in the playground last night. Even though that didn't happen. You haven't even been kissed yet, but John decides he wants to save his reputation from you turning him down, by telling everyone what a slut you are. And remember. You are not one of them. You are the new kid in school, because your family moves every two years. So you are always the new kid.
Then the jocks think you are easy, so they start hitting on you, trapping you in the hallway, the classroom, outside, anywhere they can. And they touch you. You cannot stop it. Then when you cry, they call you a whore, a bitch, a slut and laugh. This goes to all of their friends and their girlfriends, and suddenly you are walking down the hall and everyone is making rude gestures, leaving nasty photos an notes in your locker, and tweeting it to all of their friends.
You are shopping with your family and one of the jocks mimics a blow job in front of your mother while looking at you. You wince and want to die.
You're at the corner store and someone else walks in, rubs himself on you while grabbing you. You can't move because you are trapped by the counter. He smiles and says something funny.
The next time an older guy you like invites you in for a coke. He's friendly and persuasive , and then gets nasty because you won't touch him. He rips your clothes off an rapes you. Then as you leave he says, "Please don't tell anyone about this." You walk off in a daze, blood running down your leg and you feel like your head is in the clouds. What just happened?
A few days later, a friend of your parents is visiting and he is leaving the bathroom as you open your bedroom door. He goes on his knees in front of you and mimics oral sex. You are 14 and have no clue what that means, but it makes you feel dirty and ugly and you feel like it's your fault.
This happens every single day in North America. And now with President Trump saying he can't stop himself from grabbing beautiful women by the crotch I realize what a different world we live in, men and women.
I read the book after the watching the series (the series was better) and I felt so bad for Hannah thinking she was all alone. Hannah, you are not alone. There are millions of you out there fighting off teachers, parents, uncles, step-fathers, cousins, brothers, landlords, and bosses.
Reading and watching this just reinforced how ugly it can be, to be a teenage girl in this predatory world. It makes me angry that we raise boys to think this is okay and we tell the girls "to get over it."
And then we wonder why depression is so high.