|Gustave Wappers Episode of the September Days|
But I am disturbed by yet another story of a young woman,17, who commits suicide because of bullying. At least that’s how the story unfolds. She gets drunk at a party. She is raped by a boy or boys and another boy films and posts it. (Yes it is rape if she is too drunk to know what she is doing.) Then she is called a slut. I assume these are her peers, in her school, in her society. The cyber-bullying persists even after she moves to another school.
I wonder why the boy who raped her is not the one who is shamed, or the boy who took the picture is not named? Are those who do the slut shaming virgins and do they understand how the word shames all women?
In short why is the victim blamed and why after all these years of work from counselors, activists and concerned people, are we, the Canadian public not demanding the just society we grew up believing we aspired to? What has happened to our collective psyche that we accept this, that we are not outraged?
I have observed places that have been invaded by bullies (or opportunists). Offices where people get along reasonably well, deal with conflicts intelligently, and focus on working together to get the job done. Then an ego enters who is critical and manipulative. The good workplace erodes into a den of personal attacks, rumours, bitterness, and resentment. The work is no longer the main agenda. But instead of the group acknowledging the cause, they blame whoever has the least power.
It is a pattern that ripples out. The poor are blamed for the shrinking economy, the infirm blamed for high health costs, minorities are blamed for social breakdown, until the implosion of crises lead to despair and a rise in fascism. The cruelest and darkest ages are not a phenomena of the past – they are the result of our inability to create the society we want.
The first society a child experiences is the family, the second is media. By the time a person enters school they know how the patterns of power trickle down, but do we allow them the opportunity to examine and challenge it?
When girls are raped in public (because the public is now in everyone’s pocket) then blamed, while the perpetrators brag – what does that say about the future of our society?
When our children choose suicide what does that say about the individual’s capacity to survive in cultures that do not support their worth and dignity?