Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rehteah Parsons: It's about us.

This is not a blog post about diabetes. I can't even focus on the minute details of my mini vacation this past week enough to blog about it. That post will come in time.

Right now I need to write. I need to get this off my chest and into the other of millions of opinions on what has brought the Internet and a lot of people in my community to their knees.

Trigger warning: This post discusses rape, sexual assault, depression, trauma, anxiety and all the really hard shit people deal with.

90% of the visitors to my blog come from the United States. 5% Canada, 3% Australia and the other 2% are spread mostly between the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. These stats may not seem important to you yet, but be with me on this: because this will be familiar to you. No matter where this computer screen is, you will be able to relate this post to someone or something in your community, county, province, state, country. It is us. This is how we have shaped the world and it is up to us to change it.

The local, national and now international news is reporting a case of a 17 year old girl who committed suicide, and passed away on Sunday in my community. Her parents had to make the decision to pull her life support after her hanging herself on Thursday. Rehteah Parsons lived through more in her 17 years than most of us ever will, and none of us should ever have to. You can read her father's blog post here. Go, read it. Read every word of it. It's dripping with anguish and pain. It's not an easy read for anyone. He describes her as a great, caring person. He seems like the ideal father, not perfect but doing whatever he can for his loved one.

Rehteah Parsons was (allegedly, but I use that term only because it's "responsible" to do so) raped in November of 2011 at the age of 15. She was a child. She was a child who was drinking, as 15 year olds in our society do, and with "friends" as 15 year olds tend to be. She was vomiting drunk..ok sometimes 15 year olds over-drink and friends hold others' hair back and everyone goes through a hangover and that's how high school life is.

But then she was raped. (I am dropping that stupid alleged word. It's my blog. I truly believe she was raped.) She was raped by 4 boys, and during this there were photos taken, emailed, tweeted and Facebooked all over her school. And not only did those spineless pieces of shit do that, but then other spineless pieces of shit began to torment her, and explain that she was the one in the wrong.

She went to the police and that made it worse. It took the police months to even interview the pieces of shit who raped her. It was a downward spiral. I am not here to re-tell her story or the news. Just Google it. It's everywhere. It's disgusting. It's tear-inducing and nauseating.

Taking a step back from the nitty gritty details of this, trying to look at everything, the worst part for me is that the details of her story are not surprising. They are not as shocking or one-off as they should be. It happens. It has happened to my friend, it has happened to your friend, it happened to that girl from high school. We all know someone yet we still live in a society and culture that is ok with letting things slide.

Our legal system is based on archaic morals and standards, it is not worthy of our trust and this is a prime example of why. Our police force is swamped with stupid, money wasting issues like marijuana busts, and speed traps. Our resources are being funneled in the wrong direction.

Our school teachers are overwhelmed with children who are out of control, they show no respect because the consequences of acting out are so minor that it would barely sting. Parents have to work longer hours to make ends meet, there are a lot of single parent households that can not make ends meet, so structure and discipline at home have to come after getting basic nutrients into a human to survive.

Our school administrators are so caught up in contracts on where to spend vacation, and how much the next vehicle will be that child pornography floating in the hallways of one of their very own students simply goes un noticed.

A child who was raped, bullied, tormented suffers from depression, anxiety and is desperate ( you can find her twitter account and pick up how desperate she was) for help is ignored by those who should have been there. Her parents (very obviously) did their absolute best but two people could not change the whole system for their daughter.

So many people are mad at the political parties, administrators, police and more.

But here's the thing, it's our fault. We, as humans, and functioning members of society made it this way. We laugh when people make fat jokes, we share images of people that were snapped without their knowledge to make a joke, a point that we are better than them. That we know more than them. That without us as individuals the world would be so bad that nobody else would be able to function. We as humans think a simple "get back in the kitchen joke" to a woman, or "men, am i right?" joke about stupidity are ok. We as a society have accepted that our police just don't do what we need them to. We have accepted that mockery and a good "burn" is better than a compliment. Hell,w e can't even accept a compliment without feeling weird! We have accepted that un-realistic expectations of women is how the world works. We have accepted that some religions just don't "agree" with homosexuality.

In fact, we as humans have buried the fact that sex and sexuality is part of our condition, we have accepted that being ashamed of part of being human and hiding sex is what we are supposed to do. We don't teach children about sex and rape and what is right and wrong young enough because they are being sheltered.

Guess what? This whole story comes from us. It's our fault. We created this mess and it's up to us as a society to pick of the pieces. I hope as the days, weeks and months unfold human kindness and understanding prevails, that our ability to accept the awful becomes less and more people make small changes.

This isn't just a woman's, men's, race, political, education or religious issue. It's a human issue.

For more information on Reteah Parsons here are some links:

Facebook Group
Anonymous' Press Release as of April 11, 2013
The Twitter hashtag #OpJustice4Reteah
Google Search
The Rehteah parsons Story in Context- The Coast Newspaper, Halifax


  1. This story is disgusting. Though I'm not familiar with the justice system in that part of Canada, I'd say it failed miserably.

    I've got two boys, ages 6 and 1, and my wife and I have tried to teach the older one that if anyone touches him, says something, or shows him something inappropriately that he should come and tell me or Mom, even if the person tells him not to.

    We've not had the hypothetical conversation putting him on the other side: about what he must not do, show, or say to others; at least not in such graphical terms. I guess that's a part of parenthood that I have to look forward to.

    That would be my starts at home.

    1. It really does. I think it's more than that. I think it starts as a general respect for all people and empathy. Empathy is seriously lacking.