Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Victim Myth

Today our assistant principal showed up in my English class to rehash the same speech we get every year: dress code, parking, drug use, etc. Let's call him Mr. Jones, since I nearly got in trouble last time I did a post about child abuse. Mr. Jones also told us the reason we shouldn't send nude pictures (during school hours and on school property): "Because if you do, not that any of you would, you would be charged with producing child pornography."
Similar laws exist for adults but are rarely enforced.
I raised my hand. "Mr. Jones, don't you think it's a little more important that we go after the corporations and individuals producing pornography instead of -"
"I don't control corporations. If I were king of the world, sure, I'd do that. But I only control my school."
At this point he assured us that of course  he (and the other principals, and teachers, and the counseling center, and the school cop) will help us if we're sexually assaulted (on school property during school hours). But his earlier comment still stands. He and the other principals, and teachers, and the counseling center, and the school cop, aren't those Trusted Adults those brochures in the counseling center speak of. Not unless Trusted Adults means we trust them to punish us. It's not their fault-there's a law.
Let's pretend I have a decent phone camera, decent cleavage, and an indecent boyfriend. Because I have all these things, I decide to send him a nude picture. He forwards it to all his buddies.
I could go crying to the principal, but why would I? I can now be charged with production, possession, and distribution of child pornography. Three counts. Oh, he'd get two of those counts. But I wouldn't be blameless. Rules like this keep kids from coming out about sexual abuse.
Where did I hear this, you ask? From a school assembly sophomore year. It ended with "tell a trusted adult."
I found this on twitter a while ago:
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According to RAINN, Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, many teenagers don't report sexual assault because they're afraid of getting in trouble for things like drinking or sneaking out. And then there's the added stigma of just being sexually harassed. We'd rather be blameless than justified.
Just as health class teaches us "Don't be raped, girls" instead of "Don't rape anybody, boys"
administrators teach us "Don't break the rules because you'll get in trouble" instead of "Don't break the rules because it's immoral." They imagine us suffering the consequences instead doing the deed.
There's this myth that people are either entirely blameless or entirely guilty. Am I saying girls who experience sexual abuse deserve it for the way they act and dress? No. Definitely not. What I'm saying is, we think that a victim needs to be pure as the driven snow before she-or he-deserves the title of victim. Be a wolf or be a lamb.
Yes, it's wrong to post or share any kind of porn. Those who do so aren't excusable. But girls and boys who've made mistakes in the past need help more than punishment. Otherwise they won't report their problems and they stay trapped in a vicious cycle.
This isn't just a problem that exists during school hours on school property. It's a law, not a school code, that created it.
It's a big, scary world out there, my little lambs. There are wolves, and if you get eaten, you can be charged with sheep endangerment. Be sure you don't post any pictures of your soft, vulnerable underbelly anywhere wolves can see them-
not that you ever would. 

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