13 Reasons Why – Challengeing the stereotypes

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I never thought that a show could effect me in such a powerful way. Although it was controversial, it made me think a certain way. And I liked the way it made me think. I saw 13 Reasons Why Season 1 and I was impressed as it was the first teen show that highlighted topics like rape, bullying, suicide etc. It opened up my mind and my perspective about the world and others. When season 2 was released, I wanted to see that show so bad .So, I did. I binge watched it all day. But I didnt know what was coming to me. The last episode had me *shooketh to the core*. I was terrified. I was devastated. I felt an emotion. It was fear. Fear of extreme pain, a feeling of your life never being the same, a feeling of being under control and not doing anything about it. I got up and, well….. I fell to the floor and cried. I was scared to death by such a graphic depiction of male rape. My hands couldn’t stop shaking… My heart kept beating frantically. Tears fell down and I couldn’t stop it. I think I was traumatized because no one ever told me about male sexual violence. I always heard that “men are supposed to be strong” and…..”men don’t cry or men can’t be raped”… and thinking that it happens all the time and nobody speaks about it is just insulting and disgusting. I couldn’t close my eyes because every time I did, the scene would keep going on and on like a movie. The show made me realize that sexual assault can happen to anyone, not just young girls, and it’s not about attraction or anything else.

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A survey by The Express Tribune showed that 57.1% of men have faced sexual harassment and assault in Pakistan and 88.5% of them were younger than 18 years of age and 80% of seek no help due to societal pressure. It’s just devastating and horrifying that the society ignores such big problems just to portray men as leaders and stronger beings so they can get hold of the tradition revolving around in our society for such a longer time. There is a blatant denial of male rape but this cannot change the fact that this harsh reality exists. People think that sexual assault, in general, is a stigma and people often say that he/she can never have a healthier relationship ever again, or they will be messed up for the rest of their lives.

Many people say “You could’ve fought back” and this is what maddens me the most. See, this is the problem. People come up with excuses to ignore the existing problem. You don’t know what the consequences are with that survivor. I obviously cannot explain the pain and emotions people go through during these tragic times but you feel helpless. What is done is done. You are vulnerable at this point of your life. You might feel that your soul is breaking apart and all you could do is cry about what happens and there is nothing you could do about it. I know it doesn’t take away the agony and the pain but remember that there is hope. You are not alone in this world and there are many people here to support you and help you out…like me. Just understand that you are wonderful no matter what happens. Life is……life. You would have your highs and lows. But it’s only you who could change your life. No one else can do it for you. And there will be people who will bring you down all the time and spread negativity in your life but all you need to know is your life is precious and important. And you will meet people in your life who will bring you out of the darkness and fill your life with light and brightness. Parents ignore it because ….well, they love the society’s opinions more than their child’s safety and inner peace.

The glamorization of masculinity in our country and all around the world is just obnoxious and we are doing nothing about it. It’s just like we are waiting for the storm to come and take us all away. But as one wise man once said: “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”. It’s a very critical topic for me and it should be for everyone else. I know it’s considered a taboo to talk about sexual assault but it’s time to remove all these taboos and set the world free. Lives are precious. Help save them. Make a movement in this world. Money, fame and all these superficial things don’t really matter. They are just temporary, what matters the most is that you try to do the best for yourself and for the world. Parents and society need to create awareness that rape can happen to anyone, anywhere at any stage of life.


By Taneer Zafar

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