Saturday, December 12, 2009

The story of Hope......

This is a story about Hope Witsell. This is a story of hope for humanity. Below you will read a story FAR more complex than a girl who takes a picture of her boobs. Boobs? What is the fuss all about? People make a living showing their is LEGAL during Mardi Gras and don't get me started on Fantasy Fest in the Keys.
The issue is complex yet it is so your children NO MATTER WHAT.
I've flashed for a beer or two and it doesn't matter how old I was, I am still worthy, I am still loved and I am still "me". I hope you get out of this story, the same message I got. And if you didn't you are no better than the scared and hostile villagers who tried to attack Shrek or the Beast.....who, we all know, ended up being the "good guy".
So really, why are people (possibly you) so scared and hostile, for no reason?

Here is the story:
Taken and written beautifully by Sylvia's problem

Look, like I said on Twitter (where I heard about this tragedy via Kate Bornstein), this story is so enraging and depressing that I’m actually not even feeling the rage and depression, I’m kind of numb, so, make the choice advisedly whether or not to read on.

Hope Witsell was just beginning the journey from child to teen. The middle-school student had a tight-knit group of friends, the requisite poster of “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson and big plans to become a landscaper when she grew up.

But one impetuous move robbed Hope of her childhood, and eventually, her life. The 13-year-old Florida girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy in hope of gaining his attention. Instead, she got the attention of her school, as well as the high school nearby.

So, here in the lede we discover that it was the showing of her boobs to a boy that — let’s look at that one more time in full — “robbed Hope of her childhood, and eventually, her life.”

Does she get the blame just once? No, no, let’s go down a few more paragraphs.

But Hope got involved in a dangerous, all-too-typical teen game. In June, at the end of her seventh-grade year at Beth Shields Middle School, she sent a picture of her exposed breasts to a boy she liked. It’s an act that is becoming more and more commonplace among teens (a poll recently showed some 20 percent of teens admitting they’ve sent nude pictures of themselves over cell phones).

She got INVOLVED in a DANGEROUS GAME. She gave a boy a picture of her boobs, you see. And that was the dangerous act.

It wasn’t the bullying of other students that put her in danger. (“Friends told the St. Petersburg Times, which originally chronicled Hope’s story, that they literally surrounded Hope as she walked the hallways while other students shouted ‘whore’ and ’slut’ at her.)

It wasn’t the school administrators who responded to this abuse by punishing and further publicly shaming HER. (“Shortly after the school year ended, school officials caught wind of the hubbub surrounding Hope’s cell phone photo. They contacted the Witsells and told them Hope would be suspended for the first week of the next school year.”)

It wasn’t the parents who punished her even more, taking her away from her support network and the things she loved to do, after the school administrators informed them of what had been happening to their daughter and how they were planning to make it worse for her. (“Donna Witsell told Vieira that she and her husband practiced tough love on Hope, grounding her for the summer and suspending her cell phone and computer privileges.”)

It wasn’t the adults at the school again who were more interested in covering their asses against litigation with a written record than actually supporting a suicidally depressed child. (“On Sept. 11, Hope met with school counselors, who noticed cuts on Hope’s leg they believed to be self-inflicted. They had her sign a ‘no-harm contract,’ in which she promised to talk to an adult if she felt the urge to hurt herself. But [...] the school didn’t inform Hope’s parents of the contract.”)

Of course it wasn’t a slut-shaming, woman-hating, sex-hating culture that divides young women into “good” (virginal) and “bad” (fallen) and allowed a 13-year-old girl to believe that she had ruined her life forever by showing a boy her tits.

No, it was her “impetuous move” and somehow also the dangers of the INTERNET (even though the internet was not involved, except in that her internet access, probably one of her major sources of social support, was taken away by her “churchgoing family” as a punishment for an act that they had no goddamn fucking idea what it even was or what technology it used).

["Internet safety expert" Parry] Aftab, who held Donna Witsell’s hand throughout the trying TODAY interview, told Vieira it’s often upstanding children growing up in good homes who have the biggest propensity to feel guilt over their sexual actions, and most feel the stings of the bullying that comes afterward.

“Good kids are the ones this is happening to; Jesse was a great kid, and now we have Hope,” she said. “Good kids; they’re the ones who are committing suicide when a picture like this gets out.”

Why are they doing that, those good girls? Why are they killing themselves?

Parents, teachers, administrators, pastors, bullies, slut-shamers, fools, woman-haters, hypocrites, tell me why YOU think they are killing themselves. Do you know? Do you know why Hope Witsell hanged herself? Do you know why she thought she had no future?

It wasn’t because she made a momentary, impulsive expression of her barely-adolescent sexuality (or gave in to peer pressure from boys who felt that her body was public domain; if the latter, that is just another horrible thing to add to this horrible thing, but either way it was not because she took a picture of her boobs). It wasn’t because of a media-manufactured techno-trend. It wasn’t the internet. It was not that, as this putrid “news” article disgustingly asserts, “The downward spiral of Hope’s life was unstoppable.”

If everyone I know who had a picture of their boobs on the internet before their 18th birthday killed themselves, I’d have a lot of dead friends. I wouldn’t be around to remember them, though, since I’d be dead too.

It wasn’t SEXTING.

It was you, adults, all the adults in her life. The high school assholes too, but they’re in high school. You’re adults. She was thirteen years old and she was driven to her grave for nothing and there was nothing inevitable about this.

And you should understand that. You should go to her grave as a penitent every day of your lives, all of you, like Leontes and Claudio, and make of yourselves a lesson for others. This is the real world, so you won’t get the kind of results that Leontes and Claudio did. She’s never coming back.

You should just do it because it’s the right thing to do. Because it is, honestly, the least you can do. Because she wasn’t killed by this year’s sexy scary cyber-youth-trend. You could have saved her if you hadn’t ALL been so busy reinforcing values that are killing our daughters.

Stop killing our daughters. Stop killing our daughters. Stop killing our daughters. Stop killing our daughters. Stop killing our daughters.



Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? said...

I can't believe that, that breaks my heart. I would also be dead, and I know for sure that there are pictures of my ass out their with nothing but my underwear that say Free Pony rides on them.

Little Miss Emmy Lou said...

That is seriously powerful.

What happened to forgivenss? What happened to moving on and learning from our mistakes?

This is so terrifying that we are so unforgiving and judgemental that we forget to see that there is a person underneath the action and that we as a society did not help her in any way and we let her die.

This story is going to make me think twice next time I am tempted to judge someone's actions.

This is a good reminder to us all.

Pamela said...

best post i've read all week.