13 Reasons We Started Em
"What happened to Hannah happens to EVERY girl in high school." says one of the characters she holds responsible for her suicide.
The scary thing is, he's right.
13 Reasons Why has been all over the news for (gasp!) talking about suicide. But for some reason, no one seems to be talking about WHY Hannah killed herself.
All girls know what it’s like to have someone call us a slut, grab at us, spy on us, rate our bodies - or even assault us. The scary part is that the harassment and abuse can feel normal, and like something we just have to deal with on our own. Like it's just part of being a girl.
But sexual harassment and sexual pressure affect each and every one of us. 1 in 3 girls in NZ are sexually abused - that's horrific! Too often we don’t know where to put those feelings so we just block it out, but it's not working for ANYONE. It can be really lonely being a teen - we want Em to be a place where you connect with girls just like you.
We started Em for girls just like you, me, and the Hannah Bakers of the world. Here are the 13 reasons why we started Em:
1. Having amazing friends can be what helps you get through the best times and the really hard times. It can sometimes even be life saving - although when it comes to scary things like suicide and rape, you need to know what to say. Em has got your back! We got info on what to say and how best to help.
2. We're told we have to look ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’ for guys - and social media can just make that pressure even worse. Hannah’s 100% right when she says only guys would rate girls on who has the “hottest ass” and hand it all around the school. Your body is worth SO much more than that– we want you to embrace your body with love the it deserves because it’s your co-pilot for life. Feeling like it’s for other people to look at as opposed to being for you to FEEL GOOD in is total BS.
3. You’d have to be some kind of unicorn to get through high school without some kind of friendship drama, bullying, or eye twitching stress. Being a teenage girl is HARD. Em shares stories and links to survival skills to help you get through the sh*t times in life.
4. Em is a place where you can relax and be yourself, without the pressure of looking or feeling a certain way. Sure we might interview people about some heavy stuff sometimes, but we also get into really important stuff, like cat videos and nailpolish.
5. We just can't win. You're told you have to look hot, but then you're called a whore or a slut if you dress sexy or act confident. Hannah's called easy when someone betrays her trust. And you know what? That’s bullsh*t. You have every right to be confident and to do what gives you pleasure without anyone judging you. You also never know what’s happened to anyone else– what if she’s a survivor of abuse? We want young women to have each other’s backs and give slut shaming the attention it deserves – none.
6. Often you’re given the Hannah treatment and told you’re a ‘drama queen’ or to ‘just get over it’ when you get upset about a guy harassing you. We have to stop pretending that all the stuff girls have to put up with every single day is OK – it’s NOT – it sucks, and guys wouldn’t last a day in our shoes. It’s like when you are in a relationship and a guy tells you your acting “crazy” for having feelings. Nope! He's a jerk and you're having a human reaction to a sh*tty thing he's done.
Which brings us to…
7. Relationships can be hard, especially when you are new to it! But everyone wins when we're able to be honest with each other. Some guys might be intimidated by the idea of a girl who wants to be treated as (gasp!) a human, but he’s going to be the one who misses out if he’s only interested in you as a sexy thing and not as a person. Sexy times are awesome, but confiding in each other and giggling together is part of a true loving relationship.
8. Rape is a scary reality for many girls. When Hannah was raped, she didn’t feel like she could talk to anyone in her life about it. Often after sexual abuse, you’ll feel different and isolated from everyone. At Em, we get it. We want to be your little online community who’s got your back when you need it. You’re not alone. Remember how we just said that 1 in 3 girls is abused? Often you won’t hear about it because everyone’s too scared to say it happened to them. A big part of why we started Em is because we want to share stories about girls who’ve been abused and how they healed and got through it.
9. Hannah felt like suicide was her only option when she didn’t get the support she needed, and she felt like no one cared.
We don’t ever want you to feel like that. We started Em to be there for you if you’re ever sexually abused. Em is full of a whole bunch of self-care support to help you cope if you’re struggling after abuse. We also have links to 24/7 support agencies you can call for help including our team at HELP.
10. Another horrible thing that lots of people do is ganging up on the victim – not believing them when they say they were raped, or slut-shaming them. “He wouldn’t do that!”. “Well you shouldn’t have been drinking!. “Why did she go out with all those guys, what a slut”. Lots of girls tell us that being bullied at school can feel like a betrayal on par with the rape itself. Victims almost NEVER make up sexual assault. Here are the three magic words to say if someone ever says they’ve been abused: “I believe you”.
11. There are a lot of forces in the world that make us feel insecure about ourselves. We want to build you up so that when bad things hit, you feel confident to face them. And you can spread that good feeling to your friends. Em is here to help you with that by calling out BS and spreading the good vibes.
12. Hannah's friends fell away just when she needed them. Em is all about celebrating your friendships and finding ways to do awesome stuff together - so when it feels like your life is falling apart, you have a badass group of people around you to fall back on.
13. 13 Reasons Why has taken off is because it feels real. That’s exactly what we want to do with Em – we want to tell the stories of real girls and what it’s like to be you. By connecting with each other and sharing our stories, we can become stronger, more badass women.
This is part 1 of a series on 13 Reasons Why about how Hannah Baker could have had a happy ending.
We'll be posting a response to each episode every Tuesday with an Embassador story, with some survival tips for how they got through it.
If you'd like to submit your stories, we'd LOVE to have them - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want MORE!