Jackie Summers has a message for everyone: fuck society.
Lacey, Washington: A thirteen year old girl snaps a naked photo of herselfwith her camera phone. She sends it to her thirteen-year-old boyfriend. They break up, the boy sends it to a (former) female friend of hers, who brands her a whore and sends it to everyone in her contact list. By the next day, it’d gone viral, having been forwarded thousands of times.
First the principal was contacted, then the police. Arrests were made. Three teenagers were charged with distributing child pornography, a class-C felony.
Cleveland, Texas: Eighteen men and teenage boys ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-seven are charged with raping an eleven-year-old girl in an abandoned motor home. The smoking gun? Videos of the crime taken and distributed via cellphones.
Los Angeles, California: A member of USC’s Kappa Sigma chapter pens a veritable dissertation on how to conduct and document reprehensible misogynistic behavior. Within this racist email where date rape and unprotected sex (at the stated risk of spreading STDs) are encouraged, women are referred to as “targets” because “they aren’t actual people like men.”
In Toronto, Ontario, a police officer speaking at a seminar on community safety advises women to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” In Winnipeg, Manitoba, a judge calls a man accused of rape a “clumsy Don Juan” and commutes his jail sentence, claiming “sex was in the air.” “Moral blameworthiness” is placed squarely on the shoulders of the victim.
Moral responsibility: the sword of Damocles swinging precariously over the heads of all involved. Who bears accountability for such heinous acts? At whom do we point the finger?
The culture of victim-blame still flourishes, as residents of the small Texas town where a child was repeatedly gang-raped claimed she “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s,” reinforcing the sentiments of the Canadian constable. Parental involvement is questioned, as the father of the child who photographed herself confessed to “lack of involvement in her use of the phone and texting.” Technology plays an undeniable role, as the ease with which we can now document and disseminate acts of monstrosity and loathsome opinion, in previous generations simply didn’t exist.
So where do we place culpability? Upon whom do we assign guilt?
According to Ronald Reagan, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the [American] precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
While this holds veracity in terms of crime and punishment, it’s facile to hold individuals liable while absolving the society that creates them. Who’s responsible?
We are. ALL OF US.
Society is a social construct; the culmination of the prevailing thoughts and mindset of people in a given place and time. It is the amalgamation of our politics, our art, our entertainment, our ideals. On a daily basis, it’s being made more and more obvious that our technology is outpacing our morality by a factor of magnitude. Part and parcel is the sublimation of individual thought; while the first chimpanzee to gain evolutionary advantage by discovering that a simple branch could be used with a fulcrum as part of a lever system, he was probably bludgeoned to death by the chimps who discovered self-same branch could be used as a weapon.
Strength in numbers can’t be denied; however, no matter how large the horde, a consensus of flies can not sweeten the smell of shite.
While groupthink propagates the concept that singular voices hold no gravitas, from Moses to Mohamed to Jesus to Buddha to Ghandi to Dr. King, history begs to differ. What’s true is: while silent self-assurance always trumps articulate insecurity in the court of righteousness, it’s often drowned out by the din of mob-thought. If the marrow of our culture is diseased and we refuse to address, acknowledge, diagnose or treat it, we’ve abdicated the right to express outrage at it’s manifestations.
British imperialism during the 18th century proliferated so-called “Victorian” ideals, which, despite the rise of feminism and the sexual revolution, still form the underlying base of today’s prevalent sexual psyche. The outward display of puritanism and piety thinly veiled a system that was at once classist, racist, homophobic and misogynistic. Education, the right to vote, the right to own property and the potential to generate personal wealth was not extended to women; their only purpose was to bear children, and if they enjoyed the process which impregnated them (sex) even inside the confines of marriage, they were labeled “whores.” Meanwhile, prostitution thrived, as it was the only way a woman could be financially independent of a man.
We’ve made legitimate progress. Slaves were freed. The industrial revolution spawned a system for public education. Suffrage gained the right of political voice. The decimation of the male populace in two worlds wars forced women into the workplace. Separate but equal was determined to be essentially unequal. Today the potential for self-advancement regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference is greater than ever.
So why do we allow social memes several hundred years out of date to still permeate the id of our modern age?
Fuck that noise. Fuck racial/social/gender inequality.
Fuck Victoria, we are society. It’s made up of the thoughts we entertain, the ideals we embrace. And honestly, we can do better than this.
Define your own humanity: don’t simply accept what’s been handed to you. Understand your limits for the intent purpose of defying them; know your nature and grow beyond it. Every human being shares the miracle of individuality: you are a unique creature, a curious and irrepetitive blend of genes and circumstance. You owe the universe the obligation of exploring the fullness of self as payment for having been born. Anything else is societal imposition.
Seriously, fuck society. Let’s create our own ethos. Let’s level the playing field, eliminate the double standard, hold everyone equally accountable.
Let’s remake society over in our own image.