So, I was scolded this afternoon for daring to tweet about Rehtaeh Parsons’ father’s response to her suicide shortly after news broke about the Boston marathon bombing. Apparently the Internet can only care about one thing at a time, and the most important thing was the bombing and all other news, national as well as international, should stop.
Of course, tomorrow there will be another bombing somewhere else – probably not America, but does that matter? There will be another murder spree, somewhere; after all, doesn’t the FBI believe there are something like 30-odd serial killers working in America at any given time? There will be another massive traffic accident, there will be another mass casualty event, another epidemic, another something new and breaking, because in the era of 24 hour news, something is always new, something is always breaking.
So at what point, then, is it okay to make noise about the lack of investigation into a publicized, bragged about, distributed images of, rape of a teenage girl? A rape that was dismissed as a community concern, that wouldn’t be investigated or prosecuted, that led to a young woman’s death? When is it the day we get to talk about that? At what point is this violence against a woman, and the dismal response to it, allowed it’s time in the media sun?
A continued and on-going problem with violence against women is that it is de-prioritized for other news. Women, after all, are always being raped. Always being murdered. Always victims of domestic violence. The bleeding that happens simply isn’t newsworthy enough to lead; it’s too common.
And the only way that changes is to acknowledge that it is, indeed, possible to care about and advocate for and discuss multiple things at once. That a story doesn’t need to be dropped just because a new and shiny one comes along, that it is indeed possible to follow multiple ideas and have many concerns, and that in particular, news of violence and rape and suicide isn’t so low a priority that it cannot even be tweeted until a “more urgent” situation has passed. In fact, I can, as a matter of course, be incredibly worried about friends who were at the race today and yet still care deeply about the mistreatment of Rehtaeh Parsons. I have this ability, and I believe that you do, too.