Audrie & Daisy is a documentary on Netflix that provides an in-depth look at the effects of cyber-bullying on two teenaged girls in the aftermath of their sexual assaults.
We live in a fucked up world. I was sick, and sad watching this. Sick that this is the world we’ve made for teenagers today, and it’s goddamned horrible. These little girls (14, 15 years old), nearly comatose with alcohol poisoning, are being not only sexually assaulted by gangs of their peers, but that assault is being recorded. Welcome to the digital age. These photos and videos are widely and quickly disseminated and before the bell even rings on Monday morning, everyone knows. The public shame feels overwhelming, all-encompassing. It’s nearly impossible to convince such a young girl that in fact things won’t always be this way, won’t always feel this bad.
Hearing Audrie Pott’s story made me ask Sean – was this the Canadian case, the one out in Nova Scotia? It wasn’t. Her name was Rehtaeh Parsons but the case was strikingly similar: rape, pictures, bullying, suicide. How often has this pattern repeated? OFTEN. So, so often. Daisy faced not just bullying after her attack, but open disbelief and derision from a whole town when she attempted to face the perpetrator in court. The mayor of Maryville, Jim Fall, and sheriff Darren White will make you see red. It wasn’t their sons who committed this crime, but it could have been. These are the disgusting individuals raising young men to be so crass and so entitled that they will boast about rape and take pictures for evidence. And these are the men who turn their backs on the victim, and the law, when such a crime occurs.
I was livid watching this movie, and you will be too. Good. We need to get riled up about this. Because we are endangering our daughters and quite obviously failing our sons in some very basic way. Two of them, sentenced to testify on camera for this documentary, have learned nothing. No remorse, no responsibility. One young man volunteers that the only thing he’s taken away from this is that “girls gossip.” And these boys are free – to graduate, attend college, rape again, whatever. Free, and alive, unlike Audrie, unlike Rehtaeh, unlike so, so many.
There is something broken in our culture if something like this is a trend. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk don’t condemn the Internet, they sensibly promote it as a tool for these girls to band together, to realize they are not alone. But it clearly has far-reaching implications that we need to take more seriously. Sending or sharing a video of a 14 year old girl getting raped isn’t just taking part in the sexual assault, it’s disseminating child pornography. Penetration isn’t the only crime here. Social media is making all the looky-looks culpable. As Daisy so eloquently quotes in the film, the words of our enemies aren’t as hurtful as the silence of our friends. It takes a whole community to do the right thing. This isn’t just a bad apple scenario, it’s a blight on the whole damn orchard.