Stop Saying Hannah Baker Overreacted

Stop Saying Hannah Baker Overreacted

Because that is not your call to make.
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Bryce raped two people, Alex wrote a list. Sheri's actions killed somebody, Ryan published a poem. Justin allowed an assault to occur, Zach stole some notes. There are differences in magnitude which make people believe that there are differences in whether or not each action was "suicide-worthy". But regardless, every one of the actions played into Hannah Baker's decision to end her life.

Speaking objectively, assaulting two people is worse than ranking a woman on her body parts. Speaking objectively, being the reason somebody died is worse than publishing a personal poem. Speaking objectively, allowing a rape to occur is worse than stealing some notes. But you can't minimize somebody's pain because it doesn't seem that bad comparably. We don't live in the minds of others and we do not have the capacity to say what isn't "that bad" for somebody else.

Because for Hannah Baker, the list wasn't just a list. Being voted "Best Ass in the Freshman Class" may be something that you would have been able to brush off at your high school, or even a title you may have been excited to have. It wasn't that way for Hannah. She was a new student who had just been labeled the class slut for an out-of-context photo by a man she really liked. Her only friend abruptly ended their friendship because of the list. She was objectified, harassed and ridiculed because of it.

For Hannah Baker, a published poem wasn't just a published poem. It was her deepest, darkest thoughts broadcast for the whole school to see. And even though it was anonymous, the safe space that the poetry group gave her was obliterated. The trust in her new friend Ryan was gone. And either because her classmates actually thought it was her, or because in her declining mental state she believed they did, she felt embarrassed and vulnerable.

For Hannah Baker, some stolen notes weren't just stolen notes. They were her lifeline. They were the only source of kindness in a world that seemed to be entirely against her. They were a guaranteed smile in a day filled with sadness. And they were further proof that even the people who seemed kind and genuine were not.

Maybe if you were on that list, you could brush it off. Maybe if it was your poem, it wouldn't affect you. Maybe you wouldn't even notice your notes being gone. But seeing those things as "not that bad" is a luxury, a luxury Hannah did not have.

To pit Hannah's reasons against each other is to determine which things that happen to a person are worthy of them committing suicide. To say that she is overreacting on some of the tapes is to deny the fact that things can be more than they are on the surface. To let some of the characters off the hook by saying, "what they did wasn't as bad as someone else" is to say that lying and objectifying and destroying trust are okay, so long as someone else does something worse.

Alex wrote a list. Ryan published a poem. Zach stole some notes. But to Hannah, Alex wrote a list that ended a friendship and made her subject to harassment for the rest of her life. To Hannah, Ryan took away the only source of safety she had and destroyed the trust and vulnerability she finally had with somebody. To Hannah, Zach stole her safety net and let her continue spiraling into a depression.

To perpetuate the idea that Hannah overreacted is to perpetuate the idea that suicide is simple and there is a rational reason behind it. To tell others that their pain and suffering isn't valid because you don't believe the cause is "that bad". To essentially blame somebody taking their life on the inability to get over little things, when in reality they are so much larger and more complex than what they are on the surface. You do not get to determine how somebody should react to the things that happen in their life.

Hannah's life could not be saved, but fortunately she is just a character. Mental health and depression are scary and complex and sometimes there is nothing you can do. However, you can be kind to one another. You can be a good human. A few kind words, a helping hand or genuine concern could have saved Hannah's life, so use them to try and save someone else's.


If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: HerCampus

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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