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Thoughtful Thursday - Bans Don't Help

thoughtfulI'm very light on the word count this week, but I'm not upset about it. With my script, I've been reading Save the Cat and thinking about the story more before I get back into it. I've also been working on cultivating the habits that the successful screenwriters have. With the rest of my writing, I've been focusing on a number of other things around my home, thinking about how to get the time I need to also fit in fitness, and making my way through the pieces that are nominated for Aurora Awards.

I suppose I'm odd in the writing community. I never suggest that something never be written about. I learned long ago that blanket statements aren't helpful and neither is banning something. I can't positively say that teens are watching 13 Reasons Why more than they would've otherwise been, but when one shines a spotlight onstage, the audience tends to hyper-focus on that circle. When the Catholic Church bans books, the sales of those books tend to skyrocket. People become obsessed with whatever is taboo. And we all know how successful alcohol prohibition was.

I don't believe that censorship solves problems. It only sweeps the ugly things under a rug. They're still there, but no one is allowed to talk about them. It's like shoving things in a closet and putting a lock on it.

Like Tom McCarthy, I believe discussion is important.

I believe in looking at all sides of an issue, no matter how disagreeable and 'triggering' some topics are. I also hate the term trigger because too many are using it in place of the word offend and that is disgusting to me as they are not remotely the same thing. Triggering involves flashbacks that are vivid and affect the body in ways as though the traumatic experience is happening again. It's not simply something a person doesn't like. I know what it is to be triggered.

Furthermore, as someone with background in social work, I also know that one does not overcome problems until they face them. Avoiding things makes them grow and fester until they take on a life of their own and barely anything is left of yourself. This means that the only way for people to heal from their trauma is to learn to become less sensitive to the item that triggers them.

Soldiers have to learn to accept that fireworks exist, as one example. The goal should be to eventually be able to be at an event where fireworks are, without feeling as though they are back in the war. One must learn to disassociate bad feelings with safe situations. The same can be said for controversial content in books, movies, and television. If we say writers and producers can't talk about or show certain things, we close off an opportunity for discussing morals, values, and ethics. Worse, we prevent people from learning about the bad in the world.

When things become taboo, it's like mom saying, "because I said so," rather than discussing the real reason she doesn't want you to go out. It can be pretty damn important to say something more than, "because I said so," if the reason is there was recently a girl your age murdered in town and the killer is still on the loose. That's a true story that happened in my home town in 1997 and the murder wasn't solved until more than 10 years later. There aren't a lot of murders that happen there even now.

The thing is, there are a lot of bad things in the world that happen every day. If you take the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy approach of only focusing on the good, you ignore real dangers. You also misidentify a husband asking for sex more than once as a deranged rapist instead of someone who wants to show his love in a very intimate way.

There is a problem in the system when it comes to rape that I feel should be discussed. It's far too easy to mistakenly end up on the Sex Offender Registry. A young man can be dating a girl with the permission of her parents despite being an adult and she a minor. If they've had consensual sex and happen to break up, the parents can have him charged with statutory rape and he is now a sex offender. Relationships end all the time for a variety of reasons and no one should have to worry that a break up means being labeled a depraved person for the rest of their life. Something similar has happened to a former karate instructor whose involvement with a female student has ended her career, most likely in part due to homophobic discrimination, though that part could be conjecture on my behalf.

This problem continues to the arena where both people have been drinking. I had friends in high school who were in the situation where both parties were drinking and decided to proceed with sex. One friend was so distraught after it happened because he worried whether or not he had taken advantage. But having dated him before that, I knew he would never do that to someone. It worked out for him, though the relationship didn't last as they really weren't compatible.

But getting drunk and having sex was super common when I was in high school. Hell, I had a friend who gave her boyfriend a BJ under a stairwell. We partied and hooked up nearly every weekend. Though I had a lot of fun, I didn't actually lose my virginity until college. And not one guy in high school pressured me. We just had fun together. Alcohol was often involved, but everything was consensual even those moments I'd rather forget with certain individuals.

We do need those who commit sex crimes like rape punished. It's the only way to prevent them from continuing and to discourage others.

But scenes like those in Game of Thrones help the discussion.

Think about this. The public outcry and the amount of discussions about how awful rape is that have happened since are many. How do you think those with the power to make real change happen find out how the public feels? There were 8.9 million people watching the season six finale of Game of Thrones and a bunch that watched it the next day. Millions discussing issues that were once just ignored and let continue to happen rather than trying to stop them.

The internet exploded in rage the following day and many people who don't even watch the show were talking about these issues and suggesting ways to make the world better. Of course, with nearly 8 billion people, it's hard to get rid of all the things we feel are wrong in the world, but discussion is key to fully understanding all the complexities.

Complexities like? The number one sexual fantasy many women have is forceful, aggressive sex. It's important to say that fantasies are not meant to be enacted unless you do so in the form of safe role play. Women don't actually want to be raped. The idea of it excites some though. Somewhere between 31 and 57% apparently, though I'm not sure those numbers are entirely accurate. This is why certain scenes are prevalent in romance novels, which are all about fantasizing. Some women are more sexually attracted to dominant, alpha male types. It's an instinctual thing best explained by Darwin. But one can be dominant without raping. One can even be dominant while being in favour of equal rights.

During my degree, we had to take a course on ethics. We looked at every angle of many difficult issues. We even had an OPP officer in our class who was very helpful in exploring the legal aspects of issues. We looked at the political considerations, the economic ones, the social aspects, the technological, and the environmental.

I'm glad they had us take it. It has allowed me to discuss any topic without bursting into tears or fits of name-calling. I've also learned not to incorrectly assume that one's ability to see multiple sides to an issue means they are in favour of something awful like rape. Furthermore, slander is a crime and no one deserves to have lies spouted about them.

Some things that seem ghastly to me are perfectly fine to other cultures. There are nearly 8 billion people on this planet. Who am I to judge others? Who is worthy of deciding everything that is right and wrong?



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