Yesterday El Jones gave us the pleasure of her spoken word at the launch of the Rehtaeh Parsons Society. Her words, as always, were powerful. She is an inspiration. Thank you El!
Her name is Rehtaeh. Say it.
Say it for all the young girls who never come forward.
Say it for the girls who don’t know how to name what was done to them
Who say, it was my fault, I made a mistake
Say it for their sake.
Say it through the heartbreak.
Say it because they can refuse to take your report
And they can refuse to take you seriously
And they can take and take and take but they cannot take who you are away.
Say it because the boys who raped her knew it, knew who she was but treated her like she was nothing
She never became nothing, she was always loved and always loving
Say it until they know that she was never faceless
Give her back to herself. She was not an empty space
She was not a thing to be forwarded, say it in place
Of the names typed into phones and emails and Facebook profiles who received her photo
Say it so we know. Rehtaeh. Say it.
Say it because she cannot be lost
Say it because she cannot be chased away
Say it in the hallways of the schools where she could not escape
Bring it all into the light. Say it because women should never have to hide
Say it for the lake of tears her family cries, say it for the years of birthday cake
Where her name will never be iced
Say it and say it and say it until the next boys think twice.
Say it like an earthquake
For all the girls who held up signs saying I am Rehtaeh
Say it because it gave them strength. Say it at length
Say it for every girl at the other end of a camera lens
Say it for all the reports that never get filed, say it for every woman told that she lied
Say it for her smile, because she loved animals, because she was kind
Say it because she tried and tried to get help
Say it because who she is is not defined by rape or by suicide
Say it until it resonates. Say it because we can heal
Because they cannot kill who we are inside
Say it like the top of a mountain peak that we can climb
Say it for Oklahoma
And Steubenville and the women at the university of Virginia
Say it for the women carrying their mattresses at Columbia
For Jian Ghomeshi’s victims, for Bill Cosby’s victims, for R. Kelly’s victims, for Woody Allen’s victim, for Roman Polanski’s victim, and everyone knew that something was wrong
The anonymous women who come forward and are dismissed
God the list is so long. Say it like the song that never ends
Say it because you are strong, say it because your body belongs to you
Say each one of them, say it like their mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, friends
Say it so they know their names cannot be replaced
By slut or ratchet or ho, or by “alleged” victim, say it so they know that who they are remains and cannot be shaken
That they cannot be washed away like boiling water down the shower drain
Say it because rape is an act of erasure, say it to stand against their power
Say it against their control say it until you are whole
I swear to you there is life after
Name and name and name, say what happened verse and chapter
Say her name like rage and laughter, say it like a scream
Say it like a wail, say it because you have the right to anger Say it because you cannot be silenced,
Say it like survival, say Rehtaeh.
Peel it back layer after layer say it into the air
Say it because women are still here
Say her name.
Say her name until the walls shake until your voice breaks
Because she was a person. Not a victim or a symbol or a cause
But a girl who was full of life. Say it for all the laws
That refuse to protect women. Say it because she never paused.
Say it because she raised her voice and said mommy they did something to me that night
Say it for her fight and yours.
Say it because she always named her rape,
Because she didn’t back down in the face of police who wouldn’t take the report
And counsellors who called it assault
And schools where she was an afterthought
Say it because she was brave. Say it because there is hope.
Say it as an antidote to posters that say listen to the boys
And there are two sides.
For everyone who says she shouldn’t have been drinking
Say it because girls and women have the right to live our lives
Say her name like walking on the streets and who cares what we we wear
Say it because we shouldn’t exist in fear. Say Rehtaeh.
Say it because her female classmates forwarded those photos too
Say it so they know that their value is not found in getting men’s favour
Say it until they are not afraid of being labelled too
Say it so they know that girls are people too
Say it until they know their bodies have worth, say it until it gives birth
Say Rehtaeh. Say it against courts responding too little too late
For publication bans that they enforce
While they ignore the evidence of rape
Say it til your voice is hoarse
Say it because her life cannot be redacted. Say it like taking action
Say it because it’s outrageous that rape charges cannot be laid
Say her name. Say it like a protest and a prayer
Say it like we say no or yes, say it for all the voices that haven’t found their words yet
Say it because we are still here.
Say it. Say it. Her name is Rehtaeh.