13 Reasons Why's Alisha Boe Says Her Character Was Slut-Shamed After Rape

Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix
Netflix's 13 Reasons Why has been lauded for its depiction of sexual assault. However, star Alisha Boe claims that some fans took a very wrong message away from the new series. According to Boe's interview with Elite Daily, some fans slut-shamed Jessica, a rape survivor, as well as victim-blamed the high school student for her own sexual assault.
The series, which is based on Jay Asher's 2007 novel of the same name, reveals that an incapacitated Jessica was raped by Bryce (Justin Prentice), a popular jock and her boyfriend Justin's (Brandon Flynn) best friend. Following her assault, Jessica copes with her trauma by drinking and trying to "forget" what happened to her. She even continues to hang out with Bryce, and denies that anything happened between them at the party, despite what Hannah (Katherine Langford) revealed on the tapes she left behind after her death by suicide. Eventually, however, Jessica can't suppress her emotions, and spirals.
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While plenty of fans approved of the way Jessica's rape was handled — the series purposefully stayed close on Jessica's face during the actual scene, and afterwards focused on the pain caused by the sexual assault — some, apparently, were missing their sensitivity chip. Boe told Elite Daily:
"[W]hen the show came out, I was getting comments and being tagged in photos and fan theories that I can’t help but look at, [and] people are slut-shaming Jessica," Boe revealed to the publication. "They’re calling her a bitch and they’re saying she deserved it that [she] should take Justin back and [she] shouldn’t be that drunk at a party and it made me take a second and step back and realize, wow, we as a society are not able to not blame the rape survivor but more so we want to take Justin’s side because he’s charming and has a nice smile."
While it's pretty disgusting that anyone could blame Jessica for her sexual assault, it's stuff like this that shows why 13 Reasons Why matters. The series repeatedly points a finger at slut-shaming: many of Hannah's "13 reasons" involve a person using her sexuality against her. It also shows how easy it is for people to ignore the crimes of a rapist, especially if it's easier to simply sweep a sexual assault under the rug than challenge someone who may be of a certain social standing.
13 Reasons Why may be furthering the conversation surrounding sexual assault and slut-shaming, but it's clear there is more work to be done so that no survivor is blamed for the crime committed against them.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)