The new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is a study in the dangerous effects of slut-shaming. Newsflash for anyone who wasn't aware: This is a very common practice, and most people in this world have experienced it to some degree. Jade Roper Tolbert, a former Bachelor contestant and one of the franchise's few success stories, experienced it on national television. So, it's not all that surprising that the 30-year-old found the show so profound.
"13 Reasons Why is all too similar to my high school experience. So glad this story is out there and these problems are being talked about," Tolbert wrote on Twitter. The series follows the events leading up to (and immediately after) the death of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school sophomore. Hannah earns the title "easy" after an up-the-skirt photo of her circulates around in her high school. As the show's events unfurl, this type of shaming only escalates, leading to the worst sorts of ramifications.
Tolbert's high school experiences weren't broadcast on ABC, but we did see her on season 19 of The Bachelor. Tolbert, then Roper, was one of Chris Soules' potential future wives. However, when the reality star informed her beau that she'd once done a spread with Playboy, she was promptly seen the door — she wasn't given a rose that night, and it's been speculated that her Playboy past prevented Tolbert from becoming the next Bachelorette. These events were a classic example of slut-shaming: Tolbert revealed that she had engaged in an overtly sexual activity, and she was punished for it.
Of course, slut-shaming can have far more serious consequences than getting kicked off a reality show. When women are considered "easy," they are also considered "easy for the taking," their consent is rendered moot. Why ask a woman for consent if she's already agreed to a Playboy spread? Spoilers ahead: The slut-shaming in 13 Reasons Why ultimately results in a sexual assault. Tolbert is a survivor of such trauma herself. In 2016, the expecting mother opened up about her experience with rape in a heartfelt essay.
"I convinced myself I must have deserved it. That this bad thing happened to me because of something I had done. That I wasn’t worth being loved," she wrote of the assault. Tolbert was 17 when it occurred.
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).