Thoughts about Justin Foley
There is something that bothers in Justin’s story and the way people react to it. The truth is, Justin did let his friend rape his girlfriend and he did not do anything about it, I am not denying that.
However, Hannah was in the room and she did not do anything either. Reason? She was drunk and scared. And the truth is, so was Justin. I think both of them could have done something to stop Bryce but none of them did. Now, the problem is that people actually expected Justin to stop Bryce rather than Hannah. Why? Because this is what patriarchal society teaches us: the guy is supposed to defend his girl / a girl cannot defend herself or defend another girl against a guy. And that’s wrong. Truth it, Hannah is as guilty as Justin in all this, but people consider Hannah innocent mostly because she is a girl and she was scared whereas Justin, a guy, should have been strong, should have fought for his girl.
I do believe Justin is more than just a guy who let his best friend force his way onto his girlfriend. He did it, that’s true, and he has no excuse. However, I think we still have a lot to learn from Justin’s character. He is a deeply troubled boy, caught up in a toxic friendship. Truth is, Bryce is behind all of Justin’s actions. That does not mean Justin’s innocent, that just means he’s been influenced by Bryce and I believe that is something to consider.
Besides, regarding the fact that Justin lied to Jessica about what truly happens, I think it’s important to consider the fact that Justin, just like Hannah was traumatized. Hannah did not go to the police or told Jessica either. Both Justin and Hannah were silenced by trauma because that’s what violence does, that’s what rape does.
I actually had a course on rape and gender violence this year and we talked a lot about how victim-blaming is a major issue regarding the way people deal with rape. In a lot of rape cases, especially when the rapist was someone close to the rape survivor, the victim’s first move is to question themselves, to doubt themselves and to blame themselves. The victim’s first move isn’t always to blame the rapist, especially if they knew them. And I see a little of this in all this story. Jessica keeps hanging out with Bryce even when she finds out what he did and so does Justin, because at first, I don’t think they blame him. They’re both traumatized, they don’t think straight or rationnally. They don’t blame the right person. This is a very usual behavior when it comes to sexual assault and rape issues. Now all this is maybe just a theory, or some personnal thoughts but I can’t help and see a little of that in Justin and Jessica’s story.
When I saw Justin leave his mom’s house with a gun, I was scared he would shoot himself, but I am glad he didn’t. Because I do believe Justin’s character can evolve, a lot. He still has a lot to learn, a lot to work on. He has to learn how not to depend on Bryce, how to stand up for himself and the people he loves. That’s why I think Justin, even if guilty, is still an interesting character.
[Please share your thoughts with me, and don’t hesitate to correct me if I’m wrong!]