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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

An Unexpected Article

Anyone can be a victim.
Anyone can be a bully.
Apparently I am actually rather broken these days. I was on G+ just now and there was a post that said the following:
"We will never get rid of bullying. We should teach our kids to stand up for themselves and cope rather than wearing pink shirts and passing anti-bullying legislation because we are raising a generation of victims."
My response was to post a reply that essentially made a few ad hominem attacks and then remove the poster from my circles. I think that may have been something of an over-reaction. I am rapidly learning that bullying is something of a trigger for me. When some students did a rather piss-poor presentation on it (including the awful "don't let someone hurt you, tell someone!" advice that is only ever used by people who have never been bullied, they agreed they had not) I ended up following it up.

I can.
Well, let me say this: bullying may never be eradicated, but if so, it will be a sad indictment of our society and its desire to allow unfettered selfishness in the guise of individualism to flourish. We shall have let fear of the other become the norm and the ridicule of the different to be acceptable. Bullying is the result of fear, the result of parents teaching their children that it is okay to be ignored and belittled and that might makes right. It is the system of shoving vulnerable children before the age of five into a situation where there is one adult to every twenty or so, and that adult is usually harassed and busy - too busy and jaded to offer genuine attention to their charges. Compound this with a generation or two of parents born and taught in the era of selfish greed being the norm and you have a recipe for disaster. In that sense, no, bullying will not be beaten because too many people are content to blame the victim.

Bullying is perceived rather than objective.
No one sets out to be a bully any more than anyone sets out
to be evil. People never believe that they are the bullies.
But, I find, most people that talk of 'coping' and 'having a
thicker skin' are, themselves, bullies.
There is a belief, and I encountered it, that if the victim would only stand up for themselves then the bullying would stop and the bullies give up. This works only insofar as it is possible to find how to stand up to bullies. I tried to stand up physically and was made to write a letter of apology to the bully. I tried to stand up verbally and intellectually and this simply led to greater abuse (on one occasion it led to physical pain for me at the hands of three idiots). I tried to stand up with fortitude, not letting them know it got to me, and they thought we were friends and carried it on as 'banter'. I tried to stand up by walking away but ended up nigh friendless and a loner.

No, standing up for oneself does not work.

Hmm. I know that bullying is punished.
Fear of punishment does not deter wrongdoing, rather,
it is fear of being caught that does that.
Punishments are meaningless if people do not
believe that they will ever apply to them.
I do not condone more punishment, I condone greater
awareness and greater vigilance.
There is also a strong belief that if we can teach victims to 'cope' then it won't be a problem because bullying raises the rather uncomfortable truth that the world does not end with us and if the bullies are picking on someone else then we should do something. By saying the victim should cope we absolve ourselves of the responsibility of standing with that victim, they are unimportant, and we pat ourselves on the back, after all, we coped. But coping is a sop. It is putting off the pain or, at least, not bothering others with it. I had to 'cope' when my teachers decided that what I was experiencing at school did not match what they considered bullying.

When victims believe that nothing will change, that it is their
business and they are alone, then the bullies win.
And when the bullies win, no one wins.
Bullying lives in the cracks and the fissures of life. Bullies are not cartoon-esque villains of the piece, dispensing physical violence in exchange for lunch money or for the love of torturing insects. Those kinds of people are now dealt with and picked up by a system that has at least accepted that wanton cruelty and violence are not the natural state of well-rounded children or adults. Odd how that version of bullying has, in fact, been more or less stopped when society realised that it often led to examples of excess in adulthood that led to the damage of property and, crucially, affected the middle-class notions of ownership and privacy. You know, yobs and anti-social behaviour were a nuisance and, it turned out, they had their roots in behaviours that had previously been tolerated as 'character building'. Then we stamped it out.

Recordless and impossible to prove - name calling.
Bullies are the people that do silly things, small indignities perpetrated over a period of time so that they amount to cruelty without any one incident being worthy of attention. Stealing a pen, throwing a rubber, hiding a bag, calling names (oh my God, the name-calling - the small, carefully barbed but otherwise innocuous names that people are called, the hurtful little jibes that alone sound piffling but over a few weeks, months and years add up to the sort of stuff that leads to suicide - every time they are reported the victim sounds foolish, the adults, without meaning to, sneer and laugh it off because they do not understand. And what can one do anyway? Each incident too small to act upon, each name too stupid to credit. Here is death by a thousand cuts). And, because each incident sounds ridiculous, it seems viable and normal to claim that the victim should have a thicker skin and get over it and cope.

Coping is the beginning of depression for the victim of bullying - the belief that oneself does not matter.

Ending bullying would take a revolution.

Lets have that fucking revolution!
I have this to say in response: I do not have the answers. Victims of bullying know of what I speak and they know that there is no comfort or recovery in the empty platitudes of 'tell someone about it'; 'don't let others hurt you' and that horrible, false and mocking rhyme 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me'. There is no relief in revenge, however much solace one takes in it. No release in forgiveness, though it helps. No, bullying is a societal cancer and, until it is cured, we remain broken as a species. One cannot repair victims in later life, one cannot ignore them and blame them forever. If there is an answer it lies in making sure that bullying does not start. And that action lies with the bullies - they must be raised to be aware of others, as all people should be. Because one cannot identify a bully before they are one any more than one can identify a victim before they are one. We must work to ensure that we recognise in one another our shared humanity more than we recognise the differences. We must embrace those we feel threatened by as adults so that our children learn that lesson. For we are the broken ones, not our children, and we must make that sacrifice for the generation that follows. That is our mission.

I am not certain what I think of this man, Russell Brand,
but he writes and talks in a way that I am unable to simply
Overpaid? Hypocritical? Oh yes, but aware of both.
Fascinating, yes.
Bullying ends when we stop fearing who we do not know. It is not natural to do so, if it were then we would not exist as a species, and it is not inevitable, if it were then many societies of the past could not have existed. We are all one race, regardless of colour or geographical location or culture, and we are all human. If we could believe that, that is, live as if it were true then we would see an end to bullying. There may still be wars and selfishness and other inhumanities, but there would be no bullying. Or, perhaps, bullying is the world in microcosm and we blame and ridicule the victims because we do not see ourselves in the victims, but in the bullies. If we blame the bullies or deal with them, we are guilty of the ultimate hypocrisy. So we blame the victims, we absolve the bullies. We claim we are creating victims by trying to protect our children from the indignity and suffering that bullying creates because, goddamn it, that's what we do daily when we ignore the person begging in the street, when we read of the injustice and go and buy a take away; when we turn over on the TV when the appeals are on; when we believe we make a difference when we vote; when we believe we have earned our wealth and when we allow ourselves to be proud of the place of our birth - one of the things we had no choice nor control over.

This wasn't the post I thought I was going to write. I do apologise, I have soap-boxed and, whatever else this blog is I never thought I'd use it as a soap box, sorry.

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All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!