Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Response to A Gentle Reader

In response to my post about bullying, my gentle reader (Sorry, Miss Manners. If you've got that trade marked, I"ll lay off ) Everett gave the following comment that I wanted to address here:

This is preceded by praise, praise, praise for my blog which I LOVE.  I love praise.  Thank you.
...the thing that was a little unsettling about this blog (and many others), is that it seems as if you are saying that it is normal, and that it's sort of a "passage" if you are not the popular person, to get picked on. You advise to avoid the situation, and if one were to arise, to get away as fast as possible. Now of course the best advice anyone could give, is to try and avoid it.... however, I don't believe that we (GLBT, black, handicapped, fat, pink-haired, WHATEVER) should just escape the situation... that does not solve anything.

While I like to encourage people to stand up for themselves, I would NEVER tell anyone to put themselves into a situation that could make things worse. But there are ways of stopping it. Find what works best for you and the situation, and go forth. Don't ever allow for someone to bully you, and don't think it's something that you have to just "deal with". It's not alright. You don't have to put up with it. Just find a healthy alternative to make it stop...
...followed by praise, praise, praise for my blog.  Okay, that's an exaggeration, but some praise followed.
Gentle Everett-
I agree with you that young people should find ways of trying to stop bullying, if those means are available.  And, by all means, kids should seek out adults to help them or develop a blisteringly sharp repertoire of comebacks that will verbally knock the shit out of their victimizers.  However, I think back to my experience and as a kid, I just didn't see any options at all, so avoidance was it.  Why didn't I see any options?
1.  I didn't feel close enough to my parents to tell them.  That, and my dad would have thought I was a giant puss, more than he already did.
2.  I thought that if I told a teacher or another adult, they would have told my parents and my dad, blah, blah, blah.
3.  I was struggling so much to try to feel cool, that I didn't also want to be known as a tattle tale, which would have decreased my cool points by a gazillion.
Your other point about being bullied as a "passage" is interesting.  I don't think that bullying is an inevitable "deal with it" part of being young and geeky, nerdy, gay, etc., though I do think someone is always at the bottom of the pile.  What I do think is inevitable is assholism.  (Thank you John Waters and Pink Flamingos for letting me use that oh so appropriate term.)  You can report bullies and you might be able to curb their behavior, but assholism is forever.  In my thinking, once a mean spirited asshole, always a mean spirited asshole.  So, is it worth it to stick around in a small town after graduation where you are going to perpetually run into these assholes?  Maybe, if you can ignore them, it might be.  However, I think it is a valuable experience to go out somewhere in the world where you arrive with no labels or titles and see how the world treats you.  Then, if you want to go back to your small town with some years of perspective, that's great.  By then the assholes, though still assholes, will just look pathetic.
Keep the comments and thoughts coming.