quite often i peruse the blogosphere reading what’s on other people’s minds. while not always leaving my two-cent’s worth comments, rarely do i come away without giving pause in thought about what i’ve read.
recently i came across some blogs that had to do with two things that often through life have occupied my mind. bullying, and being one’s self. there seems to my way of thinking, to be a co-relation between these two.
a couple of cases in point:
my daughter, who was born with a male body and is autistic besides, is fortunate to have a mom who is retired and able to homeschool. this saves her the bother of bullies, and spares me the troublesome battles of insisting upon her rights within a system that doesn’t understand her needs.
but for a few days this school year ziona did attend a very private school. expensive, but specialising in kids with developmental delays, the only thing we insisted upon at our intake and admission appointment was that she not be bullied. of course, we were given every assurance that such behaviour was simply not tolerated.
that assurance later was borne out to be patently untrue. in a classroom of only 5 students with two teachers present at all times, a boy who sat behind ziona teased, taunted and bullied her from day one. her reports of this to the teacher fell on deaf ears, and when i tried to “hip” the teacher to the situation, it was no better received. my earlier post about this incident is here
the boy who was my daughter’s tormentor was guilty of this behaviour with others as well. all of his victims were girls. and the taunt used towards them was the mere fact of their girlness…in other words, he teased girls for being girls.
there’s an old saying that whenever one points a finger to accuse or taunt, three point back toward themself.
often i have pondered just what makes a bully bully. altho not having researched the phenomenon i have developed my own hypothesis about the bully syndrome. i believe that, like lying about something you’ve done or are, bullying is a fear-based defense-mechanism. (take note that this does not excuse the behaviour.)
under this reasoning, the boy who teased girls about being girls might be transgender, or perhaps attracted to other boys. fear of being or just facing who he is could be his tipping point.
and, reaching back into my own childhood, consider this incident that started me thinking about the whole bullying thing over fifty years ago. a third-grade boy, was teasing an older boy, who was both developmentally delayed and had cerebral palsy. 3rd grader was calling the older boy, “mental” and “retard”, even following closely behind his victim to further torment him. no one else seemed to want to stop him and of course some minions were actually snickering in support of the bully. i couldn’t bear watching. tho only in 1st grade myself, and not very big or strong (or brave really) i told the boy that he was himself the retard for calling the other one names. in response the bully quite unexpectedly and violently punched me in the solar plexus. (my first such assault. i actually fell to the ground)
using my ‘fear-based bullying’ hypothesis it is possible that the bully was aware of his own inadequacies. he was, after all, in remedial studies for every single subject.
of course, there are many who are fearful of being themselves who never become bullies. not everyone who is a transgender person torments those of the gender he or she hides from the world, not every closeted gay person strikes out against other homosexual folk. but what if society were such a place that there was no onus to being different? no judgment for being ‘other’? how much of bullying would vanish were there no underlying, tacit support for prejudice or bigotry?
i tend to oversimplify when trying to wrap my mind around concepts that baffle me. so i’m aware that this might seem a naive hypothesis. but in trying to somehow comprehend the indefensible actions of others, compassion may prevent me judging them too harshly. and what if the hypothesis bears true in at least some of the cases? then should i feel pity for those poor souls, so fearful of being who they are that they attack others for being mirrors that show them their self? or should i tell them to check their makeup, as it were. should i say “hey bully, be yourself!”
wonder what the response might be…
probably another punch to the solar plexus, but who knows?